Self will admit she has an enduring fascination with ancient Rome (She’s just imparting that to dear blog readers because aside from the story collection Redeployment, by Phil Klay, the rest of her reading list is ALL ROME, ALL THE TIME: Rubicon, by Tom Holland; SPQR, by Mary Beard; Conspirata, by Robert Harris. And she has a long, long way yet to go in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)
She read a biography of Cicero years and years ago (which was called, self thinks, Cicero) and she remembers in particular a section describing how triumphant Roman generals led post-victory processions throughout the capital. Standing just behind the general, in the same chariot, was a slave whose sole responsibility was to whisper into the general’s ear, over and over: Remember, thou art dust.
The minute self read that, her mouth dropped open. She was so in awe.
So far, the most interesting chapter in TDAFOTRE has been the chapter on the rise of monasticism. You would not believe what those monks would get up to! Especially when they were determined to abnegate themselves!
Now she’s into a chapter about Constantine building Constantinople. Very interesting descriptions of the Hellespont and the Bosporus. And then (Italics are mine):
- As Constantine urged the progress of the work with the impatience of a lover, the walls, the porticoes, and the principal edifices were completed in a few years . . .
Oooh! Emperor Constantine had the impatience of a lover!
Gibbon does not enter into any detail about Constantine as an actual lover, however, which in self’s mind is a serious omission. Unless the Emperor had no lovers, and dedicated himself exclusively to the cause of being a great Emperor. Which would be pretty sad, actually. For him personally. Not for posterity. Posterity is happy. Only eccentrics like self would bother themselves with wondering about the personal happiness of emperors.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.