Front Page Titles (by Subject) TITUS FLAVIUS DOMITIANUS. - The Lives of the Twelve Caesars
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TITUS FLAVIUS DOMITIANUS. - 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).
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TITUS FLAVIUS DOMITIANUS.
I.Domitian was born upon the ninth of the calends of November1 [24th October], when his father was consul elect, (being to enter upon his office the month following,) in the sixth region of the city, at the Pomegranate,2 in the house which he afterwards converted into a temple of the Flavian family. He is said to have spent the time of his youth in so much want and infamy, that he had not one piece of plate belonging to him; and it is well known, that Clodius Pollio, a man of pretorian rank, against whom there is a poem of Nero’s extant, entitled Luscio, kept a note in his hand-writing, which he sometimes produced, in which Domitian made an assignation with him for the foulest purposes. Some, likewise, have said, that he prostituted himself to Nerva, who succeeded him. In the war with Vitellius, he fled into the Capitol with his uncle Sabinus, and a part of the troops they had in the city.3 But the enemy breaking in, and the temple being set on fire, he hid himself all night with the sacristan; and next morning, assuming the disguise of a worshipper of Isis, and mixing with the priests of that idle superstition, he got over the Tiber,4 with only one attendant, to the house of a woman who was the mother of one of his school-fellows, and lurked there so close, that, though the enemy, who were at his heels, searched very strictly after him, they could not discover him. At last, after the success of his party, appearing in public, and being unanimously saluted by the title of Cæsar, he assumed the office of prætor of the City, with consular authority, but in fact had nothing but the name; for the jurisdiction he transferred to his next colleague. He used, however, his absolute power so licentiously, that even then he plainly discovered what sort of prince he was likely to prove. Not to go into details, after he had made free with the wives of many men of distinction, he took Domitia Longina from her husband, Ælias Lamia, and married her; and in one day disposed of above twenty offices in the city and the provinces; upon which Vespasian said several times, “he wondered he did not send him a successor too.”
II. He likewise designed an expedition into Gaul and Germany,1 without the least necessity for it, and contrary to the advice of all his father’s friends; and this he did only with the view of equalling his brother in military achievements and glory. But for this he was severely reprimanded, and that he might the more effectually be reminded of his age and position, was made to live with his father, and his litter had to follow his father’s and brother’s carriage, as often as they went abroad; but he attended them in their triumph for the conquest of Judæa,2 mounted on a white horse. Of the six consulships which he held, only one was ordinary; and that he obtained by the cession and interest of his brother. He greatly affected a modest behaviour, and, above all, a taste for poetry; insomuch, that he rehearsed his performances in public, though it was an art he had formerly little cultivated, and which he afterwards despised and abandoned. Devoted, however, as he was at this time to poetical pursuits, yet when Vologesus, king of the Parthians, desired succours against the Alani, with one of Vespasian’s sons to command them, he laboured hard to procure for himself that appointment. But the scheme proving abortive, he endeavoured by presents and promises to engage other kings of the East to make a similar request. After his father’s death, he was for some time in doubt, whether he should not offer the soldiers a donative double to that of his brother, and made no scruple of saying frequently, “that he had been left his partner in the empire, but that his father’s will had been fraudulently set aside.” From that time forward, he was constantly engaged in plots against his brother, both publicly and privately; until, falling dangerously ill, he ordered all his attendants to leave him, under pretence of his being dead, before he really was so; and, at his decease, paid him no other honour than that of enrolling him amongst the gods; and he often, both in speeches and edicts, carped at his memory by sneers and insinuations.
III. In the beginning of his reign, he used to spend daily an hour by himself in private, during which time he did nothing else but catch flies, and stick them through the body with a sharp pin. When some one therefore inquired, “whether any one was with the emperor,” it was significantly answered by Vibius Crispus, “Not so much as a fly.” Soon after his advancement, his wife Domitia, by whom he had a son in his second consulship, and whom the year following he complimented with the title of Augusta, being desperately in love with Paris, the actor, he put her away; but within a short time afterwards, being unable to bear the separation, he took her again, under pretence of complying with the people’s importunity. During some time, there was in his administration a strange mixture of virtue and vice, until at last his virtues themselves degenerated into vices; being, as we may reasonably conjecture concerning his character, inclined to avarice through want, and to cruelty through fear.
IV. He frequently entertained the people with most magnificent and costly shows, not only in the amphitheatre, but the circus; where, besides the usual races with chariots drawn by two or four horses a-breast, he exhibited the representation of an engagement between both horse and foot, and a sea-fight in the amphitheatre. The people were also entertained with the chase of wild beasts and the combat of gladiators, even in the night-time, by torch-light. Nor did men only fight in these spectacles, but women also. He constantly attended at the games given by the quæstors, which had been disused for some time, but were revived by him; and upon those occasions, always gave the people the liberty of demanding two pair of gladiators out of his own school, who appeared last in court uniforms. Whenever he attended the shows of gladiators, there stood at his feet a little boy dressed in scarlet, with a prodigiously small head, with whom he used to talk very much, and sometimes seriously. We are assured, that he was overheard asking him, “if he knew for what reason he had in the late appointment, made Metius Rufus governor of Egypt?” He presented the people with naval fights, performed by fleets almost as numerous as those usually employed in real engagements; making a vast lake near the Tiber,1 and building seats round it. And he witnessed them himself during a very heavy rain. He likewise celebrated the Secular games,2 reckoning not from the year in which they had been exhibited by Claudius, but from the time of Augustus’s celebration of them. In these, upon the day of the Circensian sports, in order to have a hundred races performed, he reduced each course from seven rounds to five. He likewise instituted, in honour of Jupiter Capitolinus, a solemn contest in music to be performed every five years; besides horse-racing and gymnastic exercises, with more prizes than are at present allowed. There was also a public performance in elocution, both Greek and Latin; and besides the musicians who sung to the harp, there were others who played concerted pieces or solos, without vocal accompaniment. Young girls also ran races in the Stadium, at which he presided in his sandals, dressed in a purple robe, made after the Grecian fashion, and wearing upon his head a golden crown bearing the effigies of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva; with the flamen of Jupiter, and the college of priests sitting by his side in the same dress; excepting only that their crowns had also his own image on them. He celebrated also upon the Alban mount every year the festival of Minerva, for whom he had appointed a college of priests, out of which were chosen by lot persons to preside as governors over the college; who were obliged to entertain the people with extraordinary chases of wild-beasts, and stage-plays, besides contests for prizes in oratory and poetry. He thrice bestowed upon the people a largess of three hundred sesterces each man; and, at a public show of gladiators, a very plentiful feast. At the festival of the Seven Hills,3 he distributed large hampers of provisions to the senatorian and equestrian orders, and small baskets to the common people, and encouraged them to eat by setting them the example. The day after, he scattered among the people a variety of cakes and other delicacies to be scrambled for; and on the greater part of them falling amidst the seats of the crowd, he ordered five hundred tickets to be thrown into each range of benches belonging to the senatorian and equestrian orders.
V. He rebuilt many noble edifices which had been destroyed by fire, and amongst them the Capitol, which had been burnt down a second time;1 but all the inscriptions were in his own name, without the least mention of the original founders.2 He likewise erected a new temple in the Capitol to Jupiter Custos, and a forum, which is now called Nerva’s, as also the temple of the Flavian family,3 a stadium,4 an odeum,5 and a naumachia;6 out of the stone dug from which, the sides of the Circus Maximus, which had been burnt down, were rebuilt.
VI. He undertook several expeditions, some from choice, and some from necessity. That against the Catti7 was unprovoked, but that against the Sarmatians was necessary; an entire legion, with its commander, having been cut off by them. He sent two expeditions against the Dacians; the first upon the defeat of Oppius Sabinus, a man of consular rank; and the other, upon that of Cornelius Fuscus, prefect of the pretorian cohorts, to whom he had entrusted the conduct of that war. After several battles with the Catti and Daci, he celebrated a double triumph. But for his successes against the Sarmatians, he only bore in procession the laurel crown to Jupiter Capitolinus. The civil war, begun by Lucius Antonius, governor of Upper Germany, he quelled, without being obliged to be personally present at it, with remarkable good fortune. For, at the very moment of joining battle, the Rhine suddenly thawing, the troops of the barbarians which were ready to join L. Antonius, were prevented from crossing the river. Of this victory he had notice by some presages, before the messengers who brought the news of it arrived. For upon the very day the battle was fought, a splendid eagle spread its wings round his statue at Rome, making most joyful cries And shortly after, a rumour became common, that Antonius was slain; nay, many positively affirmed, that they saw his head brought to the city.
VII. He made many innovations in common practices. He abolished the Sportula,1 and revived the old practice of regular suppers. To the four former parties in the Circensian games, he added two new, who were gold and scarlet. He prohibited the players from acting in the theatre, but permitted them the practice of their art in private houses. He forbad the castration of males; and reduced the price of the eunuchs who were still left in the hands of the dealers in slaves. On the occasion of a great abundance of wine, accompanied by a scarcity of corn, supposing that the tillage of the ground was neglected for the sake of attending too much to the cultivation of vineyards, he published a proclamation forbidding the planting of any new vines in Italy, and ordering the vines in the provinces to be cut down, nowhere permitting more than one half of them to remain.2 But he did not persist in the execution of this project. Some of the greatest offices he conferred upon his freedmen and soldiers. He forbad two legions to be quartered in the same camp, and more than a thousand sesterces to be deposited by any soldier with the standards; because it was thought that Lucius Antonius had been encouraged in his late project by the large sum deposited in the military chest by the two legions which he had in the same winter-quarters. He made an addition to the soldiers’ pay, of three gold pieces a year.
VIII. In the administration of justice he was diligent and assiduous; and frequently sat in the forum out of course, to cancel the judgments of the court of The One Hundred, which had been procured through favour, or interest. He occasionally cautioned the judges of the court of recovery to beware of being too ready to admit claims for freedom brought before them. He set a mark of infamy upon judges who were convicted of taking bribes, as well as upon their assessors. He likewise instigated the tribunes of the people to prosecute a corrupt ædile for extortion, and to desire the senate to appoint judges for his trial. He likewise took such effectual care in punishing magistrates of the city, and governors of provinces, guilty of malversation, that they never were at any time more moderate or more just. Most of these, since his reign, we have seen prosecuted for crimes of various kinds. Having taken upon himself the reformation of the public manners, he restrained the licence of the populace in sitting promiscuously with the knights in the theatre. Scandalous libels, published to defame persons of rank, of either sex, he suppressed, and inflicted upon their authors a mark of infamy. He expelled a man of quæstorian rank from the senate, for practising mimicry and dancing. He debarred infamous women the use of litters; as also the right of receiving legacies, or inheriting estates. He struck out of the list of judges a Roman knight for taking again his wife whom he had divorced and prosecuted for adultery. He condemned several men of the senatorian and equestrian orders, upon the Scantinian law.1 The lewdness of the Vestal Virgins, which had been overlooked by his father and brother, he punished severely, but in different ways; viz. offences committed before his reign, with death, and those since its commencement, according to ancient custom. For to the two sisters called Ocellatæ, he gave liberty to choose the mode of death which they preferred, and banished their paramours But Cornelia, the president of the Vestals, who had formerly been acquitted upon a charge of incontinence, being a long time after again prosecuted and condemned, he ordered to be buried alive; and her gallants to be whipped to death with rods in the Comitium; excepting only a man of prætorian rank, to whom, because he confessed the fact, while the case was dubious, and it was not established against him, though the witnesses had been put to the torture, he granted the favour of banishment. And to preserve pure and undefiled the reverence due to the gods, he ordered the soldiers to demolish a tomb, which one of his freedmen had erected for his son out of the stones designed for the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and to sink in the sea the bones and relics buried in it.
IX. Upon his first succeeding to power, he felt such an abhorrence for the shedding of blood, that, before his father’s arrival in Rome, calling to mind the verse of Virgil,
he designed to have published a proclamation, “to forbid the sacrifice of oxen.” Before his accession to the imperial authority, and during some time afterwards, he scarcely ever gave the least grounds for being suspected of covetousness or avarice; but, on the contrary, he often afforded proofs, not only of his justice, but his liberality. To all about him he was generous even to profusion, and recommended nothing more earnestly to them than to avoid doing anything mean. He would not accept the property left him by those who had children. He also set aside a legacy bequeathed by the will of Ruscus Cæpio, who had ordered “his heir to make a present yearly to each of the senators upon their first assembling.” He exonerated all those who had been under prosecution from the treasury for above five years before; and would not suffer suits to be renewed, unless it was done within a year, and on condition, that the prosecutor should be banished, if he could not make good his cause. The secretaries of the quæstors having engaged in trade, according to custom, but contrary to the Clodian law,1 he pardoned them for what was past. Such portions of land as had been left when it was divided amongst the veteran soldiers, he granted to the ancient possessors, as belonging to them by prescription. He put a stop to false prosecutions in the exchequer, by severely punishing the prosecutors; and this saying of his was much taken notice of: “that a prince who does not punish informers, encourages them.”
X. But he did not long persevere in this course of clemency and justice, although he sooner fell into cruelty than into avarice. He put to death a scholar of Paris, the pantomimic,2 though a minor, and then sick, only because, both in person and the practice of his art, he resembled his master; as he did likewise Hermogenes of Tarsus for some oblique reflections in his History; crucifying, besides, the scribes who had copied the work. One who was master of a band of gladiators, happening to say, “that a Thrax was a match for a Marmillo,3 but not so for the exhibitor of the games,” he ordered him to be dragged from the benches into the arena, and exposed to the dogs, with this label upon him, “A Parmularian4 guilty of talking impiously.” He put to death many senators, and amongst them several men of consular rank. In this number were, Civica Cerealis, when he was proconsul in Africa, Salvidienus Orfitus, and Acilius Glabrio in exile, under the pretence of their planning to revolt against him. The rest he punished upon very trivial occasions; as Ælius Lamia for some jocular expressions, which were of old date, and perfectly harmless; because, upon his commending his voice after he had taken his wife from him,5 he replied, “Alas! I hold my tongue.” And when Titus advised him to take another wife, he answered him thus: “What! have you a mind to marry?” Salvius Cocceianus was condemned to death for keeping the birth day of his uncle Otho, the emperor: Metius Pomposianus, because he was commonly reported to have an imperial nativity,6 and to carry about with him a map of the world upon vellum, with the speeches of kings and generals extracted out of Titus Livius; and for giving his slaves the names of Mago and Annibal; Sallustius Lucullus, lieutenant in Britain, for suffering some lances of a new invention to be called “Lucullean;” and Junius Rusticus, for publishing a treatise in praise of Pætus Thrasea and Helvidius Priscus, and calling them both “most upright men.” Upon this occasion, he likewise banished all the philosophers from the city and Italy. He put to death the younger Helvidius, for writing a farce, in which, under the character of Paris and Œnone, he reflected upon his having divorced his wife; and also Flavius Sabinus, one of his cousins, because, upon his being chosen at the consular election to that office, the public crier had, by a blunder, proclaimed him to the people not consul, but emperor. Becoming still more savage after his success in the civil war, he employed the utmost industry to discover those of the adverse party who absconded: many of them he racked with a new-invented torture, inserting fire through their private parts; and from some he cut off their hands. It is certain, that only two of any note were pardoned, a tribune who wore the narrow stripe, and a centurion; who, to clear themselves from the charge of being concerned in any rebellious project, proved themselves to have been guilty of prostitution, and consequently incapable of exercising any influence either over the general or the soldiers.
XI. His cruelties were not only excessive, but subtle and unexpected. The day before he crucified a collector of his rents, he sent for him into his bed-chamber, made him sit down upon the bed by him, and sent him away well pleased, and, so far as could be inferred from his treatment, in a state of perfect security; having vouchsafed him the favour of a plate of meat from his own table. When he was on the point of condemning to death Aretinus Clemens, a man of consular rank, and one of his friends and emissaries, he retained him about his person in the same or greater favour than ever; until at last, as they were riding together in the same litter, upon seeing the man who had informed against him, he said, “Are you willingg that we should hear this base slave tomorrow?” Contemptuously abusing the patience of men, he never pronounced a severe sentence without prefacing it with words which gave hopes of mercy; so that, at last, there was not a more certain token of a fatal conclusion, than a mild commencement. He brought before the senate some persons accused of treason, declaring, “that he should prove that day how dear he was to the senate;” and so influenced them, that they condemned the accused to be punished according to the ancient usage.1 Then, as if alarmed at the extreme severity of their punishment, to lessen the odiousness of the proceeding, he interposed in these words; for it is not foreign to the purpose to give them precisely as they were delivered: “Permit me, Conscript Fathers, so far to prevail upon your affection for me, however extraordinary the request may seem, as to grant the condemned criminals the favour of dying in the manner they choose. For by so doing, ye will spare your own eyes, and the world will understand that I interceded with the senate on their behalf.”
XII. Having exhausted the exchequer by the expense of his buildings and public spectacles, with the augmentation of pay lately granted to the troops, he made an attempt at the reduction of the army, in order to lessen the military charges. But reflecting, that he should, by this measure, expose himself to the insults of the barbarians, while it would not suffice to extricate him from his embarrassments, he had recourse to plundering his subjects by every mode of exaction. The estates of the living and the dead were sequestered upon any accusation, by whomsoever preferred. The unsupported allegation of any one person, relative to a word or action construed to affect the dignity of the emperor, was sufficient. Inheritances, to which he had not the slightest pretension, were confiscated, if there was found so much as one person to say, he had heard from the deceased when living, “that he had made the emperor his heir.” Besides the exactions from others, the poll-tax on the Jews was levied with extreme rigour, both on those who lived after the manner of Jews in the city, without publicly professing themselves to be such,2 and on those who, by concealing their origin, avoided paying the tribute imposed upon that people. I remember, when I was a youth, to have been present,1 when an old man, ninety years of age, had his person exposed to view in a very crowded court, in order that, on inspection, the procurator might satisfy himself whether he was circumcised.2
From his earliest years Domitian was any thing but courteous, of a forward, assuming disposition, and extravagant both in his words and actions. When Cænis, his father’s concubine, upon her return from Istria, offered him a kiss, as she had been used to do, he presented her his hand to kiss. Being indignant, that his brother’s son-in-law should be waited on by servants dressed in white,3 he exclaimed,
XIII After he became emperor, he had the assurance to boast in the senate, “that he had bestowed the empire on his rather and brother, and they had restored it to him.” And upon taking his wife again, after the divorce, he declared by proclamation, “that he had recalled her to his pulvinar.”5 He was not a little pleased too, at hearing the acclamations of the people in the amphitheatre on a day of festival, “All happiness to our lord and lady.” But when, during the celebration of the Capitoline trial of skill, the whole concourse of people entreated him with one voice to restore Palfurius Sura to his place in the senate, from which he had been long before expelled—he having then carried away the prize of eloquence from all the orators who had contended for it,—he did not vouchsafe to give them any answer, but only commanded silence to be proclaimed by the voice of the crier. With equal arrogance, when he dictated the form of a letter to be used by his procurators, he began it thus: “Our lord and god commands so and so;” whence it became a rule that no one should style him otherwise either in writing or speaking. He suffered no statues to be erected for him in the Capitol, unless they were of gold and silver, and of a certain weight. He erected so many magnificent gates and arches, surmounted by representations of chariots drawn by four horses, and other triumphal ornaments, in different quarters of the city, that a wag inscribed on one of the arches the Greek word Ἀξϰει, “It is enough.”1 He filled the office of consul seventeen times, which no one had ever done before him, and for the seven middle occasions in successive years; but in scarcely any of them had he more than the title; for he never continued in office beyond the calends of May [the 1st May], and for the most part only till the ides of January [13th January]. After his two triumphs, when he assumed the cognomen of Germanicus, he called the months of September and October, Germanicus and Domitian, after his own names, because he commenced his reign in the one, and was born in the other.
XIV. Becoming by these means universally feared and odious, he was at last taken off by a conspiracy of his friends and favourite freedmen, in concert with his wife.2 He had long entertained a suspicion of the year and day when he should die, and even of the very hour and manner of his death; all which he had learned from the Chaldæans, when he was a very young man. His father once at supper laughed at him for refusing to eat some mushrooms, saying, that if he knew his fate, he would rather be afraid of the sword. Being, therefore, in perpetual apprehension and anxiety, he was keenly alive to the slightest suspicions, insomuch that he is thought to have withdrawn the edict ordering the destruction of the vines, chiefly because the copies of it which were dispersed had the following lines written upon them:
It was from the same principle of fear, that he refused a new honour, devised and offered him by the senate, though he was greedy of all such compliments. It was this: “that as often as he held the consulship, Roman knights, chosen by lot, should walk before him, clad in the Trabea, with lances in their hands, amongst his lictors and apparitors.” As the time of the danger which he apprehended drew near, he became daily more and more disturbed in mind; insomuch that he lined the walls of the porticos in which he used to walk, with the stone called Phengites,1 by the reflection of which he could see every object behind him. He seldom gave an audience to persons in custody, unless in private, being alone, and he himself holding their chains in his hand. To convince his domestics that the life of a master was not to be attempted upon any pretext, however plausible, he condemned to death Epaphroditus his secretary, because it was believed that he had assisted Nero, in his extremity, to kill himself.
XV. His last victim was Flavius Clemens,2 his cousin-german, a man below contempt for his want of energy, whose sons, then of very tender age, he had avowedly destined for his successors, and, discarding their former names, had ordered one to be called Vespasian, and the other Domitian. Nevertheless, he suddenly put him to death upon some very slight suspicion,3 almost before he was well out of his consulship. By this violent act he very much hastened his own destruction. During eight months together there was so much lightning at Rome, and such accounts of the phænomenon were brought from other parts, that at last he cried out, “Let him now strike whom he will.” The Capitol was struck by lightning, as well as the temple of the Flavian family, with the Palatine-house, and his own bed-chamber. The tablet also, inscribed upon the base of his triumphal statue was carried away by the violence of the storm, and fell upon a neighbouring monument. The tree which just before the advancement of Vespasian had been prostrated, and rose again,1 suddenly fell to the ground. The goddess Fortune of Præneste, to whom it was his custom on new year’s day to commend the empire for the ensuing year, and who had always given him a favourable reply, at last returned him a melancholy answer, not without mention of blood. He dreamt that Minerva, whom he worshipped even to a superstitious excess, was withdrawing from her sanctuary, declaring she could protect him no longer, because she was disarmed by Jupiter. Nothing, however, so much affected him as an answer given by Ascletario, the astrologer, and his subsequent fate. This person had been informed against, and did not deny his having predicted some future events, of which, from the principles of his art, he confessed he had a foreknowledge. Domitian asked him, what end he thought he should come to himself? To which replying, “I shall in a short time be torn to pieces by dogs,” he ordered him immediately to be slain, and, in order to demonstrate the vanity of his art, to be carefully buried. But during the preparations for executing this order, it happened that the funeral pile was blown down by a sudden storm, and the body, half-burnt, was torn to pieces by dogs; which being observed by Latinus, the comic actor, as he chanced to pass that way, he told it, amongst the other news of the day, to the emperor at supper.
XVI. The day before his death, he ordered some dates,2 served up at table, to be kept till the next day, adding, “If I have the luck to use them.” And turning to those who were nearest him, he said, “To-morrow the moon in Aquarius will be bloody instead of watery, and an event will happen, which will be much talked of all the world over.” About midnight, he was so terrified that he leaped out of bed. That morning he tried and passed sentence on a soothsayer sent from Germany, who being consulted about the lightning that had lately happened, predicted from it a change of government. The blood running down his face as he scratched an ulcerous tumour on his forehead, he said, “Would this were all that is to befall me!” Then, upon his asking the time of the day, instead of five o’clock, which was the hour he dreaded, they purposely told him it was six. Overjoyed at this information, as if all danger were now passed, and hastening to the bath, Parthenius, his chamberlain, stopped him, by saying that there was a person come to wait upon him about a matter of great importance, which would admit of no delay. Upon this, ordering all persons to withdraw, he retired into his chamber, and was there slain.
XVII. Concerning the contrivance and mode of his death, the common account is this. The conspirators being in some doubt when and where they should attack him, whether while he was in the bath, or at supper, Stephanus, a steward of Domitilla’s,1 then under prosecution for defrauding his mistress, offered them his advice and assistance; and wrapping up his left arm, as if it was hurt, in wool and bandages for some days, to prevent suspicion, at the hour appointed, he secreted a dagger in them. Pretending then to make a discovery of a conspiracy, and being for that reason admitted, he presented to the emperor a memorial, and while he was reading it in great astonishment, stabbed him in the groin. But Domitian, though wounded, making resistance, Clodianus, one of his guards, Maximus, a freedman of Parthenius’s, Saturius, his principal chamberlain, with some gladiators, fell upon him, and stabbed him in seven places. A boy who had the charge of the Lares in his bed-chamber, and was then in attendance as usual, gave these further particulars: that he was ordered by Domitian, upon receiving his first wound, to reach him a dagger which lay under his pillow, and call in his domestics; but that he found nothing at the head of the bed, excepting the hilt of a poniard, and that all the doors were fastened: that the emperor in the mean time got hold of Stephanus, and throwing him upon the ground, struggled a long time with him; one while endeavouring to wrench the dagger from him, another while, though his fingers were miserably mangled, to tear out his eyes. He was slain upon the fourteenth of the calends of October [18th Sept.], in the forty-fifth year of his age, and the fifteenth of his reign.1 His corpse was carried out upon a common bier by the public bearers, and buried by his nurse Phyllis, at his suburban villa on the Latin Way. But she afterwards privately conveyed his remains to the temple of the Flavian family,2 and mingled them with the ashes of Julia, the daughter of Titus, whom she had also nursed.
XVIII. He was tall in stature, his face modest, and very ruddy; he had large eyes, but was dim-sighted; naturally graceful in his person, particularly in his youth, excepting only that his toes were bent somewhat inward, he was at last disfigured by baldness, corpulence, and the slenderness of his legs, which were reduced by a long illness. He was so sensible how much the modesty of his countenance recommended him, that he once made this boast to the senate, “Thus far you have approved both of my disposition and my countenance.” His baldness so much annoyed him, that he considered it an affront to himself, if any other person was reproached with it, either in jest or in earnest; though in a small tract he published, addressed to a friend, “concerning the preservation of the hair,” he uses for their mutual consolation the words following:
“and yet the fate of my hair awaits me; however, I bear with fortitude this loss of my hair while I am still young. Remember that nothing is more fascinating than beauty, but nothing of shorter duration.”
XIX. He so shrunk from undergoing fatigue, that he scarcely ever walked through the city on foot. In his expeditions and on a march, he seldom rode on horse-back, but was generally carried in a litter. He had no inclination for the exercise of arms, but was very expert in the use of the bow. Many persons have seen him often kill a hundred wild animals, of various kinds, at his Alban retreat, and fix his arrows in their heads with such dexterity, that he could, in two shots, plant them, like a pair of horns, in each. He would sometimes direct his arrows against the hand of a boy standing at a distance, and expanded as a mark, with such precision, that they all passed between the boy’s fingers, without hurting him.
XX. In the beginning of his reign, he gave up the study of the liberal sciences, though he took care to restore, at a vast expense, the libraries which had been burnt down; collecting manuscripts from all parts, and sending scribes to Alexandria,1 either to copy or correct them. Yet he never gave himself the trouble of reading history or poetry, or of employing his pen even for his private purposes. He perused nothing but the Commentaries and Acts of Tiberius Cæsar. His letters, speeches, and edicts, were all drawn up for him by others; though he could converse with elegance, and sometimes expressed himself in memorable sentiments. “I could wish,” said he once, “that I was but as handsome as Metius fancies himself to be.” And of the head of some one whose hair was partly reddish, and partly grey, he said, “that it was snow sprinkled with mead.”
XXI. “The lot of princes,” he remarked, “was very miserable, for no one believed them when they discovered a conspiracy, until they were murdered.” When he had leisure, he amused himself with dice, even on days that were not festivals, and in the morning. He went to the bath early, and made a plentiful dinner, insomuch that he seldom ate more at supper than a Matian apple,2 to which he added a draught of wine, out of a small flask. He gave frequent and splendid entertainments, but they were soon over, for he never prolonged them after sun-set, and indulged in no revel after. For, till bed-time, he did nothing else but walk by himself in private.
XXII. He was insatiable in his lusts, calling frequent commerce with women, as if it was a sort of exercise, ϰλινοπάλην, bed-wrestling; and it was reported that he plucked the hair from his concubines, and swam about in company with the lowest prostitutes. His brother’s daughter1 was offered him in marriage when she was a virgin; but being at that time enamoured of Domitia, he obstinately refused her. Yet not long afterwards, when she was given to another, he was ready enough to debauch her, and that even while Titus was living. But after she had lost both her father and her husband, he loved her most passionately, and without disguise; insomuch that he was the occasion of her death, by obliging her to procure a miscarriage when she was with child by him.
XXIII. The people shewed little concern at his death, but the soldiers were roused by it to great indignation, and immediately endeavoured to have him ranked among the gods. They were also ready to revenge his loss, if there had been any to take the lead. However, they soon after effected it, by resolutely demanding the punishment of all those who had been concerned in his assassination. On the other hand, the senate was so overjoyed, that they met in all haste, and in a full assembly reviled his memory in the most bitter terms; ordering ladders to be brought in, and his shields and images to be pulled down before their eyes, and dashed in pieces upon the floor of the senate-house; passing at the same time a decree to obliterate his titles every where, and abolish all memory of him. A few months before he was slain, a raven on the Capitol uttered these words: “All will be well.” Some person gave the following interpretation of this prodigy:
They say likewise that Domitian dreamed that a golden hump grew out of the back of his neck, which he considered as a certain sign of happy days for the empire after him. Such an auspicious change indeed shortly afterwards took place, through the justice and moderation of the succeeding emperors.
If we view Domitian in the different lights in which he is represented, during his lifetime and after his decease, his character and conduct discover a greater diversity than is commonly observed in the objects of historical detail. But as posthumous character is always the most just, its decisive verdict affords the surest criterion by which this variegated emperor must be estimated by impartial posterity. According to this rule, it is beyond a doubt that his vices were more predominant than his virtues: and when we follow him into his closet, for some time after his accession, when he was thirty years of age, the frivolity of his daily employment, in the killing of flies, exhibits an instance of dissipation, which surpasses all that has been recorded of his imperial predecessors. The encouragement, however, which the first Vespasian had shown to literature, continued to operate during the present reign; and we behold the first fruits of its auspicious influence in the valuable treatise of Quintilian.
Of the life of this celebrated writer, little is known upon any authority that has a title to much credit. We learn, however, that he was the son of a lawyer in the service of some of the preceding emperors, and was born at Rome, though in what consulship, or under what emperor, it is impossible to determine. He married a woman of a noble family, by whom he had two sons. The mother died in the flower of her age, and the sons, at the distance of some time from each other, when their father was advanced in years. The precise time of Quintilian’s own death is equally inauthenticated with that of his birth; nor can we rely upon an author of suspicious veracity, who says that he passed the latter part of his life in a state of indigence, which was alleviated by the liberality of his pupil, Pliny the Younger. Quintilian opened a school of rhetoric at Rome, where he not only discharged that laborious employment with great applause, during more than twenty years, but pleaded at the bar, and was the first who obtained a salary from the state, for executing the office of a public teacher. He was also appointed by Domitian preceptor to the two young princes who were intended to succeed him on the throne.
After his retirement from the situation of a teacher, Quintilian devoted his attention to the study of literature, and composed a treatise on the Causes of the Corruption of Eloquence. At the earnest solicitation of his friends, he was afterwards induced to undertake his Institutiones Oratoriæ, the most elaborate system of oratory extant in any language. This work is divided into twelve books, in which the author treats with great precision of the qualities of a perfect orator; explaining not only the fundamental principles of eloquence, as connected with the constitution of the human mind, but pointing out, both by argument and observation, the most successful method of exercising that admirable art, for the accomplishment of its purpose. So minutely, and upon so extensive a plan, has he prosecuted the subject, that he delineates the education suitable to a perfect orator, from the stage of infancy in the cradle, to the consummation of rhetorical fame, in the pursuits of the bar, or those, in general, of any public assembly. It is sufficient to say, that in the execution of this elaborate work, Quintilian has called to the assistance of his own acute and comprehensive understanding, the profound penetration of Aristotle, the exquisite graces of Cicero; all the stores of observation, experience, and practice; and in a word, the whole accumulated exertions of ancient genius on the subject of oratory.
It may justly be regarded as an extraordinary circumstance in the progress of scientific improvement, that the endowments of a perfect orator were never fully exhibited to the world, until it had become dangerous to exercise them for the important purposes for which they were originally cultivated. And it is no less remarkable, that, under all the violence and caprice of imperial despotism which the Romans had now experienced, their sensibility to the enjoyment of poetical compositions remained still unabated; as if it served to console the nation for the irretrievable loss of public liberty. From this source of entertainment, they reaped more pleasure during the present reign, than they had done since the time of Augustus. The poets of this period were Juvenal, Statius, and Martial.
Juvenal was born at Aquinum, but in what year is uncertain; though, from some circumstances, it seems to have been in the reign of Augustus. Some say that he was the son of a freedman, while others, without specifying the condition of his father, relate only that he was brought up by a freedman. He came at an early age to Rome, where he declaimed for many years, and pleaded causes in the forum with great applause; but at last he betook himself to the writing of satires, in which he acquired great fame. One of the first, and the most constant object of his satire, was the pantomime Paris, the great favourite of the emperor Nero, and afterwards of Domitian. During the reign of the former of these emperors, no resentment was shown towards the poet; but he experienced not the same impunity after the accession of the latter; when, to remove him from the capital, he was sent as governor to the frontiers of Egypt, but in reality, into an honourable exile. According to some authors, he died of chagrin in that province: but this is not authenticated, and seems to be a mistake: for in some of Martial’s epigrams, which appear to have been written after the death of Domitian, Juvenal is spoken of as residing at Rome. It is said that he lived to upwards of eighty years of age.
The remaining compositions of this author are sixteen satires, all written against the dissipation and enormous vices which prevailed at Rome in his time. The various objects of animadversion are painted in the strongest colours, and placed in the most conspicuous points of view. Giving loose reins to just and moral indignation, Juvenal is every where animated, vehement, petulant, and incessantly acrimonious. Disdaining the more lenient modes of correction, or despairing of their success, he neither adopts the raillery of Horace, nor the derision of Persius, but prosecutes vice and folly with all the severity of sentiment, passion, and expression. He sometimes exhibits a mixture of humour with his invectives; but it is a humour which partakes more of virulent rage than of pleasantry; broad, hostile, but coarse, and rivalling in indelicacy the profligate manners which it assails. The satires of Juvenal abound in philosophical apophthegms; and, where they are not sullied by obscene description, are supported with a uniform air of virtuous elevation. Amidst all the intemperance of sarcasm, his numbers are harmonious. Had his zeal permitted him to direct the current of his impetuous genius into the channel of ridicule, and endeavour to put to shame the vices and follies of those licentious times, as much as he perhaps exasperated conviction rather than excited contrition, he would have carried satire to the highest possible pitch, both of literary excellence and moral utility. With every abatement of attainable perfection, we hesitate not to place him at the head of this arduous department of poetry.
Of Statius no farther particulars are preserved than that he was born at Naples; that his father’s name was Statius of Epirus, and his mother’s Agelina, and that he died about the end of the first century of the Christian era. Some have conjectured that he maintained himself by writing for the stage, but of this there is no sufficient evidence; and if ever he composed dramatic productions, they have perished. The works of Statius now extant, are two poems, viz. the Thebaïs and the Achilleïs, besides a collection, named Silvæ.
The Thebaïs consists of twelve books, and the subject of it is the Theban war, which happened 1236 years before the Christian era, in consequence of a dispute between Eteocles and Polynices, the sons of Œdipus and Jocasta. These brothers had entered into an agreement with each other to reign alternately for a year at a time; and Eteocles being the elder, got first possession of the throne. This prince refusing to abdicate at the expiration of the year, Polynices fled to Argos, where marrying Argia, the daughter of Adrastus, king of that country, he procured the assistance of his father-in-law, to enforce the engagement stipulated with his brother Eteocles. The Argives marched under the command of seven able generals, who were to attack separately the seven gates of Thebes. After much blood had been spilt without any effect, it was at last agreed between the two parties, that the brothers should determine the dispute by single combat. In the desperate engagement which ensued, they both fell; and being burnt together upon the funeral pile, it is said that their ashes separated, as if actuated by the implacable resentment which they had borne to each other.
If we except the Æneid, this is the only Latin production extant which is epic in its form; and it likewise approaches nearest in merit to that celebrated poem, which Statius appears to have been ambitious of emulating. In unity and greatness of action, the Thebaïs corresponds to the laws of the Epopea; but the fable may be regarded as defective in some particulars, which, however, arise more from the nature of the subject, than from any fault of the poet. The distinction of the hero is not sufficiently prominent; and the poem possesses not those circumstances which are requisite towards interesting the reader’s affections in the issue of the contest. To this it may be added, that the unnatural complexion of the incestuous progeny diffuses a kind of gloom which obscures the splendour of thought, and restrains the sympathetic indulgence of fancy to some of the boldest excursions of the poet. For grandeur, however, and animation of sentiment and description, as well as for harmony of numbers, the Thebaïs is eminently conspicuous, and deserves to be held in a much higher degree of estimation than it has generally obtained. In the contrivance of some of the episodes, and frequently in the modes of expression, Statius keeps an attentive eye to the style of Virgil. It is said that he was twelve years employed in the composition of this poem; and we have his own authority for affirming, that he polished it with all the care and assiduity practised by the poets in the Augustan age:
The Achillëis relates to the same hero who is celebrated by Homer in the Iliad; but it is the previous history of Achilles, not his conduct in the Trojan war, which forms the subject of the poem of Statius. While the young hero is under the care of the Centaur Chiron, Thetis makes a visit to the preceptor’s sequestered habitation, where, to save her son from the fate which, it was predicted, would befall him at Troy, if he should go to the siege of that place, she orders him to be dressed in the disguise of a girl, and sent to live in the family of Lycomedes, king of Scyros. But as Troy could not be taken without the aid of Achilles, Ulysses, accompanied by Diomed, is deputed by the Greeks to go to Scyros, and bring him thence to the Grecian camp. The artifice by which the sagacious ambassador detected Achilles amongst his female companions, was by placing before them various articles of merchandise, amongst which was some armour. Achilles no sooner perceived the latter, than he eagerly seized a sword and shield, and manifesting the strongest emotions of heroic enthusiasm, discovered his sex. After an affectionate parting with Lycomedes’ daughter, Deïdamia, whom he left pregnant of a son, he set sail with the Grecian chiefs, and, during the voyage, gives them an account of the manner of his education with Chiron.
This poem consists of two books, in heroic measure, and is written with taste and fancy. Commentators are of opinion, that the Achilleïs was left incomplete by the death of the author; but this is extremely improbable, from various circumstances, and appears to be founded only upon the word Hactenus, in the conclusion of the poem:
That any consequential reference was intended by hactenus, seems to me plainly contradicted by the words which immediately follow, scit cætera mater. Statius could not propose the giving any further account of Achilles’s life, because a general narrative of it had been given in the first book. The voyage from Scyros to the Trojan coast, conducted with the celerity which suited the purpose of the poet, admitted of no incidents which required description or recital: and after the voyagers had reached the Grecian camp, it is reasonable to suppose, that the action of the Iliad immediately commenced. But that Statius had no design of extending the plan of the Achilleïs beyond this period, is expressly declared in the exordium of the poem:
The Silvæ is a collection of poems almost entirely in heroic verse, divided into five books, and for the most part written extempore. Statius himself affirms, in his Dedication to Stella, that the production of none of them employed him more than two days; yet many of them consist of between one hundred and two hundred hexameter lines. We meet with one of two hundred and sixteen lines; one, of two hundred and thirty-four; one, of two hundred and sixty-two; and one of two hundred and seventy-seven; a rapidity of composition approaching to what Horace mentions of the poet Lucilius. It is no small encomium to observe, that, considered as extemporaneous productions, the meanest in the collection is far from meriting censure, either in point of sentiment or expression; and many of them contain passages which command our applause.
The poet Martial, surnamed likewise Coquus, was born at Bilbilis, in Spain, of obscure parents. At the age of twenty-one, he came to Rome, where he lived during five-and-thirty years under the emperors Galba, Otho, Vitellius, the two Vespasians, Domitian, Nerva, and the beginning of the reign of Trajan. He was the panegyrist of several of those emperors, by whom he was liberally rewarded, raised to the Equestrian order, and promoted by Domitian to the tribuneship; but being treated with coldness and neglect by Trajan, he returned to his native country, and, a few years after, ended his days, at the age of seventy-five He had lived at Rome in great splendour and affluence, as well as in high esteem for his poetical talents; but upon his return to Bilbilis, it is said that he experienced a great reverse of fortune, and was chiefly indebted for his support to the gratuitous benefactions of Pliny the Younger, whom he had extolled in some epigrams.
The poems of Martial consist of fourteen books, all written in the epigrammatic form, to which species of composition, introduced by the Greeks, he had a peculiar propensity. Amidst such a multitude of verses, on a variety of subjects, often composed extempore, and many of them, probably, in the moments of fashionable dissipation, it is not surprising that we find a large number unworthy the genius of the author. Delicacy, and even decency, is often violated in the productions of Martial. Grasping at every thought which afforded even the shadow of ingenuity, he gave unlimited scope to the exercise of an active and fruitful imagination. In respect to composition, he is likewise liable to censure. At one time he wearies, and at another tantalises the reader, with the prolixity or ambiguity of his preambles. His prelusive sentiments are sometimes far-fetched, and converge not with a natural declination into the focus of epigram. In dispensing praise and censure, he often seems to be governed more by prejudice or policy, than by justice and truth; and he is more constantly attentive to the production of wit, than to the improvement of morality.
But while we remark the blemishes and imperfections of this poet, we must acknowledge his extraordinary merits. In composition he is, in general, elegant and correct; and where the subject is capable of connection with sentiment, his inventive ingenuity never fails to extract from it the essence of delight and surprise. His fancy is prolific of beautiful images, and his judgment expert in arranging them to the greatest advantage. He bestows panegyric with inimitable grace, and satirises with equal dexterity. In a fund of Attic salt, he surpasses every other writer; and though he seems to have at command all the varied stores of gall, he is not destitute of candour. With almost every kind of versification he appears to be familiar; and notwithstanding a facility of temper, too accommodating, perhaps, on many occasions, to the licentiousness of the times, we may venture from strong indications to pronounce, that, as a moralist, his principles were virtuous. It is observed of this author, by Pliny the Younger, that, though his compositions might, perhaps, not obtain immortality, he wrote as if they would. [Æterna, quæ scripsit, non erunt fortasse: ille tamen scripsit tanquam futura.] The character which Martial gives of his epigrams, is just and comprehensive:
the end of the twelve cæsars.
LIVES OF EMINENT GRAMMARIANS.
I.The science of grammar1 was in ancient times far from being in vogue at Rome; indeed, it was of little use in a rude state of society, when the people were engaged in constant wars, and had not much time to bestow on the cultivation of the liberal arts.2 At the outset, its pretensions were very slender, for the earliest men of learning, who were both poets and orators, may be considered as half-Greek: I speak of Livius3 and Ennius,4 who are acknowledged to have taught both languages as well at Rome as in foreign parts.5 But they only translated from the Greek, and if they composed anything of their own in Latin, it was only from what they had before read. For although there are those who say that this Ennius published two books, one on “Letters and Syllables,” and the other on “Metres,” Lucius Cotta has satisfactorily proved that they are not the works of the poet Ennius, but of another writer of the same name, to whom also the treatise on the “Rules of Augury” is attributed.
II. Crates of Mallos,1 then, was, in our opinion, the first who introduced the study of grammar at Rome. He was cotemporary with Aristarchus,2 and having been sent by king Attalus as envoy to the senate in the interval between the second and third Punic wars,3 soon after the death of Ennius,4 he had the misfortune to fall into an open sewer in the Palatine quarter of the city, and broke his leg. After which, during the whole period of his embassy and convalescence, he gave frequent lectures, taking much pains to instruct his hearers, and he has left us an example well worthy of imitation. It was so far followed, that poems hitherto little known, the works either of deceased friends or other approved writers, were brought to light, and being read and commented on, were explained to others. Thus, Caius Octavius Lampadio edited the Punic War of Nævius,5 which having been written in one volume without any break in the manuscript, he divided into seven books. After that, Quintus Vargonteius undertook the Annals of Ennius, which he read on certain fixed days to crowded audiences. So Lælius Archelaus, and Vectius Philocomus, read and commented on the Satires of their friend Lucilius,6 which Lenæus Pompeius, a freedman, tells us he studied under Archelaus; and Valerius Cato, under Philocomus. Two others also taught and promoted grammar in various branches, namely, Lucius Ælius Lanuvinus, the son-in-law of Quintus Ælius, and Servius Claudius, both of whom were Roman knights, and men who rendered great services both to learning and the republic.
III. Lucius Ælius had a double cognomen, for he was called Præconius, because his father was a herald; Stilo, because he was in the habit of composing orations for most of the speakers of highest rank; indeed, he was so strong a partisan of the nobles, that he accompanied Quintus Metellus Numidicus1 in his exile. Servius2 having clandestinely obtained his father-in-law’s book before it was published, was disowned for the fraud, which he took so much to heart, that, overwhelmed with shame and distress, he retired from Rome; and being seized with a fit of the gout, in his impatience, he applied a poisonous ointment to his feet, which half-killed him, so that his lower limbs mortified while he was still alive. After this, more attention was paid to the science of letters, and it grew in public estimation, insomuch, that men of the highest rank did not hesitate in undertaking to write something on the subject; and it is related that sometimes there were no less than twenty celebrated scholars in Rome. So high was the value, and so great were the rewards, of grammarians, that Lutatius Daphnides, jocularly called “Pan’s herd”3 by Lenæus Melissus, was purchased by Quintus Catullus for two hundred thousand sesterces, and shortly afterwards made a freedman; and that Lucius Apuleius, who was taken into the pay of Epicius Calvinus, a wealthy Roman knight, at the annual salary of ten thousand crowns, had many scholars. Grammar also penetrated into the provinces, and some of the most eminent amongst the learned taught it in foreign parts, particularly in Gallia Togata. In the number of these, we may reckon Octavius Teucer, Siscennius Jacchus, and Oppius Cares,1 who persisted in teaching to a most advanced period of his life, at a time when he was not only unable to walk, but his sight failed.
IV. The appellation of grammarian was borrowed from the Greeks; but at first, the Latins called such persons literati. Cornelius Nopos, also, in his book, where he draws a distinction between a literate and a philologist, says that in common phrase, those are properly called literati who are skilled in speaking or writing with care or accuracy, and those more especially deserve the name who translated the poets, and were called grammarians by the Greeks. It appears that they were named literators by Messala Corvinus, in one of his letters, when he says, “that it does not refer to Furius Bibaculus, nor even to Sigida, nor to Cato, the literator,”2 meaning, doubtless, that Valerius Cato was both a poet and an eminent grammarian. Some there are who draw a distinction between a literati and a literator, as the Greeks do between a grammarian and a grammatist, applying the former term to men of real erudition, the latter to those whose pretensions to learning are moderate; and this opinion Orbilius supports by examples. For he says that in old times, when a company of slaves was offered for sale by any person, it was not customary, without good reason, to describe either of them in the catalogue as a literate, but only as a literator, meaning that he was not a proficient in letters, but had a smattering of knowledge.
The early grammarians taught rhetoric also, and we have many of their treatises which include both sciences; whence it arose, I think, that in later times, although the two professions had then become distinct, the old custom was retained, or the grammarians introduced into their teaching some of the elements required for public speaking, such as the problem, the periphrasis, the choice of words, description of character, and the like; in order that they might not transfer their pupils to the rhetoricians no better than ill-taught boys But I perceive that these lessons are now given up in some cases, on account of the want of application, or the tender years, of the scholar, for I do not believe that it arises from any dislike in the master. I recollect that when I was a boy it was the custom of one of these, whose name was Princeps, to take alternate days for declaiming and disputing; and sometimes he would lecture in the morning, and declaim in the afternoon, when he had his pulpit removed. I heard, also, that even within the memories of our own fathers, some of the pupils of the grammarians passed directly from the schools to the courts, and at once took a high place in the ranks of the most distinguished advocates. The professors at that time were, indeed, men of great eminence, of some of whom I may be able to give an account in the following chapters.
V.Sævius1Nicanor first acquired fame and reputation by his teaching: and, besides, he made commentaries, the greater part of which, however, are said to have been borrowed. He also wrote a satire, in which he informs us that he was a freedman, and had a double cognomen, in the following verses;
It is reported, that in consequence of some infamy attached to his character, he retired to Sardinia, and there ended his days.
VI.Aurelius Opilius,2 the freedman of some Epicurean, first taught philosophy, then rhetoric, and last of all, grammar. Having closed his school, he followed Rutilius Rufus, when he was banished to Asia, and there the two friends grew old together. He also wrote several volumes on a variety of learned topics, nine books of which he distinguished by the number and names of the nine Muses; as he says, not without reason, they being the patrons of authors and poets. I observe that its title is given in several indexes by a single letter, but he uses two in the heading of a book called Finax.
VII.Marcus Antonius Gnipho,1 a free-born native of Gaul, was exposed in his infancy, and afterwards received his freedom from his foster-father; and, as some say, was educated at Alexandria, where Dionysius Scytobrachion2 was his fellow pupil. This, however, I am not very ready to believe, as the times at which they flourished scarcely agree. He is said to have been a man of great genius, of singular memory, well read in Greek as well as Latin, and of a most obliging and agreeable temper, who never haggled about remuneration, but generally left it to the liberality of his scholars. He first taught in the house of Julius Cæsar,3 when the latter was yet but a boy, and, afterwards, in his own private house. He gave instruction in rhetoric also, teaching the rules of eloquence every day, but declaiming only on festivals. It is said that some very celebrated men frequented his school,—and, among others, Marcus Cicero, during the time he held the prætorship.4 He wrote a number of works, although he did not live beyond his fiftieth year; but Atteius, the philologist,5 says, that he left only two volumes, “De Latino Sermone;” and, that the other works ascribed to him, were composed by his disciples, and were not his, although his name is sometimes to be found in them.
VIII. M. Pompilius Andronicus, a native of Syria, while he professed to be a grammarian, was considered an idle follower of the Epicurean sect, and little qualified to be a master of a school. Finding, therefore, that, at Rome, not only Antonius Gnipho, but even other teachers of less note were preferred to him, he retired to Cumæ, where he lived at his ease; and, though he wrote several books, he was so needy, and reduced to such straits, as to be compelled to sell that excellent little work of his, “The Index to the Annals,” for sixteen thousand sesterces. Orbilius has informed us, that he redeemed this work from the oblivion into which it had fallen, and took care to have it published with the author’s name.
IX.Orbilius Pupillus, of Beneventum, being left an orphan, by the death of his parents, who both fell a sacrifice to the plots of their enemies on the same day, acted, at first, as apparitor to the magistrates. He then joined the troops in Macedonia, when he was first decorated with the plumed helmet,1 and, afterwards, promoted to serve on horseback. Having completed his military service, he resumed his studies, which he had pursued with no small diligence from his youth upwards: and, having been a professor for a long period in his own country, at last, during the consulship of Cicero, made his way to Rome, where he taught with more reputation than profit. For in one of his works he says, that “he was then very old, and lived in a garret.” He also published a book with the title of Perialogos; containing complaints of the injurious treatment to which professors submitted, without seeking redress at the hands of parents. His sour temper betrayed itself, not only in his disputes with the sophists opposed to him, whom he lashed on every occasion, but also towards his scholars, as Horace tells us, who calls him “a flogger;”2 and Domitius Marsus,3 who says of him:—
And not even men of rank escaped his sarcasms: for, before he became noticed, happening to be examined as a witness in a crowded court, Varro, the advocate on the other side, put the question to him, “What he did, and by what profession he gained his livelihood?” He replied, “That he lived by removing hunchbacks from the sunshine into the shade,” alluding to Muræna’s deformity. He lived till he was near a hundred years old; but he had long lost his memory, as the verse of Bibaculus informs us:—
His statue is shown in the Capitol at Beneventum. It stands on the left hand, and is sculptured in marble,1 representing him in a sitting posture, wearing the pallium, with two writing-cases in his hand. He left a son, named also Orbilius, who, like his father, was a professor of grammar.
X.Atteius, the Philologist, a freedman, was born at Athens. Of him, Capito Atteius,2 the well-known jurisconsult, says that he was a rhetorician among the grammarians, and a grammarian among the rhetoricians. Asinius Pollio,3 in the book in which he finds fault with the writings of Sallust for his great affectation of obsolete words, speaks thus: “In this work his chief assistant was a certain Atteius, a man of rank, a splendid Latin grammarian, the aider and preceptor of those who studied the practice of declamation; in short, one who claimed for himself the cognomen of Philologus.” Writing to Lucius Hermas, he says, “that he had made great proficiency in Greek literature, and some in Latin; that he had been a hearer of Antonius Gnipho, and his Hermas,4 and afterwards began to teach others. Moreover, that he had for pupils many illustrious youths, among whom were the two brothers, Appius and Pulcher Claudius; and that he even accompanied them to their province.” He appears to have assumed the name of Philologus, because, like Eratosthenes,1 who first adopted that cognomen, he was in high repute for his rich and varied stores of learning; which, indeed, is evident from his commentaries, though but few of them are extant. Another letter, however, to the same Hermas, shews that they were very numerous: “Remember,” it says, “to recommend generally our Extracts, which we have collected, as you know, of all kinds, into eight hundred books.” He afterwards formed an intimate acquaintance with Caius Sallustius, and, on his death, with Asinius Pollio; and when they undertook to write a history, he supplied the one with short annals of all Roman affairs, from which he could select at pleasure; and the other, with rules on the art of composition. I am, therefore, surprised that Asinius Pollio should have supposed that he was in the habit of collecting old words and figures of speech for Sallust, when he must have known that his own advice was, that none but well known, and common and appropriate expressions should be made use of; and that, above all things, the obscurity of the style of Sallust, and his bold freedom in translations, should be avoided.
XI.Valerius Cato was, as some have informed us, the freedman of one Bursenus, a native of Gaul. He himself tells us, in his little work called “Indignatio,” that he was born free, and being left an orphan, was exposed to be easily stripped of his patrimony during the licence of Sylla’s administrations. He had a great number of distinguished pupils, and was highly esteemed as a preceptor suited to those who had a poetical turn, as appears from these short lines:
Besides his Treatise on Grammar, he composed some poems, of which, his Lydia and Diana are most admired. Ticida mentions his “Lydia.”
Cinna1 thus notices the “Diana.”
He lived to extreme old age, but in the lowest state of penury, and almost in actual want; having retired to a small cottage when he gave up his Tusculan villa to his creditors; as Bibaculus tells us:
“If, perchance, any one has seen the house of my Cato, with marble slabs of the richest hues, and his gardens worthy of having Priapus2 for their guardian, he may well wonder by what philosophy he has gained so much wisdom, that a daily allowance of three coleworts, half-a-pound of meal, and two bunches of grapes, under a narrow roof, should serve for his subsistence to extreme old age.”
And he says in another place:
“We lately saw, my Gallus, Cato’s Tusculan villa exposed to public sale by his creditors; and wondered that such an unrivalled master of the schools, most eminent grammarian, and accomplished poet, could solve all propositions and yet found one question too difficult for him to settle,—how to pay his debts. We find in him the genius of Zenodotus,1 the wisdom of Crates.”2
XII.Cornelius Epicadius, a freedman of Lucius Cornelius Sylla, the dictator, was his apparitor in the Augural priesthood, and much beloved by his son Faustus; so that he was proud to call himself the freedman of both. He completed the last book of Sylla’s Commentaries, which his patron had left unfinished.3
XIII.Laberius Hiera was bought by his master out of a slave-dealer’s cage, and obtained his freedom on account of his devotion to learning. It is reported that his disinterestedness was such, that he gave gratuitous instruction to the children of those who were proscribed in the time of Sylla.
XIV.Curtius Nicia was the intimate friend of Cneius Pompeius and Caius Memmius; but having carried notes from Memmius to Pompey’s wife,4 when she was debauched by Memmius, Pompey was indignant, and forbad him his house. He was also on familiar terms with Marcus Cicero, who thus speaks of him in his epistle to Dolabella:5 “I have more need of receiving letters from you, than you have of desiring them from me. For there is nothing going on at Rome in which I think you would take any interest, except, perhaps, that you may like to know that I am appointed umpire between our friends Nicias and Vidius. The one, it appears, alleges in two short verses that Nicias owes him money; the other, like an Aristarchus, cavils at them. I, like an old critic, am to decide whether they are Nicias’s or spurious.”
Again, in a letter to Atticus,1 he says: “As to what you write about Nicias, nothing could give me greater pleasure than to have him with me, if I was in a position to enjoy his society; but my province is to me a place of retirement and solitude. Sicca easily reconciled himself to this state of things, and, therefore, I would prefer having him. Besides, you are well aware of the feebleness, and the nice and luxurious habits, of our friend Nicias. Why should I be the means of making him uncomfortable, when he can afford me no pleasure? At the same time, I value his goodwill.”
XV.Lenæus was a freedman of Pompey the Great, and attended him in most of his expeditions. On the death of his patron and his sons, he supported himself by teaching in a school which he opened near the temple of Tellus, in the Carinæ, in the quarter of the city where the house of the Pompeys stood.2 Such was his regard for his patron’s memory, that when Sallust described him as having a brazen face, and a shameless mind, he lashed the historian in a most bitter satire,3 as “a bull’s-pizzle, a gormandizer, a braggart, and a tippler, a man whose life and writings were equally monstrous;” besides charging him with being “a most unskilful plagiarist, who borrowed the language of Cato and other old writers.” It is related, that, in his youth, having escaped from slavery by the contrivance of some of his friends, he took refuge in his own country; and, that after he had applied himself to the liberal arts, he brought the price of his freedom to his former master, who, however, struck by his talents and learning, gave him manumission gratuitously.
XVI.Quintus Cæcilius, an Epirot by descent, but born at Tusculum, was a freedman of Atticus Satrius, a Roman knight, to whom Cicero addressed his Epistles.1 He became the tutor of his patron’s daughter,2 who was contracted to Marcus Agrippa, but being suspected of an illicit intercourse with her, and sent away on that account, he betook himself to Cornelius Gallus, and lived with him on terms of the greatest intimacy, which, indeed, was imputed to Gallus as one of his heaviest offences, by Augustus. Then, after the condemnation and death of Gallus,3 he opened a school, but had few pupils, and those very young, nor any belonging to the higher orders, excepting the children of those he could not refuse to admit. He was the first, it is said, who held disputations in Latin, and who began to lecture on Virgil and the other modern poets; which the verse of Domitius Marcus4 points out.
XVII.Verrius Flaccus,5 a freedman, distinguished himself by a new mode of teaching; for it was his practice to exercise the wits of his scholars, by encouraging emulation among them; not only proposing the subjects on which they were to write, but offering rewards for those who were successful in the contest. These consisted of some ancient, handsome, or rare book. Being, in consequence, selected by Augustus, as preceptor to his grandsons, he transferred his entire school to the Palatium, but with the understanding that he should admit no fresh scholars. The hall in Catiline’s house, which had then been added to the palace, was assigned him for his school, with a yearly allowance of one hundred thousand sesterces. He died of old age, in the reign of Tiberius. There is a statue of him at Præneste, in the semi-circle at the lower side of the forum, where he had set up calendars arranged by himself, and inscribed on slabs of marble.
XVIII.Lucius Crassitius, a native of Tarentum, and in rank a freedman, had the cognomen of Pasides, which he afterwards changed for Pansa. His first employment was connected with the stage, and his business was to assist the writers of farces. After that, he took to giving lessons in a gallery attached to a house, until his commentary on “The Smyrna”1 so brought him into notice, that the following lines were written on him:
However, after having taught many scholars, some of whom were of high rank, and amongst others, Julius Antonius, the triumvir’s son, so that he might be even compared with Verrius Flaccus; he suddenly closed his school, and joined the sect of Quintus Septimius, the philosopher.
XIX.Scribonius Aphrodisius, the slave and disciple of Orbilius, who was afterwards redeemed and presented with his freedom by Scribonia,2 the daughter of Libo who had been the wife of Augustus, taught in the time of Verrius; whose books on Orthography he also revised, not without some severe remarks on his pursuits and conduct.
XX.C. Julius Hyginus, a freedman of Augustus, was a native of Spain, although some say he was born at Alexandria, and that when that city was taken, Cæsar brought him, then a boy, to Rome. He closely and carefully imitated Cornelius Alexander,1 a Greek grammarian, who, for his antiquarian knowledge, was called by many Polyhistor, and by some History. He had the charge of the Palatine library, but that did not prevent him from having many scholars; and he was one of the most intimate friends of the poet Ovid, and of Caius Licinius, the historian, a man of consular rank,2 who has related that Hyginus died very poor, and was supported by his liberality as long as he lived. Julius Modestus,3 who was a freedman of Hyginus, followed the footsteps of his patron in his studies and learning.
XXI.Caius Melissus,4 a native of Spoletum, was free-born, but having been exposed by his parents in consequence of quarrels between them, he received a good education from his foster-father, by whose care and industry he was brought up, and was made a present of to Mecænas, as a grammarian. Finding himself valued and treated as a friend, he preferred to continue in his state of servitude, although he was claimed by his mother, choosing rather his present condition than that which his real origin entitled him to. In consequence, his freedom was speedily given him, and he even became a favourite with Augustus. By his appointment he was made curator of the library in the portico of Octavia;5 and, as he himself informs us, undertook to compose, when he was a sexagenarian, his books of “Witticisms,” which are now called “The Book of Jests.” Of these he accomplished one hundred and fifty, to which he afterwards added several more. He also composed a new kind of story about those who wore the toga, and called it “Trabeat.”1
XXII.Marcus Pomponius Marcellus, a very severe critic of the Latin tongue, who sometimes pleaded causes, in a certain address on the plaintiff’s behalf, persisted in charging his adversary with making a solecism, until Cassius Severus appealed to the judges to grant an adjournment until his client should produce another grammarian, as he was not prepared to enter into a controversy respecting a solecism, instead of defending his client’s rights. On another occasion, when he had found fault with some expression in a speech made by Tiberius, Atteius Capito2 affirmed, “that if it was not Latin, at least it would be so in time to come;” “Capito is wrong,” cried Marcellus; “it is certainly in your power, Cæsar, to confer the freedom of the city on whom you please, but you cannot make words for us.” Asinius Gallus3 tells us that he was formerly a pugilist, in the following epigram.
XXIII.Remmius Palæmon,4 of Vicentia,5 the offspring of a bond-woman, acquired the rudiments of learning, first as the companion of a weaver’s, and then of his master’s, son, at school. Being afterwards made free, he taught at Rome, where he stood highest in the rank of the grammarians; but he was so infamous for every sort of vice, that Tiberius and his successor Claudius publicly denounced him as an improper person to have the education of boys and young men entrusted to him. Still, his powers of narrative and agreeable style of speaking made him very popular; besides which, he had the gift of making extempore verses. He also wrote a great many in various and uncommon metres. His insolence was such, that he called Marcus Varro “a hog;” and bragged that “letters were born and would perish with him;” and that “his name was not introduced inadvertently in the Bucolics,1 as Virgil divined that a Palæmon would some day be the judge of all poets and poems.” He also boasted, that having once fallen into the hands of robbers, they spared him on account of the celebrity his name had acquired.
He was so luxurious, that he took the bath many times in a day; nor did his means suffice for his extravagance, although his school brought him in forty thousand sesterces yearly, and he received not much less from his private estate, which he managed with great care. He also kept a broker’s shop for the sale of old clothes; and it is well known that a vine,2 he planted himself, yielded three hundred and fifty bottles of wine. But the greatest of all his vices was his unbridled licentiousness in his commerce with women, which he carried to the utmost pitch of foul indecency.3 They tell a droll story of some one who met him in a crowd, and upon his offering to kiss him, could not escape the salute. “Master,” said he, “do you want to mouth every one you meet with in a hurry?”
XXIV.Marcus Valerius Probus, of Berytus,4 after long aspiring to the rank of centurion, being at last tired of waiting, devoted himself to study. He had met with some old authors at a bookseller’s shop in the provinces, where the memory of ancient times still lingers, and is not quite forgotten, as it is at Rome. Being anxious carefully to reperuse these, and afterwards to make acquaintance with other works of the same kind, he found himself an object of contempt, and was laughed at for his lectures, instead of their gaining him fame or profit. Still, however, he persisted in his purpose, and employed himself in correcting, illustrating, and adding notes to many works which he had collected, his labours being confined to the province of a grammarian, and nothing more. He had, properly speaking, no scholars, but some few followers. For he never taught in such a way as to maintain the character of a master; but was in the habit of admitting one or two, perhaps at most three or four, disciples in the afternoon; and while he lay at case and chatted freely on ordinary topics, he occasionally read some book to them, but that did not often happen. He published a few slight treatises on some subtle questions, besides which, he left a large collection of observations on the language of the ancients.
LIVES OF EMINENT RHETORICIANS.
I.Rhetoric, also, as well as Grammar, was not introduced amongst us till a late period, and with still more difficulty, inasmuch as we find that, at times, the practice of it was even prohibited. In order to leave no doubt of this, I will subjoin an ancient decree of the senate, as well as an edict of the censors:—“In the consulship of Caius Fannius Strabo, and Marcus Valerius Messala:1 the prætor Marcus Pomponius moved the senate, that an act be passed respecting Philosophers and Rhetoricians. In this matter, they have decreed as follows: ‘It shall be lawful for M. Pomponius, the prætor, to take such measures, and make such provisions, as the good of the Republic, and the duty of his office, require, that no Philosophers or Rhetoricians be suffered at Rome.’ ”
After some interval, the censor Cnæus Domitius Ænobarbus and Lucius Licinius Crassus issued the following edict upon the same subject: “It is reported to us that certain persons have instituted a new kind of discipline; that our youth resort to their schools; that they have assumed the title of Latin Rhetoricians; and that young men waste their time there for whole days together. Our ancestors have ordained what instruction it is fitting their children should receive, and what schools they should attend. These novelties, contrary to the customs and instructions of our ancestors, we neither approve, nor do they appear to us good. Wherefore it appears to be our duty that we should notify our judgment both to those who keep such schools, and those who are in the practice of frequenting them, that they meet our disapprobation.”
However, by slow degrees, rhetoric manifested itself to be a useful and honourable study, and many persons devoted themselves to it, both as a means of defence and of acquiring reputation. Cicero declaimed in Greek until his prætorship, but afterwards, as he grew older, in Latin also; and even in the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa,1 whom he calls “his great and noble disciples.” Some historians state that Cneius Pompey resumed the practice of declaiming even during the civil war, in order to be better prepared to argue against Caius Curio, a young man of great talents, to whom the defence of Cæsar was entrusted. They say, likewise, that it was not forgotten by Mark Antony, nor by Augustus, even during the war of Modena. Nero also declaimed2 even after he became emperor, in the first year of his reign, which he had done before in public but twice. Many speeches of orators were also published. In consequence, public favour was so much attracted to the study of rhetoric, that a vast number of professors and learned men devoted themselves to it; and it flourished to such a degree, that some of them raised themselves by it to the rank of senators and the highest offices.
But the same mode of teaching was not adopted by all, nor, indeed, did individuals always confine themselves to the same system, but each varied his plan of teaching according to circumstances. For they were accustomed, in stating their argument with the utmost clearness, to use figures and apologies, to put cases, as circumstances required, and to relate facts, sometimes briefly and succinctly, and, at other times, more at large and with greater feeling. Nor did they omit, on occasion, to resort to translations from the Greek, and to expatiate in the praise, or to launch their censures on the faults, of illustrious men. They also dealt with matters connected with every-day life, pointing out such as are useful and necessary, and such as are hurtful and needless. They had occasion often to support the authority of fabulous accounts, and to detract from that of historical narratives, which sort the Greeks call “Propositions,” “Refutations” and “Corroborations,” until by a gradual process they have exhausted these topics, and arrive at the gist of the argument.
Among the ancients, subjects of controversy were drawn either from history, as indeed some are even now, or from actual facts, of recent occurrence. It was, therefore, the custom to state them precisely, with details of the names of places. We certainly so find them collected and published, and it may be well to give one or two of them literally, by way of example:
“A company of young men from the city, having made an excursion to Ostia in the summer season, and going down to the beach, fell in with some fishermen who were casting their nets in the sea. Having bargained with them for the haul, whatever it might turn out to be, for a certain sum, they paid down the money. They waited a long time while the nets were being drawn, and when at last they were dragged on shore, there was no fish in them, but some gold sewn up in a basket. The buyers claim the haul as theirs, the fishermen assert that it belongs to them.”
Again: “Some dealers having to land from a ship at Brundusium a cargo of slaves, among which there was a handsome boy of great value, they, in order to deceive the collectors of the customs, smuggled him ashore in the dress of a freeborn youth, with the bullum1 hung about his neck. The fraud easily escaped detection. They proceed to Rome; the affair becomes the subject of judicial inquiry; it is alleged that the boy was entitled to his freedom, because his master had voluntarily treated him as free.”
Formerly, they called these by a Greek term, συντάξεις, but of late “controversies;” but they may be either fictitious cases, or those which come under trial in the courts. Of the eminent professors of this science, of whom any memorials are extant, it would not be easy to find many others than those of whom I shall now proceed to give an account.
II.Lucius Plotius Gallus. Of him Marcus Tullius Cicero thus writes to Marcus Titinnius:2 “I remember well that when we were boys, one Lucius Plotius first began to teach Latin; and as great numbers flocked to his school, so that all who were most devoted to study were eager to take lessons from him, it was a great trouble to me that I too was not allowed to do so. I was prevented, however, by the decided opinion of men of the greatest learning, who considered that it was best to cultivate the genius by the study of Greek.” This same Gallus, for he lived to a great age, was pointed at by M. Cælius, in a speech which he was forced to make in his own cause, as having supplied his accuser, Atracinus,1 with materials for his charge. Suppressing his name, he says that such a rhetorician was like barley bread2 compared to a wheaten loaf,—windy, chaffy, and coarse.
III.Lucius Octacilius Pilitus is said to have been a slave, and, according to the old custom, chained to the door like a watch-dog;3 until, having been presented with his freedom for his genius and devotion to learning, he drew up for his patron the act of accusation in a cause he was prosecuting. After that, becoming a professor of rhetoric, he gave instructions to Cneius Pompey the Great, and composed an account of his actions, as well as of those of his father, being the first freedman, according to the opinion of Cornelius Nepos,4 who ventured to write history, which before his time had not been done by any one who was not of the highest ranks in society.
IV. About this time, Epidius5 having fallen into disgrace for bringing a false accusation, opened a school of instruction, in which he taught, among others, Mark Antony and Augustus. On one occasion Caius Canutius jeered them for presuming to belong to the party of the consul Isauricus6 in his administration of the republic; upon which he replied, that he would rather be the disciple of Isauricus, than of Epidius, the false accuser. This Epidius claimed to be descended from Epidius Nuncio, who, as ancient traditions assert, fell into the fountain of the river Sarnus1 when the streams were overflown, and not being afterwards found, was reckoned among the number of the gods.
V.Sextus Clodius, a native of Sicily, a professor both of Greek and Latin eloquence, had bad eyes and a facetious tongue. It was a saying of his, that he lost a pair of eyes from his intimacy with Mark Antony, the triumvir.2 Of his wife, Fulvia, when there was a swelling in one of her cheeks, he said that “she tempted the point of his style;”3 nor did Antony think any the worse of him for the joke, but quite enjoyed it; and soon afterwards, when Antony was consul,4 he even made him a large grant of land, which Cicero charges him with in his Philippics.5 “You patronize,” he said, “a master of the schools for the sake of his buffoonery, and make a rhetorician one of your pot-companions; allowing him to cut his jokes on any one he pleased; a witty man, no doubt, but it was an easy matter to say smart things of such as you and your companions. But listen, Conscript Fathers, while I tell you what reward was given to this rhetorician, and let the wounds of the republic be laid bare to view. You assigned two thousand acres of the Leontine territory6 to Sextus Clodius, the rhetorician, and not content with that, exonerated the estate from all taxes. Hear this, and learn from the extravagance of the grant, how little wisdom is displayed in your acts.”
VI.Caius Albutius Silus, of Novara,7 while, in the execution of the office of edile in his native place, he was sitting for the administration of justice, was dragged by the feet from the tribunal by some persons against whom he was pronouncing a decree. In great indignation at this usage, he made straight for the gate of the town, and proceeded to Rome. There he was admitted to fellowship, and lodged, with Plancus the orator,1 whose practice it was, before he made a speech in public, to set up some one to take the contrary side in the argument. The office was undertaken by Albutius with such success, that he silenced Plancus, who did not venture to put himself in competition with him. This bringing him into notice, he collected an audience of his own, and it was his custom to open the question proposed for debate, sitting; but as he warmed with the subject, he stood up, and made his peroration in that posture. His declamations were of different kinds; sometimes brilliant and polished, at others, that they might not be thought to savour too much of the schools, he curtailed them of all ornament, and used only familiar phrases. He also pleaded causes, but rarely, being employed in such as were of the highest importance, and in every case undertaking the peroration only.
In the end, he gave up practising in the forum, partly from shame, partly from fear. For, in a certain trial before the court of the One Hundred,2 having lashed the defendant as a man void of natural affection for his parents, he called upon him by a bold figure of speech, “to swear by the ashes of his father and mother which lay unburied;” his adversary taking him up for the suggestion, and the judges frowning upon it, he lost his cause, and was much blamed. At another time, on a trial for murder at Milan, before Lucius Piso, the proconsul, having to defend the culprit, he worked himself up to such a pitch of vehemence, that in a crowded court, who loudly applauded him, notwithstanding all the efforts of the lictor to maintain order, he broke out into a lamentation on the miserable state of Italy,3 then in danger of being again reduced, he said, into the form of a province, and turning to the statue of Marcus Brutus, which stood in the forum, he invoked him as “the founder and vindicator of the liberties of the people.” For this he narrowly escaped a prosecution. Suffering, at an advanced period of life, from an ulcerated tumour, he returned to Novara, and calling the people together in a public assembly, addressed them in a set speech, of considerable length, explaining the reasons which induced him to put an end to existence: and this he did by abstaining from food.
end of the lives of grammarians and rhetoricians
LIVES OF THE POETS.
[1 ]a.u.c. 804.
[2 ]A street, in the sixth region of Rome, so called, probably, from a remarkable specimen of this beautiful shrub which had made free growth on the spot.
[3 ]Vitellius, c. xv.
[4 ]Tacitus (Hist. iii.) differs from Suetonius, saying that Domitian took refuge with a client of his father’s near the Velabrum. Perhaps he found it more safe afterwards to cross the Tiber.
[1 ]One of Domitian’s coins bears on the reverse a captive female and soldier, with germania devicta.
[2 ]Vespasian, c. xii: Titus, c vi.
[1 ]Such excavations had been made by Julius and by Augustus [Aug. xliii.], and the seats for the spectators fitted up with timber in a rude way. That was on the other side of the Tiber. The Naumachia of Domitian occupied the site of the present Piazza d’Espagna, and was larger and more ornamented.
[2 ]a.u.c. 841. See Augustus, c. xxxi.
[3 ]This feast was held in December. Plutarch informs us that it was instituted in commemoration of the seventh hill being included in the city bounds.
[1 ]The Capitol had been burnt, for the third time, in the great fire mentioned Titus, c. viii. The first fire happened in the Marian war, after which it was rebuilt by Pompey, the second in the reign of Vitellius.
[2 ]This forum, commenced by Domitian and completed by Nerva adjoined the Roman forum and that of Augustus, mentioned in c. xxix. of his life From its communicating with the two others, it was called Transitorium. Part of the wall which bounded it still remains, of a great height, and 144 paces long. It is composed of square masses of freestone, very large, and without any cement; and it is not carried in a straight line, but makes three or four angles, as if some buildings had interfered with its direction.
[3 ]The residence of the Flavian family was converted into a temple. See c. i. of the present book.
[4 ]The Stadium was in the shape of a circus, and used for races both of men and horses.
[5 ]The Odeum was a building intended for musical performances. There were four of them at Rome.
[6 ]See before, c. iv.
[7 ]See Vespasian, c. xiv.
[1 ]See Nero, c. xvi.
[2 ]This absurd edict was speedily revoked See afterwards c. xiv.
[1 ]This was an ancient law levelled against adultery and other pollutions, named from its author Caius Scatinius, a tribune of the people. There was a Julian law, with the same object. See Augustus, c. xxxiv.
[1 ]Geor xi. 537.
[1 ]See Livy, xxi. 63, and Cicero against Verres, v. 18.
[2 ]See Vespasian, c. iii.
[3 ]Cant names for gladiators.
[4 ]The faction which favoured the “Thrax” party.
[5 ]Domitian, c. i.
[6 ]See Vespasian, c. xiv.
[1 ]This cruel punishment is described in Nero, c. xlix.
[2 ]Gentiles who were proselytes to the Jewish religion; or, perhaps, members of the Christian sect, who were confounded with them. See the note to Tiberius, c. xxxvi. The tax levied on the Jews was two drachmas per head. It was general throughout the empire.
[1 ]We have had Suetonius’s reminiscences, derived through his grandfather and father successively, Caligula, c. xix.; Otho, c. x. We now come to his own, commencing from an early age.
[2 ]This is what Martial calls, “Mentula tributis damnata.”
[3 ]The imperial liveries were white and gold.
[4 ]See Caligula, c. xxi., where the rest of the line is quoted, εἶς [Editor: illegible character]οιρανος ἔστω.
[5 ]An assumption of divinity, as the puivinar was the consecrated bed, on which the images of the gods reposed.
[1 ]The pun turns on the similar sound of the Greek word for “enough,” and the Latin word for “an arch.”
[2 ]Domitia, who had been repudiated for an intrigue with Paris, the actor, and afterwards taken back.
[3 ]The lines, with a slight accommodation, are borrowed from the poet Evenus, Anthol. i. vi. i., who applies them to a goat, the great enemy of vineyards. Ovid, Fasti, i. 357, thus paraphrases them:
[1 ]Pliny describes this stone as being brought from Cappadocia, and says that it was as hard as marble, white and translucent, cxxiv. c. 22.
[2 ]See note to c. xvii.
[3 ]The guilt imputed to them was atheism and Jewish (Christian?) manners. Dion. lxvii. 1112.
[1 ]See Vespasian, c. v.
[2 ]Columella (R. R. xi. 2.) enumerates dates among the foreign fruits cultivated in Italy, cherries, dates, apricots, and almonds; and Pliny, xv. 14, informs us that Sextus Papinius was the first who introduced the date tree, having brought it from Africa, in the latter days of Augustus.
[1 ]Some suppose that Domitilla was the wife of Flavius Clemens (c. xv.), both of whom were condemned by Domitian for their “impiety,” by which it is probably meant that they were suspected of favouring Christianity. Eusebius makes Flavia Domitilla the niece of Flavius Clemens, and says that she was banished to Ponza, for having become a Christian. Clemens Romanus, the second bishop of Rome, is said to have been of this family.
[1 ]a.u.c. 849.
[2 ]See c. v.
[1 ]The famous library of Alexandria collected by Ptolemy Philadelphus had been burnt by accident in the wars. But we find from this passage in Suetonius that part of it was saved, or fresh collections had been made. Seneca (de Tranquill. c. ix 7) informs us that forty thousand volumes were burnt; and Gellius states that in his time the number of volumes amounted to nearly seventy thousand.
[2 ]This favourite apple, mentioned by Columella and Pliny, took its name from C. Matius, a Roman knight, and friend of Augustus, who first introduced it. Pliny tells us that Matius was also the first who brought into vogue the practice of clipping groves.
[1 ]Julia, the daughter of Titus.
[1 ]It will be understood that the terms Grammar and Grammarian have here a more extended sense than that which they convey in modern use. See the beginning of c. iv.
[2 ]Suetonius’s account of the rude and unlettered state of society in the early times of Rome, is consistent with what we might infer, and with the accounts which have come down to us, of a community composed of the most daring and adventurous spirits thrown off by the neighbouring tribes, and whose sole occupations were rapine and war. But Cicero discovers the germs of mental cultivation among the Romans long before the period assigned to it by Suetonius, tracing them to the teaching of Pythagoras, who visited the Greek cities on the coast of Italy in the reign of Tarquinius Superbus.—Tusc. Quæst. iv. 1.
[3 ]Livius, whose cognomen, Andronicus, intimates his extraction, was born of Greek parents. He began to teach at Rome in the consulship of Claudius Cento, the son of Appius Cæcus, and Sempronius Tuditanus, a.u.c. 514. He must not be confounded with Titus Livius, the historian, who flourished in the Augustan age.
[4 ]Ennius was a native of Calabria. He was born the year after the consulship mentioned in the preceding note, and lived to see at least his seventy-sixth year, for Gellius informs us that at that age he wrote the twelfth book of his Annals.
[5 ]Porcius Cato found Ennius in Sardinia, when he conquered that island during his prætorship. He learnt Greek from Ennius there, and brought him to Rome on his return. Ennius taught Greek at Rome for a long course of years, having M. Cato among his pupils.
[1 ]Mallos was near Tarsus, in Cilicia. Crates was the son of Timocrates, a Stoic philosopher, who for his critical skill had the surname of Homericus.
[2 ]Aristarchus flourished at Alexandria, in the reign of Ptolemy Philometer, whose son he educated.
[3 ]a.u.c. 535—602 or 605.
[4 ]Cicero [De Clar. Orat. c. xx., De Senect. c. v. 1] places the death of Ennius a.u.c. 584, for which there are other authorities; but this differs from the account given in a former note.
[5 ]The History of the first Punic War by Nævius is mentioned by Cicero, De Senect. c 14.
[6 ]Lucili is, the poet, was born about a.u.c. 605.
[1 ]Q. Metellus obtained the surname of Numidicus, on his triumph over Jugurtha, a.u.c. 644. Ælius, who was Varro’s tutor, accompanied him to Rhodes or Smyrna, when he was unjustly banished, a.u.c. 653.
[2 ]Servius Claudius (also called Clodius) is commended by Cicero, Fam. Epist. ix. 16, and his singular death mentioned by Pliny, xxv. 4.
[3 ]Daphnis, a shepherd, the son of Mercury, was said to have been brought up by Pan. The humorous turn given by Lenæus to Lutatius’s cognomen is not very clear. Daphnides is the plural of Daphnis; therefore the herd or company, ἄγημα; and Pan was the god of rustics, and the inventor of the rude music of the reed.
[1 ]Oppius Cares is said by Macrobius to have written a book on Forest Trees.
[2 ]Quintilian enumerates Bibaculus among the Roman poets in the same line with Catullus and Horace, Institut. x. 1. Of Sigida we know nothing; even the name is supposed to be incorrectly given. Apuleius mentions a Ticida, who is also noticed by Suetonius hereafter in c. xi., where likewise he gives an account of Valerius Cato.
[1 ]Probably Suevius of whom Macrobius informs us that he was the learned author of an Idyl, which had the title of the Mulberry Grove; observing, that “the peach which Suevius reckons as a species of the nuts, rather belongs to the tribe of apples.”
[2 ]Aurelius Opilius is mentioned by Symmachus and Gellius. His cotemporary and friend, Rutilius Rufus, having been a military tribune under Scipio in the Numantine war, wrote a history of it. He was consul a.u.c. 648, and unjustly banished, to the general grief of the people, a.u.c. 659.
[1 ]Quintilian mentions Gnipho, Instit. i. 6. We find that Cicero was among his pupils. The date of his prætorship, given below, fixes the time when Gnipho flourished.
[2 ]This strange cognomen is supposed to have been derived from a cork arm, which supplied the place of one Dionysius had lost. He was a poet of Mitylene.
[3 ]See before, Julius, c. xlvi.
[4 ]a.u.c. 687.
[5 ]Suetonius gives his life in c. x.
[1 ]A grade of inferior officers in the Roman armies, of which we have no very exact idea.
[2 ]Horace speaks feelingly on the subject:
[3 ]Domitius Marsus wrote epigrams He is mentioned by Ovid and Martial.
[1 ]This is not the only instance mentioned by Suetonius of statues erected to learned men in the place of their birth or celebrity. Orbilius, as a schoolmaster, was represented in a sitting posture, and with the gown of the Greek philosophers.
[2 ]Tacitus [Annal. cxi. 75] gives the character of Atteius Capito. He was consul a.u.c. 758
[3 ]Asinius Pollio; see Julius, c. xxx.
[4 ]Whether Hermas was the son or scholar of Gnipho, does not appear.
[1 ]Eratosthenes, an Athenian philosopher, flourished in Egypt, under three of the Ptolemies successively. Strabo often mentions him. See xvii. p. 576.
[1 ]Cornelius Helvius Cinna was an epigrammatic poet, of the same age as Catullus. Ovid mentions him, Tristia, xi. 435.
[2 ]Priapus was worshipped as the protector of gardens.
[1 ]Zenodotus, the grammarian, was librarian to the first Ptolemy at Alexandria, and tutor to his sons.
[2 ]For Crates, see before, p. 507.
[3 ]We find from Plutarch that Sylla was employed two days before his death, in completing the twenty-second book of his Commentaries; and, foreseeing his fate, entrusted them to the care of Lucullus, who, with the assistance of Epicadius, corrected and arranged them. Epicadius also wrote on Heroic verse, and Cognomina.
[4 ]Plutarch, in his Life of Cæsar, speaks of the loose conduct of Mucia, Pompey’s wife, during her husband’s absence.
[5 ]Fam. Epist. 9.
[1 ]Cicero ad Att. xii. 36.
[2 ]See before, Augustus, c. v.
[3 ]Lenæus was not singular in his censure of Sallust. Lactantius, 11, 12, gives him an infamous character; and Horace says of him,
[1 ]The name of the well-known Roman knight, to whom Cicero addressed his Epistles, was Titus Pomponius Atticus. Although Satrius was the name of a family at Rome, no connection between it and Atticus can be found, so that the text is supposed to be corrupt. Quintus Cecilius was an uncle of Atticus, and adopted him. The freedman mentioned in this chapter probably assumed his name, he having been the property of Cæcilius; as it was the custom for freedmen to adopt the names of their patrons.
[2 ]Suetonius, Tiberius, c. viii. Her name was Pomponia.
[3 ]See Augustus, c. lxvi.
[4 ]He is mentioned before, c. ix.
[5 ]Verrius Flaccus is mentioned by St. Jerome, in conjunction with Athenodorus of Tarsus, a Stoic philosopher, to have flourished a.m.c. 2024, which is a.u.c. 759; 9. He is also praised by Gellius, Macrobius, Pliny, and Priscian.
[1 ]Cinna wrote a poem, which he called “Smyrna,” and was nine years in composing, as Catullus informs us, 93. l.
[2 ]See Augustus, cc. lxii. lxix.
[1 ]Cornelius Alexander, who had also the name of Polyhistor, was born at Miletus, and being taken prisoner, and bought by Cornelius, was brought to Rome, and becoming his teacher, had his freedom given him, with the name of his patron. He flourished in the time of Sylla, and composed a great number of works; amongst which were five books on Rome. Suetonius has already told us [Augustus, xxix.] that he had the care of the Palatine Library.
[2 ]No such consul as Caius Licinius appears in the Fasti; and it is supposed to be a mistake for C. Atinius, who was the colleague of Cn. Domitius Calvinus, a.u.c. 713, and wrote a book on the Civil War.
[3 ]Julius Modestus, in whom the name of the Julian family was still preserved, is mentioned with approbation by Gellius, Martial, Quintilian, and others.
[4 ]Melissus is mentioned by Ovid, De Pontif. iv 16—30.
[5 ]See Augustus, c xxix. p 93, and note
[1 ]The trabea was a white robe, with a purple border, of a different fashion from the toga
[2 ]See before, c x.
[3 ]See Claudius, c. xli. and note.
[4 ]Remmius Palæmon appears to have been cotemporary with Pliny and Quintilian, who speak highly of him.
[5 ]Now Vicenza.
[1 ]“Audiat hæc tantum vel qui venit, ecce, Palæmon.”—Eccl. iii. 50.
[2 ]All the editions have the word vitem; but we might conjecture, from the large produce, that it is a mistake for vineam, a vineyard: in which case the word vasa might be rendered, not bottles, but casks. The amphora held about nine gallons. Pliny mentions that Remmius bought a farm near the turning on the Nomentan road, at the tenth mile-stone from Rome.
[3 ]“Usque ad infamiam oris.”—See Tiberius, p. 220, and the notes.
[4 ]Now Beyrout, on the coast of Syria. It was one of the colonies founded by Julius Cæsar when he transported 80,000 Roman citizens to foreign parts.—Julius, xlii.
[1 ]This senatus consultum was made a.u.c. 592.
[1 ]Hirtius and Pansa were consuls a.u.c. 710.
[2 ]See Nero, c. x.
[1 ]As to the Bullum, see before, Julius, c. lxxxiv.
[2 ]This extract given by Suetonius is all we know of any epistle addressed by Cicero to Marcus Titinnius.
[1 ]See Cicero’s Oration, pro Cælio, where Atracinus is frequently mentioned, especially cc. i. and iii.
[2 ]“Hordearium rhetorem.”
[3 ]From the manner in which Suetonius speaks of the old custom of chaining one of the lowest slaves to the outer gate, to supply the place of a watch-dog, it would appear to have been disused in his time.
[4 ]The work in which Cornelius Nepos made this statement is lost.
[5 ]Pliny mentions with approbation C. Epidius, who wrote some treatises in which trees are represented as speaking; and the period in which he flourished, agrees with that assigned to the rhetorician here named by Suetonius.—Plin. xvii. 25.
[6 ]Isauricus was consul with Julius Cæsar II., a.u.c. 705, and again with L. Antony, a.u.c. 712.
[1 ]A river in the ancient Campania, now called the Sarno, which discharges itself into the bay of Naples.
[2 ]Epidius attributes the injury received by his eyes to the corrupt habits he contracted in the society of M. Antony.
[3 ]The direct allusion is to the “style” or probe used by surgeons in opening tumours.
[4 ]Mark Antony was consul with Julius Cæsar, a.u.c. 709. See before, Julius, c lxxix.
[5 ]Philipp. xi. 17.
[6 ]Leontium, now called Lentini, was a town in Sicily, the foundation of which is related by Thucydides, vi. p. 412. Polybius describes the Leontine fields as the most fertile part of Sicily. Polyb. vii. 1 And see Cicero, contra Verrem, iii. 46, 47.
[7 ]Novara, a town of the Milanese.
[1 ]St. Jerom in Chron. Euseb. describes Lucius Munatius Plancus as the disciple of Cicero, and a celebrated orator. He founded Lyons during the time he governed that part of the Roman provinces in Gaul.
[2 ]See Augustus, c. xxxvi.
[3 ]He meant to speak of Cisalpine Gaul, which, though geographically a part of Italy, did not till a late period enjoy the privileges of the other territories united to Rome, and was administered by a prætor under the forms of a dependent province. It was admitted to equal rights by the triumvirs, after the death of Julius Cæsar. Albutius intimated that those rights were now in danger.