The Sinful ActbySannion©
(Inspired by a joke in Isaac Asimov's Humor Treasury)
Quintilus Annaeus Fabianus died quite suddenly one day. Fabianus, being a good Stoic, did not meet his passing with great tears and desperate pleading, as most people do, but quietly, perhaps even happily, followed Mercury Psychopmpos across the wide river that separates the Land of the Shades from the mortal realm. Fabianus was brought before the Thrones of Minos and Rhadamanthus, the wise sons of Jupiter whose job it was to lay judgment upon the souls of the recently departed, sending those who had led miserable and worthless lives (the great bulk of humanity) to the gloomy and depressing realm governed by Pluto, while for those rare men of excellence and virtue, the Blessed Isles of Elysium was ther fate.
"Greetings Fabianus, it pleases us that you have finally come before our Throne," said Minos, inclining towards the shade. "For you are indeed a man of unequaled virtue and goodness, and it shall be a pleasure to pass judgment upon you."
Rhadamanthus took a scroll from one of the attending shades and began to unroll it. Written upon the scroll was the life's story of Fabianus. Every good deed, every act of piety that he had performed, each small kindness he had shown to the people around him was written upon that scroll. Rhadamanthus read aloud from the scroll, his aged lips turned up in a smile. That is, until he came to the end of the scroll, and then a frown broke out upon his ancient face. He checked the scroll again, especially in the beginning which dealt with the youth of Fabianus, for all men's youths are filled with folly, and then he turned to his brother, and said: "This cannot be. Certainly Fabianus' daimonion (spiritual registrar) has overlooked something. I cannot find one misdeed on this scroll."
Minos scratched his wizened head and said, "We cannot have that. It just won't do. Nothing? Are you sure?"
Rhadamanthus said, "I've gone through it several times. Not a single act of selfishness, or violence, or lust, not a time in his life when he allowed his passions to overcome him. He has governed himself with restraint and wisdom, shunned false affectations, holding only to that which was necessary. When Chance or life's adversity dealt him a harsh blow, he did not allow this to unsettle him, but continued on, his spirit undisturbed and full of peace. He never once called out blaming the Gods for the things that happened to him, but thanked them always for the blessings that they had bestowed upon him. Likewise, when wealth and distinction were placed before him to test his spirit, he was not affected, and looked upon them only as a means of helping those whom Chance had not been as kind to. In every way, Fabianus has been a good and wise man, without so much as a single fault."
"That is indeed a problem." Minos replied after much thought.
"But isn't that the purpose of life, to lead such an existence?" Fabianus inquired.
"Well, yes it is." Rhadamanthus answered. "But you see, in actuality, no one has ever lived up to these standards before. Always there is some small failing in their character, some hidden sin. But with you, there is nothing. You truly are the Wise Man."
"Certainly there are better men than I. Socrates, Chrysippus, Posidonius, Zeno. All these men certainly are my superior in virtue and character."
Minos and Rhadamanthus both let out with a hearty chuckle and Minos said, "Yes, even they had their faults. If you knew what we knew about those men . . . well, you wouldn't have said that. But you see, therein lies our dilemma."
"You see," continued Rhadamanthus, "If you enter Elysium with no sins at all, it will create envy and hard feelings, there will be murmuring and backbiting. In short, you will bring dissension and evil into heaven."
"I see." Fabianus replied solemnly. "That cannot happen. But what can I do?"
Minos and Rhadamanthus talked quietly amongst themselves for several moments, and then they turned back to the shade of Fabianus and Minos said, "This is quite irregular, and I am not even sure that Jupiter would allow it. But as it happens, he is away at the moment, off in Syria seducing some Jewish girl, so I think we will be able to let this slide. We will erase the ending of your scroll and you will be given six more hours of life on earth. You will be given another chance. Please Fabianus, go and commit a truly selfish and ignoble deed to counteract all of the good that you have done and then come back to us."
Fabianus was shocked by this request, but he did not want to be a source of contention among the great men whom he admired. So resignedly he agreed, and Rhadamanthus took his scroll and began to erase the last section of his life.
No sooner had Rhadamanthus finished, then Fabianus was back among the living. Fabianus wandered the streets of Rome for awhile, lost deep in thought.
All of his life he had been a virtuous man. Whereas some men were virtuous because they had overcome their desperate passions, Fabianus was good because he hadn't ever considered not being good. It had come naturally to him, as naturally as breathing. As a child his father had instructed him in the teachings of Zeno and Chrysippus and from that day onward he had devoted his life to practicing the Stoic philosophy.
And yet, here he was, with just a matter of hours left to him, his sole purpose on earth to perform some great wrong. Should he steal something? Well, Eunomius had said that all things belong to the Gods, and what belongs to the Gods, belongs also to Philosophers, who are like the sons of the Gods. And even if this was not true, it probably wasn't a great enough sin to count. Should he kill someone then? Who would he kill? And why? He could not bring himself to take the life of an innocent man just to ensure himself a place in Elysium.
After much thinking Fabianus recalled that many regarded having sexual relations with a woman who was not one's wife as a sin. It would certainly be a succumbing to passion and that was a sin.
Now who could he find to perform the deed with?
No sooner had he posed this question to himself, than he remembered the young widow Livia who lived just down the street from him. Livia's late husband had come from a well-respected family and he had distinguished himself both in the civil government and in the military. He had died a heroic death, and everyone in Rome spoke of him in the most reverential of tones. As a consequence, Livia had not been able to remarry (for who wanted to take the place of such a great man) despite her . . . uhm . . . passionate nature. Fabianus had been far too virtuous to notice the young widow before, but now, forced by circumstances beyond his control, he was compelled to appraise her honestly, and he found her quite to his liking. Livia was a woman of voluptuous charm, with warm brown eyes and an inviting smile. On more than one occasion she had cast meaningful glances his way, and made suggestive comments, which he, being a righteous and self-possessed man, had ignored. But he would ignore them no longer!
With a determined step, he walked up to the manor of the young widow, and led by her personal slave, he met her in her chambers.
With a sensual smile upon her full lips, Livia replied, "Why Quintilus Annaeus Fabianus, it is a great pleasure to receive you. I had heard that you were ailing, and feared that you might not be long for this world, but look at you - I have never seen you quite so . . . full of life." As she spoke, she took in the philosopher's body, her eyes running approvingly over his handsome form.
"Oh, I am quite healthy. Believe me in that regard" And Fabianus stepped forward and took Livia in his arms, kissing her fully, deeply. The widow was surprised by the suddenness of his movement, and the completely uncharacteristic nature of it - but she did not try to pull away, and in fact began kissing him in return. It had been almost five years since her husband's death, and in all that time, no man had kissed her.
Finally, breathless, Fabianus broke the kiss, and turned to the slave who stood staring on in shocked silence behind him. "I don't think we will have any further need of your services." And Livia said, "Serapion, be gone," and the wide-eyed Egyptian hastened from the room, closing the door behind him.
Fabianus took the young widow by the hand and led her to her bed. He set her there and then began kissing her again, taking well to the Erotic arts, though he had never practiced them in his life. As they kissed, Fabianus began working at the widow's clothing, taking down the strap of her gown, and revealing the fullness of her breasts. He lowered his head and began kissing her left breast, taking it's nipple between his lips and pulling gently on it. A gasp of pleasure escaped her lips, and Fabianus moved on to the other breast. Livia reclined, arching her back so that he could have better access, and clutching her fists in erotic anticipation.
Fabianus lavished great attention upon her breasts and stomach, moving slowly, languidly down her body. In all his many years he had never enjoyed the pleasures of a woman, being either too busy with his studies or with some application of them in the world. He intended to make up for that with Livia.
And make up for it he did. Fabianus was both unhurried and generous in his loving, allowing Livia to direct him in all of his efforts. As a young man exploring the intricacies of Plato, Fabianus set himself to learn the contours of Livia's body. His mouth played upon every crevice and plane, and if she let out a sigh or whimpered, he remained there longer, eager to draw the pleasure out of her another time. Fabianus did things to her, touched her in places that her husband never would have, and time and again her body was forced over the precipice and she would spend, and Fabianus, wonderful, caring, insatiable Fabianus continued on.
When finally he entered her, it was like nothing he had ever experienced before. Her sex, excited by his ministrations, clung to him, warmly, invitingly grasping his penis, and every plunge sent shivers through the whole of his body. The lovely noises that Livia made lent him strength and as he continued his gentle but inexorable thrusting, he leaned down and kissed her upon lips, swallowing her gasps and sighs into his mouth.
Fabianus persisted in that manner until an inner urging warned him that the hours granted him were almost at an end, and he must finish his single act of sin. With that thought he redoubled his efforts and thrust into her with greater force and urgency, until he reached his moment of crisis. Collapsing in a spent heap, he lay in Livia's arms, scarcely able to move from the afternoon's exertions, yet pleased that by his act of sin he had earned his way into Elysium.
Livia kissed him gently upon the neck, and whispered, "Fabianus, kindly, loving Fabianus. It has been five years since I have known my husband, and even before that his loving was never such as you have given me here today. It is not good that a woman as young as I should be forced to go without a man. Truly, it is a good deed you have done for me this day."