zaterdag 3 april 2010

Optimates and Populares

Optimates and Populares; according to Cicero in his ‘Republic’ 3,23

“When certain men control the state by virtue of their wealth, their distinction, or any form of power, this is a faction, but they call themselves ‘Optimates.” (the best people)

Infact that title was applied to the clique of more reactionary nobiles and their supporters who were concerned to reserve for themselves the right to control the decisions of the Senate and the electoral and legislative assemblies by the traditional means of amicitiae and clientela.
To an Optimate the theoretical sovereignty of the Roman people should always be subordinate in practice to the authority of the Senate; the Senate should be controlled by those whose family traditions and wealth fitted them to provide the senior magistrates of Rome and to guide their decisions. Any politician who did not enjoy the support of the Optimates, or who wanted to propose reforms or programmes contrary to their interest had to find ways of counter their formidable power. Many of the most successful methods had been demonstrated by the Gracchi brothers Tiberius and Caius during their tribunates of 133 and 123-122, and by C.Marius and the tribune L.Appuleius Saturninus in 103 and 100.
Tribunes had the right of proposing legislation in the council of the Plebs (consilium plebis), which was in fact the Assembly of the People excluding the members of the very few Patrician families. They could also veto the proposals of other magistrates.
As 10 tribunes were elected each year, and they did not require the qualifications of age and previous office which consuls required, it was not difficult for ambitious and active men to secure election.
They could, without the consent of the Senate, get far-reaching legislation passed in the Plebeian council which, on their interpretation of the constitution was perfectly legitimate.
The word Popularis, which is often used as the opposite of Optimate, describes rather the method used by politicians than their policies, which might be designed to further the selfish interest of a few individuals just as much as to put right glaring social injustices.
The populares were by no means a political party, even in the sense that the Optimates were, and, although it is possible to trace a certain continuity of thought and even ideals in the actions of men whom their contemporaries called populares, the faction which opposed the Optimates from time to time nearly always centred round one leading personality, whose motives should not necessarily be construed as democratic or idealistic.
(Pompey the Great (1978), by John Leach)

Servilia, mistress of Julius Caesar

Servilia, born about 100 B.C. and died after 42 B.C., was the daughter of Q.Servilius Caepio, praetor in 91 B.C. and of Livia, daughter of M.Livius Drusus, consul 112 B.C.
(which made Livia the sister of M.Livius Drusus, the famous tribune of the plebs of 91 B.C.)

Servilia had been married to M.Junius Brutus, tribunus plebis in 83 B.C. and bore him a son, M.Junius Brutus, the so-called ‘Liberator’, whose ashes were sent to her by Marcus Antonius after the battle of Philippi (42 B.C.)

After Gn.Pompeius Magnus had treacherously killed her husband at Mutina in 77 B.C., she had married D.Junius Silanus, consul 62 B.C.
After putting up with her unfaithfulness for quite some time Silanus finally divorced her in 61 B.C.

The couple had three children:
1. Junia (prima), married to M.Aemilius Lepidus, consul 46 B.C., future triumvir.
2. Junia (secunda), married to P.Servilius Isauricus, consul 48 B.C.
3. Junia (tertia), also calledTertulla, married to C.Cassius Longinus who perished at Philippi in 42 B.C. Tertiae survived her husband for 64 years and died in A.D.22 during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius at the age of 93.

Servilia was the sister of:
(1) Cn.Servilius Caepio, tribune of the soldiers in the war against Spartacus in 72, died in 67 B.C. at Aenus in Trace, on his way to Asia.
He had been married to Hortensia, daughter of Q.Hortensius Hortalus, consul 69 B.C. and Lutatia.

(2) Servilia (minor),married in 66 with L.Licinius Lucullus, consul 74 B.C.
Lucullus married her after his divorce from the notorious Clodia.
This Servilia too didn’t stay faithful to her husband and a divorce followed.

Our Servilia became, by the second marriage of her mother, step-sister to M. Porcius Cato Uticensis who was dominated by her.

She was during some twenty years the mistress of Caius Julius Caesar the dictator.
Judging by graffiti found on a wall her contemporaries weren’t much impressed by this formidable and influential lady.
The text read: “Caesari Servilia Futatrix”
                      (“Servilia is Caesar’s bitch”)

Both her son Marcus Junius Brutus and her son-in-law C.Cassius Longinus were the leaders of the conspiracy and murder of her lover Julius Caesar.

Search while you’re out walking

Just walk slowly under Pompey’s shady colonnade,
when the sun’s in Leo, on the back of Hercules’s lion:
or where Octavia added to her dead son Marcellus’s gifts,
with those rich works of foreign marble.
Don’t miss the Portico that takes its name
from Livia its creator, full of old masters:
or where the daring Danaids prepare to murder their poor husbands,
and their fierce father stands, with out-stretched sword.
And don’t forget the shrine of Adonis, Venus wept for,
and the sacred Sabbath rites of the Syrian Jews.
Don’t skip the Memphite temple of the linen-clad heifer:
she makes many a girl what she herself was to Jove.
And the law-courts (who’d believe it?) they suit love:
a flame is often found in the noisy courts:
where the Appian waters pulse into the air,
from under Venus’s temple, made of marble,
there the lawyer’s often caught by love,
and he who guides others, fails to guide himself:
in that place of eloquence often his words desert him,
and a new case starts, his own cause is the brief.
There Venus, from her neighbouring temples, laughs:
he, who was once the counsel, now wants to be the client.

Ovidius, book I part III.

vrijdag 2 april 2010

Aulus Gellius’ Attic Nights, bk.III, XVIII.1-10.

There are many who think that those senators were called ‘pedarii’ who did not express their opinion in words, but agreed with the opinion of others by stepping to there side of the House.
How then? Whenever a decree of the Senate was passed by division, did not all senators vote in that manner?
Also the following explanation of the word is given, which Gavius Bassus has left recorded in his ‘Commentaries’.
For he says that in the time of our forefathers senators who had held a curule magistracy used to ride to the House in a chariot, as a mark of honour; that in that chariot there was a seat on which they sat, which for that reason was called curulis; but that those senators who had not yet held a curule magistracy went on foot to the House: and that therefore the senators who had not yet held the higher magistracies were called ‘pedarii’.

Marcus Varro, however, in the Menippean Satire entitled ‘Hippokuon’ ,says that some knights were called pedarii, and he seems to mean those who, since they had not yet been enrolled in the Senate by the censors, were not indeed senators, but because they had held offices by vote of the people, used to come into the Senate and had the right of voting. In fact, even those who had filled curule magistracies, if they had not yet been added by the censors to the list of senators, were not senators, and as their names came among the last, they were not asked their opinions, but went to a division on the views given by the leading members. That was the meaning of the traditional proclamation, which even to day the consuls, for the sake of following precedent, use in summoning the senators to the House.

The words of the edict are these:
“Senators and those who have the right to express their opinion in the Senate” (Senatores quibusque in senatu sententiam dicere licet)
I have had a line of Laberius copied also, in which that word is used; I read it in a mime entitled ‘Structurae’: “The age-man’s vote is but a tongueless head.”
(Caput sine lingua pedari sententia est.”)
I have observed that some use a barbarous form of this word; for instead of pedarii they say pedanii.

A hymn to Venus. (Aphrodite)

O Venus, beauty of the skies,
To whom a thousand temples rise,
Gaily false in gentle smiles,
Full of love-perplexing wiles:
O goddess! from my heart remove

The wasting cares and pains of love.
If ever thou hast kindly heard
A song in soft distress preferr'd,
Propitious to my tuneful vow,

0 gentle goddess! hear me now.
Descend, thou bright, immortal guest,
In all thy radiant charms confess'd.
Thou once didst leave almighty Jove,

And all the golden roofs above:
The car thy wanton sparrows drew,
Hovering in air they lightly flew;
As to my bower they wing'd their way,
I saw their quivering pinions play.

The birds dismiss'd, while you remain,
Bore back their empty car again:
Then you with looks divinely mild,
In every heavenly feature smiled,
And ask'd what new complaints I made,
And why I call'd you to my aid?

What frenzy in my bosom raged,
And by what cure to be assuaged ?
What gentle youth I would allure,
Whom in my artful toils secure?

Who does thy tender heart subdue
Tell me, my Sappho, tell me who?
Though now he shuns thy longing arms,
He soon shall court thy slighted charms;

Though now thy offerings he despise,
He soon to thee shall sacrifice;
Though now he freeze, he soon shall burn,
And be thy victim in his turn.

Celestial visitant, once more
Thy needful presence I implore!
In pity come, and ease my grief,
Bring my distemper'd soul relief,
Favour thy suppliant's hidden fires,
And give me all my heart desires.

Sappho, from Lesbos, Greece. b.615- d.around 550 B.C.
English translation by Ambrose Philips, 1711