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Chapter 30

XENOPHON had given me another dose of the ‘Olympian mixture’ just before I went to sleep, and the exalted feeling, which had been wearing off slightly during supper, revived in me. I woke up with a start – a careless slave had dropped a pile of dishes – yawned loudly and apologized to the company for my bad table-manners. ‘Granted, Caesar,’ they all cried. I thought how frightened they looked. Bad lives and bad consciences.

‘Has anyone been poisoning my drink while I was asleep?’ I bantered.

‘God forbid, Caesar,’ they protested.

‘Narcissus, what was the sense of that Colchester joke of Vettius this Valens’s? Something about the Britons worshipping me as a God.’

Narcissus said: ‘It was not altogether a joke, Caesar. In fact, you may as well know that a temple at Colchester had been dedicated to the God Claudius Augustus. They have been worshipping you there since the early summer. But I’ve only just heard about it.’

‘So that’s why I feel so queer. I’ve been turning into a God! But how did it happen? I wrote to Ostorius, I remember, sanctioning the erection and dedication of a temple at Colchester to the God Augustus, in gratitude for the victory he had given Roman arms in the island of Britain.’

‘Then I suppose, Caesar, that Ostorius made the natural mistake of understanding “Augustus” as meaning yourself, particularly as you specified a victory given by Augustus to Roman arms in Britain. The God Augustus fixed the frontier at the Channel and his name means nothing to the British, in comparison with your own. The natives speak of you there, I am informed, with the deepest religious awe. There are poems composed about your thunder and lightning and your magic mists and your black spirits and your humped monsters and your monsters with snakes for noses. Politically speaking, Ostorius was perfectly correct in dedicating the temple to you. But I must regret that it was done without your consent, and, I suppose, against your wishes.’

‘So I’m a God, now, am I?’ I repeated. ‘Herod Agrippa always said that I’d end as a God, and I told him that he was talking nonsense. I suppose that I can’t cancel the mistake, can I, Narcissus, do you think?’

‘It would create a very bad effect on the provincials, I should say,’ Narcissus answered.

‘Well, I don’t care, the way I feel now,’ I said. ‘I don’t care about anything. Suppose that I have that miserable woman brought here for trial at once. I feel completely free from petty mortal passions. I might even forgive her.’

‘She’s dead,’ Narcissus said in a low voice. ‘Dead, at your own orders.’

‘Fill my glass,’ I said. ‘I don’t remember giving the order, but it’s all the same to me now. I wonder what sort of God I am. Old Athenodorus used to explain to me the Stoic idea of God: God was a perfectly rounded whole, immune from accident or event. I always pictured God as an enormous pumpkin. Ha, ha, ha! If I eat any more of this goose and drink any more of this wine I’ll become pumpkinified too. So Messalina’s dead! A beautiful woman, my friends! But bad!’

‘Beautiful but bad, Caesar.’

‘Carry me up to bed, someone, and let me sleep the blessed sleep of the Gods. I’m a blessed God now, aren’t I?’

So they took me up to bed. I stayed in bed until noon the next day, fast asleep all the time. The Senate met in my absence and passed a motion congratulating me on the suppression of the revolt, and another expunging Messalina’s name from the archives and removing it from every public inscription, and destroying all her statues. I rose in the afternoon and resumed my ordinary Imperial work. Everyone whom I met was extremely subdued and polite, and when I visited the Law Courts nobody, for the first time for years, attempted to bustle or browbeat me. I got through my cases in no time.

The next day I began to talk grandly about the conquest of Germany; and Narcissus, realizing that Xenophon’s medicine was having too violent an effect – disordering my wits instead of merely tiding me gently over the shock of Messalina’s death, as had been intended – told him to give me no more of it. Gradually the Olympian mood faded and I felt pathetically mortal again. The first morning after I was free from the effects of the drug I went down to breakfast, and asked: ‘Where’s my wife? Where’s the Lady Messalina?’ Messalina always breakfasted with me unless she had a ‘sick headache’.

‘She’s dead, Caesar,’ Euodus answered. ‘She died some days ago, by your orders.’

‘I didn’t know,’ I said weakly. ‘I mean, I had forgotten.’ Then the shame and grief and horror of the whole business came welling back to my mind, and I broke down. Soon I was babbling foolishly of my dear, precious Messalina and reproaching myself as her murderer, and saying that it was all my fault, and making an almighty fool of myself. I eventually pulled myself together and called for my sedan. ‘The Gardens of Lucullus,’ I ordered. They took me there.

Seated on a garden bench under a cedar, looking across a smooth green lawn and down a wide grassy avenue of hornbeams, with nobody about except my German guards posted out of sight in the shrubbery, and with a long strip of paper on my knee and a pen in my hand, I began solemnly working out just where and how I stood. I have this paper by me as I now write and will copy out what I put down exactly as I find it. My statements fell, for some reason or other, into related groups of three, like the ‘tercets’ of the British Druids (their common metrical convention for verse of a moralistic or didactic sort):

I love liberty: I detest tyranny.
I have always been a patriotic Roman.
The Roman genius is Republican.

I am now, paradoxically, an Emperor.
As such I exercise monarchical power.
The Republic has been suspended for three generations.

The Republic was torn by Civil Wars.
Augustus instituted this monarchical power.
It was an emergency measure only.

Augustus found that he could not resign his power.
In my mind I condemned Augustus as hypocritical.
I remained a convinced Republican.

Tiberius became Emperor. Against his inclination?
Afraid of some enemy seizing power?
Probably forced into it by his mother Livia.

In his reign I lived in retirement.
I considered him a blood-thirsty hypocrite.
I remained a convinced Republican.

Caligula suddenly appointed me Consul.
I only desired to be back at my books.
Caligula tried to rule like an Oriental monarch.

I was a patriotic Roman.
I should have attempted to kill Caligula.
Instead I saved my skin by playing the imbecile.

Cassius Chaerea was perhaps a patriotic Roman.
He broke his oath, he assassinated Caligula.
He attempted, at least, to restore the Republic.

The Republic was not then restored.
Instead there was a new Emperor appointed.
That Emperor was myself, Tiberius Claudius.

If I had refused I should have been killed.
If I had refused there would have been Civil War.
It was an emergency measure only.

I put Cassius Chaerea to death.
I found that I could not yet resign my power.
I became a second Augustus

I worked hard and long, like Augustus,
I enlarged and strengthened the Empire, like Augustus,
I was an absolute monarch, like Augustus.

I am not a conscious hypocrite.
I flattered myself that I was acting for the best.
I planned to restore the Republic this very year.

Julia’s disgrace was Augustus’s punishment.
‘Would I had never wed, and childless died.’
I feel just the same about Messalina.

I should have killed myself rather than rule:
I should never have allowed Herod Agrippa to persuade me.
With the best of intentions I have become a tyrant.

I was blind to Messalina’s follies and villainies.
In my name she shed the blood of innocent men and women.
Ignorance is no justification for crime.

But am I the only guilty person?
Has not the whole nation equally sinned?
They made me Emperor and courted my favour.

And if I now carry out my honest intentions?
If I restore the Republic, what then?
Do I really suppose that Rome will be grateful?

‘You know how it is when one talks of liberty.
Everything seems beautifully simple.
One expects every gate to open and every wall to fall flat.’

The world is perfectly content with me as Emperor,
All but the people who want to be Emperor themselves.
Nobody really wants the Republic back.

Asinius Pollio was right:
‘It will have to be much worse before it can be any better.’
Decided: I shall not, after all, carry out my plan.

The frog-pool wanted a king.
Jove sent them Old King Log.
I have been as deaf and blind and wooden as a log.

The frog-pool wanted a king.
Let Jove now send them Young King Stork.
Caligula’s chief fault: his stork-reign was too brief.

My chief fault: I have been far too benevolent.
I repaired the ruin my predecessors spread.
I reconciled Rome and the world to monarchy again.

Rome is fated to bow to another Caesar.
Let him be mad, bloody, capricious, wasteful, lustful.
King Stork shall prove again the nature of kings.

By dulling the blade of tyranny I fell into great error.
By whetting the same blade I might redeem that error.
Violent disorders call for violent remedies.

Yet I am, I must remember Old King Log.
I shall float inertly in the stagnant pool.
Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.

I kept my resolution. I have kept it strictly ever since. I have allowed nothing to come between me and it. It was very painful at first. I had told Narcissus that I felt like the Spanish sword-fighter whose shield-arm was suddenly lopped off in the arena; but the difference was that the Spaniard died of his wound, and I continue to live. You have perhaps heard maimed men complain, in damp, cold weather, of sensations of pain in the leg or arm they have lost? It can be a most precise pain too, described as a sharp pain running up the wrist from the thumb, or as a settled pain in the knee. I felt like this often. I used to worry what Messalina would think of some decision I had taken, or about what effect a long boring play in the theatre was having on her; if it thundered I would remember how frightened she was of thunder.

As you may have guessed, the most painful consideration of all was that my little Britannicus and Octavia were perhaps, after all, not my children. Octavia, I was convinced, was not my child. She did not resemble the Claudian side of the family in the slightest. I looked at her a hundred times before I suddenly realized who her father must have been – the Commander of the Germans under Caligula. I remembered now that when, a year after the amnesty, he had disgraced himself and lost his position and finally sunk so low that he became a sword-fighter, Messalina had pleaded for his life in the arena (he was disarmed and a net-man was standing over him with his trident raised) – pleaded for the wretch’s life against the protests of the entire audience, who were yelling and booing and turning their thumbs down. I let him off, because she said that it would be bad for her health if I refused: this was just before Octavia’s birth. However, a few months later he fought the same net-man and was killed at once.

Britannicus was a true Claudian and a noble little fellow, but the horrible thought came into my mind that he resembled my brother Germamcus far too closely. Could it be that Caligula was really his father? He had nothing of Caligula’s nature, but heredity often skips a generation. The notion haunted me. I could not rid myself of it for a long time. I kept him out of my sight as much as possible without seeming to disown him. He and Octavia must have suffered much at this time. They had been greatly attached to their mother, so I had given instructions that they should not be told in detail about her crimes; they were merely to know that their mother was dead. But they soon found out that she had been executed by my orders, and naturally they felt a childish resentment of me. But I could not yet bring myself to talk to them about it.

I have explained that my freedmen formed a very close guild and that a man who offended one of them offended all, and that a man who was taken under the protection of one enjoyed the favour of all. In this they set a good example to the Senate, but the Senate did not follow it, being always torn into factions and only united in their common servility to me. And though now, three months after Messalina’s death, a rivalry started between my three chief ministers, Narcissus, Pallas, and Callistus, it had been agreed beforehand that the successful one would not use the strong position that he would win by pleasing me as a means of humiliating the other two. You would never guess what the rivalry was about. It was about choosing a fourth wife for me! ‘But,’ you will exclaim, ‘I thought you gave the Guards full permission to chop you in pieces with their swords if you ever married again?’ I did. But that was before I took my fateful decision, sitting there under the cedar in the Gardens of Lucullus. For now I had made up my mind, and once I do that, the thing is fixed with a nail. I set my freedmen a sort of guessing-game as to what my marital intentions were. It was a joke, for I had already chosen the lucky woman. I started them off one night by remarking casually at supper: ‘I ought to do something better for little Octavia than put her in charge of freedwomen. I hanged all the maids who understood her ways, poor child. And I can’t expect my daughter Antonia to look after her: Antonia’s been very poorly ever since her own baby died.’

Vitellius said: ‘No, what little Octavia needs is a mother. And so does Britannicus, though it’s easier for a boy than a girl to look after himself.’

I made no answer, so everyone present knew that I was thinking of marrying again, and everyone knew too how easily I had been managed by Messalina, and thought that if he were the man to find me a wife his fortune was made. Narcissus, Pallas, and Callistus each offered a candidate in turn, as soon as a favourable moment came for talking to me privately. It was most interesting to me to watch how their minds worked. Callistus remembered that Caligula had forced a Governor of Greece to divorce his wife, Loilia Paulina, and then married her himself (as his third wife) because someone had told him at a banquet that she was the most beautiful woman in the Empire: and he remembered further that this someone had been myself. He thought that since Lollia Paulina had not lost any of her looks in the ten years that had passed since, but had rather improved them, he was pretty safe in suggesting her. He did so the very next day. I smiled and promised to give the matter my careful consideration.

Narcissus was next. He asked me first who it was that Callistus had suggested and when I told him ‘Lollia Paulina’, he exclaimed that she would never suit me. She cared for nothing but jewels. ‘She never goes about with less than thirty thousand gold pieces around her neck in emeralds or rubies or pearls, never the same assortment either, and she’s as stupid and obstinate as a miller’s mule. Caesar, the one woman for you really, as we both know, is Calpumia. But you can hardly marry a prostitute: it wouldn’t look well. My suggestion therefore is that you marry some noblewoman just as a matter of form, but live with Calpumia, as you did before you met Messalina, and enjoy real happiness for the rest of your life.’

‘Whom do you suggest as my matter-of-form wife?’

‘Aelia Paetina. After you divorced her she married again, you remember. Recently she lost her husband, and he left her very badly off. It would be a real charity to marry her.’

‘But her tongue, Narcissus?’

‘She’s chastened by misfortune. That legal tongue of hers will never be heard again, I undertake that. I’ll warn her about it and explain the conditions of marriage. She’ll be paid all the respect due to her as your wife, and as your daughter Antonia’s mother, and have a large private income, but she must sign a contract to behave like a deaf-mute in your presence, and not to be jealous of Calpumia. How’s that?’

‘I shall give the matter my careful consideration, my dear Narcissus.’

But it was Pallas who made the correct guess. It was either extraordinarily stupid of him or extraordinarily clever. How could he suppose that I would do anything so monstrous as to marry my niece, Agrippinilla? In the first place, the marriage would be incestuous; in the second place she was the mother of Lucius Domitius, to whom I had taken the most violent dislike; in the third place, now that Messalina was dead, she could claim the title of the worst woman in Rome. Even in Messalina’s lifetime it would have been a very nice question how to decide between these two: they were equally vicious, and if Messalina had been more promiscuous than Agrippinilla, she had at least never committed incest, as Agrippinilla, to my own knowledge, had. But Agrippinilla had one lonely virtue – she was very brave, while Messalina, as we have seen, was a coward. Pallas suggested Agrippinilla, with the same proviso that Narcissus had made, namely, that it need only be a marriage of form: I could keep any mistress I pleased. Agrippinilla, he said, was the only woman in Rome capable of taking over Messalina’s political work, and would be a real help to me.

I promised to give the matter my careful consideration.

I then arranged a regular debate between Callistus, Narcissus, and Pallas, after first giving them time to sound the willingness of their candidates to stand for the office of Caesar’s wife. I called in Vitellius as umpire and the debate took place a few days later. Narcissus, in recommending Aelia, argued that by resuming an old connexion I should introduce no innovation into the family, and that she would be a good mother to little Octavia and to Britannicus, to whom she was already related by being the mother of their half-sistei Antonia.

Callistus reminded Narcissus that Aelia had long been divorced from me, and suggested that if she was taken back her pride would be inflamed and she would probably revenge herself privately on Messalina’s children. Lollia was a much more eligible match: nobody could deny that she was the most beautiful woman in the world, and virtuous too.

Pallas opposed both choices. Aelia was an old shrew, he said, and Lollia a vacant-minded simpleton who went about looking like a jeweller’s shop and would expect a whole new set of gewgaws, at the expense of the Treasury, as regularly as the sun rose. No, the only possible choice was the Lady Agrippina. [It was only I who still called her by the diminutive ‘Agrippinilla.’] She would bring with her the grandson of Germanicus, who was in every way worthy of the Imperial fortune; and it was of great political importance that a woman who had shown herself fruitful and was still young should not marry into another house and transfer to it the splendours of the Caesars.

I could see Vitellius sweating hard, trying to guess from my looks which of the three it was that I favoured, and wondering whether perhaps it would not be better to suggest a quite different name himself. But he guessed correctly, perhaps from the order in which I had given my freedmen leave to speak. He took a deep breath and said: ‘Between three such beautiful, wise, well-born, and distinguished candidates, I find it as difficult to judge as the Trojan shepherd, Paris, between the three Goddesses Juno, Venus, and Minerva. Let me keep this figure, which is a helpful one. Aelia Paetina stands for Juno. She has already been married and had a child by the Emperor; but as Jove was displeased with Juno, though she was the mother of Hebe, for her nagging tongue, so has the Emperor been displeased by Aelia Paetina, and we want no more domestic wars in this terrestrial Heaven of ours. It is claimed for Lollia Paulina that she is a very Venus, and certainly Paris awarded the prize to Venus; but Paris was an impressionable young swain, you will remember, and beauty unallied with intelligence can have no appeal for a mature ruler with great marital as well as governmental experience. Agrippinilla is Minerva, for wisdom, and she yields little, if anything, to Lollia for beauty. The Emperor’s wife should have both good looks and outstanding intelligence: my choice is Agrippinilla.’

As though I had only just considered the matter I protested: ‘But, Vitellius, she’s my niece. I can’t marry my niece, can I?’

‘If you wish me to approach the Senate, Caesar, I can undertake to obtain their consent. It’s irregular, of course, but I can take the same line as you took the other day in your speech about the Autun franchise: I can point out that the marriage laws at Rome have become more and more plastic in course of time. A hundred years ago, for instance, it would have been considered monstrous for first cousins to marry, but now it is regularly done even in the best families. And why shouldn’t uncle and niece marry? The Parthians do it, and theirs is a very old civilization. And in the Herod family there have been more marriages between uncle and niece than any other sort.’

‘That’s right,’ I said. ‘Herodias married her uncle Philip, and then deserted him and ran off with her uncle Antipas. And Herod Agrippa’s daughter Berenice married her uncle Herod Pollio, King of Chalcis, and now she’s supposed to be living incestuously with her brother, young Agrippa. Why shouldn’t the Caesars be as free as the Herods?’

Vitellius looked surprised but said quite seriously: ‘Incest between brother and sister is another matter. I cannot make out a case for that. But it may well be that our very earliest ancestors allowed uncle and niece to marry; because there is nowhere any disgust expressed in ancient classical literature for Pluto’s marriage with his niece Proserpine.’

‘Pluto was a God,’ I said. ‘But then, it seems, so am I now. Pallas, what does my niece Agrippinilla herself think about the matter?’

‘She will be greatly honoured and altogether overjoyed, Caesar,’ said Pallas, hardly able to conceal his elation. ‘And she is ready to swear that she will faithfully devote herself as long as she lives entirely to you, your children, and the Empire.’

‘Bring her to me.’

When Agrippinilla arrived she fell at my feet; I told her to rise and said that I was prepared to marry her, if she wished it. She embraced me passionately, for answer, and said this was the happiest moment of her life. I believed her. Why not? She would now be able to rule the world through me.

Agrippinilla was no Messalina. Messalina had the gift of surrendering herself wholly to sensual pleasure. In this she took after her great-grandfather, Mark Antony. Agrippinilla was not that sort of woman. She took after her great-grandmother, the Goddess Livia: she cared only for power. Sexually, as I have said, she was completely immoral; yet she was by no means prodigal of her favours. She only slept with men who could be useful to her politically. I have, for instance, every reason to suspect that she rewarded Vitellius for his gallant championship of her, and I know for certain (though I have never told her so) that Pallas was then, and is now, her lover. For Pallas controls the Privy Purse.

So Vitellius made his speech in the Senate (having first arranged a big public demonstration outside) and told them that he had suggested the marriage to me and that I had agreed about its political necessity, but had hesitated to make a definite decision until I had first heard what the Senate and People thought of the innovation. Vitellius spoke with old-fashioned eloquence. ‘… And you will not have long to search, my Lords, before you find that among all the ladies of Rome this Agrippina stands pre-eminent for the splendour of her lineage, has given signal proof of her fruitfulness, and comes up to and even surpasses your requirements in virtuous accomplishments: it is indeed a singularly happy circumstance that, through the providence of the Gods, this paragon among women is a widow and may be readily united with a Person who has always hitherto been a model of husbandly virtue.’

You can perhaps guess how his speech was received. They voted for his motion without a single dissentient voice – not by any means because they all loved Agrippinilla, but because nobody dared to earn her resentment now that it seemed likely that she would become my wife – and several senators sprang up in emulous zeal and said that if necessary they would compel me to bow to the consentient will of the whole country. I received their greetings and pleadings and congratulations in the Market Place and then proceeded to the Senate, where I demanded the passing of a decree permanently legalizing marriages between uncles and fraternal nieces. They passed it. At the New Year I A.D. 49 married Agrippinilla. Only one person took advantage of the new law, a knight who had been a Guards captain. Agrippinilla paid him well for it.

I made a statement to the Senate about my temple in Britain. I explained that my deification had come about accidentally, and apologized to my fellow-citizens. But perhaps they would forgive me and confirm the incongruity in view of the political danger of cancelling it. ‘Britain is far away, and it is only a little temple,’ I pleaded ironically. ‘A tiny rustic temple with a mud floor and a turf roof, like the ones in which the Gods of Rome lived, back in Republican times, before the God Augustus rehoused them in their present palatial splendour. Surely you won’t object to one little temple, so far away, and an old priest or two, and an occasional modest sacrifice? For my part I never intended to be a God. And I give you my word that it will be my only one. …’But nobody, it seemed, grudged me the temple.

After closing the census I had not taken on the office of Censor again, but as a prelude to my restoration of the Republic had given the appointment to Vitellius. It was the first time for a century that the control of public morals had been out of the hands of the Caesars. One of Vitellius’s first acts after arranging my marriage with Agrippinilla was to remove from the Senatorial Order one of the first-rank magistrates of the year, none other than my son-in-law, young Silanus! The reason he gave was Silanus’s incest with his sister Calvina, who had been his own daughter-in-law, but had lately been divorced by her husband, young Vitellius. Vitellius explained that his son had surprised the two in bed together some time before and had told him of it under the bonds of secrecy; but now that he had become Censor he could not conscientiously conceal Silanus’s guilt. I examined the case myself. Silanus and Calvina denied the charge, but it seemed proved beyond all dispute, so I dissolved the marriage-contract between Silanus and my daughter Octavia (or rather Messalina’s daughter Octavia) and made him resign this magistracy. It had only a single day to run, but to show how strongly I felt I gave someone else the appointment for the last day. Of course Vitellius would never have dared to reveal the incest if it had not been for Agrippinilla. Silanus stood in the way of her ambitions: she wanted her son Lucius to become my son-in-law. Well, I had been fond of Silanus, and, after all, he was a descendant of the God Augustus; so I told him that I would postpone judgement in his case – meaning that I expected him to commit suicide. He delayed for some time, and eventually chose my wedding-day for the deed; which was not inappropriate. Calvina I banished and advised the College of Pontiffs to offer sacrifices and atonements at the Grove of Diana, in revival of a picturesque institution of Tullus Hostilius, the third King of Rome.

Baba and Augurinus were in great form about this time. They parodied everything I did. Baba introduced three new letters into the alphabet: one to stand for a hawk of phlegm, one for the noisy sucking of teeth, and the third for ‘the indeterminate vowel halfway between a hiccup and a belch’. He divorced the enormous negress who had hitherto acted the part of Messalina, whipped her through the streets and went through a mock ceremony of marriage with a cross-eyed albino woman whom he claimed to be his fraternal niece. He took a census of beggars, thieves, and vagabonds and removed from the Society all who had ever done a stroke of honest work in their lives. One of his jokes was resigning his censorship and appointing Augurinus as his successor for the unexpired period of his office – exactly one hour by the water-clock. Augurinus boasted of all the glorious things that he professed to do in the hour. His one complaint was that Baba’s water-clock didn’t keep good time: he wanted to go off and fetch his own, which had hours that lasted at least three times as long. But Baba, imitating my voice and gestures, quoted a phrase I had recently used in the law-courts, and was rather proud of, ‘One can expect agreement between philosophers sooner than between clocks’, and refused to let him go. Augurinus insisted that fair was fair; if he was going to be Censor, he needed a full hour of regulation size and weight. They carried on the argument hotly until Augurinus’s term of office ended suddenly with nothing done. ‘And I was going to dip you in boiling tar and then fry you within an inch of your life, according to a picturesque institution of King Tullus Hostilius,’ Augurinus grieved.

I allow Baba and Augurinus perfect freedom to parody and caricature me. They draw great audiences in their performances outside the Temple of Mercury: Mercury is, of course, the patron of thieves and practical jokers. Agrippinilla was highly offended by the insult to her of Baba’s marriage to the albino, but I surprised her by telling her firmly: ‘So long as I live Baba’s life is to be spared, understand – and Augurinus’s too.’

‘Exactly so long, to the very hour,’ Agrippina agreed in her most unpleasant tones.

There was a plague of vipers this year: I published an order informing the public of an infallible remedy against snake-bite, namely, the juice of a yew-tree. Augurinus and Baba republished it with the addition of the phrase ‘and contrariwise’, which, it seems, is recognized as one of my stock expressions.

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