Complete Short Stories by Robert Graves

Complete Short Stories by Robert Graves

Author:Robert Graves [Graves, Robert]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Fiction, General, Short Stories (Single Author)
ISBN: 9780141918686
Google: fEEeSyIB1gkC
Publisher: Penguin UK
Published: 1995-01-01T11:00:00+00:00

Life of the Poet Gnaeus Robertulus Gravesa 1

THOUGH SOME DETRACTORS are found who affirm that Gnaeus Robert ulus Gravesa was born of mean stock, his father being a servile Irish pedlar of mussel-fish, and his mother a Teutonic freedwoman, daughter of an ambulant apothecary, yet his descendants, on the contrary, claim that the Gravesae were an ancient equestrian clan of Gallic origin and that the poet’s paternal grand-father was both High Priest of Hibernian Limericum and a man very learned in the mathematic sciences.

This difference of opinion may be left unsettled. In any event, Gnaeus Robertulus Gravesa, whether of ancient stock or of parents and forefathers in whom he could take no just pride, was born in a suburban villa at the tenth milestone from Londinium, when L. Salisburius was sole Consul, in the year following the death of A. Tennisonianus Laureatus, whom the deified Victoria raised to patrician rank. It is handed down that the infant, being the eighth child of his father, did not cry at his birth, but wore only a beast-like scowl, which already gave assurance of a determination to overcome the cruel pricks of fate by a mute and cynical habit of mind. There was added another omen: a cauliflower plant growing in his father’s garden began to sprout with unnatural and unwonted shoots, namely with such alien potherbs as leeks, onions, mallows, parsnips, marjoram, turnips and even samphire of the cliff, thus portending the excessive variety of the studies to which he would devote his stylus, and which subsequently earned him the title of Polyhistor. But on the crown of the cauliflower burgeoned Apollo’s laurel.

He studied grammar and rhetoric at a school maintained by the Carthusian Guild, but interrupted them to march in the war against Gulielmus the German, being appointed centurion in the XXIII Legion. It is related that when, riddled with wounds at the battle of the Corvine Wood, his supine body was set aside by his comrades for cremation on the common pyre, lo! the god Mercury, distinguished by winged sandals and caduceus as well as by conspicuously divine grace, appeared to the military Tribune who was lamenting this premature death, and spoke as follows: ‘Man: there remain yet the seeds of life in that gory and mutilated frame. Do not anger the gods by conveying to the flames that which they have themselves spared! My Robertulus, recovering his spent forces, will yet lead a life profitable to the Legion on account of his shining sword, and pleasing to his fatherland because of his well-tuned lyre and replete tablets.’ So saying, the Herald of the Gods vanished, and the Tribune did not despise this message, for after binding up the wounds which had ceased to bleed, he wrapped his own military cloak about the seeming corpse, whereupon a she-weasel (or a witch in weasel’s disguise) appeared on the right hand and blew life with her own mouth into those motionless nostrils.

He was above the usual stature and not over-fat, with curly



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