The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

The Nomen was put after the Praenomen, and marked the gens. It commonly
ended in ius; as Julius, Tullius, Cornelius. The Cognomen was put last,
and marked the familia; as Cicero, Caesar, etc.

Some gentes appear to have had no surname, as the Marian; and gens and
familia seem sometimes to be put one for the other; as the Fabia gens, or
Fabia familia.

Sometimes there was a fourth name, properly called the Agnomen, but
sometimes likewise Cognomen, which was added on account of some
illustrious action or remarkable event. Thus Scipio was named Publius
Cornelius Scipio Africanus, from the conquest of Carthage. In the same
manner, his brother was called Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus. Thus
also, Quintus Fabius Maximus received the Agnomen of Cunctator, from his
checking the victorious career of Hannibal by avoiding a battle.

[286] A.U.C. 474.

[287] A.U.C. 490.

[288] A.U.C. 547.

[289] A.U.C. 304.

[290] An ancient Latin town on the Via Appia, the present road to
Naples, mentioned by St. Paul, Acts xxviii. 15, and Horace, Sat. i. 5, 3,
in giving an account of their travels.

[291] A.U.C. 505.

[292] Cybele; first worshipped in Phrygia, about Mount Ida, from whence
a sacred stone, the symbol of her divinity, probably an aerolite, was
transported to Rome, in consequence of the panic occasioned by Hannibal’s
invasion, A.U.C. 508.

[293] A.U.C. 695.

[294] A.U.C. 611.

[295] A.U.C. 550.

[296] A.U.C. 663.

[297] A.U.C. 707.

[298] These, and other towns in the south of France, became, and long
continued, the chief seats of Roman civilization among the Gauls; which
is marked by the magnificent remains of ancient art still to be seen.
Arles, in particular, is a place of great interest.

[299] A.U.C. 710.

[300] A.U.C. 713.

[301] A.U.C. 712. Before Christ about 39.

[302] A.U.C. 744.

[303] A.U.C. 735.

[304] See before, in the reign of AUGUSTUS, c. xxxii.

[305] A.U.C. 728.

[306] A.U.C. 734.

[307] A.U.C. 737.

[308] A.U.C. 741.

[309] A.U.C. 747.

[310] A.U.C. 748.

[311] Ostia, at the mouth of the Tiber, about thirteen miles from the
city, was founded by Ancus Martius. Being the port of a city like Rome,
it could not fail to become opulent; and it was a place of much resort,
ornamented with fine edifices, and the environs “never failing of pasture
in the summer time, and in the winter covered with roses and other
flowers.” The port having been filled up with the depositions of the
Tiber, it became deserted, and is now abandoned to misery and malaria.
The bishopric of Ostia being the oldest in the Roman church, its bishop
has always retained some peculiar privileges.

[312] The Gymnasia were places of exercise, and received their name from
the Greek word signifying naked, because the contending parties wore
nothing but drawers.

[313] A.U.C. 752.

[314] The cloak and slippers, as distinguished from the Roman toga and

[315] A.U.C. 755.

[316] This fountain, in the Euganian hills, near Padua, famous for its
mineral waters, is celebrated by Claudian in one of his elegies.

[317] The street called Carinae, at Rome, has been mentioned before;
AUGUSTUS, c. v.; and also Mecaenas’ house on the Esquiline, ib. c. lxxii.
The gardens were formed on ground without the walls, and before used as a
cemetery for malefactors, and the lower classes. Horace says–

Nunc licet Esquiliis habitare salubribus, atque
Aggere in aprico spatiari.–Sat. 1. i. viii. 13.

[318] A.U.C. 757.

[319] A.U.C. 760.

[320] A.U.C. 762.

[321] Reviving the simple habits of the times of the republic; “nec
fortuitum cernere cespitem,” as Horace describes it.–Ode 15.

[322] A.U.C. 765.

[323] The portico of the temple of Concord is still standing on the side
of the Forum nearest the Capitol. It consists of six Ionic columns, each
of one piece, and of a light-coloured granite, with bases and capitals of
white marble, and two columns at the angles. The temple of Castor and
Pollux has been mentioned before: JUL. c. x.

[324] A.U.C. 766.

[325] A.U.C. 767.

[326] Augustus interlards this epistle, and that subsequently quoted,
with Greek sentences and phrases, of which this is one. It is so
obscure, that commentators suppose that it is a mis-reading, but are not
agreed on its drift.

[327] A verse in which the word in italics is substituted for cunctando,
quoted from Ennius, who applied it to Fabius Maximus.

[328] Iliad, B. x. Diomede is speaking of Ulysses, where he asks that
he may accompany him as a spy into the Trojan camp.

[329] Tiberius had adopted Germanicus. See before, c. xv. See also

[330] In this he imitated Augustus. See c. liii. of his life.

[331] Si hanc fenestram aperueritis, if you open that window, equivalent
to our phrase, “if you open the door.”

[332] Princeps, principatus, are the terms generally used by Suetonius
to describe the supreme authority vested in the Caesars, as before at the
beginning of chap. xxiv., distinguished from any terms which conveyed of
kingly power, the forms of the republic, as we have lately seen, still

[333] Strenas; the French etrennes.

[334] “Tiberius pulled down the temple of Isis, caused her image to be
thrown into the Tiber, and crucified her priests.”–Joseph. Ant. Jud.
xviii. 4.

[335] Similia sectantes. We are strongly inclined to think that the
words might be rendered “similar sects,” conveying an allusion to the
small and obscure body of Christians, who were at this period generally
confounded with the Jews, and supposed only to differ from them in some
peculiarities of their institutions, which Roman historians and
magistrates did not trouble themselves to distinguish. How little even
the well-informed Suetonius knew of the real facts, we shall find in the
only direct notice of the Christians contained in his works (CLAUDIUS c.
xxv., NERO, c. xvi.); but that little confirms our conjecture. All the
commentators, however, give the passage the turn retained in the text.
Josephus informs us of the particular occurrence which led to the
expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Tiberius.–Ant. xviii. 5.

[336] Varro tells us that the Roman people “were more actively employed
(manus movere) in the theatre and circus, than in the corn-fields and
vineyards.”–De Re Rustic. ii. And Juvenal, in his satires, frequently
alludes to their passion for public spectacles, particularly in the well-
known lines–

——–Atque duas tantum res serrius optat,
Panem et Circenses. Sat. x. 80.

[337] The Cottian Alps derived their name from this king. They include
that part of the chain which divides Dauphiny from Piedmont, and are
crossed by the pass of the Mont Cenis.

[338] Antium, mentioned before, (AUG. c. lviii.) once a flourishing city
of the Volscians, standing on the sea-coast, about thirty-eight miles
from Rome, was a favourite resort of the emperors and persons of wealth.
The Apollo Belvidere was found among the ruins of its temples and other

[339] A.U.C. 779.

[340] Terracina, standing at the southern extremity of the Pontine
Marshes, on the shore of the Mediterranean. It is surrounded by high
calcareous cliffs, in which there are caverns, affording, as Strabo
informs us, cool retreats, attached to the Roman villas built round.

[341] Augustus died at Nola, a city in Campania. See c. lviii. of his

[342] Fidenae stood in a bend of the Tiber, near its junction with the
Anio. There are few traces of it remaining.

[343] That any man could drink an amphora of wine at a draught, is
beyond all credibility; for the amphora was nearly equal to nine gallons,
English measure. The probability is, that the man had emptied a large
vessel, which was shaped like an amphora.

[344] Capri, the luxurious retreat and scene of the debaucheries of the
Roman emperors, is an island off the southern point of the bay of Naples,
about twelve miles in circumference.

[345] Pan, the god of the shepherds, and inventor of the flute, was said
to be the son of Mercury and Penelope. He was worshipped chiefly in
Arcadia, and represented with the horns and feet of a goat. The Nymphs,
as well as the Graces, were represented naked.

[346] The name of the island having a double meaning, and signifying
also a goat.

[347] “Quasi pueros primae teneritudinis, quos ‘pisciculos’ vocabat,
institueret, ut natanti sibi inter femina versarentur, ac luderent:
lingua morsuque sensim appetentes; atque etiam quasi infantes firmiores,
necdum tamen lacte depulsos, inguini ceu papillae admoveret: pronior sane
ad id genus libidinis, et natura et aetate.”

[348] “Foeminarum capitibus solitus illudere.”

[349] “Obscoenitate oris hirsuto atque olido.”

[350] “Hircum vetulum capreis naturam ligurire”

[351] The Temple of Vesta, like that dedicated to the same goddess at
Tivoli, is round. There was probably one on the same site, and in the
same circular form, erected by Numa Pompilius; the present edifice is far
too elegant for that age, but there is no record of its erection, but it
is known to have been repaired by Vespasian or Domitian after being
injured by Nero’s fire. Its situation, near the Tiber, exposed it to
floods, from which we find it suffered, from Horace’s lines–

“Vidimus flavum Tiberim, retortis
Littore Etrusco violenter undis,
Ire dejectum monumenta Regis,
Templaque Vestae.”–Ode, lib. i. 2. 15.

This beautiful temple is still in good preservation. It is surrounded by
twenty columns of white marble, and the wall of the cell, or interior
(which is very small, its diameter being only the length of one of the
columns), is also built of blocks of the same material, so nicely joined,
that it seems to be formed of one solid mass.

[352] Antlia; a machine for drawing up water in a series of connected
buckets, which was worked by the feet, nisu pedum.

[353] The elder Livia was banished to this island by Augustus. See
c. lxv. of his life.

[354] An island in the Archipelago.

[355] This Theodore is noticed by Quintilian, Instit. iii. 1. Gadara
was in Syria.

[356] It mattered not that the head substituted was Tiberius’s own.

[357] The verses were probably anonymous.

[358] Oderint dum probent: Caligula used a similar expression; Oderint
dum metuant.

[359] A.U.C. 778. Tacit. Annal. iv. The historian’s name was A.
Cremutius Cordo. Dio has preserved the passage, xlvii. p. 619. Brutus
had already called Cassius “The last of the Romans,” in his lamentation
over his dead body.

[360] She was the sister of Germanicus, and Tacitus calls her Livia; but
Suetonius is in the habit of giving a fondling or diminutive term to the
names of women, as Claudilla, for Claudia, Plautilla, etc.

[361] Priam is said to have had no less than fifty sons and daughters;
some of the latter, however, survived him, as Hecuba, Helena, Polyxena,
and others.

[362] There were oracles at Antium and Tibur. The “Praenestine Lots”
are described by Cicero, De Divin. xi. 41.

[363] Agrippina, and Nero and Drusus.

[364] He is mentioned before in the Life of AUGUSTUS, c. xc.; and also
by Horace, Cicero, and Tacitus.

[365] Obscure Greek poets, whose writings were either full of fabulous
stories, or of an amatory kind.

[366] It is suggested that the text should be amended, so that the
sentence should read–“A Greek soldier;” for of what use could it have
been to examine a man in Greek, and not allow him to give his replies in
the same language?

[367] So called from Appius Claudius, the Censor, one of Tiberius’s
ancestors, who constructed it. It took a direction southward of Rome,
through Campania to Brundusium, starting from what is the present Porta
di San Sebastiano, from which the road to Naples takes its departure.

[368] A small town on the coast of Latium, not far from Antium, and the
present Nettuno. It was here that Cicero was slain by the satellites of

[369] A town on a promontory of the same dreary coast, between Antium
and Terracina, built on a promontory surrounded by the sea and the marsh,
still called Circello.

[370] Misenum, a promontory to which Aeneas is said to have given its
name from one of his followers. (Aen. ii. 234.) It is now called Capo
di Miseno, and shelters the harbour of Mola di Gaieta, belonging to
Naples. This was one of the stations of the Roman fleet.

[371] Tacitus agrees with Suetonius as to the age of Tiberius at the
time of his death. Dio states it more precisely, as being seventy-seven
years, four months, and nine days.

[372] Caius Caligula, who became his successor.

[373] Tacitus and Dio add that he was smothered under a heap of heavy

[374] In the temple of the Palatine Apollo. See AUGUSTUS, c. xxix.

[375] Atella, a town between Capua and Naples, now called San Arpino,
where there was an amphitheatre. The people seemed to have raised the
shout in derision, referring, perhaps, to the Atellan fables, mentioned
in c. xiv.; and in their fury they proposed that his body should only be
grilled, as those of malefactors were, instead of being reduced to ashes.

[376] Tacit. Annal. lib. ii.

[377] A.U.C. 757.

[378] A.U.C. 765.

[379] A.U.C. 770.

[380] A.U.C. 767.

[381] A.U.C. 771.

[382] This opinion, like some others which occur in Suetonius, may
justly be considered as a vulgar error; and if the heart was found
entire, it must have been owing to the weakness of the fire, rather than
to any quality communicated to the organ, of resisting the power of that

[383] The magnificent title of King of Kings has been assumed, at
different times, by various potentates. The person to whom it is here
applied, is the king of Parthia. Under the kings of Persia, and even
under the Syro-Macedonian kings, this country was of no consideration,
and reckoned a part of Hyrcania. But upon the revolt of the East from
the Syro-Macedonians, at the instigation of Arsaces, the Parthians are
said to have conquered eighteen kingdoms.

[384] A.U.C. 765.

[385] It does not appear that Gaetulicus wrote any historical work, but
Martial, Pliny, and others, describe him as a respectable poet.

[386] Supra Confluentes. The German tribe here mentioned occupied the
country between the Rhine and the Meuse, and gave their name to Treves
(Treviri), its chief town. Coblentz had its ancient name of Confluentes,
from its standing at the junction of the two rivers. The exact site of
the village in which Caligula was born is not known. Cluverius
conjectures that it may be Capelle.

[387] Chap. vii.

[388] The name was derived from Caliga, a kind of boot, studded with
nails, used by the common soldiers in the Roman army.

[389] According to Tacitus, who gives an interesting account of these
occurrences, Treves was the place of refuge to which the young Caius was
conveyed.–Annal. i.

[390] In c. liv. of TIBERIUS, we have seen that his brothers Drusus and
Nero fell a sacrifice to these artifices.

[391] Tiberius, who was the adopted father of Germanicus.

[392] Natriceus, a water-snake, so called from nato, to swim. The
allusion is probably to Caligula’s being reared in the island of Capri.

[393] As Phaeton is said to have set the world on fire.

[394] See the Life of TIBERIUS, c. lxxiii.

[395] His name also was Tiberius. See before, TIBERIUS, c. lxxvi.

[396] Procida, Ischia, Capri, etc.

[397] The eagle was the standard of the legion, each cohort of which had
its own ensign, with different devices; and there were also little images
of the emperors, to which divine honours were paid.

[398] See before, cc. liii. liv.

[399] See TIBERIUS, c. x.; and note.

[400] The mausoleum built by Augustus, mentioned before in his Life,
c. C.

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