Disclaimer: Technically I could pretend to own this stuff, seeing as copyright law didn't even exist in Vergil's time. The quotation, however, is from Book 4 of Fitzgerald's magnificent translation, which does fall under current legislation.

A side note: Semele was one of the few women that Jupiter/Zeus actually seduced rather than raped. Hers was also the only semi-divine son to come under his father's explicit protection, and the only one to eventually be raised to divine status.


The nymphs and satyrs usually play music; their duty is to entertain the gods they serve. But there is no music today. Instead the lesser divinities cower in a far corner, pretending without success that they do not exist. All of Olympus waits nervously. Today Marriage does not fare well.

Look: Here is Juno, queen of gods and god of queens. And there… there is Jove, Ruler of Men and Gods, Authority Over All the Sky, Raiser of Storms, and Maker of Kings and Heroes. Iuppiter the All-Powerful.

The all-powerful one rubs his cheek and glares at his wife. His wife has slapped him. Several times.

"It was not written!" she hisses angrily. "I read the Scrolls of Fate as you did! This was not to be!"

He shrugs. "Fate is fate."

"Except for gods, now? Just because you and … and that whore—"

"My daughter," he reminds her. His deep voice rumbles dangerously, like thunder over the darkened plain. "Your mortal chit was not mentioned in any of the Scrolls..."

"—And that whore gambled with my city! Mine. …" She turns, starts, stops again. "Carthage was under my protection."

"...for good or for ill," he continues angrily. "We have some power over—"

"Dido was not supposed to die! Not yet! Her life's string was long… so long. Love—true love—a good marriage, a soft death…" She takes a deep, shuddering breath.

"Wife…" He reaches for her. She flinches away. "Sister-wife, listen to me…"

"Why should I?" she cries. "You are so obsessed with your pet Aeneas—" She spits out the name distastefully—"and so blinded by your desire to see a new empire of your own! No, it's not enough for you that there already was an empire in the making, just as mighty. An empire we could have ruled together. We could have joined. We could have worked together as equals, as husband and wife. But no." Her voice is no longer straining, no longer emotional. She is simply cold and baleful. "Once again you couldn't possibly spend time with your own wife, sister of your heart and flesh."

Juno is not one for tears. She never has been. Instead her face hardens even further, and she strides from the hall, her back stiff and unyielding. Jupiter King of Gods and Men can only watch her go.

He, too, is not one for yielding. He thinks, sometimes, that they are too alike for each other. They do not look alike—his coloring is dark where hers is light; but they are both dangerous, stubborn, always righteous in their beliefs. Their fights are often and stormy, neither willing to submit to the other. His wife lectures about marriage vows of obedience, but she goes behind Jove's back to accomplish what she will. She is wily and subtle; he is obvious and commanding; but their tempers are equal, and their wills equal. It is a dangerous love they have, passionate but also as tempestuous as the storms he habitually raises.

That night she lies in his bed as always. It is her right as wife; it is her duty. But she does not respond to his touch. She always does this when she is angry, but tonight is the worst since he slept with Semele.

He wants her. She is, after all, his wife. But she turns away and feigns sleep; and he feels that usual emptiness after argument that has always driven him to mortal women's arms for a brief moment of blissful denial.

But for now, he has his eye on no woman, and he stays in the bed, alone. (For she is not really present at all.)

And he wonders: what would it be like to work with her, to be on the same side for once?

(A distant memory, faded and near-forgotten—fighting the Titans, winning their thrones; her face streaked with immortal blood, fierce and impassioned, smiling up at him; and the first great flooding of desire...)

And then she shifts in the bed, enough to let him know that she is still awake—and still very, very angry. The moment disappears as quickly as it came.

And the thought, like the memory, will be but a half-remembered dream in the morning.