风挑一点灯对《Augustus》的笔记(4)

Augustus
  • 书名: Augustus
  • 作者: John Williams
  • 页数: 336
  • 出版社: NYRB Classics
  • 出版年: 2014-8-19
  • Chapter Five
    No doubt he is a man of principle;yet I have observed that strong principle,coupled with a sour disposition,can be a cruel and inhuman virtue.For with that one can justify nearly anything to which the disposition leads him.
    引自 Chapter Five
    I shall not subject you,my dear Sextus,to one of my disquisitions;but it seems to me more nearly true,as the years pass,that those old "virtues," of which the Roman professes himself to be so proud,and upon which,he insists,the greatness of the Empire is founded—it seems to me more and more that those "virtues" of rank,prestige,honor,duty,and piety have simply denuded man of his humanity.
    引自 Chapter Five

    2017-04-22 13:48:45 回应
  • BOOK 3
    We both must have reached the age when we can take some ironic pleasure in the knowledge of the triviality into which our lives have finally descended.
    引自 BOOK 3
    It was this ambition that caused the first estrangement between us,anestrangement that grew so deep that at one period of our lives I spoke to my wife only of topics upon which I had made careful notes,so that we might not have to undergo the additional burden of misunderstanding,real or imagined.
    引自 BOOK 3
    It is fortunate that youth never recognizes its ignorance,for if it did it would not find the courage to get the habit of endurance.It is perhaps an instinct of the blood and flesh which prevents this knowledge and allows the boy to become the man who will live to see the folly of his existence.
    引自 BOOK 3
    But at that first moment,Nicolaus,I felt nothing;it was as if the cry of pain issued from another throat.Then a coldness came over me,and I walked away from my friends so that they could not see what I felt,and what I did not feel.And as I walked on that field alone,trying to rouse in myself the appropriate sense of grief and loss,I was suddenly elated,as one might be when riding a horse he feels the horse tense and bolt beneath him,knowing that he has the skill to control the poor spirited beast who in an excess of energy wishes to test his master.When I returned to my friends,I knew that I had changed,that I was someone other than I had been;I knew my destiny,and I could not speak to them of it.And yet they were my friends.
    引自 BOOK 3
    If he is to obey his destiny,he must find or invent within himself some hard and secret part that is indifferent to himself,to others,and even to the world that he is destined to remake,not to his own desire,but to a nature that he will discover in the process of remaking. And yet they were my friends,and dearest to me at the precise moment when in my heart I gave them up.How contrary an animal is man,who most treasures what he refuses or abandons!
    引自 BOOK 3
    Nor do I exempt myself from this contrariness.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. 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.
    引自 BOOK 3

    2017-04-22 13:55:42 回应
  • BOOK 3 part2
    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.
    引自 BOOK 3 part2
    I determined early,however,that it was disruptive of order for men to give honor to those gods who spring from the darkness of instinct.
    引自 BOOK 3 part2
    Nevertheless,of all the roles that I have had to play in my lifetime,this one of being a mortal god has been the most uncomfortable.I am a man,and as foolish and weak as most men;if I have had an advantage over my fellows,it is that I have known this of myself,and have therefore known their weaknesses,and never presumed to find much more strength and wisdom in myself than I found in another.It was one of the sources of my power,that knowledge.
    引自 BOOK 3 part2
    It seems to me now,as my own life is slowly trickling away,that there was a kind of symmetry in their lives that my own has not had.My friends died at the height of their powers,when they had accomplished their work and yet had further triumphs to look forward to;nor were they so unfortunate to come to believe that their lives had been lived for nothing.For nearly twenty years,it seems to me now,my life has been lived for nothing.Alexander was fortunate to have died so young,else he would have come to know that if to conquer a world is a small thing,to rule it is even less.
    引自 BOOK 3 part2
    2017-04-22 14:14:23 回应
  • BOOK 3(3)
    I have seen gladiators return to their quarters from the arena,covered with sweat and dust and blood,and weep like women over some small things—the death of a pet falcon,an unkind note from a lover,the loss of a favorite cloak.And in the stands I have seen the most respectable of matrons,her face distorted as she shouted for the blood of a hapless fighter,later in the quietness of her home care for her children and her servants with the utmost gentleness and affection. Thus if there runs in the blood of the most worldly Roman the rustic blood of his peasant ancestor,there runs also the wild blood of the most untamed northern barbarian;and both are ill-concealed behind the facade he has erected not so much to disguise himself from another as to mask himself against his own recognition.
    引自 BOOK 3(3)
    I could trust the poets because I was unable to give them what they wanted.An Emperor may give to an ordinary man the means to a wealth that would confound the most extraordinary taste for luxury;he may bequeath such power that few men dare to oppose it;he may confer such honor and glory upon a freedman that even a consul might feel constrained to behave toward him with some deference.
    引自 BOOK 3(3)
    The poet contemplates the chaos of experience,the confusion of accident,and the incomprehensible realms of possiblilty—which is to say to world in which we all so intimately live that few of us take the trouble to examine it.The fruits of that contemplation are the discovery,or the invention,of some small principle of harmony and order that may be isolated from that disorder which obscures it,and the subjection of that discovery to those poetic laws which at last make it possible.
    引自 BOOK 3(3)
    It has occured to me since that meeting with Hirtia that there is a variety of love more powerful and lasting than that union with the other which beguiles us with its sensual pleasure,and more powerful and lasting than that platonic variety in which we contemplate the mystery of the other and thus become ourselves;mistresses grow old or pass beyond us;the flesh weakens;friends die;and children fulfill,and thus betray,that poentiality in which we first beheld them.It is a variety of love in which you,my dear Nicolaus,have found yourself for much of your life,and it is one in which our poets were happiest;it is the love of the scholar for his text,the philosopher for his idea,the poet for his word.
    引自 BOOK 3(3)
    At one time I was in the habit of calling her my Little Rome,an appellation that has been widely misunderstood;it was that I wished my Rome to become the potentiality that I saw in her.In the end,they both betrayed me;but I cannot love them the less for that.
    引自 BOOK 3(3)
    Now throughout this world the Roman order prevails.The German barbarian may wait in the North,the Parthian in the East,and others beyond frontiers that we have not yet conceived;and if Rome does not fall to them;it will at last fall to that barbarian from which none escape—Time.Yet now,for a few years,the Roman order prevails.It prevails in every Italian town of consequence,in every colony,in every province—from the Rhine and the Danube to the border of Ethiopia;from the Atlantic shores of Spain and Gaul to the Arabian sands,and the Black Sea.Throughout the world I have established schools so that the Latin tongue and the Roman way may be known,and have seen to it that those schools will prosper;Roman law tempers the disordered cruelty of provincial custom,just as provincial custom modifies Roman law;and the world looks in awe upon that Rome that I found built of crumbling clay and that now is made of marble. The despair that I have voiced seems to me now unworthy of what I have done.Rome is not eternal;it does not matter.Rome will fall;it does not matter.The barbarian will conquer;it does not matter.There was a moment of Rome,and it will not wholly die;the barbarian will become the Rome he conquers;the language will smooth his rough tougue;the vision of what he destroys will flow in his blood.And in time that is ceaseless as this salt sea upon which I am so frailly suspended,the cost is nothing,is less than nothing.
    引自 BOOK 3(3)

    2017-04-22 14:33:08 回应