“That is the Rome that I live in now — a city of nearly a million people, I have been told. It is unlike anything I have ever seen. They come here from all over the world — black men from the burning sands of Africa, pale blonds from the frozen north, and every shade between. And such a polyglot of tongues! Yet everyone speaks a little Latin or a little Greek, so that no one need feel a stranger.”
“I begin to understand this Roman disdain for philosophy. Their world is an immediate one—of cause and consequence, of rumor and fact, of advantage and deprivation. Even I, who have devoted my life to the pursuit of knowledge and truth, can have some sympathy for the state of the world which has occasioned this disdain. They look at learning as if it were a means to an end; at truth as if it were only a thing to be used. Even their gods serve the state, rather than the other way around.”
“Unlike my uncle Julius Caesar, who found some odd renewal in such extended travels, I never felt at home in those distant lands, and always longed for the Italian countryside, and even Rome.”No final do livro é muito importante voltar à página de abertura na qual John Wiliams diz:
“I have changed the order of several events. I have invented where the record is incomplete or uncertain; and I have given identities to a few characters whom history has failed to mention… With a few exceptions, the documents that constitute this novel are of my own invention – I have paraphrased several sentences from the letters of Cicero, I have stolen brief passage from the acts of Augustus, and I have lifted a fragment from a lost book of Livy’s history preserved by Seneca the Elder.”Um dos erros ou alterações introduzidas por Williams que eu detectei após pesquisa, foi a menção à proscrição dos filósofos em 100 a.C., o que na verdade só aconteceria 200 anos depois, em 100 d.C pelas mãos do Imperador Domiciano, e que acabaria por levar Epictetus até à Grécia.
Para terminar, deixo excertos da última parte do livro, o derradeiro ano de vida de Augustus, em que este olha para trás, refletindo sobre o que foi, aproximando-se imensamente de Marcus Aurelius.
“One does not deceive oneself about the consequences of one's acts; one deceives oneself about the ease with which one can live with those consequences.”
“When I was young, I would have said that loneliness and secrecy were forced upon me. I would have been in error. As most men do, I chose my life then; I chose to enclose myself in the half-formed dream of a destiny no one could share, and thus abandoned the possibility of that kind of human friendship which is so ordinary that it is never spoken of, and thus is seldom cherished.”
“The young man, who does not know the future, sees life as a kind of epic adventure, an Odyssey through strange seas and unknown islands, where he will test and prove his powers, and thereby discover his immortality. The man of middle years, who has lived the future that he once dreamed, sees life as a tragedy; for he has learned that his power, however great, will not prevail against those forces of accident and nature to which he gives the names of gods, and has learned that he is mortal. But the man of age, if he plays his assigned role properly, must see life as a comedy. For his triumphs and his failures merge, and one is no more the occasion for pride or shame than the other; and he is neither the hero who proves himself against those forces, nor the protagonist who is destroyed by them. Like any poor, pitiable shell of an actor, he comes to see that he has played so many parts that there no longer is himself.”
“It was my destiny to change the world, I said earlier. Perhaps I should have said that the world was my poem, that I undertook the task of ordering its parts into a whole, subordinating this faction to that, and adorning it with those graces appropriate to its worth. And yet if it is a poem that I have fashioned, it is one that will not for very long outlive its time. When Vergil died, he earnestly beseeched me to destroy his great poem; it was not complete, he said, and imperfect. Like a general who sees a legion destroyed and does not know that two others have triumphed, he thought himself to be a failure; and yet his poem upon the founding of Rome will no doubt outlast Rome itself, and certainly it will outlast the poor thing that I have put together. I did not destroy the poem; I do not believe that Vergil thought I would. Time will destroy Rome.”
Textos do original, mas lido na versão portuguesa pela D. Quixote. Nota quantitativa no GoodReads.