In details just emerging, one night back home (this was not in Afghanistan), our man ventured to sneak into the house of the other man’s wife—dressed as a woman! Yes, full dress, veil, the whole nine yards. Because why? Because there was a sort of party going on in the house, populated with a bunch of women and he did not want to be recognized.
Well, he made it inside all right; and he was making his way down a hall, wearing his costume, about to reach the bedroom door of his paramour, when one of the caterers bumped into him. She naturally asked our disguised lover who “she” was and where “she” was going?
Now there are only two things to do in a situation like this: fake it or run. Our man is no coward, so he tried faking it. One imagines, or at least I imagine, a coy Lou Costello voice emerging from under his veil.
Whatever kind of sound emerged, it didn’t fool the caterer for a second, and she immediately pitched a fit and summoned the other female types to her side, whereupon they unveiled our man. What a predicament!
This was the incident that led to his outing, as it were.
Crucial thing to understand is that he never made it to the bedroom. Still, it is reported that the husband of the woman wants a divorce saying his wife should “be above suspicion.”
The man was Clodius, the other woman Pompeia, Julius Ceasar’s wife.
The details were, at the time, scandalous. Just as the details about General Petraeus today are scandalous. Two millennia ago there was nothing odd in an affair being scandalous. Contrast that to today where we have pundits falling over themselves to say, “I haven’t the slightest interest in the private lives of these people. I just want to learn about Benghazi.”
That they want to learn about Benghazi is certain sure, but I don’t believe for a moment that they aren’t interested in the private lives of the once high and mighty General. My evidence is that each time a pundit says, “I am not interested” they proceed first to air the salacious details of the private lives, and only then talk about the connection to Benghazi. The details top all headlines.
The affair was none of our business when it was kept secret, but once it came out, for whatever reason, it is everybody’s business. And should be.
Not only that, we should be glad people are taking such an interest about the General’s peccadilloes. Because why? Because one, this signals people still care that the traditional family, the bond and promise between a man and woman are still held important to society; and two, once the rest of us men, idiots and fools who have strayed and the simpleminded who fantasize about the same (completely exhaustive categories, incidentally), once we hear about the General, we realize the full moment of his actions.
Scandal thus acts as an inoculation against stupidity. The effects are temporary, to be sure, but the effect real and measurable. This is another good reason to read history. Plutarch, our reporter about Clodius, is a booster shot.
Now there are details and there are details. That an affair took place, how it happened, and what might have occurred because of it are fair game. These facts should, and with hope, will be revealed. But what happened inside the affair, the pillow talk not pertaining to matters of security, the physical pertinents, as it were, are none of our business, and these should be kept secret. We don’t want to stir prurient interests, but instead instill sobriety.
So let us in on the scandal, journalists! It will be good for us.