"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!"