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1. Suetonius saw the world's history from 49 BC to AD 96 as the intimate narrative of twelve men wielding absolute power. With impressive curiosity he tracked down anecdotes, recording them dispassionately, despite a somewhat stylized reactionary bias. Like his fellow historians from Livy to the stuffy but interesting Dion Cassius, Suetonius was a political reactionary to whom the old Republic was the time of virtue and the Empire, implicitly, was not. But it is not for his political convictions that we read Suetonius. Rather, it is his gift for telling us what we want to know. I am delighted to read that Augustus was under five feet seven, blond, wore lifts in his sandals to appear taller, had seven birthmarks and weak eyes; that he softened the hairs of his legs with hot walnut shells, and liked to gamble. Or to learn that the droll Vespasian's last words were: 'Dear me, I must be turning into a god.' ('Dear me' being Graves for 'Vae') The stories, true or not, are entertaining, and when they deal with sex startling, even to a post-Kinseyan. Gibbon, in his stately way, mourned that of the twelve Caesars only Claudius was sexually 'regular.' From the sexual opportunism of Julius Caesar to the sadism of Nero to the doddering pederasty of Galba, the sexual lives of the Caesars encompassed every aspect of what our post-medieval time has termed 'sexual abnormality.' It would be wrong, however, to dismiss, as so many commentators have, the wide variety of Caesarean sensuality as simply the viciousness of twelve abnormal men. They were, after all, a fairly representative lot. They differed from us - and their contemporaries - only in the fact of power, which made it possible for each to act out his most recondite sexual fantasies. this is the psychological fascination of Suetonius. What will men so place do? The answer, apparently, is anything and everything. Alfred Whitehead once remarked that one got the essence of a culture not by those things which were said at the time but by those things which were not said, the underlying assumptions of the society, too obvious to be stated. Now it is an underlying assumption of twentieth-century America that human beings are either heterosexual or, through some arresting of normal psychic growth, homosexual, with very little traffic back and forth. To us, the norm is heterosexual; the family is central; all else is deviation, pleasing or not depending on one's own tastes and moral preoccupations. Suetonius reveals a very different world. His underlying assumption is that man is bisexual and that given complete freedom to love - or, perhaps more to the point in the case of the Caesars, to violate - others, he will do so, going blithely from male to female as fancy dictates. Nor is Suetonius alone in this assumption of man's variousness. From Plato to the rise of Pauline Christianity, which tried to put the lid on sex, it is explicit in classical writing. Yet to this day Christian, Freudian and Marxian commentators have all decreed or ignored this fact of nature in the interest each of a patented approach to the Kingdom of Heaven. It is an odd experience for both a contemporary to read of Nero's simultaneous passion for both a man and a woman. Something seems wrong. It must be one or the other, not both. And yet this sexual eclecticism recurs again and again. And though some of the Caesars quite obviously preferred women to me (Augustus had a particular penchant for Nabokovian nymphets), their sexual crisscrossing is extraordinary in its lack of pattern. And one suspects that despite the stern moral legislation of our own time human beings are no different. If nothing else, Dr. Kinsey revealed in his dogged, arithmetical way that we are all a good less predictable and bland than anyone had suspected. (...) Suetonius, in holding up a mirror to those Caesars of diverting legend, reflects not only them but ourselves: half-tempted creatures, whose great moral task it is to hold in balance the angel and the monster within - for we are both, and to ignore this duality is to invite disaster.
2. Este texto de Gore Vidal tem mais de 40 anos. Foi escrito a propósito da edição, por Robert Graves, do livro "Os Doze Césares", de Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. O que ali se escreve mantêm a frescura e a oportunidade. Li no Diário de Notícias que o sucessor de Aznar na liderança do PP e candidato a Presidente do Governo nas próximas eleições, Mariano Rajoy, era "acusado de ser gay". A novela foi despoletada pelo insuspeito PSOE, num comício "macho" com mineiros, através de umas piadas de gosto duvidoso do Sr. Alfonso Guerra, dirigidas a Rajoy. Parece que o Sr. Zapatero, o chefe, que também lá estava, riu a bom rir com as grosserias do outro. Feitas as contas, os espanhóis não acharam graça nenhuma a isto. O PSOE desceu imediatamente nas sondagens e o PP passou-lhe 12 pontos à frente. A orientação sexual não faz uma política nem desfaz necessariamente um líder. Os nossos antigos césares, eminentes libertinos e maiores estrategas, não deixaram de saber mandar e de conduzir povos e nações pelo facto de, indistintamente, gostarem de mulheres e de rapazes. Hoje em dia, não faz sentido nenhum andar a discutir se o governante x é mais putanheiro do que o colega y, ou se prefere dormir com um homem ou com uma mulher, maiores de idade. Se há coisa que a vida nos ensina, é que, nesta matéria, não há padrões, nem há uma norma. O sexo não é do foro normativo, como alguns tolinhos, desde o princípio dos tempos, nos tentam fazer crer. Por causa deste incidente de mau-gosto com Mariano Rajoy, lembro-me sempre da frase com que termina o romance de Almada Negreiros, Nome de Guerra: "não te metas na vida alheia se não quiseres lá ficar".