” The night she flies between heaven and earth, whistling in the dark, and never closes his eyes to succumb to sleep ; in the day, posted at the top of a roof or on high towers, it looms over, and sows fear in the large cities, also attached to falsehoods perverse that a messenger of the truth. She liked to spread about the variety of taking authority over the real and the fake. “

But who is the author of this terrible portrait of a woman who sees everything and who knows everything in the city, to which truth and falsehood do not matter, as long as it is the queen of a social game which gives him the power and the fear on the hearts and souls ? In what book, in what journal ? And who is this woman, ultra-informed and ultra-active, you can, perhaps, have the impression to recognize ?

well, no, this is not Mimi Merchant ! The author possibly exaggerating, anyway ! Too lyrical, too fantastic, too scary ! And at first, he could not know, because he lived in the first century before our era, and was called Virgil. Yes, the author of The Aeneid, of which these worms are extracted, and tells how, after the fall of Troy the hero Aeneas escapes from the flames, his father on his shoulders, the hand of his son in his (unfortunately without his mother), and will, at the end of a bumpy journey, founding the city which was the origin of Rome.

Fama, fame and rumor

No, Virgil could not know Mimi Merchant, not more that he knew of Alexander Benalla, Laeticia Halliday, Closer, Here, or the couple Macron. But that did not stop him from knowing the evil that can make a bad reputation, and those who give birth to them. The Ancients had, in fact, much better, or rather much worse, than the tabloids, they had the fama.

And this is the fama, described by Virgil in this passage. The fama, a word that has a double meaning : “the fame “… and the ” rumor “. That is to say its power : it makes you and unmakes you. Such a power that the ancient Romans had a deity, characterized by its rapidity. It is “with feet and wings agile,” said Virgil, ” and ” first fear is small, but soon rises into the air “. Show little ragoûtant : the goddess Fama is described as a veritable monster, covered with feathers and in each pen there is, hold on, ” as many watchful eyes, as many tongues, as many mouths that speak, ears that stand “. In contemporary terms, an army of paparazzi and informers of all kinds !

Virgil speaks about a love story : that of Aeneas and Dido, queen of Carthage. Fama, imagine stashed with his telephoto lens, has surprised those loves, clandestine, and has made known to the world, and especially to the political rivals of Dido, destroying the reputation of the sovereign, and precipitating his death. The roman emperors, moreover, were not afraid of anything as long as the bad fama, a word which has given ” famous “, but also ” infamy “. The fama is a noise, but many of the conflicts in Rome, recalls Jean-Pierre Néraudeau*, including the civil wars of 68-69, have been influenced by the rumor public. As in every conflict, unfortunately, gets excited and bloodying of what it peddles on one and the other. This is why the mighty men, even today, strive to master the fama, and flatter him by making him believe that he takes her for a goddess. Because, says texting our Virgil, who knew not yet the political life of contemporary French : Vires acquirit eundo (running, she takes the force).

* Jean-Pierre Néraudeau, The Fama in ancient Rome (for a review, Medieval, 1993). Read also, Celebriti, Romain Brethes and Laure de Chantal (Belles Lettres, 2010)

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