Sunday, December 20, 2020

M/M: A Health Scare, Fronto Ad Caes. IV.12

 Trigger Warning: domestic violence (spanking)

Fronto Caesari.

1 Ut ego, di boni, consternatus sum lecto initio epistulae tuae! Quod ita scriptum fuit, ut tuum aliquod valetudinis periculum significari suspicarer. Postquam deinde illud periculum quod quasi tuum principio litterarum tuarum acceperam filiae tuae Faustinae fuisse aperuisti, quantum mihi permutatus est pavor! Nec permutatus modo, verum etiam nescio quo pacto nonnihil sublevatus. Dicas licet: “Leviusne tibi visum est filiae meae periculum quam meum? Tibine ita visum qui praefers Faustinam id tibi esse quod lucem serenam, quod diem festum, quod spem propinquam, quod votum impetratum, quod gaudium integrum, quod laudem nobilem nobilem atque incolumem?” Equidem ego, quid mihi legenti litteras tuas subvenerit, scio; qua vero id ratione evenerit nescio; nescio, inquam, cur magis ad tuum quam ad tuae filiae periculum consternatus sim, nisi forte, tametsi paria sint, graviora tamen videntur, quae ad aures prius accidunt. 2 Quae denique hujusce rei ratio tu facilius scias, qui de natura et sensibus hominum scis amplius aliquid meliusque didicisti. Ego, qui a meo magistro et parente Athenodoto ad exempla et imagines quasdam rerum, quas ille εἰκόνας appellabat, apte animo comprehendundas adcommodandasque mediocriter institutus sum, hanc hujusce rei imaginem repperisse videor, cur meus translatus metus levior sit mihi visus: Simile solere evenire onus grave umero gestantibus cum illud onus in sinistrum ab dextro umero transtulere, quamquam nihil de pondere deminutum sit, tamen ut oneris translatio videatur etiam et relevatio. 3 Nunc quoniam postrema parte epistulae tuae qua meliuscule jam valere Faustinam nuntiasti omnem mihi prosus metum ac sollicitudinem depulisti, non alienum tempus videtur de meo adversus te amore remissius aliquid tecum et liberalius fabulandi; nam ferme metu magno et pavore relevatis conceditur ludere aliquid atque ineptire. Ego quanto opere te diligam non minus de gravibus et seriis experimentis quam plerisque etiam frivolis sentio. Quae aut cujusmodi sint haec frivola indicabo.

4 Si quando te “somno leni”, ut poeta ait, “placidoque revinctus” video in somnis, numquam est quin amplectar et exosculer. Tum pro argumento cujusque somni aut fleo ubertim aut exulto laetitia aliqua et voluptate. Hoc unum ex Annalibus sumptum amoris mei argumentum poeticum et sane somniculosum. 5 Accipe aliud, rixatorium jam hoc et jurgiosum. Nonnumquam ego te coram paucissimis ac familiarissimis meis gravioribus verbis absentem insectatus sum: Olim hoc cum tristior, quam par era,t in coetum hominum progrederere vel cum in theatro tu libros vel in convivio lectitabas (nec ego dum tum theatris necdum conviviis abstinebam), tum igitur ego te durum et intempestivum hominem, odiosum etiam nonnumquam ira percitus appellabam. Quodsi quis alius eodem te convicio audiente me detrectaret, aequo animo audire non poteram. Ita mihi facilius erat ipsum loqui quam alios de te sequius quid dicere perpeti; ita ut Cratiam meam filiam facilius ipse percusserim, quam ab alio percuti viderim. 6 Tertium de meis frivoleis addam. Scis, ut in omnibus argentariis mensulis perguleis taberneis protecteis vestibulis fenestris usquequaque, ubique imagines vestrae sint volgo propositae, male illae quidem pictae pleraeque et crassa, lutea immo Minerva fictae scalptaeve; cum interim numquam tua imago tam dissimilis ad oculos meos in itinere accidit, ut non ex ore meo excusserit jactum osculei et savium.

7 Nunc ut frivolis finem faciam et convertar ad serium, hae litterae tuae cum primis indicio mihi fuerunt, quanto opere te diligam, cum magis perturbatus sum ad tuum quam ad filiae tuae periculum: Cum alioqui te quidem mihi, filiam vero tuam etiam tibi, ut par est, superstitem cupiam. Sed heus tu videbis, ne delator existas neve indicio pareas apud filiam, quasi vero ego te quam illam magis diligam. Nam periculum est, ne ea re filia tua commota, ut est gravis et prisca femina, poscenti mihi manus et plantas ad saviandum ea causa iratior subtrahat aut gravatius porrigat; cujus ego, dei boni, manus parvolas plantasque illas pinguiculas tum libentius exosculabor, quam tuas cervices regias tuumque os probum et facetum.

--Fronto, Ad Caes. IV.12

From Fronto, to my Caesar

O gods! I was so upset reading the beginning of your letter! The way you wrote it sounded like you had some mysterious illness! But later, when you revealed that the illness was your daughter Faustina’s, my panic shifted--not only shifted, but it lessened a little bit.

And now you’ll say, “Do you think my daughter’s dangerous illness is less important than mine? Doesn’t it seem so to you, who thinks Faustina is a ray of sunshine, a weekend, a hope at hand, a wish fulfilled, a wholesome joy, a noble and pure glory?”

And in turn, I don’t know why I felt the way I did as I read your letter, I don’t know why I am more upset about the thought of you getting ill than your daughter. But, I guess, even though they’re supposedly of equal value, I think I am more upset about the news of your illness because I heard about your illness first.

(2) You should know the reason why this is so better than I would, since you know about human nature & psychology and you are more learned about it than I am. I learned about this to the best of my ability [humblebragging] from my magister & parent Athenodotus, in examples & comparisons, which he called εἰκόνας. I guess I have an example, why my fear seems alleviated [when transferred to your daughter’s health]: those who are carrying a heavy load on one shoulder, when they shift the weight to the other shoulder, it seems that the weight is lessened, even though it remains the same. (3) And when finally, in the last bit of your letter when you told me that Faustina’s health improved a little bit, I tossed away all of my fear & concern, it seemed like an appropriate time for me drop a line to let you know about my love for you, for once I have let go my great fear and panic, I need to loosen up a bit and have a bit of fun. For I know how great I care for you [diligam], not only in big, serious matters, but even more in frivolous ones.  And let me tell you about this kind of frivolity:

(4) Whenever I am “bound in light and peaceful sleep,” [as the poet Ennius calls it], if I see you in my dreams, I cannot resist to embrace or kiss you. Then, depending on the type of dream it is, I either weep my eyes out or I revel in happiness and pleasure. This quote from the Annals is a declaration of my love, albeit a poetic and dreamy one.

(5) Or, take another example, one that is gossipy and begrudging. Sometimes I complain about you to others with fairly strong words (but words out of love!) when you’re not around. Like the time you were in a bad mood out in public, or when you had the nasty habit of reading books in the theater or at dinner parties (back when I actually went to the theater and dinner parties). I was mad, and called you an old fogey and a stick-in-the-mud. But if somebody else called you that in my presence, it made me upset. And so it seems easier to say it than to hear it said by another, just like I feel it’s easier to spank my daughter Cratia than to see her hit by someone else.

(6) Alright, I’ll add a third instance. You know that in the awning-covered shops and vestibules and windows and storefronts, there are these mass-produced images of you (a lot of them are poorly made!). Yet whenever your image meets my eyes, I can’t help but blow it a kiss.

(7) Ok, enough play: let me return to serious matters. Your letter reminded me how much I care [diligam] about you, since I was more upset about your illness than your daughter’s. I hope you get better for my sake, and I hope your daughter gets better, for your sake, as well. But ack! See to it that you don’t rat me out to your daughter that I love you more than her.  She might get upset (since she’s an old fashioned [prisca] gal), and she won’t give me her feet & hands so I can kiss them, or she’ll only do it begrudgingly. And, heavens!, I’ll kiss those little hands & chubby feet as lovingly as I kiss your royal neck and your pleasant and serene face.

ENNIUS

MAP:

Name:  Quintus Ennius

Date:  239 – 169 BCE

Works:  Annals

 

REGION  1

Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans


BIO:

Timeline:

Although widely considered the father of Roman literature, little is known about the works of Ennius and even less is known about his life. It is said that he was born in Rudiae (modern Italy) and served in the Second Punic War. Although he was a prolific author, composing the Annals, (Rome’s first historical epic) and other epic poems, only fragments of these remain extant.

 EARLY ROMAN LITERATURE

Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE



FRONTO

MAP:

Name:  Marcus Cornelius Fronto  

Date:  100 – 160 CE

Works: Letters

 

REGION  3

Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans


BIO:

Timeline:

Fronto was a Roman statesman born in Cirta (Numidia, located in northern Africa) whose rhetorical and literary abilities earned him the nickname “Second Cicero.” He was tutor and mentor to the future Roman emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus; his correspondence with them provides unique insight into the personal lives of much of the Antonine dynasty.

 SILVER AGE LATIN

Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE



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