The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

[225] In which the whole humour of the thing consisted either in the
uses to which these articles were applied, or in their names having in
Latin a double signification; matters which cannot be explained with any

[226] Casum bubulum manu pressum; probably soft cheese, not reduced to
solid consistence in the cheese-press.

[227] A species of fig tree, known in some places as Adam’s fig. We
have gathered them, in those climates, of the latter crop, as late as the
month of November.

[228] Sabbatis Jejunium. Augustus might have been better informed of
the Jewish rites, from his familiarity with Herod and others; for it is
certain that their sabbath was not a day of fasting. Justin, however,
fell into the same error: he says, that Moses appointed the sabbath-day
to be kept for ever by the Jews as a fast, in memory of their fasting for
seven days in the deserts of Arabia, xxxvi. 2. 14. But we find that
there was a weekly fast among the Jews, which is perhaps what is here
meant; the Sabbatis Jejunium being equivalent to the Naesteuo dis tou
sabbatou, ‘I fast twice in the week’ of the Pharisee, in St. Luke
xviii. 12.

[229] The Rhaetian wines had a great reputation; Virgil says,

——Ex quo te carmine dicam,
Rhaetica. Georg. ii. 96.

The vineyards lay at the foot of the Rhaetian Alps; their produce, we
have reason to believe, was not a very generous liquor.

[230] A custom in all warm countries; the siesta of the Italians in
later times.

[231] The strigil was used in the baths for scraping the body when in a
state of perspiration. It was sometimes made of gold or silver, and not
unlike in form the instrument used by grooms about horses when profusely
sweating or splashed with mud.

[232] His physician, mentioned c. lix.

[233] Sept. 21st, a sickly season at Rome.

[234] Feminalibus et tibialibus: Neither the ancient Romans or the
Greeks wore breeches, trews, or trowsers, which they despised as
barbarian articles of dress. The coverings here mentioned were swathings
for the legs and thighs, used mostly in cases of sickness or infirmity,
and when otherwise worn, reckoned effeminate. But soon after the Romans
became acquainted with the German and Celtic nations, the habit of
covering the lower extremities, barbarous as it had been held, was
generally adopted.

[235] Albula. On the left of the road to Tivoli, near the ruins of
Adrian’s villa. The waters are sulphureous, and the deposit from them
causes incrustations on twigs and other matters plunged in the springs.
See a curious account of this stream in Gell’s Topography, published by
Bohn, p 40.

[236] In spongam incubuisse, literally has fallen upon a sponge, as Ajax
is said to have perished by falling on his own sword.

[237] Myrobrecheis. Suetonius often preserves expressive Greek phrases
which Augustus was in the habit of using. This compound word meant
literally, myrrh-scented, perfumed.

[238] These are variations of language of small importance, which can
only be understood in the original language.

[239] It may create a smile to hear that, to prevent danger to the
public, Augustus decreed that no new buildings erected in a public
thoroughfare should exceed in height seventy feet. Trajan reduced it to

[240] Virgil is said to have recited before him the whole of the second,
fourth, and sixth books of the Aeneid; and Octavia, being present, when
the poet came to the passage referring to her son, commencing, “Tu
Marcellus eris,” was so much affected that she was carried out fainting.

[241] Chap. xix.

[242] Perhaps the point of the reply lay in the temple of Jupiter Tonans
being placed at the approach to the Capitol from the Forum? See c. xxix.
and c. xv., with the note.

[243] If these trees flourished at Rome in the time of Augustus, the
winters there must have been much milder than they now are. There was
one solitary palm standing in the garden of a convent some years ago, but
it was of very stunted growth.

[244] The Republican forms were preserved in some of the larger towns.

[245] “The Nundinae occurred every ninth day, when a market was held at
Rome, and the people came to it from the country. The practice was not
then introduced amongst the Romans, of dividing their time into weeks, as
we do, in imitation of the Jews. Dio, who flourished under Severus, says
that it first took place a little before his time, and was derived from
the Egyptians.”–Thomson. A fact, if well founded, of some importance.

[246] “The Romans divided their months into calends, nones, and ides.
The first day of the month was the calends of that month; whence they
reckoned backwards, distinguishing the time by the day before the
calends, the second day before the calends, and so on, to the ides of the
preceding month. In eight months of the year, the nones were the fifth
day, and the ides the thirteenth: but in March, May, July, and October,
the nones fell on the seventh, and the ides on the fifteenth. From the
nones they reckoned backwards to the calends, as they also did from the
ides to the nones.”–Ib.

[247] The early Christians shared with the Jews the aversion of the
Romans to their religion, more than that of others, arising probably from
its monotheistic and exclusive character. But we find from Josephus and
Philo that Augustus was in other respects favourable to the Jews.

[248] Strabo tells us that Mendes was a city of Egypt near Lycopolis.
Asclepias wrote a book in Greek with the idea of theologoumenon, in
defence of some very strange religious rites, of which the example in the
text is a specimen.

[249] Velletri stands on very high ground, commanding extensive views of
the Pontine marshes and the sea.

[250] Munda was a city in the Hispania Boetica, where Julius Caesar
fought a battle. See c. lvi.

[251] The good omen, in this instance, was founded upon the etymology of
the names of the ass and its driver; the former of which, in Greek,
signifies fortunate, and the latter, victorious.

[252] Aesar is a Greek word with an Etruscan termination; aisa
signifying fate.

[253] Astura stood not far from Terracina, on the road to Naples.
Augustus embarked there for the islands lying off that coast.

[254] “Puteoli”–“A ship of Alexandria.” Words which bring to our
recollection a passage in the voyage of St. Paul, Acts xxviii. 11-13.
Alexandria was at that time the seat of an extensive commerce, and not
only exported to Rome and other cities of Italy, vast quantities of corn
and other products of Egypt, but was the mart for spices and other
commodities, the fruits of the traffic with the east.

[255] The Toga has been already described in a note to c. lxxiii. The
Pallium was a cloak, generally worn by the Greeks, both men and women,
freemen and slaves, but particularly by philosophers.

[256] Masgabas seems, by his name, to have been of African origin.

[257] A courtly answer from the Professor of Science, in which character
he attended Tiberius. We shall hear more of him in the reign of that

[258] Augustus was born A.U.C. 691, and died A.U.C. 766.

[259] Municipia were towns which had obtained the rights of Roman
citizens. Some of them had all which could be enjoyed without residing
at Rome. Others had the right of serving in the Roman legions, but not
that of voting, nor of holding civil offices. The municipia retained
their own laws and customs; nor were they obliged to receive the Roman
laws unless they chose it.

[260] Bovillae, a small place on the Appian Way, about nineteen miles
from Rome, now called Frattochio.

[261] Dio tells us that the devoted Livia joined with the knights in
this pious office, which occupied them during five days.

[262] For the Flaminian Way, see before, p. 94, note. The superb
monument erected by Augustus over the sepulchre of the imperial family
was of white marble, rising in stages to a great height, and crowned by a
dome, on which stood a statue of Augustus. Marcellus was the first who
was buried in the sepulchre beneath. It stood near the present Porta del
Popolo; and the Bustum, where the bodies of the emperor and his family
were burnt, is supposed to have stood on the site of the church of the
Madonna of that name.

[263] The distinction between the Roman people and the tribes, is also
observed by Tacitus, who substitutes the word plebs, meaning, the lowest
class of the populace.

[264] Those of his father Octavius, and his father by adoption, Julius

[265] See before, c. 65. But he bequeathed a legacy to his daughter,

[266] Virgil.

[267] Ibid.

[268] Ibid.

[269] Geor. ii.

[270] I am prevented from entering into greater details, both by the
size of my volume, and my anxiety to complete the undertaking.

[271] After performing these immortal achievements, while he was holding
an assembly of the people for reviewing his army in the plain near the
lake of Capra, a storm suddenly rose, attended with great thunder and
lightning, and enveloped the king in so dense a mist, that it took all
sight of him from the assembly. Nor was Romulus after this seen on
earth. The consternation being at length over, and fine clear weather
succeeding so turbulent a day, when the Roman youth saw the royal seat
empty, though they readily believed the Fathers who had stood nearest
him, that he was carried aloft by the storm, yet struck with the dread as
it were of orphanage, they preserved a sorrowful silence for a
considerable time. Then a commencement having been made by a few, the
whole multitude salute Romulus a god, son of a god, the king and parent
of the Roman city; they implore his favour with prayers, that he would be
pleased always propitiously to preserve his own offspring. I believe
that even then there were some who silently surmised that the king had
been torn in pieces by the hands of the Fathers; for this rumour also
spread, but was not credited; their admiration of the man and the
consternation felt at the moment, attached importance to the other
report. By the contrivance also of one individual, additional credit is
said to have been gained to the matter. For Proculus Julius, whilst the
state was still troubled with regret for the king, and felt incensed
against the senators, a person of weight, as we are told, in any matter,
however important, comes forward to the assembly. “Romans,” he said,
“Romulus, the father of this city, suddenly descending from heaven,
appeared to me this day at day-break. While I stood covered with awe,
and filled with a religious dread, beseeching him to allow me to see him
face to face, he said; ‘Go tell the Romans, that the gods do will, that
my Rome should become the capital of the world. Therefore let them
cultivate the art of war, and let them know and hand down to posterity,
that no human power shall be able to withstand the Roman arms.’ Having
said this, he ascended up to heaven.” It is surprising what credit was
given to the man on his making this announcement, and how much the regret
of the common people and army for the loss of Romulus, was assuaged upon
the assurance of his immortality.

[272] Padua.

[273] Commentators seem to have given an erroneous and unbecoming sense
to Cicero’s exclamation, when they suppose that the object understood, as
connected with altera, related to himself. Hope is never applied in this
signification, but to a young person, of whom something good or great is
expected; and accordingly, Virgil, who adopted the expression, has very
properly applied it to Ascanius:

Et juxta Ascanius, magmae spes altera Romae. Aeneid, xii.

And by his side Ascanius took his place,
The second hope of Rome’s immortal race.

Cicero, at the time when he could have heard a specimen of Virgil’s
Eclogues, must have been near his grand climacteric; besides that, his
virtues and talents had long been conspicuous, and were past the state of
hope. It is probable, therefore, that altera referred to some third
person, spoken of immediately before, as one who promised to do honour to
his country. It might refer to Octavius, of whom Cicero at this time,
entertained a high opinion; or it may have been spoken in an absolute
manner, without reference to any person.

[274] I was born at Mantua, died in Calabria, and my tomb is at
Parthenope: pastures, rural affairs, and heroes are the themes of my

[275] The last members of these two lines, from the commas to the end
are said to have been supplied by Erotes, Virgil’s librarian.

[276] Carm. i. 17.

[277] “The Medea of Ovid proves, in my opinion, how surpassing would
have been his success, if he had allowed his genius free scope, instead
of setting bounds to it.”

[278] Two faults have ruined me; my verse, and my mistake.

[279] These lines are thus rendered in the quaint version of Zachary

I suffer ’cause I chanced a fault to spy,
So that my crime doth in my eyesight lie.

Alas! why wait my luckless hap to see
A fault at unawares to ruin me?

[280] “I myself employed you as ready agents in love, when my early
youth sported in numbers adapted to it.”–Riley’s Ovid.

[281] “I long since erred by one composition; a fault that is not recent
endures a punishment inflicted thus late. I had already published my
poems, when, according to my privilege, I passed in review so many times
unmolested as one of the equestrian order, before you the enquirer into
criminal charges. Is it then possible that the writings which, in my
want of confidence, I supposed would not have injured me when young, have
now been my ruin in my old age?”–Riley’s Ovid.

[282] This place, now called Temisvar, or Tomisvar, stands on one of the
mouths of the Danube, about sixty-five miles E.N.E. from Silistria. The
neighbouring bay of the Black Sea is still called the Gulf of Baba.

[283] “It appears to me, therefore, more reasonable to pursue glory by
means of the intellect, than of bodily strength; and, since the life we
enjoy is short to make the remembrance of it as lasting as possible.”

[284] Intramural interments were prohibited at Rome by the laws of the
Twelve Tables, notwithstanding the practice of reducing to ashes the
bodies of the dead. It was only by special privilege that individuals
who had deserved well of the state, and certain distinguished families
were permitted to have tombs within the city.

[285] Among the Romans, all the descendants from one common stock were
called Gentiles, being of the same race or kindred, however remote. The
Gens, as they termed this general relation or clanship, was subdivided
into families, in Familias vel Stirpes; and those of the same family were
called Agnati. Relations by the father’s side were also called Agnati,
to distinguish them from Cognati, relations only by the mother’s side.
An Agnatus might also be called Cognatus, but not the contrary.

To mark the different gentes and familiae, and to distinguish the
individuals of the same family, the Romans had commonly three names, the
Praenomen, Nomen, and Cognomen. The praenomen was put first, and marked
the individual. It was usually written with one letter; as A. for Aulus;
C. Caius; D. Decimus: sometimes with two letters; as Ap. for Appius; Cn.
Cneius; and sometimes with three; as Mam. for Mamercus.

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