I wasn’t sure what I would see on the shuttle ride from the airport to the conference hotel for the Lori Foster Reader & Author Get Together. Cincinnati, Ohio.
A verdant landscape blurred past, punctuated with the occasional building: lovely
historic brick, industrial painted cinderblock. Familiar. Too familiar to be
awe-inspiring on its own. So I leaned forward and asked the driver, “So what’s
interesting about your state?”
Cincinnati was founded in 1788 as Losantiville. This original name, given by the author of THE ADVENTURES OF COLONEL DANIEL BOON, John Filson, meant “The Town Opposite the Mouth of the Licking River.” The etymology of this mouthful is a writer’s inside joke:
L – English for “Licking River”
os – Latin for “mouth”
anti – Greek for “opposite”
ville – French for “city”
orphans." Governor Arthur St. Clair was a vital member of this society.
Now while the concept of a veterans’ society is not so difficult to grasp—although it was to become much more than that in political power and influence—that name Cincinnati still resonates in the mind. But be grateful. It is short for Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus.
rights for the plebeians. Unfortunately, his son, Caeso, did not resort to discourse in supporting his father’s political stance, but instead took to chasing off the tribunes of plebeians—thereby interrupting the governing process. Capital charges were filed against the son. Though he escaped, he was sentenced to death in absentia.
Cincinnatus lost most of his holdings in paying the fine for his overzealous son’s wrong doings. He was left with only a small farm to work in order to support his family. Despite this humbling change in circumstance, he continued to serve as a statesman.
Despite this…perhaps I should say, Because of this, he went on to become a Roman hero. Like in the Americas of the revolutionary period, this was a time of great conflict for the Romans. Twice—once in 458 BC and once in 439 BC—Rome’s senators called up Cincinnatus to serve as dictator and to lead them against their enemies. Both times, the moment after the conflict was settled, Cincinnatus resigned his dictatorship and returned to working his farm.
I wasn’t sure what I would see on the shuttle ride from the airport to the conference hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio. I didn’t know that in the verdant landscape that blurred past my window, I would see the ghost of a nobleman calling to his wife from the fields for his senatorial robes, preparing to serve his country.
"He relinquished everything to save the Republic."
I wasn’t sure what I would see. So I leaned forward and asked the driver, “So what’s interesting about your state?”
I loved that story for so many reasons, most of which didn’t fit in the retelling. It contains such an exquisite duality:
A noble statesman whose children were anything but. And not just Caeso, who left his parents and siblings impoverished, but there is even a legend of a second son on trial for military incompetence. It is said his was acquitted when none of jury could bring themselves to break aged Cincinnatus’s heart.
A Roman who is remembered as a model of civic virtue; who worked fervently to keep the lower classes oppressed. Nonetheless, during his lifetime, the Law of the Twelve Tables formalized and defined the rights of all patricians and plebeians. It was even posted in public on ivory tablets in a sing-song version of Latin to make it easy for illiterate plebeians to memorize.
An exquisite duality.
Not unlike the romance conference itself, celebrating the power of love and the beauty of embracing one’s sexuality. While trending suspiciously toward idealizing romantic love and objectifying the human body to the point of creating an unhealthy standard that no real man or woman could ever hope to rise to.
There is rarely black or white. More often only shades of grey. Pun intended.
PS – The Lori Foster conference was so much fun! Pictures can be found here.
Wikipedia: Society of the Cincinnati
The History Guide: The Laws of the Twelve Tables, c. 450 BC