The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

[621] A fine sand from the Nile, similar to puzzuclano, which was
strewed on the stadium; the wrestlers also rolled in it, when their
bodies were slippery with oil or perspiration.

[622] The words on the ticket about the emperor’s neck, are supposed, by
a prosopopea, to be spoken by him. The reply is Agrippina’s, or the
people’s. It alludes to the punishment due to him for his parricide. By
the Roman law, a person who had murdered a parent or any near relation,
after being severely scourged, was sewed up in a sack, with a dog, a
cock, a viper, and an ape, and then thrown into the sea, or a deep river.

[623] Gallos, which signifies both cocks and Gauls.

[624] Vindex, it need hardly be observed, was the name of the propraetor
who had set up the standard of rebellion in Gaul. The word also
signifies an avenger of wrongs, redresser of grievances; hence vindicate,
vindictive, etc.

[625] Aen. xii. 646.

[626] The Via Salaria was so called from the Sabines using it to fetch
salt from the coast. It led from Rome to the northward, near the gardens
of Sallust, by a gate of the same name, called also Quirinalis, Agonalis,
and Collina. It was here that Alaric entered.

[627] The Via Nomentana, so named because it led to the Sabine town of
Nomentum, joined the Via Salara at Heretum on the Tiber. It was also
called Ficulnensis. It entered Rome by the Porta Viminalis, now called
Porta Pia. It was by this road that Hannibal approached the walls of
Rome. The country-house of Nero’s freedman, where he ended his days,
stood near the Anio, beyond the present church of St. Agnese, where there
was a villa of the Spada family, belonging now, we believe, to Torlonia.

[628] This description is no less exact than vivid. It was easy for
Nero to gain the nearest gate, the Nomentan, from the Esquiline quarter
of the palace, without much observation; and on issuing from it (after
midnight, it appears), the fugitives would have the pretorian camp so
close on their right hand, that they might well hear the shouts of the

[629] Decocta. Pliny informs us that Nero had the water he drank,
boiled, to clear it from impurities, and then cooled with ice.

[630] Wood, to warm the water for washing the corpse, and for the
funeral pile,

[631] This burst of passion was uttered in Greek, the rest was spoken in
Latin. Both were in familiar use. The mixture, perhaps, betrays the
disturbed state of Nero’s mind.

[632] II. x. 535.

[633] Collis Hortulorum; which was afterwards called the Pincian Hill,
from a family of that name, who flourished under the lower empire. In
the time of the Caesars it was occupied by the gardens and villas of the
wealthy and luxurious; among which those of Sallust are celebrated. Some
of the finest statues have been found in the ruins; among others, that of
the “Dying Gladiator.” The situation was airy and healthful, commanding
fine views, and it is still the most agreeable neighbourhood in Rome.

[634] Antiquarians suppose that some relics of the sepulchre of the
Domitian family, in which the ashes of Nero were deposited, are preserved
in the city wall which Aurelian, when he extended its circuit, carried
across the “Collis Hortulorum.” Those ancient remains, declining from
the perpendicular, are called the Muro Torto.–The Lunan marble was
brought from quarries near a town of that name, in Etruria. It no longer
exists, but stood on the coast of what is now called the gulf of
Spezzia.–Thasos, an island in the Archipelago, was one of the Cyclades.
It produced a grey marble, much veined, but not in great repute.

[635] See c. x1i.

[636] The Syrian Goddess is supposed to have been Semiramis deified.
Her rites are mentioned by Florus, Apuleius, and Lucian.

[637] A.U.C. 821–A.D. 69.

[638] We have here one of the incidental notices which are so valuable
in an historian, as connecting him with the times of which he writes.
See also just before, c. lii.

[639] Veii; see the note, NERO, c. xxxix.

[640] The conventional term for what is most commonly known as,

“The Laurel, meed of mighty conquerors,
And poets sage,”–Spenser’s Faerie Queen.

is retained throughout the translation. But the tree or shrub which had
this distinction among the ancients, the Laurus nobilis of botany, the
Daphne of the Greeks, is the bay-tree, indigenous in Italy, Greece, and
the East, and introduced into England about 1562. Our laurel is a plant
of a very different tribe, the Prunes lauro-cerasus, a native of the
Levant and the Crimea, acclimated in England at a later period than the

[641] The Temple of the Caesars is generally supposed to be that
dedicated by Julius Caesar to Venus genitrix, from whom the Julian family
pretended to derive their descent. See JULIUS, c. lxi.; AUGUSTUS, c. ci.

[642] A.U.C. 821.

[643] The Atrium, or Aula, was the court or hall of a house, the
entrance to which was by the principal door. It appears to have been a
large oblong square, surrounded with covered or arched galleries. Three
sides of the Atrium were supported by pillars, which, in later times,
were marble. The side opposite to the gate was called Tablinum; and the
other two sides, Alae. The Tablinum contained books, and the records of
what each member of the family had done in his magistracy. In the Atrium
the nuptial couch was erected; and here the mistress of the family, with
her maid-servants, wrought at spinning and weaving, which, in the time of
the ancient Romans, was their principal employment.

[644] He was consul with L. Aurelius Cotta, A.U.C. 610.

[645] A.U.C. 604.

[646] A.U.C. 710.

[647] A.U.C 775.

[648] A.U.C. 608.

[649] Caius Sulpicius Galba, the emperor’s brother, had been consul
A.U.C. 774.

[650] A.U.C. 751.

[651] Now Fondi, which, with Terracina, still bearing its original name,
lie on the road to Naples. See TIBERIUS, cc. v. and xxxix.

[652] Livia Ocellina, mentioned just before.

[653] A.U.C. 751.

[654] The widow of the emperor Augustus.

[655] Suetonius seems to have forgotten, that, according to his own
testimony, this legacy, as well as those left by Tiberius, was paid by
Caligula. “Legata ex testamento Tiberii; quamquam abolito, sed et Juliae
Augustae, quod Tiberius suppresserat, cum fide, ac sine calumnia
repraesentate persolvit.” CALIG. c. xvi.

[656] A.U.C. 786.

[657] Caius Caesar Caligula. He gave the command of the legions in
Germany to Galba.

[658] “Scuto moderatus;” another reading in the parallel passage of
Tacitus is scuto immodice oneratus, burdened with the heavy weight of a

[659] It would appear that Galba was to have accompanied Claudius in his
expedition to Britain; which is related before, CLAUDIUS, c. xvii.

[660] It has been remarked before, that the Cantabria of the ancients is
now the province of Biscay.

[661] Now Carthagena.

[662] A.U.C. 821.

[663] Now Corunna.

[664] Tortosa, on the Ebro.

[665] “Simus,” literally, fiat-nosed, was a cant word, used for a clown;
Galba being jeered for his rusticity, in consequence of his long
retirement. See c. viii. Indeed, they called Spain his farm.

[666] The command of the pretorian guards.

[667] In the Forum. See AUGUSTUS, c. lvii.

[668] II. v. 254.

[669] A.U.C. 822.

[670] On the esplanade, where the standards, objects of religious
reverence, were planted. See note to c. vi. Criminals were usually
executed outside the Vallum, and in the presence of a centurion.

[671] Probably one of the two mentioned in CLAUDIUS, c. xiii.

[672] A.U.C. 784 or 785.

[673] “Distento sago impositum in sublime jactare.”

[674] See NERO, c. xxxv.

[675] The Milliare Aureum was a pillar of stone set up at the top of the
Forum, from which all the great military roads throughout Italy started,
the distances to the principal towns being marked upon it. Dio (lib.
liv.) says that it was erected by the emperor Augustus, when he was
curator of the roads.

[676] Haruspex, Auspex, or Augur, denoted any person who foretold
futurity, or interpreted omens. There was at Rome a body of priests, or
college, under this title, whose office it was to foretell future events,
chiefly from the flight, chirping, or feeding of birds, and from other
appearances. They were of the greatest authority in the Roman state; for
nothing of importance was done in public affairs, either at home or
abroad, in peace or war, without consulting them. The Romans derived the
practice of augury chiefly from the Tuscans; and anciently their youth
used to be instructed as carefully in this art, as afterwards they were
in the Greek literature. For this purpose, by a decree of the senate, a
certain number of the sons of the leading men at Rome was sent to the
twelve states of Etruria for instruction.

[677] See before, note, c. i. The Principia was a broad open space,
which separated the lower part of the Roman camp from the upper, and
extended the whole breadth of the camp. In this place was erected the
tribunal of the general, when he either administered justice or harangued
the army. Here likewise the tribunes held their courts, and punishments
were inflicted. The principal standards of the army, as it has been
already mentioned, were deposited in the Principia; and in it also stood
the altars of the gods, and the images of the Emperors, by which the
soldiers swore.

[678] See NERO, c. xxxi. The sum estimated as requisite for its
completion amounted to 2,187,500 pounds of our money.

[679] The two last words, literally translated, mean “long trumpets;”
such as were used at sacrifices. The sense is, therefore, “What have I
to do, my hands stained with blood, with performing religious

[680] The Ancile was a round shield, said to have fallen from heaven in
the reign of Numa, and supposed to be the shield of Mars. It was kept
with great care in the sanctuary of his temple, as a symbol of the
perpetuity of the Roman empire; and that it might not be stolen, eleven
others were made exactly similar to it.

[681] This ideal personage, who has been mentioned before, AUGUSTUS,
c. lxviii., was the goddess Cybele, the wife of Saturn, called also Rhea,
Ops, Vesta, Magna, Mater, etc. She was painted as a matron, crowned with
towers, sitting in a chariot drawn by lions. A statue of her, brought
from Pessinus in Phrygia to Rome, in the time of the second Punic war,
was much honoured there. Her priests, called the Galli and Corybantes,
were castrated; and worshipped her with the sound of drums, tabors,
pipes, and cymbals. The rites of this goddess were disgraced by great

[682] Otherwise called Orcus, Pluto, Jupiter Infernus, and Stygnis. He
was the brother of Jupiter, and king of the infernal regions. His wife
was Proserpine, the daughter of Ceres, whom he carried off as she was
gathering flowers in the plains of Enna, in Sicily. The victims offered
to the infernal gods were black: they were killed with their faces bent
downwards; the knife was applied from below, and the blood was poured
into a ditch.

[683] A town between Mantua and Cremona.

[684] The temple of Castor. It stood about twelve miles from Cremona.
Tacitus gives some details of this action. Hist. ii. 243.

[685] Both Greek and Latin authors differ in the mode of spelling the
name of this place, the first syllable being written Beb, Bet, and Bret.
It is now a small village called Labino, between Cremona and Verona.

[686] Lenis was a name of similar signification with that of
Tranquillus, borne by his son, the author of the present work. We find
from Tacitus, that there was, among Otho’s generals, in this battle,
another person of the name of Suetonius, whose cognomen was Paulinus;
with whom our author’s father must not be confounded. Lenis was only a
tribune of the thirteenth legion, the position of which in the battle is
mentioned by Tacitus, Hist. xi. 24, and was angusticlavius, wearing only
the narrow stripe, as not being of the senatorial order; while Paulinus
was a general, commanding a legion, at least, and a consular man; having
filled that Office A.U.C. 818. There seems no doubt that Suetonius
Paulinus was the same general who distinguished himself by his successes
and cruelties in Britain. NERO, c. xviii., and note.

Not to extend the present note, we may shortly refer to our author’s
having already mentioned his grandfather (CALIGULA, c. xix.); besides
other sources from which he drew his information. He tells us that he
himself was then a boy. We have now arrived at the times in which his
father bore a part. Such incidental notices, dropped by historical
writers, have a certain value in enabling us to form a judgment on the
genuineness of their narratives as to contemporaneous, or recent, events.

[687] A.U.C. 823.

[688] Jupiter, to prevent the discovery of his amour with Io, the
daughter of the river Inachus, transformed her into a heifer, in which
metamorphosis she was placed by Juno under the watchful inspection of
Argus; but flying into Egypt, and her keeper being killed by Mercury, she
recovered her human shape, and was married to Osiris. Her husband
afterwards became a god of the Egyptians, and she a goddess, under the
name of Isis. She was represented with a mural crown on her head, a
cornucopia in one hand, and a sistrum (a musical instrument) in the

[689] Faunus was supposed to be the third king who reigned over the
original inhabitants of the central parts of Italy, Saturn being the
first. Virgil makes his wife’s name Marica–

Hunc Fauna, et nympha genitum Laurente Marica
Accipimus.–Aen. vii. 47.

Her name may have been changed after her deification; but we have no
other accounts than those preserved by Suetonius, of several of the
traditions handed down from the fabulous ages respecting the Vitellian

[690] The Aequicolae were probably a tribe inhabiting the heights in the
neighbourhood of Rome. Virgil describes them, Aen. vii. 746.

[691] Nuceria, now Nocera, is a town near Mantua; but Livy, in treating
of the war with the Samnites, always speaks of Luceria, which Strabo
calls a town in Apulia.

[692] Cassius Severus is mentioned before, in AUGUSTUS, c. lvi.;
CALIGULA, c. xvi., etc.

[693] A.U.C. 785.

[694] A.U.C. 787.

[695] He is frequently commended by Josephus for his kindness to the
Jews. See, particularly, Antiq. VI. xviii.

[696] A.U.C. 796, 800.

[697] A.U.C. 801.

[698] A.U.C. 797. See CLAUDIUS, c. xvii.

[699] A.U.C. 801.

[700] A.U.C. 767; being the year after the death of the emperor
Augustus; from whence it appears that Vitellius was seventeen years older
than Otho, both being at an advanced age when they were raised to the
imperial dignity.

[701] He was sent to Germany by Galba.

[702] See TIBERIUS, c. xliii.

[703] Julius Caesar, also, was said to have exchanged brass for gold in
the Capitol, Junius, c. liv. The tin which we here find in use at Rome,
was probably brought from the Cassiterides, now the Scilly islands.
whence it had been an article of commerce by the Phoenicians and
Carthaginians from a very early period.

[704] A.U.C. 821.

[705] A.U.C. 822.

[706] Vienne was a very ancient city of the province of Narbonne, famous
in ecclesiastical history as the early seat of a bishopric in Gaul.

[707] See OTHO, c. ix.

[708] See OTHO, c. ix.

[709] Agrippina, the wife of Nero and mother of Germanicus, founded a
colony on the Rhine at the place of her birth. Tacit. Annal. b. xii. It
became a flourishing city, and its origin may be traced in its modern
name, Cologne.

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