The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

[161] It had formed a sort of honourable retirement in which Lepidus was
shelved, to use a familiar expression, when Augustus got rid of him
quietly from the Triumvirate. Augustus assumed it A.U.C. 740, thus
centring the last of all the great offices of the state in his own
person; that of Pontifex Maximus, being of high importance, from the
sanctity attached to it, and the influence it gave him over the whole
system of religion.

[162] In the thirty-six years since the calendar was corrected by Julius
Caesar, the priests had erroneously intercalated eleven days instead of
nine. See JULIUS, c. xl.

[163] Sextilis, the sixth month, reckoning from March, in which the year
of Romulus commenced.

[164] So Cicero called the day on which he returned from exile, the day
of his “nativity” and his “new birth,” paligennesian, a word which had
afterwards a theological sense, from its use in the New Testament.

[165] Capi. There is a peculiar force in the word here adopted by
Suetonius; the form used by the Pontifex Maximus, when he took the novice
from the hand of her father, being Te capio amata, “I have you, my dear,”
implying the forcible breach of former ties, as in the case of a captive
taken in war.

[166] At times when the temple of Janus was shut, and then only, certain
divinations were made, preparatory to solemn supplication for the public
health, “as if,” says Dio, “even that could not be implored from the
gods, unless the signs were propitious.” It would be an inquiry of some
interest, now that the care of the public health is becoming a department
of the state, with what sanatory measures these becoming solemnities were

[167] Theophrastus mentions the spring and summer flowers most suited
for these chaplets. Among the former, were hyacinths, roses, and white
violets; among the latter, lychinis, amaryllis, iris, and some species of

[168] Ergastulis. These were subterranean strong rooms, with narrow
windows, like dungeons, in the country houses, where incorrigible slaves
were confined in fetters, in the intervals of the severe tasks in
grinding at the hand-mills, quarrying stones, drawing water, and other
hard agricultural labour in which they were employed.

[169] These months were not only “the Long Vacation” of the lawyers, but
during them there was a general cessation of business at Rome; the
calendar exhibiting a constant succession of festivals. The month of
December, in particular, was devoted to pleasure and relaxation.

[170] Causes are mentioned, the hearing of which was so protracted that
lights were required in the court; and sometimes they lasted, we are
told, as long as eleven or twelve days.

[171] Orcini. They were also called Charonites, the point of the
sarcasm being, that they owed their elevation to a dead man, one who was
gone to Orcus, namely Julius Caesar, after whose death Mark Antony
introduced into the senate many persons of low rank who were designated
for that honour in a document left by the deceased emperor.

[172] Cordus Cremutius wrote a History of the Civil Wars, and the Times
of Augustus, as we are informed by Dio, 6, 52.

[173] In front of the orchestra.

[174] The senate usually assembled in one of the temples, and there was
an altar consecrated to some god in the curia, where they otherwise met,
as that to Victory in the Julian Curia.

[175] To allow of their absence during the vintage, always an important
season in rural affairs in wine-growing countries. In the middle and
south of Italy, it begins in September, and, in the worst aspects, the
grapes are generally cleared before the end of October. In elevated
districts they hung on the trees, as we have witnessed, till the month of

[176] Julius Caesar had introduced the contrary practice. See JULIUS,
c. xx.

[177] A.U.C. 312, two magistrates were created, under the name of
Censors, whose office, at first, was to take an account of the number of
the people, and the value of their estates. Power was afterwards granted
them to inspect the morals of the people; and from this period the office
became of great importance. After Sylla, the election of censors was
intermitted for about seventeen years. Under the emperors, the office of
censor was abolished; but the chief functions of it were exercised by the
emperors themselves, and frequently both with caprice and severity.

[178] Young men until they were seventeen years of age, and young women
until they were married, wore a white robe bordered with purple, called
Toga Praetexta. The former, when they had completed this period, laid
aside the dress of minority, and assumed the Toga Virilis, or manly
habit. The ceremony of changing the Toga was performed with great
solemnity before the images of the Lares, to whom the Bulla was
consecrated. On this occasion, they went either to the Capitol, or to
some temple, to pay their devotions to the Gods.

[179] Transvectio: a procession of the equestrian order, which they made
with great splendour through the city, every year, on the fifteenth of
July. They rode on horseback from the temple of Honour, or of Mars,
without the city, to the Capitol, with wreaths of olive on their heads,
dressed in robes of scarlet, and bearing in their hands the military
ornaments which they had received from their general, as a reward of
their valour. The knights rode up to the censor, seated on his curule
chair in front of the Capitol, and dismounting, led their horses in
review before him. If any of the knights was corrupt in his morals, had
diminished his fortune below the legal standard, or even had not taken
proper care of his horse, the censor ordered him to sell his horse, by
which he was considered as degraded from the equestrian order.

[180] Pugillaria were a kind of pocket book, so called, because
memorandums were written or impinged by the styli, on their waxed
surface. They appear to have been of very ancient origin, for we read of
them in Homer under the name of pinokes.–II. z. 169.

Graphas en pinaki ptukto thyrophthora polla.
Writing dire things upon his tablet’s roll.

[181] Pullatorum; dusky, either from their dark colour, or their being
soiled. The toga was white, and was the distinguishing costume of the
sovereign people of Rome, without which, they were not to appear in
public; as members of an university are forbidden to do so, without the
academical dress, or officers in garrisons out of their regimentals.

[182] Aen. i. 186.

[183] It is hardly necessary to direct the careful reader’s attention to
views of political economy so worthy of an enlightened prince. But it
was easier to make the Roman people wear the toga, than to forego the cry
of “Panem et Circenses.”

[184] Septa were enclosures made with boards, commonly for the purpose
of distributing the people into distinct classes, and erected
occasionally like our hustings.

[185] The Thensa was a splendid carriage with four wheels, and four
horses, adorned with ivory and silver, in which, at the Circensian games,
the images of the gods were drawn in solemn procession from their
shrines, to a place in the circus, called the Pulvinar, where couches
were prepared for their reception. It received its name from thongs
(lora tensa) stretched before it; and was attended in the procession by
persons of the first rank, in their most magnificent apparel. The
attendants took delight in putting their hands to the traces: and if a
boy happened to let go the thong which he held, it was an indispensable
rule that the procession should be renewed.

[186] The Cavea was the name of the whole of that part of the theatre
where the spectators sat. The foremost rows were called cavea prima, of
cavea; the last, cavea ultima, or summa; and the middle, cavea media.

[187] A.U.C. 726.

[188] As in the case of Herod, Joseph. Antiq. Jud. xv. 10.

[189] The Adriatic and the Tuscan.

[190] It was first established by Tiberius. See c. xxxvii.

[191] Tertullian, in his Apology, c. 34, makes the same remark. The
word seems to have conveyed then, as it does in its theological sense
now, the idea of Divinity, for it is coupled with Deus, God; nunquum se
dominum vel deum appellare voluerit.

[192] An inclosure in the middle of the Forum, marking the spot where
Curtius leapt into the lake, which had been long since filled up.

[193] Sandalarium, Tragoedum; names of streets, in which temples of tame
gouts stood, as we now say St. Peter, Cornhill, etc.

[194] A coin, in value about 8 3/4 d. of our money.

[195] The senate, as instituted by Romulus, consisted of one hundred
members, who were called Patres, i. e. Fathers, either upon account of
their age, or their paternal care of the state. The number received some
augmentation under Tullus Hostilius; and Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth
king of Rome, added a hundred more, who were called Patres minorum
gentium; those created by Romulus being distinguished by the name of
Patres majorum gentium. Those who were chosen into the senate by Brutus,
after the expulsion of Tarquin the Proud, to supply the place of those
whom that king had slain, were called Conscripti, i. e. persons written
or enrolled among the old senators, who alone were properly styled
Patres. Hence arose the custom of summoning to the senate those who were
Patres, and those who were Conscripti; and hence also was applied to the
senators in general the designation of Patres Conscripti, the particle
et, and, being understood to connect the two classes of senators. In the
time of Julius Caesar, the number of senators was increased to nine
hundred, and after his death to a thousand; many worthless persons having
been admitted into the senate during the civil wars. Augustus afterwards
reduced the number to six hundred.

[196] Antonius Musa was a freedman, and had acquired his knowledge of
medicine while a domestic slave; a very common occurrence.

[197] A.U.C. 711.

[198] See cc. x. xi. xii. and xiii.

[199] One of them was Scipio, the father of Cornelia, whose death is
lamented by Propertius, iv. 12. The other is unknown.

[200] A.U.C. 715.

[201] He is mentioned by Horace:

Occidit Daci Cotisonis agimen. Ode 8, b. iii.

Most probably Antony knew the imputation to be unfounded, and made it for
the purpose of excusing his own marriage with Cleopatra.

[202] This form of adoption consisted in a fictitious sale. See Cicero,
Topic. iii.

[203] Curiae. Romulus divided the people of Rome into three tribes; and
each tribe into ten Curiae. The number of tribes was afterwards
increased by degrees to thirty-five; but that of the Curiae always
remained the same.

[204] She was removed to Reggio in Calabria.

[205] Agrippa was first banished to the little desolate island of
Planasia, now Pianosa. It is one of the group in the Tuscan sea, between
Elba and Corsica.

[206] A quotation from the Iliad, 40, iii.; where Hector is venting his
rage on Paris. The inflexion is slightly changed, the line in the
original commencing, “Aith’ opheles, etc., would thou wert, etc.”

[207] Women called ustriculae, the barbers, were employed in thin
delicate operation. It is alluded to by Juvenal, ix. 4, and Martial,
v. 61.

[208] Cybele.–Gallus was either the name of a river in Phrygia,
supposed to cause a certain frenzy in those who drank of its waters, or
the proper name of the first priest of Cybele.

[209] A small drum, beat by the finger or thumb, was used by the priests
of Cybele in their lascivious rites and in other orgies of a similar
description, These drums were made of inflated skin, circular in shape,
so that they had some resemblance to the orb which, in the statues of the
emperor, he is represented as holding in his hand. The populace, with
the coarse humour which was permitted to vent itself freely at the
spectacles, did not hesitate to apply what was said in the play of the
lewd priest of Cybele, to Augustus, in reference to the scandals attached
to his private character. The word cinaedus, translated “wanton,” might
have been rendered by a word in vulgar use, the coarsest in the English
language, and there is probably still more in the allusion too indelicate
to be dwelt upon.

[210] Mark Antony makes use of fondling diminutives of the names of
Tertia, Terentia, and Rufa, some of Augustus’s favourites.

[211] Dodekatheos; the twelve Dii Majores; they are enumerated in two
verses by Ennius:–

Juno, Vesta, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, Venus, Mars;
Mercurius, Jovis, Neptunus, Vulcanus, Apollo.

[212] Probably in the Suburra, where Martial informs us that torturing
scourges were sold:

Tonatrix Suburrae faucibus sed et primis,
Cruenta pendent qua flagella tortorum.
Mart. xi. 15, 1.

[213] Like the gold and silver-smiths of the middle ages, the Roman
money-lenders united both trades. See afterwards, NERO, c. 5. It is
hardly necessary to remark that vases or vessels of the compound metal
which went by the name of Corinthian brass, or bronze, were esteemed even
more valuable than silver plate.

[214] See c. xxxii. and note.

[215] The Romans, at their feasts, during the intervals of drinking,
often played at dice, of which there were two kinds, the tesserae and
tali. The former had six sides, like the modern dice; the latter, four
oblong sides, for the two ends were not regarded. In playing, they used
three tesserae and four tali, which were all put into a box wider below
than above, and being shaken, were thrown out upon the gaming-board or

[216] The highest cast was so called.

[217] Enlarged by Tiberius and succeeding emperors. The ruins of the
palace of the Caesars are still seen on the Palatine.

[218] Probably travertine, a soft limestone, from the Alban Mount, which
was, therefore, cheaply procured and easily worked.

[219] It was usual among the Romans to have separate sets of apartments
for summer and winter use, according to their exposure to the sun.

[220] This word may be interpreted the Cabinet of Arts. It was common,
in the houses of the great, among the Romans, to have an apartment called
the Study, or Museum. Pliny says, beautifully, “O mare! O littus! verum
secretumque mouseion, quam multa invenitis, quam multa dictatis?” O sea!
O shore! Thou real and secluded museum; what treasures of science do you
not discover to us, how much do you teach us!–Epist. i. 9.

[221] Mecaenas had a house and gardens on the Esquiline Hill, celebrated
for their salubrity–

Nunc licet Esquiliis habitore salubribus.–Hor. Sat. i. 3, 14.

[222] Such as Baiae, and the islands of Ischia, Procida, Capri, and
others; the resorts of the opulent nobles, where they had magnificent
marine villas.

[223] Now Tivoli, a delicious spot, where Horace had a villa, in which
he hoped to spend his declining years.

Ver ubi longum, tepidasque praebet
Jupiter brumas: . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . ibi, tu calentem
Debita sparges lachryma favillam
Vatis amici. Odes, B. ii. 5.

Adrian also had a magnificent villa near Tibur.

[224] The Toga was a loose woollen robe, which covered the whole body,
close at the bottom, but open at the top down to the girdle, and without
sleeves. The right arm was thus at liberty, and the left supported a
flap of the toga, which was drawn up, and thrown back over the left
shoulder; forming what is called the Sinus, a fold or cavity upon the
breast, in which things might be carried, and with which the face or head
might be occasionally covered. When a person did any work, he tucked up
his toga, and girt it round him. The toga of the rich and noble was
finer and larger than that of others; and a new toga was called Pexa.
None but Roman citizens were permitted to wear the toga; and banished
persons were prohibited the use of it. The colour of the toga was white.
The clavus was a purple border, by which the senators, and other orders,
with the magistrates, were distinguished; the breadth of the stripe
corresponding with their rank.

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