The essay juxtaposes the intellectual preoccupations and fraught careers of two great 20th-century Russian philologist-philosophers, Aleksei Losev and Mikhail Bakhtin. Although Losev's is the more crippling case, the external trajectory of their lives develops in rough parallel (bold, prolific productivity in the 1920s; arrest and deportation in the 1930s; slow reintegration in the post-Stalinist era; recent revivals, cults, booms, and scandals connected with their legacy). What is more, the subject matter that fascinated them often overlapped (the Classical world, the status of the Word, Dostoevsky). Still, differences overwhelm the similarities. The essay concludes with speculation about these two types of philosopher-king squandered, martyred, and elevated by their home culture.