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."