Valerius Maximus

-   Book 6 , chapters 1-4


Adapted from the translation by S. Speed (1678). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section.   

Contents:   I. Of Chastity
II. Of things that were freely said or done
III. Of Severity
IV. Of things gravely said or done
V. Of Justice
VI. Of Public Integrity
VII. Of the Fidelity of Wives to their Husbands
VIII. Of the Loyalty of Slaves to their Masters
IX. Of Changes in Behaviour and Fortune

Book 5

I.   Of Chastity

Whence shall I summon you forth, fair Chastity, the chief support of men and women? For you inhabit the hearths consecrated to Vesta by ancient religion. You lean upon the cushions of Capitoline Juno. You are the pillar of the Palatine, and render famous the most illustrious household-gods, and the most sacred marriage bed of Julia, by your fixed habitation there. You are the guardian who protects the honour of youth. And out of respect to your deity, riper age continues immaculate. Under your protection the matron's stola is revered. Come hither then, and hear what you yourself wished to be done.

[1.1] L   Lucretia is the first example of Roman chastity, whose manlike soul was, by an error of Fortune, enclosed in a female body. She was constrained to suffer herself to be ravished by Sex. Tarquinius, the son of king Tarquinius Superbus. When she had among an assembly of her family lamented in most passionate terms the injury which she had received, she stabbed herself with a dagger, which she had concealed under her garment. By this  dauntless death she gave the people occasion to alter government by kings into government by consuls.     { see also: Livy 1.57 }

[1.2] L   Neither would Verginius brook an injury of this nature; he was a person of common extraction, but of a patrician spirit. For lest his family should be dishonoured, he did not spare even his own flesh and blood. When Ap. Claudius, the decemvir, trusting in the power of his office, insistently pursued his daughter, he brought her forth publicly into the forum and slew her, choosing rather to be the murderer of a chaste daughter, than the father of a defiled daughter.     { see also: Livy 3.44 }

[1.3] L   Nor was Pontius Aufidianus, a Roman knight, endued with less courage of mind. When he found that the virginity of his daughter had been betrayed by her tutor to Fannius Saturninus; not content to have put the wicked servant to death, he killed his own daughter. In order that she might not celebrate a dishonourable marriage, he married her to a bitter funeral.

[1.4] L   What shall I say of P. Maenius? What a strict guardian of chastity was he! For he punished a freedman of his, for whom he had great fondness, only because he had kissed his adult daughter; though it might seem not to have been done so much out of lust, as by a mistake in his behaviour. But Maenius thought fit to imprint the discipline of chastity into the mind of the tender maid, by the severity of the man's punishment; and taught her by so severe an example, that she was not only to preserve her virginity, but her lips uncontaminated for her husband.

[1.5] L   Quintus Fabius Maximus Servilianus, after he had served in many great offices with renown, coming to the censorship, punished his only son for his dubious chastity; and the son endured the punishment, by banishing himself out of sight of his fatherland.     { see also: Orosius 5.16.8 }

[1.6] L   I might have said that the censor was too rigid, if P. Atilius Philiscus, who as a boy was forced by his master to offer his body for gain, had not proved so severe a father afterwards; for he slew his daughter, because she had defiled herself with fornication. How sacred then ought we to think chastity was in our city, where the procurers of lust then so severely punished it?

[1.7] L   The example of a most excellent person and a memorable act follows. M. Claudius Marcellus, one of the curule aediles, accused C. Scantinius Capitolinus a tribune, and summoned him to answer before the people on a charge of corrupting his son. When Scantinius averred that he could not be compelled to appear, because of his sacrosanct power, and called the tribunes to come to his assistance; the whole college of tribunes refused to intercede in a case where chastity was called in question. Scantinius therefore being summoned, was condemned by that very witness, whom he had assaulted. For it is said that when the young man was produced on the rostra, with his eyes fixed upon the ground, he kept a most resolute silence; by which modest silence he most of all prevailed in his revenge.     { see also: Plutarch Marc_2 }

[1.8] L   Metellus Celer also was a most severe chastiser of lustful intent; he summoning Cn. Sergius Silus to answer before the people, merely for promising a sum of money to the mother of the family, and condemned him for that single crime. For then not the deed alone, but the very intention was brought into question; and it was more harm, to have proposed an error, than it was helpful not to have offended.

[1.9] L   That was justice in a popular assembly: here follows justice in the senate-house. T. Veturius, son of that Veturius, who in his consulship was delivered bound to the Samnites for making a dishonourable truce with them, when by reason of the ruin of his household, and the great debts of his family, he was forced in his youth to yield himself bound to Plotius, and was by him severely whipped, because he would not permit him to abuse his body, complained of his treatment to the consuls. They acquainted the senate of the matter, and the senate sent Plotius to prison. Thus they endeavoured to preserve the chastity of the Roman people secure, in whatever state or condition they were.     { see also: Livy 8.28 }

[1.10] L   And what wonder if all the conscript fathers made this decree? C. Pescennius, triumvir for capital punishments, publicly imprisoned C. Cornelius, a most noted soldier, who had been four times advanced to be a centurion of the first rank; because he had had intimate familiarity with a youth born of free parents. Cornelius appealed against this to the tribunes; but when he said nothing about the facts, but only said that he was ready to put in bail, and to allege that the boy had openly made a public prostitution of his body for money, they absolutely refused to pay any attention to the matter. As a result Cornelius died in prison. For the tribunes thought it improper for our commonwealth to make bargains with men, however brave, so that they could buy domestic pleasure at the price of danger abroad.

[1.11] L   After the punishment of a lustful centurion, the severe treatment of M. Laetorius Mergus, a military tribune, and his ignominious death, is next to be related. He was summoned before the people by Cominius, tribune of the plebs, being accused by his adjutant of seeking to violate his body. Nor would Laetorius await the trial; but first he secretly fled before the verdict, and then he slew himself. Yet though he had satisfied nature's debt by his death, yet he was condemned by the people for the crime of indecency. The severe discipline of the army, which was the most certain guardian of the consecrated eagle and of the Roman empire, prosecuted him even in his tomb; because he had tried to defile the body of him, whose instructor in virtue he should have been.     { see also: Dionysius 16.4 }

[1.12] L   This discipline moved C. Marius, when he pronounced C. Lusius his sister's son, and a military tribune, to have been legally slain by C. Plotius, a common soldier; because Lusius had tried to defile him.     { see also: 104/14 }

[1.13] L   I will give a short account of those, who have made use of their own revenge instead of the public law, in the vindication of their chastity. Sempronius Musca caused C. Gallius to be whipped, for being caught in adultery. C. Memmius also caused L. Octavius to be whipped with (?) thigh-bones for the same act. Carbo Attienus was castrated by Vibienus, and Pontius by P. Cerennius, being both caught in the act. A certain person also caught Cn. Furius Brocchus in the act, and delivered him over to be violated by his household slaves. None of these men were blamed for indulging their own anger.


[1e.1] L   And so that I may add foreign to domestic examples, a Greek woman named Hippo, being taken by the enemy's fleet, flung herself into the sea, in order to preserve her chastity by her own death. Her body drifted to the shore of Erythrae, where it was buried by the sea-shore, and lies covered with a little mound till this day.  But Greece, having committed to eternal memory the glory of her sanctity, by its praises makes her every day more famous.

[1e.2] L   That was a vehement example of chastity; what follows was more considered. When the whole army of the Gallograecians was either defeated or captured by Cn. Manlius upon Mount Olympus, the wife of the chieftain Ortiagon, a woman of extraordinary beauty, was taken and raped by the centurion, to whose custody she had been committed. When she came to that place, where the centurion had arranged through a messenger for the friends of the woman to bring her ransom, while the centurion was weighing the gold, with his eyes fixed upon the quantity, the Gallograecian woman in her own language commanded those of her own nation to kill him; and then with the head cut off in her hand, she went to her husband, and casting it at his feet, she related the injury done her, and her own revenge. What part of this woman can any one say was in the power of the enemy, except her body? For neither could her mind be vanquished, nor her chastity taken.     { see also: 189/16 }

[1e.3] L   The wives of the Teutones besought Marius their conqueror, that they might be sent by him as a present to the Vestal Virgins, affirming that they would abstain from the company of men as sacredly as they did. When that request was refused, the next night they all hanged themselves. It was fortunate that the gods did not infuse the same courage into their husbands in the field of battle. For if they had imitated the virtue of their wives, they would have brought the triumphs of the Teutonic victory into doubt.     { see also: Orosius 5.16.13 }

II.   Of things that were freely said or done

Though I did not invite liberty, which is attested as well by the words as by the deeds of vehement spirits, yet I will not exclude it when it comes in my way. It is situated between virtue and vice: if it keeps itself within the bounds of moderation, it may deserve praise; but if it launches out further than the limits of due respect, is to be reprehended, becoming thereby more grateful to the ears of the common folk, than approved by wise men; and it is often more secure in the pardon of others, than in the foresight of the person committing it. But since we have resolved to describe all parts of human activity, let us relate the stories in good faith, and let others judge as they think fit.

[2.1] L   When Privernum was captured, and the instigators of the town's rebellion had been put to death, the senate, moved with indignation, considered what they should do with the rest of the inhabitants. Thus their safety was in a fluctuating condition, being subject at the same time to the victors, and to their anger. But although they saw there was no way but to plead for mercy, they could not forget that they had some Italian blood in their veins. For when their leader was asked in the senate-house, what punishment they deserved, he replied, "The punishment they deserve, who think themselves worthy of liberty." He had taken up arms in words, and inflamed the incensed minds of the senators. Plautius the consul, who favoured the cause of the Privernates, offered a way back from his bold answer, and asked him again, what kind of peace the Romans would have with them, if they granted  pardon to them. But he with a resolute countenance replied again, "If you grant us good conditions, let the peace be perpetual, but if the conditions are bad, as short as you please." By this unflinching response he brought it to pass, that the vanquished were not only pardoned, but enjoyed the privileges of our citizenship.     { see also: Livy 8.21 }

[2.2] L   That is how the leader of the Privernates spoke in the senate. But L. Philippus the consul did not forbear to make use of the same liberty against the same order. For upbraiding their sloth on the rostra, he declared that the commonwealth needed another senate; and was so far from repenting of what he had said, that he commanded L. Crassus, a man of great dignity and eloquence, to be arrested for complaining about it in the senate-house. But he, thrusting back the lictor, said, "You are no consul of mine, because I am no senator of yours."     { see also: Cicero DeOr_3.2-4 }

[2.3] L   What? Were the people safe from the assaults of liberty? No, it both assailed them, and found them patiently suffering. Carbo, tribune of the plebs, who was a most turbulent supporter of the recently suppressed Gracchan sedition, and a most absolute firebrand of the growing civil strife, having dragged P. Africanus from the very gate of the city to the rostra, as he returned in triumph from the destruction of Numantia, asked him there for his opinion on the death of Ti. Gracchus, whose sister he had married; so that by the authority of so eminent a person, he might add fuel to the fire already begun. He did not doubt that in regard of his near relative, Scipio would speak somewhat affectionately on behalf of his brother-in-law who had been put to death; but he answered that Gracchus was rightly slain. Upon which saying, when the whole assembly, aroused by the tribunician fury, began to make a great clamour. "Hold your peace," said he, "you, to whom Italy is but a stepmother." And when they began to make yet more noise, he said, "You shall never make me afraid of  you - the freedmen, whom I brought here in chains." Thus were the whole people twice reprimanded by one man with contempt. But - such is the honour they gave to virtue - they soon were mute. The Numantine victory fresh in memory, his father's conquest of Macedonia, his grandfather's Carthaginian trophies, and the necks of two kings, Perseus and Syphax, chained to their triumphal chariots, closed the mouths of the whole forum. Nor did their silence proceed from fear, but because through the aid of the Cornelian and Aemilian families, many fears of the city and Italy were brought to an end. The people of Rome were not free to protest, in respect of Scipio's free speech.     { see also: 131/6 }

[2.4] L   And therefore we need wonder the less that the vast authority of Pompey struggled so often with liberty of speech. Nor was it without great applause that he took things patiently, because it was his fortune to be a laughing-stock to the license of all sorts of men. Cn. Piso, when he had indicted Manilius Crispus, and saw him, though apparently guilty, to be protected by Pompey's influence, was carried on with a youthful heat and desire of accusation, and accused the powerful protector of many great and heinous crimes. Being then asked by Pompey, why he did not accuse him himself, he said, "If you can assure the commonwealth that, if you are accused, you will not raise a civil war, then I will cause the judges to decide about your life, before they decide about the life of Manilius." Thus in the same trial he prosecuted two persons: Manilius by his accusation, and Pompey by his liberty of speech; the former he assailed by law, the latter by public declarations, which was all he could do.

[2.5] L   What then is liberty without Cato? No more than Cato without liberty. For when he sat as judge upon a senator, who was very guilty and infamous, and there were documents produced from Pompey in favour of the defendant, he promptly caused them to be laid aside, quoting the law, wherein it was enacted that no senator should make use of any such assistance. The fact is not perhaps remarkable, considering the person; for what might seem recklessness in another, was in Cato known to be his self-confidence.     { see also: Plutarch CatMin_48 }

[2.6] L   Cn. Lentulus Marcellinus the consul, when he was complaining in a public speech about the exceptional power of Pompeius Magnus, and all the people began to shout in agreement with him; "Shout," said he, "shout while you may, brave Romans; shortly it will not be lawful for you to do so, without being punished." Thus was the authority of a  powerful citizen punctured, on the one side by resentful complaint, on the other side by a sad lamentation.     { see also: Dio 39.28.5 }

[2.7] L   To this eminent citizen, when he had his thigh bound about with a white bandage, Favonius said, "It matters not, upon which part of the body the diadem is worn." He disparaged his royal power, by cavilling at a little piece of cloth. But Pompey, changing his expression neither in one way nor the other, was very careful how he acknowledged his power by any cheerfulness in his looks, or how he showed his anger by any severity: and by that patience laid himself open to persons of the  lowest rank and fortune. It will be enough to relate two examples of this.

[2.8] L   Helvius Mancia Formianus, the son of a freedman, in his old age accused L. Libo before the censors. In this dispute, when Pompey the Great reproached him with his low status, and his old age, and told him, that he was sent from the underworld to be an accuser; he replied, "You tell the truth, Pompey, for I come from the infernal regions to accuse Libo. But while I was there, I saw Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus all bloody and weeping; because being of a noble extraction, of an upright life and conduct, and a great patriot, he was put to death in the flower of his youth at your command. I saw there also M. Brutus, famous in the same manner, hacked and slaughtered, complaining that the same calamity befell him, first through your perfidy, and then by your cruelty. I saw Cn. Carbo, a keen defender of your youth and of your paternal property, in his third consulship, laden with those chains which you caused to be put upon him; and reproaching you, that contrary to all equity and justice, he was slain by you, a private Roman knight, when he held the greatest office in the commonwealth. I saw in the same condition, a man of praetorian rank, Perpenna, cursing your cruelty; and all of them with one voice bewailing their hard fate, that they should be killed without trial, under such a young executioner as you. It was lawful for a citizen of a municipal town, who still had a twang of his father's servitude, with an unbridled recklessness and an insufferable malice to call to mind the gaping wounds which had been received in the civil war, now grown dry with age. Therefore at that time he was very brave to reproach Pompey, and also very safe. But the even humbler rank of the next person does not permit us to extend this complaint any further.

[2.9] L   Diphilus the tragic actor, when at the Apollinares he came to that verse, which says, "To our misery you are Great," declaimed the words pointing straight at Pompey. And when he was recalled several times by the people, he immediately represented him by his continual gestures, as a person whose power was overweening and intolerable. With the same petulance he repeated these other words, "The time shall come when you will bewail that virtue."     { see also: Cicero Att_2.19.3 }

[2.10] L   The mind of M. Castricius was also inflamed with liberty, who being the chief magistrate at Placentia, at the time when Cn. Carbo the consul caused a decree to be made, that the Placentines should give hostages, neither obeyed his authority, nor submitted to his mighty force. And when Carbo told him, "I have many swords," he answered, "And I years." The legions were amazed to behold such a brave remnant of old age. And Carbo's anger ceased of itself, having so little matter to rage upon, knowing how small a part of his life he should deprive him of.

[2.11] L   But the accusation of Ser. Galba was strangely presumptuous. He dared to taunt the divine Julius himself after all his victories, as he sat in  judgement in the forum. "C. Julius Caesar, said he, "I pledged money to Pompey the Great, your son-in-law, in his third consulship; I am now summoned for this amount. What shall I do? Must I pay?" He deserved to be turned out of court, for reproaching him so openly with the sale of Pompey's goods. But Caesar, more mild than Clemency itself, caused Pompey's debt to be paid him out of his own treasury.

[2.12] L   Cascellius was a famous expert in civil law, yet how reckless and impertinent! For no favour, no authority could compel him to make a formula for those goods which the triumvirs had given away. By that judgement of his he excluded the benefits granted by them in victory out of all course and form of law. The same person, after he had spoken many things about the state of the times, when his friends advised him to be silent, replied that there were two things most bitter to most men, that gave him the boldness which he took; that was to say, old age and lack of children.


[2e.1] L   A woman of a foreign country intrudes among so many men. When she was unjustly condemned by king Philip while he was drunk, she said, "I appeal to Philip - when he is sober." This smart saying aroused him from his stupor; and by her prompt courage she compelled the king to examine the business more thoroughly, and to give a juster sentence. So that she exacted that justice which she could not get by fair means: borrowing her assistance rather from her frankness of speech, than from her innocence.     { see also: Plutarch Mor_178F-179A }

[2e.2] L   The next example is not only a brave, but also a humorous freedom of speech. A very old woman, when all the Syracusans prayed for the death of Dionysius the tyrant because of his cruelty and oppression, prayed every day to the gods for his life and safety. When the tyrant learnt this, admiring her unexpected goodwill, he sent for her, and enquired of her what merit of his made her so considerate of him? Then she replied, "Truly, sir, the reason for my actions is very well grounded. For when I was a girl, and a very severe tyrant ruled over us, I desired his death; but when he was slain, another cruel man came in his place: then I prayed that he too might be taken out of the way; after him, we began to realise that you, the third tyrant, were worse than all the rest. And therefore, fearing lest if you should die, a man worse than you should rule instead, I pray to the gods for your safety." This witty boldness, Dionysius himself had not the insolence to punish.

[2e.3] L   Between these women and Theodorus of Cyrene there might be a kind of contest for courage of mind; he was as virtuous, though not so fortunate. For when Lysimachus threatened to put him to death, he said, "Truly, you think you have a great power, because you can do the same as a Spanish fly." And when the king, incensed at his reply, commanded him to be nailed to the cross, he said, "Frighten your courtiers with that punishment; for it's all the same to me, whether I rot under ground or above."     { see also: 282/3 }

III.   Of Severity

It is necessary that we should arm ourselves with callousness, while we treat of terrible and horrid acts of severity; so that having laid our more humane thoughts aside, we may be at leisure to give ear to rigour. For such inexorable revenge, such different sorts of punishment will be described, as though they may be accounted the fortresses of the law; yet they should hardly be inserted into a collection of peaceful pages.

[3.1] L   M. Manlius was thrown headlong down from the place from whence he had repelled the Gauls, because he attempted wickedly to suppress the liberty, which he had so courageously defended. This was no doubt was the pronouncement of that severe punishment: "I looked upon you as Manlius, when you drove the Senones headlong down from the rock; when you changed your character, I looked upon you as one of the Senones themselves." There is a type of eternal memory stamped upon his punishment. For, on account of him it was enacted, that no patrician should reside in the Capitol or in the citadel, because he had a house, where now stands the shrine dedicated to Juno Moneta     { see also: Livy 6.20 }

The same indignation of the city broke forth against Sp. Cassius. The suspicion of desiring sovereignty did him more harm, than three magnificent consulships and two glorious triumphs did him good. For the senate and people of Rome, not content with putting him to death, pulled down his house down when he was dead, so that he might be punished also with the destruction of his household-gods. Upon the land they built a temple to Tellus. Thus the home of a powerful man, is now a monument of religious severity.     { see also: Livy 2.41  }

Sp. Maelius met the same end, being punished by his country for the same crime; the site of his house, so that the justice of his punishment might be better known to posterity, was called Aequimelium. So we find how great an antipathy the ancient Romans had against the enemies of their liberty, by the destruction of the very walls and roofs of their houses. And therefore the houses of M. Flaccus and L. Saturninus, most seditious citizens, were razed to the ground after they were slain. At length the site of Flaccus's house, after it had long remained unbuilt, was adorned by Q. Catulus with the spoils of the Cimbri.     { see also: Cicero Dom_101 }

Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus were eminent in our city for their nobility, and for the hope which was conceived of them: But because they attempted to subvert the commonwealth, their bodies lay unburied, and the last rites due to mortality were lacked by the sons of Gracchus, and the grandsons of Africanus. Their associates also, lest there should be any friends of the commonwealth's enemies left, were cast down from the rock.

[3.2] L   P. Mucius, a tribune of the plebs, thought it lawful to do the same thing, as the people and the senate had done before. He burnt all his colleagues alive; because, being urged on by Sp. Cassius, they strove to hinder the election of magistrates, endangering the common liberty of the state. Never was anything more confidently performed than this severity. For he, a single tribune, dead to inflict a punishment upon nine of his colleagues, which the nine tribunes did not dare to exact from one tribune.

[3.3] L   Severity, hitherto a most rigid guardian and protector of liberty, was equally as fierce also in the preservation of discipline and dignity. For the senate delivered M. Claudius to the Corsicans, because he had concluded an ignominious peace with them. And because they would not receive him, they caused him to be put to death in prison. When once the majesty of the empire was impaired, in how many ways did obstinate anger vindicate it! They nullified the accord, they deprived him of his liberty and life, and dishonoured his body with the ignominious contumely of the prison, and the Gemonian Steps.     { see also: 236/7 }

And indeed he had deserved this chastisement by the senate. But Cn. Cornelius Scipio, the son of Hispalus, had the experience of it, before he deserved it. For when the province of Spain fell to him by lot, they made a decree, that he should not go thither, with a reason added: because he could not conduct himself as he ought to do. And so Cornelius, because of his dishonourable mode of life, was virtually convicted under the extortion law, without even serving in a province. 

Neither was the senate any less severe to C. Vettienus, who cut off the fingers of his left hand, so that he would not be forced to serve in the Italian War. For they confiscated his estate, and imprisoned him for life; causing him to spend his days and waste that life ignominiously in a jail, which he refused to risk gloriously in the field of battle.

[3.4] L   This example was imitated by M'. Curius the consul. When he was forced to proclaim a sudden enlistment of soldiers, but none of the young men came forward, he caused lots to be drawn for all the tribes, and commanded the first name that was drawn for the Pollia, the tribe which had come first, to be summoned. And because this man did not answer to his name, he made a public sale of all his possessions. As soon as the young man heard of this, he ran to the consul's tribunal, and appealed to the college of tribunes. But then M'. Curius declared that the commonwealth had no need of a citizen who was incapable of obedience; and so he sold both his goods and the young man as well.     { see also: Livy Per_14  }

[3.5] L   L. Domitius was equally tenacious in his attitude. For when he was praetor governing Sicily, a boar of extraordinary size was presented to him. He commanded the shepherd who had killed him to be brought before him: and enquired of him with what weapon he had killed the beast. When he found he had killed him with a hunting-spear, he caused him to be crucified: because he had previously published a decree, in order to suppress the robberies that were committed in the island, that no person should carry a weapon. Some would take this to be the height of all severity; for it may be disputed on both sides. But the reason and necessities of public government will not suffer the praetor to be reckoned over-rigorous.     { see also: Cicero Verr_2.5.7 }

[3.6] L   Thus severity was exercised in the punishment of men. Nor was it less persistent in the chastisement of women. Horatius, one of that those that fought the three Curiatii, being by the terms of the combat victor over all the rest of the Albans, when he was returning home from that renowned fight, found his maiden sister bewailing the death of one of the Curiatii, to whom she was betrothed, more bitterly than became her age. He ran her through with the sword which he had used so well for his country: not thinking them chaste tears, which were shed with a fond and immature emotion. When he was accused before the people for this action, his father defended him. Thus the inclination of the maiden towards the memory of her fiancé, was punished by a fierce brother, while the father approved and defended the chastisement.     { see also: Livy 1.26 }

[3.7] L   The senate afterwards followed the same example of severity. They commanded Sp. Postumius Albinus and Q. Marcius Philippus, the consuls, to enquire into those women who behaved sinfully in the rites of the Bacchanalia. When many of them were convicted by the consuls, their families punished them all at home; and the widespread disgrace of the public scandal was avenged by the severity of their chastisement. Although the women had shamed our city by their lewd conduct, they brought it equal fame by the gravity of their punishment.     { see also: Livy 39.8-18 }

[3.8] L   But Publicia who poisoned the consul Postumius Albinus, and Licinia who poisoned Claudius Asellus, both their husbands, were strangled by order of their families. For those severe men did not think it necessary, where the crime was so evident and notorious, to spend time in a public trial. And therefore as they would have defended the innocent, they were the prompt punishers of the guilty.     { see also: Livy Per_48 }

[3.9] L   The crime of these women was great, that aroused severity to so sharp a revenge: but Egnatius Mecennius exercised his severity in a much lesser matter, when he beat his wife to death for drinking wine. For this act, he was so far from being accused, that he was not so much as reprehended. Everyone believed, that for good example's sake, she had undergone the punishment for insobriety very justly. For indeed, whatever woman covets the immoderate use of wine, shuts the door to all virtues, and opens it to all vices.     { see also: Pliny HN_14.89 }

[3.10] L   Terrible also was the matrimonial rigour of C. Sulpicius Gallus, who divorced his wife, because he understood that she went outside with her head unveiled. This was a harsh sentence; and yet there was some reason for it. "For the law," said he, "confines you to have no other judge of your beauty but my eyes; for these adorn yourself, make yourself fair only to these, and believe their judgment. Any further sight of you, where it is needless, must of necessity be suspicious and improper."     { see also: Plutarch Mor_267C }

[3.11] L   Nor did Q. Antistius Vetus think otherwise, who divorced his wife, because he saw her talking in the street with a common freedwoman. He was stirred as it were by the infancy and nurture of a fault, rather than the fault itself; and he prevented an offence so that he did not have to avenge it.

[3.12] L   To these examples we must add P. Sempronius Sophus, who divorced his wife, because she went to see the games without informing him of it. While such care was taken of old to prohibit the crimes of women, they were free from offending.     { see also: Plutarch Mor_267C }


[3e.1] L   Though the Roman examples might suffice to instruct the whole world, yet it will not be irksome to know what foreigners have done. The Lacedaemonians caused the books of Archilochus to be thrown out of their city, because they thought them not modest and chaste enough to be read. For they would not have the minds of their children affected by those things, which would be a greater mischief to their manners than a profit to their intellect. And therefore they punished the greatest poet, or the next to the greatest in the world, by exiling his verses, because he wrote smutty satires against a family who had wronged him.

[3e.2] L   The Athenians put Timagoras to death, because in the homage which he gave to Darius, he flattered him after the manner of his country: they regarded it with indignation, that the honour of their whole city should be enslaved to Persian dominion by the flatteries of one single citizen.     { see also: Plutarch Artax_22 }

[3e.3] L   But the severity of Cambyses was more extraordinary, who caused the skin of a certain corrupt judge to be flayed from his body, and nailed upon the seat, where he commanded the man's son to take his place. However by this savage and unusual punishment of a judge, he - a king and a barbarian - ensured that no judge in future could be corrupted.     { see also: Herodotus 5.25 }

IV.   Of things gravely said or done

Tenacious memory keeps in strict remembrance, as a great and glorious part of their renown, those things which were gravely said or done by eminent men. Among the plentiful examples of this, let us select, neither with too sparing or too liberal a hand, those which may rather satisfy than overload expectation.

[4.1] L   When our city was in a dreadful confusion after the defeat at Cannae, the safety of the commonwealth hung with a slender thread upon the fidelity of our allies. So that they might remain steadfast in the defence of the Roman empire, the majority of the senate moved, that the leaders of the Latins should be admitted among their number. Annius the Campanian even urged, that one of the consuls ought to belong to Capua, and the other to Rome: so sick was then the condition of the Roman empire. Then Manlius Torquatus, son of the Manlius who had defeated the Latins near the river Veseris in a memorable battle, with a loud voice declared, that if any of the allies dared to state his opinion among the conscript fathers, he would kill him with his own hand. The threats of this one single person both restored their pristine passion to the languishing spirits of the Romans, and prevented Italy from claiming equal privileges with our city. For as before they were broken by the weapons of the father, so now they yielded, vanquished by the words of the son.     { see also: Livy 23.22 }

Equal to this was the gravity of another Manlius. For when the consulship was conferred upon him by the consent of all men, he refused it by reason of the infirmity of his eyes; yet even so he was vehemently urged to accept it. "Choose," said he, "some other person upon whom to confer this honour; for if you compel me to take it upon myself, neither shall I endure your manners, neither will you endure the severity of my government." If the voice of a private person was so weighty, what would the fasces of the consul have done?     { see also: Livy 26.22 }

[4.2] L   No less impressive was the gravity of Scipio Aemilianus, both in the senate-house and in assemblies. When Mummius was his colleague in the censorship, who though noble was yet effeminate and weak, he declared in a public speech on the rostra, that he would have acted for the good of the commonwealth, if his citizens had either given him a colleague or not given one.

The same person, when Ser. Sulpicius Galba and Aurelius Cotta, the consuls, disputed in the senate which of the two should be sent against Viriathus into Spain, and there happened to be a great dissension among the conscript fathers, while they all waited for him to declare his opinion, said: "I think it wrong that either of them should be sent, because the one possesses nothing, and the other never knows when he has enough." He believed, that poverty and covetousness were both alike mistresses unfit to teach good government. By this saying he obtained that neither of them was sent into the province.

[4.3] L   C. Popillius was sent as ambassador to Antiochus, to command him to cease the war which he was waging against Ptolemy; when he came to him, and the king with a cheerful and friendly countenance held out his right hand to him, he would not give him his own hand, but delivered to him the tablets containing the senate's decree. When Antiochus had read it, he told him, he would consult with his friends. But Popillius, incensed at the delay, marked the ground around where he stood with a stick, and said, "Before you go out of this circle, give me the answer which I shall take back to the senate." You would not have thought him an ambassador that spoke, but the whole body of the senate; and immediately the king declared, that he would give no further cause for Ptolemy to complain about him. Then at length Popillius took him by the hand as an ally. Behold the force of a concise and effective gravity of mind and speech! At the same time it overawed the kingdom of Syria, and protected Egypt.     { see also: 168/39 }

[4.4] L   I cannot tell whether I should admire most the words or deeds of P. Rutilius, for there is an admirable weight in both. When he rejected the urgent request of a certain friend, and the other, being very much offended, reproached him in these words, "What need have I then of your friendship, if you will not do for me what I ask?", he replied, "What need I of your friendship, if for your sake I should do something improper?" Consistent with those words were his deeds, when rather through the dissension of the two orders, than through any fault of his own, he was brought to trial. He neither put on squalid clothes nor laid aside his senatorial insignia, nor made any appeal to the judges, nor spoke anything unworthy of his previous splendour. But he so arranged it, that his trial was rather a test of his gravity, than any hindrance to it. And when Sulla's victories gave him liberty to return to his own country, he chose rather to remain in banishment, than to do anything against the laws. And therefore more justly might we have given the title of Fortunate to the character of this grave man, than to the prosperous weapons of a violent man. Sulla usurped the title, but Rutilius deserved it.     { see also: 92/3 }

[4.5] L   M. Brutus, the murderer of his own virtues, before he killed the Parent of his country (for by one foul deed he overthrew all his virtues, and defiled his memory with an irredeemable detestation), as he was going into his last battle, said to someone who told him it was not opportune to fight, "Boldly I go into the battle; for on this day either all things will be well, or I shall have nothing left to care for." For he considered that he could not live without victory, nor die without freedom from care.     { see also: Plutarch Brut_40 }


[4e.1] L   The person just mentioned reminds me to relate what was said to D. Brutus in Spain. For when all of Lusitania had surrendered to him, and only the city of Cinginnia obstinately held out, the consul proposed to leave them upon receiving a payment; but they promptly made answer to his envoys, that their ancestors had only left them their swords to defend their city, but no money to purchase their liberty from a covetous general. It was a saying more fitting for Romans to have spoken, than to have heard from others.

[4e.2] L   Nature led them along that path of gravity. But Socrates, the most famous pillar of the Greek learning, when he was about to plead in his own defence at Athens, and Lysias had recited to him a speech composed by himself, for him to make use of in the law-court, said, "Take it away, for if I could find any place where I might repeat it, even in the furthest deserts of Scythia, there I should think I deserved death." He despised life, so that he might not lack gravity; and chose rather to die like Socrates, than to live like Lysias.     { see also: Cicero DeOr_1.231 }

[4e.3] L   Alexander - as great in war, as Socrates was in wisdom - uttered this noble saying. Darius, having experienced his force in two battles, therefore offered him a part of his kingdom as far as Mount Taurus, and his daughter in marriage with a million talents. When Parmenion told him, that if he were Alexander he would accept the conditions, he replied, "And so would I, if I were Parmenion." It was an expression worthy of the two  victories, and deserving the third which he obtained.     { see also: Plutarch Alex_29 }

[4e.4] L   That was the effect of a magnanimous mind in prosperity. Glorious rather than enviable was the saying, by the which Lacedaemonian ambassadors demonstrated to Alexander's father the miserable condition of their courage. For when he imposed most intolerable burdens upon their city, they replied to him, that if he persisted in commanding things more grievous than death, they would prefer death rather than his commands.     { see also: Cicero Tusc_5.42 }

[4e.5] L   No less grave was the saying of that Spartan, who excelled both in nobility and in piety, but failed to obtain the magistracy which he sought. "I rejoice exceedingly," said he, "that my country produces men more worthy than myself." By this speech he rivalled the honour for which he had been rejected.     { see also: Plutarch Mor_191F }

Following chapters (5-9)

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