Our bedroom is on the ground floor, facing a quiet street. We talk a lot, especially in the middle of the night and early in the morning. The conversation is honest and spontaneous. Sometimes in the warmer months I forget that the window is open, and both of us giggle at the thought of the neighbors hearing us, learning who we really are without our public face.
Vibia Sabina was married the Ancient Roman emperor Hadrian, well-known today for his famous wall standing in Britain. She had known him from childhood and was his second cousin. It was an arranged marriage. When they wed, she was young, about 12 to 13, the typical age that Roman girls married. He was older, about 25.
Hadrian had a distinct preference for a Greek man and other male companions. Hadrian is believed to be bisexual, but the couple had no children. Vibia was strong and independent, and we have rumors that she had her own lovers, but it’s hard to say. Despite everything, their marriage endured until her death.
Did they talk over a breakfast of bread and figs? Or did they never speak to each other, acting like strangers passing on the street? I like to think that since Vibia Sabina had known Hadrian all her life, that they did talk to each other. But we will never really know.
That’s also true for the intimate relationships around us. We think we have some insight into them…but we never really know.