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Chapter 37

  • VINCIUS to LYGIA:
  • "The slave Phlegon, by whom I send this letter, is a Christian; hence he wil_e one of those to receive freedom from thy hands, my dearest. He is an ol_ervant of our house; so I can write to thee with full confidence, and withou_ear that the letter will fall into other hands than thine. 1 write fro_aurentum, where we have halted because of heat. Otho owned here a lordl_illa, which on a time he presented to Poppaea; and she, though divorced fro_im, saw fit to retain the magnificent present. When I think of the women wh_urround mc now and of thee, it seems to me that from the stones hurled b_eucalion there must have risen people of various kinds, altogether unlike on_nother, and that thou art of those born of crystal.
  • "I admire and love thee from my whole soul, and wIth to speak only of thee;
  • hence I am forced to constrain myself to write of our journey, of that whic_appens to me, and of news of the court. Well, Caesar was the guest o_oppaea, who prepared for him secretly a magnificent reception. SIte invite_nly a few of his favorites, but Petronius and I were among them. After dinne_e sailed in golden boats over the sea, which was as calm as if it had bee_leeping, and as blue as thy eyes, O divine one. We ourselves rowed, fo_vidently it flattered the Augusta that men of consular dignity, or thei_ons, were rowing for her. Caesar, sitting at the rudder in a purple toga,
  • sang a hymn in honor of the sea; this hymn he had composed the night before,
  • and wfth Diodorus had arranged music to ft. In other boats he was accompanie_y slaves from India who knew how to play on sea-shells while round abou_ppeared numerous dolphins, as if really enticed from Amphitrite's depths b_usic. Dvst thcu know what I was doing? I was thinking of thee1 and yearning.
  • I wanted to gather in that sea, that calm, and that music, and give the whol_o thee.
  • "Dost thou wish that we should live in some place at the seashore far fro_ome, my Augusta? I have land in Sicily, on which there is an almond fores_hich has rose-colored blossoms in spring, and this forest goes down so nea_he sea that the tips of the branches almost touch the water. There I wil_ove thee and magnify Paul's teaching, for I know now that it will not b_pposed to love and happiness. Dost thou wish? — But before I hear thy answe_ will wrfte further of what happened on the boat.
  • "Soon the shore was far behind. We saw a sail before us in the distance, an_ll at once a dispute rose as to whether it was a common fishing-boat or _reat ship from Ostia. I was the first to discover what it was, and then th_ugusta said that for my eyes evidently nothing was hidden, and, dropping th_eil over her face on a sudden, she inquired if I could recognize her thus.
  • Petronius answered immediately that it was not possible to see even the su_ehind a cloud; but she said, as if in jest, that love alone could blind suc_ piercing glance as mine, and, naming various women of the court, she fell t_nquiring and guessing which one I loved. I answered calmly, but at last sh_entioned thy name. Speaking of thee, she uncovered her face again, and looke_t me with evil and inquiring eyes.
  • "I feel real gratitude to Petronius, who turned the boat at that moment,
  • through which general attention was taken from me; for had I heard hostile o_neering words touching thee, I should not have been able to hide my anger,
  • and should have had to struggle with the wish to break the head of tha_icked, malicious woman with my oar. Thou rememberest the incident at the pon_f Agrippa ahout which 1 told thee at the house of Linus on the eve of m_eparture. Petronius is alarmed on my account, and to-day again he implored m_ot to offend the Augusta's vanity. But Petronius does not understand me, an_oes not realize that, apart from thee, I know no pleasure or beauty or love,
  • and that for Poppaea I feel only disgust and contemtipt. Thou hast changed m_oul greatly, — so greatly that I should not wish now to return to my forme_ife. But have no fear that harm may reach me here. Poppna does not love me,
  • for she cannot love any one, and her desires arise only from anger at Qusar,
  • who is under her influence yet, and who is even capable of loving her yet;
  • still, he does not spare her, and does not hide from her his transgression_nd shamelessness.
  • "I will tell thee, besides, something which should pacify thee. Peter told m_n parting not to fear Caesar, since a hair would not fall from my head; and _elieve him. Some voice in my soul says that every word of his must b_ccomplished; that since he blessed our love, neither Caesar, nor all th_owers of Hades, nor predestination itself, could take thee from me, O Lygia.
  • When I think of this I am as happy as if I were in heaven, wlsich alone i_alm and happy. But what I say of heaven and predestination may offend thee, _hristian. Christ has not washed me yet, but niy heart is like an empt_halice, which Paul of Tarsus is to fill with the sweet doctrine professed b_hee, — the sweeter for me that ft is thine. Thuu, divine one, count even thi_s a merit to me that I have emptied it of the liquid with which I had fille_t before, and that I do not withdraw it, but hold it forth as a thirsty ma_tanding at a pure spring. Let me find favor in thy eyes.
  • "In Antium my days and nights will pass in listening to Paul, who acquire_uch influence among my people on the first day that they surround hi_ontinually, seeing in him not only a wonder-worker, but a being almos_upernatural. Yesterday I saw gladness on his face, and when I asked what h_as doing, he answered, 'I am sowing!' Petronius knows that he is among m_eople, and wishes to see him, as does Seneca also, who heard of him fro_allo.
  • "But the stars are growing pale, O Lygia, and 'Lucifer' of the morning i_right with growing force. Soon the dawn will make the sea ruddy; all i_leeping round about, but I am thinking of thee and loving thee. Be greete_ogether with the morning dawn, sponsa mea!"