A Film by Klaus Wyborny
list of English subtitles
c copyright 2003 by K,Wyborny
Having conquered Carthage, Greece and parts of Asia, Rome was beset by civil war. Mithridates, King of Pontus, seized the opportunity to stage an uprising, and invaded Greece to become a new Alexander. However, he was defeated twice by the Roman Proconsul Sulla. Meanwhile in Rome, a group hostile to Sulla had seized power: they confiscated his property and declared him a public enemy. Sulla had to abandon his glorious campaign and return to Italy to undo the wrongs committed against him and the Roman Constitution.
"I love and hate at the same time" - Catullus, some 25 years later.
In the year of the consuls Scipio and Norbanus, in the 427th year of the Republic, less than a week's march to Rome, near Tarracina.
- 1 -
Sulla waited by the group of pine trees. It was hot. One wouldn't want to leave the shade until evening. There were horse droppings everywhere. Using a stick, he removed a few of them from the crucial area. Nobody would want to sit amidst horse droppings. Sulla removed eight droppings from the essential area. He didn't know where it ended, but knew from experience that life concentrates on essentialities. Of course, a few droppings wouldn't be an obstacle. Even peace treaties had been signed in shit. Basically, the site was ready. A waiting person might notice the droppings, but not an excited one. And it would all depend on excitement. Only in extreme situations would anything occur while lying down. As he wanted to wait lying down, he had to make sure that whatever followed would occur standing or kneeling, if not sitting down. There seemed to be enough places to sit or to kneel. And standing was possible anywhere. By the pine next to the camp bed was a particularly good place. Here one could lean back, turn one's head and look out over the plain. One could also rest one foot on a rock, so that the body assumed a naturally open position. Sulla leaned the stick against the tree. Not a special stick, but one that was perhaps useful against dogs. Then he looked for a rock to rest his foot on. The limestones were all too small. He collected a few and arranged them, so one could set something on them. As the important things were to take place standing, it was possible that he'd be surprised lying down. Then the person in question was unlikely to lean against the tree. One would rather sit next to him, but not if the camp bed was so close to the tree. He rearranged the stones so that one could also sit on them, and pushed the camp bed aside to try sitting on the stones. Unfortunately, it was painful. It needn't be comfortable, he thought, but mustn't be painful. If someone was sitting here he, Sulla, should be able to rise to a standing, or at least to a sitting or kneeling position. If he didn't want the other person to sit, and he knew he wouldn't, he'd have to get the person to stand or kneel too. He had no idea how to achieve this, since no one would feel like sitting on such uncomfortable stones. At the other end of the site, Sulla also noticed some horse droppings. They had to go too. Annoyed, he kicked some of them away. Here it was also possible to lean against a pine tree. One could even lean one's head back. Or push one leg against the adjacent pine tree and swing one's hips while contemplating the plain. Sharp limestones stuck out of the dry coniferous ground between pine cones and horse droppings. Nothing would happen on such ground: that would be disgusting. Sulla was amazed by the expanse of his thinking, but only thus could one get anywhere as a politician. Back at the first pine, he moved his group of stones closer to the trunk, as leaning against the tree had given him self-confidence. It still didn't look inviting, and when he sat down it was as uncomfortable as before. Only someone who'd want to sit next to him would sit down on it. Well, he'd have to play things by ear anyway. On the other side of the tree he discovered a further option: there were rocks here, too, and he grouped them so one could also stand on them. It was even possible to stand on both groups of stones and lean against the tree. Thus one became a statue that could turn its head toward the plain. This idea appealed to Sulla. Yes, someone could stand like a bridge, one leg on each group of stones, with his legs spread, and view the plain with his head twisted, while he himself gazed at the blue sky, "restraining the lush green of the pines", he added in a flight of inspiration prolonging the moment, as if hoping to escape from the analytical sobriety he had forced his thinking into. Not bad, Sulla thought with satisfaction, something might come of this. When he tried standing on both groups of stones, it was equally uncomfortable. Besides, this memorial-like pose was too spectacular. That and the discomfort did not match his idea of ecstasy. Dejected, he sat down on the stones he'd already sat on before. This still wasn't comfortable, but surprisingly, it no longer hurt. If he moved the other group of stones closer to the tree, one would be able to sit leaning against it, too. It didn't feel bad. Better than on the first group, and thus a further option. Standing on both groups would only serve as a demonstration, as would leaning against the trees over there, especially if one put one leg up against a tree and swung one's hips. The spectacular effuses coldness, which didn't fit to the idea of true ecstasy: Sulla decided it could only serve as a demonstration. Kneeling was possible anywhere. Even sharp limestones could probably be ignored in states of excitement. So one could sit on the groups of stones, kneel or stand leaning against a tree. Or stand on one group of stones, or both. He too could stand on the stones and turn to the other person, though this confused his imagination. To grasp this option, he stepped onto the left group of stones. Now he was a statue. If someone stood on the other one, they'd be two statues. If they faced each other, they'd be a group of statues. Two who become one, a surprisingly promising possibility. If he put his right foot on the ground and his opposite his or her left one, it'd create a point symmetry with both bodies opening to each other. Yes, point symmetry around a certain point, Sulla smiled, before realizing it was in fact mirror symmetry, but that didn't matter, because this didn't rule out maximum ecstasy. We'd be gods, he thought with a sudden lust for life. No, only demigods, because they'd still have one foot on the ground. A god would stand with both feet on the stones. But then they'd only be two statues and not two blending into one. Distinguishing between point and mirror symmetry had taxed his powers of imagination. The fragrance of the pine trees felt good. My God, he thought, the whole world can be contained in a fragrance. Yes, one could reach a state of experiencing life here, in fact, one didn't even have to reach it: the mere existence of the possibility was soothing. Besides, life would offer opportunities all by itself. What was he doing here anyway? Just imagining things was so contrary to his nature that it amazed him. He hated applications of geometry, and detested complex symmetries. Did he want to create something containing something essential? What would it consist of? Feelings? Passions? He wasn't sure, yet it was clear he'd be lying down, and the other person would be sitting on the first group of stones. He decided to think of the other as just "the other person" in order to uphold his idea of essentiality. The essential? Yes, if that person were sitting on one group of stones, then he could sit down on the other one. How such a transition might occur was beyond Sulla's imagination. Maybe he could achieve it by an assertion. He could say, "I wonder what it's like to be sitting on the other group of stones," and do so. Curious, thought Sulla: an assertion as the producer of a transition. It was the same in politics. In politics, many things happen according to the same pattern. He repeated the sentence aloud and sat down on the second group of stones. Not bad, this transition. Something was hurting in his back. With his stick he knocked a piece of bark off. Easily done. When he leant back, it was much better. As the camp bed bothered him, he moved it. Now he felt less constrained. It was... downright cosy! He hadn't intended to create such cosiness, but knew he over-valued his condition when listening with such attuned senses. It probably wasn't cosy at all. A site, thought Sulla in sudden fanaticism, a site! A kingdom for the right site! Yes, this was a site and he'd create a kingdom out of it. He now found this group of stones very comfortable. It seemed to exude a power that made sense of everything. The other group, however, now seemed a crude bait which existed only in relation to the camp bed. When he sat down on it, it too seemed less uncomfortable. This was amazing, as the rocks hadn't changed. Then he understood: he himself had changed! Now he could lean his leg against the tree and look at the other group of trees, or through the bushes into the distance. And when looking into the distance, the sheer presence of the camp bed had something soothing about it, as it formed a natural border to his field of vision. To his right lay the other group of stones, which now seemed to have an appealingly empty dignity. One and the other, he thought. When he had sat there earlier, the one he was sitting on now was "the other". Nobody likes sitting on "other" things, he concluded. However, if a stranger sat here, one would have to let him unfold: maybe by providing a second view, or perhaps by offering a gift, say a book. Or, maybe the best option, a shape revealing itself, into which the stranger could move to complete it by his or her presence. He tried to imagine such a shape. Though not fond of abstract imagination, he was able to form a mental sketch of a stable constellation. It was just possible without pain. But their limbs were so entangled it virtually excluded any form of ecstasy known to him. But who knew the actual limits of ecstasy? But first, he wanted to sleep. Yet lying there... - nothing should happen on the camp bed - ...the wind in the pines invaded his ears so strongly that it kept him from falling asleep. My ears are still too attuned, they're exaggerating, he thought, and decided to go for an inspection round. He took his stick and a stone. A caricature of a walking stick, he thought. It wouldn't impress anyone. It was forked at one end, and felt better turned round the other way. And the rock might deter the dog he'd seen prowling about the day before. One could fend off a dog with this rock, but not real enemies. The watering place where he'd put his things looked peaceful. It'd been cleared for him. He'd wanted to be alone, and now he was alone. The person in question would get the right impression, he hoped. Sparrows were playing by the water. Aphrodite's birds, he recalled from Greece. It seemed unlikely anyone could kill him here. If no one comes, it's their own fault, he determined objectively, back by the pine trees. At least he'd created an opportunity. Satisfied, he propped the stick up against the tree. Now it was indeed a walking stick, as he'd actually walked with it. His inspection round had appeased him, now he'd be able to sleep. Naturally, it'd be a nice surprise if the expected person were sitting next to him when he woke up. The thought agitated him. He felt it could happen any moment now. A horse neighed. Was the person coming on horseback? He didn't want to go to the watering place, not now! It was up to the person to find him! Alone, at least almost alone: this was the site! I'm too excited, he thought, trembling. No, not now! The person should come when his arousal and anticipation had died down. Should he put some books near his groups of stones? If there was a better reason to sit there, the first approach wouldn't seem so direct. Anticipatory thinking is a miracle, Sulla concluded, a miracle of nature, and took a sip of water. Yes, books leaning against the tree would increase the desire to sit there. And once seated, one could study the titles of the books or make a comment. That would be something! A miracle! But now he wanted to rest on one of them, lie down and sleep. He thought it inappropriate to be lying around naked or in an ambiguous position. Nevertheless - out of boredom? - he reached down for his dick. One couldn't really object to a man doing so, thinking he's unobserved and alone in the wilderness. But it shouldn't be too visible. "Barely visible" was the expression that described what seemed appropriate. Yet even if the person sitting next to him was fully engrossed in the books, there'd be an odd force between that person and the open clothes. An odd, barely visible force! Sulla laughed and discovered that he, while holding his dick, could also lean one leg against the tree and stretch it up. A new constellation! If he held his dick in his left hand while stretching his right leg up, the other person could stand by the tree relaxed and naturally, or like a demigod with one leg on a group of stones. So the legs, or rather just this one leg, would be standing next to him, and he'd be able to feel his way up while the other person fondled his upstretched leg. A woman, thought Sulla: this calls for a woman. Now he had to abandon his deceitful abstraction. Underneath her clothes he could make his way up to her thighs, while she was feeling his calves, and then, depending on the level of passion, he would suddenly reach out his arm, or perhaps she could bend down to him. That would be an extra constellation! But he immediately feared that this one would likewise only be good as a demonstration. No, nobody would lean against the tree with him lying down, his leg against it, and holding his dick. This idea was absurd. Something like that could only come about through an assertion. And an assertion simply isn't ecstasy. The sun had travelled on and now shone through the pines right onto his face. If he wanted to remain in the shade, he had to move the camp bed. Having done so, his head lay next to the first group of stones. Did the other still possess its empty dignity? He wasn't sure. Had the quiet gleam it still had just a moment ago disappeared? While he contemplated this, the group seemed to change again and slowly regain its empty dignity. The positions of the groups of stones in relation to the camp bed appeared more pleasing after the bed had been moved. From now on, he'd refer to the second group of stones as "the one with the empty dignity". Yes, now it was better: from here he could easily get up and change into a kneeling or sitting position. Much, much better, Sulla thought. But now, he gradually realized, the long wait was about to begin. I want to feel you, he suddenly thought, feel you before I...
- 2 -
Now he felt like a dog, exactly like a dog lying on his side, panting, and waiting for a wolf who wanted to snatch the herd away from him, he thought, dozing. Could the dog love the wolf? Because it gave him a purpose and reason? Why reason? Sulla started to awaken. He didn't understand what he was doing here. Why was he comparing Mathilde to a wolf? What could she snatch away from him? Marriage, family and children? No, children bored him, and he certainly had no desire to found a dynasty. It was through his own strength that he'd got... ... yes, here! Right into a civil war, he thought bitterly. An odd wolf, that Mathilde. What did he want from her? He wanted to feel her, that much was clear: before subjugating her, he wanted to feel something of her life. Then he wanted to build an edifice, so that everyone would know that he, Sulla, had built this edifice, and before her death he had... How would people end up describing it? No, he was certainly not going to fuck her, he wanted to feel her, and he wanted her genuine arousal. Nothing about this edifice should be false, he promised himself, it'd have to have true dignity! Family held no such dignity for him. He'd married one of his daughters off to young Pompey, who now had to support him until he was killed. That's the way it went with family. Was he afraid Mathilde might destroy all this? Was this why he feared her as the dog feared the wolf? Was she lying in wait for him here? Was she pursuing a plan of her own, one not unlike his? Something snapped in the bushes. "Hello!" he called out, nothing moved. His father-in-law, he had dignity. Metellus was pious and a member of the old families whose support he needed if he was going to win this civil war. Sulla drank a sip of water. There was hardly any left. Pious Metellus would certainly not have any understanding for what he was doing here. Metellus wouldn't even be impressed by the empty dignity of his group of stones, not to mention what was supposed to happen on them. Maybe she's waiting by the watering place, Sulla hoped. He took his walking stick, and carrying the jug as he strode through the bushes, he thought he'd be in a much more superior position to a mere dog now: with such a jug he felt stronger. Not far away from the watering place, the three holy horses were grazing. It was their neighing he'd heard, it had nothing to do with Mathilde. The sparrows had disappeared. Oh, this kind of waiting was not for him. Disappointed, Sulla filled his jug. Something had to happen. But under no circumstances here at the watering place! In order to remain in the shade on the camp bed, he reflected, back under the pine trees, he'd have to keep moving it all the day. The sun doesn't stand still. As a commander in battle, one knew that, of course, but a detail like this could still surprise one. This meant that the area in front of the other trees might yet end up being the centre of some activity, in which case the horse droppings would be in the way. He put the forked end of his stick behind a horse dropping and swept it away. He knew a thing or two about horses and horse droppings, he thought, as he repeated this a few times. After all, he was famous as a cavalry commander. But above all, he was famous for the trenches he'd dug to obstruct enemy cavalry. Even after he'd removed ten or twelve horse droppings from the area in question, it didn't look much better in the light of potential future activity. Many of the horse droppings had disintegrated and couldn't be swept away with the stick. One would have to kick them or push them away with one's feet. He was certainly not going to soil his hands removing them. No, it still didn't look appetising under the second group of pine trees. He'd have to do something about that. But for the time being, there was still enough shade here. Nothing would happen so soon, anyway. His soldiers were gone and he was here. Why didn't she come? Did she have a plan of her own ? Or did he not feature in her plans at all? "Either - or", thought Sulla, it's always the same nonsense. Yet, he continued his reflections in the same nonsensical vein: in that case, - but he didn't know what "in that case" actually meant - he might end up waiting a long time: today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow. Or she might not even find the resolve to come. That seemed the most likely option. And then she might be making her own ridiculous plans. Naturally, she'd be all too willing to sacrifice her body to him for her people. For that purpose she'd be prepared to lie somewhere half-naked, waiting for him to discover her. He knew that much. And she'd then expect him to fall upon her, to rip her legs apart and fuck her immediately, so that, yes, this is how she'd put it: her soul would wish to perish! Oh, he knew that. And then he was supposed to come inside her, and from their union something new would be formed, something new for the people. That's the way a plan might be conceived in a woman's mind. Sacrifice one's body for people and child! That's what they envision when thinking of the way of the world. They understood nothing of the nuances of politics. Naturally, it wouldn't bother him to get Mathilde in a more conventional fashion, but he had other plans for her, bigger plans. Obviously, he wanted her unstaged arousal, but what he'd really envisioned was a more abstract form. He didn't want just sensuality, he wanted a kind of... temple. And you can't erect a temple just because you've fucked a woman. For that, a simple memorial slab would suffice, or some rocky outcropping, possibly connected to an oracle... and whisper, whisper... And right here did it happen, some women could whisper later: this is where she washed herself, whisper, whisper, almost naked, and that's where he made his move, whisper, whisper, then he threw her on the ground, and whisper, whisper, she screamed. And then he touched her between her legs and touched her breasts, and there, oh, she'd just closed her eyes, whisper, whisper... Sulla was amazed this sequence aroused him, even though he'd wanted to make fun of it. How could such primitiveness be so arousing? And why was he holding his dick again? This wasn't boredom anymore. Ha, he knew all too well he could throw her into the horse droppings and fuck her, but why did the mere idea of it already excite him? And yes, she had opened her legs a bit, even though she didn't really want to, the whispering would continue, whisper, whisper... And then her legs were open, whisper, whisper... She wanted... Well, what was it about such cheap images that excited him? And why was he now lying on his stomach, moving around on the camp bed, whisper, whisper, as if Mathilde was underneath him, "And what's this?" he asked, "What's going on in my mind?" Oh, he would fuck her, all right, take her and fuck her, he thought, as soon as an opportunity presented itself, whisper, whisper, why on earth not? But he'd see to it that he didn't create such an opportunity! He didn't want a memorial somewhere in the wilderness, he wanted a temple, he wanted... Rome! No, he had no idea why mere imagination could get a man so excited, but then his plan to build a temple already excited him, a temple for Rome! There was something shabby about his name: "Sulla". No one knew what the word meant. Some said it had something to do with the spots on his face. He couldn't just build a "Sulla Temple", someone with a name like his needed a true occasion! Rome? No, not even Rome would do. There were simply too many Romans! Like this whispering, this eternal whispering! No, he wouldn't fuck her, he'd feel her! And then reproduce each phase of this feeling, every tentative touch, each bit of stirring around in her... cunt, he'd reproduce it, each grip into her fat! And have it inscribed in his temple, as the beginning of something. Who knows, perhaps it might spawn a real cult: Sulla felt Mathilde's body and thus he felt the world. Didn't sound bad. For history! For posterity! The unconventional Sulla thus felt his way into history! And right next to the entrance of his temple of feeling and being felt could be her monument: a rocky outcropping with a pine tree, and the whispering would arise around it: that she had been standing on groups of stones and had writhed under the pressure of his hand. And everything would've taken place in the almost abstract way he'd envisioned, but then she'd suddenly, against his wishes, grabbed him by his sex, whisper, whisper... And while he was still trying to ascertain the abstract genuineness of her arousal, she was already wanking him, yes, wanking him, with his hands busy inside her, and just before he was finished with feeling her up, her thighs suddenly shone so pale and seductively, whisper, whisper, that he'd stuck it inside after all. And now he had a firm grip on his dick. "And what if this was still the essentiality?" he was surprised: "Not only reality, but essentiality!" More essential than his groups of stones and his feeling her up, and that he could move them back and forth as long as he wanted. Never would he escape from this essentiality, because now he was fucking Mathilde, or rather, the idea of Mathilde, but one couldn't tell the difference now anyway. Yes, he was fucking her! And then he came! Whisper, whisper... That's when he decided not to kill her after all. That was her victory! Whisper, whisper... For that she had to let herself be felt up in his temple, because she felt so good. That was his victory! Yes, the temple of feeling up for his victory. The rock monument of whispering for her victory! It was that simple, Sulla thought, everyone would understand it. And so she would let herself be felt up by all Romans, and whoever felt her up would become Roman! Not bad, Sulla laughed: that's how things function in politics. And anyone who doesn't know how to feel her properly is a Barbarian! Sulla laughed again and discovered a promise in his laughter, the profundity of which he preferred not to examine too closely. And so he concluded his world-feeling train of thought with a cheerful "We! The citizens, we are the Republic!" He was happy that he hadn't really come, for he needed Mathilde for his temple. Now, as his arousal was diminishing, he could perceive his groups of stones again: there's the one with the empty dignity, he cheered himself up. His dick was no longer hard, which was good, as he had to preserve a minimum of erectile potential for Mathilde, otherwise nothing would come of his dreams for Rome. Essentiality this way - essentiality that way, he thought: something new had to happen. Otherwise more and more new political duds would keep building their boring temples on the Forum. Tedious playthings built to represent greatness! Their own villas, however, they would build on the Palatine hill, and then, when evening fell, they'd gather on the slope of the hill and piss down into the valley and laugh at the play world of the Forum, at the play world of history. And they would go mad in their palaces, megalomaniacally they'd suffocate under their brilliant passions! Gods were defined by acts and not by an external form, someone had once said. But that wasn't true, thought Sulla: the external form defined the acts! And he saw himself on his stomach on a camp bed in the middle of the Forum with his image of Mathilde underneath him. No, he wanted to put his temple on a mountain, not in a valley. A temple was meant to be worshipped along with what it represented. Yes, Mathilde should be standing when he was feeling her! Standing on his groups of stones, not lying in some valley he could piss down into!
- 3 -
When he noticed that the sun had moved further, he lay down facing the other direction so that his head was in the shade again. His legs, now facing the tree, felt warm in the sun. If Mathilde were to come now, he could turn around when he arose and return to the original constellation, to the promising situation of the outset. As the ground sloped away, he felt the need to raise the upper end of his camp bed to counteract the feeling of falling away. But it didn't work, the camp bed couldn't be adjusted. Yet much better, of course, than picking up horse droppings back over there, where leaning against the trees was too spectacular. Only there and in the bushes was there still some shade. In his new sanctuary there'd be no room for inconsistencies due to uneven terrain. He would build a flat foundation so that his camp bed could face any direction. During his conquest of Athens his siege mound had been tunneled under by the defenders, causing its collapse. That wasn't going to happen to him again. The foundations of his temple would be more solid. Even if a sanctuary were resting on it, even a double sanctuary, for his victory and for her victory, its foundations would have to be so wonderful and stable that they could be a sanctuary in themselves. A stable foundation held together by Pozzuoli cement. "Oh holy cement-cast foundation" he thought, and let the words reverberate inside himself. Despite their beautiful sound, they seemed utter nonsense to him. On the pine trees with fewer needles the pine cones looked like horse droppings. "O how lovely sings the wind in the pine trees", he sang to himself, hearing the wind sing in the pine trees, even though there was hardly any wind. What made the wind seem to sing so loudly up there? Maybe a pine cone would fall off a tree and onto him... And then the people would form long processions of pilgrimage up to the edifice on the holy terrace. He could see them as he dozed, and in the middle of the temple there'd be a curtain with openings, through which men could reach out their arms to women waiting behind it, bringing their bodies closer to the grasping hands, and then they'd let themselves be felt up. Priestesses, Sulla had to laugh, trained in the art of being optimally felt up. And Mathilde would be the first saint of this new form of femininity, and some day her daughter would assume her mother's office: priestess in the Mathildian art of being felt up. That's how things worked with families! If Mathilde, now that his legs were facing the tree, were to sit on the first group of stones, they'd be facing each other when he sat up, as if in a perfectly guileless conversation. There'd be no indication that he wanted to make her the ultimate tester of Romans. Wasn't that strange? Ultimate Tester of Romans! The acrobatic sound of these words brought Sulla back to consciousness. My God, what nonsense! Another hour had passed. He couldn't keep working out new arrangements every few minutes, just because the sun had moved. That kind of flexibility exceeded the best planning skills. Unless she had a plan of her own. Certainly she would dislike his plan. Rome wouldn't like it either, at least not the Rome he knew. He'd have to change Rome. But to do that, she'd first have to come here. Without her, the splendour of his arrangement could not unfold. Yes, she'd need to have a plan, a plan in which he, Sulla, played a role. If she had no plan, no matter how banal, his plans were bound to crumble. Sobered by this, he thought of all the sanctuaries he and his soldiers had desecrated: Delphi, Olympia, Halikarnassos. Did he really want to build a new one? Why didn't he want the nonsense he was thinking up here just to be forgotten as a mere flight of fancy? Did he take it that seriously? On the other hand, why shouldn't he erect a temple to a flight of fancy? But it was to be different from the sanctuaries they'd pissed on. A sanctuary for them, for the desecraters! A temple of manliness, a fortress safe from the future, one which only women would want to desecrate. And a wonder, Sulla thought, not a wonder of splendour and Greek beauty, no, a wonder of severity, of its naked asymmetrical form! A wonder, whose masculine seriousness would scare off the hordes of decency once and for all! The birds' chirping seemed to be louder now. Or did he just hear them more clearly? For them he'd become a harmless part of this group of pine trees. How come they considered him harmless? "There's no human here!" one of them might have sung, and from then on they all twittered as if he weren't even there. Was he really a human? What he'd just been thinking about his temple was a bit peculiar, but who determined humanness? Birds? A little while ago he'd seen a bird's nest on the ground. Mathilde, come, he thought, I'll crush your nest just like this bird's nest! Was he a human? Yes, he thought, I want to feel you and hear you beg me to fuck you. Why don't you finally come, Mathilde? Come, you dirty swine! The time for the miracle is now! He remembered that once, attempting to achieve more familiarity with his soldiers, he'd participated in the distribution of women after conquering a city somewhere in Asia, against his customary habit. At least 20 must've had their way with one of the women before they giggled and let him have a go in between. He'd forgotten the name of the city, but could still see the woman, especially the bloody patch of skin on one of her shoulders. He thought his soldiers must all have bitten her in the same spot, until he realized they weren't bite marks, but crude attempts to caress the woman, the result of a steady stream of rough kisses. That's when he encountered another kind of essentiality. Why had they all kissed her on the same spot, up on the left between her throat and shoulder? Were they compelled to? What kind of essentiality was that? When it was finally his turn, he decided to kiss her other shoulder, but surprisingly, it didn't work. No, it wasn't strange at all, that's what had really shocked him. He fucked her and wanted to kiss her up on the right, not up on the left, and everywhere it was burning, and he couldn't. It was awful. And then he too had pressed his lips into the bleeding skin up on the left and had likewise become part of this strange essentiality. To create a kind of intimacy? Some kind of connecting humanity going beyond the inhumanness down there? But why left and not right? Did his aversion to symmetry stem from there, from that moment of... truth in a burning city? Had he realized then that nothing essential in the world wanted to be symmetrical? Was the merciless asymmetry of his double sanctuary supposed to conserve that for all eternity? He noticed that the recollection of this incident had aroused him disagreeably, and decided to take another inspection round towards Circe's Hill. No, no one, and certainly no bore, not a single one, should ever be allowed to besmirch the new beauty of his edifice! And he'd not permit being turned into a swine by someone like Circe, as had happened to Ulysses' companions, just because they had lusted for her exposed femininity. When he returned from his inspection round, his camp bed was standing entirely in the sun. To remain in the shade, he now had to set it up by the other group of trees, in the middle of the horse droppings. She certainly had no idea of the importance of what could happen here, he tried second-guessing her actions, as he carried the camp bed over. Oh, there might be a thousand reasons for her not to come, yet one reason would suffice to make him happy. Perhaps she wanted to let him, the powerful man, be alone with his thoughts. And he just wanted to feel her cunt, he thought in a surge of fury, yes, feel her and watch her body move. He would certainly be happy if she came. No, nobody should call this effort of his mental faculties madness, he decided as he saw his edifice again before him. So here he was, sitting in the middle of horse droppings, not far from a disused bird's nest, waiting for one who wasn't coming. One couldn't manoeuvre oneself into a more stupid situation. And all this for Rome? There weren't even witnesses for what he'd really thought. And that, he suddenly reflected, was an odd thought: if he were to forget it, then it would never have existed! An observer might've noticed the way I rearranged the rocks, but my thoughts would never have existed, thought Sulla agitatedly. He'd behaved very strangely, such an observer might later recount, and a few times he'd reached into his trousers to toss himself off. So what? Every man grabs his dick now and then. Even a king jerks off occasionally, even if it's not publicized. And he certainly didn't want to become king. He was a Republican! He wanted Mathilde's cunt and he wanted to build that damn temple, whether she liked it or not! Yes, thought Sulla, the external form defines the acts, and he remembered the burning city and the torn patch of the woman's skin up on the left. Oh, he had felt so wonderful, so free, when he, unlike the others, had wanted to kiss the unharmed shoulder, until that terrible moment when he noticed that he couldn't, that he wasn't free. Did freedom have something to do with asymmetry? And was he at least free now? Could he stop all this nonsense and simply go away? Yes, he could, but he didn't want to. He had to wait, Sulla realized: he couldn't go away, he was dependent on that minuscule chance that something extraordinary might happen here. She wasn't going to come, that had meanwhile become clear. For him, did freedom consist of no more than his will to follow a hunch so ruthlessly? And did this have any connection to symmetry? To geometry? He certainly couldn't make out any. But it was his own will that kept him from going away, yes, although it was an expression of his freedom, his will simultaneously gave him a sense of a lack of freedom. It was like a compulsion he was unable to do anything about. He had to sit here and hope she'd come, it was that simple. He could think whatever he wanted, go on his inspection rounds as far as Circe's Hill, but that was it. Afterwards, he had to come back here and wait. Did he have to win this civil war at all? What did this famous freedom look like in there? This freedom all this fighting was supposed to be about? He noticed that a compact form could be shaped out of the profusion of branches up there, some kind of umbrella or a flattened cupola: one couldn't tell from down here. That kind of thing could only be determined from a distance. Yes, he had to wait. Bringing her here using some cunning strategy was not an option. It'd take two to play his game, two plans, with his plan triumphing. She had to offer him her body, and he'd take it the way he wanted. That would be his victory. Or things would follow her plan: she'd see the horse droppings and expect him to press her naked body to the ground right here to fuck her. That would be her victory. That would appeal to her, the horny wench. The triumph of nature! But not with him! He'd place her by the tree on a group of stones. And then he too would put a leg on a group of stones. And that would be his victory, the triumph of form! For if she were to turn to him now, she wouldn't even notice he was standing in front of her asymmetrically. And if she were then to put one leg on the ground by herself, he'd invite her to turn her head and to contemplate Circe's Hill. From that point on, nothing would be symmetrical. For now he'd reach between her legs to feel her up. Perhaps in return she'd wank him off for a moment, but then he'd spread his saliva all over her cunt, and then it'd be re-established, the triumph of asymmetry! And while he'd be frigging her, he'd want to hear her whimper "Please!", "Please, please!" "Look at that hill", he'd respond. "Look what you've done to it", and feel her up and frig her, and she'd finally beg, "Please, please fuck me!" But he'd keep frigging her and frigging her... When he woke up, he still had his hand on his dick. The sun blinded him through the pine needles. He still felt horny, and it was as if she'd woken him with a "May I help you, Sulla?" When he tightened his grip, he noticed that his image of her became clearer, because now she seemed to be squatting next to the camp bed, taking his dick in her hands. And there he was now on his back, the mighty Sulla, he, who had burned Athens and pillaged the temples of Olympia and Delphi, lying on his back with his mouth helplessly open. This wasn't the whispering anymore, he thought: this was essentiality. But he forgot this immediately because he felt that it was she who was wanking him off, because her hair was falling over him, making him even more defenceless. "So, Sulla", he heard her tease him even though he was gasping for air, "is this the way you like it?" He didn't like her mocking tone, but that didn't help him, because now, as she was wanking him in a way he'd never been able to do himself, he had to turn his body, and was getting hornier and hornier, and leaning his head back, he wanted air, air! And "No! No! No! - This is the essential," he heard from inside, as his hips began to circle. And now he had to stick his dick into her throat, but she kept wanking him with such ingenious concentration that he couldn't move by his own will and was now really gasping for air, yes, almost panting. And now she was spitting on his dick. And "Hey little one," he heard a distant voice wanking him off, "did you want to fuck me?" And then she did him at such a speed that he wasn't able to say anything: not that he'd burned Athens, not that he didn't actually want to fuck her. No, he couldn't say anything. "Hey little one," the voice repeated more mockingly, "do you want to fuck me now?" And "Fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck!" the voice hissed. And "Yes, fuck!" he moaned helplessly, but now her clothes fell over him and draped him in darkness. Oh there it is after all, the symmetry, he thought suddenly, and felt cunt pressure on his face. And he wanted to shout out, that this was the holy glorious symmetry, but her cunt was blocking his mouth. And as she kept wanking him off like a goddess, he lay on the camp bed under pine trees, on the camp bed from which he had commanded battles. And blue was the sky he couldn't see anymore, and resinous the scent of the brown needles around the horse droppings. And now he had to shout! He had to shout, but his mouth was stuffed! But I've got to let this out, he thought, cunt! And then it burbled out of him: "O you holy glorious..." he gurgled into her, "You glorious holy symmetry!" But then she pressed her cunt all the way into his mouth so no sound could come out. And "Just made it," he happily thought, and didn't even feel she was wanking him, because now his body was twisting and gyrating under her movements. And his dick started to spout, ah, his dick started to spout and he came! He spouted for regained symmetry. Yes, Cornelius Sulla spouted, Lucius Cornelius Sulla spouted, spouted against the endeavours of the state, against the endeavours of Sulla, against his magnificent temple. Yes, he spouted, he spouted and spouted! Soberly, he examined the semen his hand had squeezed out of his dick. What kind of nonsense was this again, he thought, Symmetry Regained? He laughed with a sense of relief: Mathilde had missed her chance. Now he could finish up all this rubbish. As the Commander of the Republic he couldn't just lie around for days tossing himself off. There were other things to be done. The world-creating tension inside him could dissipate so quickly. Yes, he had spouted, so what? If Mathilde were to arrive now, the kind of ecstasy which could justify building a double sanctuary could no longer be achieved. The day was over.
- 4 -
He woke up because the sun was burning down onto his legs. His semen had dried and he felt refreshed. Maybe he'd give her another chance, he said to himself, feeling his dick, which he now found slightly droll. It really didn't play that much of a role. The temple, the temple, he thought, the double temple, and went back to sleep. Noon had now passed. Soon there would be no more shade here, only further over there. Cheep went a bird, and then cheep, cheep, cheep. Something squeezed out of a larynx, a brief wish for life, that's what this cheeping consisted of. Then another wish for life: Cheep! And another one. A whole series of such cheeps came from the bird. And now it cheeped in quick sequence. Now back to single cheeps, he wanted to call them "lonely". Then it was quiet. Then again back to cheeping: cheep, cheep, cheep. Go ahead and cheep, bird, thought Sulla, soon I won't hear you anymore, because I'll be thinking about something else. 1-2-3-4-5 times it cheeped in quick sequence. Sulla was surprised that he'd counted the cheeps. Or had he miscounted? Oh bird, bird, he thought, what are you cheeping? Cheep, cheep, cheep, cheeped the bird, cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep, and then chee-chee-chee-cheep, in quick succession. What should he call it? Rapid cheep-stroke? Did this consist of four or of five cheeps in quick succession? He noticed that he'd started counting the individual cheeps too: 6... 7... 8... Was there a clear pattern... 9... in which individual and rapid 10... cheeps alternated? 11... Was this bird... 12... - free? 13... Why was there no rapid... 14... cheep-stroke? No, no clear pattern in which the two figures alternated. Yes, now! Now came the rapid cheep-stroke! Just when he stopped counting! "Rapid cheep-stroke" was, of course, an idiotic expression, but he couldn't think of a better one, and that was even more idiotic. No, in all this cheeping there was no symmetry, nor the predictability of a pattern, Sulla thought. The individual cheeping sounds just formed a background which was interrupted by a second structure, the bright chee-chee-chee-chee-cheep! It sounded like a jubilation, a "quintuple jubilation". Yes, that sounded better than "rapid cheep-stroke". It always sounded the same, that's how he knew that it always consisted of the same number of cheeps. Or were there only four after all? Then it would've to be called "quadruple jubilation". Odd, he could tell that it was always the same number, but it went so fast that he couldn't keep up counting. Four times? Like the "fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck!" that Mathilde had hissed at him, or was it five times? Like what? The "fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck!" that Mathilde hissed at me? I think something's wrong with my head, Sulla thought, I'm even too stupid to count! Let somebody else decipher the structure of this cheeping. He sat up and drank a sip of water. It was warm because the sun had been shining on the jug, at least that he could understand. But even though he'd just fetched it, it tasted stale. The bird was still producing its series of individual cheeps, or should he call them "peeps"? Now it was jubilating again. Now back to individual cheeps. Almost as if the bird was so exhausted by its jubilation that it had to regain its strength before being able to launch into a new outpouring of its joy. Was the bird... free? As far as he, Sulla, was able to ascertain, yes. It could decide when the quintuple jubilation was to break out. Sulla registered the jubilation once again: yes, 1-2-3-4-5, that's what it had sounded like, exactly five beats! Always the same number, as if the bird was proud of being able to count accurately! In that respect it appeared not to be free! Ha, that bird couldn't make a mistake in counting! Now back to individual cheeps... Oh, one could record the whole world, record and describe it, but actually he was only waiting for Mathilde, he was only counting these cheeps because he wanted to feel her cunt. Yes, he was only here because of her. Bright limestone was sticking out on the pine-needle-covered ground. The pieces were so small, one could call them lime pebbles. One had to be careful not to get them stuck into one's feet. Despite their tininess, they looked like ruined monuments, like temple remains from eternity, he thought and laughed, because those words meant nothing. Words were seductive. Behind the bushes, Circe's Hill would soon appear out of the haze. Yes, this was a good place for a temple. When Sulla was lying on his side again, he didn't feel at all like a dog who was waiting for a wolf anymore. Nothing more could be heard of the bird. No, people would never monitor nature as carefully as he'd monitored that chirping, there was no point in it, he thought, and heard the whistling - or was it a howling? - of the wind in the pine trees. He found the sound exaggerated, because the wind was hardly blowing. For if he tried hard, he could imagine what the wind sounded like when it wasn't whistling through the pines. No, whistling wasn't the right word, either. Yes, he could actually hear it: underneath the actual noise hung some kind of silence which made up the real sound of the wind: the sound of the wind, as it sounded when there were no pine trees. The actual noise here, this singing, sounded louder than the "real" sound, this near-silence underneath it. The "actual" and the "real", he reflected. Were they related the same way as "the one" and "the other"? When he'd been sitting on the original "other" group of stones, it had become "the one" surprisingly soon. Did the "real" also only become the "actual" when you observed it very closely? Ah, the bushes around him were just rustling in the wind, but the pine trees were... singing! Yes, this way it was possible to take in a large portion of the world, but to do so, you first had to get into it, into this world, and observe it carefully, and there was no reason to do that. He had a reason, of course: he wanted to feel Mathilde. Maybe one could observe the world only in order to describe it, he suddenly thought. But wouldn't such a coupling of experience and description be obscene? He wouldn't dedicate a temple to such an idea, far from it. He felt that such an idea would destroy all the temples in the world. Anyway, he was only here because of Mathilde, she was the reason, the only reason! By now he had got hungry. He was lying in the burning sun now. If it were to get hotter in the next weeks, not even the song of sirens could keep a man from only wanting to sleep. But things hadn't got that far yet, Sulla decided, and took his stick as he set off for the watering place. There was no sign of Mathilde there, either. Only the three holy horses continued to stare at him blankly. At least the sparrows were back and busy splashing about in the water. Their twittering was a far cry from the chirping of that lone bird. It sounded much more carefree, much more adventurous. Yes, he'd prefer to be more adventurous right now, too. But he who is only waiting, has no choice, he philosophized, surveying the dishes of food set out for him here. A small flask from Corinth, with a bust of Aphrodite leaning against the flank of a bull, reminded him of heroic times. What piteousness his victory over the Greeks had been transformed to: to mere table decoration, the most asinine application of geometry. He took a sip of spring water that had been left there for him, and prepared himself a mixture of tuna and chick peas. Nobody has to eat this stuff, Sulla thought, it doesn't taste good. The bright squabbling of the sparrows did him good. Somewhere, a shepherd boy was playing a flute. Marsyas, Sulla thought. "Oh, the nymphs can no longer hear the sweet voice of your flute," he recalled some words, "as they once could on the Phrygian heights." Where did he know that from? What made him think of Marsyas now, the satyr who'd once challenged the lyre-playing Apollo to a contest? Could that flute-playing be meant as my wedding music? Because everybody knows I want to fuck Mathilde here? No. I only want to frig her, and not here by the watering place! "Up there your carcass now dangles, whipped by the winds," the epigram insisted on completing itself in his head, "suspended in the ragged branches of a pine tree." How merciless of the gods, Sulla thought, to punish someone for mere musical presumptuousness, by hanging him upside down in a pine tree and having him flayed alive. Ha, he preferred to stick to old-fashioned Aphrodite. Back by the pine trees, the precision of his arrangement seemed to be mocking him. It looked pathetic in the bright sunlight: a camp bed in the middle of horse droppings, his carefully placed stones and the containers with the scrolls. How devoid of essence, although the books were from Aristotle's library. Mathilde wouldn't even notice. If she doesn't come, she'll never know there were ever any books here waiting for her. How pitiful the world is, if it isn't filled with thinking! Even books lose their meaning and essence if they simply lie around. They only gain meaning by being used. None of what he had thought up was going to work. He couldn't even place his camp bed next to his groups of stones, as he'd be roasted by the sun. All my preparation - in vain. But just wait, Mathilde, I'll... Yes, I'll what? I certainly won't envelop you with words! Even if that's what was expected of every man these days: that one had to envelop women with words before one could get closer to them. Sulla grabbed his camp bed angrily to place it amidst the bushes. That was the only place where there was still any decent shade. Oh, what should be done with all that Greek beauty which is still trying to determine the course of events? he cursed, setting himself up in the new spot. There were horse droppings here, too. And nothing he could lean his stick against. He had to leave it lying on the ground. Those stupid limestones were staring at him from everywhere. Did he underestimate the Greeks because of his triumph over them? They had used limestone a lot in their buildings. At least he had taken their best library to Italy, but who was going to read all of that now? Maybe some day, pines and limestone fragments would become a symbol of the past, he thought, and heard the chirping of the lone bird again. But he was trying to create history out of them. Here! And now! For from his camp bed he was now able to see Circe's Hill. It was nice here, much nicer than over by the watering place. This was the site, the right site! And he was a man, the right man! The right man at the right time, but he was beginning to doubt whether Mathilde was going to become part of this rightness. Through the singing of the wind, the sound of that shepherd boy's flute wafted over to him. He must have moved on. Puzzling, this wind and the coming and going of its sound. The chirping of the lone bird had disappeared again. Poor satyr, Sulla mused, how did you enrage the sensitive Apollo like that? He too might end up hanging upside-down in one of those trees, but not because of any flute's lament, he decided. It must've been a hideous wheezing that annoyed Apollo to such a degree, and the fact that some people thought this was wonderful. Then Sulla noticed that the wind's singing in the pines was merely the beginning of something greater. When he listened into the world, he could make out a buzzing and whirring that when perceived clearly, became a noise which could suffocate one. And in the midst of this noise, his brain was boasting away: "I'm not symmetrical," it boasted, "I'm devoid of essence, I'm free!" and was splashing from one almost insane thought to the next. Thoughts are buzzing in a brain, just like the wind in the pine trees, even if there was no reason to this. Or is the wind the sound the trees make when performing their own way of thinking, or whatever it is that goes on inside a tree? Thinking is always present, just like the body's parts: it can't be helped. And suddenly the group of pines became a kind of brain in his eyes, a brain that was just there, a confused brain wanting to think at all costs, but he didn't know what kind of head it belonged to. It wasn't the head of any particular man, and not the head of a woman, it was as if the whole world was singing... The head of something, a convergence of something nobody can grasp, something in which thinking occurs, something that doesn't let go of you. Who should read the books in which, conceivably, all this was already written? And who should differentiate their innumerable errors from the possibly equally innumerable truths? "Talaina phren, par emeun laboisa tas pisteis emeas kataballeis...", he read in one of the scrolls he'd taken in Greece: "Wretched reason, from us, the senses, you take your wisdom and strike us down with it. This striking down is your own downfall!" Strange, he couldn't smell any of the horse droppings. Many of them had disintegrated. And there weren't any flies or insects, which normally loved to swarm around horses and dung. Was that due to the holiness of the horses grazing here? But if he couldn't smell the droppings, Mathilde might not notice them right away, either. Then Sulla got lost in the less lyrical components of essentiality. If one wanted to observe the world, he reflected, one had to name it! Counting and naming, he thought, and recalled how hard it'd been to count the beats of the quintuple jubilation. Without Mathilde, he didn't feel like jubilating anyway. Wasn't he also just chirping away, occasionally jubilating: "Mathilde I don't want to fuck you, just feel you!" No, he didn't feel free. The bird, however, wasn't chirping anymore, it had stopped. Did freedom consist of precisely this stopping? Could he stop as well? Obviously this was not possible, as impossible as him not wanting to win the civil war. He was not free, this "Mathilde-fuck-and-feel"- jubilation came over him in waves. In between, he could chirp out a few thoughts until seized by a new wave. That's how it is when you're a man. With pride he recalled the energy with which he had named the second group of stones "The One with the Empty Dignity". Should he call the second group of pine trees "The Group with the Empty Dignity" too? But he didn't find it all that empty. He decided it had dignity! Or should he call it "The Spectacular Group", because leaning on a tree there looked so spectacular? Did he really want to see Mathilde cramped in between tree trunks there? And what if everybody in the camp knew what he was planning here? The minute she rose, she'd hear a sarcastic "So what are you up to, Mathilde?" She could hardly respond, "On my way to fuck Sulla!" Even if that's what she wanted to do. It wasn't just the hordes of decency who'd tear her to shreds. And all of this just because her belly had got in his way! Why on earth had he wanted to enjoy a nice afternoon that day? There were so many more meaningful things to do. Yes, just because Pompey had led this Mathilde to him and he hadn't felt like objecting to her bathing with them like a slave. She wasn't a slave, he'd noticed that immediately when he'd seen her cunt. She came from Privernum, the last city of the rebellious Volscians they still had to win over to their side. No, all he had registered was the scanty black pieces of cloth with which she had tried to make herself interesting, this emissary from Privernum, from Camilla's sanctuary there. Camilla, who had even dared to throw Aeneas back into the sea. Form and substance, he thought, and could not avert his eyes from the bulge down there, from the blackness of the cloth, the way it stretched. Yes, there it was, the form! The form had provoked it, but also the way her belly curved above it, the way her thighs rubbed themselves against this form. That's where he wanted to reach into, he could've fucked her on the spot, if they'd been alone. Ah, he was alone so seldom. Young Pompey studying military authors in the beauty of the afternoon - her bright Privernum off in the distance - seemed almost ridiculous to him now. Even Camilla's bow-armed wildness, no matter how much Diana protected her, suddenly seemed pointless. "And the substance?" a nagging voice inside him asked, insulted because he couldn't avert his eyes from that form. And there he'd heard a whimpering inside him, that of a small child, and "Me!", it had whined, "Me! - I'm the substance!" Of course, not least because he was sitting next to cunning Crassus, he knew he was being observed. He saw through all of it, sly as a fox, but it didn't help him! When a Lucrinian fish pond owner then asked him for permission to demonstrate a new invention, a so-called hanging bath, he only had eyes for the form of that cunt. Such an invention would prove a success, he'd almost said, but with so many people around he just couldn't reach between her legs. He was powerful enough to do so, but he wasn't a king, after all. Yes, a king could do that, Mithridates could get away with that. But he couldn't, because then he'd have to give up his offices, or it would mark the beginning of the demise of Rome. Otherwise one wouldn't have needed to bother founding the city. What a joke, he thought, - while the Lucrinian, in order to demonstrate his invention, this hanging bath of his, was starting to pour water over Mathilde, who was standing expectantly under her bathing net - yes, what a joke that he'd defeated Mithridates, who could get away with that! It almost drove him insane how much he couldn't touch her now, this figure - whose breast no spear would protrude from, like Arruns' protruding from the half-naked Camilla - , presenting herself in the soft, dripping wetness. He couldn't touch this belly, curving out of the wet material, being, like the bulge of her cunt, so seductively outlined for him by the bright sunlight. But then again he was a Republican and wanted to remain one. Else Aeneas might just as well have run away from half-naked Camilla or stayed in Carthage with sweet Dido. He needn't even have escaped from Troy! So all that remained to him, Sulla, was waiting. And envisioning how to convert his urge into erecting a building, a temple! What rubbish! Mathilde, you Privernian cunt, it's you I want! I want to finally feel you squirm under my fingers! And then I will indeed erect a temple to you! To you, to me, to the Republic, which includes all of us! Yes, why not, a sanctuary of your cunt! And any Roman, or anybody claiming to be one, would have to feel you up in it! That's what being a Roman was! Come on now, Mathilde! I want to give you a piece of the future, Sulla shouted into his inside. What could be going on inside her to keep her from coming? He had no idea, she was a mystery to him. But what was going on inside his own head was every bit as much of a mystery to him.
- 5 -
Clouds were piling up above the mountains in the interior. Due to the humidity and the heat, Sulla thought. And now, in the late afternoon, the contours of the plain were finally becoming clearer. Two reasons, he asked amazed, could something have two reasons? Humidity and heat? And how many reasons might contribute to the clarity of his thinking? To all this sense in nonsense, or was there only one reason? Namely that he was alone and so bored that his thoughts formed themselves in the strangest ways? Two places in which clouds are forming, he thought, holding Democritus' writings tightly in his hand, "one" and the "other". At least they weren't symmetrical. Yes, it was right that both he and the future sanctuary should be overlooking the plain and Circe's Hill, for if one could look down on a sanctuary, it was also easy to look down on the god which it served. Did that mean he should burn the buildings of the Forum and fill the valley in which it lay with earth? And level out the Palatine hill, because one shouldn't be able to look down on the Holy from above? Form and substance, he considered. Mathilde's temple would have to be on the top, right on the top of this hill, on this terrace where he could move his camp bed to face any direction. "A cunt sanctuary," he suddenly thought, a cunt sanctuary had both form and substance! And then the glorious cement-cast terrace. Sulla smiled once again while he savoured these words. Why had he found them so ridiculous a moment ago? A terrace as a foundation atop a hill! It might break off in heavy rain, he suddenly feared. But it had to be on the hill, a whole hill for Mathilde! No, his sanctuary had to consist of more than just a few rocks piled on top of each other, a hill, an entire hill it had to be. With a series of Roman arches underneath the foundation, like the ones used to construct aqueducts? Why on earth not? All the same, a limestone rock would have to jut out of his terrace as a memorial to her victory, yes, to her victory: for by his triumph over her she too would triumph over him. It was that simple. And what if someone dug a tunnel underneath, as had happened to his siege mound in Athens? They'd have to clear away the entire mountain if the supporting arches were built right on the bedrock! And then from below, from the plain and the sea, just these arches would be visible under the foundation, and that'd be his foundation! An entire mountain for Sulla's foundation! While the inner sanctuary would rise up a bit farther back - a toy on this mighty foundation! And then the people would whisper "Cunt sanctuary, cunt sanctuary!" and point up to it with their fingers. Yes, he, Sulla, was the substance, he was the foundation upon which a future could be built. Rome, however, and all of its temples, all their columns, indeed all columns, were nothing but toys, just like the Greeks. They too lacked the necessary foundation. O holy cement-cast terrace, Sulla mumbled to himself... He didn't like Greek walls. It took a long time to build them. Fitting precisely-carved stone blocks into one another seemed ridiculous. Maybe they could erect their silly temples that way, or even a pyramid, but certainly not a cunt sanctuary! Were the insides of a pyramid actually made out of carved stone? Nobody knew! To find out, he'd have to conquer Egypt and have a pyramid cut up. What was a wall anyway? Normally, walls were made out of bricks or one layered natural stones carved into blocks on top of each other. Naturally, big buildings require thicker walls. Sulla laughed at the banal clarity of his thought. There might be a thousand reasons for it! For their thick walls, the Greeks also used blocks, fitting them carefully into each other, which often literally squashed the lower parts of their walls. The more he thought about it, the more ludicrous it appeared to him: an atrocity combined with waste. No, for him a true wall still consisted of a pair of thin outer walls and a core set between them into which one mixed sand with Pozzuoli cement and some rubble. That could be put up much faster, and it was truer. It was truer? What was that supposed to mean? Just as my passions are barely contained by my skin, it suddenly sobbed out of him. And his presence here had only one reason. Form and substance, he thought: without skin I would flow apart, only my skin keeps me together, holds the entire sack of my self together. I don't want to be like the Greeks with their carefully stacked inner lives! No, I'm all mixed up inside! And I'm proud of that mix-up in there, proud of that eternally shaping mix-up in there lasting longer than any clever wrapping. I don't want to consist of polished surfaces inside, too, and I want to hear Mathilde scream, hear her scream in front of me and I want to feel her on the inside, yes, I want to feel her, feel her, not fuck her! Lying on his camp bed, he could just make out the tops of the pine trees through the shrubbery, the shape of which had made him think of a flattened cupola. Dark berries hung right in front of his face. If he wanted to, he could bite into them, just take a bite out of them. Were they poisonous? The sun had lost some of its power. Now he could put his camp bed back under the pines. But then it wouldn't be in the shade, and that didn't feel right. The shade of the pines should play a role, and that one could look into the light from the shade. The tinkling of bells now seemed to be everywhere. Sulla also heard the flute player more clearly again and all the birds. The chirping of the lone bird had been lost in the other's chirps. "One" and "the others", he recalled. What were they trying to tell each other with their chirping? - "Fuck?" "Let's fuck?" - Was it that? Oh, he thought, if all lonely birds chirped away like that one, there'd be a terrible din in the world. Apart from the wind the world seemed to have changed in a strange way. And what about him, Sulla? He too had changed: he had spurted some of his semen. Not exactly according to his plans, yet the semen had landed where it was supposed to: on his stomach and on the ground. Wasn't that peculiar? Judging by the result, everything had indeed gone according to plan. Only one thing had been missing, of course: Mathilde herself. The only reason! As a witness to his passion and her passion and her humiliation, but one couldn't say something like that, and much less measure it. In his eyes, she'd been humiliated enough. But he still wanted to humiliate her in her own eyes. That's what life was. We'll build temples, Sulla suddenly thought with resignation, but... He didn't want to let this thought go any farther. Should he have the flute player put to death? And all the sheep with their tinkling bells? For a politician, it was better not to make decisions in moments of pressure, but sometimes one didn't have any other choice. Recently he'd wanted to thank Diana for a victory in this civil war, and, to be close to her, had spent a week in the wilderness. He had felt something then, something he'd never felt before, not even in his childhood. And underneath his irritability he could feel it now, too. Yes, now he was here and there was wind and the grass and the pine trees and memories of the satyr who'd been presented to him in Greece came back to mind. He noticed that his thinking had lost all sense of direction. He'd have to wipe out this whole brood of traitors. Wipe them out! He hated himself when he thought like this. The clarity of his thinking he had been so proud of just a minute ago had vanished. Where had it disappeared to? He knew what had happened: he had squandered it! Squandered it trying to figure out the nature of a wall! Idiotic! And yet clarity would've come in very handy just now. Here! Yes, and now! Ah, the wind and the grasses and the pine trees, he thought, and the holy cement-cast terrace. Instead, he was courting every town, trying to find allies, but the minute one turned one's back on their walls, the inhabitants turned away from one again. This has to come to an end: those one can't win over, one must slaughter! That's the way it is in a civil war! Either - or! Only so could an original, independent culture form, only through pain and suffering. And your Privernum, Mathilde, has allied itself with our opponents. And as its representative, obliged to the cult of Camilla, and protected by your Diana, you have to be upright. Neither could she join forces with him, nor could she disguise herself, that's how her confused woman's brain would think it. He had to reach an ending. He could let her go or have her killed, he could fuck her or have her fucked, that was his liberty. But that didn't interest him: he wanted to feel her! Because this Mathilde, he sensed, embodied all Rome was not, he wanted to make her into Rome by feeling her up. And he wanted to humiliate her. Yes, he wanted to humiliate Rome. Of course, she would have to accept this humiliation voluntarily, that's what it all hinged on. And he wanted her to howl, yes, howl! And he wanted to howl, too. Humiliate oneself voluntarily, howl of one's own volition, that was what the Republic was! When Sulla, shocked by the brutality of his brooding, looked around, he was stunned by the diversity of the plants making up the bushes around him. All of these plants had names, each one of them had been given a name. How might that have come about? He remembered how hard finding a word for the jubilation of the bird had been. Who had named all these plants? Women who collected them? Surely not men who got their legs all scratched by them. Even he knew the names of many of them. Something was tinkling. Were there plants which hadn't been given names? Which were still unnamed? And did the plants in Brundusium still have the same names? What a chore it would be to find all that out. One should cast cement over all of this, over all of nature, the whole world! Cast cement over all of it! Now, here, everywhere! And over mankind's natural passions, too, while one was at it. That would give posterity something to think about. Or should he see to it instead that all the plants in the Roman Empire should be given standardized names, along with the rest of nature? Or did that amount to the same thing? The tinkling was getting closer - was Mathilde coming on horseback? Oh, it was probably sheep. Or goats with their goatherd. The sentimental fluting still continued in the distance. It got on his nerves, although, or possibly because, it was barely perceptible. That tinkling was also driving him crazy: a cunt sanctuary - how laughable! Ah, it was neither goats nor sheep, just the three holy horses, which had finally found their way over to him. They were grazing and turned their buttocks to him, a stallion with a mare and their young one. Little bells dangled from their necks and tinkled: that was what had almost driven him crazy. Once he saw it, Sulla didn't think it was all that bad. That made it easier to find them, how practical! He found it more startling that the mare stood on the very spot next to the pines where he had wanted to hear Mathilde whimper. Curious animals, he thought, unable to believe what he was thinking: he was a Commander of the Cavalry after all and had seen many horses. When they grazed, they kept their eyes close to the ground. How did they perceive the world? Did some grass appear more important to them than anything ever created by man? The sun had dried up the land, and the grass was dry, but they even stared at this dry grass with shining eyes. "Go away!" cried Sulla, banging his stick against the limestones with indignation, without impressing the animals. "Go away!" he repeated more forcefully, at least managing to scare away the mare. But the stallion came closer and curiously contemplated Sulla with its holy eyes. What does he think about me, Sulla wondered, and felt truly insane when registering his own question. Then he laughed: the stallion hadn't been observing him all, he had started to piss. Ha, that was funny: a powerful stream of piss poured down right onto the horse droppings between which Mathilde would've liked to be fucked. The mare now returned and felt obliged, possibly incited by the stallion, to also give a commentary in piss. It would've been too strange, Sulla thought, if this hadn't happened. With all the horse droppings lying around, horses were bound to come around sooner or later. After it'd pissed, the holy stallion disappeared, as if it'd said everything there was to be said. No, this is not really how I'd envisioned Mathilde's visit. But that didn't make him want to erect a temple for horses. For the briefest of seconds, he'd actually considered whether he should fuck one of the horses. But before he had become fully aware of the thought, it was already gone. That would be true madness, he decided: liberty and madness!
- 6 -
"Sulla", his name had a shabby ring to it. Lucius Cornelius Sulla: form and substance! As an artist he could carve "Sulla made this" into his statues. That couldn't satisfy him anymore. Nor could a series of acts if one had to explain all the time what one's own contribution had been. He did want a statue, but only if he didn't have to create it. He wanted one that "was" Sulla right from the beginning and needed no further explanation. And for that, he needed an act, one that would be inextinguishably connected to his name. An act, he mumbled, a kingdom for a real act. Now his bed was back between the pines, where he found respite from the sun in the shade of a bush. Would the erection of a cunt sanctuary represent such a real act? Or should he eradicate his opponents more ruthlessly than any Roman before him had ever dared to? The green of the pines seemed more intense to him now. He discovered two kinds of cones: those with a narrow tip, growing more at the end of the branches, and rounded fat ones, apparently growing everywhere. No, the narrow tipped ones only grew on the one tree, the round fat ones grew on all of them. On two pines, they were clearly fatter. Perhaps they're older, Sulla wondered, vaguely meaning trees and cones at the same time. Yes, well, these and the others, he thought sadly, all of them. Did he really have to wipe them all out? It was the fat ones which had reminded him of horse droppings. He couldn't actually afford to be lying around here. No more so than once Demetrius, whose enemies had surprised him when he was amusing himself with beautiful Cratesipolis, in the wilderness without guards, because nobody was to know about it. In Athens, they'd shown him the remains of Demetrius' statue, which had been thoughtlessly thrown into a well. For Athens, Demetrius was finished off, after this incident, in which he'd narrowly escaped his arrest, naked. Cratesipolis had been no less famous for her fat beauty than Demetrius for the beauty of his siege engines. And I don't even have my sword, he thought. But he swore that Rome would never laugh at him. Least of all because of some cunt. Now he would get this Mathilde over with, fuck her brains out, and then go pillaging in the area with his troops. At least he could prop up his stick again. Behind it, the plain glistened stupidly in the sun. Up here, however, it was nice. Like his group of stones with the empty dignity which he liked more and more. Was that because he had given it a name? Nice, he laughed, except for the horse droppings, because now his camp bed was once again in the middle of them. Now Sulla found them funny, as if ennobled by the horses' holiness, he thought eccentrically. If the shade continued its progress, he could soon put the camp bed back in its original place, next to the first group of trees. Maybe his plan would yet succeed and Mathilde would appear at the very moment the camp bed returned to its original position. Things like that sometimes happen, he thought. Actually, thinking about it, life didn't take any notice whatsoever of our plans. Maybe she is by the watering place. Why shouldn't he do it right there. After all, it amounted to the same thing. On the way he came across the holy stallion which again gave him the sensation of all-too-knowingly looking at him from the shrubbery. For a moment Sulla thought the animal was laughing at him, like Athens at Demetrius, whose siege towers had been so beautiful they had brought tears to the eyes of the defenders. When he'd conquered Athens the inhabitants had had no time to indulge in sentimentality, because the shed blood was soon knee deep in the city outskirts. Unfortunately there was still no one by the watering place. Pure imagination is not enough to change the world, his thoughts soared to a realization which surprised him, it wasn't even enough to conjure up a cunt. It was almost evening. Soon they'd come to collect him. Maybe they'll send Mathilde, but no, it will just be Aemilius. And he didn't even have a sword with him. The first time in years he'd gone anywhere without a sword, but he'd had different plans for Mathilde, of course. To fuck her in the horse droppings would've been right, he thought, with or without quintuple jubilation. Or not even fuck her, just spread her legs, feel up her cunt and then get the hell out of here, back to his beloved sword. "Ah, thou holy symmetry!" he mumbled, but the main question now was whether he should jerk himself off again before Aemilius came, because that was what would most probably happen. The most probable, he reflected. What an interesting category. How many probabilities had he wandered through today! Or had they been improbabilities? All the things you could do with that "probability"! How probable was the world anyway? Didn't a single arbitrary act ruin completely any inherent probability? But then he'd already lost interest in this and was only interested in if, when or how he should jerk himself off. It was pointless to wait any longer, even if she came now, nothing mythical was likely to happen between them. He should go back and wait until the shade of the pine trees had reached the original area again, that'd be a nice ending, one which felt right. And he could always jerk himself off again there. Yes, this could indeed have become a site which caused a millennium to tremble. By the pines, the shade had not reached the zone of potential holiness, but he could now place his bed properly between the two groups of trees. Now it's not standing in shit anymore, he thought, as he lay on his bed, with the stick by his side. I'll have her city flattened by elephants, he soon started dreaming, hadn't that been his original plan anyway? A temple for a new passion - laughable! No, he was a man of action, not a man of feeling who just imagined things. Much less a man of passion, a passion now even made out of concrete! And he was tired, the man of action. He wanted to sleep. Yes, he would burn and bury her and enslave her countrymen, he thought, and then he would erect a sanctuary after all, one in a completely new style, in the new style of us Romans. Suddenly he was startled by a noise. It came from two dogs. They didn't belong to that dangerous breed still resembling wolves he'd come across the day before. When he sat up, he frightened them, but he'd been frightened, too, not a good sign for a battle commander. Demetrius, thought Sulla. Yes, he was afraid of being murdered. Any number of important men had been killed for the most trivial reasons, but these were just dogs. When he hit the limestones with his stick, they ran away. A victory, he thought! A first victory after all this waiting. But the day was over, Aemilius had come. Aemilius Lepidus. A simpleton! Mathilde, according to his report, had spent the day with the rest of her retinue in a bathhouse, singing. So that's how she'd missed her chance, engaged in communal singing and bathing! His legate's talk was not well received by Sulla. Should the number of quaestors be raised to 17, after their victory, and should there be 10 praetors and 450 instead of 300 senators? Sulla dismissed this as vapid babbling. Aemilius was one of those who knew nothing about themselves, who were still hoping to improve the world through administrative reforms. When he, Sulla, talked about restructuring the state, it at least didn't seem quite so pointless. And what about Verres, who'd deserted to their side with the enemy's war chest? A scandal, in Sulla's opinion: as a quaestor, Verres had taken an oath of office. Even if it was only in allegiance to the leadership of their opponents, obedience to authority remained more important than victory in this childish civil war. As important as the annual election of two consuls: after all the years were named after them! How else was one supposed to count the years? Where had it led to when he'd tried to count the bird chirps? Would he consider that to be babbling too, if it came from Aemilius? No, one couldn't break one's oath, even if given only to an enemy. One had to avoid people like Verres, otherwise one might turn into the same kind of swine. And this seemed ridiculous. Ridiculous and superfluous. He didn't have to deal with this. "Send Verres to Pious Metellus," he instructed Aemilius, "I don't want to have him." Aemilius had also deserted to his side, but he hadn't broken an oath. Waiting for orders, he gave the impression of being dejected, probably because I, thought Sulla, to whose side Aemilius had deserted after many doubts, can't give him enough of a sense of direction. "And leave me alone for a while," he added and thought: Yes, my dear Aemilius, anybody who voluntarily subjects to an authority is bound to serve it. That's the only way to defend a state which guarantees the liberties of the individual. The liberty of individual Romans consisted of precisely that voluntary subjugation to authority. And this liberty was something new in all of history. Even this liberty which sounded so limited was something new and valuable which one couldn't allow to be lost. Seen in that light, he too was free! On the way to the pine trees he noticed some ants crawling around a hole half as big as a hand's palm. Actually, it was two holes. Two holes, two states, he thought: this one and the other. Like Rome and brazen Carthage in the classical era. How did they communicate? Do they even have a sense of hearing? "Hey, can you hear me?" he called to them. Ah, for each of these ants there was nothing but the state they hold to be their own. And the so-called "other". The two states didn't seem at war with each other, though... By the pine trees the shade of the surrounding bushes had finally reached the zone of potential holiness. Now he would bring the day to a pleasing conclusion. He pulled his bed closer to its original position by the tree trunk and contemplated his arrangement of books and groups of stones. He imagined how Mathilde would sit and turn towards the scrolls. It couldn't be more perfect. Yet now nothing could happen because of Aemilius' presence. Sulla's thoughts had entered a state of sobriety. The world just doesn't want to fit into our plans, he thought, even if it'd be good for it. Such a perfect plan, and the world just didn't want to adapt to it! Nobody, yes, nobody had taken even the slightest notice of it! And it would've been so fitting to sit on these groups of stones. Seats for philosophers, he suddenly thought, and imagined the Greeks of bygone times sitting with a certain empty dignity on limestone seats facing each other, engaged in their disputes. It would delight him for the rest of his life that he'd made siege engines out of the plane trees of Plato's Academy. O Mathilde, we could've changed the world! Strange, such a failed plan, it was so... without essence. At least it had left a trace of materiality: two groups of stones, a few scrolls. Wasn't that a kind of temple of its own? At least a model of a temple, he thought, the temple of my hidden passion, of my form, of my substance! Not as visible, of course, as a real temple. And what actually? An annoyance? No, not an annoyance. Lovingly he patted the limestones of his seating arrangements. It seemed to him to be a work of art, and he was the sculptor who had created it. With the help of models we imagine a possible reality, he thought. And that was it, imagination! Imagination is what differentiates humans from animals. Ants have no imagination of what they are doing, at least not of the kind which had emerged in his plans involving Mathilde, as he didn't want to fuck her. Therein, he thought, we differ from the animals: the ants only want to fuck, we have something finer: we have the gift of imagination! Odd forms of thought-activity: names for plants, the idea of probability and finally, the gift of imagination, Sulla thought, and none of it had taken on the status of the real. Birds had twittered and he'd made plans for the construction of a temple. For a cunt sanctuary, ha - how could one not laugh about it? Suddenly he remembered that a little while ago clouds had been piling up in two places. This piling-up had struck him as passionate. One place now presented a boring flat cloudbank and the other place nothing. Nothing but boring early-evening blue, he said quietly. One... and the other... As boring as Aemilius and his 450 senators. And I haven't even fucked that cunt.
- 7 -
How fortunate those who have other problems, Sulla thought, how fortunate the plain which has industrious inhabitants! One day they will have got so used to my sanctuary that they'll barely notice it anymore. Unless they have visitors, in which case they'd show it to them and whisper some things: "The cunt sanctuary, ha, ha, ha! And Sulla, and so on, and Mathilde, that was the place where he didn't fuck her." And at least they'd get that part right, because he hadn't fucked her. Judging it by the result, his plan had actually been successful. His walking stick leant peacefully against a tree, limestone seats welcomed a Mathilde who was not present, and unread books waited for her glance. Bushes and plants had remained unnamed, and the clouds uninhabited. The clouds uninhabited? How had that occurred to him? "Uninhabited by my passion," he explained the image to himself that had arisen somewhere inside him. Yes, it had all revolved around passion. Passion? What passion, and to what purpose? For the reason, he thought, suddenly relieved. The reason, the sole reason! The reason why I'm here! The passion for the sole reason! Yes, cunt sanctuary! he burst out into jubilation, the cunt sanctuary contained the reason! Good, good, good! Sulla calmed himself down and tried to get some clarity about what had gone on during the day. All right, so he'd reflected on a few things! And he'd used up a day, an uneventful day in the life of Lucius Cornelius Sulla! Nothing more than someone to fuck, he thought full of anger, but no, thoughtlessly he had given her the opportunity of showing him a piece of moist cloth over her cunt! Her form and her substance! But there hadn't been any witnesses even to that, and, just like today, basically nothing at all had happened. Sure, a few rocks were now arranged differently. Who'd figure that out. Sulla had to cough. What causes this cough? he asked himself, and knew there was no answer. People coughed and died, it was that simple. When he'd been eating the tuna with chickpeas he'd cut his finger. Not deeply, just a bit, and yet he'd been irritated about the fact that this wound would hurt in Mathilde's cunt, and that his pain would have nothing to do with his sanctuary. It would have been a pointless pain. Now the skin had closed over the cut, and his fingers hadn't even got within a javelin's throw of her cunt. That's how you worry pointlessly about the future. Cheered up, he took his stick and jabbed it into the ground. Miserable as it was, it had done its job and given him self-confidence. With the stick he would also destroy the ant states, or was that better left to Aemilius? And then he had a peculiar thought: was there such a thing as normality? An irrefutable normality among republican equals? There had been no witnesses and nothing had happened, that much was clear. If something had happened with Mathilde, she'd have been a witness. But as she would've just submitted to it, she wouldn't be a witness either. Only with someone like Aemilius as a witness this would change. In that case, it would in an odd way become reality! A reality whose existence depended on an observer, Sulla thought. What kind of stupid reality is this, that depends on the nature of its observer? Nobody in Rome could accept his behaviour as normal, he could grant that much. But he felt he was normal and alive, standing with both feet on the ground. He could move from the watering place to the place with the pines, could differentiate between sun and shade, and didn't want to fuck, but feel Mathilde. Wasn't that what made up humanity, ordinary humanity? He ate tuna with chickpeas, that too was normal, as tuna was caught from May to October. And then he hadn't destroyed an anthill. He had restrained his elephants, and he would leave it up to Aemilius to remove Mathilde from his life or to raze her city to the ground. That kind of thing was normal if you wanted to gain allies, because lots were involved. But even then there weren't any witnesses: all were involved in the process, as perpetrators and victims. They were all taking part, there were no witnesses: nobody knew what was really happening. What was a witness anyway? A man with a walking stick, the walking stick of history! With his walking stick he would destroy this anthill and at the same time Aemilius would unleash the elephants. Or should he go bathing again with Mathilde and ogle her cunt? Either - or, Sulla thought. Plans, plans! Ah, these were nothing but plans! The heat had subsided noticeably. Now would be ideal, Sulla thought, as he dozed for the last time on the camp bed and noticed that his hand had started to hold his dick tightly again. O Mathilde, you cunt, he thought, come, come! Come here, so I can show you! Now he'd take the camp bed, he'd put her on it, bury her underneath him and then yank up her plump thighs to finally feel that stupid essentiality. And then he'd try to shove his dick in there, into this silly essentiality, just shove it in normally, he thought, perfectly normally. That's how he'd thrust into her, and bellow out his "Fuck-fuck-fuck". And then he'd simply ejaculate. And then, Sulla was already coming all over his hand. And, amused by the primitiveness of his imagination, he laughed about it and flung his semen into the bushes. Ha, Mathilde, he laughed: How glorious is the life of a soldier! And then he wondered what it could've been, that appearance of Mathilde which had just dwelled in his mind. Was it an image? Was it material? And did it make you heavier? Could the increase in weight that such an image formed inside be identical to the weight of the sperm he'd just flung away? He certainly felt lighter now, whereas the image of Mathilde had disappeared. It had been transformed into sperm, he thought astonished. Could that be? Again a kind of image began to form in his mind. I'm getting heavier again, he thought, delighted, and grabbed hold of his dick. I'm getting heavier... And he got heavier and heavier and harder... and then he noticed Aemilius looking at him, the knowing, the witnessing look, the look which irrevocably changes imagination into reality. And he knew that now he had to kill Aemilius or Aemilius had to kill him, but he didn't have his sword with him, only his silly stick. No, no, now it was of no use at all that Aemilius had taken an oath and subjected himself to his authority, or that after their victory there'd be 450 instead of 300 senators. Not a single one of them would have any understanding for him. But Aemilius only laughed: "Did you do it?" he asked, and continued, quite naturally and without any mention of his 17 or 10 praetors or quaestors: "Yes, yes, this sometimes happens in battle encampments. Part of the whole situation. Did you know that before Zama even the great Africanus jerked himself off? He was afraid that if he didn't, he might make the wrong decisions." No, Sulla didn't know that, but he lost his fear. Also Aemilius had served in armies, he had fought and served and seen all sorts of men. And even though he was a simpleton, he knew their passions and all the disgusting things about men. He had seen them in every conceivable situation, and had seen them fall, fall and die. That's what one calls a soldier, Sulla thought, that's the way we men are. And up here above the plain they stood, and it was a fertile plain, and they, the stronger ones, were the victors. From those places which their troops were pillaging, smoke was rising, and that was good, thought Sulla, it was so very much their plain. And why shouldn't adventurous Circe be part of it, along with her hill, luring from the distance, and everything else one could see from here? It was a beautiful spot, not only for a temple! "Help me carry these things," he said to Aemilius picking up the camp bed. Aemilius took the scrolls - the stones they left behind. It would be a beautiful evening, Sulla thought, a fitting conclusion to a refreshing day. Yes, he had refreshed himself, that's what he'd done today. He'd been on vacation, vacation from the strains caused by making decisions. As they walked, Sulla noticed the ants again. Funny that initially he hadn't noticed them: he must certainly have walked past them. "Keep going, Aemilius," he mumbled, "I'll catch up in a moment." As Aemilius could barely restrain from making a bitchy remark, he sharpened his tone of voice and added consular force to it. Well, now that he caught me jerking off, I'll have to be lenient with him, he thought, once his legate had set off again. On the ground there was a teeming of movement everywhere: grains, blades of grass were travelling through the landscape dotted with limestone fragments to disappear into this hole, this inaccessible centre, underneath which the actual terrain of their state was located. What a hard-working folk, he thought, this too is a kind of form full of substance! Right next to the second ant state a light-coloured patch the size of a chariot wheel covered the red earth, with a dark line crossing through it, a kind of road, as he noticed kneeling down, with hundreds of ants carrying things into the centre of their state: seeds, grass particles, and now and then even a cricket. "Cricket, like the lyre to the shepherd, be quiet, when your time comes to die!" Where had he picked that up? These ants didn't seem very free to him however. They looked rather driven in their busyness. Just like in a city, Sulla thought, and all at once this ant road became a real road to him. It turned into the Appian Way, and the busyness of the ants into that of a multitude of people who, restlessly and driven by their uncertain desires, were carting to Rome everything they could put their hands on, drawn by the eternal lure of the city: grass seeds, building materials, nourishment, inventions, and even pieces of horse dung, as he noted with amusement. To Rome, to the centre of the world! "O Rome, you dark hole," he sang darkly to himself. What about the light colour right next to it? Was there any reason for its consistency? It seemed to derive from lighter pieces of grass which had been left there by individual ants. They were crawling with these pieces out of their hole's darkness, dragging them to the outside, while others were bringing things inside. "A pile of garbage," Sulla thought, "It's clear: whatever goes in has to come out." But then he realized that the grass particles coming out had a different substance to those going in: they were lighter, because some dark-coloured component had been used up. The light-coloured area indeed marked a garbage dump: it consisted of some kind of strange shit. Is that what would become of Rome some day? An ever larger, inexorably growing exhausted area around a centre which somehow remained unfathomable? No, not Rome, he thought. Between the bushes the holy horses were grazing. One of them looked at him and seemed to be astonished at the carefulness with which he was observing the ants. And yet it was only a horse. As Sulla felt embarrassed being observed by a horse while observing ants, he got up. And as if they had been waiting for this signal, the horses started to move. First the mare, then, with his sexual organ dangling, the overcurious stallion, and finally - their grazing should certainly protect the grove from catching fire - the young one. A holy little family, which, ignoring him altogether, was now trotting towards the pine trees. "I disturbed the order of their day," Sulla thought, and now, as he'd returned this spot of potential holiness, they wanted to go back there to have a good healthy shit. The gods are with us, Sulla concluded, the gods are amongst us! How holy could those horses be? While he'd been eating the tuna and chickpeas, the two adult horses had been swishing the flies out of each other's faces with their tails. Two more discoverers, thought Sulla, and very practical. Or were they already holy by merely being in the world and trotting around in it, by eating and multiplying? Wasn't life holy precisely for such simple reasons? It had been the holy stallion, which had observed him observing the ants, and earlier, over by the pines, where it had started to piss. It seemed to have to stick its nose into everything. What should one make of all this? And these animals, what would they remember of this day? What did an animal keep in memory anyway? The idiotic tinkling that had annoyed him all day came from the bells dangling from their necks He had even been too stupid to tell the difference between that and sheep bells. All the same, he wasn't going to have these holy horses killed, there was a peculiar strangeness about them. They were altogether different from the horses his soldiers had. Oh, Sulla thought, how often will I experience such an emptying out of what's inside me, such an outpouring of semi-understood thoughts? Of course he could afford to repeat this, but could he ever achieve it again, this self-endangering pulling- something-out-of-the-within? And to what purpose? In order to reach the light? How many temples can a man build? "Nature and State," he thought, and he felt that there was something to discover, even if he couldn't quite put it into words. "Nature and State," he repeated, "Nature and State." And then: "Nature has..." But nothing came to mind bringing this stupendous beginning to a satisfactory end. "And compared to Nature, the State..." and again he couldn't think of anything, but underneath it lay more than the day's events which connected him to Aemilius, more than the difference between 300 and 450 senators. It had to do with his need to erect a temple. But there was no acceptable word for this need, nor for the transformation of this need into a shape which would withstand the passage of time. "O temple mine, Nature and State," Sulla whispered, happy that no one could hear him. It would sound too imbecilic to anybody who knew nothing about the searching going on in his mind. It was a heart-breaking search, trying to find a pattern in which the Republic could be preserved for centuries: to his glory, to the glory of the State, and to his own, Cornelius Sulla's glory. The eternal Sulla in the Eternal City, he smiled to himself. "Yes, the Eternal Sulla!" he tittered, and then he became serious again. "Yes, Nature and State..." Something lay concealed between these two words. He'd probably never figure out what...
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