On the other side of the river of time, there dwell the ancients. We come from them, but they look alien to us, while their eyes stare at us through the ages. Yes, yes. We can tell there’s hope in their eyes, and fear, and surprise and resignation. Sure, they also cried and laughed and got married and bore children that later became us.
In their faces we can contemplate also our own future, generations ahead, in remote posterity, when our descendants will also look at our own pictures and feel weird at our attires and at the artefacts we use for simple hairdressing.
The frescoes of Herculaneum are full of images from past lives and among them I can see Horatia, her hair being trimmed by her mother on her very wedding day. How she realized that I was looking at her I don’t know, but she did, and she is gazing back at me from the spiral of the centuries and through the vacuum of inexistence. I bet she didn’t tell her mother about her extraordinary vision. I bet she just put it off her mind and concentrated again on her present moment.
In only a few hours the weeding party will be over and her husband will lift her up through the threshold of their new house. She won’t fall down and so the wedding omen will be good. She will bear healthy Roman citizens and bring them up while the old republic is disintegrating and the world around her changes forever.
Lovely Horatia, in the vastness of time
Dear ancestor now so quite undefined
Forget your vision and this voice of mine
Be merry, dance and drink some wine
Rome is no longer of the world the spine
But a little of you still lives in my line
Forgive your descendent for this poor rhyme
And may your years be long, happy and kind