"Let it all end in fire!"
- – Cartagia
Cartagia was emperor of the Centauri Republic from 2259 until early 2261. Near the end of the Second Shadow War, Cartagia's self-aggrandizement and madness brought Centauri Prime to the brink of annihilation by the Vorlons.
Cartagia was an unremarkable child, according to Londo Mollari, who encountered Cartagia briefly on three occasions during his early days at the Royal Court. As an adult, he assumed the throne after his uncle Emperor Turhan died in 2259. When installed by a group of Centauri politicians led by Lord Refa and Mollari, he acted as, essentially, a powerless figurehead; however, he gradually amassed near absolute power.
After defeating the Narn in a series of quick strikes aided by the Shadows and illegal mass drivers, Cartagia's government undertook military campaigns against other races bordering Centauri space.
In 2260, Cartagia sent one of his closest Ministers of State, Virini, to Babylon 5 to settle the growing feud between his two strongest supporters Refa and Mollari, who was still Centauri ambassador on the station. Cartagia didn't care about either side; he just wanted a hasty resolution. When Refa was killed on the Narn Homeworld with apparent evidence of attempted treason, the matter was settled in Londo's favor. But Cartagia had taken a keener interest in the feud than he let on; having heard rumors Mollari had once poisoned Refa, and suspecting a connection with the recent murder by poison of Adira Tyree, a dancer whom Mollari loved, he secretly commissioned Durano his Minister of Intelligence to investigate the affair.
In early 2261, Cartagia had Ambassador Mollari recalled to Centauri Prime, and appointed him as advisor on planetary security. When he arrived, Mollari found the young emperor, whom he had not seen since those earlier days, rather eccentric, hedonistic, and even childish. However, aside from having his crest of hair cut down to the length of a lower class Centauri in order to pass among his people unnoticed, he seemed harmless. Then Mollari learned from Morden that the Shadows, reeling from the events on Z'ha'dum, have been allowed by Cartagia to establish a base on the Centauri homeworld. Mollari expressed his concerns to Minister of Protocol Milo Virini, who explained that though the Centaurum had tried to oppose Cartagia, all of his opposition had since disappeared, with the rumor being that the emperor had hidden their heads in a secret room, where he spoke with them on a regular basis. Mollari later discovered this rumor to be true. It was sometime during this period that Cartagia learned from Durano it was Morden who commissioned the murder of Adira Tyree, not Refa as Mollari believed, but for his own reasons he decided to keep the discovery secret.
It was also around this time that Mollari learned from Captain John Sheridan of Babylon 5 that the Vorlons were employing a new strategy against the Shadows: utterly destroying any planet with even the slightest taint of Shadow influence. When Mollari informed Cartagia of this, he resolutely refused to evict the Shadows from Centauri Prime, explaining that they had agreed to reward his assistance by turning him into a deity. Cartagia also explained that the Vorlons would help his plans for deification by turning Centauri Prime into a massive inauguration pyre.
During these events, G'Kar was captured and brought to Centauri Prime. The emperor immediately summoned Mollari to the Royal Court and presented him with G'Kar in chains. The emperor said that he was making a gift of G'Kar to Mollari, presumably so that Mollari could torture and punish him. Outwardly, Mollari thanked the emperor; in truth however, he was repulsed by the idea. In fact, Mollari did his best to shield G'Kar from harm. G'Kar was visited by Mollari in his cell. The two proceeded to come to an agreement. In return for G'Kar's assistance in his plot to assassinate Cartagia, Mollari would end the Centauri occupation of the Narn.
As time passed, Cartagia's love of pleasure seemed to outweigh his sense of duty. His various indulgent pursuits included sharing clothes with Centauri women and shooting a jester just for the fun of it ("Humor is such a subjective thing"). But despite what he initially said to Mollari about G'Kar being a gift, Cartagia grew to hate the Narn's strong spirit and sought to break him, wanting to hear one scream from the proud Narn. To this end, Cartagia had G'Kar mercilessly tortured; all the while G'Kar refused to scream or give into the pain. Mollari secretly advised G'Kar to give in for fear that he would eventually be killed. Eventually, Cartagia subjected G'Kar to the worst torture of all: to be given forty lashes with the dreaded electro-whip unless he gave the Emperor the scream he wanted. Having been warned he would not likely survive after forty lashes of the electro-whip, G'Kar held up until the thirty-ninth lash before he finally gave Cartagia the desired scream, if only to save the lives of his people as well as his own. Not long afterwards, Mollari convinced Cartagia to take G'Kar to Narn and execute him there, ensuring that people would witness and still remember his greatness, and worship him, after Centauri Prime is destroyed. Mollari hoped to draw the emperor away from the royal court, leaving him more vulnerable. But before they left Centauri Prime, Cartagia asked Mollari for advice because he did not like the way G'Kar looked at him. When Mollari unthinkingly told Cartagia to do as he thought best, the emperor proceeded to have one of G'Kar's eyes plucked out.
When they arrived on Narn, Cartagia was pleasantly surprised to discover a palace built in imitation of his own waiting for him. He informed Mollari that he had chosen him to survive and become his high priest after his apotheosis. As soon as Cartagia set up court, he planned to have G'Kar paraded and killed in front of local Narns to break their spirits. However, Mollari had arranged for the chains on G'Kar's restraints to be weakened in order for G'Kar to break free and distract Cartagia long enough for Mollari to act. He would then secretly inject a poison into Cartagia that would cause the emperor's cardiovascular system to shut down nearly instantly.
Despite Cartagia noticing that G'Kar's chains looked weak and having them changed for stronger ones before his "trial," G'Kar managed to break free and begin fighting with the guards, and in the following commotion Mollari escorted Cartagia away from the fight and prepared to inject the poison into him. Cartagia went into a fit of rage about how this was not part of his destiny and, reacting to being told to quiet down by Mollari, turned and punched him, knocking the device away. Cartagia grabbed Mollari in a stranglehold, ranting about how his minister deserved to burn with the rest of the Centauri for failing to see his greatness. As Cartagia shoved Mollari to the ground and turned to walk away, he was stabbed between his hearts with the poison dispenser by Londo's assistant Vir Cotto, who had picked it up during the struggle. Although he grabbed Cotto by the throat, he collapsed into unconsciousness, moaning that his dream of becoming a god would never be realized.
Shortly after this, the Imperial guards found Cartagia supported by Mollari and Cotto. Mollari explained that the emperor had collapsed, and that he believed that his hearts had failed. Although he was attended to by the royal physician, Cartagia was unable to be revived, and the official cause of death was stated to be heart failure. Mollari kept his promise to G'Kar by explaining to the court that the Centauri's dealings with the Narn have now resulted in the deaths of two emperors, and that Cartagia would interpret this as a sign from the gods to leave. Shortly afterward, the Centauri withdrew from the Narn homeworld.
- When Cartagia died in "The Long Night", it was specifically stated that he had no heir and that there was no clear line of succession; before his death, no reference was made to the emperor's son, Dius Vintari. However, Cartagia could have produced an heir without it being common knowledge, and it is unclear if illegitimate Centauri are considered to be suitable to inherit. If Vintari was an illegitimate child, his existence may simply have been kept quiet.
- His name as well as his insanity seem to draw parallels with the insane Emperor Caligula of the Roman Empire.
- The Hour of the Wolf
- Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?
- The Summoning
- Falling Toward Apotheosis
- The Long Night
- ↑ The Long Night
- ↑ "Babylon 5 Personnel Files 4.0" (Season 4 DVD, Disc 6)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Hour of the Wolf
- ↑ The Coming of Shadows
- ↑ Ceremonies of Light and Dark
- ↑ And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Into the Fire
- ↑ Z'ha'dum (episode)
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 The Summoning
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Falling Toward Apotheosis
- ↑ Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?
- ↑ A Tragedy of Telepaths
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 The Long Night
- ↑ Babylon 5: The Lost Tales