Homo Sum

Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto. – Publius Terentius Afer

I am human.

I consider nothing human alien to me.

There is nothing I cannot do, and little I have not done. Brain and thumb, brain and thumb I’ve climbed the sky. Sea, earth, tree, land, sea, sky, moon—stars? These things are touched by me, claimed by me, made my own. From nothing I have built everything; from emptiness I have carved plenty. From humble beginning I have progressed far, and will progress further. Did Lucifer fall? I rose.

I am human.

I am namer, and shaper. Creator. Destroyer. Breaker and fixer. All land is my land, all things are my things. I have been a steward and a wastrel, benevolent, malevolent, indifferent. I learn, I grow, I discard what I have learned and I return. I progress, and regress, but I progress again. I have built libraries, and I have burned them, but I have built them again. I will burn them again, but I will build them once more. Better? Perhaps. I’ll try.

Publius Terentius Afer.  Praenomen Publius, from the same root as “the public”. Nomen Terentius, for the man who had him educated and freed, and also the man who had once enslaved him. Cognomen Afer, indicating his African origin. Publius Terentius Afer was a slave and then a freedman and then one of Rome’s most famous poets. He lived so many lives, and in one of his plays he wrote “Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto”.

Nothing human is alien to me.

I have conquered the Other, and been conquered by Another. Late—too late? perhaps—I have learned that they are both Myself. I have oppressed, and been oppressed, and will oppress again. I have cast off my oppressors, and I will cast them off again. Each time, does the oppression become more difficult? Perhaps. I think.

I am a victim. I have been beaten, bloodied, burnt. I have been enslaved. I have been raped and murdered. I have been robbed and cheated. Impoverished. I have been made less than I am. I have been hurt.

I am rapist, murderer, thief, and cheat. I have hurt. I will hurt again.

I am human.

I consider nothing that is human alien to me.

Slowly. Slowly. Oh, so slowly. I improve. Every year, every day, every second I am better than I was. I slide back, but. Brain and thumb, brain and thumb I climb the mind. There is a little. A little. Oh, so little less pain in the world with every new movement I make. Glacial, ponderous, I move forward.

Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto.

Terentius would no longer recognize me. In two thousand years I will no longer know myself. I have found the keys to so many locks, cast off so many chains, but I have many more to shed. I have traveled, far, but there is no rest to come.


I am human.

We are human; hold nothing human alien to us.