— 2.1 —
Sextus Pompey was meeting with the famous pirates Menecrates and Menas in a room of his house in Sicily.
Sextus Pompey said, “If the great gods are just, they shall assist the deeds of the justest men.”
Menecrates said, “Know, worthy Pompey, that although the gods may delay aid, that does not necessarily mean that they are denying aid.”
“While we pray to the gods for their aid, the thing that we are praying for is wasting away.”
Menecrates replied, “We, who are ignorant, often pray for things that would harm us. The wise powers deny us these things for our good; and so it is a good thing then that they do not grant our prayers.”
“I shall do well,” Sextus Pompey said. “The people love me, and the sea is mine. My powers are crescent and growing, and my prophetic hope says that my powers will come to the full. Mark Antony in Egypt sits at dinner, and he will make no wars outdoors — all of the ‘wars’ he fights will be in bed. Octavius Caesar gets money where he loses hearts — his high taxes turn people against him. Lepidus flatters both Octavius Caesar and Mark Antony, and he is flattered by both; but he loves neither of them, and neither of them cares for him.”
Menas said, “Octavius Caesar and Lepidus are already engaged in military operations; they rule a mighty strength.”
“From whom have you heard this?” Sextus Pompey asked. “It is false.”
“From Silvius, sir.”
“He is dreaming. I know Octavius Caesar and Lepidus are in Rome together, hoping for Antony. But may all the charms of love, spicy Cleopatra, soften your pale lips! Let witchcraft join with beauty, and let lust join with both! Tie up Mark Antony the libertine in a field of feasts, keep his brain befuddled with alcoholic fumes; may Epicurean cooks sharpen with unsatiating sauce his appetite, so that sleep and feeding may make him forget his honor as if he had drunk from Lethe, the river of forgetfulness in the Underworld!”
Varrius entered the room.
“How are you, Varrius?” Sextus Pompey asked.
“This news that I shall deliver is most certainly true. Mark Antony is expected to be in Rome at any hour. He may be there now because the time since he left Egypt has been long enough for him to make a longer journey.”
“I would have been happy to hear less important news,” Sextus Pompey replied.
He then said, “Menas, I did not think that this amorous surfeiter would have put on his helmet for such a petty war. His military expertise is twice that of the other two, but let us raise our opinion of ourselves because our actions have plucked the never-lust-wearied Mark Antony from the lap of the widowed Queen of Egypt.”
Menas said, “I cannot expect that Octavius Caesar and Mark Antony shall get on well. Antony’s late wife committed offences against Caesar, and Antony’s brother warred upon Caesar, although, I think, Antony did not encourage him to do so.”
“I don’t know, Menas, how lesser enmities may give way to greater. Were it not that we are opposed to and stand up against them all, it is obvious that they would fight among themselves. They have reasons enough to draw their swords against each other. But how their fear of us may cement and mend their divisions and bind up their petty differences, we do not yet know. Be it as our gods will have it! Now we must fight with our strongest forces to save our lives. Come, Menas.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved