dinsdag 1 december 2009

The 'Ara Pacis Augustae'

The ‘Ara Pacis Augustae’ (Peace Altar of August), built to commemorate Augustus’ victorious return from Spain and Gaul, stood in antiquity on the Via Flaminia (now the Via del Corso) under what is now the Palazzo Fiano on the corner of the Via in Lucina. Since 2006 the Ara is housed in an airy glass-and-concrete building beside the Tiber; the Museo dell'Ara Pacis, Lungotevere Augusta, Rome.

The lavish sculptural decoration of the Ara Pacis is among the finest examples of Roman art; reliefs representing the ceremonial procession at the altar's dedication are the first in Western art that can strictly be called documentary. The faces are no mere conventional masks, idealized beyond recognition. These are portraits from life and they still retain their freshness showing identifiable individuals in a contemporary event.

Augustus, in his ‘Res Gestae’ (My Deeds), written during the last years of his life says:
“On my return from Spain and Gaul in the consulship of Tiberius Nero and Publius Quintilius [13 BC] after successfully arranging affairs in those provinces, the senate resolved that an altar of the Augustan Peace should be consecrated next to the Campus Martius in honour of my return, and ordered that the magistrates and priests and Vestal virgins should perform an annual sacrifice there.”

The decree of the Senate authorizing the foundation of the Ara Pacis Augustae was passed on July 4, 13 B.C., and it was consecrated on the 30th of January 9 B.C.

(Ovid's Fasti, Book I, 709�722)

Gather the roses in the morning

Ah, what sorts of roses have I seen bloom in the morning!
They were still being born and the age was not equal for all.
The first covering was leading clusters of berries shaped like buds,
the next lifted crimson peaks from a projecting stone,
the third had now revealed a whole circle of flower baskets,
the fourth likewise shined with the bud of a new flower.
While one lifts its head and the other unties a knot,
thus, while virgin modesty is unwrapped with clothing,
gather the roses in the morning lest they die:
quickly does a maiden grow old.

Annaeus Florus, XI

Pliny the Younger

C.Plinius L.f.Ouf. Caecilius Secundus, born in Comum (Como, Italy) in A.D. 61 or 62, was the son of L.Caecilius C.f.Secundus, praefectus fabrum, and of a Plinia.

Plinius, better known as Pliny the Younger, was the adoptive-son of C.Plinius, praefectus classis, uncle on his mother’s side.

His father died at an early age before A.D.76; Pliny the Elder, writer of the encyclopaedical Naturalis Historia, helped raise and educate him and they were both witnesses to the eruption of Vesuvius on August 24, 79, the day of the elder's death.

After the death of Pliny the Elder the famous L.Verginius Rufus, of Mediolanum (Milan), consul III in 97, who had suppressed the revolt of Julius Vindex and refused the Imperial power, was appointed as guardian to Pliny the Younger, helped by two more consulars, Julius Frontinus, curator aquarum, and Corellius Rufus, cossuff.78, all family friends.

His career is rather normal:
Decemvir stlitibus iudicandis (presiding in the Centumviral Court, where he was to spend a great part of his public life)
Early in Domitian’s reign (82/83) he served as tribunus militum in the legion III Gallica in Syria under the leg. Aug. T.Atilius Rufus.
Quaestor Augusti 87 (89?) (these were regularly chosen (elected without contest) from the candidati Caesaris)
Tribunus plebis 91. Praetor 93 (in this year he first took part in a public prosecution, acting with Herennius Senecio for the people of Baetica when they successfully accused Baebius Massa of extortion)
Praefectus aerarium militare ca. 94-96.
Praef. aerarium Saturni 97-99 (the Chest and Record Office of the senatorial administration, appointed before the death of Nerva, and was continued in office by Trajan)
Consulsuffectus Sept.- Oct.100. Augur 103 or 104 (instead of Julius Frontinus;
Plinius was already flamen divi Titi at Vercellae)
Curator alvei Tiberis et riparum et cloacarum urbis 104-106 ? (consular curator of the Tiber banks and the city sewers)
Legatus Augusti pro praetore consulari potestate Bithynia and Pontus from Sept.110 or 111 till Febr. 112 or 113.
(Title is sign of transition from senatorial to imperial rule)

His first wife is unknown.
His second marriage was to the daughter of Pompeia Celerina (Celerina’s husband is unknown; Celerina – to whom Pliny gave his house in Alsium left to him by Verginius Rufus - was the daughter of L.Pompeius Vopiscus C.Catellius Celer, cossuff. 77)

Plinius wife died in 96 or 97.

Married 3. in ca.100-102 with Calpurnia, daughter of Calpurnius, son of L. Calpurnius Fabatus. eques from Comum, who had also a daughter, Calpurnia Hispulla, aunt of Plinius’ third wife.

Plinius is known for his hundreds of surviving letters which, carefully composed and arranged in a non chronological order as they are, miss the spontanious outspokenness of Cicero’s letters, but they are an invaluable historical source for the period. The first nine books contain 247 personal letters, the tenth book his official correspondence with Trajan (or his ab epistulis) from Bithynia. Also preserved is his Panegyricus, an in accordance with tradition thanksgiving and praising of Trajan for granting him the consulship.

Plinius was the somewhat condescending benefactor of the historian Suetonius for whom he arranged a small estate at a reasonable price.

Pliny the Younger probably died in A.D.112 or 113 in Bithynia, being the time that his correspondence with the Emperor Trajan suddenly stopped.

Tacitus, Rome’s greatest historian, spoke an eulogy on the occasion of his friends death.

He is more than a hero

He is more than a hero
he is a god in my eyes—
the man who is allowed
to sit beside you — he

who listens intimately
to the sweet murmur of
your voice, the enticing

laughter that makes my own
heart beat fast. If I meet
you suddenly, I can't

speak — my tongue is broken;
a thin flame runs under
my skin; seeing nothing,

hearing only my own ears
drumming, I drip with sweat;
trembling shakes my body

and I turn paler than
dry grass. At such times
death isn't far from me.

(Sappho, from Lesbos, Greece, b. 615- d.around 550 B.C.)

Titus Pomponius Atticus

Titus Pomponius Atticus, born in 109 B.C., lost his father in 88 or earlier,
but not later than the autumn of 86 B.C.

In 58 B.C. he became by way of a testamentary adoption son and heir to Q.Caecilius, an uncle on his mother’s side, making his official designation, Q.Caecilius Pomponianus Attica.

“L.Lucullus (Ponticus), who married Servilia’s sister was not only the friend and benefactor but also the prospective heir of Atticus’ uncle Caecilius. History does not tell Lucullus reactions to the scandalous discovery in 58 that Caecilius had in fact left his millions (ca. 10 mill.) and name to his nephew instead of to his noble patron. Public reprobation of Caecilius’ duplicity was such that they dragged his body through the streets.” (Valerius Max. VII.8, 5)

On December 2th, 56 B.C. Atticus wedded a certain young lady named Pilia, who bore him in 51 a daughter, Caecilia Attica.

In 47 Atticus published his Annali containing the names of every curule magistrate of each year, the laws, peace treaties, wars, and the genealogies of famous countrymen. On request of Marcus Brutus he wrote a genealogy on the Junii Bruti including their magistracies and dates. On request of Claudius Marcellus he did the same for the Marcelli, ditto for Cornelius Scipio (Scipio Africanus minor, an Aemili by birth), Fabius Maximus and the Aemilii.

He was the life-long friend, and publisher of Cicero’s volumeminous work. Of their correspondency during many years only Cicero’s letters have come down to us, thanks to his secretary and freedman, Tiro.

When his friend was murdered in 43 by the triumviri he obviously bore no hard feelings toward those responsible for his friend’s death for he remained on friendly terms with his murderers for the rest of his life. So much so that in about 37 he gave his daughter in wedlock to Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa: friend, general, consul, future son-in-law, co-ruler and designated successor of Augustus.

In 42, when Atticus was 67, his mother died at the age of 90 years, which should make her date of birth about 132 B.C.

Atticus’ adagium was: Tranquillitati serviebat (peace of mind).
During the Civil Wars and all the political feuds he stayed strictly neutral in each and every conflict and from time to time subsidized both sides indiscriminately.
He had however through his large fortune and many connections great indirect influence.

Atticus owned a house on the Quirinalis built by Tamphilus, which was left to him by his uncle. Furthermore, since 68, an estate in Epirus near Buthrotum on the coast opposite Corfu. Also properties at Arretium and Nomentum.

Atticus died on March 31th, 32 B.C., three months after his 77th birthday.
Attended on his deathbed were his son-in-law Agrippa, L.Cornelius Balbus, and Sex.Peducaeus.

He was buried in the tomb of his uncle on mothers
side, Q.Caecilius, on the Via Appia
near the 5e mile stone.

zaterdag 7 november 2009

Discovery of Imperial insignia

In December 2006 archeologists under direttore Clementina Panella, archeologist at the University of La Sapienza in Rome, made the find of their life.

During excavations on the North-eastern slope of the Palatine Hill they discovered in an underground storage space the remains of an antique wooden chest.

In it they found among other things: Imperial Roman standards (signa imperii), three sceptres; the most important find was a scepter of a flower holding a blue-green globe, which is believed to have belonged to the Emperor Maxentius himself because of its intricate worksmanship, metal javelin heads (pilum), two perfectly round spheres of gold and green coloured glass and one sphere made of azure-blue chalcedon.

These objects are on unkown grounds ascribed to Maxentius’ reign (306-312), and are supposed to have been hastily hidden there on the eve of the battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28th 312 in which Constantine (the Great) defeated Maxentius.

These extraordinary finds are now on display in the Museo Nazionale Romano at the Palazzo Massimo in Rome.

zondag 1 november 2009

C. Asinius Pollio, poet, orator, and historian

C.Asinius Cn.f.Pollio the noted orator, poet, critic, and historian, was born in 76 B.C. and died in Tusculum in A.D.5.
He was the grandson of Herius Asinius of Teate, praetor of the Marrucini.

He had joined Caesar, and was with him when he crossed the Rubicon in January 49
(Julian calendar Nov.22, 50 B.C.), possibly as one of his legates. He then went to Africa with Curio, after whose defeat and death he crossed over to Greece, and fought on Caesar’s side at Pharsalus (48). In 47 he was chosen as one of the tribunes of the people. Having accompanied Caesar as legate in his African and Spanish campaigns (46-45), he returned with him to Rome.
As praetor 45 he was sent back as governor of Further Spain to resist Sex.Pompeius, and was there when Caesar was assassinated in 44.
When Lepidus and Octavian joined Antonius in 43, Pollio joined them. Antonius gave him the administration of Gallia Transpadane for the years 42-41, it was then that Pollio saved from confiscation the property of the poet Virgil.
In 40 Pollio became consul and assisted in the reconciliation between Antonius and young Caesar at Brundisium in September 40.
Both consuls abdicated shortly afterwards.Towards the end of the year or early in 39 he was sent by Antonius as proconsul to Macedonia to fight the Parthini, an Illyrian people, whom he defeated, and was rewarded with a triumph. The rest of his life he devoted to literature, and died at his Tusculan villa in AD 5, at the age of 80/81.

The good life

These, my dearest Martialis, are
the things that bring a happy life:
wealth left to you, not laboured for;
rich land, an ever-glowing hearth;
no law, light business, and a quiet mind;
a healthy body, gentlemanly powers;
a wise simplicity, friends not unlike;
good company, a table without art;
nights carefree, yet no drunkenness;
a bed that’s modest, true, and yet not cold;
sleep that makes the hours of darkness brief:
the need to be yourself, and nothing more;
not fearing your last day, not wishing it.

Martialis. Book X:47.

Suet.divus Iulius 50.

When Caesar was selling by auction the property of certain citizens, Servilia, (the mother of Marcus Brutus) bought a valuable estate quite cheaply and so became the victim of a jest of Cicero’s, who said: ” Of course you will the better understand Servilia’s bargain if you realize that a third was knocked off the purchase price of the estate” (tertia deducta).

Servilia had a daughter, Junia Tertia (the wife of C.Cassius), whose favours- as well as her mother’s - the dictator was then, according to malicious gossip, enjoying.
The play upon the two meanings of deducere –“to deduct” and “to conduct a bride to her husband” can hardly be kept in English.

maandag 26 oktober 2009

Seneca Maior Controversiae 2,4,11

Cassius Severus, an able orator, resembling a gladiator in appearance, was hated and feared for his bitter tongue.
Seneca Maior in his Controversiae 2,4,11 tells of a rather virulent remark of Cassius who defined the character and capacity of Paullus Fabius Maximus(a powerful aristocrat with connextions in the highest possible circle),
Cassius said:“ quasi disertus es, quasi formosus es, quasi dives es:unum tantum es non quasi, vappa"
(" You are eloquent in a way, handsome in a way, loaded in a way;and a villain in every way”)

(For this, and many other verbal attacks on men in powerful positions, among whom even Augustus himself, Cassius was prosecuted, condemned, and banished to the island of Crete, (possibly in A.D.12?) but he remained a nuisance to the regime and after twelve years they removed him to the barren rock Seriphus in the Aegian Sea where he lived and died in misery)
(Tacitus, Ann. 1,72, 4,21; Dio, 56.27,1; Suet.Vitellius, 2,1, Augustus 56 ect.)

Of the lineage and names of the Porcian family.

When Sulpicius Apollinaris and I, with some others who were friends of his or mine, were sitting in the library of the Palace of Tiberius, it chanced that a book was brought to us bearing the name of Marcus Cato Nepos. We at once began to inquire who this Marcus Cato Nepos was. And thereupon a young man, not unacquainted with letters, so far as I could judge from his language, said: "This Marcus Cato is called Nepos, not as a surname, but because he was the grandson of Marcus Cato Censorius through his son, and father of Marcus Cato the ex-praetor, who slew himself with his own sword at Utica during the civil war. There is a book of Marcus Cicero's about the life of the last-named, entitled Laus Catonis, or A Eulogy of Cato, in which Cicero says 65 that he was the great-grandson of Marcus Cato Censorius. Therefore the father of the man whom Cicero eulogized was this Marcus Cato, whose orations are circulated under the name of Marcus Cato Nepos."
Then Apollinaris, very quietly and mildly, as was passing his custom when passing criticism, said: "I congratulate you, my son, that at your age you have been able to favour us with a little lecture on the family of Cato, even though you do not know who this Marcus Cato was, about whom we are now inquiring. For the famous Marcus Cato Censorius had not one, but several grandsons, although not all were sprung from the same father. For the famous Marcus Cato, who was both an orator and p465a censor, had two sons, born of different mothers and of very different ages; since, when one of them was a young man, his mother died and his father, who was already well on in years, married the maiden daughter of his client Salonius, from whom was born to him Marcus Cato Salonianus, a surname which he derived from Salonius, his mother's father. But from Cato's elder son, who died when praetor-elect, while his father was still living, and left some admirable works on The Science of Law, there was born the man about whom we are inquiring, Marcus Cato, son of Marcus, and grandson of Marcus. He was an orator of some power and left many speeches written in the manner of his grandfather; he was consul with Quintus Marcius Rex, and during his consulship went to Africa and died in that province.
But he was not, as you said he was, the father of Marcus Cato the ex-praetor, who killed himself at Utica and whom Cicero eulogized; nor because he was the grandson of Cato the censor and Cato of Utica was the censor's great-grandson does it necessarily follow that the former was the father of the latter. For this grandson whose speech was just brought to us did, it is true, have a son called Marcus Cato, but he was not the Cato who died at Utica, but the one who, after being curule aedile and praetor, went to Gallia Narbonensis and there ended his life. But by that other son of Censorius, a far younger man, who, as I said, was surnamed Salonianus, two sons were begotten: Lucius and Marcus Cato. That Marcus Cato was tribune of the commons and died when a candidate for the praetorship; he begot Marcus Cato the ex-praetor, who committed suicide at Utica during the civil war, and when Marcus Tullius wrote the latter's life and panegyric he said that he was the great-grandson of Cato the censor. You see therefore that the branch of the family which is descended from Cato's younger son differs not only in its pedigree, but in its dates as well; for because that Salonianus was born near the end of his father's life, as I said, his descendants were considerably later than those of his elder brother. This difference in dates you will readily perceive from that speech itself, when you read it."
Thus spoke Sulpicius Apollinaris in my hearing. Later we found that what he had said was so, when we read the Funeral Eulogies and the Genealogy of the Porcian Family.

Attic Nights, by Aulus Gellius. Book XIII. 20


Doors open wide, unguarded, when you sin
Lesbia, you don’t conceal your tricks,
you like a watcher better than a lover
you’re not thankful for obscure delights.
Whores conversely don’t want witnesses,
curtains, bolts, no cracks, reveal the brothels.
At least you might learn modesty from them,
the foulest find a place behind the tombs.
Do you really think that what I say’s too harsh?
I don’t say don’t fuck, Lesbia: don’t be seen.

Martialis, book I:34.

I have seen Lollia Paulina

I have seen Lollia Paulina, the wife of the Emperor Caius1 - it was not at any public festival, or any solemn ceremonial, but only at an ordinary wedding entertainment - covered with emeralds and pearls, which shone in alternate layers upon her head, in her hair, in her wreaths, in her ears, upon her neck, in her bracelets, and on her fingers, the value of which amounted in all to forty millions of sesterces; indeed she was prepared at once to prove the fact by showing the receipts and acquittances.
Nor were these any presents made by a prodigal potentate, but treasures which had descended to her from her grandfather, and obtained by the spoliation of the provinces. Such are the fruits of plunder and extortion!
It was for this reason that M. Lollius was held so infamous all over the East for the presents which he extorted from the kings; the result of which was, that he was denied the friendship of Caius C├Žsar2, and took poison; and all this was done, I say, that his grand-daughter might be seen, by the glare of lamps, covered all over with jewels to the amount of forty millions of sesterces!

Pliny maior, Nat.Hist. Book IX, Lviii, 117/118

1.Caligula, emperor 37-41 A.D.

2.Caius Caesar, elder brother of Lucius Caesar and Agrippa Posthumus, sons of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia, daughter of Augustus.
Caius and Lucius (and eventually also Agrippa Posthumus) were adopted as his sons by their grandfather Augustus.

Erotion the slave-girl

To your shades Fronto, and Flacilla, this child
I commend: she was my sweet and my delight.
Little Erotion shall not fear the darkened shades
nor the vast mouths of the Tartarean hound.
She’d have completed her sixth chill winter,
if she’d not lived a mere six days too few.
Now let her frisk and play among old friends
now let her chatter, and so lisp my name.
And let the soft turf cover her brittle bones:
earth, lie lightly on her: she lay lightly on you.

Martialis: book V:34

How the Carthaginian Hannibal jested at the expense of king Antiochus.

In collections of old tales it is recorded that Hannibal the Carthaginian made a highly witty jest when at the court of king Antiochus. The jest was this: Antiochus was displaying to him on the plain the gigantic forces which he had mustered to make war on the Roman people, and was manoeuvring his army glittering with gold and silver ornaments. He also brought up chariots with scythes, elephants with turrets, and horsemen with brilliant bridles, saddle-cloths, neck-chains and trappings.
And then the king, filled with vainglory at the sight of an army so great and so well-equipped, turned to Hannibal and said: "Do you think that all this can be equalled and that it is enough for the Romans?" Then the Carthaginian, deriding the worthlessness and inefficiency of the king's troops in their costly armour, replied: "I think all this will be enough, yes, quite enough for the Romans, even though they are most avaricious.” Absolutely nothing could equal this remark for wit and sarcasm; the king had inquired about the size of his army and asked for a comparative estimate; Hannibal in his reply referred to it as booty.

Attic Nights, by Aulus Gellius. (Book V.5)

Claudian, Carmina Minora (XX)

"Happy he who has passed his whole life mid his own fields, he of whose birth and old age the same house is witness....For him the recurring seasons, not the consuls, mark the year; he knows autumn by his fruits and spring by her flowers."

zondag 20 september 2009

Letter from Marcus Antonius to Augustus

"What has made such a change in you? Because I lie with the queen? She is my wife. Am I just beginning this, or was it nine years ago? What then of you — do you lie only with Drusilla? Good luck to you if when you read this letter you have not been with Tertulla or Terentilla or Rufilla or Salvia Titisenia, or all of them. Does it make any difference to me who made you horny, or when? “