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An early Christian saint and martyr (died c. 288). The Roman emperor Diocletian had Sebastian shot full of arrows. When this failed to kill him, and he continued to be critical of Diocletian, the emperor had him clubbed to death.

' Mary Alice was smiling at a picture of Saint Sebastian, by the Spanish painter El Greco . . . Saint Sebastian was a Roman soldier who had lived seventeen hundred years before . . . He had secretly become a Christian when Christianity was against the law.

' And somebody squealed on him. The Emperor Diocletian had him shot by archers. The picture Mary Alice smiled at with such uncritical bliss showed a human being who was so full of arrows that he looked like a porcupine.

'Something almost nobody knew about Saint Sebastian, incidentally, since painters liked to put so many arrows into him, was that he survived the incident. He actually got well.

' He walked about Rome praising Christianity and bad-mouthing the Emperor, so he was sentenced to death a second time. He was beaten to death by rods.

' And so on. '

--- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. "Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday." Chapter 19 (Pages 217 - 218).
by Dinkum February 22, 2014
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