"Thy case is a bad one, carissime. It is clear that Venus has disturbed th_ind, deprived thee of reason and memory, as well as the power to think o_ught else except love. Read some time thy answer to my letter, and thou wil_ee how indifferent thy mind is to all except Lygia; how exclusively it i_ccupied with her, how it returns to her always, and circles above her, as _alcon above chosen prey. By Pollux! find her quickly, or that of thee whic_ire has not turned into ashes will become an Egyptian sphinx, which,
enamored, as 'tis said, of pale isis, grew deaf and indifferent to all things,
waiting only for night, so as to gaze with stony eyes at the loved one.
"Run disguised through the city in the evening, even honor Christian houses o_rayer in thy philosopher's company. Whatever excites hope and kills time i_raiseworthy. But for my friendship's sake do this one thing:
Ursus, Lygia's slave, is a man of uncommon strength very likely; hire Croton,
and go out three together; that will be safer and wiser. The Christians, sinc_omponia and Lygia belong to them, are surely not such scoundrels as mos_eople imagine. But when a lamb of their flock is in question they are n_riflers, as they have shown by carrying away Lygia. When thou seest Lygi_hou wilt not restrain thyself, I am sure, and wilt try to bear her away o_he spot. But how wilt thou and Chilonides do it? Croton would take care o_imself, even though ten like Ursus defended the maiden. Be not plundered b_hio, but be not sparing of money on Croton. Of all counsels which I can giv_his is the best one.
"Here they have ceased to speak of the infant Augusta, or to say that sh_erished through witchcraft. Poppaea mentions her at times yet; but Caesar'_ind is stuffed with something else. Moreover, if it be true that the divin_ugusta is in a changed state again, the memory of that child will be blow_way without trace. We have been in Naples for some days, or rather in Baile.
If thou art capable of any thought, echoes of our life must strike thy ear,
for surely Rome talks of naught else. We went directly to Bai~, where at firs_emories of the mother attacked us, and reproaches of conscience. But dos_hou know to what Ahenobarbus has gone already? To this, that for him even th_urder of his mother is a mere theme for verses, and a reason for buffoonis_ragic scenes. Formerly he felt real reproaches only in so far as he was _oward; now, when he is convinced that the earth is under his feet as before,
and that no god is taking vengeance, he feigns them only to move people by hi_ate. He springs up at night sometimes declaring that the Furies are huntin_im; he rouses us, looks around, assumes the posture of an actor playing th_ole of Orestes, and the posture of a bad actor too; he declaims Greek verses,
and looks to see if we are admiring him. We admire him apparently; and instea_f saying to him, Go to sleep, thou buffoon! we bring ourselves also to th_one of tragedy, and protect the great artist from the Furies. By Castor! thi_ews at least must have reached thee, that he has appeared in public a_aples. They drove in from the city and the surrounding towns all the Gree_uffians, who filled the arena with such a vile odor of sweat and garlic tha_ thank the gods that, instead of sitting in the first rows with th_ugustians, I was behind the scenes with Ahenobarbus. And wilt thou believ_t, he was afraid really! He took my hand and put itto his heart, which wa_eating with increased pulsation; his breath was short; and at the moment whe_e had to appear he grew as pale as a parchment, and his forehead was covere_ith drops of sweat. Still he saw that in every row of seats were pretorians,
armed with clubs, to rouse enthusiasm if the need came. But there was no need.
No herd of monkeys from the environs of Carthage could howl as did thi_abble. I tell thee that the smell of garlic came to the stage; but Ner_owed, pressed his hand to his heart, sent kisses from his lips, and she_ears. Then he rushed in among us, who were waiting behind the scenes, like _runken man, crying, 'What were the triumphs of Julius compared with thi_riumph of mine?' But the rabble was howling yet and applauding, knowing tha_t would applaud to itself favors, gifts, banquets, lottery tickets, and _resh exhibition by the Imperial buffoon. I do not wonder that they applauded,
for such a sight had not been seen till that evening. And every moment h_epeated: 'See what the Greeks are! see what the Greeks are!' From tha_vening it has seemed to me that his hatred for Rome is increasing. Meanwhil_pecial couriers were hurried to Rome announcing the triumph, and we expec_hanks from the Senate one of these days. Immediately after Nero's firs_xhibition, a strange event happened here. The theatre fell in on a sudden,
but just after the audience had gone. I was there, and did not see even on_orpse taken from the ruins. Many, even among the Greeks, see in this even_he anger of the gods, because the dignity of Caesar was disgraced; he, on the
Šntrary, finds in it favor of the gods, who have his song, and those wh_isten to it, under their evident protection. Hence there are offerings in al_he temples, and great thanks. For Nero it is a great encouragement to mak_he journey to Ach~a. A few days since he told me, however, that he had doubt_s to what the Roman people might say; that they might revolt out of love fo_im, and fear touching the distribution of grain and touching the games, whic_ight fail them in case of his prolonged absence.
"We are going, however, to Beneventum to look at the cobbler magnificenc_hich Vatinius will exhibit, and thence to Greece, under the protection of th_ivine brothers of Helen. As to me, I have noted one thing, that when a man i_mdng the mad he grows mad himself, and, what is more, finds a certain char_n mad pranks. Greece and the journey in a thousand ships; a kind of triumpha_dvance of Bacchus among nymphs and bacchantes crowned with myrtle, vine, an_oneysuckle; there will be women in tiger skins harnessed to chariots;
flowers, thyrses, garlands, shouts of 'Evoe!' music, poetry, and applaudin_ellas. All this is well; but we cherish besides more daring projects. We wis_o create a species of Oriental Imperium, — an empire of palm-trees, sunshine,
poetry, and reality turned into a dream, reality turned into the delight o_ife only. We want to forget Rome; to fix the balancing point of the worl_omewhere between Greece, Asia, and Egypt; to live the life not of men but o_ods; not to know what commonness is; to wander in golden galleys under th_hadow of purple sails along the Archipelago; to be Apollo, Osiis, and Baal i_ne person; to be rosy with the dawn, golden with the sun, silver with th_oon; to command, to sing, to dream. And wilt thou believe that I, who hav_till sound judgment to the value of a sestertium, and sense to the value o_n as, let myself be borne away by these fantasies, and I do this for th_eason that, if they are not possible, they are at least grandiose an_ncommon? Such a fabulous empire would be a thing which, some time or other,
after long ages, would seem a dream to mankind. Except when Venus takes th_orm of Lygia, or even of a slave Eunice, or when art beautifies it, lif_tself is empty, and many a time it has the face of a monkey. But Bronzebear_ill not realize his plans, even for this cause, that in his fabulous kingdo_f poetry and the Orient no place is given to treason, meanness, and death;
and that in him with the poses of a poet sits a wretched comedian, a dul_harioteer, and a frivolous tyrant. Meanwhile we are killing people wheneve_hey displease us in any way. Poor Torquatus Silanus is now a shade; he opene_is veins a few days since. Lecanius and Licinus will enter on the consulat_ith teror. Old Thrasea will not escape death, for he dares to be honest.
Tigellinus is not able yet to frame a command for me to open my veins. I a_till needed not only as elegantiae arbiter, but as a man without whos_ounsel and taste the expedition to Achaea might fail. More than once,
however, I think that sooner or later it must end in opening my veins; an_nowest thou what the question will be then with me? — that Bronzebeard shoul_ot get my goblet, which thou knowest and admirest. Shouldst thou be near a_he moment of my death, I will give it to thee; shouldst thou be at _istance, I will break it. But meanwhile I have before me yet Beneventum o_he cobblers and Olympian Greece; I have Fate too, which, unknown an_nforeseen, points out the road to every one.
"Be well, and engage Croton; otherwise they will snatch Lygia from thee _econd time. When Chionides ceases to be needful, send him to me wherever _ay be. Perhaps I shall make him a second Vatinius, and consuls and senator_ay tremble before him yet, as they trembled before that knight Dratevka. I_ould be worth while to live to see such a spectacle. When thou hast foun_ygia, let me know, so that I may offer for you both a pair of swans and _air of doves in the round temple of Venus here. Once I saw Lygia in a dream,
sitting on thy knee, seeking thy kisses. Try to make that dream prophetic. Ma_here be no clouds on thy sky; or if there be, let them have the color and th_dor of roses! Be in good health; and farewell!"