August 21, 2011

"A STRANGE AND SUSPICIOUS NEW SECT":

Purity: Youth Restored: Modern man is like the character Marcus in the book Quo Vadis. He no longer knows what his body is for. (ANTHONY ESOLEN, 7/23/11, The Catholic Thing)

Marcus has just returned from a triumphant campaign against the barbarians in the east. He is a man in the full vigor of his youth, passionate, impetuous, and accustomed to getting what he wants. And what he wants now is clear enouh.

It is a lovely girl named Ligia, whom he watches through the arch leading to the inner garden. She is playing ball with a little boy, the son of her adoptive parents, Aulus and Pomponia. Aulus is an upright Roman of the old republican sort. He still pays homage to the household gods and to the great gods of the empire. Pomponia belongs to a strange and suspicious new sect, one that has sprung up, like so many other diseases, from the orient.

Marcus has heard terrible rumors about them, that they hate mankind, they sacrifice children to their god and consume their flesh, and that they are traitors to Rome. He cannot believe such rumors of Pomponia. She is a rarity in Rome, univira, a one-man woman, still married to her first and only husband. Her grace and peace are like a gentle perfume spread throughout the household. Even the servants are soft-spoken, and loyal to their mistress. No, it cannot be that Pomponia is a Christian.

That is the stage set in Henryk Sienkiewicz's masterly novel, Quo Vadis. Marcus will fall in love with Ligia, or what the spoiled men of his patrician class called love - a furious lust, sometimes longing to give up all his ambitions just to enjoy her presence, her lithe body, the scent of her hair, and sometimes longing to crush her spirit and chain her to his will.




Posted by at August 21, 2011 7:11 AM
  

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