On adultery; Anthea’s emancipation

Arcadius was now sitting alone in what was left of his symposium. Clitus had parted and he was still waiting for his servant to fetch him some more wine before he too fell asleep among his comrades.
As time past the frustration boiled inside him and at last he gave into anger.

  • MUST I KILL SOMEONE TO GET MY WINE? He shouted.
  • Calm down dear, the young boy is asleep. Even though you didn’t notice it’s actually quite late and Hecate has already taken her throne in the sky.
  • Aah Anthea, my wife. I didn’t think you were here.
  • Of course not dear husband, you’ve managed to empty a few bottles I can tell, she said smiling as she sat down next to him.
  • Yes, although a dear friend of mine helped me so I can’t take the full credit.
  • I assume you mean Clitus?
  • Yes, you overheard our conversation?
  • On adultery?
  • Yeah.
  • Of course I did.
  • Did I prevail over his uncertainties you think?
  • Perhaps. If you did succeed then you did so because he failed to see how feeble your arguments were and if you failed, it’s because he succeeded.
  • What an intriguing statement love. Please, share your thoughts with me.
  • What do expect to learn from me?
  • Let’s not pretend here in the absence of everyone else; I’m can only go as far as you guide me.
  • Ha-ha, if you insist dear.
  • Please. So where did I go wrong?
  • As I recall, you basically argued adultery or betrayal being whatever you weren’t comfortable telling your wife. Can’t you see the weakness in your argument?
  • Not quite.
  • The reason you and Clitus agreed was because you have similar personalities and characters, therefore it was easy to agree. Besides, you didn’t even consider what a woman would or wouldn’t be comfortable with.
  • Ooh, what would a woman then feel uncomfortable with?
  • You’re taking the question on adultery from the wrong end dear.
  • What do you mean?
  • Remember when you asked Clitus whether or not you should meet a person whose intentions you’re fully aware but you simply consider her a friend?
  • Yes.
  • How did he answer you?
  • He told me that I was betraying one of the most fundamental elements of friendship if I refused to listen to the subjects closest to her heart, which would be subjects on her affection for me, and that I wouldn’t be comfortable telling that to you that I was meeting her.
  • Let’s focus on the point he maid on friendship. Did you notice how different it was compared to your argument?
  • Ohm, slightly but explain it for me.
  • Sure dear. Rather than arguing from different standards, whether they’re yours or mine, ask yourself; what is it we despise about adultery itself? If you can answer that then you’d be able to give Clitus a satisfying response to his concerns.
  • I see, what is the answer to adultery then and where do you draw the line?
  • I wouldn’t be as brutal as you perhaps. For example, I wouldn’t call it adultery when one leaves home to meet someone who perhaps has romantic feelings for you.
  • How come?
  • Is there any good reason why you shouldn’t be able to do so?
  • Of course. If you do know her intentions, why would meet her unless you too had intentions of doing something with her?
  • Do you think it to be impossible of controlling your bodily urges dear?
  • I do think it’s possible.
  • Are you perhaps afraid your beloved wouldn’t trust you?
  • Perhaps.
  • Now then, wouldn’t that happen only you had already given her a reason not to trust you? A good man wouldn’t feel the anxiety.
  • I suppose so, but I still can’t get escape the feeling of uneasiness by meeting someone with intentions I do not share.
  • That feeling, is it more because of me or because of the interaction with her?
  • I guess it’s because of her.
  • And that feeling I assume would rise because you wouldn’t know how to handle her emotions without wounding her heart?
  • Yes, it’s true.
  • So you see, it’s not adultery nor is it betrayal towards your wife or husband you meeting someone whose intentions are separate from yours. Though you should reconsider your friendship with her if you can’t lend her an ear to her passions even though it might be slightly challenging for you to hear.
  • You’re amazing. I guess I was a bit harsh on my concept of being faithful.
  • Ooh yes you were dear.
  • But so far we’ve only concluded what isn’t adultery. What is adultery then?
  • That is a harder question to really answer. What it is that we despise in adultery then?
  • What is it?
  • Don’t expect me to pet you with the answers, give it a try. What is it you can’t stand about adultery?
  • I can’t stand imagining you as much as kissing someone else or embracing him the way you do with me.
  • I assume you’re not claiming ownership of my body?
  • No of course not. But I wouldn’t want something that we share when expressing with each other to be shared with someone else. I guess that’s what I was trying to articulate even though I did so poorly.
  • I prefer that answer. It’s a good general rule for a love that is physical, what of the others way to express love?
  • Which ones?
  • Ooh, but there are several dear, music, poetry, dancing, painting and even words that are strictly shared between couples. How would you apply that rule to those things?
  • I’m not sure actually, a little help?
  • Ha-ha, you’re hopeless dear.
  • I never claimed otherwise.
  • Well well. It’s not easy; you need to acknowledge that the nature of whatever you regularly do might change when you’re in a relationship. And yes, a relationship has the power to claim certain words so it has the power to claim your way of expressing love as well.
  • Wait Anthea. Aren’t we going a bit too far here? I can understand your point but one should be able to separate a poem of love and one of friendship, right?
  • Sure but the results aren’t everything. It’s the process of writing, composing, choreographing and painting that we seek to claim for ourselves, the outcome is simply the a dot over the “i” in loving.
  • So even though the outcome is totally different and the intentions too, we must keep whatever way we express love solely between the two of us, otherwise it’s the same as adultery?
  • It’s hard to say. Most physical acts that are genuinely for the expression of love are and should be considered adultery but it’s not easy to draw the same conclusion when it comes to the effort put behind a love poem for someone else. Although it’s odd when you think about it.
  • What is dear?
  • It’s uncommon to hear of people dismissing or even forgiving the physical acts as something that occur when we fail to control our desires. But the effort your love would put forth to create a piece of art for someone else is undeniable, perhaps even more daunting and yet that is merely considered hurtful and it’s not unusual to come across one that was forgiven for such an act.
  • It is odd. Perhaps it’s because we think of ourselves being more in control of the actions that leads to kissing and more, compared to the feelings that leads to the writing of a poem.
  • The answer is worth consideration but is not satisfying dear.
  • Why not? Surely it’s a reasonable one.
  • Well, it suggests that the power of ones conviction can only be displayed when we resist urges for intercourse. I wouldn’t dare to deny that desires do arise but we manage dismiss them to avoid doing hurtful things to our partner. Perhaps feelings are more lasting and powerful than spontaneous desires but if our conviction is strong enough we should be able to dismiss them too.
  • Well maybe it’s because the way we express love physically is more important than any other way we express love for each other.
  • That too isn’t satisfying. Of course the nature of physical love changes when you’re in a relationship and the acts themselves gain importance. But that is true for every relationship when it comes to that part no matter whom it is with. Physical expression is valuable but it’ll never fully succeed in expressing your character.
  • Yes, I guess could agree with that.
  • If you really do dear, shouldn’t you agree then that the thing we should value higher than the physical expression of love should the unique characteristics we find interesting in each other and the way the take form as a unique manifestation of love? At least valued as high as the physical expression.
  • Yes but that sounds troubling dear.
  • How do you come to that conclusion?
  • Your characteristics are the ones your friends appreciate about, are you suppose to withhold them from our friends so we don’t hurt our loved ones?
  • Dear o dear, there’s a stark difference between friendship and relationship. Certainly we should appreciate the friend in our partners but surely there are romantic features to our personality that we don’t express with our friends, are there not?
  • Oh now I get it. So sharing those romantic features and expressing those romantic features, is that some sort of betrayal then?
  • I’d love to say no and use the word “hurtful” instead but it doesn’t quite catch the harsh nature of that kind of act. Calling it betrayal has a certain ring to it suggesting that ownership our partners’ romantic features.
  • I guess that’s the problem then.
  • What is dear?
  • The word that expresses that hurtful act, we lack it. At the very least it should be on par with the word “adultery” in its significance in order to express how we feel about those actions and the word “hurtful” doesn’t live up to the task at hand…it is somewhat regrettable that we never thought to cherish each other’s characters enough to produce a suited word, perhaps that’s what leads us to overlook the importance of the love that isn’t purely physical but more.
  • As always Arcadius, you notice the things I cannot.
  • As always Anthea, it is only by your guidance I manage to do so…zzzz~.

Arcadius had fallen asleep in the arms of Anthea, the poor man was not in shape to even move and it was admirable that he had managed to have a conversation this long even though he was subdued by the wine.
Anthea stayed up thinking about the words Arcadius had said, she said to herself; is it truly our own fault we didn’t produce the right word? It is true that we are no longer raised in a world where our character is more cherished than our bodies. It’s a sad state we find ourselves in because what encourages this way of thinking is the thing of which we don’t have control over. It sure seems hopeless because we aren’t powerful enough to break this trend, might as well give trying…what am I thinking!? We are responsible for each other and for the next generation, we should set the example and lead them down the right path and maybe, just maybe, if we succeed we’ll come to value the right things and in the end produce a word worthy of the pain we suffer when our love is shared wit another person.

© Ami Fidèle

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