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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Managing Husbands
By Christoph Martin Wieland (1733–1813)
 
From the Fourth ‘Dialogue,’ Volume xxvii., Collected Works: Translation of Richard Burton

JUNO—O my dear Livia, I am the unhappiest woman in the world!  1
  Livia—Never had I expected to hear such a word from the lips of the queen of gods and men!  2
  Juno—How, Livia? Do you too hold the common error that happiness is the inseparable property of high station?—when we should deem ourselves lucky could we exchange our position, with all its prerogatives, for that of the modest joy of a poor shepherdess who is reconciled to her lot!  3
  Livia—Since I was first among the mortals, I do not remember ever to have been so dissatisfied with my lot as to wish to exchange it for a humbler one.  4
  Juno—Then you must have a tenderer, or at least a more courteous and agreeable, husband than I have.  5
  Livia—I should be making ridiculous pretensions did I not count myself happy. In the three-and-fifty years of our union, Augustus has never given me a single cause to doubt that I hold the first place in his heart.  6
  Juno—I can’t by any means make the same boast with respect to my husband, Livia. Who doesn’t know, since that gossipy old Homer let out all our marriage secrets so shamefully, with how little consideration and delicacy I have been treated by Jupiter; how rudely he addresses me in the presence of the other gods; what sort of names I must put up with from him; and how he appears to take an actual pleasure in reminding me on every occasion of misdeeds concerning which he ought to feel the greatest shame, if he were still capable of blushing!
*        *        *        *        *
  7
  Livia—One cannot deny that men—with some few exceptions, perhaps—are in comparison with us a rough, untender, horrid sort of being. Without some tact, it is very difficult even for a goddess to have as much power over the most ordinary rude mortal as a wife must have over her husband in order to be tolerably contented.  8
  Juno—If this be the case, Livia, I should like very much to know how you managed to have such firm control of a husband like Augustus, who was so jealous of his privileges, so mistrustful and cautious, and withal so hot and hasty in his passions.  9
  Livia—Nothing can be simpler at bottom. I made him believe, so long as he lived, that I had no other will than his; and yet I managed to bring about just the contrary: he thought he ruled me, and I ruled him. In all matters concerning which I was indifferent, and that he laid stress upon, I did exactly according to his taste and whim: I was always just as he wished and believed the wife of Augustus should be. My obligingness in such things was boundless. So far from bothering him with jealousy, I appeared not to have the slightest suspicion of his love affairs,… and by virtue of a sympathy of which he had not the least doubt, brought it about that the ladies who had the most charm for him were always the very ones whom I preferred, and with whom I was on the best footing. Through this utter indifference as to his little secrets, I gained the advantage that he had no others from me; and while I left him in the delusion that he deceived me on this point, I could be all the surer that he deceived me in no others, and in everything touching his rule, his family, and his political relations did naught without my counsel, and made no decision I had not led him to; but in such manner that he ever believed he was following his own head, when really he was the tool of mine. By this craft (to give it its proper name) I profited, in that he was as little jealous of my intelligence as I was of his love escapades; and when I had won this, all was won….  10
  Juno—You are a woman after my own heart, Julia Augusta! We must get better acquainted with one another. But I doubt if, with the Titanic blood that runs in my veins, I should ever be pliant enough to make use of the hint you have given me.  11
 
 
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