Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Marcus Aurelius and Me, or: Beware Author's Devices!

A suitably morbid little blog which a comes a few days too late for Halloween, but there you go. Here it is...
Okay. The following is a true story.
Some time ago for reasons which may (or may not) be clear, I was looking for some good, decently archaic examples of Classic Literature. Preferably Latin/Greek, well-established, wise - oh, and preferably offering an insight into the moment I was trying to capture in my KOH fic. Well, it so happened that flicking through the Oxford Book of Quotations wasn't quite enough - that led me to Catullus, which was a BIG mistake. Catullus, in addition to translating some lovely poems in the Carmine, also wrote some of the filthiest Latin verse known to man. It wouldn't be written on toilet walls today. Or, rather, it would. But on from Catullus -
A chance mention in East of Eden led me to Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. I stumbled across a cheap copy in a 3 for 2 book offer, thought the writing sounded excellent stuff for a certain character of mine - and hey presto! I was off without a second thought. For me, it merely added to the intellectual perplexity of the (shall we say, protagonist) without actually considering what I was quoting from.
Now, 'Ware Author's Devices! I don't know if Melville ever paused in his writing to declaim Shakespearean monologues to the cat, or whether any author actually goes on to do something they only wrote about for a dramatic purpose. Probably they do it before, if possible. But in my case I quite happily wrote about consulting Marcus Aurelius, and then went on to do it in a moment of indecision. My reasons weren't very noble, I have to say - I was in two minds about something really very everyday. You know the mood - where you'll happily toss a coin, do 'eeny-meeney-miney-mo' - settle for anything that makes up your mind.
The creepy thing? Marcus Aurelius works. Seriously. if you're ever in two minds about something, Marcus Aurelius makes up your mind for you...
Hmm, perhaps I sense material for a fic here - long-dead Roman emperors controlling the mind from beyond the grave...

1 comment:

Mercury Gray said...

*laughs* I do stuff like that all the time. For instance, I have Tristan and Iseult sitting above my desk for epic poetry reference and a copy of some book I found in the library today called "A Knight's Own Book of Chivalry" by some dude named Geoffroi de Charny that was apparently published in the...*checks cover*...14th century. I've also been known to read some really boring things like Sun Tzu.

And I would totally read about Marcus Aurelius controlling your mind.