Fondazione Torlonia

Τρεῖς δὲ ἕκαστον φῶτ’ ὄιες φέρον· αὐτὰρ ἐγώ γε –
ἀρνειὸς γὰρ ἔην μήλων ὄχ’ ἄριστος ἁπάντων,
τοῦ κατὰ νῶτα λαβών, λασίην ὑπὸ γαστέρ’ ἐλυσθεὶς
κείμην· αὐτὰρ χερσὶν ἀώτου θεσπεσίοιο
νωλεμέως στρεφθεὶς ἐχόμην τετληότι θυμῷ.
ὣς τότε μὲν στενάχοντες ἐμείναμεν Ἠῶ δῖαν.
(Homer, Od. 9.431-5)

So there was a man to every three sheep. As for me I took the pick of the flock, and curled below his shaggy belly, gripped his back and lay there face upwards, patiently gripping his fine fleece tight in my hands. Then, sighing, we waited for the light. (tr. A.S. Kline)



Τῇ πρὸ δεκαμιᾶς Καλενδῶν Μαΐων ὁ Ῥωμύλος τὴν Ῥώμην ἐπόλισε, πάντας τοὺς πλησιοχώρους συγκαλεσάμενος ἐντειλάμενός τε αὐτοῖς ἐκ τῆς ἑαυτῶν χώρας βῶλον ἐπικομίσασθαι, ταύτῃ πάσης χώρας δεσπόσαι τὴν Ῥώμην οἰωνιζόμενος· αὐτός τε ἱερατικὴν σάλπιγγα ἀναλαβών (λίτουον δ’ αὐτὴν πατρίως Ῥωμαίοις ἔθος καλεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς λιτῆς) ἐξεφώνησε τὸ τῆς πόλεως ὄνομα, πάσης ἱερατικῆς τελετῆς ἡγησάμενος. Ὀνόματα δὲ τῇ πόλει τρία, τελεστικὸν ἱερατικὸν πολιτικόν· τελεστικὸν μὲν <Amor> οἱονεὶ Ἔρως, ὥστε πάντας ἔρωτι θείῳ περὶ τὴν πόλιν κατέχεσθαι, διὸ καὶ Ἀμαρυλλίδα τὴν πόλιν ὁ ποιητὴς αἰνιγματωδῶς βουκολιάζων καλεῖ· ἱερατικὸν δὲ Φλῶρα οἱονεὶ ἄνθουσα, ὅθεν κατὰ ταύτην ἡ τῶν Ἀνθεστηρίων ἑορτή· πολιτικὸν δὲ Ῥῶμα. καὶ τὸ μὲν ἱερατικὸν πᾶσιν ἦν δῆλον καὶ  δεῶς ἐξεφέρετο, τὸ δὲ τελεστικὸν μόνοις τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν ἐξάγειν ἐπὶ τῶν ἱερῶν ἐπετέτραπτο· καὶ λόγος, ποινὰς ὑποσχεῖν τινα τῶν ἐν τέλει ποτέ, ἀνθ’ ὧν ἐπὶ τοῦ πλήθους τὸ τελεστικὸν ὄνομα τῆς πόλεως ἀναφανδὸν ἐθάρρησεν ἐξειπεῖν. μετὰ δὲ τὴν ἐπὶ τῇ ἀναγορεύσει τῆς πόλεως τελετὴν ζεύξας ταῦρον μετὰ δαμάλεως περιῆλθε τὸ τεῖχος, τὸν μὲν ἄρρενα ἐπὶ τὴν τοῦ πεδίου πλευρὰν ζεύξας, τὴν δὲ θήλειαν ἐπὶ τὸ τῆς πόλεως μέρος, ὥστε τοὺς μὲν ἄρρενας τοῖς ἔξω γίνεσθαι φοβερούς, τὰς δὲ θηλείας τοῖς ἔνδον γονίμους· καὶ λαβὼν βῶλον ἐκ τῶν ἔξω τῆς πόλεως μερῶν σὺν καὶ ταῖς πρὸς τῶν ἄλλων ἐπικομιζομέναις ἐπὶ τὴν πόλιν ἠκόντιζε, ταύτῃ οἰωνισάμενος, διὰ παντὸς αὐτὴν ἐκ τῆς τῶν ἔξωθεν ἐπαυξηθῆναι συνδόσεως.
(Joannes Lydus, De Mensibus 4.73)

On the 11th day before the Kalends of May, Romulus founded Rome, calling together all the neighboring people and bidding them to bring a lump of earth from their own territory, thus presaging that Rome would be master over every region. He himself, taking up the sacred trumpet — in their language the Romans customarily called it a lituus, from litê [“prayer”] — proclaimed the name of the city, taking the lead in the whole sacred initiation. And the city had three names: an initiatory [name], a sacred [name], and a political [name]. The initiatory [name] was Amor, that is, Love [Erôs], so that all were held fast around the city by divine love — and for this reason, the poet enigmatically calls the city Amaryllis in his bucolic poetry. The sacred [name was] Flora, that is, “Flowering” [Anthousa] — hence the festival of Anthesteria [was named] in accordance with it. The political [name was] Rome. Now, the sacred name was manifest to all, and was pronounced without fear, but the initiatory [name] was entrusted to the high priests alone to pronounce at the sacred rites. And it is said that one of the magistrates once paid the penalty because he had dared to pronounce the initiatory name of the city openly, before the people. And after the initiation at the public proclamation of the city, he [i.e., Romulus] yoked a bull with a heifer and made the circuit of the walls, putting the male on the side of the plain, the female in the direction of the city, so that the males became terrifying to those outside, the females fertile for those inside. And taking a clod of earth from the region outside the city together with those that had been brought by the others, he hurled them at the city, thus presaging that it would forever increase by the contributions of those outside it. (tr. Mischa Hooker)


vestal virgins

Quae nunc Vestalis sit virginitatis honestas
discutiam, qua lege regat decus omne pudoris.
Inde ad consessum caveae pudor almus et expers
sanguinis it pietas hominum visura cruentos
congressus mortesque et vulnera vendita pastu
spectatura sacris oculis. sedet illa verendis
vittarum insignis phaleris fruiturque lanistis.
o tenerum mitemque animum! consurgit ad ictus
et, quotiens victor ferrum iugulo inserit, illa
delicias ait esse suas, pectusque iacentis
virgo modesta iubet converso pollice rumpi,
ne lateat pars ulla animae vitalibus imis,
altius impresso dum palpitat ense secutor.
(Prudentius, Contra orationem Symmachi 2.1062-3, 1096-1101)

Now I shall examine the high repute of the Vestals’ virginity, and the justice of its claim to be the standard for all the honour paid to purity. (…) Then on to the gathering in the amphitheatre passes this figure of life-giving purity and bloodless piety, to see bloody battles and deaths of human beings and look on with holy eyes at wounds men suffer for the price of their keep. There she sits conspicuous with the awe-inspiring trappings of her head-bands and enjoys what the trainers have produced. What a soft, gentle heart! She rises at the blows, and every time a victor stabs his victim’s throat she calls him her pet; the modest virgin with a turn of her thumb bids him pierce the breast of his fallen foe so that no remnant of life shall stay lurking deep in his vitals while under a deeper thrust of the sword the fighter lies in the agony of death. (tr. Henry John Thomson)



M. Cato ille censorius, cum vidisset hominem honestum e fornice exeuntem, laudavit existimans libidinem compescendam esse sine crimine. at postea cum frequentius eum ex eodem lupanari exeuntem advertisset, “Adolescens,” inquit, “ego te laudavi, quod interdum huc venires, non quod hic habitares.”
(Porphyrio, Scholia in Horatii Sermones 1.2.31)

The famous censor Marcus Cato, when he had seen an honorable man coming out of a brothel, praised him, thinking that lust should be checked legally. Later, however, when he noticed him coming out of the same brothel quite frequently, he said, “Young man, I praised you for coming here occasionally, not for living here.” (tr. Karla Pollmann)



Ad utramlibet podagram torpedinem nigram vivam, quum accesserit dolor, subicere pedibus oportet, stantibus in litore non sicco, sed quod alluit mare, donec sentiat torpere pedem totum et tibiam usque ad genua. hoc et in praesenti tollit dolorem, et in futurum remediat.
(Scribonius Largus, Compositiones Medicae 162)

For any sort of podagra (foot gout), when the pain comes on, it is good to put a living black torpedo-fish under his feet standing on a beach, not dry but one on which the sea washes, until he feels that his whole foot and shank are numb up to the knees. This will both relieve the current pain and alleviate future recurrences. (tr. Jacopo Martellucci)


Thomas Eakins, The Crucifixion (1880)

Καὶ βαστάζων τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ ἐξῆλθεν εἰς τόπον λεγόμενον Κρανίου Tόπον, ὃς λέγεται Ἑβραϊστὶ Γολγοθᾶ· ὅπου αὐτὸν ἐσταύρωσαν, καὶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἄλλους δύο, ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐντεῦθεν, μέσον δὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦν. ἔγραψεν δὲ καὶ τίτλον ὁ Πιλάτος, καὶ ἔθηκεν ἐπὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ· ἦν δὲ γεγραμμένον, Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων. τοῦτον οὖν τὸν τίτλον πολλοὶ ἀνέγνωσαν τῶν Ἰουδαίων, ὅτι ἐγγὺς ἦν ὁ τόπος τῆς πόλεως ὅπου ἐσταυρώθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς· καὶ ἦν γεγραμμένον Ἑβραϊστί, Ἑλληνιστί, Ῥωμαϊστί. ἔλεγον οὖν τῷ Πιλάτῳ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς τῶν Ἰουδαίων, “μὴ γράφε, Ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων”· ἀλλ’ ὅτι Ἐκεῖνος εἴπεν, Βασιλεύς εἰμι τῶν Ἰουδαίων. ἀπεκρίθη ὁ Πιλάτος, “ὃ γέγραφα, γέγραφα.”
(John 19.17-22)

And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was Jesus Of Nazareth The King Of The Jews. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. (King James Version)