Monday, March 10, 2008

Terence and the Barbarians

give us your support and a fair hearing.
---Prologue to The Girl From Andros

A dark hansom young man was ushered into the atrium of the home of Scipio Aemilianus. His eyes appeared downcast, as though he were mulling over some troubling thought. When he saw Scipio, he suddenly seemed to brighten for a moment and clasped the older man’s hands.

In a gesture of consolation, Scipio patted him on the back and walked him inside the villa.

“I am through with the people of Rome,” said an agitated Terence. “Don’t they see I am bringing them something new? Something great?”

Scipio smiled at the young man’s cocksureness.

“You ask too much Terence. The people bore easily, it is hard for them to keep pace with plots so elaborate when the simple enticements of the circus are so near at hand, and speak so less eloquently to their hearts than your lovers do.”

“I am a stranger to Rome, and Rome is a stranger to me.” Replied the poet. “Perhaps---perhaps it is time to go east and find the sun again.”

Scipio did his best to dissuade his friend from such a dangerous trip, but finally was made to relent. He could not break the will of youth.

It was several months later when news reached the great city of the brash upstart. He had died in the heart of Greece of a broken heart after hearing his plays, sent before him, were lost to shipwreck. When the story was told in the forum, those who had not known him furrowed their brows and went on with the business of business. The young dark-skinned man who looked like a savage, had died for art. The people of Rome truly could not understand why.