zaterdag 4 september 2010

Aulus Gellius’ Attic Nights, XIII.XV, 1-7

In the edict of the consuls by which they appoint the day for the centuriate assembly it is written in accordance with an old established form:

“Let no minor magistrate presume to watch the skies”.
Accordingly, the question is often asked who the minor magistrates are. On this subject there is no need for words of mine, since by good fortune the first book of the augur Messalla ‘On Auspices’ is at hand, when I am writing this. Therefore I quote from that book Messalla’s own words:
“The auspices of the patricians are divided into two classes. The greatest are those of the consuls, praetors and censors. Yet the auspices of all those are not the same or of equal rank, for the reason that the censors are not colleagues of the consuls or praetors, while the praetors are colleagues of the consuls. Therefore neither do the consuls or the praetors interrupt or hinder the auspices of the censors, nor the censors those of the praetors and consuls; but the censors may vitiate and hinder each other’s auspices and again the praetors and consuls those of one another.
The praetor, although he is a colleague of the consul, cannot lawfully elect either a praetor or a consul, as indeed we have learned from our forefathers, or from what has been observed in the past, and as is shown in the thirteenth book of the Commentaries of Caius Tuditanus; ‘for the praetor has inferior authority and the consul superior, and a higher authority cannot be elected by a lower, or a superior colleague by an inferior.’
At the present time, when a praetor elects the praetors, I have followed the authority of the men of old and have not taken part in the auspices at such elections. Also the censors are not chosen under the same auspices as the consuls and praetors. The lesser auspices belong to the other magistrates.
Therefore these are called ‘lesser’ (minores) and the others ‘greater’ (maiores) magistrates. When the lesser magistrates are elected, their office is conferred upon them by the assembly of the tribes, but full powers by a law of the assembly of the curiae; the higher magistrates are chosen by the assembly of the centuries.
The praetor is a colleague of the consul, because they are chosen under the same auspices. They are said to possess the greater auspices, because their auspices are esteemed more highly than those of the others.”

Aulus Gellius’ ‘Noctium Atticarum’, XIII.XV, 1-7

Macrobius, about Cicero

Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius was a Roman grammarian and neoplatonic philosopher during the reign of Honorius and Arcadius (395-423)

The most important of his works is the Saturnalia, containing an account of the discussions held at the house of Vettius Agorius Praetextatus (praetorian prefect from May 21 - Sept. 9, A.D. 384) during the holiday of the Saturnalia starting on December 17. It was written by the author for the benefit of his son Eustathius (or Eustachius)
In his second book, chapter two, Macrobius relates a number of anecdotes concerning Marcus Tullius Cicero: consul 63 B.C., orator, writer, philosopher.

I.When he (Cicero) was dining at the house of Damasippus, his host produced a very ordinary wine, saying, “Try this Falernian; it is forty years old.”
“ Young for his age,” replied Cicero.

II.Seeing his son-in-law Lentulus (who was a very short man) wearing a long sword, he said: “ who has buckled my son-in-law to that sword?”

III.The consulship of Vatinius which lasted for only a few days gave Cicero an opportunity for some humorous sayings, which had wide currency. “Vatinius’s term of office,” he said, “has presented a remarkable portent, for in his consulship there has been neither winter, spring, summer, nor autumn.”

IV.And again, when Vatinius complained that Cicero had found it too much trouble to come to see him in his sickness, he replied:” It was my intention to come while you were consul, but night overtook me.”

V.Pompeius found Cicero’s witticisms tiresome, and the following sayings of Cicero were current: “I know whom to avoid, but I do not know whom to follow.”

Again, when he had come to join Pompeius, to those who were saying that he was late in coming he retorted: “ Late? Not at all, for I see nothing ready here yet.”

VI.Then, when Laberius toward the end of the Games received from Caesar the honour of the gold ring of knighthood and went straightaway to the fourteen rows to watch the scene from there - only to find that the knights had felt themselves affronted by the degradation of one of their order and his offhand restoration - as he was passing Cicero, in his search for a seat, the latter said to him:

“ I should have been glad to have you beside me were I not already pressed for room”; meaning by these words to snub the man and at the same time to make fun of the new Senate, whose number had been unduly increased by Caesar. Here, however, Cicero got as good as he gave, for Laberius replied: “ I am surprised that you of all people should be pressed for room, seeing that you make a habit of sitting on two seats at once,” thus reproaching Cicero with the fickleness of which that excellent and loyal citizen was unfairly accused.

VII.To Cassius, one of the man who murdered the dictator, he said: “ I could wish you had asked me to your dinner on the Ides of March. Nothing, I assure you, would have been left over. But, as things are, your leaving make me feel anxious.”

(Meaning: if Cicero had been in on the plot to murder Caesar, Marcus Antonius too would have been killed)

Aulus Gellius’ Attic Nights, vol.iii, bk.XVI, XIII.p.177

1. Municipes and municipia are words which are readily spoken and in common use, and you would never find a man who uses them who does not think that he understands perfectly what he is saying.
But in fact it is something different, and the meaning is different.
2. For how rarely is one of us found who, coming from a colony of the Roman people, does not say what is far removed from reason and from truth, namely, that he is “municeps” and that his fellow citizens are “municeps”?
3 .So general is the ignorance of what “municipia” are and what rights they have, and how far they differ from a “colony”, as well as the belief that coloniae are better off than municipia.
4. With regard to the errors in this opinion which is so general the deified Hadrian, in the speech which he delivered in the senate “In behalf of the Italicenses”, (De Italicensibus. Italica was a city in Spain on the river Baetis, opposite Hispalis (Seville). It was founded by Scipio Africanus maior and peopled by his veterans; whence the name “the Italian city”.) from whom he himself came, discoursed most learnedly, showing his surprise that the municipia, among whom he names the citizens of Utica, when they might enjoy there own customs and laws, desired instead to have the rights of colonies.
5. Moreover, he asserts that the citizens of Praeneste earnestly begged and prayed the emperor Tiberius that they might be changed from a colony into the condition of a municipium, and that Tiberius granted there request by way of conferring a favour, because in there territory, and near their town itself, he had recovered from a dangerous illness.
6. ”Municipes”, then, are Roman citizens from free towns, using their own laws and enjoying their own rights, merely sharing with the Roman people an honorary munus, or “privilege”- from the enjoyment of which privilege they appear to derive there name-, and bound by no other compulsion and no other law of the Roman people, except such as their own citizens have officially ratified.
7. We learn besides that the people of Caere were the first municipes without the right of suffrage, and that it was allowed them to assume the honour of Roman citizenship, but yet to be free from service and burdens, in return for receiving and guarding sacred objects during the war with the Gauls. Hence by contraries those tablets were called Caerites on which the censors ordered those to be enrolled whom they deprived of their votes by way of disgrace.
8. But the relationship of the “colonies” is a different one; for they do not come into citizenship from without, nor grow from roots of their own, but they are as it were transplanted from the State and have all the laws and institutions of the Roman people, not those of their own choice. 9. This condition, although it is more exposed to control and less free, is nevertheless thought preferable and superior because of the greatness and majesty of the Roman people, of which those colonies seem to be miniatures, as it were, and in a way copies; (their government was modelled on that of Rome, with a senate (decuriones), two chief magistrates (ii viri iure dicundo), elected annually, etc.) and at the same time because the rights of the municipal towns became obscure and invalid, and from ignorance of their existence the townsmen are no longer able to make use of them.