Nero, Quite An Exemplary Life
When my friend Angelo Paratico told me about his intention to translate the “Neronis Encomium” by Girolamo Cardano in English, and gave me the original Latin text, I must admit I was hit especially by the pages of sex that are (in artistic terms, of course; don’t forget we are speaking about literature) fascinating and compelling.
So my suggestion was to call the manuscript “Fifty shades of Rome-ness,” and so attack all the competitors in their own arena, with a great chance of success.
I don’t know why, but my professional advice wasn’t accepted and the name of the book became “Nero, An Exemplary Life.”
More to the point, during his cultural presentations Angelo never spoke about these pages that for me are the core, or rather the hard-core of the entire book, worthy of further considerations and in-depth analysis. Did you expect a comment by him about imperial blowjobs, for examples? Not a hint indeed, an indication, what a pity.
So, now, it is up to the readers. My hope is that the international success the book is having would reveal a full window on Roman practices, none excluded, this time in English! History is made of battles and kings and people, ok, but also of a miscellany of everyday issues, minus news and usual habits that design and disclose a real world. And Nero, as well as all the other emperors, was real, not a cartoonish character.
Let’s talk Catullus about Caesar, for example (as quoted in the Cardano’s book, page 194):
The do it well among themselves
Such shameless queers
Of Caesar and Mamurra the cocksucker
Nothing too strange they have the same blemish
P.s.: As you could notice, I didn’t stand up for Nero against Seneca, as Cardano did in his “Neronis Encomium.” The truth is I received a minatory letter by a so-called “Seneca’s friends: Ad astra per aspera,” and I don’t want to have troubles – I know that this secret association is extremely strong in Central Hong Kong too.
So I’m begging Angelo Paratico’s pardon, but, Seneca said, Non est ad astra mollis e terris via, sorry.