Today I have the immense pleasure of bringing to you my lovely readers, the Enchanting Vicki Leon!
My favorite love story from The Joy of Sexus: by Vicki Leon
More than a bittersweet fling, this decades-long grand amour involved the most famous man of his era–and history’s FIRST cougar!
Her name? Servilia Caepionis,whose graceful elegancedoes sound catlike. From an aristocratic Roman family, she had it all: passionate personality, looks, and brains. Even in her late forties, her allure bewitchedRome’s supreme military commander.
He was barely 36, a brilliant big thinker, politician, and warrior, busy conqueringthe then-wild lands of Gaul and Britain when not busy seducing a long list of illustrious women. His name? Gaius Julius Caesar.
Around 64 B.C., when love’s thunderbolt struck, they were both married to their second spouses. He had a daughter; she had a son by her first husband, and three girls by her second. Messy; but they were unrepentant–and their spouses went along.
A risk-taker and political activist, Servilia relished action. At times, outrageous action. Although as a woman she could not hold office, her younger half-brother Cato was an important senator. During the ardent early days of her romance with Julius, on a whim Serviliasenta note to her lover. It so happened that Caesar washard at work in the Senate chamber, deep in a rancorous debate overahuge conspiracy case with Servilia’s brother.
When her note got delivered by messenger, Senator Cato immediately thought it related to the conspirators. He didn’t ask, he demanded to have it read. Read aloud. The chamber went silent, the senators hanging on every red-hot word. Catono doubt turned crimson himself, as he learned–in front of his peers– about his sister’s adulterous feelings for his prime political opponent.
Afterwards, Servilia and Julius may have laughed about it together. Thatsemi-comic episode, however, would have dire consequences. From that moment on, Senator Cato and his conservative followers loathed Caesar. More than political foes, they became dangerous enemies, the nucleus of a “save Rome from Caesar’s monarchy”movement.
Even more heartbreaking, their animosity would eventually involve Servilia’s own son Brutus, damaging his relationship with his mother, and motivating him to take an active role in future disaster.
But as lovers do, this passionate pairtook little notice. They were riding high, and goddess Fortuna favored them for the moment. Suetonius,
a later historian, after listing many of Caesar’s female conquests, says admiringly: “But beyond all others Caesar loved Servilia.” Clearly, in terms of attention paid and years spent as lovers together, it seems to be true. Julius once gave Servilia a glorious black pearl from Britain worth six million sesterces. More than that, he gave her twenty years of his devotion.
Two decades after their tempestuousaffair began, Servilia lost the grand love of her life. On the Ides of March, 44 B.C., on the marble floor of the room where the Senate met, a disorganized group of conspirators stabbed Julius Caesar 23 times. Servilia never saw Julius in the flesh again. Instead she had to endure the grotesque display ofhis lifesized wax statue, accurately depicting his 23 knife wounds, in the Roman Forum.
Servilia lost more than the man she adored. She also lost her beloved only son Brutus, a ringleader in the murder conspiracy. A final horror: Servilia’s son-in-law Cassius, married to one of her daughters, was also a co-conspirator.
In the chaotic aftermath, a grieving Servilia tried but failed to save the lives of her guilty kinfolk. Nearly everyone in her social circle died in the years of civil war that ensued. She, however, may have seen her seventieth birthday,given shelter in the countryside home of a longtime friend.
As a writer myself, I like to imagine Servilia, well-educated, still sharp as a tack, writing her tell-all memoirs in this safe harbor. What a saga that would be! Although a fictionalized version of Servilia as Caesar’s lover appeared in the HBO/BBC epic Rome, their largely unremembered liaison deserves a film or book of its own. What do you think?