If you wish to be anything. Virtue is praised and freezes;
Gardens, mansions, tables are owed to the criminal,
Ancient silver and a goat stand in relief on the cup.
Whom does the corrupter of the covetous daughter-in-law allow
To sleep, whom do turpid fiancees and teenage adulterer allow?
If nature objects, indignation makes whatever verse
It is able, just as do I or Cluvienus….
“Whatever men do–desire, fear, ire, excess,
Joys, discourses–is food for my little book.”—Roman poet Juvenal (ca.55–127 AD), Satires I
The image accompanying this post comes from the PBS mini-series of the mid-‘70s, I, Claudius, based on two novels by British poet Robert Graves. This scene features Messalina (played by Susan White), the beautiful but promiscuous third wife of Emperor Claudius—a symbol of the corruption and double-dealing at the heart of imperial Rome.
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