The word and the flesh (2)


Parthians, in the so-colled Sacrifice of Conon, a Parthian fresco,
in the Temple of Palmyrian Gods, Dura Europos.

Yes, I know: I should explain why I think so. And, two days ago, as I waited for your call, I had already prepared the whole argument in my mind hoping that, once we met, once we looked into each other´s eyes, I could lay it at your feet. You should not believe Alexandra when she says that the purpose of the first meeting I had proposed two days ago was only to conceive our first child. No. I did also intend to explain to you everything, or at least as much as time would allow. And I am certain that I would have convinced you about it all: that you and I owe a sacred duty to your father and my mother´s love wish; that my marriages with Rachel Eraton and Samgila were not betrayals of you; and, above all, that Alexandra´s notion that you and I should flee is nonsense.

It´s clear, though, that such a meeting of ours would not have been to Alexandra´s benefit; and thus she did all she could to prevent it. What´s more, fearing that I might discover your hiding place without her help, she convinced you to command me, by letter, that I should not attempt to see you until I have explained to you -- again by letter -- all that about me which you either do not understand or do not approve. And you do not approve, says your letter, a great deal; and you are puzzled by even more. These were your words, am I right?

This "am I right?", and the two sentences preceding it should bring you to the realization that I am still not certain whether the letter which I have received indeed comes from you. You might say perhaps that this suspicion belies what I had said earlier: that I believe that Alexandra never lies. And this would be a valid observation except that I had also added: that it is her custom to omit certain things from the truth. And thus, for example, how would I know whether this letter had not been accompanied by a message which was supposed to be transmitted to me orally? I did have the opportunity to assure myself that the letter was written by your hand (never mind how). And I recognized the seal: I have no doubt that the ring impressed in the wax was in fact the ring I had sent you ten years ago from the left bank of the Euphrates, just opposite Dura.

What´s more: Theodotos the Byzantine, whom you may remember, and whom I had purchased from Didia Klara two weeks ago, barely glanced at Alexandra´s feet as she returned from you but he exclaimed: this is my leather! Here, at the crossing of the straps -- a mark of my tannery!" And he began to cry, poor fellow, remembering what he had once been. I had to remind him that, supposedly, it is easier for the camel to pass through a the eye of a needle than for a rich man et caetera...

And yet, Markia, I am unable to dispel doubt, why, even anxiety. I am unable to believe that it is from you that this order comes: that I should arm myself - for a long time! - with a quill. That I should continue to maim -- maim? desecrate! -- the most glorious, most sacred language of your father and my mother.


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