Apr. 21st, 2009

myblackeyedfire: (Default)
According to rogueclassicism.com, the emperor Antoninus Pius commemorated Rome's nine-hundredth anniversary on this date.

I researched Antoninus Pius in high school for a Western Civ. project on finding and campaigning for a Roman historical figure to save it from collapsing. The groups who chose Julius Caesar and Cicero did not win. Our group, in fact, reigned triumphant out of eleven or so teams in total. Our choice of candidate appears by many accounts a sedate and even boring man, compared to the more lavish or ambitious rulers. What marks Anoninus Pius as someone to be further researched is the peace and prosperity during his reign. Originally a safe choice for my group, I began to like this unlikely leader, who maintained Rome for twenty-three years. In contrast, another emperor I fancy was assassinated after four years at the throne, the tide led by his own grandmother.

Boring as Antoninus Pius might be compared to other emperors, one does not remain in power for so long while doing nothing. His choice of building projects and public assistance characterized him as a moderate ruler, someone mild and a homebody, though that term seems ridiculous to apply to a Roman emperor. It takes work and as much active planning for things to run smoothly as it does to orchestrate elaborate ceremonies and building projects.

In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius has this to say about his adoptive father:
"Take care that thou art not made into a Caesar, that thou art not dyed with this dye; for such things happen. Keep thyself then simple, good, pure, serious, free from affectation, a friend of justice, a worshipper of the gods, kind, affectionate, strenuous in all proper acts. Strive to continue to be such as philosophy wished to make thee. Reverence the gods, and help men. Short is life. There is only one fruit of this terrene life,--a pious disposition and social acts. Do everything as a disciple of Antoninus. Remember his constancy in every act which was conformable to reason, and his evenness in all things, and his piety, and the serenity of his countenance, and his sweetness, and his disregard of empty fame, and his efforts to understand things; and how he would never let anything pass without having first most carefully examined it and clearly understood it; and how he bore with those who blamed him unjustly without blaming them in return; how he did nothing in a hurry; and how he listened not to calumnies, and how exact an examiner of manners and actions he was; and not given to reproach people, nor timid, nor suspicious, nor a sophist; and with how little he was satisfied, such as lodging, bed, dress, food, servants; and how laborious and patient; and how he was able on account of his sparing diet to hold out to the evening; and his firmness and uniformity in his friendships; and how he tolerated freedom of speech in those who opposed his opinions; and the pleasure that he had when any man showed him anything better; and how religious he was without superstition. Imitate all this, that thou mayest have as good a conscience, when thy last hour comes, as he had."
myblackeyedfire: (Wolf in transcendent isolation)
Paige's boyfriend is a charming gentleman, naturally taking control and enjoying the part of the caring leader. We're of the same coinage, one the obverse of the other. I sense a mutuality there that isn't threatening or stupidly patronizing, nothing of just sit right ohn down, ma'am, and we'll have it ready for you in no time in his demeanor. He simply wants to take care of it himself, whatever 'it' is. I know it, and I feel that impulse too, so I let him.

He is one of five men who I would permit to lead me to a chair while he sets up the guest bed and brings me a glass of water. I approve of his execution, that he takes the pitcher of water and refills it for me wordlessly. Before I have a chance to thank him he's already brought out a towel and a spare set of pyjama pants. He does things in his way, but I see so much of my own style in his way of thinking, of anticipating needs that I smile in approval and tell him he is a gracious host. He replies almost word for word as I might, waving it off, saying he could not do otherwise.

In the morning I fight my own impulse to wake up early and have the bed folded back, the linens folded, and the kitchen counters wiped, for good measure. Knowing he would take offense, I instead read a book he's recommended me, a collection of short stories by Hubert Selby, Jr. I hope he understands how difficult it is for me to leave the guest bed unmade.

Walking from his place to Paige's apartment, I wear a sweater he gave me, since 9 a.m. is no time for the fancy dress of last night. We talk about it, about wanting to take care of others in our company, and she says Shumon and I are nice. I disagree emphatically and say we are gallant. It is a word I find delightful, something to emulate, to strive to become. When I get the chance, I show her the dictionary.com entries for nice and gallant and she agrees, it is the more fitting descriptor. When he visits here, I will enjoy my turn to have him sit while I refill his glass. I don't desire a battle of wills. I want him to see how similar we are in this regard, that we are well-matched in our desire to give satisfaction.


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