Parthian head, Louvre.
Forgive me, Markia, my love, but I do not believe that Christ has entered into a pact of mutual assistance with you.
But it does not follow from this disbelief that I make light of this revelation (made yesterday by you to me through the intermediation of Alexandra). On the contrary: whether such a pact does or does not exist is far less important than the fact that you believe in its existence, or at least once believed in its existence over the course of a certain period of eight days. This obliges me to reconsider my former view of the mystery of what happened on that New Year´s Eve nine years ago.
You know from Alexandra, that I have always doubted that any plot had really existed between you, Eklectos, Aimilios Laitos, Pertinax and Narkis. But you do not know -- because neither does Alexandra -- that I have always considered as pure invention the story of how you, supposedly, having served your imperial lover poison, and seeing that it seemed to take no effect, called out to Narkis (who was hiding behind a column): "Strangle him!" Yet now I am beginning to think that perhaps that report is true; indeed, that it must be true. And I think this because I think I now understand the entire thought process which guided you in the course of those eight days between the night on which the virgin birth of Mithra is celebrated in Rome and the Roman New Year´s Eve.
Equally understandable is now to me Alexandra´s strange eagerness to report to me your confession. Barely a week ago I would not have been surprised by it, thinking her eagerness and precision perfectly natural, but since I began to suspect (a week ago) that her husband did not die of natural causes, I have come to see her also in a different light from that in which I had seen her all these years since the day she had began to speak. Supposedly my most devoted companion, the most trusted recipient of my innermost thoughts, she proved capable of hiding from me the truth regarding the most fundamental of matters!
I do not suspect her of lying -- oh, no! She never distorts the truth -- she only omits to say things which, in her opinion -- might hurt me. Or so Ardashir, Samgila and Theodotos all say: all three are full of admiration -- worship even -- for Alexandra, that she treats me so gently and so very much tries to spare me any pain. Oh, to think of it! Ardashir, for so many years her staunchest enemy -- now admiring her! But what will happen to his admiration -- and that of the other two -- when I tell them that in this business -- the business of the great mystery: are you or are you not a regicide? -- Alexandra did not take the least care to spare my feelings? On the contrary: she told me the whole truth! How strange!
My mother had taught me not to be mystified but to look for that which is hidden behind the mystifying mask. And in this case, too, I have followed her advice: I have spent the whole night wondering what was behind Alexandra´s eagerness and -- precision. And now I think I know: it was, first of all (contra the triune admiration of my familae) the pure, unalloyed, irresistible and urgent need to cause me pain. And second: the far less pure desire to turn my attention away from a whole series of unusual circumstances surrounding the supposedly natural death of Achilles the Hermopolitan, my, after all -- how incongruously! -- brother in law. Finally, I think that she expected that by reporting to me your confession she will convince me to change my heretofore position regarding her suggestion that you and I should flee to the Far East. But in this she is mistaken: though I am now quite certain that you did indeed murder Kaisar Komodos, I repeat -- not "Flee!", but -- "Reveal yourself!" This idea that you and I should flee -- it is neither in your nor in my interest, and only to Alexandra´s benefit.
(I can only handle two paragraphs of this at a time).