The Gift of Prosperina
Wake up, master Gaius, wake up! The house is astir. Can you hear the chickens? The deer came up from the lake and woke them up, and all the fountains too. Do you hear the water? Your father left at dawn for an important meeting. Aulia is baking bread for you, and I must help Dala with the washing. Help me, dear baby, drink your breakfast. I picked a pomegranate from the garden, crushed its great old heart, and let it bleed into this silver bird for you. I bring the gift of Proserpina, master Gaius, so you never part with your mother, young Marcella of the golden bracelets. She is coming soon to kiss your sweet soft hair. I left my mother far behind in Thracia, a land of wild roses and mountains covered with thyme.
Drink up, dear Gaius, this will make you stronger, taller than your father. When you become a scholar and a fleet commander, will you remember how I woke you every morning with silver birds and pomegranates? Will you take me home to see my mother?’
Author's note: Gaius Plinius Secundus (23-79 AD), known as Pliny the Elder, was born near Lake Como, Italy. He was an ancient Roman naturalist, philosopher, and naval commander. He was the celebrated author of the encyclopedic Natural History, regarded as a scientific authority for centuries after his death.
Blaga Angelow lives in Los Angeles, California. She studies Classical Mediterranean History and volunteers as a docent at the Getty Villa Museum in Malibu, California.
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