The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

[40] For his victories in Gallicia and Lusitania, having led his army to
the shores of the ocean, which had not before been reduced to submission.

[41] Caesar was placed in this dilemma, that if he aspired to a triumph,
he must remain outside the walls until it took place, while as a
candidate for the consulship, he must be resident in the city.

[42] Even the severe censor was biassed by political expediency to
sanction a system, under which what little remained of public virtue, and
the love of liberty at Rome, were fast decaying. The strict laws against
bribery at elections were disregarded, and it was practised openly, and
accepted without a blush. Sallust says that everything was venal, and
that Rome itself might be bought, if any one was rich enough to purchase
it. Jugurth, viii. 20, 3.

[43] A.U.C. 695.

[44] The proceedings of the senate were reported in short notes taken by
one of their own order, “strangers” not being admitted at their sittings.
These notes included speeches as well as acts. These and the proceedings
of the assemblies of the people, were daily published in journals
[diurna] which contained also accounts of the trials at law, with
miscellaneous intelligence of births and deaths, marriages and divorces.
The practice of publishing the proceedings of the senate, introduced by
Julius Caesar, was discontinued by Augustus.

[45] Within the city, the lictors walked before only one of the consuls,
and that commonly for a month alternately. A public officer, called
Accensus, preceded the other consul, and the lictors followed. This
custom had long been disused, but was now restored by Caesar.

[46] In order that he might be a candidate for the tribuneship of the
people; it was done late in the evening, at an unusual hour for public

[47] Gaul was divided into two provinces, Transalpine, or Gallia
Ulterior, and Cisalpina, or Citerior. The Citerior, having nearly the
same limits as Lombardy in after times, was properly a part of Italy,
occupied by colonists from Gaul, and, having the Rubicon, the ancient
boundary of Italy, on the south. It was also called Gallia Togata, from
the use of the Roman toga; the inhabitants being, after the social war,
admitted to the right of citizens. The Gallia Transalpina, or Ulterior,
was called Comata, from the people wearing their hair long, while the
Romans wore it short; and the southern part, afterwards called
Narbonensis, came to have the epithet Braccata, from the use of the
braccae, which were no part of the Roman dress. Some writers suppose the
braccae to have been breeches, but Aldus, in a short disquisition on the
subject, affirms that they were a kind of upper dress. And this opinion
seems to be countenanced by the name braccan being applied by the modern
Celtic nations, the descendants of the Gallic Celts, to signify their
upper garment, or plaid.

[48] Alluding, probably, to certain scandals of a gross character
which were rife against Caesar. See before, c. ii. (p. 2) and see also
c. xlix.

[49] So called from the feathers on their helmets, resembling the crest
of a lark; Alauda, Fr. Alouette.

[50] Days appointed by the senate for public thanksgiving in the temples
in the name of a victorious general, who had in the decrees the title of
emperor, by which they were saluted by the legions.

[51] A.U.C. 702.

[52] Aurelia.

[53] Julia, the wife of Pompey, who died in childbirth.

[54] Conquest had so multiplied business at Rome, that the Roman Forum
became too little for transacting it, and could not be enlarged without
clearing away the buildings with which it was surrounded. Hence the
enormous sum which its site is said to have cost, amounting, it is
calculated, to 809,291 pounds of our money. It stood near the old forum,
behind the temple of Romulus and Remus, but not a vestige of it remains.

[55] Comum was a town of the Orobii, of ancient standing, and formerly
powerful. Julius Caesar added to it five thousand new colonists; whence
it was generally called Novocomum. But in time it recovered its ancient
name, Comum; Pliny the younger, who was a native of this place, calling
it by no other name.

[56] A.U.C. 705.

[57] Eiper gar adikein chrae, tyrannidos peri
Kalliston adikein talla de eusebein chreon.
–Eurip. Phoeniss. Act II, where Eteocles aspires to become the tyrant of

[58] Now the Pisatello; near Rimini. There was a very ancient law of
the republic, forbidding any general, returning from the wars, to cross
the Rubicon with his troops under arms.

[59] The ring was worn on the finger next to the little finger of the
left hand.

[60] Suetonius here accounts for the mistake of the soldiers with great
probability. The class to which they imagined they were to be promoted,
was that of the equites, or knights, who wore a gold ring, and were
possessed of property to the amount stated in the text. Great as was the
liberality of Caesar to his legions, the performance of this imaginary
promise was beyond all reasonable expectation.

[61] A.U.C. 706.

[62] Elephants were first introduced at Rome by Pompey the Great, in his
African triumph.


[64] A.U.C. 708.

[65] Gladiators were first publicly exhibited at Rome by two brothers
called Bruti, at the funeral of their father, A.U.C. 490; and for some
time they were exhibited only on such occasions. But afterwards they
were also employed by the magistrates, to entertain the people,
particularly at the Saturnalia, and feasts of Minerva. These cruel
spectacles were prohibited by Constantine, but not entirely suppressed
until the time of Honorius.

[66] The Circensian games were shews exhibited in the Circus Maximus,
and consisted of various kinds: first, chariot and horse-races, of which.
the Romans were extravagantly fond. The charioteers were distributed
into four parties, distinguished by the colour of their dress. The
spectators, without regarding the speed of the horses, or the skill of
the men, were attracted merely by one or the other of the colours, as
caprice inclined them. In the time of Justinian, no less than thirty
thousand men lost their lives at Constantinople, in a tumult raised by a
contention amongst the partizans of the several colours. Secondly,
contests of agility and strength; of which there were five kinds, hence
called Pentathlum. These were, running, leaping, boxing, wrestling, and
throwing the discus or quoit. Thirdly, Ludus Trojae, a mock-fight,
performed by young noblemen on horseback, revived by Julius Caesar, and
frequently celebrated by the succeeding emperors. We meet with a
description of it in the fifth book of the Aeneid, beginning with the
following lines:

Incedunt pueri, pariterque ante ora parentum
Fraenatis lucent in equis: quos omnis euntes
Trinacriae mirata fremit Trojaeque juventus.

Fourthly, Venatio, which was the fighting of wild beasts with one
another, or with men called Bestiarii, who were either forced to the
combat by way of punishment, as the primitive Christians were, or fought
voluntarily, either from a natural ferocity of disposition, or induced by
hire. An incredible number of animals of various kinds were brought from
all quarters, at a prodigious expense, for the entertainment of the
people. Pompey, in his second consulship, exhibited at once five hundred
lions, which were all dispatched in five days; also eighteen elephants.
Fifthly the representation of a horse and foot battle, with that of an
encampment or a siege. Sixthly, the representation of a sea-fight
(Naumachia), which was at first made in the Circus Maximus, but
afterwards elsewhere. The combatants were usually captives or condemned
malefactors, who fought to death, unless saved by the clemency of the
emperor. If any thing unlucky happened at the games, they were renewed,
and often more than once.

[67] A meadow beyond the Tiber, in which an excavation was made,
supplied with water from the river.

[68] Julius Caesar was assisted by Sosigenes, an Egyptian philosopher,
in correcting the calendar. For this purpose he introduced an additional
day every fourth year, making February to consist of twenty-nine days
instead of twenty-eight, and, of course, the whole year to consist of
three hundred and sixty-six days. The fourth year was denominated
Bissextile, or leap year, because the sixth day before the calends, or
first of March, was reckoned twice.

The Julian year was introduced throughout the Roman empire, and continued
in general use till the year 1582. But the true correction was not six
hours, but five hours, forty-nine minutes; hence the addition was too
great by eleven minutes. This small fraction would amount in one hundred
years to three-fourths of a day, and in a thousand years to more than
seven days. It had, in fact, amounted, since the Julian correction, in
1582, to more than seven days. Pope Gregory XIII., therefore, again
reformed the calendar, first bringing forward the year ten days, by
reckoning the 5th of October the 15th, and then prescribing the rule
which has gradually been adopted throughout Christendom, except in
Russia, and the Greek church generally.

[69] Principally Carthage and Corinth.

[70] The Latus Clavus was a broad stripe of purple, on the front of the
toga. Its width distinguished it from that of the knights, who wore it

[71] The Suburra lay between the Celian and Esquiline hills. It was one
of the most frequented quarters of Rome.

[72] Bede, quoting Solinus, we believe, says that excellent pearls were
found in the British seas, and that they were of all colours, but
principally white. Eccl. Hist. b. i. c. 1.

[73] ——–Bithynia quicquid
Et predicator Caesaris unquam habuit.

[74] Gallias Caesar subegit, Nicomedes Caesarem;
Ecce Caesar nunc triumphat, qui subegit Gallias:
Nicomedes non triumphat, qui subegit Caesarem.

[75] Aegisthus, who, like Caesar, was a pontiff, debauched Clytemnestra
while Agamemnon was engaged in the Trojan war, as Caesar did Mucia, the
wife of Pompey, while absent in the war against Mithridates.

[76] A double entendre; Tertia signifying the third [of the value of the
farm], as well as being the name of the girl, for whose favours the
deduction was made.

[77] Urbani, servate uxores; moechum calvum adducimus:
Aurum in Gallia effutuisti, hic sumpsisti mutuum.

[78] Plutarch tells us that the oil was used in a dish of asparagus.
Every traveller knows that in those climates oil takes the place of
butter as an ingredient in cookery, and it needs no experience to fancy
what it is when rancid.

[79] Meritoria rheda; a light four-wheeled carriage, apparently hired
either for the journey or from town to town. They were tolerably
commodious, for Cicero writes to Atticus, (v. 17.) Hanc epistolam dictavi
sedens in rheda, cum in castra proficiscerer.

[80] Plutarch informs us that Caesar travelled with such expedition,
that he reached the Rhone on the eighth day after he left Rome.

[81] Caesar tells us himself that he employed C. Volusenus to
reconnoitre the coast of Britain, sending him forward in a long ship,
with orders to return and make his report before the expedition sailed.

[82] Religione; that is, the omens being unfavourable.

[83] The standard of the Roman legions was an eagle fixed on the head of
a spear. It was silver, small in size, with expanded wings, and
clutching a golden thunderbolt in its claw.

[84] To save them from the torture of a lingering death.

[85] Now Lerida, in Catalonia.

[86] The title of emperor was not new in Roman history; 1. It was
sometimes given by the acclamations of the soldiers to those who
commanded them. 2. It was synonymous with conqueror, and the troops
hailed him by that title after a victory. In both these cases it was
merely titular, and not permanent, and was generally written after the
proper name, as Cicero imperator, Lentulo imperatore. 3. It assumed a
permanent and royal character first in the person of Julius Caesar, and
was then generally prefixed to the emperor’s name in inscriptions, as

[87] Cicero was the first who received the honour of being called “Pater

[88] Statues were placed in the Capitol of each of the seven kings of
Rome, to which an eighth was added in honour of Brutus, who expelled the
last. The statue of Julius Caesar was afterwards raised near them.

[89] The white fillet was one of the insignia of royalty. Plutarch, on
this occasion, uses the expression, diadaemati basiliko, a royal diadem.

[90] The Lupercalia was a festival, celebrated in a place called the
Lupercal, in the month of February, in honour of Pan. During the
solemnity, the Luperci, or priests of that god, ran up and down the city
naked, with only a girdle of goat’s skin round their waist, and thongs of
the same in their hands; with which they struck those they met,
particularly married women, who were thence supposed to be rendered

[91] Persons appointed to inspect and expound the Sibylline books.

[92] A.U.C. 709.

[93] See before, c. xxii.

[94] This senate-house stood in that part of the Campus Martius which is
now the Campo di Fiore, and was attached by Pompey, “spoliis Orientis
Onustus,” to the magnificent theatre, which he built A.U.C. 698, in his
second consulship. His statue, at the foot of which Caesar fell, as
Plutarch tells us, was placed in it. We shall find that Augustus caused
it to be removed.

[95] The stylus, or graphium, was an iron pen, broad at one end, with a
sharp point at the other, used for writing upon waxen tables, the leaves
or bark of trees, plates of brass, or lead, etc. For writing upon paper
or parchment, the Romans employed a reed, sharpened and split in the
point like our pens, called calamus, arundo, or canna. This they dipped
in the black liquor emitted by the cuttle fish, which served for ink.

[96] It was customary among the ancients, in great extremities to shroud
the face, in order to conceal any symptoms of horror or alarm which the
countenance might express. The skirt of the toga was drawn round the
lower extremities, that there might be no exposure in falling, as the
Romans, at this period, wore no covering for the thighs and legs.

[97] Caesar’s dying apostrophe to Brutus is represented in all the
editions of Suetonius as uttered in Greek, but with some variations. The
words, as here translated, are Kai su ei ekeinon; kai su teknon. The
Salmasian manuscript omits the latter clause. Some commentators suppose
that the words “my son,” were not merely expressive of the difference of
age, or former familiarity between them, but an avowal that Brutus was
the fruit of the connection between Julius and Servilia, mentioned before
[see p. 33]. But it appears very improbable that Caesar, who had never
before acknowledged Brutus to be his son, should make so unnecessary an
avowal, at the moment of his death. Exclusively of this objection, the
apostrophe seems too verbose, both for the suddenness and urgency of the
occasion. But this is not all. Can we suppose that Caesar, though a
perfect master of Greek, would at such a time have expressed himself in
that language, rather than in Latin, his familiar tongue, and in which he
spoke with peculiar elegance? Upon the whole, the probability is, that
the words uttered by Caesar were, Et tu Brute! which, while equally
expressive of astonishment with the other version, and even of
tenderness, are both more natural, and more emphatic.

[98] Men’ me servasse, ut essent qui me perderent?

[99] The Bulla, generally made of gold, was a hollow globe, which boys
wore upon their breast, pendant from a string or ribbon put round the
neck. The sons of freedmen and poor citizens used globes of leather.

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