Prasinae factioni ita addictus et deditus, ut cenaret in stabulo assidue et maneret, agitatori Eutycho comisatione quadam in apophoretis vicies sestertium contulit. Incitato equo, cuius causa pridie circenses, ne inquietaretur, viciniae silentium per milites indicere solebat, praeter equile marmoreum et praesaepe eburneum praeterque purpurea tegumenta ac monilia e gemmis domum etiam et familiam et supellectilem dedit, quo lautius nomine eius invitati acciperentur; consulatum quoque traditur destinasse.
(Suetonius, Cal. 55.2-3)

He* was so wildly keen on the Green Faction in the circus, that he used often to take his dinner in the stable and stay overnight there. At one of his parties, he gave the driver Eutychus two million sesterces in going-home presents. As for his horse Incitatus, to prevent whose disturbance he used to send his soldiers, the day before the circus games, to demand silence in the surrounding area, apart from the marble stable, the ebony manger, the purple blankets and the gem-studded collar, he also gave him a house and a household of slaves and furniture, so that guests he invited in his name might be entertained in a more refined manner. It is said, too, that he meant to make him consul.

* Caligula.

(tr. Catharine Edwards)



Nunc de sacrificio ipso pauca dicemus. “ebur” inquit Plato “non castum donum Deo.” [cf. Nomoi 12.956a] quid ergo? picta scilicet ex texta pretiosa? immo vero non castum donum Deo, quidquid corrumpi, quidquid subripi potest. sed sicut hoc vidit, non oportere viventi offerre aliquid, quod sit ex mortuo corpore, cur illud non vidit, non debere incorporali corporale munus offerri? quanto melius et verius Seneca: “vultisne vos” inquit “deum cogitare magnum et placidum, et maiestate leni verendum, amicum et semper in proximo, non immolationibus et sanguine multo colendum—quae enim ex trucidatione immerentium voluptas est?—, sed mente pura, bono honestoque proposito? non templa illi congestis in altitudinem saxis exstruenda sunt: in suo cuique consecrandus est pectore.” [Seneca Minor, fr. 123] vestes igitur et gemmas et cetera quae habentur in pretio si quis putet Deo cara, is plane quid sit Deus nescit: cui putat voluptati esse eas res quas etiam homo si contempserit, iure laudabitur. quid ergo castum, quid Deo dignum, nisi quod ipse in illa divina lege sua poposcit? duo sunt, quae offerri debeant, donum et sacrificium, donum in perpetuum, sacrificium ad tempus. verum apud istos, qui nullo modo rationem divinitatis intellegunt, donum est quidquid auro argentoque fabricatur, item quidquid purpura et serico texitur, sacrificiumque victima et quaecumque in ara cremantur. sed utroque non utitur Deus, quia et ipse incorruptus est et illud totum corruptibile. itaque Deo utrumque incorporale offerendum est, quo utitur. donum est integritas animi, sacrificium laus et hymnus; si enim Deus non videtur, ergo his rebus coli debet quae non videntur. nulla igitur alia religio vera est nisi quae virtute ac iustitia constat.
(Lactantius, Div. Inst. 6.25.1-7)

Let us now say a few words about sacrifice. ‘Ivory,’ says Plato, ‘is not a chaste offering to a god.’ Well? Are paintings and cloth precious then? There is no chaste offering to be made to God out of anything that can be spoilt or stolen. But if Plato could see that nothing should be offered to a living being made of dead matter, why did he not see that no corporeal offering should be made to the incorporeal? Seneca put it much better, and more truly: ‘Do you people want to think of god as great, peaceful, reverend in an easy majesty, as a friend and always close by, not someone to worship with sacrificial beasts and quantities of blood—what pleasure is there in the slaughter of the undeserving?—but with a pure heart and a good and honest determination? He needs no temples built with stone piled high; each man must keep him sacred in his heart.’ Anyone thinking that God values clothes and jewels and the other stuff treated as precious clearly does not know what God is; he thinks God finds pleasure in things that a mere man would rightly be praised for disdaining. There is no chaste offering and none worthy of God except what he has required in his famous holy commandment. There are two things which are due as offerings, gifts and sacrifices: a gift is for ever and a sacrifice is for the while. For those people who have no notion of the nature of divinity, a gift is anything made of gold and silver or anything woven of purple and silk, and a sacrifice is a victim and anything burnt upon an altar. But God has use for neither, because he himself is uncorrupt and all that stuff is corruptible. God must therefore be offered the pair of incorruptibles: that pair he can use. Integrity of soul is the gift, and praise and hymns are the sacrifice. Since God is not visible, he must be worshipped with things invisible. The only true religion is the one founded on virtue and justice. (tr. Anthony Bowen & Peter Garnsey)




Τίνας οὖν, ἔφη, ὑπὸ τίνων εὕροιμεν ἂν μείζω εὐηργετημένους ἢ παῖδας ὑπὸ γονέων; οὓς οἱ γονεῖς ἐκ μὲν οὐκ ὄντων ἐποίησαν εἶναι, τοσαῦτα δὲ καλὰ ἰδεῖν καὶ τοσούτων ἀγαθῶν μετασχεῖν, ὅσα οἱ θεοὶ παρέχουσι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· ἃ δὴ καὶ οὕτως ἡμῖν δοκεῖ παντὸς ἄξια εἶναι ὥστε πάντες τὸ καταλιπεῖν αὐτὰ πάντων μάλιστα φεύγομεν, καὶ αἱ πόλεις ἐπὶ τοῖς μεγίστοις ἀδικήμασι ζημίαν θάνατον πεποιήκασιν ὡς οὐκ ἂν μείζονος κακοῦ φόβῳ τὴν ἀδικίαν παύσαντες. καὶ μὴν οὐ τῶν γε ἀφροδισίων ἕνεκα παιδοποιεῖσθαι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ὑπολαμβάνεις, ἐπεὶ τούτου γε τῶν ἀπολυσόντων μεσταὶ μὲν αἱ ὁδοί, μεστὰ δὲ τὰ οἰκήματα. φανεροὶ δ’ ἐσμὲν καὶ σκοπούμενοι ἐξ ὁποίων ἂν γυναικῶν βέλτιστα ἡμῖν τέκνα γένοιτο· αἷς συνελθόντες τεκνοποιούμεθα. καὶ ὁ μέν γε ἀνὴρ τήν τε συντεκνοποιήσουσαν ἑαυτῷ τρέφει καὶ τοῖς μέλλουσιν ἔσεσθαι παισὶ προπαρασκευάζει πάντα, ὅσα ἂν οἴηται συνοίσειν αὐτοῖς πρὸς τὸν βίον, καὶ ταῦτα ὡς ἂν δύνηται πλεῖστα· ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ὑποδεξαμένη τε φέρει τὸ φορτίον τοῦτο, βαρυνομένη τε καὶ κινδυνεύουσα περὶ τοῦ βίου καὶ μεταδιδοῦσα τῆς τροφῆς, ᾗ καὶ αὐτὴ τρέφεται, καὶ σὺν πολλῷ πόνῳ διενεγκοῦσα καὶ τεκοῦσα τρέφει τε καὶ ἐπιμελεῖται, οὔτε προπεπονθυῖα οὐδὲν ἀγαθὸν οὔτε γιγνῶσκον τὸ βρέφος ὑφ’ ὅτου εὖ πάσχει, οὐδὲ σημαίνειν δυνάμενον ὅτου δεῖται, ἀλλ’ αὐτὴ στοχαζομένη τά τε συμφέροντα καὶ τὰ κεχαρισμένα πειρᾶται ἐκπληροῦν, καὶ τρέφει πολὺν χρόνον καὶ ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτὸς ὑπομένουσα πονεῖν, οὐκ εἰδυῖα εἴ τινα τούτων χάριν ἀπολήψεται.
(Xenophon, Mem. 2.2.3-5)

Now what deeper obligation can we find than that of children to their parents? To their parents children owe their existence and their portion of all fair sights and all blessings that the gods bestow on humanity—gifts we prize so highly that all will sacrifice anything rather than lose them; and the reason why governments have made death the penalty for the greatest crimes is that the fear of it is the strongest deterrent against crime. Of course you don’t suppose that lust provokes men to beget children, when the streets and the brothels are full of means to satisfy that? We obviously select for wives the women who will bear us the best children, and then marry them to raise a family. The man supports the woman who is to share with him the duty of parentage and provides for the expected children whatever he thinks will contribute to their benefit in life, and accumulates as much of it as he can. The woman conceives and bears her burden in travail, risking her life, and giving of her own food; and, with much labor, having endured to the end and brought forth her child, she rears and cares for it, although she has not received any good thing, and the baby neither recognizes its benefactress nor can make its wants known to her: still she guesses what is good for it and what it likes, and seeks to supply these things, and rears it for a long season, enduring toil day and night, nothing knowing what return she will get. (tr. Edgar Cardew Marchant, revised by Jeffrey Henderson)



Fascia, crescentes dominae compesce papillas,
ut sit quod capiat nostra tegatque manus.
(Martial, Ep. 14.134)

Band, compress my lady’s swelling breasts, so that my hand may find something to clasp and cover. (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)


Jacques-Louis David, L'amour d'Hélène et Paris, 1788
Jacques-Louis David, L’amour d’Hélène et Paris (1788)

Rusticus indocte si quid dixisse videbor,
da veniam: libros non lego, poma lego.
sed rudis hic dominum totiens audire legentem
cogor Homeriacas edidicique notas.
ille vocat, quod nos psolen, ψολόεντα κεραυνόν
et quod nos culum, κουλεόν ille vocat.
μερδαλέον certe quasi res non munda vocatur
et pediconum mentula merdalea est.
quid? nisi Taenario placuisset Troica cunno
mentula, quod caneret non habuisset opus.
mentula Tantalidae bene si non mota fuisset,
nil senior Chryses quod quereretur erat.
haec eadem socium tenera spoliavit amica,
quaeque erat Aeacidae maluit esse suam.
ille Pelethroniam cecinit miserabile carmen
ad citharam, cithara tensior ipse sua.
nobilis hinc mota nempe incipit Ilias ira:
principium sacri carminis illa fuit.
altera materia est error fallentis Ulixei:
si verum quaeras, hunc quoque movit amor.
hic legitur radix de qua flos aureus exit:
quem cum μῶλυ vocat, mentula μῶλυ fuit.
hic legimus Circen Atlantiademque Calypson
grandia Dulichii vasa petisse viri.
huius et Alcinoi mirata est filia membrum
frondenti ramo vix potuisse tegi.
ad vetulam tamen ille suam properabat, et omnis
mens erat in cunno, Penelopea, tuo:
quae sic casta manes, ut iam convivia visas
utque fututorum sit tua plena domus.
e quibus ut scires quicumque valentior esset,
haec es ad arrectos verba locuta procos:
“nemo meo melius nervum tendebat Ulixe,
sive illi laterum, sive erat artis opus.
qui, quoniam periit, vos nunc intendite, qualem
esse virum sciero, vir sit ut ille meus.”
hac ego, Penelope, potui tibi lege placere,
illo sed nondum tempore natus eram!
(Priapea 68)

No scholar I, but country-bred, so pardon me
If I be crude: trees is my trade, not books, you see.
Yet I know this bloke Homer, for my master proud
Spends all his time out here a-reading him out loud.
I hear, for instance, what we rustics call a prick
Is ‘psolenta kheraunos’ in that chap’s Greek,
And arse is ‘khouleos’, and ‘merdaleos’—’foul’
It means—what you’d expect of prick that’s been in bowel.
If Trojan cock had not brought Grecian cunt such fun,
This Homer fellow’s book could not have been begun.
If bloody Agamemnon’s prick had been less stout,
He’d given old Chryses damn nowt to moan about;
Nor would he then have snatched the maiden from his friend,
And she’d have been Achilles’ own until the end:
Who now upon his Pelethronian lyre must sing
A woeful tune, himself stretched tenser than its string.
And so began the hero’s noble rage, the same
That’s the chief matter of the Iliad’s tale of fame.
The other book’s about Ulysses and his treks,
And, truth to tell, here too the cause of all was sex.
You read about a beauteous blossom, ‘molyhock’,
But when they speak of ‘moly’ they’re really meaning ‘cock.’
What else we read? How Circe—and Calypso too—
Dulichian Ulysses for his fine tool they woo.
Alcinous’ daughter wondered at it next; its size
Was such that leafy bough could not its bulk disguise.
Yet, all the same, to his old woman back he goes:
His mind is in your cunt, Penelope, who chose
To remain true, yet you’d invited many a guest,
So with a crowd of would-be fuckers you were blessed;
The idea being, I dare say, to find out who
Was best at doing it of all that eager crew.
“To firmer member”, says she, “no one could lay claim
Than Ulysses, in strength and skill a master at the game.
I need to know, now he has gone and left no trace,
Which one of you is man enough to take his place.”
I should have been the one, Penelope to fuck
In your mate’s stead. But I was not yet made, worse luck.
(tr. William Henry Parker)



Quae nunc divitibus gens acceptissima nostris
et quos praecipue fugiam, properabo fateri,
nec pudor obstabit. non possum ferre, Quirites,
Graecam urbem. quamvis quota portio faecis Achaei?
iam pridem Syrus in Tiberim defluxit Orontes
et linguam et mores et cum tibicine chordas
obliquas nec non gentilia tympana secum
vexit et ad circum iussas prostare puellas.
ite, quibus grata est picta lupa barbara mitra.
rusticus ille tuus sumit trechedipna, Quirine,
et ceromatico fert niceteria collo.
hic alta Sicyone, ast hic Amydone relicta,
hic Andro, ille Samo, hic Trallibus aut Alabandis,
Esquilias dictumque petunt a vimine collem,
viscera magnarum domuum dominique futuri.
ingenium velox, audacia perdita, sermo
promptus et Isaeo torrentior: ede quid illum
esse velis. quemvis hominem secum attulit ad nos:
grammaticus, rhetor, geometres, pictor, aliptes,
augur, schoenobates, medicus, magus, omnia novit
Graeculus esuriens: in caelum iusseris ibit.
in summa non Maurus erat neque Sarmata nec Thrax
qui sumpsit pinnas, mediis sed natus Athenis.
(Juvenal, Sat. 3.58-80)

The race that’s now most popular with wealthy Romans—the people I want especially to get away from—I’ll name them right away, without any embarrassment. My fellow- citizens, I cannot stand a Greekified Rome. Yet how few of our dregs are Achaeans? The Syrian Orontes has for a long time now been polluting the Tiber, bringing with it its language and customs, its slanting strings along with pipers, its native tom-toms too, and the girls who are told to offer themselves for sale at the Circus. Off you go, if your taste is a foreign whore in her bright headdress. Ah, Quirinus, that supposed rustic of yours is putting on his chaussures grecques and wearing his médaillons grecs on his neck parfumé a la grecque. They come—this one leaving the heights of Sicyon, this other from Amydon, this one from Andros, that one from Samos, this one from Tralles or Alabanda—heading for the Esquiline and the hill named from the willow, to become the innards and the masters of our great houses. They have quicksilver wit, shameless presumption, words at the ready, more gushing than Isaeus. Say what you want him to be. In his own person he has brought anyone you like: school teacher, rhetorician, geometrician, painter, masseur, prophet, funambulist, physician, magician—your hungry Greekling has every talent. Tell him to go to heaven and he will. In short, it wasn’t a Moroccan or a Sarmatian or a Thracian who sprouted wings, but a man born in the centre of Athens. (tr. Susanna Morton Braund)



Ἔσσεται ἐσσομένοις, ὅτε Πύραμος ἀργυροδίνης,
ἠϊόνα προχέων, ἱερὴν εἰς νῆσον ἵκηται.
καὶ Σύβαρις πέσεται, καὶ Κύζικος, ἡνίκα γαίης
βρασσομένης σεισμοῖσι καταπίπτωσι πόληες.
ἥξει καὶ Ῥοδίοις κακὸν ὕστατον, ἀλλὰ μέγιστον.
οὔτε Μακηδονίης ἀεὶ κράτος· ἀλλ’ ἀπὸ δυσμῶν
Ἰταλὸς ἀνθήσει πόλεμος μέγας, ᾧ ὕπο κόσμος
λατρεύσει, δούλειον ἔχων ζυγὸν, Ἰταλίδῃσι.
Καρχηδὼν, καὶ σεῖο χαμαὶ πᾶς πύργος ἐρείσει.
τλῆμον Λαοδίκεια, σὲ δὲ τρώσει ποτὲ σεισμὸς
πρηνίξας, στήσει δὲ πάλιν πόλιν εὐρυάγυιαν.
καὶ σὺ, Κόρινθε τάλαινα, τεήν ποτ’ ἐπόψει ἅλωσιν.
ὦ Λυκίης Μύρα καλὰ, σὲ δ’ αὖ ποτὲ βρασσομένη χθὼν
πρηνίξει· πρηνὴς δἑ κλόνῳ πίπτουσ’ ἐπὶ γαῖαν,
εἰς ἑτέραν εὔξῃ προφυγεῖν χθόνα, οἷα μέτοικος.
Ἀρμενίη δέ τε, καὶ σὲ μένει δούλειος ἀνάγκη
Ἰταλόθεν. νηὸν δὲ Θεοῦ μέγαν ἐξαλαπάξει.
ἡνίκα δ’ ἀφροσύνῃσι πεποιθότες, εὐσεβίην μὲν
ῥίψουσι, στυγερὸν δὲ τελοῦσι φόνον περὶ νηὸν,
καὶ τότ’ ἀπ’ Ἰταλίης βασιλεὺς μέγας, οἷά τε δράτης,
φεύξετ’ ἄφαντος, ἄπυστος, ὑπὲρ πόρον Εὐφρήταο,
ὁππότε δὴ μητρῷον ἄγος στυγεροῖο φόνοιο
τλήσεται, ἄλλα τε πολλὰ κακῇ σὺν χειρὶ πιθήσας.
πολλοὶ δ’ ἀμφ’ ἱερὸν Ῥώμης πέδον αἱμάξουσι,
κείνου ἀποδράσαντος ὑπὲρ τὴν πατρίδα γαῖαν.
εἰς Συρίην δ’ ἥξει Ῥώμης πρόμος, ὃς πυρὶ νηὸν
συμφλέξας, πολέμων πολλοὺς δορὶ ἀνδροφονήσει,
Ἰουδαίων δ’ ὀλέσει μεγάλην χθόνα εὐρυάγυιαν.
καὶ τότε δὴ Σαλαμῖνα, Πάφον θ’ ἅμα σεισμὸς ὀλέσσει,
Κύπρον ὅταν περίκλυστον ὑπερκλονέῃ μέλαν ὕδωρ.
ἀλλ’ ὁπόταν χθονίης ἀπὸ ῥωγάδος Ἰταλίδος γῆς
πυρσὸς ὑποστρέψας εἰς οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἱκάνῃ,
πολλὰς δὲ φλέξῃ πόλιας, καὶ ἄνδρας ὀλέσσῃ,
πολλὴ δ’ αἰθαλόεσσα τέφρη μέγαν αἰθέρα πλήσῃ,
καὶ ψεκάδες πίπτωσιν ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ, οἷά τε μίλτος,
γινώσκειν τότε μῆνιν ἐπουρανίοιο Θεοῖο,
εὐσεβέων ὅτι φῦλον ἀναίτιον ἐξολέκουσιν.
εἰς δὲ δύσιν τότε νεῖκος ἐγειρομένου πολέμοιο
ἥξει, καὶ Ῥώμης ὁ φυγὰς, μέγα ἔγχος ἀείρων,
Εὐφρήτην διαβὰς, πολλαῖς ἅμα μυριάσ’ ἀνδρῶν.
τλήμων Ἀντιόχεια, σὲ δὲ πτόλιν οὐκέτ’ ἐροῦσιν·
εἵνεκεν ἀφροσύνης Ἰταλοῖς ὑπὸ δούρασι πίπτεις.
καὶ Συρίην τότε λοιμὸς ἕλῃ, καὶ φύλοπις αἰνή.
αἲ αἲ, Κύπρε, τάλαινα, σὲ δὲ πλατὺ κῦμα θαλάσσης
ῥίψει, χειμερίῃσιν ἀναρριφθεῖσαν ἀέλλαις.
(Chrēsmoi Sibulliakoi 4.97-141)

It shall take place among those yet to be,
When silver-eddying Pyramus his banks
O’erpouring, to the sacred isle shall come.
And Cibyra shall fall and Cyzicus,
When, earth being shaken by earthquakes, cities fall.
And sand shall hide all Samos under banks.
And Delos visible no more, but things
Of Delos shall all be invisible.
And to Rhodes shall come evil last, but greatest.
The Macedonian power shall not abide;
But from the west a great Italian war
Shall flourish, under which the world shall bear
A servile yoke and the Italians serve.
And thou, O wretched Corinth, thou shalt look
Sometime upon thy conquest. And thy tower,
O Carthage, shall press lowly on the ground.
Wretched Laodicea, thee sometime
Shall earthquake lay low, casting headlong down,
But thou, a city firmly set, again
Shalt stand. O Lycia Myra beautiful,
Thee never shall the agitated earth
Set fast; but falling headlong down on earth
Shalt thou, in manner like an alien, pray
To flee away into another land,
When sometime the dark water of the sea
With thunders and earthquakes shall stop the din
Of Patara for its impieties.
Also for thee, Armenia, there remains
A slavish fate; and there shall also come
To Solyma an evil blast of war
From Italy, and God’s great temple spoil.
But when these, trusting folly, shall cast off
Their piety and murders consummate
Around the temple, then from Italy
A mighty king shall like a runaway slave
Flee over the Euphrates’ stream unseen,
Unknown, who shall some time dare loathsome guilt
Of matricide, and many other things,
Having confidence in his most wicked hands.
And many for the throne shall stain with blood
Rome’s soil while he flees over Parthian land.
And out of Syria shall come Rome’s foremost man,
Who having burned the temple of Solyma,
And having slaughtered many of the Jews,
Shall bring destruction on their great broad land.
And then too shall an earthquake overthrow
Both Salamis and Paphos, when dark water
Shall dash o’er Cyprus washed by many a wave.
But when from deep cleft of Italian land
Fire shall come flashing forth in the broad heaven,
And many cities burn and men destroy,
And much black ashes shall fill the great sky,
And small drops like red earth shall fall from heaven,
Then know the anger of the God of heaven,
For that they without reason shall destroy
The nation of the pious. And then strife
Awakened of war shall come to the West,
Shall also come the fugitive of Rome,
Bearing a great spear, having marched across
Euphrates with his many myriads.
O wretched Antioch, they shall call thee
No more a city when around their spears
Because of thine own follies thou shalt fall.
And then on Scyros shall a pestilence
And dreadful battle-din destruction bring.
Alas, alas! O wretched Cyprus, thee
Shall a broad wave of the sea cover, thee
Tossed on high by the whirling stormy winds.
(tr. Milton S. Terry)