Peras imposuit Iuppiter nobis duas:
propriis repletam vitiis post tergum dedit,
alienis ante pectus suspendit gravem.
hac re videre nostra mala non possumus;
alii simul delinquunt, censores sumus.
(Phaedrus, Fab. 4.10)
Jupiter has given us two sacks to carry. He put one sack, filled with our own faults, on our back, and he suspended a sack heavy with the faults of others in front of us. This is the reason why we are blind to our own bad habits but we sit in judgment as soon as others make a mistake. (tr. Laura Gibbs)
Although there are plenty of domestic animals in Egypt, there would be many more if it were not for what happens to the cats. When female cats give birth, they stop having intercourse with the males. However much the toms want to mate with them, they are unable to do so. The toms have therefore come up with a clever solution. They sneak in and steal the kittens away from their mothers, and then kill them (but not for food). The females, deprived of their young, long to have some more, because the feline species is very fond of its young, and so they go to the males. If a house catches fire, what happens to the cats is quite extraordinary. The Egyptians do not bother to try to put the fire out, but position themselves at intervals around the house and look out for the cats. The cats slip between them, however, and even jump over them, and dash into the fire. This plunges the Egyptians into deep grief. In households where a cat dies a natural death, all the people living there shave off their eyebrows—nothing more. In households where a dog dies, they shave their whole bodies, head and all. After their death, the cats are taken to sacred chambers in the city of Bubastis where they are mummified and buried. Dogs are buried by each householder in his own community in sanctified tombs, and mongooses receive the same form of burial as well. Shrews and hawks are taken to the city of Buto, and ibises to Hermepolis. Bears (which are rare) and wolves (which are not much larger than foxes) are buried wherever they are found lying. (tr. Robin Waterfield)
Praeterea ego de partu humano, praeterquam quae scripta in libris legi, hoc quoque usu venisse Romae comperi: feminam bonis atque honestis moribus, non ambigua pudicitia, in undecimo mense post mariti mortem peperisse, factumque esse negotium propter rationem temporis, quasi marito mortuo postea concepisset, quoniam decemviri in decem mensibus gigni hominem, non in undecimo scripsissent; sed divum Hadrianum causa cognita decrevisse in undecimo quoque mense partum edi posse; idque ipsum eius rei decretum nos legimus. in eo decreto Hadrianus id statuere se dicit requisitis veterum philosophorum et medicorum sententiis.
(Aulus Gellius, Noct. Att. 3.16.12)
Furthermore, besides what I have read in books about human gestation, I also heard of the following case, which occurred in Rome: A woman of good and honourable character, of undoubted chastity, gave birth to a child in the eleventh month after her husband’s death, and because of the reckoning of the time the accusation was made that she had conceived after the death of her husband, since the decemvirs had written* that a child is born in ten months and not in the eleventh month. The deified Hadrian, however, having heard the case, decided that birth might also occur in the eleventh month, and I myself have read the actual decree with regard to the matter. In that decree Hadrian declares that he makes his decision after looking up the views of the ancient philosophers and physicians.
* XII Tab. iv. 4, Schöll. The fragment is not extant, but it is cited also by Ulpian, Dig. xxxviii. 16. 3. 11: post decem menses mortis natus non admittetur ad legitimam hereditatem.
Quid, Catilina, tuis natalibus atque Cethegi
inveniet quisquam sublimius? arma tamen vos
nocturna et flammas domibus templisque paratis,
ut bracatorum pueri Senonumque minores,
ausi quod liceat tunica punire molesta.
sed vigilat consul vexillaque vestra coërcet.
hic novus Arpinas, ignobilis et modo Romae
municipalis eques, galeatum ponit ubique
praesidium attonitis et in omni monte laborat.
tantum igitur muros intra toga contulit illi
nominis ac tituli, quantum sibi Leucade, quantum
Thessaliae campis Octavius abstulit udo
caedibus assiduis gladio; sed Roma parentem,
Roma patrem patriae Ciceronem libera dixit.
(Juvenal, Sat. 8.231-244)
What ancestry more exalted than yours, Catiline, or that of Cethegus can be found? Yet you plotted to attack homes and temples at night and set them on fire, like the sons of trousered Gauls and descendants of the Senones, committing an outrage which could lawfully be punished by the “uncomfortable shirt”. But the consul is alert: he halts your banners. He—a “new man” from Arpinum, of humble origin, a municipal knight new to Rome—posts helmeted troops all around to protect the terrified people and is busy on every hill. So without stepping outside the walls, his peacetime toga brought him as much titled distinction as Octavius grabbed for himself at Leucas and on the fields of Thessaly with his sword wet from nonstop slaughter. The difference is that Rome was still free when she called Cicero the Parent and Father of his Native Land. (tr. Susanna Morton Braund)
And of what sort are their baths? Houses skilfully constructed, compact, portable, transparent, covered with fine linen. And gold-plated chairs, and silver ones, too, and ten thousand vessels of gold and silver, some for drinking, some for eating, some for bathing, are carried about with them. Besides these, there are even braziers of coals; for they have arrived at such a pitch of self-indulgence, that they sup and get drunk while bathing. And articles of silver with which they make a show, they ostentatiously set out in the baths, and thus display perchance their wealth out of excessive pride, but chiefly the capricious ignorance, through which they brand effeminate men, who have been vanquished by women; proving at least that they themselves cannot meet and cannot sweat without a multitude of vessels, although poor women who have no display equally enjoy their baths. The dirt of wealth, then, has an abundant covering of censure. With this, as with a bait, they hook the miserable creatures that gape at the glitter of gold. For dazzling thus those fond of display, they artfully try to win the admiration of their lovers, who after a little insult them naked. They will scarce strip before their own husbands affecting a plausible pretence of modesty; but any others who wish, may see them at home shut up naked in their baths. For there they are not ashamed to strip before spectators, as if exposing their persons for sale. But Hesiod advises
“Not to wash the skin in the women’s bath.” [Erga kai Hēmerai 753]
The baths are opened promiscuously to men and women; and there they strip for licentious indulgence (for from looking, men get to loving [Agathon, fr. 29]), as if their modesty had been washed away in the bath. Those who have not become utterly destitute of modesty shut out strangers; but bathe with their own servants, and strip naked before their slaves, and are rubbed by them; giving to the crouching menial liberty to lust, by permitting fearless handling. For those who are introduced before their naked mistresses while in the bath, study to strip themselves in order to audacity in lust, casting off fear in consequence of the wicked custom. The ancient athletes, ashamed to exhibit a man naked, preserved their modesty by going through the contest in drawers; but these women, divesting themselves of their modesty along with their tunic, wish to appear beautiful, but contrary to their wish are simply proved to be wicked. For through the body itself the wantonness of lust shines clearly; as in the case of dropsical people, the water covered by the skin. Disease in both is known from the look. Men, therefore, affording to women a noble example of truth, ought to be ashamed at their stripping before them, and guard against these dangerous sights; for he who has looked curiously, it is said, has sinned already [Mt. 5:28]. At home, therefore, they ought to regard with modesty parents and domestics; in the ways, those they meet; in the baths, women; in solitude, themselves; and everywhere the Word, who is everywhere, and without Him was not anything [John 1:3]. For so only shall one remain without falling, if he regard God as ever present with him. (tr. William Wilson)
The Roman, on being admonished by his friends because he had put away a virtuous, wealthy, and lovely wife, reached out his shoe and said, “Yes, this is beautiful to look at, and new, but nobody knows where it pinches me.” A wife, then, ought not to rely on her dowry or birth or beauty, but on things in which she gains the greatest hold on her husband, namely conversation, character, and comradeship, which she must render not perverse or vexatious day by day, but accommodating, inoffensive, and agreeable. For, as physicians have more fear of fevers that originate from obscure causes and gradual accretion than of those which may be accounted for by manifest and weighty reasons, so it is the petty, continual, daily clashes between man and wife, unnoticed by the great majority, that disrupt and mar married life. (tr. Frank Cole Babbitt)
Sit tibi coniugii nox prima novissima vitae:
Eupolis hoc periit et nova nupta modo.
utque coturnatum periisse Lycophrona narrant,
haereat in fibris fixa sagitta tuis.
aut lacer in silva manibus spargare tuorum,
sparsus ut est Thebis angue creatus avo.
perque feros montes tauro rapiente traharis,
ut tracta est coniunx imperiosa Lyci.
quodque suae passa est paelex invita sororis,
excidat ante pedes lingua resecta tuos.
conditor ut tardae, laesus cognomine, Myrrhae,
urbis in innumeris inveniare locis.
inque tuis opifex, vati quod fecit Achaeo,
noxia luminibus spicula condat apis.
fixus et in duris carparis viscera saxis,
ut cui Pyrrha sui filia fratris erat.
ut puer Harpagides referas exempla Thyestae,
inque tui caesus viscera patris eas.
trunca geras saevo mutilatis partibus ense,
qualia Mamertae membra fuisse ferunt.
utve Syracosio praestricta fauce poëtae,
sic animae laqueo sit via clausa tuae.
nudave derepta pateant tua viscera pelle,
ut Phrygium cuius nomina flumen habet.
saxificae videas infelix ora Medusae,
Cephenum multos quae dedit una neci.
Potniadum morsus subeas, ut Glaucus, equarum,
inque maris salias, Glaucus ut alter, aquas.
utque duobus idem dictis modo nomen habenti,
praefocent animae Cnosia mella viam.
sollicitoque bibas, Anyti doctissimus olim
imperturbato quod bibit ore reus.
nec tibi, si quid amas, felicius Haemone cedat:
utque sua Macareus, sic potiare tua.
vel videas quod, iam cum flammae cuncta tenerent,
Hectoreus patria vidit ab arce puer.
sanguine probra luas, ut avo genitore creatus,
per facinus soror est cui sua facta parens.
ossibus inque tuis teli genus haereat illud,
traditur Icarii quo cecidisse gener.
utque loquax in equo est elisum guttur acerno,
sic tibi claudatur pollice vocis iter.
(Ovid, Ibis 529-570)
May the first night of your marriage be the last
of your life: so Eupolis and his new bride died.
And as they say the tragedian Lycophron ended,
may an arrow pierce you, and cling to your entrails.
Or be torn apart and scattered in the woods by your kin,
as Pentheus at Thebes, grandson of the serpent, Cadmus.
May you be caught by a raging bull, dragged over wild
mountains, as Lycus’s imperial wife Dirce was dragged.
May your severed tongue lie there, before your feet,
as Philomela, her own sister’s unwilling rival, suffered.
And like dull Myrrha’s author, Cinna, harmed by his name,
may you be found scattered about throughout the city.
And may that artisan, the bee, bury his venomous
sting in your eye, as he did to the Achaean poet.
And, on the harsh cliff, may your entrails be torn
like Prometheus, whose brother’s daughter was Pyrrha.
May you follow Thyestes’ example, like Harpagus’s son,
and, carved in pieces, enter your father’s gut.
May the cruel sword maim your trunk, and mutilate
the parts, as they say Mamertas’s limbs were maimed.
Or may a noose close the passage of your breath
as the Syracusan poet’s throat was stopped.
Or may your naked entrails be revealed by stripping
your skin, like Marsyas who named a Phrygian river.
Unhappy, may you see Medusa’s petrifying face,
that dealt death to many of the Cephenes.
Like Glaucus, be bitten by the horses of Potniae,
or like the other Glaucus, leap into the sea’s waves.
Or may Cretan honey choke your windpipe, like one
who had the same name as the two I’ve mentioned.
May you drink anxiously, where Socrates, wisest of men,
accused by Anytus, once drank with imperturbable lips.
Nor may you be happier than Haemon in your love:
or may you possess your sister as Macareus did his.
Or see what Hector’s son, Astyanax, saw from his
native citadel, when all was gripped by flames.
May you pay for infamies in your offspring, as for his grandfather,
that father’s son, by whose crime his sister became a mother.
And may that kind of weapon cling to your bones, with which
they say Ulysses, the son-in-law of Icarius, was killed.
And as that noisy throat was crushed in the wooden Horse,
so may your vocal passage be closed off with a thumb. (tr. Tony Kline)