Friday 18 January 2019

Postcard from Caligula's Court

Cuminia Marcia, scribe, to Iosephus her father, Secondus her brother and Anna the bookseller her mother, hail!

I pray that you are in good health night and day, and I offer great sacrifices that you may be preserved from the misfortunes that are befalling our hapless people. I think often of childhood when the virtues of our ancestors and the Republic were honoured by almost everyone, and the shamelessness I now observe at court was accounted as something unknown or never to be mentioned by the pious.

O, our Rome! It seems to me that the nightmares of madmen have infected all the people of the city, the senators in their purple as well as the tradesmen who in times past were as pure and homely as wheat bread newly baked and fresh water from the fountains.

Here you may now find parents of no mean origin who allow their young sons to go through the streets painted and bewigged and even to dance for men late at night in the lowest of the taverns.

Here too you may find also, even in the temples, young men taking each other as wife and presenting as their child to the gods an infant one or the other has begot, through devilish means, upon some poor woman hired to breed, like a cow brought to bull. So shameless are these men that as the child is  growing in his nameless mother's womb, they describe themselves as pregnant. A mother's love for her baby, and his for her, is set at naught today in Rome.      

But enough of this, for although it is my poor lot to record all this for my employer the illustrious historian, it is not my wish to think on it from the first vigil to the fourth.

If you are well, I am well.