Tacitus on Germanic Standards for Women and Child-Rearing

Some of the rhetoric here seems a bit familiar…

Tacitus, Germania 19-20

In that country, no one finds vice amusing; nor is seducing or being seduced celebrated as a sign of the times. Even better are those communities where only virgins marry and a promise is made with the hope and vow of a wife. And so, they have only one husband just as each has one body and one life so that there may be no additional thought of it, no lingering desire, that they may not love the man so much as they love the marriage. It is considered a sin to limit the number of children or to eliminate the later born. There good customs are stronger than good laws.

There are children there naked and dirty in every house growing into the size of limbs and body at which we wonder. Each mother nourishes each child with her own breasts; they are not passed around to maids and nurses.”

nemo enim illic vitia ridet, nec corrumpere et corrumpi saeculum vocatur. melius quidem adhuc eae civitates, in quibus tantum virgines nubunt et cum spe votoque uxoris semel transigitur. sic unum accipiunt maritum quo modo unum corpus unamque vitam, ne ulla cogitatio ultra, ne longior cupiditas, ne tamquam maritum, sed tamquam matrimonium ament. numerum liberorum finire aut quemquam ex agnatis necare flagitium habetur, plusque ibi boni mores valent quam alibi bonae leges.In omni domo nudi ac sordidi in hos artus, in haec corpora, quae miramur, excrescunt. sua quemque mater uberibus alit, nec ancillis aut nutricibus delegantur.

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A Source of Fear and Hate

Suetonius, Domitian 13-14

“Once he accepted the cognomen Germanicus after two triumphs, he renamed the months of September and October from his own names, calling one Germanicus and the other Domitianus because he had assumed rule in one and was born in the other.

For these reasons he became a source of fear and hateful to everyone. He was finally overthrown by plots led together by his friends and freedman with his wife’s knowledge. He had a longstanding suspicion over the final year and day of his death. When he was young, astrologers had predicted all these things to him. His father also once mocked him at dinner because he was refusing mushrooms, claiming that he was ignorant of his fate because he did not fear the sword instead. For these reasons he was always fearful and anxious and was excessively upset even over the smallest suspicions.”

Post autem duos triumphos Germanici cognomine assumpto Septembrem mensem et Octobrem ex appellationibus suis Germanicum Domitianumque transnominavit, quod altero suscepisset imperium, altero natus esset.

XIV. Per haec terribilis cunctis et invisus, tandem oppressus est insidiis amicorum libertorumque intimorum simul et uxoris. Annum diemque ultimum vitae iam pridem suspectum habebat, horam etiam nec non et genus mortis. Adulescentulo Chaldaei cuncta praedixerant; pater quoque super cenam quondam fungis abstinentem palam irriserat ut ignarum sortis suae, quod non ferrum potius timeret. Quare pavidus semper atque anxius minimis etiam suspicionibus praeter modum commovebatur.

 

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Up Before Dawn, Two Baths and a Nap: The Daily Routine of Emperor Severus

Dio Cassius 27.17

“This is the daily routine Severus used when there was peace. He was always doing something before dawn and after that you used to take a walk while talking and listening about the matters of the empire. Then he would have a judicial court, except when there was some festival or another. And he used to do this best of all—for he provided ample time for those who were arguing the case and he provided those of us who were advising him lots of time too. He used to make judgments until midday and then he would ride his horse as much as he was able. Then he would take a bath after engaging in some kind of exercise. Following this, he would have no meager lunch either on his own or with his children.

After lunch, he usually napped for a bit. When he rose, he turned to the rest of his affairs and then used to spend time engaged in both Greek and Latin debates while walking again. Near dusk, he would bathe again and then dine with those who were attending him—for he did not frequently have a guest for dinner and he would only sponsor expensive banquets on days when it was necessary. He lived for sixty-five years, plus eight months and twenty-five days. Even at the end, he demonstrated his eagerness for activity: as he was dying he said: “come here, give me whatever there is to do.”

 

…ἐχρῆτο δὲ ὁ Σεουῆρος καταστάσει τοῦ βίου εἰρήνης οὔσης τοιᾷδε. ἔπραττέ τι πάντως νυκτὸς ὑπὸ τὸν ὄρθρον, καὶ μετὰ τοῦτ᾿ ἐβάδιζε καὶ λέγων καὶ ἀκούων τὰ τῇ ἀρχῇ πρόσφορα· εἶτ᾿ ἐδίκαζε, χωρὶς εἰ μή τις ἑορτὴ μεγάλη εἴη. καὶ μέντοι καὶ ἄριστα αὐτὸ ἔπραττε· καὶ γὰρ τοῖς δικαζομένοις ὕδωρ ἱκανὸν ἐνέχει, καὶ ἡμῖν τοῖς συνδικάζουσιν αὐτῷ παρρησίαν πολλὴν ἐδίδου. 2ἔκρινε δὲ μέχρι μεσημβρίας, καὶ μετὰ τοῦθ᾿ ἵππευεν ἐφ᾿ ὅσον ἂν ἐδυνήθη· εἶτ᾿ ἐλοῦτο, γυμνασάμενός τινα τρόπον. ἠρίστα δὲ ἢ καθ᾿ ἑαυτὸν ἢ μετὰ τῶν παίδων, οὐκ ἐνδεῶς. εἶτ᾿ ἐκάθευδεν ὡς πλήθει· ἔπειτ᾿ ἐξαρθεὶς τά τε λοιπὰ προσδιῴκει καὶ λόγοις καὶ Ἑλληνικοῖς καὶ Λατίνοις συνεγίνετο ἐν περιπάτῳ. εἶθ᾿ οὕτω πρὸς ἑσπέραν ἐλοῦτο αὖθις, καὶ ἐδείπνει μετὰ τῶν ἀμφ᾿ αὑτόν· ἥκιστά τε γὰρ ἄλλον τινὰ συνέστιον ἐποιεῖτο, καὶ ἐν μόναις ταῖς πάνυ ἀναγκαίαις ἡμέραις τὰ πολυτελῆ δεῖπνα συνεκρότει. ἐβίω δὲ ἔτη ἑξήκοντα πέντε καὶ μῆνας ἐννέα καὶ ἡμέρας πέντε καὶ εἴκοσι2 (τῇ γὰρ ἑνδεκάτῃ τοῦ Ἀπριλίου ἐγεγέννητο), ἀφ᾿ ὧν ἦρξεν ἔτη ἑπτακαίδεκα καὶ μῆνας ὀκτὼ καὶ ἡμέρας τρεῖς. τό τε σύμπαν οὕτως ἐνεργὸς ἐγένετο ὥστε καὶ ἀποψύχων ἀναφθέγξασθαι· “ἄγετε, δότε, εἴ τι πρᾶξαι ἔχομεν.

 

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This compares favorably, I think, to the recently shared schedule of Mark Wahlberg.

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Tacitus on Germanic Standards for Women and Child-Rearing

Some of the rhetoric here seems a bit familiar…

Tacitus, Germania 19-20

In that country, no one finds vice amusing; nor is seducing or being seduced celebrated as a sign of the times. Even better are those communities where only virgins marry and a promise is made with the hope and vow of a wife. And so, they have only one husband just as each has one body and one life so that there may be no additional thought of it, no lingering desire, that they may not love the man so much as they love the marriage. It is considered a sin to limit the number of children or to eliminate the later born. There good customs are stronger than good laws.

There are children there naked and dirty in every house growing into the size of limbs and body at which we wonder. Each mother nourishes each child with her own breasts; they are not passed around to maids and nurses.”

nemo enim illic vitia ridet, nec corrumpere et corrumpi saeculum vocatur. melius quidem adhuc eae civitates, in quibus tantum virgines nubunt et cum spe votoque uxoris semel transigitur. sic unum accipiunt maritum quo modo unum corpus unamque vitam, ne ulla cogitatio ultra, ne longior cupiditas, ne tamquam maritum, sed tamquam matrimonium ament. numerum liberorum finire aut quemquam ex agnatis necare flagitium habetur, plusque ibi boni mores valent quam alibi bonae leges.In omni domo nudi ac sordidi in hos artus, in haec corpora, quae miramur, excrescunt. sua quemque mater uberibus alit, nec ancillis aut nutricibus delegantur.

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Conquering Britain From Afar: Caligula and the Best Triumph

In honor of the World Cup Semi-final Match today between the former Roman Provinces of Britannia and Dalmatia, we wrote a slightly farcical post for the SCS blog. This is one of my favorite anecdotes from the Julio-Claudian Clan. It reminds me of a certain leader traveling in Europe right now.

Cassius Dio, Roman History 59.25

“Once he arrived at the ocean—as if he were about to mount a campaign against Britain—[Gaius Caligula Caesar] stationed all his soldiers on the shore and climbed on a trireme. After sailing a little from the land, he sailed back again. Then, after that, he perched on a high platform and gave the soldiers a sign for battle, even urging the trumpeters to help them. Then, suddenly, he ordered them to collect seashells.

Once he acquired all of this booty—for he obviously needed spoils for his triumphal procession—he was deeply impressed with himself, as if he had made a slave of the ocean itself. Then he gave many gifts to his soldiers. He took the seashells back to Rome so he could display his war booty to them too.

The senate had no plan for how it could take these things calmly—because it understood that he was acting as if this were a big deal, nor could it praise him in any way. For if someone showers lavish praise or weighty honors for some middling or minor accomplishment, there is a lingering suspicion of hissing or mockery for it.

And yet, once he entered the city, Caligula nearly asked for the whole senate to be killed because it did not vote him immortal honors for this…”

     ἐς δὲ τὸν ὠκεανὸν ἐλθὼν ὡς καὶ ἐν τῇ Βρεττανίᾳ στρατεύσων, καὶ πάντας τοὺς στρατιώτας ἐν τῇ ᾐόνι παρατάξας, τριήρους τε ἐπέβη καὶ ὀλίγον ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς ἀπάρας ἀνέπλευσε, καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο ἐπὶ βήματος ὑψηλοῦ ἱζήσας καὶ σύνθημα τοῖς στρατιώταις ὡς ἐς μάχην δούς, τοῖς τε σαλπικταῖς ἐξοτρύνας αὐτούς, εἶτ’ ἐξαίφνης ἐκέλευσέ σφισι τὰ κογχύλια συλλέξασθαι. λαβών τε τὰ σκῦλα ταῦτα (καὶ γὰρ λαφύρων δῆλον ὅτι πρὸς τὴν τῶν ἐπινικίων πομπὴν ἐδεῖτο) μέγα τε ἐφρόνησεν ὡς καὶ τὸν ὠκεανὸν αὐτὸν δεδουλωμένος, καὶ τοῖς στρατιώταις πολλὰ ἐδωρήσατο. καὶ ὁ μὲν ἐς τὴν ῾Ρώμην τὰ κογχύλια ἀνεκόμισεν, ἵνα καὶ ἐκεί-νοις τὰ λάφυρα δείξῃ· ἡ δὲ βουλὴ οὔθ’ ὅπως ἐπὶ τούτοις ἡσυχάζοι εἶχεν, ὅτι μεγαλοφρονούμενον αὐτὸν ἐπυνθάνετο, οὔθ’ ὅπως αὐτὸν ἐπαινέσειεν· ἂν γάρ τις ἐπὶ μηδεμιᾷ ἢ μικρᾷ τινι ἀνδραγαθίᾳ ἤτοι ἐπαίνους μεγάλους ἢ καὶ τιμὰς ἐξαισίους ποιῆται, διαμωκᾶσθαί τε καὶ διασιλλοῦν αὐτὴν ὑποπτεύεται. ὅμως ἐσελθὼν ἐς τὴν πόλιν τὴν μὲν βουλὴν ὀλίγου ἐδέησεν ἀπολέσαι πᾶσαν, ὅτι μὴ τὰ ὑπὲρ ἄνθρωπον αὐτῷ ἐψηφίσατο…

Suetonius, Gaius Caligula 46

“At last, as if he was about to finish the war, he had the battle line stretched out along the shore along with the ballistas and siege engines. When no one understood or had any idea what he was going to do, he suddenly ordered them to gather shells and fill their helmets and clothes, announcing that there were “the Ocean’s spoils, owed to the Capitoline and Palatine.”

He also had erected as a monument to his victory a really tall tower from which fires were meant to shine for the purpose of guiding the course of ships at night just like the lighthouse of Pharos. Once he promised to each soldier a bonus of one hundred denarii—as if this were a sign of extreme generosity—he said “Go happily away; leave here rich.”

Postremo quasi perpetraturus bellum, derecta acie in litore Oceani ac ballistis machinisque dispositis, nemine gnaro aut opinante quidnam coepturus esset, repente ut conchas legerent galeasque et sinus replerent imperavit, “spolia Oceani” vocans “Capitolio Palatioque debita,” et in indicium victoriae altissimam turrem excitavit, ex qua ut Pharo noctibus ad regendos navium cursus ignes emicarent; pronuntiatoque militi donativo centenis viritim denariis, quasi omne exemplum liberalitatis supergressus: “Abite,” inquit, “laeti, abite locupletes.”

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Augustus Caesar, Maybe Not the Nicest Guy

Suetonius, Divus Augustus 15

“Following the capture of Perusia, [Augustus] turned his mind to vengeance on many people—facing those who were trying to beg forgiveness or make an excuse with one response: “you must die.”

Some authors record that three hundred people from both orders were picked out from the war-prisoners and slaughtered like sacrificial animals at the altar built to Divine Julius on the Ides of March. There are those who report that he turned to war with a specific plan, namely to trap his secret adversaries and those whom fear rather than willingness constrain and, once the model of Lucius Antonius* was offered, to pay the bonuses promised to veterans once he had conquered his enemies and liquidated their assets.”

Perusia capta in plurimos animadvertit, orare veniam vel excusare se conantibus una voce occurrens “moriendum esse.” Scribunt quidam trecentos ex dediticiis electos utriusque ordinis ad aram Divo Iulio exstructam Idibus Martiis hostiarum more mactatos. Exstiterunt qui traderent conpecto eum ad arma isse, ut occulti adversarii et quos metus magis quam voluntas contineret, facultate L. Antoni ducis praebita, detegerentur devictisque iis et confiscatis promissa veteranis praemia solverentur.

*Lucius (Marcus Antonius’ brother) had been a target of the siege at Perusia. Octavian [Augustus] let him live and sent him to serve as governor in what is now Spain.

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Augustus as Pontifex Maximus, A Righteous and Religious Man

“Beware the many, if you do not fear the one”

From the Historia Augusta, on the two Maximini, IX

“In order to hide his low birth, he had everyone who knew about it killed—not a few of them were friends who had often given him much because of his pitiable poverty. And there was never a crueler animal on the earth, placing all in his strength as if he could not be killed. Finally, when he believed that he was nearly immortal because of the magnitude of his body and bravery, there was a certain actor whom they report recited some Greek lines when he was present in the theater which had this Latin translation:

Even he who cannot be killed by one is killed by many
The elephant is large and he is killed.
The lion is brave and he is killed
The tiger is brave and he is killed.
Beware the many if you do not fear the one.

And these words were recited while the emperor was there. But when he asked his friends what the little clown had said, they claimed he was singing some old lines written against mean men. And, since he was Thracian and barbarian, believed this.”

IX. nam ignobilitatis tegendae causa omnes conscios generis sui interemit, nonnullos etiam amicos, qui ei saepe misericordiae paupertatis causa pleraque donaverant. neque enim fuit crudelius animal in terris, omnia sic in viribus suis ponens quasi non posset occidi. denique cum immortalem se prope crederet ob magnitudinem corporis virtutisque, mimus quidam in theatro praesente illo dicitur versus Graecos dixisse, quorum haec erat Latina sententia:

“Et qui ab uno non potest occidi, a multis occiditur.

elephans grandis est et occiditur,
leo fortis est et occiditur,
tigris fortis est et occiditur;
cave multos, si singulos non times.”

et haec imperatore ipso praesente iam dicta sunt. sed cum interrogaret amicos, quid mimicus scurra dixisset, dictum est ei quod antiquos versus cantaret contra homines asperos scriptos; et ille, ut erat Thrax et barbarus, credidit.

 

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I am big. Really big. Everyone is saying that, not me. I mean, look how big I am.