Elsewhere on the internet I was asked to talk about my favourite ancient Romans, so I thought I’d share it here too. In no particular order, they are:
"Alexander was lying flat on his back, staring upward. Suddenly he grasped Hephaistion in an embrace so fierce that it knocked the breath out of him, and said, ‘Without you I should go mad.’ ‘I too without you,’ said Hephaistion with loving ardour. Change the meaning, he thought, and you avert the omen. Alexander said nothing. His strong fingers gripped into Hephaistion’s ribs and shoulder; the bruises would be there a week."
Reblogging because me too; he is just the loveliest person, with such a sweet and considerate nature and a generous spirit. (and I can’t not love his bookishness as well!) Reading his letters I just want to cuddle him. Even the ones to Trajan clearly arise from a conflict between his instinctive kindness and his need to honour the law. (it’s impressive how firm and clear-sighted Trajan’s replies are; he was undoubtedly a good emperor, but you can see how much of a mess it would be if he weren’t - and how blackly comic would be all the vows celebrating his accession and imploring the gods to keep him safe. Also, did every emperor have to deal with this kind of thing, from all the provincial governors?! no wonder Justinian never slept!)
And I never realised until reading Pliny’s letters just how close-knit Roman society was; even beyond ties of blood and friendship, there was such a network of patronage and favours. If you couldn’t get the people who mattered to recommend you, you would get nowhere. No wonder the Civil War was so devastating. D: