The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

[473] CALIGULA. See c. v. of his life.

[474] A.U.C. 793. Life of CALIGULA, cc. xliv., xlv., etc.

[475] A.U.C. 794.

[476] The chamber of Mercury; the names of deities being given to
different apartments, as those “of Isis,” “of the Muses,” etc.

[477] See the note, p. 265.

[478] The attentive reader will have marked the gradual growth of the
power of the pretorian guard, who now, and on so many future occasions,
ruled the destinies of the empire.

[479] See AUGUSTUS, cc. xliii., xlv.

[480] Ib. c. ci.

[481] Germanicus.

[482] Naples and other cities on that coast were Greek colonies.

[483] This arch was erected in memory of the standards (the eagles) lost
by Varus, in Germany, having been recovered by Germanicus under the
auspices of Tiberius. See his Life, c. xlvii.; and Tacit. Annal. ii. 41.
It seems to have stood at the foot of the Capitol, on the side of the
Forum, near the temple of Concord; but there are no remains of it.

[484] Tacitus informs us that the same application had been made by
Tiberius. Annal. iii. The prefect of the pretorian guards, high and
important as his office had now become, was not allowed to enter the
senate-house, unless he belonged to the equestrian order.

[485] The procurators had the administration of some of the less
important provinces, with rank and authority inferior to that of the pro-
consuls and prefects. Frequent mention of these officers is made by
Josephus; and Pontius Pilate, who sentenced our Lord to crucifixion, held
that office in Judaea, under Tiberius.

[486] Pollio and Messala were distinguished orators, who flourished
under the Caesars Julius and Augustus.

[487] A.U.C. 795, 796.

[488] A.U.C. 800, 804.

[489] “Ad bestias” had become a new and frequent sentence for
malefactors. It will be recollected, that it was the most usual form of
martyrdom for the primitive Christians. Polycarp was brought all the way
from Smyrna to be exposed to it in the amphitheatre at Rome.

[490] This reminds us of the decision of Solomon in the case of the two
mothers, who each claimed a child as their own, 1 Kings iii. 22-27.

[491] A most absurd judicial conclusion, the business of the judge or
court being to decide, on weighing the evidence, on which side the truth

[492] See the note in CALIGULA, c. xix., as to Suetonius’s sources of
information from persons cotemporary with the occurrences he relates.

[493] The insult was conveyed in Greek, which seems, from Suetonius, to
have been in very common use at Rome: kai su geron ei, kai moros.

[494] A.U.C. 798, or 800.

[495] There was a proverb to the same effect: “Si non caste, saltem

[496] Ptolemy appointed him to an office which led him to assume a
foreign dress. Rabirius was defended by Cicero in one of his orations,
which is extant.

[497] The Sigillaria was a street in Rome, where a fair was held after
the Saturnalia, which lasted seven days; and toys, consisting of little
images and dolls, which gave their name to the street and festival, were
sold. It appears from the text, that other articles were exposed for sale
in this street. Among these were included elegant vases of silver and
bronze. There appears also to have been a bookseller’s shop, for an
ancient writer tells us that a friend of his showed him a copy of the
Second Book of the Aeneid, which he had purchased there.

[498] Opposed to this statement there is a passage in Servius Georgius,
iii. 37, asserting that he had heard (accipimus) that Augustus, besides
his victories in the east, triumphed over the Britons in the west; and
Horace says:–

Augustus adjectis Britannis
Imperio gravibusque Persis.–Ode iii. 5, 1.

Strabo likewise informs us, that in his time, the petty British kings
sent embassies to cultivate the alliance of Augustus, and make offerings
in the Capitol: and that nearly the whole island was on terms of amity
with the Romans, and, as well as the Gauls, paid a light tribute.–
Strabo, B. iv. p. 138.

That Augustus contemplated a descent on the island, but was prevented
from attempting it by his being recalled from Gaul by the disturbances in
Dalmatia, is very probable. Horace offers his vows for its success:

Serves iturum, Caesarem in ultimos Orbis Britannos.–Ode i. 35.

But the word iturus shews that the scheme was only projected, and the
lines previously quoted are mere poetical flattery. Strabo’s statement
of the communications kept up with the petty kings of Britain, who were
perhaps divided by intestine wars, are, to a certain extent, probably
correct, as such a policy would be a prelude to the intended expedition.

[499] Circius. Aulus Gellius, Seneca, and Pliny, mention under this
name the strong southerly gales which prevail in the gulf of Genoa and
the neighbouring seas.

[500] The Stoechades were the islands now called Hieres, off Toulon.

[501] Claudius must have expended more time in his march from Marseilles
to Gessoriacum, as Boulogne was then called, than in his vaunted conquest
of Britain.

[502] In point of fact, he was only sixteen days in the island,
receiving the submission of some tribes in the south-eastern districts.
But the way had been prepared for him by his able general, Aulus
Plautius, who defeated Cunobeline, and made himself master of his
capital, Camulodunum, or Colchester. These successes were followed up by
Ostorius, who conquered Caractacus and sent him to Rome.

It is singular that Suetonius has supplied us with no particulars of
these events. Some account of them is given in the disquisition appended
to this life of CLAUDIUS.

The expedition of Plautius took place A.U.C. 796., A.D. 44.

[503] Carpentum: see note in CALIGULA, c. xv.

[504] The Aemiliana, so called because it contained the monuments of the
family of that name, was a suburb of Rome, on the Via Lata, outside the

[505] The Diribitorium was a house in the Flaminian Circus, begun by
Agrippa, and finished by Augustus, in which soldiers were mustered and
their pay distributed; from whence it derived its name. When the Romans
went to give their votes at the election of magistrates, they were
conducted by officers named Diribitores. It is possible that one and the
same building may have been used for both purposes.

The Flaminian Circus was without the city walls, in the Campus Martius.
The Roman college now stands on its site.

[506] A law brought in by the consuls Papius Mutilus and Quintus
Poppaeus; respecting which, see AUGUSTUS, c. xxxiv.

[507] The Fucine Lake is now called Lago di Celano, in the Farther
Abruzzi. It is very extensive, but shallow, so that the difficulty of
constructing the Claudian emissary, can scarcely be compared to that
encountered in a similar work for lowering the level of the waters in the
Alban lake, completed A.U.C. 359.

[508] Respecting the Claudian aqueduct, see CALIGULA, c. xxi.

[509] Ostia is referred to in a note, TIBERIUS, c. xi.

[510] Suetonius calls this “the great obelisk” in comparison with those
which Augustus had placed in the Circus Maximus and Campus Martius. The
one here mentioned was erected by Caligula in his Circus, afterwards
called the Circus of Nero. It stood at Heliopolis, having been dedicated
to the sun, as Herodotus informs us, by Phero, son of Sesostris, in
acknowledgment of his recovery from blindness. It was removed by Pope
Sixtus V. in 1586, under the celebrated architect, Fontana, to the centre
of the area before St. Peter’s, in the Vatican, not far from its former
position. This obelisk is a solid piece of red granite, without
hieroglyphics, and, with the pedestal and ornaments at the top, is 182
feet high. The height of the obelisk itself is 113 palms, or 84 feet.

[511] Pliny relates some curious particulars of this ship: “A fir tree
of prodigious size was used in the vessel which, by the command of
Caligula, brought the obelisk from Egypt, which stands in the Vatican
Circus, and four blocks of the same sort of stone to support it. Nothing
certainly ever appeared on the sea more astonishing than this vessel;
120,000 bushels of lentiles served for its ballast; the length of it
nearly equalled all the left side of the port of Ostia; for it was sent
there by the emperor Claudius. The thickness of the tree was as much as
four men could embrace with their arms.”–B. xvi. c. 76.

[512] See AUGUSTUS, c. xxxi. It appears to have been often a prey to
the flames, TIBERIUS, c. xli.; CALIGULA, c. xx.

[513] Contrary to the usual custom of rising and saluting the emperor
without acclamations.

[514] A.U.C. 800.

[515] The Secular Games had been celebrated by Augustus, A.U.C. 736.
See c. xxxi. of his life, and the Epode of Horace written on the

[516] In the circus which he had himself built.

[517] Tophina; Tuffo, a porous stone of volcanic origin, which abounds
in the neighbourhood of Rome, and, with the Travertino, is employed in
all common buildings.

[518] In compliment to the troops to whom he owed his elevation: see
before, c. xi.

[519] Palumbus was a gladiator: and Claudius condescended to pun upon
his name, which signifies a wood-pigeon.

[520] See before, c. xvii. Described is c. xx and note.

[521] See before, AUGUSTUS, c. xxxiv.

[522] To reward his able services as commander of the army in Britain.
See before, c. xvii.

[523] German tribes between the Elbe and the Weser, whose chief seat was
at Bremen, and others about Ems or Lueneburg.

[524] This island in the Tiber, opposite the Campus Martius, is said to
have been formed by the corn sown by Tarquin the Proud on that
consecrated field, and cut down and thrown by order of the consuls into
the river. The water being low, it lodged in the bed of the stream, and
gradual deposits of mud raising it above the level of the water, it was
in course of time covered with buildings. Among these was the temple of
Aesculapius, erected A.U.C. 462, to receive the serpent, the emblem of
that deity which was brought to Rome in the time of a plague. There is a
coin of Antoninus Pius recording this event, and Lumisdus has preserved
copies of some curious votive inscriptions in acknowledgment of cures
which were found in its ruins, Antiquities of Rome, p. 379.

It was common for the patient after having been exposed some nights in
the temple, without being cured, to depart and put an end to his life.
Suetonius here informs us that slaves so exposed, at least obtained their

[525] Which were carried on the shoulders of slaves. This prohibition
had for its object either to save the wear and tear in the narrow
streets, or to pay respect to the liberties of the town.

[526] See the note in c. i. of this life of CLAUDIUS.

[527] Seleucus Philopater, son of Antiochus the Great, who being
conquered by the Romans, the succeeding kings of Syria acknowledged the
supremacy of Rome.

[528] Suetonius has already, in TIBERIUS, c. xxxvi., mentioned the
expulsion of the Jews from Rome, and this passage confirms the
conjecture, offered in the note, that the Christians were obscurely
alluded to in the former notice. The antagonism between Christianity and
Judaism appears to have given rise to the tumults which first led the
authorities to interfere. Thus much we seem to learn from both passages:
but the most enlightened men of that age were singularly ill-informed on
the stupendous events which had recently occurred in Judaea, and we find
Suetonius, although he lived at the commencement of the first century of
the Christian aera, when the memory of these occurrences was still fresh,
and it might be supposed, by that time, widely diffused, transplanting
Christ from Jerusalem to Rome, and placing him in the time of Claudius,
although the crucifixion took place during the reign of Tiberius.

St. Luke, Acts xviii. 2, mentions the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by
the emperor Claudius: Dio, however, says that he did not expel them, but
only forbad their religious assemblies.

It was very natural for Suetonius to write Chrestus instead of Christus,
as the former was a name in use among the Greeks and Romans. Among
others, Cicero mentions a person of that name in his Fam. Ep. 11. 8.

[529] Pliny tells us that Druidism had its origin in Gaul, and was
transplanted into Britain, xxi. 1. Julius Caesar asserts just the
contrary, Bell. Gall. vi. 13, 11. The edict of Claudius was not carried
into effect; at least, we find vestiges of Druidism in Gaul, during the
reigns of Nero and Alexander Severus.

[530] The Eleusinian mysteries were never transferred from Athens to
Rome, notwithstanding this attempt of Claudius, and although Aurelius
Victor says that Adrian effected it.

[531] A.U.C. 801.

[532] A.U.C. 773.

[533] It would seem from this passage, that the cognomen of “the Great,”
had now been restored to the descendants of Cneius Pompey, on whom it was
first conferred.

[534] A.U.C. 806.

[535] A.U.C. 803.

[536] This is the Felix mentioned in the Acts, cc. xxiii. and xxiv.,
before whom St. Paul pleaded. He is mentioned by Josephus; and Tacitus,
who calls him Felix Antonius, gives his character: Annal. v, 9. 6.

[537] It appears that two of these wives of Felix were named Drusilla.
One, mentioned Acts xxiv. 24, and there called a Jewess, was the sister
of king Agrippa, and had married before, Azizus, king of the Emessenes.
The other Drusilla, though not a queen, was of royal birth, being the
granddaughter of Cleopatra by Mark Antony. Who the third wife of Felix
was, is unknown.

[538] Tacitus and Josephus mention that Pallas was the brother of Felix,
and the younger Pliny ridicules the pompous inscription on his tomb.

[539] A.U.C. 802.

[540] The Salii, the priests of Mars, twelve in number, were instituted
by Numa. Their dress was an embroidered tunic, bound with a girdle
ornamented with brass. They wore on their head a conical cap, of a
considerable height; carried a sword by their side; in their right hand a
spear or rod, and in their left, one of the Ancilia, or shields of Mars.
On solemn occasions, they used to go to the Capitol, through the Forum
and other public parts of the city, dancing and singing sacred songs,
said to have been composed by Numa; which, in the time of Horace, could
hardly be understood by any one, even the priests themselves. The most
solemn procession of the Salii was on the first of March, in
commemoration of the time when the sacred shield was believed to have
fallen from heaven, in the reign of Numa. After their procession, they
had a splendid entertainment, the luxury of which was proverbial.

[541] Scaliger and Casauhon give Teleggenius as the reading of the best
manuscripts. Whoever he was, his name seems to have been a bye-word for
a notorious fool.

[542] Titus Livius, the prince of Roman historians, died in the fourth
year of the reign of Tiberius, A.U.C. 771; at which time Claudius was
about twenty-seven years old, having been born A.U.C. 744.

[543] Asinius Gallus was the son of Asinius Pollio, the famous orator,
and had written a hook comparing his father with Cicero, and giving the
former the preference.

[544] Quintilian informs us, that one of the three new letters the
emperor Claudius attempted to introduce, was the Aeolic digamma, which
had the same force as v consonant. Priscian calls another anti-signs,
and says that the character proposed was two Greek sigmas, back to back,
and that it was substituted for the Greek ps. The other letter is not
known, and all three soon fell into disuse.

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