Unnamed Journal Volume 3, Issue 3 - Page 5

The Meditations of Caius Caligulia Book III - Of Women I t occurs to me in this monograph that I have laid out the history of my family very neatly, and yet I have ignored one-half of it. This is a commonplace in families. Men are the public face, the names that are recorded in stone and carried on in blood. But to know the heart of any family, to know how it lives, one must know its women. Unfortunately, I am less able to this, for precisely the same reason. The voices of women are not passed down. Any educated Roman may avail himself of the deed of Augustus, or of Tiberius, or of me. But who really knows the role that my great-grandmother Livia played? Some role, to be certain. Augustus would not have kept her around so long without her having earned it. But how she earned it is a mystery I was too young to know. There are those who say that she was the true master. Certainly the fact that her son succeeded to power can be no accident. But every wife claims to be the ruler of her husband, as every husband of the wife. Only they themselves can know the truth, if they. Leave Livia then to her mystery. She lived in it, and died in it. Of course I made a few poor jokes at her expense, giving, as it were, fire to the rumor of her ignoble birth (fathered by a decurion of Fundi, I believe). But this was all humor. I never believed it, and had she been alive, she would never have condescended to react to it. Besides, I gave out her will to be read at my accession, which Tiberius had suppressed. I was a better son to her than her own that day. I can say little more of my grandmothers. Of Julia, Augustus’ only child and mother of my mother, I know nothing but rumor, which I have learned to distrust. Her exploits have been exaggerated by enemies of the state, but I suspect a kernel of truth lie in them - that she was an unhappy person, who might have made a fine wife for an unambitious senator, but had been thrust by fate to a circle that nothing in her character prepared her for. Peace be upon her; I cannot think she deserved half of what she suffered. Antonia, daughter of Marc Antony and my father’s mother, I knew a little better. She was a Roman patrician of the old school, who raised her children to virtue. I cannot praise my father without acknowledging the role she, a widow, played in his upbringing. If she was disappointed in her daughter Livilla, my aunt, who conspired with Sejanus to murder her husband, Tiberius’ son Drusus, what is that? The follies of children can only be held against their parents so far. I suppose I ought to take a moment to speak more of Antonia’s other son, the last man of his generation of our family, and indeed one of the last of our family, period: my uncle Claudius. Some my perceive a slight in me speaking of Claudius among the women, but he would take no umbrage at it. Claudius takes no umbrage of anything. There are few men on this earth for whom I have greater affection. From the moment of my father’s death I remember him as the soul of kindness, who never ceased to offer our mother whatever she might need to help look after us. Those who mock his stutter and his limp and call him simple are no friends of mine. This brings me to my mother. Of whom I cannot speak. Call it the weakness of my humanity, but the wound of her loss cannot, even now, express itself in words, only tears, and screams would then follow. I was brusque just now in dealing with my brothers, and I cannot in good conscience condemn Tiberius too harshly for disposing of them. Men dispose of their enemies. But my mother… no, I will not speak of that. To think of her prowling hell’s lightless pools will break my man’s heart asunder, and the time is not yet ripe for that.