PSA: Naps Can Kill You

Valerius Maximus, Memorable Sayings and Deeds, 1.8.12

“Another spectacle for our state was the pyre of Acilius Aviola. Doctors and his servants believed that he was dead since he had stretched out still in his house for some time. When he was taken out for burial, once the fire overtook his body, he yelled that he was alive and asked for help from his teacher—for he had remained there alone. But, because he was already surrounded by flames, he could not be saved from his death.”

1.8.12a Aliquid admirationis civitati nostrae Acilii etiam Aviolae rogus attulit, qui et a medicis et a domesticis mortuus creditus, cum aliquamdiu domi iacuisset, elatus, postquam corpus eius ignis corripuit, vivere se proclamavit auxiliumque paedagogi sui—nam is solus ibi remanserat—invocavit, sed iam flammis circumdatus fato subtrahi non potuit.

Pliny the Elder presents a shortened version of this  (Natural History, 1.173)

“Aviola the consul revived on the funeral pyre and since it was not possible to help him because the fire was too strong, he was cremated alive.”

 Aviola consularis in rogo revixit et, quoniam subveniri non potuerat praevalente flamma, vivus crematus est

Image result for Ancient Roman Funeral pyre

Naps Can Be Deadly: Acilius Aviola’s Flame Out

Valerius Maximus, Memorable Sayings and Deeds, 1.8.12

“Another spectacle for our state was the pyre of Acilius Aviola. Doctors and his servants believed that he was dead since he had stretched out still in his house for some time. When he was taken out for burial, once the fire overtook his body, he yelled that he was alive and asked for help from his teacher—for he had remained there alone. But, because he was already surrounded by flames, he could not be saved from his death.”

1.8.12a Aliquid admirationis civitati nostrae Acilii etiam Aviolae rogus attulit, qui et a medicis et a domesticis mortuus creditus, cum aliquamdiu domi iacuisset, elatus, postquam corpus eius ignis corripuit, vivere se proclamavit auxiliumque paedagogi sui—nam is solus ibi remanserat—invocavit, sed iam flammis circumdatus fato subtrahi non potuit.

Pliny the Elder presents a shortened version of this  (Natural History, 1.173)

“Aviola the consul revived on the funeral pyre and since it was not possible to help him because the fire was too strong, he was cremated alive.”

 Aviola consularis in rogo revixit et, quoniam subveniri non potuerat praevalente flamma, vivus crematus est

Image result for Ancient Roman Funeral pyre

The Funereal Birth of Gorgias the Epirote

I am proud my self-restraint for not posting this anecdote on Mother’s Day

Valerius Maximus, Wondrous Deeds and Sayings 1.8 ext2

 “The origin of Gorgias of Epiros*, a famous man, was also miraculous. He fell out of his mother’s womb during her funeral and the pallbearers were forced to stop by his surprising wail. This offered his country a new spectacle, a baby finding light and a cradle almost from his mother’s own grave—she gave birth although she was dead at the same time he was prepared for a funeral before he was born!”

Gorgiae quoque Epirotae, fortis et clari viri, origo admirabilis <fuit>, quod in funere matris suae utero elapsus inopinato vagitu suo lectum ferentes consistere coegit novumque spectaculum patriae praebuit, tantum non ex ipso genetricis rogo lucem et cunas adsecutus: eodem enim momento temporis altera iam fato functa peperit, alter ante elatus quam natus est.

This is not Gorgias of Leontini, the rhetorician and Pre-socratic Philosopher. This Gorgias of Epirus is primarily famous for the anecdote you just read.

Image result for Ancient Roman birth scene

Roman relief showing a birthing scene. Tomb of a Midwife (Tomb 100), Isola Sacra Ostia Photo credit: magistrahf on Flickr