Front Page Titles (by Subject) D. OCTAVIUS CÆSAR AUGUSTUS. - The Lives of the Twelve Caesars
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
D. OCTAVIUS CÆSAR AUGUSTUS. - Suetonius Tranquillus, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars [120 AD]
The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, to which are added his Lives of the Grammarians, Rhetoricians, and Poets. The translation of Alexander Thomson, M.D. Revised by T. Forester, M.A. (London: George Bell and Sons, 1909).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
D. OCTAVIUS CÆSAR AUGUSTUS.
I.That the family of the Octavii was of the first distinction in Velitræ,1 is rendered evident by many circumstances. For in the most frequented part of the town, there was, not long since, a street named the Octavian; and an altar was to be seen, consecrated to one Octavius, who being chosen general in a war with some neighbouring people, the enemy making a sudden attack, while he was sacrificing to Mars, he immediately snatched the entrails of the victim from off the fire, and offered them half raw upon the altar; after which, marching out to battle, he returned victorious. This incident gave rise to a law, by which it was enacted, that in all future times the entrails should be offered to Mars in the same manner; and the rest of the victim be carried to the Octavii.
II. This family, as well as several in Rome, was admitted into the senate by Tarquinius Priscus, and soon afterwards placed by Servius Tullius among the patricians; but in process of time it transferred itself to the plebeian order, and, after the lapse of a long interval, was restored by Julius Cæsar to the rank of patricians. The first person of the family raised by the suffrages of the people to the magistracy, was Caius Rufus. He obtained the quæstorship, and had two sons, Cneius and Caius: from whom are descended the two branches of the Octavian family, which have had very different fortunes. For Cneius, and his descendants in uninterrupted succession, held all the highest offices of the state; whilst Caius and his posterity, whether from their circumstances or their choice, remained in the equestrian order until the father of Augustus. The great-grandfather of Augustus served as a military tribune in the second Punic war in Sicily, under the command of Æmilius Pappus. His grandfather contented himself with bearing the public offices of his own municipality, and grew old in the tranquil enjoyment of an ample patrimony. Such is the account given by different authors. Augustus himself, however, tells us nothing more than that he was descended of an equestrian family, both ancient and rich, of which his father was the first who obtained the rank of senator. Mark Antony upbraidingly tells him that his great-grandfather was a freedman of the territory of Thurium,1 and a rope-maker, and his grandfather a usurer. This is all the information I have any where met with, respecting the ancestors of Augustus by the father’s side.
III. His father Caius Octavius was, from his earliest years, a person both of opulence and distinction: for which reason I am surprised at those who say that he was a money-dealer,2 and was employed in scattering bribes, and canvassing for the candidates at elections, in the Campus Martius. For being bred up in all the affluence of a great estate, he attained with ease to honourable posts, and discharged the duties of them with much distinction. After his prætorship, he obtained by lot the province of Macedonia; in his way to which he cut off some banditti, the relics of the armies of Spartacus and Catiline, who had possessed themselves of the territory of Thurium; having received from the senate an extraordinary commission for that purpose. In his government of the province, he conducted himself with equal justice and resolution; for he defeated the Bessians and Thracians in a great battle, and treated the allies of the republic in such a manner, that there are extant letters from M. Tullius Cicero, in which he advises and exhorts his brother Quintus, who then held the proconsulship of Asia with no great reputation, to imitate the example of his neighbour Octavius, in gaining the affections of the allies of Rome.
IV. After quitting Macedonia, before he could declare himself a candidate for the consulship, he died suddenly, leaving behind him a daughter, the elder Octavia, by Ancharia; and another daughter, Octavia the younger, as well as Augustus, by Atia, who was the daughter of Marcus Atius Balbus, and Julia, sister to Caius Julius Cæsar. Balbus was, by the father’s side, of a family who were natives of Aricia,1 and many of whom had been in the senate. By the mother’s side he was nearly related to Pompey the Great; and after he had borne the office of prætor, was one of the twenty commissioners appointed by the Julian law to divide the land in Campania among the people. But Mark Antony, treating with contempt Augustus’s descent even by the mother’s side, says that his great grand-father was of African descent, and at one time kept a perfumer’s shop, and at another, a bake-house, in Aricia. And Cassius of Parma, in a letter, taxes Augustus with being the son not only of a baker, but a usurer. These are his words: “Thou art a lump of thy mother’s meal, which a money-changer of Nerulum taking from the newest bake-house of Aricia, kneaded into some shape, with his hands all discoloured by the fingering of money.”
V. Augustus was born in the consulship of Marcus Tullius Cicero and Caius Antonius,2 upon the ninth of the calends of October [the 23rd September], a little before sunrise, in the quarter of the Palatine Hill,3 and the street called. The Ox-Heads,4 where now stands a chapel dedicated to him, and built a little after his death. For, as it is recorded in the proceedings of the senate, when Caius Lætorius, a young man of a patrician family, in pleading before the senators for a lighter sentence, upon his being convicted of adultery, alleged, besides his youth and quality, that he was the possessor, and as it were the guardian, of the ground which the Divine Augustus first touched upon his coming into the world; and entreated that he might find favour, for the sake of that deity, who was in a peculiar manner his; an act of the senate was passed, for the consecration of that part of his house in which Augustus was born.
VI. His nursery is shewn to this day, in a villa belonging to the family, in the suburbs of Velitræ; being a very small place, and much like a pantry. An opinion prevails in the neighbourhood, that he was also born there. Into this place no person presumes to enter, unless upon necessity, and with great devotion, from a belief, for a long time prevalent, that such as rashly enter it are seized with great horror and consternation, which a short while since was confirmed by a remarkable incident. For when a new inhabitant of the house had, either by mere chance, or to try the truth of the report, taken up his lodging in that apartment, in the course of the night, a few hours afterwards, he was thrown out by some sudden violence, he knew not how, and was found in a state of stupefaction, with the coverlid of his bed, before the door of the chamber.
VII. While he was yet an infant, the surname of Thurinus was given him, in memory of the birth-place of his family, or because, soon after he was born, his father Octavius had been successful against the fugitive slaves, in the country near Thurium. That he was surnamed Thurinus, I can affirm upon good foundation, for when a boy, I had a small bronze statue of him, with that name upon it in iron letters, nearly effaced by age, which I presented to the emperor,1 by whom it is now revered amongst the other tutelary deities in his chamber. He is also often called Thurinus contemptuously, by Mark Antony in his letters; to which he makes only this reply: “I am surprised that my former name should be made a subject of reproach.” He afterwards assumed the name of Caius Cæsar, and then of Augustus; the former in compliance with the will of his great-uncle, and the latter upon a motion of Munatius Plancus in the senate. For when some proposed to confer upon him the name of Romulus, as being, in a manner, a second founder of the city, it was resolved that he should rather be called Augustus, a surname not only new, but of more dignity, because places devoted to religion, and those in which anything is consecrated by augury, are denominated august, either from the word auctus, signifying augmentation, or ab avium gestu, gustuve, from the flight and feeding of birds; as appears from this verse of Ennius:
When glorious Rome by august augury was built.1
VIII. He lost his father when he was only four years of age; and, in his twelfth year, pronounced a funeral oration in praise of his grand-mother Julia. Four years afterwards, having assumed the robe of manhood, he was honoured with several military rewards by Cæsar in his African triumph, although he took no part in the war, on account of his youth. Upon his uncle’s expedition to Spain against the sons of Pompey, he was followed by his nephew, although he was scarcely recovered from a dangerous sickness; and after being ship-wrecked at sea, and travelling with very few attendants through roads that were infested with the enemy, he at last came up with him. This activity gave great satisfaction to his uncle, who soon conceived an increasing affection for him, on account of such indications of character. After the subjugation of Spain, while Cæsar was meditating an expedition against the Dacians and Parthians, he was sent before him to Apollonia, where he applied himself to his studies; until receiving intelligence that his uncle was murdered, and that he was appointed his heir, he hesitated for some time whether he should call to his aid the legions stationed in the neighbourhood; but he abandoned the design as rash and premature. However, returning to Rome, he took possession of his inheritance, although his mother was apprehensive that such a measure might be attended with danger, and his step-father, Marcius Philippus, a man of consular rank, very earnestly dissuaded him from it. From this time, collecting together a strong military force, he first held the government in conjunction with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus, then with Antony only, for nearly twelve years, and at last in his own hands during a period of four and forty.
IX. Having thus given a very short summary of his life, I shall prosecute the several parts of it, not in order of time, but arranging his acts into distinct classes, for the sake of perspicuity. He was engaged in five civil wars, namely, those of Modena, Philippi, Perugia, Sicily, and Actium; the first and last of which were against Antony, and the second against Brutus and Cassius; the third against Lucius Antonius, the triumvir’s brother, and the fourth against Sextus Pompeius, the son of Cneius Pompeius.
X. The motive which gave rise to all these wars was the opinion he entertained that both his honour and interest were concerned in revenging the murder of his uncle, and maintaining the state of affairs he had established. Immediately after his return from Apollonia, he formed the design of taking forcible and unexpected measures against Brutus and Cassius; but they having foreseen the danger and made their escape, he resolved to proceed against them by an appeal to the laws in their absence, and impeach them for the murder. In the mean time, those whose province it was to prepare the sports in honour of Cæsar’s last victory in the civil war, not daring to do it, he undertook it himself. And that he might carry into effect his other designs with greater authority, he declared himself a candidate in the room of a tribune of the people who happened to die at that time, although he was of a patrician family, and had not yet been in the senate. But the consul, Mark Antony, from whom he had expected the greatest assistance, opposing him in his suit, and even refusing to do him so much as common justice, unless gratified with a large bribe, he went over to the party of the nobles, to whom he perceived Sylla to be odious, chiefly for endeavouring to drive Decius Brutus, whom he besieged in the town of Modena, out of the province, which had been given him by Cæsar, and confirmed to him by the senate. At the instigation of persons about him, he engaged some ruffians to murder his antagonist; but the plot being discovered, and dreading a similar attempt upon himself, he gained over Cæsar’s veteran soldiers, by distributing among them all the money he could collect. Being now commissioned by the senate to command the troops he had gathered, with the rank of prætor, and in conjunction with Hirtius and Pansa, who had accepted the consulship, to carry assistance to Decius Brutus, he put an end to the war by two battles in three months. Antony writes, that in the former of these he ran away, and two days afterwards made his appearance without his general’s cloak and his horse. In the last battle, however, it is certain that he performed the part not only of a general, but a soldier; for, in the heat of the battle, when the standard-bearer of his legion was severely wounded, he took the eagle upon his shoulders, and carried it a long time.
XI. In this war,1 Hirtius being slain in battle, and Pansa dying a short time afterwards of a wound, a report was circulated that they both were killed through his means, in order that, when Antony fled, the republic having lost its consuls, he might have the victorious armies entirely at his own command. The death of Pansa was so fully believed to have been caused by undue means, that Glyco, his surgeon, was placed in custody, on a suspicion of having poisoned his wound. And to this, Aquilius Niger adds, that he killed Hirtius, the other consul, in the confusion of the battle, with his own hands.
XII. But upon intelligence that Antony, after his defeat, had been received by Marcus Lepidus, and that the rest of the generals and armies had all declared for the senate, he, without any hesitation, deserted from the party of the nobles: alleging as an excuse for his conduct, the actions and sayings of several amongst them; for some said, “he was a mere boy,” and others threw out, “that he ought to be promoted to honours, and cut off,” to avoid the making any suitable acknowledgment either to him or the veteran legions. And the more to testify his regret for having before attached himself to the other faction, he fined the Nursini in a large sum of money, which they were unable to pay, and then expelled them from the town, for having inscribed upon a monument, erected at the public charge to their countrymen who were slain in the battle of Modena, “That they fell in the cause of liberty.”
XIII. Having entered into a confederacy with Antony and Lepidus, he brought the war at Philippi to an end in two battles, although he was at that time weak, and suffering from sickness.2 In the first battle he was driven from his camp, and with some difficulty made his escape to the wing of the army commanded by Antony. And now, intoxicated with success, he sent the head of Brutus1 to be cast at the foot of Cæsar’s statue, and treated the most illustrious of the prisoners not only with cruelty, but with abusive language: insomuch that he is said to have answered one of them who humbly intreated that at least he might not remain unburied, “That will be in the power of the birds.” Two others, father and son, who begged for their lives, he ordered to cast lots which of them should live, or settle it between themselves by the sword; and was a spectator of both their deaths: for the father offering his life to save his son, and being accordingly executed, the son likewise killed himself upon the spot. On this account, the rest of the prisoners, and amongst them Marcus Favonius, Cato’s rival, being led up in fetters, after they had saluted Antony, the general, with much respect, reviled Octavius in the foulest language. After this victory, dividing between them the offices of the state, Mark Antony2 undertook to restore order in the east, while Cæsar conducted the veteran soldiers back to Italy, and settled them in colonies on the lands belonging to the municipalities. But he had the misfortune to please neither the soldiers nor the owners of the lands; one party complaining of the injustice done them, in being violently ejected from their possessions, and the other, that they were not rewarded according to their merit.3
XIV. At this time he obliged Lucius Antony, who, presuming upon his own authority as consul, and his brother’s power, was raising new commotions, to fly to Perugia, and forced him, by famine, to surrender at last, although not without having been exposed to great hazards, both before the war and during its continuance. For a common soldier having got into the seats of the equestrian order in the theatre, at the public spectacles, Cæsar ordered him to be removed by an officer; and a rumour being thence spread by his enemies, that he had put the man to death by torture, the soldiers flocked together so much enraged, that he narrowly escaped with his life. The only thing that saved him, was the sudden appearance of the man, safe and sound, no violence having been offered him. And whilst he was sacrificing under the walls of Perugia, he nearly fell into the hands of a body of gladiators, who sallied out of the town.
XV. After the taking of Perugia,1 he sentenced a great number of the prisoners to death, making only one reply to all who implored pardon, or endeavoured to excuse themselves, “You must die.” Some authors write, that three hundred of the two orders, selected from the rest, were slaughtered, like victims, before an altar raised to Julius Cæsar, upon the ides of March [15th April].2 Nay, there are some who relate, that he entered upon the war with no other view, than that his secret enemies, and those whom fear more than affection kept quiet, might be detected, by declaring themselves, now they had an opportunity, with Lucius Antony at their head; and that having defeated them, and confiscated their estates, he might be enabled to fulfil his promises to the veteran soldiers.
XVI. He soon commenced the Sicilian war, but it was protracted by various delays during a long period;3 at one time for the purpose of repairing his fleets, which he lost twice by storm, even in the summer; at another, while patching up a peace, to which he was forced by the clamours of the people, in consequence of a famine occasioned by Pompey’s cutting off the supply of corn by sea. But at last, having built a new fleet, and obtained twenty thousand manumitted slaves,4 who were given him for the oar, he formed the Julian harbour at Baiæ, by letting the sea into the Lucrine and Averman lakes; and having exercised his forces there during the whole winter, he defeated Pompey betwixt Mylæ and Naulochus; although just as the engagement commenced, he suddenly fell into such a profound sleep, that his friends were obliged to wake him to give the signal. This, I suppose, gave occasion for Antony’s reproach: “You were not able to take a clear view of the fleet, when drawn up in line of battle, but lay stupidly upon your back, gazing at the sky; nor did you get up and let your men see you, until Marcus Agrippa had forced the enemies’ ships to sheer off.” Others imputed to him both a saying and an action which were indefensible; for, upon the loss of his fleets by storm, he is reported to have said: “I will conquer in spite of Neptune;” and at the next Circensian games, he would not suffer the statue of that God to be carried in procession as usual. Indeed he scarcely ever ran more or greater risks in any of his wars than in this. Having transported part of his army to Sicily, and being on his return for the rest, he was unexpectedly attacked by Demochares and Apollophanes, Pompey’s admirals, from whom he escaped with great difficulty, and with one ship only. Likewise, as he was travelling on foot through the Locrian territory to Rhegium, seeing two of Pompey’s vessels passing by that coast, and supposing them to be his own, he went down to the shore, and was very nearly taken prisoner. On this occasion, as he was making his escape by some bye-ways, a slave belonging to Æmilius Paulus, who accompanied him, owing him a grudge for the proscription of Paulus, the father of Æmilius, and thinking he had now an opportunity of revenging it, attempted to assassinate him. After the defeat of Pompey, one of his colleagues,1 Marcus Lepidus, whom he had summoned to his aid from Africa, affecting great superiority, because he was at the head of twenty legions, and claiming for himself the principal management of affairs in a threatening manner, he divested him of his command, but, upon his humble submission, granted him his life, but banished him for life to Circeii.
XVII. The alliance between him and Antony, which had always been precarious, often interrupted, and ill cemented by repeated reconciliations, he at last entirely dissolved.2 And to make it known to the world how far Antony had degenerated from patriotic feelings, he caused a will of his, which had been left at Rome, and in which he had nominated Cleopatra’s children, amongst others, as his heirs, to be opened and read in an assembly of the people. Yet upon his being declared an enemy, he sent to him all his relations and friends, among whom were Caius Sosius and Titus Domitius, at that time consuls. He likewise spoke favourably in public of the people of Bologna, for joining in the association with the rest of Italy to support his cause, because they had, in former times, been under the protection of the family of the Antonii. And not long afterwards he defeated him in a naval engagement near Actium, which was prolonged to so late an hour, that, after the victory, he was obliged to sleep on board his ship. From Actium he went to the isle of Samos to winter; but being alarmed with the accounts of a mutiny amongst the soldiers he had selected from the main body of his army sent to Brundisium after the victory, who insisted on their being rewarded for their service and discharged, he returned to Italy. In his passage thither, he encountered two violent storms, the first between the promontories of Peloponnesus and Ætolia, and the other about the Ceraunian mountains: in both which a part of his Liburnian squadron was sunk, the spars and rigging of his own ship carried away, and the rudder broken in pieces. He remained only twenty-seven days at Brundisium, until the demands of the soldiers were settled, and then went, by way of Asia and Syria, to Egypt, where laying siege to Alexandria, whither Antony had fled with Cleopatra, he made himself master of it in a short time. He drove Antony to kill himself, after he had used every effort to obtain conditions of peace, and he saw his corpse.1 Cleopatra he anxiously wished to save for his triumph; and when she was supposed to have been bit to death by an asp, he sent for the Psylli2 to endeavour to suck out the poison. He allowed them to be buried together in the same grave, and ordered a mausoleum, begun by themselves, to be completed. The eldest of Antony’s two sons by Fulvia he commanded to be taken by force from the statue of Julius Cæsar, to which he had fled, after many fruitless supplications for his life, and put him to death. The same fate attended Cæsario, Cleopatra’s son by Cæsar, as he pretended, who had fled for his life, but was retaken. The children which Antony had by Cleopatra he saved, and brought up and cherished in a manner suitable to their rank, just as if they had been his own relations.
XVIII. At this time he had a desire to see the sarcophagus and body of Alexander the Great, which, for that purpose, were taken out of the cell in which they rested:1 and after viewing them for some time, he paid honours to the memory of that prince, by offering a golden crown, and scattering flowers upon the body.2 Being asked if he wished to see the tombs of the Ptolemies also; he replied, “I wish to see a king, not dead men.”3 He reduced Egypt into the form of a province; and to render it more fertile, and more capable of supplying Rome with corn, he employed his army to scour the canals, into which the Nile, upon its rise, discharges itself; but which during a long series of years had become nearly choked up with mud. To perpetuate the glory of his victory at Actium, he built the city of Nicopolis on that part of the coast, and established games to be celebrated there every five years; enlarging likewise an old temple of Apollo, he ornamented with naval crophies4 the spot on which he had pitched his camp, and consecrated it to Neptune and Mars.
XIX. He afterwards1 quashed several tumults and insurrections, as well as several conspiracies against his life, which were discovered, by the confession of accomplices, before they were ripe for execution; and others subsequently. Such were those of the younger Lepidus, of Varro Muræna, and Fannius Cæpio; then that of Marcus Egnatius, afterwards that of Plautius Rufus, and of Lucius Paulus, his grand-daughter’s husband; and besides these, another of Lucius Audasius, an old feeble man, who was under prosecution for forgery; as also of Asinius Epicadus, a Parthinian mongrel,2 and at last that of Telephus, a lady’s prompter;3 for he was in danger of his life from the plots and conspiracies of some of the lowest of the people against him. Audasius and Epicadus had formed the design of carrying off to the armies his daughter Julia, and his grandson Agrippa, from the islands in which they were confined. Telephus, wildly dreaming that the government was destined to him by the fates, proposed to fall both upon Octavius and the senate. Nay, once, a soldier’s servant belonging to the army in Illyricum, having passed the porters unobserved, was found in the night-time standing before his chamber-door, armed with a hunting-dagger. Whether the person was really disordered in the head, or only counterfeited madness, is uncertain; for no confession was obtained from him by torture.
XX. He conducted in person only two foreign wars; the Dalmatian, whilst he was yet but a youth; and, after Antony’s final defeat, the Cantabrian. He was wounded in the former of these wars; in one battle he received a contusion in the right knee from a stone—and in another, he was much hurt in one leg and both arms, by the fall of a bridge.1 His other wars he carried on by his lieutenants; but occasionally visited the army, in some of the wars of Pannonia and Germany, or remained at no great distance, proceeding from Rome as far as Ravenna, Milan, or Aquileia.
XXI. He conquered, however, partly in person, and partly by his lieutenants, Cantabria,2 Aquitania and Pannonia,3 Dalmatia, with all Illyricum and Rhætia,4 besides the two Alpine nations, the Vindelici and the Salassii.5 He also checked the incursions of the Dacians, by cutting off three of their generals with vast armies, and drove the Germans beyond the river Elbe; removing two other tribes who submitted, the Ubii and Sicambri, into Gaul, and settling them in the country bordering on the Rhine. Other nations also, which broke into revolt, he reduced to submission. But he never made war upon any nation without just and necessary cause; and was so far from being ambitious either to extend the empire, or advance his own military glory, that he obliged the chiefs of some barbarous tribes to swear in the temple of Mars the Avenger,6 that they would faithfully observe their engagements, and not violate the peace which they had implored. Of some he demanded a new description of hostages, their women, having found from experience that they cared little for their men when given as hostages; but he always afforded them the means of getting back their hostages whenever they wished it. Even those who engaged most frequently and with the greatest perfidy in their rebellion, he never punished more severely than by selling their captives, on the terms of their not serving in any neighbouring country, nor being released from their slavery before the expiration of thirty years. By the character which he thus acquired, for virtue and moderation, he induced even the Indians and Scythians, nations before known to the Romans by report only, to solicit his friendship, and that of the Roman people, by ambassadors. The Parthians readily allowed his claim to Armenia; restoring at his demand, the standards which they had taken from Marcus Crassus and Mark Antony, and offering him hostages besides. Afterwards, when a contest arose between several pretenders to the crown of that kingdom, they refused to acknowledge any one who was not chosen by him.
XXII. The temple of Janus Quirinus, which had been shut twice only, from the era of the building of the city to his own time, he closed thrice in a much shorter period, having established universal peace both by sea and land. He twice entered the city with the honours of an Ovation,1 namely, after the war of Philippi, and again after that of Sicily. He had also three curule triumphs2 for his several victories in Dalmatia, at Actium, and Alexandria; each of which lasted three days.
XXIII. In all his wars, he never received any signal or ignominious defeat, except twice in Germany, under his lieutenants Lollius and Varus. The former indeed had in it more of dishonour than disaster; but that of Varus threatened the security of the empire itself; three legions, with the commander, his lieutenants, and all the auxiliaries, being cut off. Upon receiving intelligence of this disaster, he gave orders for keeping a strict watch over the city, to prevent any public disturbance, and prolonged the appointments of the prefects in the provinces, that the allies might be kept in order by experience of persons to whom they were used. He made a vow to celebrate the great games in honour of Jupiter, Optimus, Maximus, “if he would be pleased to restore the state to more prosperous circumstances.” This had formerly been resorted to in the Cimbrian and Marsian wars. In short, we are informed that he was in such consternation at this event, that he let the hair of his head and beard grow for several months, and sometimes knocked his head against the door-posts, crying out, “O, Quintilius Varus! Give me back my legions!” And over after, he observed the anniversary of this calamity, as a day of sorrow and mourning.
XXIV. In military affairs he made many alterations, introducing some practices entirely now, and reviving others, which had become obsolete. He maintained the strictest discipline among the troops; and would not allow even his lieutenants the liberty to visit their wives, except reluctantly, and in the winter season only. A Roman knight having cut off the thumbs of his two young sons, to render them incapable of serving in the wars, he exposed both him and his estate to public sale. But upon observing the farmers of the revenue very greedy for the purchase, he assigned him to a freedman of his own, that he might send him into the country, and suffer him to retain his freedom. The tenth legion becoming mutinous, he disbanded it with ignominy; and did the same by some others which petulantly demanded their discharge; withholding from them the rewards usually bestowed on those who had served their stated time in the wars. The cohorts which yielded their ground in time of action, he decimated, and fed with barley. Centurions, as well as common sentinels, who deserted their posts when on guard, he punished with death. For other misdemeanors he inflicted upon them various kinds of disgrace; such as obliging them to stand all day before the prætorium, sometimes in their tunics only, and without their belts, sometimes to carry poles ten feet long, or sods of turf.
XXV. After the conclusion of the civil wars, he never, in any of his military harangues, or proclamations, addressed them by the title of “Fellow-soldiers,” but as “Soldiers” only. Nor would he suffer them to be otherwise called by his sons or step-sons, when they were in command: judging the former epithet to convey the idea of a degree of condescension inconsistent with military discipline, the maintenance of order, and his own majesty, and that of his house. Unless at Rome, in case of incendiary fires, or under the apprehension of public disturbances during a scarcity of provisions, he never employed in his army slaves who had been made freedmen, except upon two occasions; on one, for the security of the colonies bordering upon Illyricum, and on the other, to guard the banks of the river Rhine. Although he obliged persons of fortune, both male and female, to give up their slaves, and they received their manumission at once, yet he kept them together under their own standard, unmixed with soldiers who were better born, and armed likewise after different fashion. Military rewards, such as trappings, collars, and other decorations of gold and silver, he distributed more readily than camp or mural crowns, which were reckoned more honourable than the former. These he bestowed sparingly, without partiality, and frequently even on common soldiers. He presented M. Agrippa, after the naval engagement in the Sicilian war, with a sea-green banner. Those who shared in the honours of a triumph, although they had attended him in his expeditions, and taken part in his victories, he judged it improper to distinguish by the usual rewards for service, because they had a right themselves to grant such rewards to whom they pleased. He thought nothing more derogatory to the character of an accomplished general than precipitancy and rashness; on which account he had frequently in his mouth those proverbs:
And “That is done fast enough, which is done well enough.”
He was wont to say also, that “a battle or a war ought never to be undertaken, unless the prospect of gain overbalanced the fear of loss. For,” said he, “men who pursue small advantages with no small hazard, resemble those who fish with a golden hook, the loss of which, if the line should happen to break, could never be compensated by all the fish they might take.”
XXVI. He was advanced to public offices before the age at which he was legally qualified for them; and to some, also, of a new kind, and for life. He seized the consulship in the twentieth year of his age, quartering his legions in a threatening manner near the city, and sending deputies to demand it for him in the name of the army. When the senate demurred, a centurion, named Cornelius, who was at the head of the chief deputation, throwing back his cloak, and shewing the hilt of his sword, had the presumption to say in the senate-house, “This will make him consul, if ye will not.” His second consulship he filled nine years afterwards; his third, after the interval of only one year, and held the same office every year successively until the eleventh. From this period, although the consulship was frequently offered him, he always declined it, until, after a long interval, not less than seventeen years, he voluntarily stood for the twelfth, and two years after that, for a thirteenth; that he might successively introduce into the forum, on their entering public life, his two sons, Caius and Lucius, while he was invested with the highest office in the state. In his five consulships from the sixth to the eleventh, he continued in office throughout the year; but in the rest, during only nine, six, four, or three months, and in his second no more than a few hours. For having sat for a short time in the morning, upon the calends of January [1st January], in his curule chair,1 before the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, he abdicated the office, and substituted another in his room. Nor did he enter upon them all at Rome, but upon the fourth in Asia, the fifth in the Isle of Samos, and the eighth and ninth at Tarragona.2
XXVII. During ten years he acted as one of the triumvirate for settling the commonwealth, in which office he for some time opposed his colleagues in their design of a proscription; but after it was begun, he prosecuted it with more determined rigour than either of them. For whilst they were often prevailed upon, by the interest and intercession of friends, to shew mercy, he alone strongly insisted that no one should be spared, and even proscribed Caius Toranius,3 his guardian, who had been formerly the colleague of his father Octavius in the edileship. Junius Saturnius adds this farther account of him: that when, after the proscription was over, Marcus Lepidus made an apology in the senate for their past proceedings, and gave them hopes of a more mild administration for the future, because they had now sufficiently crushed their enemies; he, on the other hand, declared that the only limit he had fixed to the proscription was, that he should be free to act as he pleased. Afterwards, however, repenting of his severity, he advanced T. Vinius Philopœmen to the equestrian rank, for having concealed his patron at the time he was proscribed. In this same office he incurred great odium upon many accounts. For as he was one day making an harangue, observing among the soldiers Pinarius, a Roman knight, admit some private citizens, and engaged in taking notes, he ordered him to be stabbed before his eyes, as a busy-body and a spy upon him. He so terrified with his menaces Tedius Afer, the consul elect,1 for having reflected upon some action of his, that he threw himself from a great height, and died on the spot. And when Quintus Gallius, the prætor, came to compliment him with a double tablet under his cloak, suspecting that it was a sword he had concealed, and yet not venturing to make a search, lest it should be found to be something else, he caused him to be dragged from his tribunal by centurions and soldiers, and tortured like a slave: and although he made no confession, ordered him to be put to death, after he had, with his own hands, plucked out his eyes. His own account of the matter, however, is, that Quintus Gallius sought a private conference with him, for the purpose of assassinating him; that he therefore put him in prison, but afterwards released him, and banished him the city; when he perished either in a storm at sea, or by falling into the hands of robbers.
He accepted of the tribunitian power for life, but more than once chose a colleague in that office for two lustra2 successively. He also had the supervision of morality and observance of the laws, for life, but without the title of censor; yet he thrice took a census of the people, the first and third time with a colleague, but the second by himself.
XXVIII. He twice entertained thoughts of restoring the republic;1 first, immediately after he had crushed Antony, remembering that he had often charged him with being the obstacle to its restoration. The second time was in consequence of a long illness, when he sent for the magistrates and the senate to his own house, and delivered them a particular account of the state of the empire. But reflecting at the same time that it would be both hazardous to himself to return to the condition of a private person, and might be dangerous to the public to have the government placed again under the control of the people, he resolved to keep it in his own hands, whether with the better event or intention, is hard to say. His good intentions he often affirmed in private discourse, and also published an edict, in which it was declared in the following terms: “May it be permitted me to have the happiness of establishing the commonwealth on a safe and sound basis, and thus enjoy the reward of which I am ambitious, that of being celebrated for moulding it into the form best adapted to present circumstances; so that, on my leaving the world, I may carry with me the hope that the foundations which I have laid for its future government, will stand firm and stable.”
XXIX. The city, which was not built in a manner suitable to the grandeur of the empire, and was liable to inundations of the Tiber,2 as well as to fires, was so much improved under his administration, that he boasted, not without reason, that he “found it of brick, but left it of marble.”3 He also rendered it secure for the time to come against such disasters, as far as could be effected by human foresight. A great number of public buildings were erected by him, the most considerable of which were a forum,1 containing the temple of Mars the Avenger, the temple of Apollo on the Palatine hill, and the temple of Jupiter Tonans in the capitol. The reason of his building a new forum was the vast increase in the population, and the number of causes to be tried in the courts, for which, the two already existing not affording sufficient space, it was thought necessary to have a third. It was therefore opened for public use before the temple of Mars was completely finished; and a law was passed, that causes should be tried, and judges chosen by lot, in that place. The temple of Mars was built in fulfilment of a vow made during the war of Philippi, undertaken by him to avenge his father’s murder. He ordained that the senate should always assemble there when they met to deliberate respecting wars and triumphs; that thence should be despatched all those who were sent into the provinces in the command of armies; and that in it those who returned victorious from the wars, should lodge the trophies of their triumphs. He erected the temple of Apollo2 in that part of his house on the Palatine hill which had been struck with lightning, and which, on that account, the soothsayers declared the God to have chosen. He added porticos to it, with a library of Latin and Greek authors;3 and when advanced in years, used frequently there to hold the senate, and examine the rolls of the judges.
He dedicated the temple to Apollo Tonans,1 in acknowledgment of his escape from a great danger in his Cantabrian expedition; when, as he was travelling in the night, his litter was struck by lightning, which killed the slave who carried a torch before him. He likewise constructed some public buildings in the name of others; for instance, his grandsons, his wife, and sister. Thus he built the portico and basilica of Lucius and Caius, and the porticos of Livia and Octavia,2 and the theatre of Marcellus.3 He also often exhorted other persons of rank to embellish the city by new buildings, or repairing and improving the old, according to their means. In consequence of this recommendation, many were raised; such as the temple of Hercules and the Muses, by Marcius Philippus; a temple of Diana by Lucius Cornificius; the Court of Freedom by Asinius Pollio; a temple of Saturn by Munatius Planeus; a theatre by Cornelius Balbus;4 an amphitheatre by Statilius Taurus; and several other noble edifices by Marcus Agrippa.5
XXX. He divided the city into regions and districts, ordaining that the annual magistrates should take by lot the charge of the former; and that the latter should be superintended by wardens chosen out of the people of each neighbourhood. He appointed a nightly watch to be on their guard against accidents from fire; and, to prevent the frequent inundations, he widened and cleansed the bed of the Tiber, which had in the course of years been almost dammed up with rubbish, and the channel narrowed by the ruins of houses.1 To render the approaches to the city more commodious, he took upon himself the charge of repairing the Flaminian way as far as Ariminum,2 and distributed the repairs of the other roads amongst several persons who had obtained the honour of a triumph; to be defrayed out of the money arising from the spoils of war. Temples decayed by time, or destroyed by fire, he either repaired or rebuilt; and enriched them, as well as many others, with splendid offerings. On a single occasion, he deposited in the cell of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, sixteen thousand pounds of gold, with jewels and pearls to the amount of fifty millions of sesterces.
XXXI. The office of Pontifex Maximus, of which he could not decently deprive Lepidus as long as he lived,1 he assumed as soon as he was dead. He then caused all prophetical books, both in Latin and Greek, the authors of which were either unknown, or of no great authority, to be brought in; and the whole collection, amounting to upwards of two thousand volumes, he committed to the flames, preserving only the Sibylline oracles; but not even those without a strict examination, to ascertain which were genuine. This being done, he deposited them in two gilt coffers, under the pedestal of the statue of the Palatine Apollo. He restored the calendar, which had been corrected by Julius Cæsar, but through negligence was again fallen into confusion,2 to its former regularity; and upon that occasion, called the month Sextilis,3 by his own name, August, rather than September, in which he was born; because in it he had obtained his first consulship, and all his most considerable victories.4 He increased the number, dignity, and revenues of the priests, and especially those of the Vestal Virgins. And when, upon the death of one of them, a new one was to be taken,5 and many persons made interest that their daughters’ names might be omitted in the lists for election, he replied with an oath, “If either of my own grand-daughters were old enough, I would have proposed her.”
He likewise revived some old religious customs, which had become obsolete; as the augury of public health,6 the office of high priest of Jupiter, the religious solemnity of the Lupercalia, with the Secular, and Compitalian games. He prohibited young boys from running in the Lupercalia; and in respect of the Secular games, issued an order, that no young persons of either sex should appear at any public diversions in the night-time, unless in the company of some elderly relation. He ordered the household gods to be decked twice a year with spring and summer flowers,1 in the Compitalian festival.
Next to the immortal gods, he paid the highest honours to the memory of those generals who had raised the Roman state from its low origin to the highest pitch of grandeur. He accordingly repaired or rebuilt the public edifices erected by them; preserving the former inscriptions, and placing statues of them all, with triumphal emblems, in both the porticos of his forum, issuing an edict on the occasion, in which he made the following declaration: “My design in so doing is, that the Roman people may require from me, and all succeeding princes, a conformity to those illustrious examples.” He likewise removed the statue of Pompey from the senate-house, in which Caius Cæsar had been killed, and placed it under a marble arch, fronting the palace attached to Pompey’s theatre.
XXXII. He corrected many ill practices, which, to the detriment of the public, had either survived the licentious habits of the late civil wars, or else originated in the long peace. Bands of robbers shewed themselves openly, completely armed, under colour of self-defence; and in different parts of the country, travellers, freemen and slaves without distinction, were forcibly carried off, and kept to work in the houses of correction.2 Several associations were formed under the specious name of a new college, which banded together for the perpetration of all kinds of villany. The banditti he quelled by establishing posts of soldiers in suitable stations for the purpose; the houses of correction were subjected to a strict superintendence; all associations, those only excepted which were of ancient standing, and recognised by the laws, were dissolved. He burnt all the notes of those who had been a long time in arrear with the treasury, as being the principal source of vexatious suits and prosecutions. Places in the city claimed by the public, where the right was doubtful, he adjudged to the actual possessors. He struck out of the list of criminals the names of those over whom prosecutions had been long impending, where nothing further was intended by the informers than to gratify their own malice, by seeing their enemies humiliated; laying it down as a rule, that if any one chose to renew a prosecution, he should incur the risk of the punishment which he sought to inflict. And that crimes might not escape punishment, nor business be neglected by delay, he ordered the courts to sit during the thirty days which were spent in celebrating honorary games. To the three classes of judges then existing, he added a fourth, consisting of persons of inferior order, who were called Ducenarii, and decided all litigations about trifling sums. He chose judges from the age of thirty years and upwards; that is five years younger than had been usual before. And a great many declining the office, he was with much difficulty prevailed upon to allow each class of judges a twelve-month’s vacation in turn; and the courts to be shut during the months of November and December.1
XXXIII. He was himself assiduous in his functions as a judge, and would sometimes prolong his sittings even into the night:2 if he were indisposed, his litter was placed before the tribunal, or he administered justice reclining on his couch at home; displaying always not only the greatest attention, but extreme lenity. To save a culprit, who evidently appeared guilty of parricide, from the extreme penalty of being sewn up in a sack, because none were punished in that manner but such as confessed the fact, he is said to have interrogated him thus: “Surely you did not kill your father, did you?” And when, in a trial of a cause about a forged will, all those who had signed it were liable to the penalty of the Cornelian law, he ordered that his colleagues on the tribunal should not only be furnished with the two tablets by which they decided, “guilty or not guilty,” but with a third likewise, ignoring the offence of those who should appear to have given their signatures through any deception or mistake. All appeals in causes between inhabitants of Rome, he assigned every year to the prætor of the city; and where provincials were concerned, to men of consular rank, to one of whom the business of each province was referred.
XXXIV. Some laws he abrogated, and he made some new ones; such as the sumptuary law, that relating to adultery and the violation of chastity, the law against bribery in elections, and likewise that for the encouragement of marriage. Having been more severe in his reform of this law than the rest, he found the people utterly averse to submit to it, unless the penalties were abolished or mitigated, besides allowing an interval of three years after a wife’s death, and increasing the premiums on marriage. The equestrian order clamoured loudly, at a spectacle in the theatre, for its total repeal; whereupon he sent for the children of Germanicus, and shewed them partly sitting upon his own lap, and partly on their father’s; intimating by his looks and gestures, that they ought not to think it a grievance to follow the example of that young man. But finding that the force of the law was eluded, by marrying girls under the age of puberty, and by frequent change of wives, he limited the time for consummation after espousals, and imposed restrictions on divorce.
XXXV. By two separate scrutinies he reduced to their former number and splendour the senate, which had been swamped by a disorderly crowd; for they were now more than a thousand and some of them very mean persons, who, after Cæsar’s death, had been chosen by dint of interest and bribery, so that they had the nickname of Orcini among the people.1 The first of these scrutinies was left to themselves, each senator naming another; but the last was conducted by himself and Agrippa. On this occasion he is believed to have taken his seat as he presided, with a coat of mail under his tunic, and a sword by his side, and with ten of the stoutest men of senatorial rank, who were his friends, standing round his chair. Cordus Cremutius2 relates that no senator was suffered to approach him, except singly, and after having his bosom searched [for secreted daggers]. Some he obliged to have the grace of declining the office; these he allowed to retain the privileges of wearing the distinguishing dress, occupying the seats at the solemn spectacles, and of feasting publicly, reserved to the senatorial order.3 That those who were chosen and approved of, might perform their functions under more solemn obligations, and with less inconvenience, he ordered that every senator, before he took his seat in the house, should pay his devotions, with an offering of frankincense and wine, at the altar of that God in whose temple the senate then assembled,4 and that their stated meetings should be only twice in the month, namely, on the calends and ides; and that in the months of September and October,5 a certain number only, chosen by lot, such as the law required to give validity to a decree, should be required to attend. For himself, he resolved to choose every six months a new council, with whom he might consult previously upon such affairs as he judged proper at any time to lay before the full senate. He also took the votes of the senators upon any subject of importance, not according to custom, nor in regular order, but as he pleased; that every one might hold himself ready to give his opinion, rather than a mere vote of assent.
XXXVI. He also made several other alterations in the management of public affairs, among which were these following: that the acts of the senate should not be published;1 that the magistrates should not be sent into the provinces immediately after the expiration of their office; that the proconsuls should have a certain sum assigned them out of the treasury for mules and tents, which used before to be contracted for by the government with private persons; that the management of the treasury should be transferred from the city-quæstors to the prætors, or those who had already served in the latter office; and that the decemviri should call together the court of One hundred, which had been formerly summoned by those who had filled the office of quæstor.
XXXVII. To augment the number of persons employed in the administration of the state, he devised several new offices; such as surveyors of the public buildings, of the roads, the aqueducts, and the bed of the Tiber; for the distribution of corn to the people; the præfecture of the city; a triumvirate for the election of the senators; and another for inspecting the several troops of the equestrian order, as often as it was necessary. He revived the office of censor,2 which had been long disused, and increased the number of prætors. He likewise required that whenever the consulship was conferred on him, he should have two colleagues instead of one; but his proposal was rejected, all the senators declaring by acclamation that he abated his high majesty quite enough in not filling the office alone, and consenting to share it with another.
XXXVIII. He was unsparing in the reward of military merit, having granted to above thirty generals the honour of the greater triumph; besides which, he took care to have triumphal decorations voted by the senate for more than that number. That the sons of senators might become early acquainted with the administration of affairs, he permitted them, at the age when they took the garb of manhood,1 to assume also the distinction of the senatorian robe, with its broad border, and to be present at the debates in the senate-house. When they entered the military service, he not only gave them the rank of military tribunes in the legions, but likewise the command of the auxiliary horse. And that all might have an opportunity of acquiring military experience, he commonly joined two sons of senators in command of each troop of horse. He frequently reviewed the troops of the equestrian order, reviving the ancient custom of a cavalcade,2 which had been long laid aside. But he did not suffer any one to be obliged by an accuser to dismount while he passed in review, as had formerly been the practice. As for such as were infirm with age, or any way deformed, he allowed them to send their horses before them, coming on foot to answer to their names, when the muster roll was called over soon afterwards. He permitted those who had attained the age of thirty-five years, and desired not to keep their horse any longer, to have the privilege of giving it up.
XXXIX. With the assistance of ten senators, he obliged each of the Roman knights to give an account of his life: in regard to those who fell under his displeasure, some were punished; others had a mark of infamy set against their names. The most part he only reprimanded, but not in the same terms. The mildest mode of reproof was by delivering them tablets,1 the contents of which, confined to themselves, they were to read on the spot. Some he disgraced for borrowing money at low interest, and letting it out again upon usurious profit.
XL. In the election of tribunes of the people, if there was not a sufficient number of senatorian candidates, he nominated others from the equestrian order; granting them the liberty, after the expiration of their office, to continue in whichsoever of the two orders they pleased. As most of the knights had been much reduced in their estates by the civil wars, and therefore durst not sit to see the public games in the theatre in the seats allotted to their order, for fear of the penalty provided by the law in that case, he enacted, that none were liable to it, who had themselves, or whose parents had ever, possessed a knight’s estate. He took the census of the Roman people street by street: and that the people might not be too often taken from their business to receive the distribution of corn, it was his intention to deliver tickets three times a year for four months respectively; but at their request, he continued the former regulation, that they should receive their share monthly. He revived the former law of elections, endeavouring, by various penalties, to suppress the practice of bribery. Upon the day of election, he distributed to the freemen of the Fabian and Scaptian tribes, in which he himself was enrolled, a thousand sesterces each, that they might look for nothing from any of the candidates. Considering it of extreme importance to preserve the Roman people pure, and untainted with a mixture of foreign or servile blood, he not only bestowed the freedom of the city with a sparing hand, but laid some restriction upon the practice of manumitting slaves. When Tiberius interceded with him for the freedom of Rome in behalf of a Greek client of his, he wrote to him for answer, “I shall not grant it, unless he comes himself, and satisfies me that he has just grounds for the application.” And when Livia begged the freedom of the city for a tributary Gaul, he refused it, but offered to release him from payment of taxes, saying, “I shall sooner suffer some loss in my exchequer, than that the citizenship of Rome be rendered too common.” Not content with interposing many obstacles to either the partial or complete emancipation of slaves, by quibbles respecting the number, condition and difference of those who were to be manumitted; he likewise enacted that none who had been put in chains or tortured, should ever obtain the freedom of the city in any degree. He endeavoured also to restore the old habit and dress of the Romans; and upon seeing once, in an assembly of the people, a crowd in grey cloaks,1 he exclaimed with indignation, “See there,
Romanos rerum dominos, gentemque togatem.”2
And he gave orders to the ediles not to permit, in future, any Roman to be present in the forum or circus unless they took off their short coats, and wore the toga.
XLI. He displayed his munificence to all ranks of the people on various occasions. Moreover, upon his bringing the treasure belonging to the kings of Egypt into the city, in his Alexandrian triumph, he made money so plentiful, that interest fell, and the price of land rose considerably. And afterwards, as often as large sums of money came into his possession by means of confiscations, he would lend it free of interest, for a fixed term, to such as could give security for the double of what was borrowed. The estate necessary to qualify a senator, instead of eight hundred thousand sesterces, the former standard, he ordered, for the future, to be twelve hundred thousand; and to those who had not so much, he made good the deficiency. He often made donations to the people, but generally of different sums; sometimes four hundred, sometimes three hundred, or two hundred and fifty sesterces: upon which occasions, he extended his bounty even to young boys, who before were not used to receive anything, until they arrived at eleven years of age. In a scarcity of corn, he would frequently let them have it at a very low price, or none at all; and doubled the number of the money tickets.
XLII. But to show that he was a prince who regarded more the good of his people than their applause, he reprimanded them very severely, upon their complaining of the scarcity and dearness of wine. “My son-in law, Agrippa,” he said, “has sufficiently provided for quenching your thirst, by the great plenty of water with which he has supplied the town.” Upon their demanding a gift which he had promised them, he said. “I am a man of my word.” But upon their importuning him for one which he had not promised, he issued a proclamation ubpraiding them for their scandalous impudence; at the same time telling them, “I shall now give you nothing, whatever I may have intended to do.” With the same strict firmness, when, upon a promise he had made of a donative, he found many slaves had been emancipated and enrolled amongst the citizens, he declared that no one should receive anything who was not included in the promise, and he gave the rest less than he had promised them, in order that the amount he had set apart might hold out. On one occasion, in a season of great scarcity, which it was difficult to remedy, he ordered out of the city the troops of slaves brought for sale, the gladiators belonging to the masters of defence, and all foreigners, excepting physicians and the teachers of the liberal sciences. Part of the domestic slaves were likewise ordered to be dismissed. When, at last, plenty was restored, he writes thus: “I was much inclined to abolish for ever the practice of allowing the people corn at the public expense, because they trust so much to it, that they are too lazy to till their lands; but I did not persevere in my design, as I felt sure that the practice would some time or other be revived by some one ambitious of popular favour.” However, he so managed the affair ever afterwards, that as much account was taken of husbandmen and traders, as of the idle populace.1
XLIII. In the number, variety, and magnificence of his public spectacles, he surpassed all former example. Four-and-twenty times, he says, he treated the people with games upon his own account, and three-and-twenty times for such magistrates as were either absent, or not able to afford the expense. The performances took place sometimes in the different streets of the city, and upon several stages, by players in all languages. The same he did not only in the forum and amphitheatre, but in the circus likewise, and in the septa:2 and sometimes he exhibited only the hunting of wild beasts. He entertained the people with wrestlers in the Campus Martius, where wooden seats were erected for the purpose; and also with a naval fight, for which he excavated the ground near the Tiber, where there is now the grove of the Cæsars. During these two entertainments he stationed guards in the city, lest, by robbers taking advantage of the small number of people left at home, it might be exposed to depredations. In the circus he exhibited chariot and foot races, and combats with wild beasts, in which the performers were often youths of the highest rank. His favourite spectacle was the Trojan game, acted by a select number of boys, in parties differing in age and station; thinking that it was a practice both excellent in itself, and sanctioned by ancient usage, that the spirit of the young nobles should be displayed in such exercises. Caius Nonius Asprenas, who was lamed by a fall in this diversion, he presented with a gold collar, and allowed him and his posterity to bear the surname of Torquati But soon afterwards he gave up the exhibition of this game, in consequence of a severe and bitter speech made in the senate by Asinius Pollio, the orator, in which he complained bitterly of the misfortune of Æserninus, his grandson, who likewise broke his leg in the same diversion.
Sometimes he engaged Roman knights to act upon the stage, or to fight as gladiators: but only before the practice was prohibited by a decree of the senate. Thenceforth, the only exhibition he made of that kind, was that of a young man named Lucius, of a good family, who was not quite two feet in height, and weighed only seventeen pounds, but had a stentorian voice. In one of his public spectacles, he brought the hostages of the Parthians, the first ever sent to Rome from that nation, through the middle of the amphitheatre, and placed them in the second tier of seats above him. He used likewise, at times when there were no public entertainments, if any thing was brought to Rome which was uncommon, and might gratify curiosity, to expose it to public view, in any place whatever; as he did a rhinoceros in the Septa, a tiger upon a stage, and a snake fifty cubits long in the Comitium. It happened in the Circensian games, which he performed in consequence of a vow, that he was taken ill, and obliged to attend the Thensæ,1 reclining on a litter. Another time, in the games celebrated for the opening of the theatre of Marcellus, the joints of his curule chair happening to give way, he fell on his back. And in the games exhibited by his grandsons, when the people were in such consternation, by an alarm raised that the theatre was falling, that all his efforts to re-assure them and keep them quiet, failed, he moved from his place, and seated himself in that part of the theatre which was thought to be exposed to most danger.
XLIV. He corrected the confusion and disorder with which the spectators took their seats at the public games, after an affront which was offered to a senator at Puteoli, for whom, in a crowded theatre, no one would make room. He therefore procured a decree of the senate, that in all public spectacles of any sort, and in any place whatever, the first tier of benches should be left empty for the accommodation of senators. He would not even permit the ambassadors of free nations, nor of those which were allies of Rome, to sit in the orchestra; having found that some manumitted slaves had been sent under that character. He separated the soldiery from the rest of the people, and assigned to married plebeians their particular rows of seats. To the boys he assigned their own benches, and to their tutors the seats which were nearest it; ordering that none clothed in black should sit in the centre of the circle.1 Nor would he allow any women to witness the combats of gladiators, except from the upper part of the theatre, although they formerly used to take their places promiscuously with the rest of the spectators. To the vestal virgins he granted seats in the theatre, reserved for them only, opposite the prætor’s bench. He excluded, however, the whole female sex from seeing the wrestlers: so that in the games which he exhibited upon his accession to the office of high-priest, he deferred producing a pair of combatants which the people called for, until the next morning; and intimated by proclamation, “his pleasure that no woman should appear in the theatre before five o’clock.”
XLV. He generally viewed the Circensian games himself, from the upper rooms of the houses of his friends or freedmen; sometimes from the place appointed for the statues of the gods, and sitting in company with his wife and children. He occasionally absented himself from the spectacles for several hours, and sometimes for whole days; but not without first making an apology, and appointing substitutes to preside in his stead. When present, he never attended to anything else either to avoid the reflections which he used to say were commonly made upon his father, Cæsar, for perusing letters and memorials, and making rescripts during the spectacles; or from the real pleasure he took in attending those exhibitions; of which he made no secret, he often candidly owning it. This he manifested frequently by presenting honorary crowns and handsome rewards to the best performers, in the games exhibited by others; and he never was present at any performance of the Greeks, without rewarding the most deserving, according to their merit. He took particular pleasure in witnessing pugilistic contests, especially those of the Latins, not only between combatants who had been trained scientifically, whom he used often to match with the Greek champions; but even between mobs of the lower classes fighting in streets, and tilting at random, without any knowledge of the art. In short, he honoured with his patronage all sorts of people who contributed in any way to the success of the public entertainments. He not only maintained, but enlarged, the privileges of the wrestlers. He prohibited combats of gladiators where no quarter was given. He deprived the magistrates of the power of correcting the stage-players, which by an ancient law was allowed them at all times, and in all places; restricting their jurisdiction entirely to the time of performance and misdemeanours in the theatres. He would, however, admit, of no abatement, and exacted with the utmost rigour the greatest exertions of the wrestlers and gladiators in their several encounters. He went so far in restraining the licentiousness of stage-players, that upon discovering that Stephanio, a performer of the highest class, had a married woman with her hair cropped, and dressed in boy’s clothes, to wait upon him at table, he ordered him to be whipped through all the three theatres, and then banished him. Hylas, an actor of pantomimes, upon a complaint against him by the prætor, he commanded to be scourged in the court of his own house, which, however, was open to the public. And Pylades he not only banished from the city, but from Italy also, for pointing with his finger at a spectator by whom he was hissed, and turning the eyes of the audience upon him.
XLVI. Having thus regulated the city and its concerns, he augmented the population of Italy by planting in it no less than twenty-eight colonies,1 and greatly improved it by public works, and a beneficial application of the revenues. In rights and privileges, he rendered it in a measure equal to the city itself, by inventing a new kind of suffrage, which the principal officers and magistrates of the colonies might take at home, and forward under seal to the city, against the time of the elections. To increase the number of persons of condition, and of children among the lower ranks, he granted the petitions of all those who requested the honour of doing military service on horseback as knights, provided their demands were seconded by the recommendation of the town in which they lived; and when he visited the several districts of Italy, he distributed a thousand sesterces a head to such of the lower class as presented him with sons or daughters.
XLVII. The more important provinces, which could not with ease or safety be entrusted to the government of annual magistrates, he reserved for his own administration: the rest he distributed by lot amongst the proconsuls; but sometimes he made exchanges, and frequently visited most of both kinds in person. Some cities in alliance with Rome, but which by their great licentiousness were hastening to ruin, he deprived of their independence. Others, which were much in debt, he relieved, and rebuilt such as had been destroyed by earthquakes. To those that could produce any instance of their having deserved well of the Roman people, he presented the freedom of Latium, or even that of the City. There is not, I believe, a province, except Africa and Sardinia, which he did not visit. After forcing Sextus Pompeius to take refuge in those provinces, he was indeed preparing to cross over from Sicily to them, but was prevented by continual and violent storms, and afterwards there was no occasion or call for such a voyage.
XLVIII. Kingdoms, of which he had made himself master by the right of conquest, a few only excepted, he either restored to their former possessors,2 or conferred upon aliens. Between kings in alliance with Rome, he encouraged most intimate union; being always ready to promote or favour any proposal of marriage or friendship amonst them; and, indeed, treated them all with the same consideration, as if they were members and parts of the empire. To such of them as were minors or lunatics he appointed guardians, until they arrived at age, or recovered their senses; and the sons of many of them he brought up and educated with his own.
XLIX. With respect to the army, he distributed the legions and auxiliary troops throughout the several provinces. He stationed a fleet at Misenum, and another at Ravenna, for the protection of the Upper and Lower Seas.1 A certain number of the forces were selected, to occupy the posts in the city, and partly for his own body-guard; but he dismissed the Spanish guard, which he retained about him till the fall of Antony; and also the Germans, whom he had amongst his guards, until the defeat of Varus. Yet he never permitted a greater force than three cohorts in the city, and had no (prætorian) camps.2 The rest he quartered in the neighbourhood of the nearest towns, in winter and summer camps. All the troops throughout the empire he reduced to one fixed model with regard to their pay and their pensions; determining these according to their rank in the army, the time they had served, and their private means; so that after their discharge, they might not be tempted by age or necessities to join the agitators for a revolution. For the purpose of providing a fund always ready to meet their pay and pensions, he instituted a military exchequer, and appropriated new taxes to that object. In order to obtain the earliest intelligence of what was passing in the provinces, he established posts, consisting at first of young men stationed at moderate distances along the military roads, and afterwards of regular couriers with fast vehicles; which appeared to him the most commodious, because the persons who were the bearers of dispatches, written on the spot, might then be questioned about the business, as occasion occurred.
L. In sealing letters-patent, rescripts, or epistles, he at first used the figure of a sphinx, afterwards the head of Alexander the Great, and at last his own, engraved by the hand of Dioscorides; which practice was retained by the succeeding emperors. He was extremely precise in dating his letters, putting down exactly the time of the day or night at which they were dispatched.
LI. Of his clemency and moderation there are abundant and signal instances. For, not to enumerate how many and what persons of the adverse party he pardoned, received into favour, and suffered to rise to the highest eminence in the state; he thought it sufficient to punish Junius Novatus and Cassius Patavinus, who were both plebeians, one of them with a fine, and the other with an easy banishment; although the former had published, in the name of young Agrippa, a very scurrilous letter against him, and the other declared openly, at an entertainment where there was a great deal of company, “that he neither wanted inclination nor courage to stab him.” In the trial of Æmilius Ælianus, of Cordova, when, among other charges exhibited against him, it was particularly insisted upon, that he used to calumniate Cæsar, he turned round to the accuser, and said, with an air and tone of passion, “I wish you could make that appear; I shall let Ælianus know that I have a tongue too, and shall speak sharper of him than he ever did of me.” Nor did he, either then or afterwards, make any farther inquiry into the affair. And when Tiberius, in a letter, complained of the affront with great earnestness, he returned him an answer in the following terms: “Do not, my dear Tiberius, give way to the ardour of youth in this affair; nor be so indignant that any person should speak ill of me. It is enough, for us, if we can prevent any one from really doing us mischief.”
LII. Although he knew that it had been customary to decree temples in honour of the proconsuls, yet he would not permit them to be erected in any of the provinces, unless in the joint names of himself and Rome. Within the limits of the city, he positively refused any honour of that kind. He melted down all the silver statues which had been erected to him, and converted the whole into tripods, which he consecrated to the Palatine Apollo. And when the people importuned him to accept the dictatorship, he bent down on one knee, with his toga thrown over his shoulders, and his breast exposed to view, begging to be excused.
LIII. He always abhorred the title of Lord,1 as ill-omened and offensive. And when, in a play, performed at the theatre, at which he was present, these words were introduced, “O just and gracious lord,” and the whole company, with joyful acclamations, testified their approbation of them, as applied to him, he instantly put a stop to their indecent flattery, by waving his hand, and frowning sternly, and next day publicly declared his displeasure, in a proclamation. He never afterwards would suffer himself to be addressed in that manner, even by his own children or grand-children, either in jest or earnest and forbad them the use of all such complimentary expressions to one another. He rarely entered any city or town, or departed from it, except in the evening or the night, to avoid giving any person the trouble of complimenting him. During his consulships, he commonly walked the streets on foot; but at other times, rode in a close carriage. He admitted to court even plebeians, in common with people of the higher ranks; receiving the petitions of those who approached him with so much affability, that he once jocosely rebuked a man, by telling him, “You present your memorial with as much hesitation as if you were offering money to an elephant.” On senate days, he used to pay his respects to the Conscript Fathers only in the house, addressing them each by name as they sat, without any prompter; and on his departure, he bade each of them farewell, while they retained their seats. In the same manner, he maintained with many of them a constant intercourse of mutual civilities, giving them his company upon occasions of any particular festivity in their families; until he became advanced in years, and was incommoded by the crowd at a wedding. Being informed that Gallus Terrinius, a senator, with whom he had only a slight acquaintance, had suddenly lost his sight, and under that privation had resolved to starve himself to death, he paid him a visit, and by his consolatory admonitions diverted him from his purpose.
LIV. On his speaking in the senate, he has been told by one of the members, “I did not understand you,” and by another, “I would contradict you, could I do it with safety.” And sometimes, upon his being so much offended at the heat with which the debates were conducted in the senate, as to quit the house in anger, some of the members have repeatedly exclaimed: “Surely, the senators ought to have liberty of speech on matters of government.” Antistius Labeo, in the election of a new senate, when each, as he was named, chose another, nominated Marcus Lepidus, who had formerly been Augustus’s enemy, and was then in banishment; and being asked by the latter, “Is there no other person more deserving?” he replied, “Every man has his own opinion.” Nor was any one ever molested for his freedom of speech, although it was carried to the extent of insolence.
LV. Even when some infamous libels against him were dispersed in the senate-house, he was neither disturbed, nor did he give himself much trouble to refute them. He would not so much as order an enquiry to be made after the authors; but only proposed, that, for the future, those who published libels or lampoons, in a borrowed name, against any person, should be called to account.
LVI. Being provoked by some petulant jests, which were designed to render him odious, he answered them by a proclamation; and yet he prevented the senate from passing an act, to restrain the liberties which were taken with others in people’s wills. Whenever he attended at the election of magistrates, he went round the tribes, with the candidates of his nomination, and begged the votes of the people in the usual manner. He likewise gave his own vote in his tribe, as one of the people. He suffered himself to be summoned as a witness upon trials, and not only to be questioned, but to be cross-examined, with the utmost patience. In building his Forum, he restricted himself in the site, not presuming to compel the owners of the neighbouring houses to give up their property. He never recommended his sons to the people, without adding these words, “If they deserve it.” And upon the audience rising on their entering the theatre, while they were yet minors, and giving them applause in a standing position, he made it a matter of serious complaint.
He was desirous that his friends should be great and powerful in the state, but have no exclusive privileges, or be exempt from the laws which governed others. When Asprenas Nonius, an intimate friend of his, was tried upon a charge of administering poison at the instance of Cassius Severus, he consulted the senate for their opinion what was his duty under the circumstances: “For,” said he, “I am afraid, lest, if I should stand by him in the cause, I may be supposed to screen a guilty man; and if I do not, to desert and prejudge a friend.” With the unanimous concurrence, therefore, of the senate, he took his seat amongst his advocates for several hours, but without giving him the benefit of speaking to character, as was usual. He likewise appeared for his clients; as on behalf of Scutarius, an old soldier of his, who brought an action for slander. He never relieved any one from prosecution but in a single instance, in the case of a man who had given information of the conspiracy of Muræna; and that he did only by prevailing upon the accuser, in open court, to drop his prosecution.
LVII. How much he was beloved for his worthy conduct in all these respects, it is easy to imagine. I say nothing of the decrees of the senate in his honour, which may seem to have resulted from compulsion or deference. The Roman knights voluntarily, and with one accord, always celebrated his birth for two days together; and all ranks of the people, yearly, in performance of a vow they had made, threw a piece of money into the Curtian lake,1 as an offering for his welfare. They likewise, on the calends [first] of January, presented for his acceptance new-year’s gifts in the capitol, though he was not present: with which donations he purchased some costly images of the Gods, which he erected in several streets of the city; as that of Apollo Sandaliarius, Jupiter Tragœdus,2 and others. When his house on the Palatine hill was accidentally destroyed by fire, the veteran soldiers, the judges, the tribes, and even the people, individually, contributed, according to the ability of each, for rebuilding it; but he would accept only of some small portion out of the several sums collected, and refused to take from any one person more than a single denarius.1 Upon his return home from any of the provinces, they attended him not only with joyful acclamations, but with songs. It is also remarked, that as often as he entered the city, the infliction of punishment was suspended for the time.
LVIII. The whole body of the people, upon a sudden impulse, and with unanimous consent, offered him the title of Father of his Country. It was announced to him first at Antium, by a deputation from the people, and upon his declining the honour, they repeated their offer on his return to Rome, in a full theatre, when they were crowned with laurel. The senate soon afterwards adopted the proposal, not in the way of acclamation or decree, but by commissioning M. Messala, in an unanimous vote, to compliment him with it in the following terms: “With hearty wishes for the happiness and prosperity of yourself and your family, Cæsar Augustus, (for we think we thus most effectually pray for the lasting welfare of the state), the senate, in agreement with the Roman people, salute you by the title of Father of your Country.” To this compliment Augustus replied, with tears in his eyes, in these words (for I give them exactly as I have done those of Messala): “Having now arrived at the summit of my wishes, O Conscript Fathers,2 what else have I to beg of the Immortal Gods, but the continuance of this your affection for me to the last moments of my life?”
LIX. To the physician Antonius Musa,1 who had cured him of a dangerous illness, they erected a statue near that of Æsculapius, by a general subscription. Some heads of families ordered in their wills, that their heirs should lead victims to the capitol, with a tablet carried before them, and pay their vows, “Because Augustus still survived.” Some Italian cities appointed the day upon which he first visited them, to be thenceforth the beginning of their year. And most of the provinces, besides erecting temples and altars, instituted games, to be celebrated to his honour, in most towns, every five years.
LX. The kings, his friends and allies, built cities in their respective kingdoms, to which they gave the name of Cæsarea; and all with one consent resolved to finish, at their common expense, the temple of Jupiter Olympius, at Athens, which had been begun long before, and consecrate it to his Genius. They frequently also left their kingdoms, laid aside the badges of royalty, and assuming the toga, attended and paid their respects to him daily, in the manner of clients to their patrons; not only at Rome, but when he was travelling through the provinces.
LXI. Having thus given an account of the manner in which he filled his public offices both civil and military, and his conduct in the government of the empire, both in peace and war; I shall now describe his private and domestic life, his habits at home and among his friends and dependents, and the fortune attending him in those scenes of retirement, from his youth to the day of his death. He lost his mother in his first consulship, and his sister Octavia, when he was in the fifty-fourth year of his age.2 He behaved towards them both with the utmost kindness whilst living, and after their decease paid the highest honours to their memory.
LXII. He was contracted when very young to the daughter of Publius Servilius Isauricus; but upon his reconciliation with Antony after their first rupture,1 the armies on both sides insisting on a family alliance between them, he married Antony’s step-daughter Claudia, the daughter of Fulvia by Publius Claudius, although at that time she was scarcely marriageable; and upon a difference arising with his mother-in-law Fulvia, he divorced her untouched, and a pure virgin. Soon afterwards he took to wife Scribonia, who had before been twice married to men of consular rank,2 and was a mother by one of them. With her likewise he parted,3 being quite tired out, as he himself writes, with the perverseness of her temper; and immediately took Livia Drusilla, though then pregnant, from her husband Tiberius Nero; and she had never any rival in his love and esteem.
LXIII. By Scribonia he had a daughter named Julia, but no children by Livia, although extremely desirous of issue. She, indeed, conceived once, but miscarried. He gave his daughter Julia in the first instance to Marcellus, his sister’s son, who had just completed his minority; and, after his death, to Marcus Agrippa, having prevailed with his sister to yield her son-in-law to his wishes; for at that time Agrippa was married to one of the Marcellas, and had children by her. Agrippa dying also, he for a long time thought of several matches for Julia in even the equestrian order, and at last resolved upon selecting Tiberius for his step-son; and he obliged him to part with his wife at that time pregnant, and who had already brought him a child. Mark Antony writes, “That he first contracted Julia to his son, and afterwards to Cotiso, king of the Getæ,4 demanding at the same time the king’s daughter in marriage for himself.”
LXIV. He had three grandsons by Agrippa and Julia, namely, Caius, Lucius, and Agrippa; and two grand-daughters, Julia and Agrippina. Julia he married to Lucius Paulus, the censor’s son, and Agrippina to Germanicus, his sister’s grandson. Caius and Lucius he adopted at home, by the ceremony of purchase1 from their father, advanced them, while yet very young, to offices in the state, and when they were consuls-elect, sent them to visit the provinces and armies. In bringing up his daughter and grand-daughters, he accustomed them to domestic employments, and even spinning, and obliged them to speak and act every thing openly before the family, that it might be put down in the diary. He so strictly prohibited them from all converse with strangers, that he once wrote a letter to Lucius Vinicius, a handsome young man of a good family, in which he told him, “You have not behaved very modestly, in making a visit to my daughter at Baiæ.” He usually instructed his grandsons himself in reading, swimming, and other rudiments of knowledge; and he laboured nothing more than to perfect them in the imitation of his hand-writing. He never supped but he had them sitting at the foot of his couch; nor ever travelled but with them in a chariot before him, or riding beside him.
LXV. But in the midst of all his joy and hopes in his numerous and well-regulated family, his fortune failed him. The two Julias, his daughter and grand-daughter, abandoned themselves to such courses of lewdness and debauchery, that he banished them both. Caius and Lucius he lost within the space of eighteen months; the former dying in Lycia, and the latter at Marscilles. His third grandson Agrippa, with his step-son Tiberius, he adopted in the forum, by a law passed for the purpose by the sections;2 but he soon afterwards discarded Agrippa for his coarse and unruly temper, and confined him at Surrentum. He bore the death of his relations with more patience than he did their disgrace; for he was not overwhelmed by the loss of Caius and Lucius; but in the case of his daughter, he stated the facts to the senate in a message read to them by the quæstor, not having the heart to be present himself; indeed, he was so much ashamed of her infamous conduct, that for some time he avoided all company, and had thoughts of putting her to death. It is certain that when one Phœbe, a freed-woman and confidant of hers, hanged herself about the same time, he said, “I had rather be the father of Phœbe than of Julia.” In her banishment he would not allow her the use of wine, nor any luxury in dress; nor would he suffer her to be waited upon by any male servant, either freeman or slave, without his permission, and having received an exact account of his age, stature, complexion, and what marks or scars he had about him. At the end of five years he removed her from the island [where she was confined] to the continent,1 and treated her with less severity, but could never be prevailed upon to recall her. When the Roman people interposed on her behalf several times with much importunity, all the reply he gave was: “I wish you had all such daughters and wives as she is.” He likewise forbad a child, of which his grand-daughter Julia was delivered after sentence had passed against her, to be either owned as a relation, or brought up. Agrippa, who was equally intractable, and whose folly increased every day, he transported to an island,2 and placed a guard of soldiers about him; procuring at the same time an act of the senate for his confinement there during life. Upon any mention of him and the two Julias, he would say, with a heavy sigh,
nor did he usually call them by any other name than that of his “three imposthumes or cancers.”
LXVI. He was cautious in forming friendships, but clung to them with great constancy; not only rewarding the virtues and merits of his friends according to their deserts, but bearing likewise with their faults and vices, provided that they were of a venial kind. For amongst all his friends, we scarcely find any who fell into disgrace with him, except Salvidienus Rufus, whom he raised to the consulship, and Cornelius Gallus, whom he made prefect of Egypt; both of them men of the lowest extraction. One of these, being engaged in plotting a rebellion, he delivered over to the senate, for condemnation; and the other, on account of his ungrateful and malicious temper, he forbad his house, and his living in any of the provinces When, however, Gallus, being denounced by his accusers, and sentenced by the senate, was driven to the desperate extremity of laying violent hands upon himself, he commended, indeed, the attachment to his person of those who manifested so much indignation, but he shed tears, and lamented his unhappy condition, “That I alone,” said he, “cannot be allowed to resent the misconduct of my friends in such a way only as I would wish.” The rest of his friends of all orders flourished during their whole lives, both in power and wealth, in the highest ranks of their several orders, notwithstanding some occasional lapses. For, to say nothing of others, he sometimes complained that Agrippa was hasty, and Mecænas a tattler; the former having thrown up all his employments and retired to Mitylene, on suspicion of some slight coolness, and from jealousy that Marcellus received greater marks of favour; and the latter having confidentially imparsed to his wife Terentia the discovery of Muræna’s conspiracy.
He likewise expected from his friends, at their deaths as well as during their lives, some proofs of their reciprocal attachment. For though he was far from coveting their property, and indeed would never accept of any legacy left him by a stranger, yet he pondered in a melancholy mood over their last words; not being able to conceal his chagrin, if in their wills they made but a slight, or no very honourable mention of him, nor his joy, on the other hand, if they expressed a grateful sense of his favours, and a hearty affection for him. And whatever legacies or shares of their property were left him by such as were parents, he used to restore to their children, either immediately, or if they were under age, upon the day of their assuming the manly dress, or of their marriage; with interest.
LXVII. As a patron and master, his behaviour in general was mild and conciliating; but when occasion required it, he could be severe. He advanced many of his freedmen to posts of honour and great importance, as Licinus, Enceladus, and others; and when his slave, Cosmus, had reflected bitterly upon him, he resented the injury no further than by putting him in fetters. When his steward, Diomedes, left him to the mercy of a wild boar, which suddenly attacked them while they were walking together, he considered it rather a cowardice than a breach of duty; and turned an occurrence of no small hazard into a jest, because there was no knavery in his steward’s conduct. He put to death Proculus, one of his most favourite freedmen, for maintaining a criminal commerce with other men’s wives. He broke the legs of his secretary, Thallus, for taking a bribe of five hundred denarii to discover the contents of one of his letters. And the tutor and other attendants of his son Caius, having taken advantage of his sickness and death, to give loose to their insolence and rapacity in the province he governed, he caused heavy weights to be tied about their necks, and had them thrown into a river.
LXVIII. In his early youth various aspersions of an infamous character were heaped upon him. Sextus Pompey reproached him with being an effeminate fellow; and M. Antony, with earning his adoption from his uncle by prostitution. Lucius Antony, likewise Mark’s brother, charges him with pollution by Cæsar; and that, for a gratification of three hundred thousand sesterces, he had submitted to Aulus Hirtius in the same way, in Spain; adding, that he used to singe his legs with burnt nutshells, to make the hair become softer.1 Nay, the whole concourse of the people, at some public diversions in the theatre, when the following sentence was recited, alluding to the Gallic priest of the mother of the gods,2 beating a drum,3
applied the passage to him, with great applause.
LXIX. That he was guilty of various acts of adultery, is not denied even by his friends; but they allege in excuse for it, that he engaged in those intrigues not from lewdness, but from policy, in order to discover more easily the designs of his enemies, through their wives. Mark Antony, besides the precipitate marriage of Livia, charges him with taking the wife of a man of consular rank from table, in the presence of her husband, into a bed-chamber, and bringing her again to the entertainment, with her ears very red, and her hair in great disorder: that he had divorced Scribonia, for resenting too freely the excessive influence which one of his mistresses had gained over him: that his friends were employed to pimp for him, and accordingly obliged both matrons and ripe virgins to strip, for a complete examination of their persons, in the same manner as if Thoranius, the dealer in slaves, had them under sale. And before they came to an open rupture, he writes to him in a familiar manner, thus: “Why are you changed towards me? Because I lie with a queen? She is my wife. Is this a new thing with me, or have I not done so for these nine years? And do you take freedoms with Drusilla only? May health and happiness so attend you, as when you read this letter, you are not in dalliance with Tertulla, Terentilla, Rufilla,1 or Salvia Titiscenia, or all of them. What matters it to you where, or upon whom, you spend your manly vigour?”
LXX. A private entertainment which he gave, commonly called the Supper of the Twelve Gods,2 and at which the guests were dressed in the habit of gods and goddesses, while he personated Apollo himself, afforded subject of much conversation, and was imputed to him not only by Antony in his letters, who likewise names all the parties concerned, but in the following well-known anonymous verses:—
What rendered this supper more obnoxious to public censure, was, that it happened at a time when there was a great scarcity, and almost a famine, in the city. The day after, there was a cry current among the people, “that the gods had eaten up all the corn; and that Cæsar was indeed Apollo, but Apollo the Tormentor;” under which title that god was worshipped in some quarter of the city.1 He was likewise charged with being excessively fond of fine furniture, and Corinthian vessels, as well as with being addicted to gaming. For, during the time of the proscription, the following line was written upon his statue:—
because it was believed, that he had put some persons upon the list of the proscribed, only to obtain the Corinthian vessels in their possession. And afterwards, in the Sicilian war, the following epigram was published:—
LXXI. With respect to the charge or imputation of loathsome impurity before-mentioned, he very easily refuted it by the chastity of his life, at the very time when it was made, as well as ever afterwards. His conduct likewise gave the lie to that of luxurious extravagance in his furniture, when, upon the taking of Alexandria, he reserved for himself nothing of the royal treasures but a porcelain cup, and soon afterwards melted down all the vessels of gold, even such as were intended for common use. But his amorous propensities never left him, and, as he grew older, as is reported, he was in the habit of debauching young girls, who were procured for him, from all quarters, even by his own wife. To the observations on his gaming, he paid not the smallest regard; but played in public, but purely for his diversion, even when he was advanced in years; and not only in the month of December,1 but at other times, and upon all days, whether festivals or not. This evidently appears from a letter under his own hand, in which he says, “I supped, my dear Tiberius, with the same company. We had, besides, Vinicius, and Silvius the father. We gamed at supper like old fellows, both yesterday and today. And as any one threw upon the tali2 aces or sixes, he put down for every talus a denarius; all which was gained by him who threw a Venus”3 In another letter, he says: “We had, my dear Tiberius, a pleasant time of it during the festival of Minerva: for we played every day, and kept the gaming-board warm. Your brother uttered many exclamations at a desperate run of ill-fortune; but recovering by degrees, and unexpectedly, he in the end lost not much. I lost twenty thousand sesterces for my part; but then I was profusely generous in my play, as I commonly am; for had I insisted upon the stakes which I declined, or kept what I gave away, I should have won about fifty thousand. But this I like better: for it will raise my character for generosity to the skies.” In a letter to his daughter, he writes thus: “I have sent you two hundred and fifty denarii, which I gave to every one of my guests; in case they were inclined at supper to divert themselves with the Tali, or at the game of Even-or-Odd.”
LXXII. In other matters, it appears that he was moderate in his habits, and free from suspicion of any kind of vice. He lived at first near the Roman Forum, above the Ring-maker’s Stairs, in a house which had once been occupied by Calvus the orator. He afterwards moved to the Palatine Hill, where he resided in a small house1 belonging to Hortensius, no way remarkable either for size or ornament; the piazzas being but small, the pillars of Alban stone,2 and the rooms without any thing of marble, or fine paving. He continued to use the same bed-chamber, both winter and summer, during forty years:3 for though he was sensible that the city did not agree with his health in the winter, he nevertheless resided constantly in it during that season. If at any time he wished to be perfectly retired, and secure from interruption, he shut himself up in an apartment at the top of his house, which he called his Syracuse or Τεχνόφυον,4 or he went to some villa belonging to his freedmen near the city. But when he was indisposed, he commonly took up his residence in the house of Mecænas.5 Of all the places of retirement from the city, he chiefly frequented those upon the sea-coast, and the islands of Campania,1 or the towns nearest the city, such as Lanuvium, Præneste, and Tibur,2 where he often used to sit for the administration of justice, in the porticos of the temple of Hercules. He had a particular aversion to large and sumptuous palaces; and some which had been raised at a vast expense by his grand-daughter, Julia, he levelled to the ground. Those of his own, which were far from being spacious, he adorned, not so much with statues and pictures, as with walks and groves, and things which were curious either for their antiquity or rarity; such as, at Capri, the huge limbs of sea-monsters and wild beasts, which some affect to call the bones of giants; and also the arms of ancient heroes.
LXXIII. His frugality in the furniture of his house appears even at this day, from some beds and tables still remaining, most of which are scarcely elegant enough for a private family. It is reported that he never lay upon a bed, but such as was low, and meanly furnished. He seldom wore any garment but what was made by the hands of his wife, sister, daughter, and grand-daughters. His togas3 were neither scanty nor full; and the clavus was neither remarkably broad or narrow. His shoes were a little higher than common, to make him appear taller than he was. He had always clothes and shoes, fit to appear in public, ready in his bed-chamber for any sudden occasion.
LXXIV. At his table, which was always plentiful and elegant, he constantly entertained company; but was very scrupulous in the choice of them, both as to rank and character. Valerius Messala informs us, that he never admitted any freedman to his table, except Menas, when rewarded with the privilege of citizenship, for betraying Pompey’s fleet. He writes, himself, that he invited to his table a person in whose villa he lodged, and who had formerly been employed by him as a spy. He often came late to table, and withdrew early; so that the company began supper before his arrival, and continued at table after his departure. His entertainments consisted of three entries, or at most of only six. But if his fare was moderate, his courtesy was extreme. For those who were silent, or talked in whispers, he encouraged to join in the general conversation; and introduced buffoons and stage players, or even low performers from the circus, and very often itinerant humourists, to enliven the company.
LXXV. Festivals and holidays he usually celebrated very expensively, but sometimes only with merriment. In the Saturnalia, or at any other time when the fancy took him, he distributed to his company clothes, gold, and silver; sometimes coins of all sorts, even of the ancient kings of Rome and of foreign nations; sometimes nothing but towels, sponges, rakes, and tweezers, and other things of that kind, with tickets on them, which were enigmatical, and had a double meaning.1 He used likewise to sell by lot among his guests articles of very unequal value, and pictures with their fronts reversed; and so, by the unknown quality of the lot, disappoint or gratify the expectation of the purchasers. This sort of traffic went round the whole company, every one being obliged to buy something, and to run the chance of loss or gain with the rest.
LXXVI. He ate sparingly (for I must not omit even this), and commonly used a plain diet. He was particularly fond of coarse bread, small fishes, new cheese made of cow’s milk,1 and green figs of the sort which bear fruit twice a year.2 He did not wait for supper, but took food at any time, and in any place, when he had an appetite. The following passages relative to this subject, I have transcribed from his letters. “I ate a little bread and some small dates, in my carriage.” Again. “In returning home from the palace in my litter, I ate an ounce of bread, and a few raisins.” Again. “No Jew, my dear Tiberius, ever keeps such strict fast upon the Sabbath,3 as I have to-day; for while in the bath, and after the first hour of the night, I only ate two biscuits, before I began to be rubbed with oil.” From this great indifference about his diet, he sometimes supped by himself, before his company began, or after they had finished, and would not touch a morsel at table with his guests.
LXXVII. He was by nature extremely sparing in the use of wine. Cornelius Nepos says, that he used to drink only three times at supper in the camp at Modena; and when he indulged himself the most, he never exceeded a pint; or if he did, his stomach rejected it. Of all wines, he gave the preference to the Rhætian,1 but scarcely even drank any in the day-time. Instead of drinking, he used to take a piece of bread dipped in cold water, or a slice of cucumber, or some leaves of lettuce, or a green, sharp, juicy apple.
LXXVIII. After a slight repast at noon, he used to seek repose,2 dressed as he was, and with his shoes on, his feet covered, and his hand held before his eyes. After supper he commonly withdrew to his study, a small closet, where he sat late, until he had put down in his diary all or most of the remaining transactions of the day, which he had not before registered. He would then go to bed, but never slept above seven hours at most, and that not without interruption; for he would wake three or four times during that time. If he could not again fall asleep, as sometimes happened, he called for some one to read or tell stories to him, until he became drowsy, and then his sleep was usually protracted till after day-break. He never liked to lie awake in the dark, without somebody to sit by him. Very early rising was apt to disagree with him. On which account, if he was obliged to rise betimes, for any civil or religious functions, in order to guard as much as possible against the inconvenience resulting from it, he used to lodge in some apartment near the spot, belonging to any of his attendants. If at any time a fit of drowsiness seized him in passing along the streets, his litter was set down while he snatched a few moments’ sleep.
LXXIX. In person he was handsome and graceful, through every period of his life. But he was negligent in his dress; and so careless about dressing his hair, that he usually had it done in great haste, by several barbers at a time. His beard he sometimes clipped, and sometimes shaved; and either read or wrote during the operation. His countenance, either when discoursing or silent, was so calm and serene, that a Gaul of the first rank declared amongst his friends, that he was so softened by it, as to be restrained from throwing him down a precipice, in his passage over the Alps, when he had been admitted to approach him, under pretence of conferring with him. His eyes were bright and piercing; and he was willing it should be thought that there was something of a divine vigour in them. He was likewise not a little pleased to see people, upon his looking stedfastly at them, lower their countenances, as if the sun shone in their eyes. But in his old age, he saw very imperfectly with his left eye. His teeth were thin set, small and scaly, his hair a little curled, and inclining to a yellow colour. His eye-brows met; his ears were small, and he had an aquiline nose. His complexion was betwixt brown and fair; his stature but low; though Julius Marathus, his freedman, says he was five feet and nine inches in height. This, however, was so much concealed by the just proportion of his limbs, that it was only perceivable upon comparison with some taller person standing by him.
LXXX. He is said to have been born with many spots upon his breast and belly, answering to the figure, order, and number of the stars in the constellation of the Bear. He had besides several callosities resembling scars, occasioned by an itching in his body, and the constant and violent use of the strigil1 in being rubbed. He had a weakness in his left hip, thigh, and leg, insomuch that he often halted on that side; but he received much benefit from the use of sand and reeds. He likewise sometimes found the fore-finger of his right hand so weak, that when it was benumbed and contracted with cold, to use it in writing, he was obliged to have recourse to a circular piece of horn. He had occasionally a complaint in the bladder; but upon voiding some stones in his urine, he was relieved from that pain.
LXXXI. During the whole course of his life, he suffered, at times, dangerous fits of sickness, especially after the conquest of Cantabria; when his liver being injured by a defluxion upon it, he was reduced to such a condition, that he was obliged to undergo a desperate and doubtful method of cure: for warm applications having no effect, Antonius Musa1 directed the use of those which were cold. He was likewise subject to fits of sickness at stated times every year; for about his birth-day2 he was commonly a little indisposed. In the beginning of spring, he was attacked with an inflation of the midriff: and when the wind was southerly, with a cold in his head. By all these complaints, his constitution was so shattered, that he could not easily bear either heat or cold.
LXXXII. In winter, he was protected against the inclemency of the weather by a thick toga, four tunics, a shirt, a flannel stomacher, and swathings upon his legs and thighs.3 In summer, he lay with the doors of his bedchamber open, and frequently in a piazza, refreshed by a bubbling fountain, and a person standing by to fan him. He could not bear even the winter’s sun; and at home, never walked in the open air without a broad-brimmed hat on his head. He usually travelled in a litter, and by night; and so slow, that he was two days in going to Præneste or Tibur. And if he could go to any place by sea, he preferred that mode of travelling. He carefully nourished his health against his many infirmities, avoiding chiefly the free use of the bath; but he was often rubbed with oil, and sweated in a stove; after which he was washed with tepid water, warmed either by a fire, or by being exposed to the heat of the sun. When, upon account of his nerves, he was obliged to have recourse to sea-water, or the waters of Albula,4 he was contented with sitting over a wooden tub, which he called by a Spanish name Dureta, and plunging his hands and feet in the water by turns
LXXXIII. As soon as the civil wars were ended, he gave up riding and other military exercises in the Campus Martius, and took to playing at ball, or foot-ball; but soon afterwards used no other exercise than that of going abroad in his litter, or walking. Towards the end of his walk, he would run leaping, wrapped up in a short cloak or cape. For amusement he would sometimes angle, or play with dice, pebbles, or nuts, with little boys, collected from various countries, and particularly Moors and Syrians, for their beauty or amusing talk. But dwarfs, and such as were in any way deformed, he held in abhorrence, as lusus naturæ (nature’s abortions), and of evil omen.
LXXXIV. From early youth he devoted himself with great diligence and application to the study of eloquence, and the other liberal arts. In the war of Modena, notwithstanding the weighty affairs in which he was engaged, he is said to have read, written, and declaimed every day. He never addressed the senate, the people, or the army, but in a premeditated speech, though he did not want the talent of speaking extempore on the spur of the occasion. And lest his memory should fail him, as well as to prevent the loss of time in getting up his speeches, it was his general practice to recite them. In his intercourse with individuals, and even with his wife Livia, upon subjects of importance he wrote on his tablets all he wished to express, lest, if he spoke extempore, he should say more or less than was proper. He delivered himself in a sweet and peculiar tone, in which he was diligently instructed by a master of elocution. But when he had a cold, he sometimes employed a herald to deliver his speeches to the people.
LXXXV. He composed many tracts in prose on various subjects, some of which he read occasionally in the circle of his friends, as to an auditory. Among these was his “Rescript to Brutus respecting Cato” Most of the pages he read himself, although he was advanced in years, but becoming fatigued, he gave the rest to Tiberius to finish. He likewise read over to his friends his “Exhortations to Philosophy,” and the “History of his own Life,” which he continued in thirteen books, as far as the Cantabrian war, but no farther. He likewise made some attempts at poetry. There is extant one book written by him in hexameter verse, of which both the subject and title is “Sicily.” There is also a book of Epigrams, no larger than the last, which he composed almost entirely while he was in the bath. These are all his poetical compositions: for though he begun a tragedy with great zest, becoming dissatisfied with the style, he obliterated the whole; and his friends saying to him, “What is your Ajax doing?” he an swered, “My Ajax has met with a sponge.1 ”
LXXXVI. He cultivated a style which was neat and chaste, avoiding frivolous or harsh language, as well as obsolete words, which he calls disgusting. His chief object was to deliver his thoughts with all possible perspicuity. To attain this end, and that he might nowhere perplex, or retard the reader or hearer, he made no scruple to add prepositions to his verbs, or to repeat the same conjunction several times; which, when omitted, occasion some little obscurity, but give a grace to the style. Those who used affected language, or adopted obsolete words, he despised, as equally faulty, though in different ways. He sometimes indulged himself in jesting, particularly with his friend Mecænas, whom he rallied upon all occasions for his fine phrases,2 and bantered by imitating his way of talking. Nor did he spare Tiberius, who was fond of obsolete and far-fetched expressions. He charges Mark Antony with insanity, writing rather to make men stare, than to be understood; and by way of sarcasm upon his depraved and fickle taste in the choice of words, he writes to him thus: “And are you yet in doubt, whether Cimber Annius or Veranius Flaccus be more proper for your imitation? Whether you will adopt words which Sallustius Crispus has borrowed from the ‘Origines’ of Cato? Or do you think that the verbose empty bombast of Asiatic orators is fit to be transfused into our language?” And in a letter where he commends the talent of his grand-daughter, Agrippina, he says, “But you must be particularly careful, both in writing and speaking, to avoid affectation.”
LXXXVII. In ordinary conversation, he made use of several peculiar expressions, as appears from letters in his own hand writing; in which, now and then, when he means to intimate that some persons would never pay their debts, he says, “They will pay at the Greek Calends.” And when he advised patience in the present posture of affairs, he would say, “Let us be content with our Cato.” To describe anything in haste, he said, “It was sooner done than asparagus is cooked.” He constantly puts baceolus for stultus, pullejaceus for pullus, vacerrosus for cerritus, vapide se habere for male, and betizare for languere, which is commonly called lachanizare. Likewise simus for sumus, domos for domus in the genitive singular.1 With respect to the last two peculiarities, lest any person should imagine that they were only slips of his pen, and not customary with him, he never varies. I have likewise remarked this singularity in his hand-writing; he never divides his words, so as to carry the letters which cannot be inserted at the end of a line to the next, but puts them below the other, enclosed by a bracket.
LXXXVIII. He did not adhere strictly to orthography as laid down by the grammarians, but seems to have been of the opinion of those who think, that we ought to write as we speak; for as to his changing and omitting not only letters but whole syllables, it is a vulgar mistake. Nor should I have taken notice of it, but that it appears strange to me, that any person should have told us, that he sent a successor to a consular lieutenant of a province, as an ignorant, illiterate fellow, upon his observing that he had written ixi for ipsi. When he had occasion to write in cypher, he put b for a, c for b, and so forth; and instead of z, aa.
LXXXIX. He was no less fond of the Greek literature, in which he made considerable proficiency; having had Apollodorus of Pergamus, for his master in rhetoric; whom, though much advanced in years, he took with him from The City, when he was himself very young, to Apollonia. Afterwards, being instructed in philology by Sephærus, he received into his family Areus the philosopher, and his sons Dionysius and Nicanor; but he never could speak the Greek tongue readily, nor ever ventured to compose in it. For if there was occasion for him to deliver his sentiments in that language, he always expressed what he had to say in Latin, and gave it another to translate. He was evidently not unacquainted with the poetry of the Greeks, and had a great taste for the ancient comedy, which he often brought upon the stage, in his public spectacles. In reading the Greek and Latin authors, he paid particular attention to precepts and examples which might be useful in public or private life. Those he used to extract verbatim, and gave to his domestics, or send to the commanders of the armies, the governors of the provinces, or the magistrates of the city, when any of them seemed to stand in need of admonition. He likewise read whole books to the senate, and frequently made them known to the people by his edicts; such as the orations of Quintus Metellus “for the Encouragement of Marriage,” and those of Rutilius “On the Style of Building;”1 to shew the people that he was not the first who had promoted those objects, but that the ancients likewise had thought them worthy their attention. He patronised the men of genius of that age in every possible way. He would hear them read their works with a great deal of patience and good nature; and not only poetry2 and history, but orations and dialogues. He was displeased, however, that anything should be written upon himself, except in a grave manner, and by men of the most eminent abilities: and he enjoined the prætors not to suffer his name to be made too common in the contests amongst orators and poets in the theatres.
XC. We have the following account of him respecting his belief in omens and such like. He had so great a dread of thunder and lightning that he always carried about him a seal’s skin, by way of preservation. And upon any apprehension of a violent storm, he would retire to some place of concealment in a vault under ground; having formerly been terrified by a flash of lightning, while travelling in the night, as we have already mentioned.1
XCI. He neither slighted his own dreams nor those of other people relating to himself. At the battle of Philippi, although he had resolved not to stir out of his tent, on account of his being indisposed, yet, being warned by a dream of one of his friends, he changed his mind; and well it was that he did so, for in the enemy’s attack, his couch was pierced and cut to pieces, on the supposition of his being in it. He had many frivolous and frightful dreams during the spring; but in the other parts of the year, they were less frequent and more significative. Upon his frequently visiting a temple near the Capitol, which he had dedicated to Jupiter Tonans, he dreamt that Jupiter Capitolinus complained that his worshippers were taken from him, and that upon this he replied, he had only given him The Thunderer for his porter.2 He therefore immediately suspended little bells round the summit of the temple; because such commonly hung at the gates of great houses. In consequence of a dream, too, he always, on a certain day of the year, begged alms of the people, reaching out his hand to receive the dole which they offered him.
XCII. Some signs and omens he regarded as infallible. If in the morning his shoe was put on wrong, the left instead of the right, that boded some disaster. If when he commenced a long journey, by sea or land, there happened to fall a mizzling rain, he held it to be a good sign of a speedy and happy return. He was much affected likewise with any thing out of the common course of nature. A palm-tree3 which chanced to grow up between some stones in the court of his house, he transplanted into a court where the images of the Household Gods were placed, and took all possible care to make it thrive. In the island of Capri, some decayed branches of an old ilex, which hung drooping to the ground, recovered themselves upon his arrival; at which he was so delighted, that he made an exchange with the Republic1 of Naples, of the island of Œnaria [Ischia], for that of Capri. He likewise observed certain days; as never to go from home the day after the Nundinæ,2 nor to begin any serious business upon the nones;3 avoiding nothing else in it, as he writes to Tiberius, than its unlucky name.
XCIII. With regard to the religious ceremonies of foreign nations, he was a strict observer of those which had been established by ancient custom; but others he held in no esteem. For, having been initiated at Athens, and coming afterwards to hear a cause at Rome, relative to the privileges of the priests of the Attic Ceres, when some of the mysteries of their sacred rites were to be introduced in the pleadings, he dismissed those who sat upon the bench as judges with him, as well as the by-standers, and heard the argument upon those points himself. But, on the other hand, he not only declined, in his progress through Egypt, to go out of his way to pay a visit to Apis, but he likewise commended his grandson Caius for not paying his devotions at Jerusalem in his passage through Judea.1
XCIV. Since we are upon this subject, it may not be improper to give an account of the omens, before and at his birth, as well as afterwards, which gave hopes of his future greatness, and the good fortune that constantly attended him. A part of the wall of Velletri having in former times been struck with thunder, the response of the soothsayers was, that a native of that town would some time or other arrive at supreme power; relying on which prediction, the Velletrians both then, and several times afterwards, made war upon the Roman people, to their own ruin. At last it appeared by the event, that the omen had portended the elevation of Augustus.
Julius Marathus informs us, that a few months before his birth, there happened at Rome a prodigy, by which was signified that Nature was in travail with a king for the Roman people; and that the senate, in alarm, came to the resolution that no child born that year should be brought up; but that those amongst them, whose wives were pregnant, to secure to themselves a chance of that dignity, took care that the decree of the senate should not be registered in the treasury.
I find in the theological books of Asclepiades the Mendesian,2 that Atia, upon attending at midnight a religious solemnity in honour of Apollo, when the rest of the matrons retired home, fell asleep on her couch in the temple, and that a serpent immediately crept to her, and soon after withdrew. She awaking upon it, purified herself, as usual after the embraces of her husband; and instantly there appeared upon her body a mark in the form of a serpent, which she never after could efface, and which obliged her, during the subsequent part of her life, to decline the use of the public baths. Augustus, it was added, was born in the tenth month after, and for that reason was thought to be the son of Apollo. The same Atia, before her delivery, dreamed that her bowels stretched to the stars, and expanded through the whole circuit of heaven and earth. His father Octavius, likewise, dreamt that a sun-beam issued from his wife’s womb.
Upon the day he was born, the senate being engaged in a debate on Catiline’s conspiracy, and Octavius, in consequence of his wife’s being in childbirth, coming late into the house, it is a well-known fact, that Publius Nigidius, upon hearing the occasion of his coming so late, and the hour of his wife’s delivery, declared that the world had got a master. Afterwards, when Octavius, upon marching with his army through the deserts of Thrace, consulted the oracle in the grove of father Bacchus, with barbarous rites, concerning his son, he received from the priests an answer to the same purpose; because, when they poured wine upon the altar, there burst out so prodigious a flame, that it ascended above the roof of the temple, and reached up to the heavens; a circumstance which had never happened to any one but Alexander the Great, upon his sacrificing at the same altars. And next night he dreamt that he saw his son under a more than human appearance, with thunder and a sceptre, and the other insignia of Jupiter, Optimus, Maximus, having on his head a radiant crown, mounted upon a chariot decked with laurel, and drawn by six pair of milk-white horses.
Whilst he was yet an infant, as Caius Drusus relates, being laid in his cradle by his nurse, and in a low place, the next day he was not to be found, and after he had been sought for a long time, he was at last discovered upon a lofty tower, lying with his face towards the rising sun.1 When he first began to speak, he ordered the frogs that happened to make a troublesome noise, upon an estate belonging to the family near the town, to be silent; and there goes a report that frogs never croaked there since that time. As he was dining in a grove at the fourth mile-stone on the Campanian road, an eagle suddenly snatched a piece of bread out of his hand, and, soaring to a prodigious height, after hovering, came down most unexpectedly, and returned it to him.
Quintus Catulus had a dream, for two nights successively after his dedication of the Capitol. The first night he dreamt that Jupiter, out of several boys of the order of the nobility who were playing about his altar, selected one, into whose bosom he put the public seal of the commonwealth, which he held in his hand; but in his vision the next night, he saw in the bosom of Jupiter Capitolinus, the same boy; whom he ordered to be removed, but it was forbidden by the God, who declared that it must be brought up to become the guardian of the state. The next day, meeting Augustus, with whom till that hour he had not the least acquaintance, and looking at him with admiration, he said he was extremely like the boy he had seen in his dream. Some give a different account of Catulus’s first dream, namely, that Jupiter, upon several noble lads requesting of him that they might have a guardian, had pointed to one amongst them, to whom they were to prefer their requests; and putting his fingers to the boy’s mouth to kiss, he afterwards applied them to his own.
Marcus Cicero, as he was attending Caius Cæsar to the Capitol, happened to be telling some of his friends a dream which he had the preceding night, in which he saw a comely youth, let down from heaven by a golden chain, who stood at the door of the Capitol, and had a whip put into his hands by Jupiter. And immediately upon sight of Augustus, who had been sent for by his uncle Cæsar to the sacrifice, and was as yet perfectly unknown to most of the company, he affirmed that it was the very boy he had seen in his dream. When he assumed the manly toga, his senatorian tunic becoming loose in the seam on each side, fell at his feet. Some would have this to forbode, that the order, of which that was the badge of distinction, would some time or other be subject to him.
Julius Cæsar, in cutting down a wood to make room for his camp near Munda,1 happened to light upon a palm-tree, and ordered it to be preserved as an omen of victory. From the root of this tree there put out immediately a sucker, which, in a few days, grew to such a height as not only to equal, but overshadow it, and afford room for many nests of wild pigeons which built in it, though that species of bird particularly avoids a hard and rough leaf. It is likewise reported, that Cæsar was chiefly influenced by this prodigy, to prefer his sister’s grandson before all others for his successor.
In his retirement at Apollonia, he went with his friend Agrippa to visit Theogenes, the astrologer, in his gallery on the roof. Agrippa, who first consulted the fates, having great and almost incredible fortunes predicted of him, Augustus did not choose to make known his nativity, and persisted for some time in the refusal, from a mixture of shame and fear, lest his fortunes should be predicted as inferior to those of Agrippa. Being persuaded, however, after much importunity, to declare it, Theogenes started up from his seat, and paid him adoration. Not long afterwards, Augustus was so confident of the greatness of his destiny, that he published his horoscope, and struck a silver coin, bearing upon it the sign of Capricorn, under the influence of which he was born.
XCV. After the death of Cæsar, upon his return from Apollonia, as he was entering the city, on a sudden, in a clear and bright sky, a circle resembling the rainbow surrounded the body of the sun; and, immediately afterwards, the tomb of Julia, Cæsar’s daughter, was struck by lightning. In his first consulship, whilst he was observing the auguries, twelve vultures presented themselves, as they had done to Romulus. And when he offered sacrifice, the livers of all the victims were folded inward in the lower part; a circumstance which was regarded by those present, who had skill in things of that nature, as an indubitable prognostic of great and wonderful fortune.
XCVI. He certainly had a presentiment of the issue of all his wars. When the troops of the Triumviri were collected about Bolognia, an eagle, which sat upon his tent, and was attacked by two crows, beat them both, and struck them to the ground, in the view of the whole army; who thence inferred that discord would arise between the three colleagues, which would be attended with the like event: and it accordingly happened. At Philippi, he was assured of success by a Thessalian, upon the authority, as he pretended, of the Divine Cæsar himself, who had appeared to him while he was travelling in a bye-road. At Perugia, the sacrifice not presenting any favourable intimations, but the contrary, he ordered fresh victims; the enemy, however, carrying off the sacred things in a sudden sally, it was agreed amongst the augurs, that all the dangers and misfortunes which had threatened the sacriticer, would fall upon the heads of those who had got possession of the entrails. And, accordingly, so it happened. The day before the sea-fight near Sicily, as he was walking upon the shore, a fish leaped out of the sea, and laid itself at his feet. At Actium, while he was going down to his fleet to engage the enemy, he was met by an ass with a fellow driving it. The name of the man was Eutychus, and that of the animal, Nichon.1 After the victory, he erected a brazen statue to each, in a temple built upon the spot where he had encamped.
XCVII. His death, of which I shall now speak, and his subsequent deification, were intimated by divers manifest prodigies. As he was finishing the census amidst a great crowd of people in the Campus Martius, an eagle hovered round him several times, and then directed its course to a neighbouring temple, where it settled upon the name of Agrippa, and at the first letter. Upon observing this, he ordered his colleague Tiberius to put up the vows, which it is usual to make on such occasions, for the succeeding Lustrum. For he declared he would not meddle with what it was probable he should never accomplish, though the tables were ready drawn for it. About the same time, the first letter of his name, in an inscription upon one of his statues, was struck out by lightning; which was interpreted as a presage that he would live only a hundred days longer, the letter C denoting that number; and that he would be placed amongst the Gods, as Æsar, which is the remaining part of the word Cæsar, signifies, in the Tuscan language, a God.2 Being, therefore, about dispatching Tiberius to Illyricum, and designing to go with him as far as Beneventum, but being detained by several persons who applied to him respecting causes they had depending, he cried out, (and it was afterwards regarded as an omen of his death), “Not all the business in the world, shall detain me at Rome one moment longer;” and setting out upon his journey, he went as far as Astura;1 whence, contrary to his custom, he put to sea in the night-time, as there was a favourable wind.
XCVIII. His malady proceeded from diarrhœa; notwithstanding which, he went round the coast of Campania, and the adjacent islands, and spent four days in that of Capri; where he gave himself up entirely to repose and relaxation. Happening to sail by the bay of Puteoli, the passengers and mariners aboard a ship of Alexandria,2 just then arrived, clad all in white, with chaplets upon their heads, and offering incense, loaded him with praises and joyful acclamations, crying out, “By you we live, by you we sail securely, by you enjoy our liberty and our fortunes.” At which being greatly pleased, he distributed to each of those who attended him, forty gold pieces, requiring from them an assurance on oath, not to employ the sum given them in any other way, than the purchase of Alexandrian merchandize. And during several days afterwards, he distributed Togæ3 and Pallia, among other gifts, on condition that the Romans should use the Greek, and the Greeks the Roman dress and language. He likewise constantly attended to see the boys perform their exercises, according to an ancient custom still continued at Capri. He gave them likewise an entertainment in his presence, and not only permitted, but required from them the utmost freedom in jesting, and scrambling for fruit, victuals, and other things which he threw amongst them. In a word, he indulged himself in all the ways of amusement he could contrive.
He called an island near Capri, Ἀπϱαγόπολις, “The City of the Do-littles,” from the indolent life which several of his party led there. A favourite of his, one Masgabas,4 he used to call Κτ.[Editor: illegible character][Editor: illegible character]ὴς as if he had been the planter of the island. And observing from his room a great company of people with torches, assembled at the tomb of this Masgabas, who died the year before, he uttered very distinctly this verse, which he made extempore.
Then turning to Thrasyllus, a companion of Tiberiue, who reclined on the other side of the table, he asked him, who knew nothing about the matter, what poet he thought was the author of that verse; and on his hesitating to reply, he added another:
and put the same question to him concerning that likewise. The latter replying, that, whoever might be the author, they were excellent verses,1 he set up a great laugh, and fell into an extraordinary vein of jesting upon it. Soon afterwards, passing over to Naples, although at that time greatly disordered in his bowels by the frequent returns of his disease, he sat out the exhibition of the gymnastic games which were performed in his honour every five years, and proceeded with Tiberius to the place intended. But on his return, his disorder increasing, he stopped at Nola, sent for Tiberius back again, and had a long discourse with him in private; after which, he gave no further attention to business of any importance.
XCIX. Upon the day of his death, he now and then enquired, if there was any disturbance in the town on his account; and calling for a mirror, he ordered his hair to be combed, and his shrunk cheeks to be adjusted. Then asking his friends who were admitted into the room, “Do ye think that I have acted my part on the stage of life well?” he immediately subjoined,
After which, having dismissed them all, whilst he was inquiring of some persons who were just arrived from Rome, concerning Drusus’s daughter, who was in a bad state of health, he expired suddenly, amidst the kisses of Livia, and with these words: “Livia! live mindful of our union; and now, farewell!” dying a very easy death, and such as he himself had always wished for. For as often as he heard that any person had died quickly and without pain, he wished for himself and his friends the like ἐυθανασίαν (an easy death), for that was the word he made use of. He betrayed but one symptom, before he breathed his last, of being delirious, which was this: he was all on a sudden much frightened, and complained that he was carried away by forty men. But this was rather a presage, than any delirium: for precisely that number of soldiers belonging to the prætorian cohort, carried out his corpse.
C. He expired in the same room in which his father Octavius had died, when the two Sextus’s, Pompey and Apuleius, were consuls, upon the fourteenth of the calends of September [the 19th August], at the ninth hour of the day, being seventy-six years of age, wanting only thirty-five days.1 His remains were carried by the magistrates of the municipal2 towns and colonies, from Nola to Bovillæ,3 and in the night-time, because of the season of the year. During the intervals, the body lay in some basilica, or great temple, of each town. At Bovillæ it was met by the Equestrian Order, who carried it to the city, and deposited it in the vestibule of his own house. The senate proceeded with so much zeal in the arrangement of his funeral, and paying honour to his memory, that, amongst several other proposals, some were for having the funeral procession made through the triumphal gate, preceded by the image of Victory which is in the senate-house, and the children of highest rank and of both sexes singing the funeral dirge Others proposed, that on the day of the funeral, they should lay aside their gold rings, and wear rings of iron; and others, that his bones should be collected by the priests of the principal colleges. One likewise proposed to transfer the name of August to September, because he was born in the latter, but died in the former. Another moved, that the whole period of time, from his birth to his death, should be called the Augustan age, and be inserted in the calendar under that title. But at last it was judged proper to be moderate in the honours paid to his memory. Two funeral orations were pronounced in his praise, one before the temple of Julius, by Tiberius; and the other before the rostra, under the old shops, by Drusus, Tiberius’s son. The body was then carried upon the shoulders of senators into the Campus Martius, and there burnt. A man of prætorian rank affirmed upon oath, that he saw his spirit ascend from the funeral pile to heaven. The most distinguished persons of the equestrian order, bare-footed, and with their tunics loose, gathered up his relics,1 and deposited them in the mausoleum, which had been built in his sixth consulship between the Flaminian Way and the bank of the Tiber;2 at which time likewise he gave the groves and walks about it for the use of the people.
CI. He had made a will a year and four months before his death, upon the third of the nones of April [the 11th of April], in the consulship of Lucius Plancus, and Caius Silius. It consisted of two skins of parchment, written partly in his own hand, and partly by his freedmen Polybius and Hilarian; and had been committed to the custody of the Vestal Virgins, by whom it was now produced, with three codicils under seal, as well as the will: all these were opened and read in the senate. He appointed as his direct heirs, Tiberius for two-thirds of his estate, and Livia for the other third, both of whom he desired to assume his name. The heirs in remainder were Drusus, Tiberius’s son, for one third, and Germanicus with his three sons for the residue. In the third place, failing them, were his relations, and several of his friends. He left in legacies to the Roman people forty millions of sesterces; to the tribes1 three millions five hundred thousand; to the prætorian troops a thousand each man; to the city cohorts five hundred; and to the legions and soldiers three hundred each; which several sums he ordered to be paid immediately after his death, having taken due care that the money should be ready in his exchequer. For the rest he ordered different times of payment. In some of his bequests he went as far as twenty thousand sesterces, for the payment of which he allowed a twelvemonth; alleging for this procrastination the scantiness of his estate; and declaring that not more than a hundred and fifty millions of sesterces would come to his heirs: notwithstanding that during the twenty preceding years, he had received, in legacies from his friends, the sum of fourteen hundred millions; almost the whole of which, with his two paternal estates,2 and others which had been left him, he had spent in the service of the state. He left orders that the two Julias, his daughter and grand-daughter, if any thing happened to them, should not be buried in his tomb.3 With regard to the three codicils before-mentioned, in one of them he gave orders about his funeral; another contained a summary of his acts, which he intended should be inscribed on brazen plates, and placed in front of his mausoleum; in the third he had drawn up a concise account of the state of the empire; the number of troops enrolled, what money there was in the treasury, the revenue, and arrears of taxes; to which were added the names of the freedmen and slaves from whom the several accounts might be taken.
Octavius Cæsar, afterwards Augustus, had now attained to the same position in the state which had formerly been occupied by Julius Cæsar; and though he entered upon it by violence, he continued to enjoy it through life with almost uninterrupted tranquillity. By the long duration of the late civil war, with its concomitant train of public calamities, the minds of men were become less averse to the prospect of an absolute government; at the same time that the new emperor, naturally prudent and politic, had learned from the fate of Julius the art of preserving supreme power, without arrogating to himself any invidious mark of distinction. He affected to decline public honours, disclaimed every idea of personal superiority, and in all his behaviour displayed a degree of moderation which prognosticated the most happy effects, in restoring peace and prosperity to the harassed empire. The tenor of his future conduct was suitable to this auspicious commencement. While he endeavoured to conciliate the affections of the people by lending money to those who stood in need of it, at low interest, or without any at all, and by the exhibition of public shows, of which the Romans were remarkably fond; he was attentive to the preservation of a becoming dignity in the government, and to the correction of morals. The senate, which, in the time of Sylla, had increased to upwards of four hundred, and, during the civil war, to a thousand, members, by the admission of improper persons, he reduced to six hundred; and being invested with the ancient office of censor, which had for some time been disused, he exercised an arbitrary but legal authority over the conduct of every rank in the state; by which he could degrade senators and knights, and inflict upon all citizens an ignominious sentence for any immoral or indecent behaviour. But nothing contributed more to render the new form of government acceptable to the people, than the frequent distribution of corn, and sometimes largesses, amongst the commonalty: for an occasional scarcity of provisions had always been the chief cause of discontents and tumults in the capital. To the interests of the army he likewise paid particular attention. It was by the assistance of the legions that he had risen to power; and they were the men who, in the last resort, if such an emergency should ever occur, could alone enable him to preserve it.
History relates, that after the overthrow of Antony, Augustus held a consultation with Agrippa and Mecænas about restoring the republican form of government; when Agrippa gave his opinion in favour of that measure, and Mecænas opposed it. The object of this consultation, in respect to its future consequences on society, is perhaps the most important ever agitated in any cabinet, and required, for the mature discussion of it, the whole collective wisdom of the ablest men in the empire. But this was a resource which could scarcely be adopted, either with security to the public quiet, or with unbiassed judgment in the determination of the question. The bare agitation of such a point would have excited immediate and strong anxiety for its final result; while the friends of a republican government, who were still far more numerous than those of the other party, would have strained every nerve to procure a determination in their own favour; and the prætorian guards, the surest protection of Augustus, finding their situation rendered precarious by such an unexpected occurrence, would have readily listened to the secret propositions and intrigues of the republicans for securing their acquiescence to the decision on the popular side. If, when the subject came into debate, Augustus should be sincere in the declaration to abide by the resolution of the council, it is beyond all doubt, that the restoration of a republican government would have been voted by a great majority of the assembly. If, on the contrary, he should not be sincere, which is the more probable supposition, and should incur the suspicion of practising secretly with members for a decision according to his wish, he would have rendered himself obnoxious to the public odium, and given rise to discontents which might have endangered his future security.
But to submit this important question to the free and unbiassed decision of a numerous assembly, it is probable, neither suited the inclination of Augustus, nor perhaps, in his opinion, consisted with his personal safety. With a view to the attainment of unconstitutional power, he had formerly deserted the cause of the republic when its affairs were in a prosperous situation; and now, when his end was accomplished, there could be little ground to expect, that he should voluntarily relinquish the prize for which he had spilt the best blood of Rome, and contended for so many years. Ever since the final defeat of Antony in the battle of Actium, he had governed the Roman state with uncontrolled authority; and though there is in the nature of unlimited power an intoxicating quality, injurious both to public and private virtue, yet all history contradicts the supposition of its being endued with any which is unpalatable to the general taste of mankind.
There were two chief motives by which Augustus would naturally be influenced in a deliberation on this important subject; namely, the love of power, and the personal danger which he might incur from relinquishing it. Either of these motives might have been a sufficient inducement for retaining his authority; but when they both concurred, as they seem to have done upon this occasion, their united force was irresistible. The argument, so far as relates to the love of power, rests upon a ground, concerning the solidity of which, little doubt can be entertained: but it may be proper to inquire, in a few words, into the foundation of that personal danger which he dreaded to incur, on returning to the station of a private citizen.
Augustus, as has been already observed, had formerly sided with the party which had attempted to restore public liberty after the death of Julius Cæsar: but he afterwards abandoned the popular cause, and joined in the ambitious plans of Antony and Lepidus to usurp amongst themselves the entire dominion of the state. By this change of conduct, he turned his arms against the supporters of a form of government which he had virtually recognized as the legal constitution of Rome; and it involved a direct implication of treason against the sacred representatives of that government, the consuls, formally and duly elected. Upon such a charge he might be amenable to the capital laws of his country. This, however, was a danger which might be fully obviated, by procuring from the senate and people an act of oblivion, previously to his abdication of the supreme power; and this was a preliminary which doubtless they would have admitted and ratified with unanimous approbation. It therefore appears that he could be exposed to no inevitable danger on this account: but there was another quarter where his person was vulnerable, and where even the laws might not be sufficient to protect him against the efforts of private resentment. The bloody proscription of the Triumvirate no act of amnesty could ever erase from the minds of those who had been deprived by it of their nearest and dearest relations; and amidst the numerous connections of the illustrious men sacrificed on that horrible occasion, there might arise some desperate avenger, whose indelible resentment nothing less would satisfy than the blood of the surviving delinquent. Though Augustus, therefore, might not, like his great predecessor, be stabbed in the senate-house, he might perish by the sword or the poniard in a less conspicuous situation. After all, there seems to have been little danger from this quarter likewise: for Sylla, who in the preceding age had been guilty of equal enormities, was permitted, on relinquishing the place of perpetual dictator, to end his days in quiet retirement; and the undisturbed security which Augustus ever afterwards enjoyed, affords sufficient proof, that all apprehension of danger to his person was merely chimerical.
We have hitherto considered this grand consultation as it might be influenced by the passions or prejudices of the emperor: we shall now take a short view of the subject in the light in which it is connected with considerations of a political nature and with public utility. The arguments handed down by history respecting this consultation are few, and imperfectly delivered; but they may be extended upon the general principles maintained on each side of the question.
For the restoration of the republican government, it might be contended, that from the expulsion of the kings to the dictatorship of Julius Cæsar, through a period of upwards of four hundred and sixty years, the Roman state, with the exception only of a short interval, had flourished and increased with a degree of prosperity unexampled in the annals of human kind: that the republican form of government was not only best adapted to the improvement of national grandeur, but to the security of general freedom, the great object of all political association: that public virtue, by which alone nations could subsist in vigour, was cherished and protected by no mode of administration so much as by that which connected, in the strongest bonds of union, the private interests of individuals with those of the community: that the habits and prejudices of the Roman people were unalterably attached to the form of government established by so long a prescription, and they would never submit, for any length of time, to the rule of one person, without making every possible effort to recover their liberty: that though despotism, under a mild and wise prince, might in some respects be regarded as preferable to a constitution which was occasionally exposed to the inconvenience of faction and popular tumults, yet it was a dangerous experiment to abandon the government of the nation to the contingency of such a variety of characters as usually occurs in the succession of princes; and, upon the whole, that the interests of the people were more safely entrusted in the hands of annual magistrates elected by themselves, than in those of any individual whose power was permanent, and subject to no legal control.
In favour of despotic government it might be urged, that though Rome had subsisted long and gloriously under a republican form of government, yet she had often experienced such violent shocks from popular tumults or the factions of the great, as had threatened her with imminent destruction: that a republican government was only accommodated to a people amongst whom the division of property gave to no class of citizens such a degree of preeminence as might prove dangerous to public freedom: that there was required in that form of political constitution, a simplicity of life and strictness of manners which are never observed to accompany a high degree of public prosperity: that in respect of all these considerations, such a form of government was utterly incompatible with the present circumstances of the Romans: that by the conquest of so many foreign nations, by the lucrative governments of provinces, the spoils of the enemy in war, and the rapine too often practised in time of peace, so great had been the aggrandizement of particular families in the preceding age, that though the form of the ancient constitution should still remain inviolate, the people would no longer live under a free republic, but an aristocratical usurpation, which was always productive of tyranny: that nothing could preserve the commonwealth from becoming a prey to some daring confederacy, but the firm and vigorous administration of one person, invested with the whole executive power of the state, unlimited and uncontrolled: in fine, that as Rome had been nursed to maturity by the government of six princes successively, so it was only by a similar form of political constitution that she could now be saved from aristocratical tyranny on one hand, or, on the other, from absolute anarchy.
On whichever side of the question the force of argument may be thought to preponderate, there is reason to believe that Augustus was guided in his resolution more by inclination and prejudice than by reason. It is related, however, that hesitating between the opposite opinions of his two counsellors, he had recourse to that of Virgil, who joined with Mecænas in advising him to retain the imperial power, as being the form of government most suitable to the circumstances of the times.
It is proper in this place to give some account of the two ministers above-mentioned, Agrippa and Mecænas, who composed the cabinet of Augustus at the settlement of his government, and seem to be the only persons employed by him in a ministerial capacity during his whole reign.
M. Vipsanius Agrippa was of obscure extraction, but rendered himself conspicuous by his military talents. He obtained a victory over Sextus Pompey; and in the battles of Philippi and Actium, where he displayed great valour, he contributed not a little to establish the subsequent power of Augustus. In his expeditions afterwards into Gaul and Germany, he performed many signal achievements, for which he refused the honours of a triumph. The expenses which others would have lavished on that frivolous spectacle, he applied to the more laudable purpose of embellishing Rome with magnificent buildings, one of which, the Pantheon, still remains. In consequence of a dispute with Marcellus, the nephew of Augustus, he retired to Mitylene, whence, after an absence of two years, he was recalled by the emperor. He first married Pomponia, the daughter of the celebrated Atticus, and afterwards one of the Marcellas, the nieces of Augustus. While this lady, by whom he had children, was still living, the emperor prevailed upon his sister Octavia to resign to him her son-in-law, and gave him in marriage his own daughter Julia; so strong was the desire of Augustus to be united with him in the closest alliance. The high degree of favour in which he stood with the emperor was soon after evinced by a farther mark of esteem: for during a visit to the Roman provinces of Greece and Asia, in which Augustus was absent two years, he left the government of the empire to the care of Agrippa. While this minister enjoyed, and indeed seems to have merited, all the partiality of Augustus, he was likewise a favourite with the people. He died at Rome, in the sixty-first year of his age, universally lamented; and his remains were deposited in the tomb which Augustus had prepared for himself. Agrippa left by Julia three sons, Caius, Lucius, and Posthumus Agrippa, with two daughters, Agrippina and Julia.
C. Cilnius Mecænas was of Tuscan extraction, and derived his descent from the ancient kings of that country. Though in the highest degree of favour with Augustus, he never aspired beyond the rank of the equestrian order; and though he might have held the government of extensive provinces by deputies, he was content with enjoying the præfecture of the city and Italy; a situation, however, which must have been attended with extensive patronage. He was of a gay and social disposition. In principle he is said to have been of the Epicurean sect, and in his dress and manners to have bordered on effeminacy. With respect to his political talents, we can only speak from conjecture; but from his being the confidential minister of a prince of so much discernment as Augustus, during the infancy of a new form of government in an extensive empire, we may presume that he was endowed with no common abilities for that important station. The liberal patronage which he displayed towards men of genius and talents, will render his name for ever celebrated in the annals of learning. It is to be regretted that history has transmitted no particulars of this extraordinary personage, of whom all we know is derived chiefly from the writings of Virgil and Horace; but from the manner in which they address him, amidst the familiarity of their intercourse, there is the strongest reason to suppose, that he was not less amiable and respectable in private life, than illustrious in public situation. “O my glory!” is the emphatic expression employed by them both.
One would be inclined to think, that there was a nicety in the sense and application of the word decus, amongst the Romans, with which we are unacquainted, and that, in the passages now adduced, it was understood to refer to the honour of the emperor’s patronage, obtained through the means of Mecænas; otherwise, such language to the minister might have excited the jealousy of Augustus. But whatever foundation there may be for this conjecture, the compliment was compensated by the superior adulation which the poets appropriated to the emperor, whose deification is more than insinuated, in sublime intimations, by Virgil.
The panegyric bestowed upon Augustus by the great poets of that time, appears to have had a farther object than the mere gratification of vanity. It was the ambition of this emperor to reign in the hearts as well as over the persons of his subjects; and with this view he was desirous of endearing himself to their imagination. Both he and Mecænas had a delicate sensibility to the beauties of poetical composition; and judging from their own feelings, they attached a high degree of influence to the charms of poetry. Impressed with these sentiments, it became an object of importance, in their opinion, to engage the Muses in the service of the imperial authority; on which account, we find Mecænas tampering with Propertius, and we may presume, likewise with every other rising genius in poetry, to undertake an heroic poem, of which Augustus should be the hero. As the application to Propertius cannot have taken place until after Augustus had been amply celebrated by the superior abilities of Virgil and Horace, there seems to be some reason for ascribing Mecænas’s request to a political motive. Caius and Lucius, the emperor’s grandsons by his daughter Julia, were still living, and both young. As one of them, doubtless, was intended to succeed to the government of the empire, prudence justified the adoption of every expedient that might tend to secure a quiet succession to the heir, upon the demise of Augustus. As a subsidiary resource, therefore, the expedient above mentioned was judged highly plausible; and the Roman cabinet indulged the idea of endeavouring to confirm imperial authority by the support of poetical renown. Lampoons against the government were not uncommon even in the time of Augustus; and elegant panegyric on the emperor served to counteract their influence upon the minds of the people. The idea was, perhaps, novel in the time of Augustus; but the history of later ages affords examples of its having been adopted, under different forms of government, with success.
The Roman empire, in the time of Augustus, had attained to a prodigious magnitude; and, in his testament, he recommended to his successors never to exceed the limits which he had prescribed to its extent. On the East it stretched to the Euphrates; on the South to the cataracts of the Nile, the deserts of Africa, and Mount Atlas; on the West to the Atlantic Ocean; and on the North to the Danube and the Rhine; including the best part of the then known world. The Romans, therefore, were not improperly called rerum domini,1 and Rome, pulcherrima rerum,2maxima rerum.3 Even the historians, Livy and Tacitus, actuated likewise with admiration, bestow magnificent epithets on the capital of their country. The succeeding emperors, in conformity to the advice of Augustus, made few additions to the empire. Trajan, however, subdued Mesopotamia and Armenia, east of the Euphrates, with Dacia, north of the Danube; and after this period the Roman dominion was extended over Britain, as far as the Frith of Forth and the Clyde.
It would be an object of curiosity to ascertain the amount of the Roman revenue in the reign of Augustus; but such a problem, even with respect to contemporary nations, cannot be elucidated without access to the public registers of their governments; and in regard to an ancient monarchy, the investigation is impracticable. We can only be assured that the revenue must have been immense, which arose from the accumulated contribution of such a number of nations, that had supported their own civil establishments with great splendour, and many of which were celebrated for their extraordinary riches and commerce. The tribute paid by the Romans themselves, towards the support of the government, was very considerable during the latter ages of the republic, and it received an increase after the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa. The establishments, both civil and military, in the different provinces, were supported at their own expense; the emperor required but a small naval force, an arm which adds much to the public expenditure of maritime nations in modern times; and the state was burdened with no diplomatic charges. The vast treasure accruing from the various taxes centered in Rome, and the whole was at the disposal of the emperor, without any control. We may therefore justly conclude that, in the amount of taxes, customs, and every kind of financial resources, Augustus exceeded all sovereigns who had hitherto ever swayed the sceptre of imperial dominion; a noble acquisition, had it been judiciously employed by his successors, in promoting public happiness, with half the profusion in which it was lavished in disgracing human nature, and violating the rights of mankind.
The reign of Augustus is distinguished by the most extraordinary event recorded in history, either sacred or profane, the nativity of the Saviour of mankind; which has since introduced a new epoch into the chronology of all Christian nations. The commencement of the new æra being the most flourishing period of the Roman empire, a general view of the state of knowledge and taste at this period, may here not be improper.
Civilization was at this time extended farther over the world than it had ever been in any preceding period; but polytheism rather increased than diminished with the advancement of commercial intercourse between the nations of Europe, Asia, and Africa; and, though philosophy had been cultivated during several ages, at Athens, Cyrene, Rome, and other seats of learning, yet the morals of mankind were little improved by the diffusion of speculative knowledge. Socrates had laid an admirable foundation for the improvement of human nature, by the exertion of reason through the whole economy of life; but succeeding inquirers, forsaking the true path of ethic investigation, deviated into specious discussions, rather ingenious than useful; and some of them, by gratuitously adopting principles, which, so far from being supported by reason, were repugnant to its dictates, endeavoured to erect upon the basis of their respective doctrines a system peculiar to themselves. The doctrines of the Stoics and Epicureans were, in fact, pernicious to society; and those of the different academies, though more intimately connected with reason than the two former, were of a nature too abstract to have any immediate or useful influence on life and manners. General discussions of truth and probability, with magnificent declamations on the το καλον, and the summum bonum, constituted the chief objects of attention amongst those who cultivated moral science in the shades of academical retirement. Cicero endeavoured to bring back philosophy from speculation to practice, and clearly evinced the social duties to be founded in the unalterable dictates of virtue; but it was easier to demonstrate the truth of the principles which he maintained, than to enforce their observance, while the morals of mankind were little actuated by the exercise of reason alone.
The science chiefly cultivated at this period was rhetoric, which appears to have differed considerably from what now passes under the same name. The object of it was not so much justness of sentiment and propriety of expression, as the art of declaiming, or speaking copiously upon any subject. It is mentioned by Varro as the reverse of logic; and they are distinguished from each other by a simile, that the former resembles the palm of the hand expanded, and the latter, contracted into the fist. It is observable that logic, though a part of education in modern times, seems not to have been cultivated amongst the Romans. Perhaps they were apprehensive, lest a science which concentered the force of argument, might obstruct the cultivation of that which was meant to dilate it. Astronomy was long before known in the eastern nations; but there is reason to believe, from a passage in Virgil,1 that it was little cultivated by the Romans; and it is certain, that in the reformation of the calendar, Julius Cæsar was chiefly indebted to the scientific knowledge of Sosigenes, a mathematician of Alexandria. The laws of the solar system were still but imperfectly known; the popular belief, that the sun moved round the earth, was universally maintained, and continued until the sixteenth century, when the contrary was proved by Copernicus. There existed many celebrated tracts on mathematics; and several of the mechanical powers, particularly that of the lever, were cultivated with success. The more necessary and useful rules of arithmetic were generally known. The use of the load-stone not being as yet discovered, navigation was conducted in the day-time by the sun, and in the night, by the observation of certain stars. Geography was cultivated during the present period by Strabo and Mela. In natural philosophy little progress was made; but a strong desire of its improvement was entertained, particularly by Virgil. Human anatomy being not yet introduced, physiology was imperfect. Chemistry, as a science, was utterly unknown. In medicine, the writings of Hippocrates, and other Greek physicians, were in general the standard of practice; but the Materia Medica contained few remedies of approved quality, and abounded with useless substances, as well as with many which stood upon no other foundation than the whimsical notions of those who first introduced them. Architecture flourished, through the elegant taste of Vitruvius, and the patronage of the emperor. Painting, statuary, and music, were cultivated, but not with that degree of perfection which they had obtained in the Grecian states. The musical instruments of this period were the flute and the lyre, to which may be added the sistrum, lately imported from Egypt. But the chief glory of the period is its literature, of which we proceed to give some account.
At the head of the writers of this age, stands the emperor himself, with his minister Mecænas; but the works of both have almost totally perished. It appears from the historian now translated, that Augustus was the author of several productions in prose, besides some in verse. He wrote Answers to Brutus in relation to Cato, Exhortations to Philosophy, and the History of his own Life, which he continued, in thirteen books, down to the war of Cantabria. A book of his, written in hexameter verse, under the title of Sicily, was extant in the time of Suetonius, as was likewise a book of Epigrams. He began a tragedy on the subject of Ajax, but, being dissatisfied with the composition, destroyed it. Whatever the merits of Augustus may have been as an author, of which no judgment can be formed, his attachment to learning and eminent writers affords a strong presumption that he was not destitute of taste. Mecænas is said to have written two tragedies, Octavia and Prometheus; a History of Animals; a Treatise on Precious Stones; a Journal of the Life of Augustus; and other productions. Curiosity is strongly interested to discover the literary talents of a man so much distinguished for the esteem and patronage of them in others; but while we regret the impossibility of such a development, we scarcely can suppose the proficiency to have been small, where the love and admiration were so great.
History was cultivated amongst the Romans during the present period, with uncommon success. This species of composition is calculated both for information and entertainment; but the chief design of it is to record all transactions relative to the public, for the purpose of enabling mankind to draw from past events a probable conjecture concerning the future; and, by knowing the steps which have led either to prosperity or misfortune, to ascertain the best means of promoting the former, and avoiding the latter of those objects. This useful kind of narrative was introduced about five hundred years before by Herodotus, who has thence received the appellation of the Father of History. His style, in conformity to the habits of thinking, and the simplicity of language, in an uncultivated age, is plain and unadorned; yet, by the happy modulation of the Ionic dialect, it gratified the ear, and afforded to the states of Greece a pleasing mixture of entertainment, enriched not only with various information, often indeed fabulous or unauthentic, but with the rudiments, indirectly interspersed, of political wisdom. This writer, after a long interval, was succeeded by Thucydides and Xenophon, the former of whom carried historical narrative to the highest degree of improvement it ever attained among the States of Greece. The plan of Thucydides seems to have continued to be the model of historical narrative to the writers of Rome; but the circumstances of the times, aided perhaps by the splendid exertion of genius in other departments of literature, suggested a new resource, which promised not only to animate, but embellish the future productions of the historic Muse. This innovation consisted in an attempt to penetrate the human heart, and explore in its innermost recesses the sentiments and secret motives which actuate the conduct of men. By connecting moral effects with their probable internal and external causes, it tended to establish a systematic consistency in the concatenation of transactions apparently anomalous, accidental, or totally independent of each other.
The author of this improvement in history was Sallust, who likewise introduced the method of enlivening narrative with the occasional aid of rhetorical declamation, particularly in his account of the Catilinian conspiracy. The notorious characters and motives of the principal persons concerned in that horrible plot, afforded the most favourable opportunity for exemplifying the former; while the latter, there is reason to infer from the facts which must have been at that time publicly known, were founded upon documents of unquestionable authority. Nay, it is probable that Sallust was present in the senate during the debate respecting the punishment of the Catilinian conspirators; his detail of which is agreeable to the characters of the several speakers: but in detracting, by invidious silence, or too faint representation, from the merits of Cicero on that important occasion, he exhibits a glaring instance of the partiality which too often debases the narratives of those who record the transactions of their own time. He had married Terentia, the divorced wife of Cicero; and there subsisted between the two husbands a kind of rivalship from that cause, to which was probably added some degree of animosity, on account of their difference in politics, during the late dictatorship of Julius Cæsar, by whom Sallust was restored to the senate, whence he had been expelled for licentiousness, and was appointed governor of Numidia. Excepting the injustice with which Sallust treats Cicero, he is entitled to high commendation. In both his remaining works, the Conspiracy of Catiline, and the War of Jugurtha, there is a peculiar air of philosophical sentiment, which, joined to the elegant conciseness of style, and animated description of characters, gives to his writings a degree of interest, superior to that which is excited in any preceding work of the historical kind. In the occasional use of obsolete words, and in laboured exordiums to both his histories, he is liable to the charge of affectation; but it is an affectation of language which supports solemnity without exciting disgust; and of sentiment which not only exalts human nature, but animates to virtuous exertions. It seems to be the desire of Sallust to atone for the dissipation of his youth by a total change of conduct; and whoever peruses his exordiums with the attention which they deserve, must feel a strong persuasion of the justness of his remarks, if not the incentives of a resolution to be governed by his example. It seems to be certain, that from the first moment of his reformation, he incessantly practised the industry which he so warmly recommends. He composed a History of Rome, of which nothing remains but a few fragments. Sallust, during his administration of Numidia, is said to have exercised great oppression. On his return to Rome he built a magnificent house, and bought delightful gardens, the name of which, with his own, is to this day perpetuated on the spot which they formerly occupied. Sallust was born at Amiternum, in the country of the Sabines, and received his education at Rome. He incurred great scandal by an amour with Fausta, the daughter of Sylla, and wife of Milo; who detecting the criminal intercourse, is said to have beat him with stripes, and extorted from him a large sum of money. He died, according to tradition, in the fifty-first year of his age.—
Cornelius Nepos was born at Hostilia, near the banks of the Po. Of his parentage we meet with no account; but from his respectable connections early in life, it is probable that he was of good extraction. Among his most intimate friends were Cicero and Atticus. Some authors relate that he composed three books of Chronicles, with a biographical account of all the most celebrated sovereigns, generals, and writers of antiquity.
The language of Cornelius Nepos is pure, his style perspicuous, and he holds a middle and agreeable course between diffuseness and brevity. He has not observed the same rule with respect to the treatment of every subject; for the account of some of the lives is so short, that we might suspect them to be mutilated, did they not contain evident marks of their being completed in miniature. The great extent of his plan induced him, as he informs us, to adopt this expedient. “Sed plura persequi, tum magnitudo voluminis prohibet, tum festinatio, ut ea explicem, quæ exorsus sum.”1
Of his numerous biographical works, twenty-two lives only remain, which are all of Greeks, except two Carthaginians, Hamilcar and Hannibal; and two Romans, M. Porcius Cato and T. Pomponius Atticus. Of his own life,—of him who had written the lives of so many, no account is transmitted; but from the multiplicity of his productions, we may conclude that it was devoted to literature.—
Titus Livius may be ranked among the most celebrated historians the world has ever produced. He composed a history of Rome from the foundation of the city, to the conclusion of the German war conducted by Drusus in the time of the emperor Augustus. This great work consisted, originally, of one hundred and forty books; of which there now remain only thirty-five, viz., the first decade, and the whole from book twenty-one to book forty-five, both inclusive. Of the other hundred and five books, nothing more has survived the ravages of time and barbarians than their general contents. In a perspicuous arrangement of his subject, in a full and circumstantial account of transactions, in the delineation of characters and other objects of description, in justness and aptitude of sentiment, and in an air of majesty pervading the whole composition, this author may be regarded as one of the best models extant of historical narrative. His style is splendid without meretricious ornament, and copious without being redundant; a fluency to which Quintilian gives the expressive appellation of “lactea ubertas.” Amongst the beauties which we admire in his writings, besides the animated speeches frequently interspersed, are those concise and peculiarly applicable eulogiums, with which he characterises every eminent person mentioned, at the close of their life. Of his industry in collating, and his judgment in deciding upon the preference due to, dissentient authorities, in matters of testimony, the work affords numberless proofs Of the freedom and impartiality with which he treated even of the recent periods of history, there cannot be more convincing evidence, than that he was rallied by Augustus as a favourer of Pompey; and that, under the same emperor, he not only bestowed upon Cicero the tribute of warm approbation, but dared to ascribe, in an age when their names were obnoxious, even to Brutus and Cassius the virtues of consistency and patriotism. If in any thing the conduct of Livy violates our sentiments of historical dignity, it is the apparent complacency and reverence with which he every where mentions the popular belief in omens and prodigies; but this was the general superstition of the times; and totally to renounce the prejudices of superstitious education, is the last heroic sacrifice to philosophical scepticism. In general, however, the credulity of Livy appears to be rather affected than real; and his account of the exit of Romulus, in the following passage, may be adduced as an instance in confirmation of this remark.
“His immortalibus editis operibus, quum ad exercitum recensendum concionem in campo ad Capræ paludem haberet, subita coorta tempestate cum magno fragore tonitribusque tam denso regem operuit nimbo, ut conspectum ejus concioni abstulerit; nec deinde in terris Romulus fuit. Romana pubes, sedato tandem pavore, postquam ex tam turbido die serena, et tranquilla lux rediit, ubi vacuam sedem regiam vidit; etsi satis credebat Patribus, qui proximi steterant, sublimem raptum procella; tamen veluti orbitatis metu icta, mæstum aliquamdiu silentium obtinuit. Deinde a paucis initio facto, Deum, Deo natum, regem parentemque urbis Romanæ, salvere universi Romulum jubent; pacem precibus exposcunt, uti volens propitius suam semper sospitet progeniem. Fuisse credo tum quoque aliquos, qui discerptum regem Patrum manibus taciti arguerent; manavit enim hæc quoque, et perobscura, fama. Illam alteram admiratio viri, et pavor præsens nobilitavit. Consilio etiam unius hominis addita rei dicitur fides; namque Proculus Julius sollicita civitate desidario regis, et infensa Patribus, gravis, ut traditur, quamvis magnæ rei auctor, in concionem prodit. ‘Romulus, inquit, Quirites, parens urbis hujus, prima hodierna luce cœlo repente delapsus, se mihi obvium dedit; quam profusus horrore venerabundusque astitissem, petens precibus, ut contra intueri fas esset; Abi, nuncia, inquit, Romanis, Cælestes ita velle, ut mea Roma caput orbis terrarum sit; proinde rem militarem colant; sciantque, et ita posteris tradant, nullas opes humanas armis Romanis resistere posse.’ Hæc, inquit, locutus, sublimis abiit. Mirum, quantum illi viro nuncianti hæc fidei fuerit; quamque desiderium Romuli apud plebem exercitumque, facta fide immortalitatis, lenitum sit.1
Scarcely any incident in ancient history savours more of the marvellous than the account above delivered respecting the first Roman king; and amidst all the solemnity with which it is related, we may perceive that the historian was not the dupe of credulity. There is more implied than the author thought proper to avow, in the sentence, Fuisse credo, &c. In whatever light this anecdote be viewed, it is involved in perplexity. That Romulus affected a despotic power, is not only highly probable, from his aspiring disposition, but seems to be confirmed by his recent appointment of the Celeres, as a guard to his person. He might, therefore, naturally incur the odium of the patricians, whose importance was diminished, and their institution rendered abortive, by the increase of his power. But that they should choose the opportunity of a military review, for the purpose of removing the tyrant by a violent death, seems not very consistent with the dictates even of common prudence; and it is the more incredible, as the circumstance which favoured the execution of the plot is represented to have been entirely a fortuitous occurrence. The tempest which is said to have happened, is not easily reconcilable with our knowledge of that phenomenon. Such a cloud, or mist, as could have enveloped Romulus from the eyes of the assembly, is not a natural concomitant of a thunder-storm. There is some reason to suspect that both the noise and cloud, if they actually existed, were artificial; the former intended to divert the attention of the spectators, and the latter to conceal the transaction. The word fragor, a noise or crash, appears to be an unnecessary addition where thunder is expressed, though sometimes so used by the poets, and may therefore, perhaps, imply such a noise from some other cause. If Romulus was killed by any pointed or sharp-edged weapon, his blood might have been discovered on the spot; or, if by other means, still the body was equally an object for public observation. If the people suspected the patricians to be guilty of murder, why did they not endeavour to trace the fact by this evidence? And if the patricians were really innocent, why did they not urge the examination? But the body, without doubt, was secreted, to favour the imposture. The whole narrative is strongly marked with circumstances calculated to affect credulity with ideas of national importance; and, to countenance the design, there is evidently a chasm in the Roman history immediately preceding this transaction and intimately connected with it.
Livy was born at Patavium,1 and has been charged by Asinius Pollio and others with the provincial dialect of his country. The objections to his Pativinity, as it is called, relate chiefly to the spelling of some words; in which, however, there seems to be nothing so peculiar, as either to occasion any obscurity or merit reprehension.
Livy and Sallust being the only two existing rivals in Roman history, it may not be improper to draw a short comparison between them, in respect of their principal qualities, as writers. With regard to language, there is less apparent affectation in Livy than in Sallust. The narrative of both is distinguished by an elevation of style: the elevation of Sallust seems to be often supported by the dignity of assumed virtue; that of Livy by a majestic air of historical, and sometimes national, importance. In delineating characters, Sallust infuses more expression, and Livy more fulness, into the features. In the speeches ascribed to particular persons, these writers are equally elegant and animated.
So great was the fame of Livy in his own life-time, that people came from the extremity of Spain and Gaul, for the purpose only of beholding so celebrated a historian, who was regarded, for his abilities, as a prodigy. This affords a strong proof, not only of the literary taste which then prevailed over the most extensive of the Roman provinces, but of the extraordinary pains with which so great a work must have been propagated, when the art of printing was unknown. In the fifteenth century, on the revival of learning in Europe, the name of this great writer recovered its ancient veneration; and Alphonso of Arragon, with a superstition characteristic of that age, requested of the people of Padua, where Livy was born, and is said to have been buried, to be favoured by them with the hand which had written so admirable a work.—
The celebrity of Virgil has proved the means of ascertaining his birth with more exactness than is common in the biographical memoirs of ancient writers. He was born at Andes, a village in the neighbourhood of Mantua, on the 15th of October, seventy years before the Christian æra. His parents were of moderate condition; but by their industry acquired some territorial possessions, which descended to their son. The first seven years of his life was spent at Cremona, whence he went to Mediolanum, now Milan, at that time the seat of the liberal arts, denominated, as we learn from Pliny the younger, Novæ Athenæ. From this place he afterwards moved to Naples, where he applied himself with great assiduity to Greek and Roman literature, particularly to the physical and mathematical sciences; for which he expressed a strong predilection in the second book of his Georgics.
When, by a proscription of the Triumvirate, the lands of Cremona and Mantua were distributed amongst the veteran soldiers, Virgil had the good fortune to recover his possessions, through the favour of Asinius Pollio, the deputy of Augustus in those parts; to whom, as well as to the emperor, he has testified his gratitude in beautiful eclogues.
The first production of Virgil was his Bucolics, consisting of ten eclogues, written in imitation of the Idyllia or pastoral poems of Theocritus. It may be questioned whether any language which has its provincial dialects, but is brought to perfection, can ever be well adapted, in that state, to the use of pastoral poetry. There is such an apparent incongruity between the simple ideas of the rural swain and the polished language of the courtier, that it seems impossible to reconcile them together by the utmost art of composition. The Doric dialect of Theocritus, therefore, abstractedly from all consideration of simplicity of sentiment, must ever give to the Sicilian bard a pre-eminence in this species of poetry. The greater part of the Bucolics of Virgil may be regarded as poems of a peculiar nature, into which the author has happily transfused, in elegant versification, the native manners and ideas, without any mixture of the rusticity of pastoral life. With respect to the fourth eclogue, addressed to Pollio, it is avowedly of a nature superior to that of pastoral subjects:
Virgil engaged in bucolic poetry at the request of Asinius Pollio, whom he highly esteemed, and for one of whose sons in particular, with Cornelius Gallus, a poet likewise, he entertained the warmest affection. He has celebrated them all in these poems, which were begun, we are told, in the twenty-ninth year of his age, and completed in three years. They were held in so great esteem amongst the Romans, immediately after their publication, that it is said they were frequently recited upon the stage for the entertainment of the audience. Cicero, upon hearing some lines of them, perceived that they were written in no common strain of poetry, and desired that the whole eclogue might be recited: which being done, he exclaimed, “Magnæ spes altera Romæ.” Another hope of mighty Rome!1
Virgil’s next work was the Georgics, the idea of which is taken from the Εργα και Ἡμεραι, the Works and Days of Hesiod, the poet of Ascra. But between the productions of the two poets, there is no other similarity than that of their common subject. The precepts of Hesiod, in respect of agriculture, are delivered with all the simplicity of an unlettered cultivator of the fields, intermixed with plain moral reflections, natural and apposite; while those of Virgil, equally precise and important, are embellished with all the dignity of sublime versification. The work is addressed to Mecænas, at whose request it appears to have been undertaken. It is divided into four books. The first treats of ploughing; the second, of planting; the third, of cattle, horses, sheep, goats, dogs, and of things which are hurtful to cattle: the fourth is employed on bees, their proper habitations, food, polity, the diseases to which they are liable, and the remedies of them, with the method of making honey, and a variety of other considerations connected with the subject. The Georgics were written at Naples, and employed the author during a period of seven years. It is said that Virgil had concluded the Georgics with a laboured eulogium on his poetical friend Gallus; but the latter incurring about this time the displeasure of Augustus, he was induced to cancel it, and substitute the charming episode of Astæus and Eurydice.
These beautiful poems, considered merely as didactic, have the justest claim to utility. In what relates to agriculture in particular, the precepts were judiciously adapted to the climate of Italy, and must have conveyed much valuable information to those who were desirous of cultivating that important art, which was held in great honour amongst the Romans. The same remark may be made, with greater latitude of application, in respect of the other subjects. But when we examine the Georgics as poetical compositions, when we attend to the elevated style in which they are written, the beauty of the similes, the emphatic sentiments interspersed, the elegance of diction, the animated strain of the whole, and the harmony of the versification, our admiration is excited, at beholding subjects, so common in their nature, embellished with the most magnificent decorations of poetry.
During four days which Augustus passed at Atella, to refresh himself from fatigue, in his return to Rome, after the battle of Actium, the Georgics, just then finished, were read to him by the author, who was occasionally relieved in the task by his friend Mecænas. We may easily conceive the satisfaction enjoyed by the emperor, at finding that while he himself had been gathering laurels in the achievements of war, another glorious wreath was prepared by the Muses to adorn his temples; and that an intimation was given of his being afterwards celebrated in a work more congenial to the subject of heroic renown.
It is generally supposed that the Æneid was written at the particular desire of Augustus, who was ambitious of having the Julian family represented as lineal descendants of the Trojan Æneas. In this celebrated poem, Virgil has happily united the characteristics of the Iliad and Odyssey, and blended them so judiciously together, that they mutually contribute to the general effect of the whole. By the esteem and sympathy excited for the filial piety and misfortunes of Æneas at the catastrophe of Troy, the reader is strongly interested in his subsequent adventures; and every obstacle to the establishment of the Trojans in the promised land of Hesperia produces fresh sensations of increased admiration and attachment. The episodes, characters, and incidents, all concur to give beauty or grandeur to the poem. The picture of Troy in flames can never be sufficiently admired The incomparable portrait of Priam, in Homer, is admirably accommodated to a different situation, in the character of Anchises, in the Æneid. The prophetic rage of the Cumæan Sibyl displays in the strongest colours the enthusiasm of the poet. For sentiment, passion, and interesting description, the episode of Dido is a master-piece in poetry. But Virgil is not more conspicuous for strength of description than propriety of sentiment; and wherever he takes a hint from the Grecian bard, he prosecutes the idea with a judgment peculiar to himself. It may be sufficient to mention one instance. In the sixth book of the Iliad, while the Greeks are making great slaughter amongst the Trojans, Hector, by the advice of Helenus, retires into the city, to desire that his mother would offer up prayers to the goddess Pallas, and vow to her a noble sacrifice, if she would drive Diomede from the walls of Troy. Immediately before his return to the field of battle, he has his last interview with Andromache, whom he meets with his infant son Astyanax, carried by a nurse. There occurs, upon this occasion, one of the most beautiful scenes in the Iliad, where Hector dandles the boy in his arms, and pours forth a prayer, that he may one day be superior in fame to his father. In the same manner, Æneas, having armed himself for the decisive combat with Turnus, addresses his son Ascanius in a beautiful speech, which, while expressive of the strongest paternal affection, contains, instead of a prayer, a noble and emphatic admonition, suitable to a youth who had nearly attained the period of adult age. It is as follows:
Virgil, though born to shine by his own intrinsic powers, certainly owed much of his excellence to the wonderful merits of Homer. His susceptible imagination, vivid and correct, was impregnated by the Odyssey, and warmed with the fire of the Iliad. Rivalling, or rather on some occasions surpassing his glorious predecessor in the characters of heroes and of gods, he sustains their dignity with so uniform a lustre, that they seem indeed more than mortal.
Whether the Iliad or the Æneid be the more perfect composition, is a question which has often been agitated, but perhaps will never be determined to general satisfaction. In comparing the genius of the two poets, however, allowance ought to be made for the difference of circumstances under which they composed their respective works. Homer wrote in an age when mankind had not as yet made any great progress in the exertion of either intellect or imagination, and he was therefore indebted for his resources to the vast capacity of his own mind. To this we must add, that he composed both his poems in a situation of life extremely unfavourable to the cultivation of poetry. Virgil, on the contrary, lived at a period when literature had attained to a high state of improvement. He had likewise not only the advantage of finding a model in the works of Homer, but of perusing the laws of epic poetry, which had been digested by Aristotle, and the various observations made on the writings of the Greek bard by critics of acuteness and taste; amongst the chief of whom was his friend Horace, who remarks that
— quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus.
—De Arte Poet.
E’en sometimes the good Homer naps.
Virgil, besides, composed his poem in a state remote from indigence, where he was roused to exertion by the example of several contemporary poets; and what must have animated him beyond every other consideration, he wrote both at the desire, and under the patronage of the emperor and his minister Mecænas. In what time Homer composed either of his poems, we know not; but the Æneid, we are informed, was the employment of Virgil during eleven years. For some years, the repeated entreaties of Augustus could not extort from him the smallest specimen of the work; but at length, when considerably advanced in it, he condescended to recite three books—the second, the fourth, and the sixth—in the presence of the emperor and his sister Octavia, to gratify the latter of whom, in particular, the recital of the last book now mentioned, was intended When the poet came to the words, Tu Marcellus eris, alluding to Octavia’s son, a youth of great hopes, who had lately died, the mother fainted. After she had recovered from this fit, by the care of her attendants, she ordered ten sesterces to be given to Virgil for every line relating to that subject; a gratuity which amounted to about two thousand pounds sterling.
In the composition of the Æneid, Virgil scrupled not to introduce whole lines of Homer, and of the Latin poet Ennius; many of whose sentences he admired. In a few instances he has borrowed from Lucretius. He is said to have been at extraordinary pains in polishing his numbers; and when he was doubtful of any passage, he would read it to some of his friends, that he might have their opinion. On such occasions, it was usual with him to consult in particular his freedman and librarian Erotes, an old domestic, who, it is related, supplied extempore a deficiency in two lines, and was desired by his master to write them in the manuscript.
When this immortal work was completed, Virgil resolved on retiring into Greece and Asia for three years, that he might devote himself entirely to polishing it, and have leisure afterwards to pass the remainder of his life in the cultivation of philosophy. But meeting at Athens with Augustus, who was on his return from the East, he determined on accompanying the emperor back to Rome. Upon a visit to Megara, a town in the neighbourhood of Athens, he was seized with a languor, which increased during the ensuing voyage; and he expired a few days after landing at Brundisium, on the 22nd of September, in the fifty-second year of his age. He desired that his body might be carried to Naples, where he had passed many happy years; and that the following distich, written in his last sickness, should be inscribed upon his tomb:
He was accordingly interred, by the order of Augustus, with great funeral pomp, within two miles of Naples near the road to Puteoli, where his tomb still exists. Of his estate, which was very considerable by the liberality of his friends, he left the greater part to Valerius Proculus and his brother, a fourth to Augustus, a twelfth to Mecænas, besides legacies to L. Varius and Plotius Tucca, who, in consequence of his own request, and the command of Augustus, revised and corrected the Æneid after his death. Their instructions from the emperor were, to expunge whatever they thought improper, but upon no account to make any addition. This restriction is supposed to be the cause that many lines in the Æneid are imperfect.
Virgil was of large stature, had a dark complexion, and his features are said to have been such as expressed no uncommon abilities. He was subject to complaints of the stomaca and throat, as well as to head-ache, and had frequent discharges of blood upwards: but from what part, we are not informed. He was very temperate both in food and wine. His modesty was so great, that at Naples they commonly gave him the name of Parthenias, “the modest man.” On the subject of his modesty, the following anecdote is related.
Having written a distich, in which he compared Augustus to Jupiter, he placed it in the night-time over the gate of the emperor’s palace. It was in these words:
By order of Augustus, an inquiry was made after the author; and Virgil not declaring himself, the verses were claimed by Bathyllus, a contemptible poet, but who was liberally rewarded on the occasion. Virgil, provoked at the falsehood of the impostor, again wrote the verses on some conspicuous part of the palace, and under them the following line:
with the beginning of another line in these words:
repeated four times. Augustus expressing a desire that the lines should be finished, and Bathyllus proving unequal to the task, Virgil at last filled up the blanks in this manner:
The expedient immediately evinced him to be the author of the distich, and Bathyllus became the theme of public ridicule.
When at any time Virgil came to Rome, if the people, as was commonly the case, crowded to gaze upon him, or pointed at him with the finger in admiration, he blushed, and stole away from them; frequently taking refuge in some shop. When he went to the theatre, the audience universally rose up at his entrance, as they did to Augustus, and received him with the loudest plaudits; a compliment which, however highly honourable, he would gladly have declined. When such was the just respect which they paid to the author of the Bucolics and Georgics, how would they have expressed their esteem, had they beheld him in the effulgence of epic renown! In the beautiful episode of the Elysian fields, in the Æneid, where he dexterously introduced a glorious display of their country, he had touched the most elastic springs of Roman enthusiasm. The passion would have rebounded upon himself, and they would, in the heat of admiration, have idolized him.—
Horace was born at Venusia, on the tenth of December, in the consulship of L. Cotta and L. Torquatus. According to his own acknowledgment, his father was a freedman; by some it is said that he was a collector of the revenue, and by others, a fishmonger, or a dealer in salted meat. Whatever he was, he paid particular attention to the education of his son, for, after receiving instruction from the best masters in Rome, he sent him to Athens to study philosophy. From this place, Horace followed Brutus, in the quality of a military tribune, to the battle of Philippi, where, by his own confession, being seized with timidity, he abandoned the profession of a soldier, and returning to Rome, applied himself to the cultivation of poetry. In a short time he acquired the friendship of Virgil and Valerius, whom he mentions in his Satires, in terms of the most tender affection.
By the two friends above mentioned, he was recommended to the patronage not only of Mecænas, but of Augustus, with whom he, as well as Virgil, lived on a footing of the greatest intimacy. Satisfied with the luxury which he enjoyed at the first tables in Rome, he was so unambitious of any public employment, that when the emperor offered him the place of his secretary, he declined it. But as he lived in an elegant manner, having, besides his house in town, a cottage on his Sabine farm, and a villa at Tibur, near the falls of the Anio, he enjoyed, beyond all doubt a handsome establishment, from the liberality of Augustus. He indulged himself in indolence and social pleasure, but was at the same much devoted to reading; and enjoyed a tolerable good state of health, although often incommoded with a fluxion of rheum upon the eyes.
Horace, in the ardour of youth, and when his bosom beat high with the raptures of fancy, had, in the pursuit of Grecian literature, drunk largely, at the source, of the delicious springs of Castalia; and it seems to have been ever after his chief ambition, to transplant into the plains of Latium the palm of lyric poetry. Nor did he fail of success:
Exegi monumentum ære perennius.
—Carm. iii. 30.
More durable than brass a monument I’ve raised.
In Greece, and other countries, the Ode appears to have been the most ancient, as well as the most popular species of literary production. Warm in expression, and short in extent, it concentrates in narrow bounds the fire of poetical transport: on which account, it has been generally employed to celebrate the fervours of piety, the raptures of love, the enthusiasm of praise; and to animate warriors to glorious exertions of valour:
There arose in this department, among the Greeks, nine eminent poets, viz. Alcæus, Alcman, Anacreon, Bacchylides, Ibicus, Sappho, Stesichorus, Simonides, and Pindar. The greater number of this distinguished class are now known only by name. They seem all to have differed from one another, no less in the kind of measure which they chiefly or solely employed, than in the strength or softness, the beauty or grandeur, the animated rapidity or the graceful ease of their various compositions. Of the amorous effusions of the lyre, we yet have examples in the odes of Anacreon, and the incomparable ode of Sappho: the lyric strains which animated to battle, have sunk into oblivion; but the victors in the public games of Greece have their fame perpetuated in the admirable productions of Pindar.
Horace, by adopting, in the multiplicity of his subjects, almost all the various measures of the different Greek poets, and frequently combining different measures in the same composition, has compensated for the dialects of that tongue, so happily suited to poetry, and given to a language less distinguished for soft inflexions, all the tender and delicate modulations of the Eastern song. While he moves in the measures of the Greeks with an case and gracefulness which rivals their own acknowledged excellence, he has enriched the fund of lyric harmony with a stanza peculiar to himself. In the artificial construction of the Ode, he may justly be regarded as the first of lyric poets. In beautiful imagery, he is inferior to none: in variety of sentiment and felicity of expression, superior to every existing competitor in Greek or Roman poetry. He is elegant without affectation; and what is more remarkable, in the midst of gaiety he is moral. We seldom meet in his Odes with the abrupt apostrophes of passionate excursion; but his transitions are conducted with ease, and every subject introduced with propriety.
The Carmen Seculare was written at the express desire of Augustus, for the celebration of the Secular Games, performed once in a hundred years, and which continued during three days and three nights, whilst all Rome resounded with the mingled effusions of choral addresses to gods and goddesses, and of festive joy. An occasion which so much interested the ambition of the poet, called into exertion the most vigorous efforts of his genius. More concise in mythological attributes than the hymns ascribed to Homer, this beautiful production, in variety and grandeur of invocation, and in pomp of numbers, surpasses all that Greece, melodious but simple in the service of the altar, ever poured forth from her vocal groves in solemn adoration. By the force of native genius, the ancients elevated their heroes to a pitch of sublimity that excites admiration, but to soar beyond which they could derive no aid from mythology; and it was reserved for a bard, inspired with nobler sentiments than the Muses could supply, to sing the praises of that Being whose ineffable perfections transcend all human imagination. Of the praises of gods and heroes, there is not now extant a more beautiful composition, than the 12th Ode of the first book of Horace:
The Satires of Horace are far from being remarkable for poet ical harmony, as he himself acknowledges. Indeed, according to the plan upon which several of them are written, it could scarcely be otherwise. They are frequently colloquial, sometimes interrogatory, the transitions quick, and the apostrophes abrupt. It was not his object in those compositions, to soothe the ear with the melody of polished numbers, but to rally the frailties of the heart, to convince the understanding by argument, and thence to put to shame both the vices and follies of mankind. Satire is a species of composition, of which the Greeks furnished no model; and the preceding Roman writers of this class, though they had much improved it from its original rudeness and licentiousness, had still not brought it to that degree of perfection which might answer the purpose of moral reform in a polished state of society. It received the most essential improvement from Horace, who has dexterously combined wit and argument, raillery and sarcasm, on the side of morality and virtue, of happiness and truth.
The Epistles of this author may be reckoned amongst the most valuable productions of antiquity. Except those of the second book, and one or two in the first, they are in general of the familiar kind; abounding in moral sentiments, and judicious observations on life and manners.
The poem De Arte Poëticâ comprises a system of criticism, in justness of principle and extent of application, correspondent to the various exertions of genius on subjects of invention and taste That in composing this excellent production, he availed himself of the most approved works of Grecian original, we may conclude from the advice which he there recommends:
In the writings of Horace there appears a fund of good sense, enlivened with pleasantry, and refined by philosophical reflection. He had cultivated his judgment with great application, and his taste was guided by intuitive perception of moral beauty, aptitude, and propriety. The few instances of indelicacy which occur in his compositions, we may ascribe rather to the manners of the times, than to any blameable propensity in the author. Horace died in the fifty-seventh year of his age, surviving his beloved Mecænas only three weeks; a circumstance which, added to the declaration in an ode1 to that personage, supposed to have been written in Mecænas’s last illness, has given rise to a conjecture, that Horace ended his days by a violent death, to accompany his friend. But it is more natural to conclude that he died of excessive grief, as, had he literally adhered to the affirmation contained in the ode, he would have followed his patron more closely. This seems to be confirmed by a fact immediately preceding his death; for though he declared Augustus heir to his whole estate, he was not able, on account of weakness, to put his signature to the will; a failure which it is probable that he would have taken care to obviate, had his death been premeditated. He was interred, at his own desire, near the tomb of Mecænas.—
Ovid was born of an equestrian family, at Sulmo, a town of the Peligni, on the 21st of March, in the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa. His father intended him for the bar; and after passing him through the usual course of instruction at Rome, he was sent to Athens, the emporium of learning, to complete his education. On his return to Rome, in obedience to the desire of his father, he entered upon the offices of public life in the forum, and declaimed with great applause. But this was the effect of paternal authority, not of choice: for, from his earliest years, he discovered an extreme attachment to poetry; and no sooner was his father dead, than, renouncing the bar, he devoted himself entirely to the cultivation of that fascinating art, his propensity to which was invincible. His productions, all written either in heroic or pentameter verse, are numerous, and on various subjects. It will be sufficient to mention them briefly.
The Heroides consist of twenty-one Epistles, all which, except three, are feigned to be written from celebrated women of antiquity, to their husbands or lovers: such as Penelope to Ulysses, Dido to Æneas, Sappho to Phaon, &c. These compositions are nervous, animated and elegant: they discover a high degree of poetic enthusiasm, but blended with that lascivious turn of thought, which pervades all the amorous productions of this celebrated author.
The elegies on subjects of love, particularly the Ars Amandi, or Ars Amatoria, though not all uniform in versification, possess the same general character, of warmth of passion, and luscious description, as the epistles.
The Fasti were divided into twelve books, of which only the first six now remain. The design of them was to deliver an account of the Roman festivals in every month of the year, with a description of the rites and ceremonies, as well as the sacrifices on those occasions. It is to be regretted, that, on a subject so interesting, this valuable work should not have been transmitted entire: but in the part which remains, we are furnished with a beautiful description of the ceremonial transactions in the Roman calendar, from the first of January to the end of June. The versification, as in all the compositions of this author, is easy and harmonious.
The most popular production of this poet is his Metamorphoses, not less extraordinary for the nature of the subject, than for the admirable art with which the whole is conducted. The work is founded upon the traditions and theogony of the ancients, which consisted of various detached fables. Those Ovid has not only so happily arranged, that they form a coherent series of narratives, one rising out of another; but he describes the different changes with such an imposing plausibility, as to give a natural appearance to the most incredible fictions. This ingenious production, however perfect it may appear, we are told by himself, had not received his last corrections when he was ordered into banishment.
In the Ibis, the author imitates a poem of the same name, written by Callimachus. It is an invective against some person who publicly traduced his character at Rome, after his banishment. A strong sensibility, indignation, and implacable resentment, are conspicuous through the whole.
The Tristia were composed in his exile, in which, though his vivacity forsook him, he still retained a genius prolific in versification. In these poems, as well as in many epistles to different persons, he bewails his unhappy situation, and deprecates in the strongest terms the inexorable displeasure of Augustus.
Several other productions written by Ovid are now lost, and amongst them a tragedy called Medea, of which Quintilian expresses a high opinion. Ovidii Medea videtur mihi ostenders quantum vir ille præstare potuerit, si ingenio suo temperare quam indulgere maluisset.1 Lib. x. c. 1.
It is a peculiarity in the productions of this author, that, on whatever he employs his pen, he exhausts the subject; not with any prolixity that fatigues the attention, but by a quick succession of new ideas, equally brilliant and apposite, often expressed in antitheses. Void of obscenity in expression, but lascivious in sentiment, he may be said rather to stimulate immorally the natural passions, than to corrupt the imagination. No poet is more guided in versification by the nature of his subject than Ovid. In common narrative, his ideas are expressed with almost colloquial simplicity; but when his fancy glows with sentiment, or is animated by objects of grandeur, his style is proportionably elevated, and he rises to a pitch of sublimity.
No point in ancient history has excited more variety of conjectures than the banishment of Ovid; but after all the efforts of different writers to elucidate the subject, the cause of this extraordinary transaction remains involved in obscurity. It may therefore not be improper, in this place, to examine the foundation of the several conjectures which have been formed, and if they appear to be utterly imadmissible, to attempt a solution of the question upon principles more conformable to probability, and countenanced by historical evidence.
The ostensible reason assigned by Augustus for banishing Ovid, was his corrupting the Roman youth by lascivious publications; but it is evident, from various passages in the poet’s productions after this period, that there was, besides, some secret reason, which would not admit of being divulged. He says in his Tristia, Lib. ii. 1—
Perdiderent cum me duo crimina, carmen et error.2
It appears from another passage in the same work, that this inviolable arcanum was something which Ovid had seen, and, as he insinuates, through his own ignorance and mistake.
* * * * * *
It seems, therefore, to be a fact sufficiently established, that Ovid had seen something of a very indecent nature, in which Augustus was concerned. What this was, is the question. Some authors, conceiving it to have been of a kind extremely atrocious, have gone so far as to suppose, that it must have been an act of criminality between Augustus and his own daughter Julia, who, notwithstanding the strict attention paid to her education by her father, became a woman of the most infamous character; suspected of incontinence during her marriage with Agrippa, and openly profligate after her union with her next husband, Tiberius. This supposition, however, rests entirely upon conjecture, and is not only discredited by its own improbability, but by a yet more forcible argument. It is certain that Julia was at this time in banishment for her scandalous life. She was about the same age with Tiberius, who was now fortyseven, and they had not cohabited for many years. We know not exactly the year in which Augustus sent her into exile, but we may conclude with confidence, that it happened soon after her separation from Tiberius; whose own interest with the emperor, as well as that of his mother Livia, could not fail of being exerted, if any such application was necessary, towards removing from the capital a woman, who, by the notoriety of her prostitution, reflected disgrace upon all with whom she was connected, either by blood or alliance. But no application from Tiberius or his mother could be necessary, when we are assured that Augustus even presented to the senate a narrative respecting the infamous behaviour of his daughter, which was read by the quæstor. He was so much ashamed of her profligacy, that he for a long time declined all company, and had thoughts of putting her to death. She was banished to an island on the coast of Campania for five years; at the expiration of which period, she was removed to the continent, and the severity of her treatment a little mitigated; but though frequent applications were made in her behalf by the people, Augustus never could be prevailed upon to permit her return.
Other writers have conjectured, that, instead of Julia, the daughter of Augustus, the person seen with him by Ovid may have been Julia his grand-daughter, who inherited the vicious disposition of her mother, and was on that account likewise banished by Augustus. The epoch of this lady’s banishment it is impossible to ascertain; and therefore no argument can be drawn from that source to invalidate the present conjecture. But Augustus had shown the same solicitude for her being trained up in virtuous habits, as he had done in respect of her mother, though in both cases unsuccessfully; and this consideration, joined to the enormity of the supposed crime, and the great sensibility which Augustus had discovered with regard to the infamy of his daughter, seems sufficient to exonerate his memory from so odious a charge. Besides, is it possible that he could have sent her into banishment for the infamy of her prostitution, while (upon the supposition of incest) she was mistress of so important a secret, as that he himself had been more criminal with her than any other man in the empire?
Some writers, giving a wider scope to conjecture, have supposed the transaction to be of a nature still more detestable, and have even dragged Mecænas, the minister, into a participation of the crime. Fortunately, however, for the reputation of the illustrious patron of polite learning, as well as for that of the emperor, this crude conjecture may be refuted upon the evidence of chronology. The commencement of Ovid’s exile happened in the ninth year of the Christian æra, and the death of Mecænas, eight years before that period. Between this and other calculations, we find a difference of three or four years; but allowing the utmost latitude of variation, there intervened, from the death of Mecænas to the banishment of Ovid, a period of eleven years; an observation which fully invalidates the conjecture above-mentioned.
Having now refuted, as it is presumed, the opinions of the different commentators on this subject, we shall proceed to offer a new conjecture, which seems to have a greater claim to probability than any that has hitherto been suggested.
Suetonius informs us, that Augustus, in the latter part of his life, contracted a vicious inclination for the enjoyment of young virgins, who were procured for him from all parts, not only with the connivance, but by the clandestine management of his consort Livia. It was therefore probably with one of those victims that he was discovered by Ovid. Augustus had for many years affected a decency of behaviour, and he would, therefore, naturally be not a little disconcerted at the unseasonable intrusion of the poet. That Ovid knew not of Augustus’s being in the place, is beyond all doubt: and Augustus’s consciousness of this circumstance, together with the character of Ovid, would suggest an unfavourable suspicion of the motive which had brought the latter thither. Abstracted from the immorality of the emperor’s own conduct, the incident might be regarded as ludicrous, and certainly was more fit to excite the shame than the indignation of Augustus. But the purpose of Ovid’s visit appears, from his own acknowledgment, to have been not entirely free from blame, though of what nature we know not:
Ovid was at this time turned of fifty, and though by a much younger man he would not have been regarded as any object of jealousy in love, yet by Augustus, now in his sixty-ninth year, he might be deemed a formidable rival. This passion, therefore, concurring with that which arose from the interruption or disappointment of gratification, inflamed the emperor’s resentment, and he resolved on banishing to a distant country a man whom he considered as his rival, and whose presence, from what had happened, he never more could endure.
Augustus having determined on the banishment of Ovid, could find little difficulty in accommodating the ostensible to the secret and real cause of this resolution.
No argument to establish the date of publication, can be drawn from the order in which the various productions of Ovid are placed in the collection of his works: but reasoning from probability, we should suppose that the Ars Amandi was written during the period of his youth; and this seems to be confirmed by the following passage in the second book of the Fasti:
That many years must have elapsed since its original publication is evident from the subsequent lines in the second book of the Tristia:
With what show, then, of justice, it may be asked, could Augustus now punish a fault, which, in his solemn capacity of censor, he had so long and repeatedly overlooked? The answer is obvious: in a production so popular as we may be assured the Ars Amandi was amongst the Roman youth, it must have passed through several editions in the course of some years: and one of those coinciding with the fatal discovery, afforded the emperor a specious pretext for the execution of his purpose. The severity exercised on this occasion, however, when the poet was suddenly driven into exile, unaccompanied even by the partner of his bed, who had been his companion for many years, was an act so inconsistent with the usual moderation of Augustus, that we cannot justly ascribe it to any other motive than personal resentment; especially as this arbitrary punishment of the author could answer no end of public utility, while the obnoxious production remained to affect, if it really ever did essentially affect, the morals of society. If the sensibility of Augustus could not thenceforth admit of any personal intercourse with Ovid, or even of his living within the limits of Italy, there would have been little danger from the example, in sending into honourable exile, with every indulgence which could alleviate so distressful a necessity, a man of respectable rank in the state, who was charged with no actual offence against the laws, and whose genius, with all its indiscretion, did immortal honour to his country. It may perhaps be urged, that, considering the predicament in which Augustus stood, he discovered a forbearance greater than might have been expected from an absolute prince, in sparing the life of Ovid. It will readily be granted, that Ovid, in the same circumstances, under any one of the four subsequent emperors, would have expiated the incident with his blood. Augustus, upon a late occasion, had shown himself equally sanguinary, for he put to death, by the hand of Varus, a poet of Parma, named Cassius, on account of his having written some satirical verses against him. By that recent example, therefore, and the power of pardoning which the emperor still retained, there was sufficient hold of the poet’s secresy respecting the fatal transaction, which, if divulged to the world, Augustus would reprobate as a false and infamous libel, and punish the author accordingly. Ovid, on his part, was sensible, that, should he dare to violate the important but tacit injunction, the imperial vengeance would reach him even on the shores of the Euxine. It appears, however, from a passage in the Ibis, which can apply to no other than Augustus, that Ovid was not sent into banishment destitute of pecuniary provision:
What sum the emperor bestowed, for the support of a banishment which he was resolved should be perpetual, it is impossible to ascertain; but he had formerly been liberal to Ovid, as well as to other poets.
If we might hazard a conjecture respecting the scene of the intrigue which occasioned the banishment of Ovid, we should place it in some recess in the emperor’s gardens. His house, though called Palatium, the palace, as being built on the Palatine hill, and inhabited by the sovereign, was only a small mansion, which had formerly belonged to Hortensius, the orator. Adjoining to this place Augustus had built the temple of Apollo, which he endowed with a public library, and allotted for the use of poets, to recite their compositions to each other. Ovid was particularly intimate with Hyginus, one of Augustus’s freedmen, who was librarian of the temple. He might therefore have been in the library, and spying from the window a young female secreting herself in the gardens, he had the curiosity to follow her.
The place of Ovid’s banishment was Tomi,1 now said to be Baba, a town of Bulgaria, towards the mouth of the Ister, where is a lake still called by the natives Ouvidouve Jesero, the lake of Ovid. In this retirement, and the Euxine Pontus, he passed the remainder of his life, a melancholy period of seven years. Notwithstanding the lascivious writings of Ovid, it does not appear that he was in his conduct a libertine. He was three times married: his first wife, who was of mean extraction, and whom he had married when he was very young, he divorced; the second he dismissed on account of her immodest behaviour; and the third appears to have survived him. He had a number of respectable friends, and seems to have been much beloved by them.—
Tibullus was descended of an equestrian family, and is said, but erroneously, as will afterwards appear, to have been born on the same day with Ovid. His amiable accomplishments procured him the friendship of Messala Corvinus, whom he accompanied in a military expedition to the island of Corcyra. But an indisposition with which he was seized, and a natural aversion to the toils of war, induced him to return to Rome, where he seems to have resigned himself to a life of indolence and pleasure, amidst which he devoted a part of his time to the composition of elegies. Elegiac poetry had been cultivated by several Greek writers, particularly Callimachus, Mimnermus, and Philetas; but, so far as we can find, had, until the present age, been unknown to the Romans in their own tongue. It consisted of a heroic and pentameter line alternately, and was not, like the elegy of the moderns, usually appropriated to the lamentation of the deceased, but employed chiefly in compositions relative to love or friendship, and might, indeed, be used upon almost any subject; though, from the limp in the pentameter line, it is not suitable to sublime subjects, which require a fulness of expression, and an expansion of sound. To this species of poetry Tibullus restricted his application, by which he cultivated that simplicity and tenderness, and agreeable ease of sentiment, which constitute the characteristic perfections of the elegiac muse.
In the description of rural scenes, the peaceful occupations of the field, the charms of domestic happiness, and the joys of reciprocal love, scarcely any poet surpasses Tibullus. His luxuriant imagination collects the most beautiful flowers of nature, and he displays them with all the delicate attraction of soft and harmonious numbers. With a dexterity peculiar to himself, in whatever subject he engages, he leads his readers imperceptibly through devious paths of pleasure, of which, at the outset of the poem, they could form no conception. He seems to have often written without any previous meditation or design. Several of his elegies may be said to have neither middle nor end: yet the transitions are so natural, and the gradations so easy, that though we wander through Elysian scenes of fancy, the most heterogeneous in their nature, we are sensible of no defect in the concatenation which has joined them together. It is, however, to be regretted that, in some instances, Tibullus betrays that licentiousness of manners which formed too general a characteristic even of this refined age. His elegies addressed to Messala contain a beautiful amplification of sentiments founded in friendship and esteem, in which it is difficult to say, whether the virtues of the patron or the genius of the poet be more conspicuous.
Valerius Messala Corvinus, whom he celebrates, was descended of a very ancient family. In the civil wars which followed the death of Julius Cæsar he joined the republican party, and made himself master of the camp of Octavius at Philippi; but he was afterwards reconciled to his opponent, and lived to an advanced age in favour and esteem with Augustus. He was distinguished not only by his military talents, but by his eloquence, integrity, and patriotism.
From the following passage in the writings of Tibullus, commentators have conjectured that he was deprived of his lands by the same proscription in which those of Virgil had been involved:
But this seems not very probable, when we consider that Horace, several years after that period, represents him as opulent.
Dî tibi divitias dederant, artemque fruendi.
Epist. Lib. i. 4.
We know not the age of Tibullus at the time of his death; but in an elegy written by Ovid upon that occasion, he is spoken of as a young man. Were it true, as is said by biographers, that he was born the same day with Ovid, we must indeed assign the event to an early period: for Ovid cannot have written the elegy after the forty-third year of his own life, and how long before is uncertain. In the tenth elegy of the fourth book, De Tristibus, he observes, that the fates had allowed little time for the cultivation of his friendship with Tibullus.
As both Ovid and Tibullus lived at Rome, were both of the equestrian order, and of congenial dispositions, it is natural to suppose that their acquaintance commenced at an early period; and if, after all, it was of short duration, there would be no improbability in concluding, that Tibullus died at the age of some years under thirty. It is evident, however, that biographers have committed a mistake with regard to the birth of this poet; for in the passage above cited of the Tristia, Ovid mentions Tibullus as a writer, who, though his contemporary, was much older than himself. From this passage we should be justified in placing the death of Tibullus between the fortieth and fiftieth year of his age, and rather nearer to the latter period; for, otherwise, Horace would scarcely have mentioned him in the manner he does in one of his epistles.
This supposition is in no degree inconsistent with the authority of Ovid, where he mentions him as a young man; for the Romans extended the period of youth to the fiftieth year.—
Propertius was born at Mevania, a town of Umbria, seated at the confluence of the Tina and Clitumnus. This place was famous for its herds of white cattle, brought up there for sacrifice, and supposed to be impregnated with that colour by the waters of the river last mentioned.
His father is said by some to have been a Roman knight, and they add, that he was one of those who, when L. Antony was starved out of Perusia, were, by the order of Octavius, led to the altar of Julius Cæsar, and there slain. Nothing more is known with certainty, than that Propertius lost his father at an early age, and being deprived of a great part of his patrimony, betook himself to Rome, where his genius soon recommended him to public notice, and he obtained the patronage of Mecænas. From his frequent introduction of historical and mythological subjects into his poems, he received the appellation of “the learned.”
Of all the Latin elegiac poets, Propertius has the justest claim to purity of thought and expression. He often draws his imagery from reading, more than from the imagination, and abounds less in description than sentiment. For warmth of passion he is not conspicuous, and his tenderness is seldom marked with a great degree of sensibility; but, without rapture, he is animated, and, like Horace, in the midst of gaiety, he is moral. The stores with which learning supplies him diversify as well as illustrate his subject, while delicacy every where discovers a taste refined by the habit of reflection. His versification, in general, is elegant, but not uniformly harmonious.
Tibullus and Propertius have each written four books of Elegies; and it has been disputed which of them is superior in this department of poetry. Quintilian has given his suffrage in favour of Tibullus, who, so far as poetical merit alone is the object of consideration, seems entitled to the preference.—
Gallus was a Roman knight, distinguished not only for poetical, but military talents. Of his poetry we have only six elegies, written, in the person of an old man, on the subject of old age, but which, there is reason to think, were composed at an earlier part of the author’s life. Except the fifth elegy, which is tainted with immodesty, the others, particularly the first, are highly beautiful, and may be placed in competition with any other productions of the elegiac kind. Gallus was, for some time, in great favour with Augustus, who appointed him governor of Egypt. It is said, however, that he not only oppressed the province by extortion, but entered into a conspiracy against his benefactor, for which he was banished. Unable to sustain such a reverse of fortune, he fell into despair, and laid violent hands on himself. This is the Gallus in honour of whom Virgil composed his tenth eclogue.
Such are the celebrated productions of the Augustan age, which have been happily preserved, for the delight and admiration of mankind, and will survive to the latest posterity. Many more once existed, of various merit, and of different authors, which have left few or no memorials behind them, but have perished promiscuously amidst the indiscriminate ravages of time, of accidents, and of barbarians. Amongst the principal authors whose works are lost, are Varius and Valgius; the former of whom, besides a panegyric upon Augustus, composed some tragedies. According to Quintilian, his Thyestes was equal to any composition of the Greek tragic poets.
The great number of eminent writers, poets in particular, who adorned this age, has excited general admiration, and the phenomenon is usually ascribed to a fortuitous occurrence, which baffles all inquiry: but we shall endeavour to develope the various causes which seem to have produced this effect; and should the explanation appear satisfactory, it may favour an opinion, that under similar circumstances, if ever they should again be combined, a period of equal glory might arise in other ages and nations.
The Romans, whether from the influence of climate, or their mode of living, which in general was temperate, were endowed with a lively imagination, and, as we before observed, a spirit of enterprise. Upon the final termination of the Punic war, and the conquest of Greece, their ardour, which had hitherto been exercised in military achievements, was diverted into the channel of literature; and the civil commotions which followed, having now ceased, a fresh impulse was given to activity in the ambitious pursuit of the laurel, which was now only to be obtained by glorious exertions of intellect. The beautiful productions of Greece, operating strongly upon their minds, excited them to imitation; imitation, when roused amongst a number, produced emulation; and emulation cherished an extraordinary thirst of fame, which, in every exertion of the human mind, is the parent of excellence. This liberal contention was not a little promoted by the fashion introduced at Rome, for poets to recite their compositions in public; a practice which seems to have been carried even to a ridiculous excess.—Such was now the rage for poetical composition in the Roman capital, that Horace describes it in the following terms:
Scribimus indocti doctique poëmata passim.
—Hor. Epist ii. 1.
The thirst of fame above mentioned, was a powerful incentive, and is avowed both by Virgil and Horace. The former, in the third book of his Georgics, announces a resolution of rendering himself celebrated, if possible.
And Horace, in the conclusion of his first Ode, expresses himself in terms which indicate a similar purpose.
Even Sallust, a historian, in his introduction to Catiline’s Conspiracy, scruples not to insinuate the same kind of ambition. Quo mihi rectius videtur ingenii quam virium opibus gloriam quærere; et quoniam vita ipsa, quâ fruimur, brevis est, memoriam nostri quam maxume longam efficere.1
Another circumstance of great importance, towards the production of such poetry as might live through every age, was the extreme attention which the great poets of this period displayed, both in the composition, and the polishing of their works. Virgil, when employed upon the Georgics, usually wrote in the morning, and applied much of the subsequent part of the day to correction and improvement. He compared himself to a bear, that licks her cub into form. If this was his regular practice in the Georgics, we may justly suppose that it was the same in the Æneid. Yet, after all this labour, he intended to devote three years entirely to its farther amendment. Horace has gone so far in recommending careful correction, that he figuratively mentions nine years as an adequate period for that purpose. But whatever may be the time, there is no precept which he urges either oftener or more forcibly, than a due attention to this important subject.
To the several causes above enumerated, as concurring to form the great superiority of the Augustan age, as respects the productions of literature, one more is to be subjoined, of a nature the most essential: the liberal and unparalleled encouragement given to distinguished talents by the emperor and his minister. This was a principle of the most powerful energy: it fanned the flame of genius, invigorated every exertion; and the poets who basked in the rays of imperial favour, and the animating patronage of Mecænas, experienced a poetic enthusiasm which approached to real inspiration.
Having now finished the proposed explanation, relative to the celebrity of the Augustan age, we shall conclude with recapitulating in a few words the causes of this extraordinary occurrence.
The models, then, which the Romans derived from Grecian poetry, were the finest productions of human genius; their incentives to emulation were the strongest that could actuate the heart. With ardour, therefore, and industry in composing, and with unwearied patience in polishing their compositions, they attained to that glorious distinction in literature, which no succeeding age has ever rivalled.
[1 ]A town in the ancient Volscian territory, now called Veletri. It stands on the verge of the Pontine Marshes, on the road to Naples.
[1 ]Thurium was a territory in Magna Græcia, on the coast, near Tarentum.
[2 ]Argentarius; a banker, one who dealt in exchanging money, as well as lent his own funds at interest to borrowers. As a class, they possessed great wealth, and were persons of consideration in Rome at this period.
[1 ]Now Laricia, or Riccia, a town of the Campagna di Roma, on the Appian Way, about ten miles from Rome.
[2 ]a.u.c. 691. a.c. (before Christ) 61.
[3 ]The Palatine hill was not only the first seat of the colony of Romulus, but gave its name to the first and principal of the four regions into which the city was divided, from the time of Servius Tullius, the sixth king of Rome, to that of Augustus; the others being the Suburra, Esquilina, and Collina.
[4 ]There were seven streets or quarters in the Palatine region, one of which was called “Ad Capita Bubula,” either from the butchers’ stalls at which ox-heads are hung up for sale, or from their being sculptured on some edifice. Thus the remains of a fortification near the tomb of Cecilia Metella are now called Capo di Bove, from the arms of the Gaetani family over the gate.
[1 ]Adrian, to whom Suetonius was secretary.
[1 ]Augusto augurio postquam inclyta condita Roma est.
[1 ]a.u.c. 711.
[2 ]a.u.c. 712.
[1 ]After being defeated in the second engagement, Brutus retired to a hill, and slew himself in the night.
[2 ]The triumvir. There were three distinguished brothers of the name of Antony; Mark, the consul; Caius, who was prætor; and Lucius, a tribune of the people.
[3 ]Virgil was one of the fugitives, having narrowly escaped being killed by the centurion Ario; and being ejected from his farm. Eclog. i.
[1 ]a.u.c. 714.
[2 ]The anniversary of Julius Cæsar’s death.
[3 ]a.u.c. 712—718.
[4 ]The Romans employed slaves in their wars only in cases of great emergency, and with much reluctance. After the great slaughter at the battle of Cannæ, eight thousand were bought and armed by the republic. Augustus was the first who manumitted them, and employed them as rowers in his gallies.
[1 ]In the triumvirate, consisting of Augustus, Mark Antony, and Lepidus
[2 ]a.u.c. 723.
[1 ]There is no other authority for Augustus having viewed Antony’s corpse. Plutarch informs us, that on hearing his death, Augustus retired into the interior of his tent, and wept over the fate of his colleague and friend, his associate in so many former struggles, both in war and the administration of affairs.
[2 ]The poison proved fatal, as every one knows, see Velleius, ii. 27; Florus, iv. 11. The Psylli were a people of Africa, celebrated for sucking the poison from wounds inflicted by serpents, with which that country anciently abounded. They pretended to be endowed with an antidote, which rendered their bodies insensible to the virulence of that species of poison; and the ignorance of those times gave credit to the physical immunity which they arrogated. But Celsus, who flourished about fifty years after the period we speak of, has exploded the vulgar prejudice which prevailed in their favour. He justly observes, that the venom of serpents, like some other kinds of poison, proves noxious only when applied to the naked fibre; and that, provided there is no ulcer in the gums or palate, the poison may be received into the mouth with perfect safety.
[1 ]Strabo informs us that Ptolemy caused it to be deposited in a golden sarcophagus, which was afterwards exchanged for one of glass, in which probably Augustus saw the remains.
[2 ]A custom of all ages and of people the most remote from each other.
[3 ]Meaning the degenerate race of the Ptolomean kings.
[4 ]The naval trophies were formed of the prows of ships
[1 ]a.u.c. 721.
[2 ]Because his father was a Roman and his mother of the race of the Parthini, an Illyrian tribe.
[3 ]It was usual at Rome, before the elections, for the candidates to endeavour to gain popularity by the usual arts. They would therefore go to the houses of the citizens, shake hands with those they met, and address them in a kindly manner. It being of great consequence, upon those occasions, to know the names of persons, they were commonly attended by a nomenclator, who whispered into their ears that information, wherever it was wanted. Though this kind of officer was generally an attendant on men, we meet with instances of their having been likewise employed in the service of ladies; either with the view of serving candidates to whom they were allied, or of gaining the affections of the people.
[1 ]Not a bridge over a river, but a military engine used for gaining admittance into a fortress.
[2 ]Cantabria, in the north of Spain, now the Basque province.
[3 ]The ancient Pannonia includes Hungary and part of Austria, Styria and Carmola.
[4 ]The Rhætian Alps are that part of the chain bordering on the Tyrol.
[5 ]The Vindelici principally occupied the country which is now the kingdom of Bavaria; and the Salassii, that part of Piedmont which includes the valley of Aost.
[6 ]The temple of Mars Ultor was erected by Augustus in fulfilment of a vow made by him at the battle of Philippi. It stood in the Forum which he built, mentioned in chap. xxxix. There are no remains of either.
[1 ]“The Ovatio was an inferior land of Triumph, granted in cases where the victory was not of great importance, or had been obtained without difficulty. The general entered the city on foot or on horseback, crowned with myrtle, not with laurel; and instead of bullocks, the sacrifice was performed with a sheep, whence this procession acquired its name.”—Thomson.
[2 ]“The greater Triumph, in which the victorious general and his army advanced in solemn procession through the city to the Capitol, was the highest military honour which could be obtained in the Roman state. Foremost in the procession went musicians of various kinds, singing and playing triumphal songs. Next were led the oxen to be sacrificed, having their horns gilt, and their heads adorned with fillets and garlands. Then in carriages were brought the spoils taken from the enemy, statues, pictures, plate, armour, gold and silver, and brass; with golden crowns, and other gifts, sent by the allied and tributary states. The captive princes and generals followed in chains, with their children and attendants. After them came the lictors, having their fasces wreathed with laurel, followed by a great company of musicians and dancers dressed like Satyrs, and wearing crowns of gold; in the midst of whom was one in a female dress, whose business it was, with his looks and gestures, to insult the vanquished. Next followed a long train of persons carrying perfumes. Then came the victorious general, dressed in purple embroidered with gold, with a crown of laurel on his head, a branch of laurel in his right hand, and in his left an ivory sceptre, with an eagle on the top; having his face painted with vermilion, in the same manner as the statue of Jupiter on festival days, and a golden Bulla hanging on his breast, and containing some amulet, or magical preservative against envy. He stood in a gilded chariot adorned with ivory, and drawn by four white horses, sometimes by elephants, attended by his relations, and a great crowd of citizens, all in white. His children used to ride in the chariot with him; and that he might not be too much elated, a slave, carrying a golden crown sparkling with gems, stood behind him, and frequently whispered in his ear, ‘Remember that thou art a man!’ After the general, followed the consuls and senators on foot, at least according to the appointment of Augustus; for they formerly used to go before him His Legats and military Tribunes commonly rode by his side. The victorious army, horse and foot, came last, crowned with laurel, and decorated with the gifts which they had received for their valour, singing their own and their general’s praises, but sometimes throwing out railleries against him; and often exclaiming, ‘Io Triumphe!’ in which they were joined by all the citizens, as they passed along. The oxen having been sacrificed, the general gave a magnificent entertainment in the Capitol to his friends and the chief men of the city; after which he was conducted home by the people, with music and a great number of lamps and torches.”—Thomson.
[1 ]“The Sella Curulis was a chair on which the principal magistrates sat in the tribunal upon solemn occasions. It had no back, but stood on four crooked feet, fixed to the extremities of cross pieces of wood, joined by a common axis, somewhat in the form of the letter X; was covered with leather, and inlaid with ivory. From its construction, it might be occasionally folded together for the convenience of carriage, and set down where the magistrate chose to use it”—Thomson.
[2 ]Now Saragossa.
[3 ]A great and wise man, if he is the same person to whom Cicero’s letters on the calamities of the times were addressed. Fam. Epist c. vi. 20, 21.
[1 ]a.u.c. 731.
[2 ]The Lustrum was a period of five years, at the end of which the census of the people was taken. It was first made by the Roman kings, then by the consuls, but after the year 310 from the building of the city, by the censors, who were magistrates created for that purpose. It appears, however, that the census was not always held at stated periods, and sometimes long intervals intervened
[1 ]Augustus appears to have been in earnest on these occasions, at least, in his desire to retire into private life and release himself from the cares of government, if we may believe Seneca. De Brev. Vit. c. 5 Of his two intimate advisers, Agrippa gave this counsel, while Mecænas was for continuing his career of ambition.—Eutrop. l. 53.
[2 ]The Tiber has been always remarkable for the frequency of its inundations and the ravages they occasioned, as remarked by Pliny, iii. 5. Livy mentions several such occurrences, as well as one extensive fire, which destroyed great part of the city.
[3 ]The well known saying of Augustus, recorded by Suetonius, that he found a city of bricks, but left it of marble, has another version given it by Dio, who applies it to his consolidation of the government, to the following effect: “That Rome, which I found built of mud, I shall leave you firm as a rock”—Dio. lvi. p. 589.
[1 ]The same motive which engaged Julius Cæsar to build a new forum, induced Augustus to erect another. See his life c xx. It stood behind the present churches of St. Adrian and St. Luke, and was almost parallel with the public forum, but there are no traces of it remaining. The temple of Mars Ultor, adjoining, has been mentioned before, p. 84.
[2 ]The temple of the Palatine Apollo stood, according to Bianchini, a little beyond the triumphal arch of Titus. It appears, from the reverse of a medal of Augustus, to have been a rotondo, with an open portico, something like the temple of Vesta. The statues of the fifty daughters of Danae surrounded the portico; and opposite to them were their husbands on horseback. In this temple were preserved some of the finest works of the Greek artists, both in sculpture and painting. Here, in the presence of Augustus, Horace’s Carmen Seculare was sung by twenty-seven noble youths and as many virgins. And here, as our author informs us, Augustus, towards the end of his reign, often assembled the senate.
[3 ]The library adjoined the temple and was under the protection of Apollo. Caius Julius Hegenus, a freedman of Augustus, and an eminent grammarian, was the librarian.
[1 ]The three fluted Corinthian columns of white marble, which stand on the declivity of the Capitoline hill, are commonly supposed to be the remains of the temple of Jupiter Tonans, erected by Augustus. Part of the frieze and cornice are attached to them, which with the capitals of the columns are finely wrought. Suetonius tells us on what occasion this temple was erected. Of all the epithets given to Jupiter, none conveyed more terror to superstitious minds than that of the Thunderer—
We shall find this temple mentioned again in c xci. of the life of Augustus.
[2 ]The Portico of Octavia stood between the Flaminian circus and the theatre of Marcellus, enclosing the temples of Jupiter and Juno, said to have been built in the time of the republic. Several remains of them exist in the Pescheria or fish-market; they were of the Corinthian order, and have been traced and engraved by Piranesi.
[3 ]The magnificent theatre of Marcellus was built on the site where Suetonius has before informed us that Julius Cæsar intended to erect one (p. 30). It stood between the portico of Octavia and the hill of the capitol. Augustus gave it the name of his nephew Marcellus, though he was then dead. Its ruins are still to be seen in the Piazza Montanara, where the Orsini family have a palace erected on the site.
[4 ]The theatre of Balbus was the third of the three permanent theatres of Rome. Those of Pompey and Marcellus have been already mentioned.
[5 ]Among these were, at least, the noble portico, if not the whole, of the Pantheon, still the pride of Rome, under the name of the Rotondo, on the frieze of which may be seen the inscription,
[1 ]To whatever extent Augustus may have cleared out the bed of the Tiber, the process of its being encumbered with an alluvium of ruins and mud has been constantly going on. Not many years ago, a scheme was set on foot for clearing it by private enterprise, principally for the sake of the valuable remains of art which it is supposed to contain.
[2 ]The Via Flaminia was probably undertaken by the censor Caius Flaminius, and finished by his son of the same name, who was consul a.u.c. 566, and employed his soldiers in forming it after subduing the Ligurians. It led from the Flumentan gate, now the Porta del Popolo, through Etruria and Umbria into the Cisalpine Gaul, ending at Ariminum, the frontier town of the territories of the republic, now Rimini, on the Adriatic; and is travelled by every tourist who takes the route, north of the Appenines, through the States of the Church, to Rome. Every one knows that the great highways, not only in Italy but in the provinces, were among the most magnificent and enduring works of the Roman people.
[1 ]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.
[2 ]In the thirty-six years since the calendar was corrected by Julius Cæsar, the priests had erroneously intercalated eleven days instead of nine. See Julius, c xl
[3 ]Sextilis, the sixth month, reckoning from March, in which the year of Romulus commenced.
[4 ]So Cicero called the day on which he returned from exile, the day of his “nativity” and his “new birth,” παλιγεννεσίαν, a word which had afterwards a theological sense, from its use in the New Testament.
[5 ]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.
[6 ]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 attended.
[1 ]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 lilies.
[2 ]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.
[1 ]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.
[2 ]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.
[1 ]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 Cæsar, 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
[2 ]Cordus Cremutius wrote a History of the Civil Wars, and the Times of Augustus, as we are informed by Dio, 6, 52.
[3 ]In front of the orchestra.
[4 ]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.
[5 ]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 November.
[1 ]Julius Cæsar had introduced the contrary practice. See Julius, c. xx.
[2 ]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 or 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.
[1 ]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 Prætexta. 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.
[2 ]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.
[1 ]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 Πίνακες.—II. ζ. 169. Γράψας ἐν πίνακι πτυκτῷ θυμοϕθόρα πολλά.Writing dire things upon his tablet’s roll.
[1 ]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 to public; as members of an university are forbidden to do so, without the academical dress, or officers in garrisons out of their regimentals.
[2 ]Æn. i. 186.
[1 ]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.”
[2 ]Septa were enclosures made with boards, commonly for the purpose of distributing the people into distinct classes, and erected occasionally like our hustings.
[1 ]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 bov happened to let go the thong which he held, it was an indispensable rule that the procession should be renewed.
[1 ]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.]
[1 ]a.u.c. 726.
[2 ]As in the case of Herod. Joseph. Antiq. Jud. xv. 10.
[1 ]The Adriatic and the Tuscan.
[2 ]It was first established by Tiberius. See c. xxxvii.
[1 ]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.
[1 ]An inclosure in the middle of the Forum, marking the spot where Curtius leapt into the lake, which had been long since filled up.
[2 ]Sandalarium, Tragœdum; names of streets, in which temples of those gods stood; as we now say St. Peter, Cornhill, &c.
[1 ]A coin, in value about 8¾d. of our money.
[2 ]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 Cæsar 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.
[1 ]Antonius Musa was a freedman, and had acquired his knowledge of medicine while a domestic slave a very common occurrence
[2 ]a.u.c. 711
[1 ]See cc. x. xi. xii and xiii.
[2 ]One of them was Scipio, the father of Cornelia, whose death is lamented by Propertius, iv. 12. The other is unknown.
[3 ]a.u.c. 715
[4 ]He is mentioned by Horace:
[1 ]This form of adoption consisted in a fictitious sale. See Cicero, Topic. iii.
[2 ]Curiæ. Romulus divided the people of Rome into three tribes; and each tribe into ten Curiæ. The number of tribes was afterwards increased by degrees to thirty-five; but that of the Curiæ always remained the same.
[1 ]She was removed to Reggio in Calabria.
[2 ]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
[3 ]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, “Αιθ’ ὄφελες, &c., would thou wert, &c.
[1 ]Women called ustriculæ, the barbers, were employed in this delicate operation. It is alluded to by Juvenal, ix. 4, and Martial, v. 61.
[2 ]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.
[3 ]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 cinædus, 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.
[1 ]Mark Antony makes use of fondling diminutives of the names of Tertia, Terentia, and Rufa, some of Augustus’s favourities.
[2 ]Δωδεκάθεος; the twelve Dii Majores; they are enumerated in two verses by Ennius:—
[1 ]Probably in the Suburra, where Martial informs us that torturing scourges were sold:
[2 ]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.
[1 ]See c. xxxii. and note.
[2 ]The Romans, at their feasts, during the intervals of drinking, often played at dice, of which there were two kinds, the tesseræ 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 tesseræ 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 table.
[3 ]The highest cast was so called.
[1 ]Enlarged by Tiberius and succeeding emperors. The ruins of the palace of the Cæsars are still seen on the Palatine.
[2 ]Probably travertine, a soft limestone, from the Alban Mount, which was, therefore, cheaply procured and easily worked.
[3 ]It was usual among the Romans to have separate sets of apartments for summer and winter use, according to their exposure to the sun.
[4 ]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 μουσεῖον, 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.
[5 ]Mecænas had a house and gardens on the Esquiline Hill, celebrated for their salubrity— Nunc licet Esquiliis habitore salubribus — Hor. Sat. i 8 14.
[1 ]Such as Baiæ, and the islands of Ischia, Procida, Capri, and others; the resorts of the opulent nobles, where they had magnificent marine villas.
[2 ]Now Tivoli, a delicious spot, where Horace had a villa, in which he hoped to spend his declining years.
Adrian also had a magnificent villa near Tibur.
[3 ]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.
[1 ]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 decency.
[1 ]Casum bubulum manu pressum: probably soft cheese, not reduced to solid consistence in the cheese-press.
[2 ]A species of fig tree, known in some places as Adam’s fig. We haye gathered them, in those climates, of the latter crop, as late as the month of November.
[3 ]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 Νηστεύω δίς τοῦ σαββάτου, ‘I fast twice in the week’ of the Pharisee, in St. Luke xviii. 12.
[1 ]The Rhætian wines had a great reputation; Virgil says,
The vineyards lay at the foot of the Rhætian Alps; their produce, we have reason to believe, was not a very generous liquor.
[2 ]A custom in all warm countries; the siesta of the Italians in later times.
[1 ]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.
[1 ]His physician, mentioned c. lix.
[2 ]Sept. 21st, a sickly season at Rome.
[3 ]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.
[4 ]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.
[1 ]In spongam incubuisse, literally has fallen upon a sponge, as Ajax is said to have perished by falling on his own sword.
[2 ]Μυροβρεχεῖς. Suetonius often preserves expressive Greek phrases which Augustus was in the habit of using. This compound word means, literally, myrrh-scented, perfumed.
[1 ]These are variations of language of small importance, which can only be understood in the original language.
[1 ]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 sixty.
[2 ]Virgil is said to have recited before him the whole of the second, fourth, and sixth books of the Æneid; 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.
[1 ]Chap. xix.
[2 ]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.
[3 ]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
[1 ]The Republican forms were preserved in some of the larger towns.
[2 ]“The Nundinæ 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.
[3 ]“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.
[1 ]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.
[2 ]Strabo tells us that Mendes was a city of Egypt near Lycopolis. Asclepias wrote a book in Greek with the idea of θεολογουμενῶν, in defence of some very strange religious rites, of which the example in the text is a specimen.
[1 ]Velletri stands on very high ground, commanding extensive views of the Pontine marshes and the sea.
[1 ]Munda was a city in the Hispania Bœtica, where Julius Cœsar fought a battle. See c. lvi.
[1 ]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.
[2 ]Æsar is a Greek word with an Etruscan termination; ἀῖσα signifying fate.
[1 ]Astura stood not far from Terracina, on the road to Naples. Augustus embarked there for the islands lying off that coast.
[2 ]“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 truits of the traffic with the east.
[3 ]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.
[4 ]Masgabas seems, by his name, to have been of African origin.
[1 ]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 emperor.
[1 ]Augustus was born a.u.c. 691, and died a.u.c. 766.
[2 ]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.
[3 ]Bovillæ, a small place on the Appian Way, about nineteen miles from Rome, now called Frattochio.
[1 ]Dio tells us that the devoted Livia joined with the knights in this pious office, which occupied them during five days.
[2 ]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.
[1 ]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.
[2 ]Those of his father Octavius, and his father by adoption, Julius Cæsar.
[3 ]See before c. 65. But he bequeathed a legacy to his daughter, Livia.
[1 ]Geor. II.
[1 ]I am prevented from entering into greater details, both by the size of my volume, and my anxiety to complete the undertaking.
[1 ]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.
[1 ]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:
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.
[1 ]I was born at Mantua, died in Calabria and my tomb is at Parthenope, pastures, rural affairs, and heroes are the themes of my poems.
[1 ]The last members of these two lines, from the commas to the end are said to have been supplied by Erotes, Virgil’s librarian.
[1 ]Carm i. 17.
[1 ]“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.” Two faults have ruined me; my verse, and my mistake.
[1 ]These lines are thus rendered in the quaint version of Zachary Catlin.
[2 ]“I myself employed you as ready agents in love, when my early youth sported in numbers adapted to it.”—Riley’s Ovid.
[1 ]“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.
[1 ]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.
[1 ]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.
[1 ]“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.”