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Valerius Maximus

-   Book 2 , chapters 1-6

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 Ancient Institutions
II. {Of the Magistrates and Orders}
III. Of Military Institutions
IV. Of Shows
V. Of Frugality and Integrity
VI. {Of Foreign Institutions}
VII. Of Military Discipline
VIII. Of the Right of Triumphing
IX. Of the Severity of the Censors
X. Of Majesty

Book 1

I.   Of Ancient Institutions

Having searched into the rich and potent kingdom of Nature, it will not be out of place to take notice of the ancient and memorable institutions of our own city, as well as of other nations. For it is worth our while to know the first origin of this happy way of living which we now enjoy under the best of princes, seeing that the consideration of them may perhaps be profitable to present morals.

[1.1] L   Among the ancients there was nothing either publicly or privately undertaken, unless they had first observed the auspices; from which custom, even now the soothsayers are invited to marriages. And though they have desisted from seeking the auspices, yet nominally they follow the footsteps of the old custom.     { see also: Cicero Div_1.28 }

[1.2] L   The women dined sitting with the men, but the men lay down: which custom among men was observed in heaven. For Jupiter is said to dine lying on his couch, while Juno and Minerva are invited to sit. This kind of austere custom our age more diligently observes in the Capitol than in their houses - it being more important to adhere to the correct etiquette of goddesses than of women.

[1.3] L   Those women who were content to be married but once, were honoured with a crown of chastity. For they believed a married woman to have an uncorrupted mind, and sincere loyalty, if she would not leave the chamber where she had first lost her virginity: and they thought the experience of many different marriages to be a sign of some incontinence.

[1.4] L   There was no divorce between man and wife until five hundred and twenty years after the city was founded. The first was Spurius Carvilius, who divorced his wife for being barren. Though he appeared to have a good excuse for what he did, yet there were those who blamed him enough, being such as believed that conjugal loyalty was to be preferred above desire for children.     { see also: 231/16 }

[1.5] L   So that the honour and modesty of married women might be more sacred, when they were called into court, no man was permitted to touch them, so that their garments might not be defiled by the contact of a strange hand. 

The use of wine was formerly unknown to Roman women, for fear that it might bring them into any disgrace, because the first step to forbidden love is from father Liber. Yet so that their chastity might not always lead to impolite withdrawal, but they might appear in a comely garb of affability, through the indulgence of their husbands they wore purple, and ornaments of gold; and in order to make their appearance more attractive, they carefully dyed their hair red with ashes. For then corrupters of marriages were not feared, but women might modestly behold, and chastly be beheld.

[1.6] L   When there was any difference between husband and wife, they went to the shrine of the goddess Viriplaca, which is on the Palatine: and having liberty to say whatever they had in mind, after the heat was over, they returned home very good friends. This goddess is said to have acquired her name from appeasing men; she is indeed worthy of adoration, and to be worshipped with choice and exquisite sacrifices.  She was the keeper of everyday and family peace, rendering to men and women, under the same yoke of peace, what is due to the dignity of men, and the honour of women.

[1.7] L   This modesty among wives, is it not necessary among other relationships? I may by a small example, set forth its great force: formerly neither father used to wash with his adult son, nor father-in-law with son-in-law. Whence it appears, that there was as much respect attributed to family relations and consanguinity, as to the immortal gods; while amongst those that were thus connected, it was as sinful to strip themselves, as it would be in a temple.     { see also: Cicero Off_1.129 }

[1.8] L   Our ancestors also instituted a sacred feast, which was called Caristia, where none were admitted but family members; so that if there were any difference among relatives, there might be a reconciliation with the help of their associates, in the midst of their sacred rites and good humour.     { see also: Ovid Fast_2.617-638 }

[1.9] L   Youth gave to old age such circumspect and manifold honour, as if the elders were the common fathers of the younger. Upon a senate-day, if any young man accompanied any senator, relative, or friend of his father, to the senate, they waited outside till the other came out, to perform the same duty home again. By which voluntary attendance they accustomed their bodies and minds to undertake public duties, and in a short time their virtues became apparent, as they became more experienced in labour and meditation.

When they were invited to a feast, they diligently enquired who was to be there, so that they might not recline before their elder arrived. When the meal was finished, they always rose and went away first; and through all the time of dinner, being in the presence of their elders, they were very sparing and modest in their discourse.

[1.10] L   The elders used to sing the famous deeds of their ancestors, in verse accompanied by a flute, at their dinners, in order to stir up the youths to imitate them. What could be more splendid or more profitable than this kind of contest? Youths honoured grey hairs, and superannuated age encouraged and nourished those who were ready to enter into action with the their favour. What Athens, what school, what foreign education could I prefer to this domestic training? This raised the Camilli, Scipios, Fabricii, Marcelli, and Fabii: and - so that I may not be tedious in recounting all the lights of our noble empire - thus the divine Caesars obtained their place in  the most glorious part of heaven.      { see also: Cicero Tusc_1.3 }


II.   {Of the Magistrates and Orders}

[2.1] L   So great a love had all our ancestors for their country, that there was not a senator for many ages, who would reveal the transactions of the conscript fathers. Q. Fabius Maximus only, and he also not deliberately, when he went into the country and met P. Crassus by the way, told him what was done in order to proclaim the Third Punic War, remembering that he had been quaestor three years before, and not knowing that he was not yet put into the senate by the censors, who were the only persons that gave admittance into the senate to those who had held office. However, though this was but a harmless error in Fabius, yet he was severely reprimanded for it by the  consuls. For they would by no means suffer silence, the best and safest security of government, to be violated in the least part. 

Therefore when Eumenes king of Asia gave information to the senate, that Perseus was preparing to make war against the Roman people, it could not be known either what Eumenes said, or what the fathers answered, till Perseus was captured. The senate-house was the trusty and deep breast of the commonwealth, surrounded and fortified with silence; those who entered there soon cast off private affections, clothing themselves with public zeal. So I may say, that one would have thought, that no man heard what was committed to the ears of so many.     { see also: Livy 42.14.1 }

[2.2] L   But how our ancient magistrates behaved themselves in upholding the majesty of the Roman people, may be observed from this, that among all their other marks of care for dignity, they punctually maintained this rule, to talk with the Greeks only in the Latin language. And also causing them to lay aside the volubility of their own language, they forced them to speak by an interpreter, not only in our own city, but in Greece and Asia, so that the honour of the Latin language might be spread with greater veneration among other nations. They did not neglect the study of learning, but they did not hold it appropriate that the toga should in any way be subject to the Greek cloak. They believed it a poor and demeaning thing, that the weight and authority of government should be tamed by the charms of eloquence.

[2.3] L   And  therefore, Gaius Marius, you are not to be condemned for foolish rigour, not to let your old age, crowned with double laurels, illustrious with German and Numidian trophies, be softened and overcome by the eloquence of a vanquished nation. Perhaps you feared lest, if you appeared a foreigner in the exercise of your wit, you might seem to desert your native customs. Who therefore opened the way to the Greek pleadings that now deafen the senate's ears? It was Molon the rhetorician, as I am persuaded - who likewise sharpened the studies of M. Cicero. For he was the first foreigner that was ever heard in the senate without an interpreter; which honour he received not undeservedly, having greatly advanced the force of the Roman eloquence. Of conspicuous felicity is Arpinum, whether you respect the one man as a great despiser of learning, or the other as its abounding fountain.     { see also: Plutarch Mar_2 }

[2.4] L   With great diligence this custom also was observed by our ancestors, that no person might walk between the consul and the principal lictor, even if someone went along to perform his duty, except that a child, being his son, was allowed to walk in front of the consul. This custom was so rigorously maintained, that Q. Fabius Maximus, five times consul, and besides of the highest authority, and in extreme old age, when he was asked to go between the consul and the lictor, so that he should not be jostled by the crowd of Samnites, with whom he was going to treat, yet refused the privilege. 

The like was done by the same Fabius when he was sent as legate by the senate to his son the consul at Suessa. For when he observed that his son had come outside the city to pay his respects, because none of the eleven lictors told him to dismount, he angrily continued to sit on his horse; but his son, noticing  this, sent the principal lictor to him, commanding him to alight and come on foot, if he had anything to say to the consul. Fabius readily obeyed him, saying, "Son, I did not do this in contempt of your authority, but only to test whether you knew how to conduct yourself like a consul. I am not ignorant of the respect due to a father; but I prefer public institutions above private piety."     { see also: Livy 24.44 }

[2.5] L   Now we have praised Q. Fabius, the men of admirable constancy offer themselves, who were sent to Tarentum by the senate to demand restitution of certain things; after they had received many injuries - one of them had a chamber pot thrown upon his clothes - they were brought to the theatre, in accordance with Greek custom, and conducted the business of their embassy. But as to what they had suffered, they uttered not a word, lest they might seem to talk outside what they had been instructed. For it was impossible that any indignation at the affronts which they had received, could make them alter the respect which they had for ancient traditions. You seemed to be seeking, O city of Tarentum, an end to the enjoyment of the riches, in which you had long abounded; puffed up with the splendour of your present fortune, you despised the self-reliant stability of unpolished virtue, and you threw yourself, blind and senseless, onto the sword-point of our empire.     { see also: 281/23  }

[2.6] L   But I will pass from manners corrupted through vice, to the most severe institutions of our ancestors. Previously the senate sat regularly in that place which was called the little senate-house; they never were assembled by edict, but when summoned they came immediately. For they thought the praise of that citizen to be very dubious, who had to be compelled to show his duty to his country. For whatever is forced by compulsion, is looked upon as being to the credit of the one who compels it,  rather than the one who does it.

[2.7] L   We likewise should remember, that it was not lawful for the tribunes of the plebs to be admitted into the senate house; but being placed upon seats before the doors, there it was their duty diligently to hear and examine the decrees that were under vote, so that if there were anything which they disliked, they might hinder it from being passed. And therefore the letter T used to be written at the bottom of all the ancient decrees of the senate: by which mark it was understood that the tribunes had consented. Although it was their business to keep watch for the good of the people, and to suppress the ambitions of those in power; yet they allowed them to use silver vessels, and to wear gold rings given them at the public expense, in order by the sight of such things to render the authority of their magistracy the more conspicuous.

[2.8] L   As their authority increased, so their abstinence was still strictly constrained. For the entrails of their sacrifices offered were brought to the quaestors of the treasury and sold. The worship of the gods, and human restraint, was shown in those sacrifices of the Roman people, where our leaders learned at the altars what holy hands they ought to come prepared with. And such honour did they give to restraint, that many times the debts of those that had conducted themselves well in the government of the provinces, were paid by the senate. For they esteemed it an unworthy thing, that the dignity of those men should suffer at home, by whose industry the commonwealth had obtained splendour abroad.

[2.9] L   The youth of the order of knights, twice every year, used to give a public spectacle of themselves, for which they had great authority. The custom of the Lupercalia was begun by Romulus and Remus, at such a time as they were making merry, because their grandfather Numitor, king of the Albans, had permitted them to build a city in the place where they were brought up, under Mount Palatine, which Evander of Arcadia had consecrated, by advice of Faustulus their foster-father. For thereupon they made a sacrifice, and having slain several goats, and eaten and drunk somewhat more than usual, they divided up their pastoral band, and girt with the skins of the sacrificial victims they sportively struck the bystanders The memory of this pastime is celebrated within the annual succession of holidays. Q. Fabius instituted that the knights should  ride past, dressed in equestrian robes, upon the Ides of July.     { see also: Dionysius 6.13.4 }

He also, when he was censor with P. Decius, in commemoration of a sedition which he had quelled, when the comitia {election of magistrates} had almost fallen into the hands of the meanest people, divided the whole urban populace into four tribes, which he called city-tribes. As a  result of this wholesome act, being a man otherwise famous in warlike deeds, he obtained the name of Maximus {"Greatest"}.     { see also: Livy 9.46.13-15 }


III.   Of Military Institutions

The restraint of the people is also to be commended, who by freely offering themselves to the labours and dangers of war, prevented their commanders from enlisting the capite censi, whose extreme poverty aroused suspicion, and made it impossible to trust them to bear public arms.

[3.1] L   This custom, confirmed by long use, was first broken by C. Marius, who enlisted soldiers from the capite censi. He was a noble citizen, but he was conscious of his own low birth, and so not favourable to antiquity. He was not unmindful, that if military pride should persist to despise those of humble birth, he himself might be deemed by a malicious judge of virtues to be a commander risen from the capite censi. Therefore he thought it best to obliterate that proud method of choice among the Roman armies, lest the contagion of that stigma should spread itself to obscure his own glory.     { see also: Sallust Jug_86 }

[3.2] L   Training in handling weapons was recommended to the soldiers by P. Rutilius the consul, the colleague of Cn. Mallius. For not following the example of any commander before him, he called together the teachers of the gladiators, from the school of C. Aurelius Scaurus, and he was the first to make the legions learn more skilful ways of avoiding and giving blows. By mixing virtue with skill, and skill with virtue, he strengthened virtue with the force of skill, and encouraged skill with the force of strength.

[3.3] L   The use of the velites, or light-armed troops, was first practiced when Fulvius Flaccus besieged Capua. For when our cavalry, being in number fewer, were not able to resist the frequent excursions of the Campanian cavalry, Q. Naevius a centurion, choosing out of the infantry certain men who were nimble of body, armed them with seven curved spears and small shields, and ordered them with a swift running jump to join themselves to the cavalry, and by and by as swiftly to withdraw; whereby the infantry being mingled with the cavalry, might attack with their weapons not only the men, but the horses likewise. This unusual way of fighting overthrew the mainstay of the Campanian revolt. For this reason Naevius, the author of it, is still held in great honour.     { see also: Livy 26.4 }


IV.   Of Shows

[4.1] L   From military institutions we next to come to the city-camps, that is to say, the theatres, because they have often displayed dauntless combats, devised both for the recreation of men, and worship of the gods; not without some shade of blushing upon the face of Peace, to see pleasure and religion contaminated with civil blood, merely for ostentation in games.

[4.2] L   They were begun by Messalla and Cassius, the censors; but by the authority of Scipio Nasica, all the furniture from their work was publicly sold. Afterwards a decree of the senate was passed, that no one should have any seats in the city, nor within a mile thereof, or behold the plays sitting, to the end that manhood in standing, joined with relaxation of the mind, might be a mark of the Roman fortitude.     { see also: 154/17 }

[4.3] L   For five hundred and fifty-eight years, the senators were mingled among the common people when they watched the public shows. But this custom Atilius Serranus and L. Scribonius as aediles abrogated, when they held games for the Mother of the Gods, following the judgment of the elder Africanus, and setting up seats for the senators distinct from the people. This action alienated the affection of the common people, and weakened the high esteem which they had of Scipio.     { see also: 195/21 }

[4.4] L   Now I shall relate the beginning and original institution of games. At the time when C. Sulpicius Peticus and C. Licinius Stolo were consuls, a most violent pestilence had afflicted our city, then at peace abroad, with new concern for preservation from internal calamity. Since there was no help in any human advice, all reliance was put upon the strict and new worship of religion. Therefore they lent their vacant ears to the verses composed for the appeasement of the heavenly gods, although until the time they had been content with the circus show, which Romulus, upon his ravishing the Sabine virgins, consecrated with particular festivals, and which he called Consualia. Now as it is the habit of men to pursue small beginnings with an ardent persistence, the young men added gestures to the pious and reverent words which they used towards the gods, though with a rustic and uncomposed motion of their bodies. This occasioned the summoning of a performer from Etruria, whose comely swiftness after the manner of the Curetes and Lydians - from whom the Etrurians had their origin - was a pleasing novelty to the eyes of the Romans; and because a performer was among them called "histrio", therefore all actors were afterwards called histriones. Gradually the art of acting advanced itself to the rhythms of the saturae: whence first of all the poet Livius won the affections of the people with the themes of his plays. He, being often recalled the people, so that he injured his voice, at length with the accompaniment of a boy and a musician performed his action in silence: for he always acted his own works himself. The Atellan plays were introduced by the Oscans; this sort of entertainment, being tempered by Italian severity, continued without any blemish; for the actors were neither removed from their tribe, nor debarred from military service.     { see also: Livy 7.2 }

[4.5] L   And because it is clear from their names whence the other games had their derivation, it may not seem out of place to relate the beginning of the Secular Games, which is not so commonly known. At a time when the city and country was afflicted with a most violent pestilence, one Valesius, a rich man who led a country-life, his two sons and his daughter being all desperately sick, as he was fetching some hot water for them from the fire, kneeling on his knees, prayed to his family's Lares that they would turn the evil from his children upon his own head. Presently he heard a voice, which told him that his children would recover, if he carried them down the river Tiber to Tarentum, and there refresh them with hot water from the altar of Dis and Proserpina. He was troubled at this prediction, because it was a long and dangerous voyage; yet hope overcoming his present fear, he carried the children to the banks of the Tiber, (for he lived in a house of his own, in a village called Eretum, adjoining to the district of the Sabines) and sailing in a little vessel towards Ostia, he put in about the middle of the night at the Campus Martius. At which time, the children being thirsty and there being no means to relieve them, because there was no fire on the vessel, the pilot told him, that he had noticed some smoke not far off. Being instructed by the pilot therefore to go ashore at Tarentum, which was the name of the place, he hastily took a cup, and as soon as he had filled it out of the river in that place where the smoke arose, he returned very cheerful, believing that now he had obtained the means of a remedy sent from heaven, and in a field that seemed to smoke rather than have any remains of fire. He got such fuel as by chance he met with, and steadfastly pursuing the omen, with continual blowing, he kindled a fire, and brought warm water to the  children. As soon as they had drunk of it, they fell into a healing sleep, and  suddenly recovered from their lengthy illness. Waking, they related to their father, that they had seen they knew not what gods, who wiped their skins with a sponge, and commanded them that they should offer sacrifices of black victims at the altar of father Dis and Proserpina, where the drink of water was first brought to them, presenting also nocturnal games and lectisternia. The father, because he saw no altar there, believing that it was expected that he should build one, went to the city to buy one, leaving upon the place certain workmen to dig the foundations. They in carrying out their master's command, having dug as far as twenty feet deep, at length found an altar inscribed to father Dis and Proserpina. When this was told to Valesius by his slave, he abandoned his plan of buying an altar, and sacrificed black victims - which in ancient times were called "dusky" -  at Tarentum, and provided games and lectisternia for three whole nights together, because he had three children.

This example Valerius Publicola, who was the first consul, followed, out of a desire to assist his fellow citizens. He made public vows at the same altar, offered certain black oxen (male for Dis and female for Proserpina), and caused games to be performed and lectisternia prepared for three nights together, and then covered the altar with earth as it was before.     { see also: Plutarch Publ_21 }

[4.6] L   As wealth increased, pomp and magnificence was added to the religion of games. To which purpose Q. Catulus, imitating Campanian luxury, was the first to cover the seats of the spectators with an awning. Cn. Pompeius before any other tempered the heat of summer, by bringing little streams to run along channels. Claudius Pulcher was the first to adorn the stage with a variety of colours, when it had previously consisted of unpainted boards. Afterwards C. Antonius covered it with silver, Petreius with gold, Q. Catulus with ivory. The Luculli made it revolve, and P. Lentulus Spinther adorned it with silver ornaments. For the procession, which was previously dressed in Punic cloaks, M. Scaurus introduced a more exquisite kind of garment.

[4.7] L   A gladiator shows was first presented in Rome in the Forum Boarium, when Ap. Claudius and Q. Fulvius were consuls. It was given by Marcus and Decimus, the sons of Brutus Pera, to honour their father's funeral. An athletic contest was presented by the munificence of M. Scaurus.     { see also: [Livy] Per_16 }


V.   Of Frugality and Integrity

[5.1] L   No man ever beheld a golden statue either in the city, or in any other part of Italy, till an equestrian statue was erected by M'. Acilius Glabrio in honour of  his father, in the temple of Piety. This temple his father had dedicated in the consulship of P. Cornelius Lentulus and M. Baebius Tamphilus, for the fulfilment of a vow he made, when he defeated Antiochus at the battle of Thermopylae.     { see also: Livy 40.34 }

[5.2] L   The civil law was for many ages concealed among the most sacred rituals and ceremonies of the immortal gods, and only known to the pontiffs; but at last it was published by Cn. Flavius, a scribe, whose father was a freedman. He, being made curule aedile, to the great offence and indignation of the nobility who were free-born, first displayed the fasti in almost the whole forum. When he came to visit his colleague who was sick, and none of the nobles, of whom the room was full, rose to let him sit, he commanded his curule chair to be brought him; and so in vindication of his own honour, and scorn of their contempt, sat down.     { see also: Gellius 7.9 }

[5.3] L   The investigation of poisoning, formerly unknown to the customs and laws of the Romans, came into existence upon the detection of several crimes committed by certain married women. They had secretly poisoned their husbands, and when they were at length discovered by the evidence of a maidservant, about a hundred and seventy were put to death.     { see also: Livy 8.18 }

[5.4] L   The guild of musicians drew the eyes of the common people upon them, being accustomed to play during private and public actions of a serious nature, in multi-coloured clothes and masks. This liberty arose as follows. Once they were forbidden to dine in the temple of Jupiter, which was the ancient custom, and in great discontent they withdrew to Tibur. But the senate, not brooking the lack of their services at the sacred festivals, by their ambassadors requested of the Tiburtines, that they would send them back to the temples of Rome. When they refused to go, the Tiburtines invited them to a great banquet, and while they were overcome with sleep and drink, put them in carts, and sent them away. When they returned, they were restored to their former honour, and the privilege of playing in this way was granted to them. They used masks, being ashamed of how they were circumvented in drink.     { see also: 311/9 }

[5.5] L   The plain food of the ancients was a most certain sign of their humanity and restraint. For then the greatest men took it for no discredit to eat their lunch and dinner in open view. Nor had they any banquets which they were ashamed to reveal to the eyes of the people. They were so addicted to restraint, that the use of gruel was more frequent than bread. And therefore that cake (called mola), which was used in their sacrifices, was made only of barley and salt. The entrails were sprinkled with barley; and they fed the chickens, whence they took their auspices, with gruel. For of old, they thought the offerings of their food, by how much the plainer it was, so much the more efficacious in appeasing the Gods.

[5.6] L   Other gods they worshipped, so that the gods might do them good. But to Fever they built temples, so that she might do them less hurt. Of these there was one on the Palatine, another in the court of the Marian monuments, and a third at the upper end of Long Street. In them were many remedies stored up, appropriate for the sick. These were found out by experience to assuage the heats of the human spirit; but besides they preserved their health by the most certain assistance of hard work. Frugality was as it were the mother of their health, an enemy to luxurious banquets, and altogether averse from riotous drinking, and immoderate love-making.     { see also: Cicero D_3.63 }


VI.   { Of Foreign Institutions }

[6.1] L   The city of Sparta followed the same rules, being the nearest to the gravity of our ancestors. They continued for many years most obedient to the severe laws of Lycurgus, and would by no means permit the eyes of their citizens to behold the delicacies of Asia; lest being tempted with the allurements of that country, they should degenerate into a voluptuous life. For they had heard that all manner of excess, and all kind of unnecessary pleasures did there abound. And the Ionians were the to use anointing and giving crowns and garlands at feasts, and introduced the custom of a second course - no small incitements to luxury. And it is no wonder, that men delighting in labour and patience, would not wish that the most indissoluble sinews of their country should be weakened and broken by the contagion of foreign delicacies; for it would be easier to decline from virtue to luxury, than to recede from luxury to virtue. That this was no vain fear of theirs, their general Pausanias made apparent, who after he had performed great deeds, was not ashamed to allow his courage to be softened with the effeminate behaviour and apparel of Asia.     { see also: Nepos 4.3 }

[6.2] L   The armies of the same city never used to join battle, till they had heated their courage with the sound of their flutes, whose tunes were all composed in anapaestic metres, whereby they were taught to assail their enemies with sharp and rapid blows. They also used to wear scarlet coats, to hide the blood of their wounds; not because the sight thereof was any terror to them, but so that their enemies should gain no heart or courage thereby.     { see also: Cicero Tusc_2.37 }

[6.3] L   Remarkable was the valour of the Lacedaemonians in war; yet no less memorable were the most prudent customs of the Athenians in peace. Among them, sloth was ferreted out of her lurking holes, and dragged as a sin into the market-place - a shameful fault even if (?) not a crime.     { see also: Plutarch Sol_22 }

[6.4] L   There was also among them a most sacred council, called the Areopagus, where diligent enquiry used to be made about what course of life everyone took, and what everyone did to maintain themselves; so that men might be induced to follow an honourable course, finding so severe an account was taken of their actions.     { see also: Isocrates Areop_37-45 }

[6.5] L   This council first introduced the custom of giving crowns to virtuous citizens, encircling first the famous brows of Pericles, with two wreaths of olive. A noble institution, whether we look at the thing, or the person. For honour is the most fruitful nourishment of virtue; and Pericles a most worthy person for posterity to take as the origin of giving honour to those who deserve it.

[6.6] L   What shall we say of that most memorable institution among the Athenians? When a slave was manumitted by his master, and afterwards convicted by him of ingratitude, the slave was thereupon deprived of his liberty. "We dismiss you," said the council, "who impiously despises so great a gift. Nor could they be induced to believe that he would prove a profitable member of the city, who was so wicked in his own family. Be gone therefore, and be a slave, who do not know the value of being free."

[6.7] L   The Massilians likewise to this day retain a very great strictness in discipline, through their observance of ancient customs, eminent for their love of the Romans. They permit a man to make void the liberty which he has given to his slave three times, if they find the slave to have deceived the master. The fourth time they give no relief to the master, whose own fault it was to let himself be injured so often. 

The same city is also a most strict observer of severity; for they give no permission to mimes to come upon the stage, the subject of whose plays consists generally in relations of adulteries, lest the custom of beholding should beget a custom of committing the crime. They shut their doors against all those who beg under pretence of religion; regarding dissimulation and superstition as two things not to be endured. 

The sword with which criminals are put to death, has been there ever since the city was built, so rusty that it is scarce fit for the purpose, but still remains to show the great veneration which they give to ancient monuments.

There are also two coffins at their gates, in the one of which they put the bodies of free men, in the other of slaves, and so put them in a cart to be carried to the grave; the funeral is performed without lamentations or crying for the dead, making only a private sacrifice on the day of the funeral, and providing a banquet for the family. For what avails it to indulge human passion, or to envy the gods, because they would not share their immortality with us? 

A poison mixed with hemlock is also kept in the city, and is given to those who give sufficient reason to the Six Hundred (that is the name of their senate) why they desire to die. Manly courage is tempered by kindness; the senate takes care that they do not inconsiderately make an end to themselves, yet are willing to give as easy a death as may be to those that upon good grounds desire it. Therefore those who have experienced an excess of fortune - bad or good, for either can provide a reason for departing from life, lest the former persists or the latter ceases - can  put an end to it with an approved manner of death.

[6.8] L   This custom I believe not to have had its origin in Gaul, but to have been brought out of Greece, finding it to have been observed in the island of Cea, at the time when, while going to Asia with Sextus Pompeius, I came to the city of Iulis. It happened that there was in the city a woman of high rank, but very aged, who had resolved, after giving an account to the senate why she desired to live no longer, to make herself away with poison, thinking her death would be more famous through the presence of Pompeius. Nor could he, a person full of all virtue, and of a sweet disposition, refuse her petition. And therefore after he had in a most eloquent oration, that dropped from his lips like honey, used all the persuasions that might be to dissuade her from her purpose, and saw he could not prevail, he permitted her to take her course. So having passed the ninetieth year of her age, with a great magnanimity and cheerful  countenance, she threw herself upon a bed, which was more elegantly trimmed than ordinary, and and leant upon her elbow. "Sextus Pompeius," said she, "the gods whom I leave behind, not those to which I am going, give you thanks; because you exhorted me to live, but did not refuse to see me die. As for myself, who have always been in fortune's favour, lest out of a desire of life I should find her frowns, I am willing to change the remnant of my breath for a happy conclusion, leaving behind me two daughters, and seven grandchildren." After that, exhorting them all to unity, and dividing her estate among them, entrusting her adornment and the domestic rites to her eldest daughter, with a wonderful cheerfulness she took the cup wherein the poison was mixed, in her right hand. Then pouring out her offerings to Mercury, and invoking his deity to grant her a pleasant journey to the best part of the underworld, she promptly drank the potion off. Then as the poison seized her particular parts, she told us; and when she found it approaching to her bowels and heart, she called her daughters to do their last duty of closing her eyes. Our people, astonished at so strange a sight, departed with tears in their eyes.

[6.9] L   But let us return to the city of the Massilians, from whence this digression made us wander. There no person may enter their city with a weapon. But when they leave, he that received it is ready to return it again, endeavouring thereby to make their hospitality both safe and courteous.

[6.10] L   Going outside their walls, we meet an ancient custom of the Gauls, who used to lend money, and then to receive it again in the other world, being persuaded of the truth of the immortality of the soul. I should call these men fools, except that in their trousers they were of the same opinion as Pythagoras in his cloak.     { see also: Mela 3.19 }

[6.11] L   The philosophy of the Gauls was covetous and usurious; that of the Cimbri and Celtiberians courageous and resolute; who in battle-array rejoiced that they should gloriously and happily die, but upon their death beds lamented that they should perish thus in shame and misery. For the Celtiberians thought it a crime to survive in battle, when any friend was slain, to whose preservation he had devoted his life. The prompt courage of these peoples is to be praised, because they both thought that the security of their homeland should be defended courageously, and the latter thought that loyalty to friends should be provided unswervingly.     { see also: Cicero Tusc_2.65 }

[6.12] L   But the people of Thrace deservedly demand for themselves the praise of wisdom, who at the birth of children weep, at the funerals of men rejoice; taught by no other precepts than the true condition of human nature. And therefore, all creatures should extinguish in themselves the love of life, which compels them to act and suffer many ugly things, especially when it lies in their power to make a happy and blessed end of living.     { see also: Herodotus 5.4 }

[6.13] L   Therefore the Lycians, when they have any occasion of lamentation, put on women's apparel: so that, being moved by the deformity of the clothing, there might be a motive to them to make a quicker end of their sorrow.     { see also: Plutarch Mor_112F }

[6.14] L   But why should I insist any longer upon the praise of most courageous men in this kind of wise action? Let us observe the Indian women, where it is the custom for one man to have many wives. As soon as the husband dies, there is accustomed to be great strife and contention among the wives, as to who was the best beloved by the deceased. She that wins the victory, triumphing for joy, is led by her family to her husband's funeral pyre; which being set on fire, with a cheerful and smiling countenance, she throws herself into the midst of the flames, and is burnt with her husband, accounting herself most happy in her end, while the defeated wives remain alive, in sadness and misery. Bring forth the Cimbrian boldness, add to that the Celtiberian loyalty, to this join the generous wisdom of Thrace, not forgetting the cunning custom of the Lycians in mourning; none of these excels the Indian funeral, into which the pious wife, assured to die, enters, as into her nuptial bed.     { see also: Cicero Tusc_5.78 }

[6.15] L   To their glory I will add the infamy of the Carthaginian women, that by comparison it may appear more odious. They had among them the temple of Venus at Sicca, where the married women used to meet. From there they went out to collect dowries by allowing outrages to their bodies; accounting it no dishonour, to tie a respectable marriage-knot with such an indecent bond.     { see also: Justin 18.5 }

[6.16] L   But the custom of the Persians was more laudable, who never used to see their children, till they were seven years old; so that they might the more easily bear their loss, if they died in infancy.     { see also: Herodotus 1.136 }

[6.17] L   Nor was the custom of the Numidian kings to be blamed, who were accustomed never to give a kiss to any mortal. They thought it fitting, that the sovereign authority should be void of all common and familiar customs, that might lessen the reverence due to their majesty.

Following chapters (7-10)


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