William Blake - Capaneus the Blasphemer
William Blake, Capaneus the Blasphemer

Non tamen haec turbant pacem Iovis. ecce quierant
iurgia, cum mediis Capaneus auditus in astris:
‘Nullane pro trepidis,’ clamabat, ‘numina Thebis
statis? ubi infandae segnes telluris alumni,
Bacchus et Alcides? piget instigare minores:
tu potius venias (quis enim concurrere nobis
dignior?); en cineres Semelaeaque busta tenentur!
nunc age, nunc totis in me conitere flammis,
Iuppiter! an pavidas tonitru turbare puellas
fortior et soceri turres exscindere Cadmi?’
(Statius, Theb. 10.897-906)

Yet all this does not disturb Jove’s peace. Behold, the wrangling had subsided, when Capaneus is heard in mid heaven: ‘Do none of you deities,’ he roars, ‘take stand for trembling Thebes? Where are the sluggish nurslings of the accursed land, Bacchus and Alcides? It irks me to urge inferiors; come you rather, for who is worthier to meet me? See, Semele’s ashes and tomb are mine. Come now, strive against me with all your flames, Jupiter! Or are you braver at alarming timid girls with your thunder and razing the towers of your bride’s father Cadmus?’ (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey)


Passio Sanctorum Scillitanorum

Σατουρνῖνος ὁ ἀνθύπατος ἔφη· Ἀλλὰ καὶ ἡμεῖς θρησκεύομεν, καὶ ἁπλῆ ἡ καθ’ ἡμᾶς θρησκεία καθέστηκεν· καὶ δὴ ὀμνύομεν κατὰ τῆς συμπεφυκυίας εὐδαιμονίας τοῦ δεσπότου ἡμῶν βασιλέως καὶ ὑπὲρ τῆς αὐτοῦ σωτηρίας ἱκετεύομεν· ὃ καὶ ὑμᾶς ὡσαύτως χρῆ ποιεῖν.
ὁ δὲ ἅγιος Σπερᾶτος εἶπεν· Ἐὰν γαληνιώσας μοι τὰς σὰς ἀκοὰς παράσχοις, ἐρῶ τὸ τῆς ἀληθοῦς ἁπλότητος μυστήριον.
Σατουρνῖνος ὁ ἀνθύπατος ἔφη· Ἐναρξαμένου σου πονηρὰ λέγειν κατὰ τῶν ἡμετέρων ἱερέων τὰς ἀκοάς μου οὐ προσθήσω· ἀλλ’ ὀμόσατε μᾶλλον κατὰ τῆς εὐδαιμονίας τοῦ δεσπότου ἡμῶν αὐτοκράτορος.
ὁ ἅγιος Σπερᾶτος λέγει· Ἐγὼ τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ νῦν αἰῶνος οὐ γινώσκω· αἰνῶ δὲ καὶ λατρεύω τῷ ἐμῷ θεῷ, ὃν οὐδεὶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων τεθέαται· οὐδὲ γὰρ οἷόντε τούτοις τοῖς αἰσθητοῖς ὄμμασι. κλοπὴν οὐ πεποίηκα· ἀλλ’ εἴ τι καὶ πράσσω, τὸ τέλος ἀποτίνυμι, ὅτι ἐπιγινώσκω τὸν κύριον ἡμῶν καὶ βασιλέα τῶν βασιλέων καὶ δεσπότην πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν.
Σατουρνῖνος ὁ ἀνθύπατος ἔφη πρὸς τοὺς λοιπούς· Ἀπόστητε ἀπὸ τῆς ἀποδειχθείσης ταύτης πιθανότητος.
ὁ ἅγιος Σπερᾶτος ἔφη· Ἐκείνη ἐστὶν ἐπισφαλὴς πιθανότης, τὸ ἀνδροφονίαν κατεργάζεσθαι ἢ ψευδομαρτυρίαν κατασκευάζειν.
Σατουρνῖνος ὁ ἀνθύπατος εἶπεν· Μὴ βουληθῆτε τῆς τοσαύτης μανίας καὶ παραφροσύνης γενέσθαι ἢ δειχθῆναι συμμέτοχοι.
ὁ δὲ ἅγιος Κιττῖνος ὑπολαβὼν ἀπεκρίνατο· Ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἔχομεν ἕτερον ὃν φοβηθῶμεν, εἰ μὴ κύριον τὸν θεὸν ἡμῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς κατοικοῦντα.
ἡ δὲ ἁγία Δονᾶτα ἔφη· Τὴν μὲν τιμὴν τῷ Καίσαρι ὡς Καίσαρι, τὸν φόβον δὲ τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν ἀποδίδομεν.
ἡ δὲ ἁγία Ἑστία λέγει· Ἐγὼ χριστιανὴ καθίσταμαι.
ἔτι δὲ ἡ ἁγία Σεκοῦνδα ἔφη· Ὅπερ εἰμί, καὶ διαμεῖναι πορεύομαι.
(Μαρτύριον τοῦ ἁγίου καὶ καλλινίκου μάρτυρος Σπεράτου 3-9)

Saturninus proconsul dixit: “Et nos religiosi sumus, et simplex est religio nostra, et iuramus per genium domni nostri imperatoris, et pro salute eius supplicamus, quod et vos quoque facere debetis.”
Speratus dixit: “Si tranquillas praebueris aures tuas, dico mysterium simplicitatis.”
Saturninus dixit: “Initianti tibi mala de sacris nostris aures non praebebo; sed potius iura per genium domini nostri imperatoris.”
Speratus dixit: “Ego imperium huius seculi non cognosco; sed magis illi Deo servio, quem nemo hominum vidit nec videre his oculis potest. furtum non feci, sed si quid emero teloneum reddo; quia cognosco dominum meum, regem regum et imperatorem omnium gentium.”
Saturninus proconsul dixit ceteris: “Desinite huius esse persuasionis.”
Speratus dixit: “Mala est persuasio homicidium facere, falsum testimonium dicere.”
Saturninus proconsul dixit: “Nolite huius dementiae esse participes.”
Cittinus dixit: “Nos non habemus alium quem timeamus, nisi Dominum Deum nostrum qui est in caelis.”
Donata dixit: “Honorem Caesari quasi Caesari; timorem autem Deo.”
Vestia dixit: “Christiana sum.”
Secunda dixit: “Quod sum, ipsud volo esse.”
(Passio Sanctorum Scillitanorum 3-9)

From: J.A. Robinson, The Passion of S. Perpetua [Texts and Studies 1.2, appendix], Cambridge, 1891.

Saturninus the governor said: “We too are religious and our religion is simple: we swear by the birth spirit of our lord the emperor and offer sacrifice for his health, which you must do as well.”
Speratus said: “If you are prepared to listen to me, I will tell you a mystery of simplicity.”
Saturninus said: “If you’re going to tell bad things about our sacred rituals, I will not listen to you. Rather, swear by the birth spirit of our lord the emperor.”
Speratus said: “I do not acknowledge the authority of this world, but I rather serve that God whom no one has seen or can see with these eyes. I have never been guilty of theft, but whenever I buy, I pay the tax, because I acknowledge my lord, the king of kings and ruler of all peoples.”
Saturninus the governor said to the others: “Stop being of this persuasion!”
Speratus said: “Bad is the persuasion to commit murder, to bear false testimony.”
Saturninus the governor said: “Stop being part of this madness!”
Cittinus said: “We have no other to fear but the Lord our God, who is in heaven.”
Donata said: “Honor to Caesar in his capacity as Caesar, but fear to God.”
Vestia said: “I am a Christian.”
Secunda said: “What I am is exactly what I want to be.”
(tr. J. Armitage Robinson)


Crede mihi, distant mores a carmine nostro –
vita verecunda est, Musa iocosa mea –
magnaque pars mendax operum est et ficta meorum;
plus sibi permisit compositore suo.
(Ovid, Tristia 2.353-356)

I assure you, my character differs from my verse (my life is moral, my muse is gay), and most of my work, unreal and fictitious, has allowed itself more licence than its author has had. (tr. Arthur Leslie Wheeler)


evasi effugi

D.M.S.* L. Annius Octavius Valerianus

evasi, effugi. Spes et Fortuna, valete!
nil mihi voviscum* est, ludificate alios!

* D.M.S. = Dis Manibus Sacris (sacred/dedicated to the spirit-gods). Voviscum is a spelling error for vobiscum. There are several variations on this epitaph.
(CIL VI.11743 = CLE 1498)

I have come through, escaped. Hope and Fortune, farewell. I have no more to do with you; trifle with others. (tr. Archie Burnett)



Is cui os oleat an sanus sit quaesitum est: Trebatius ait non esse morbosum os alicui olere, veluti hircosum, strabonem: hoc enim ex illuvie oris accidere solere. Si tamen ex corporis vitio id accidit, veluti quod iecur, quod pulmo aut aliud quid similiter dolet, morbosus est.
(Ulpian, Digesta

The question arose whether a slave who has a bad breath is sound. Trebatius says that a person whose breath smells is not diseased any more than one who smells like a goat, or who squints; for this may happen to anyone on account of a filthy mouth. But, however, where this occurs through some bodily defect, for example, from the liver or the lungs, or from any other similar cause, the slave is diseased. (tr. Samuel P. Scott)



Περιστάσης δὲ τῆς πάσης εἰς μόνον Κωσταντῖνον ἀρχῆς, οὐκέτι λοιπὸν τὴν κατὰ φύσιν ἐνοῦσαν αὐτῷ κακοήθειαν ἔκρυπτεν, ἀλλὰ ἐνεδίδου τῷ κατ’ ἐξουσίαν ἅπαντα πράττειν. ἐχρῆτο δὲ ἔτι καὶ τοῖς πατρίοις ἱεροῖς, οὐ τιμῆς ἕνεκα μᾶλλον ἢ χρείας· ᾗ καὶ μάντεσιν ἐπείθετο, πεπειραμένος ὡς ἀληθῆ προεῖπον ἐπὶ πᾶσι τοῖς κατωρθωμένοις αὐτῷ. ἐπεὶ δ’ εἰς τὴν Ῥώμην ἀφίκετο μεστὸς πάσης ἀλαζονείας, ἀφ’ ἑστίας ᾠήθη δεῖν ἄρξασθαι τῆς ἀσεβείας. Κρίσπον γὰρ παῖδα τῆς τοῦ Καίσαρος, ὡς εἴρηταί μοι πρότερον, ἀξιωθέντα τιμῆς, εἰς ὑποψίαν ἐλθόντα τοῦ Φαύστῃ τῇ μητρυιᾷ συνεῖναι, τοῦ τῆς φύσεως θεσμοῦ μηδένα λόγον ποιησάμενος ἀνεῖλεν. τῆς δὲ Κωσταντίνου μητρὸς Ἑλένης ἐπὶ τῷ τηλικούτῳ πάθει δυσχεραινούσης καὶ ἀσχέτως τὴν ἀναίρεσιν τοῦ νέου φερούσης, παραμυθούμενος ὥσπερ αὐτὴν ὁ Κωσταντῖνος κακῷ τὸ κακὸν ἰάσατο μείζονι· βαλανεῖον γὰρ ὑπὲρ τὸ μέτρον ἐκπυρωθῆναι κελεύσας καὶ τούτῳ τὴν Φαῦσταν ἐναποθέμενος ἐξήγαγεν νεκρὰν γενομένην.
(Zosimus, Historia Nova 2.29.1-2)

Now that the whole empire had fallen into the hands of Constantine, he no longer concealed his evil disposition and vicious inclinations, but acted as he pleased, without controul. He indeed used the ancient worship of his country; though not so much out of honour or veneration as of necessity. Therefore he believed the soothsayers, who were expert in their art, as men who predicted the truth concerning all the great actions which he ever performed. But when he came to Rome, he was filled with pride and arrogance. He resolved to begin his impious actions at home. For he put to death his son Crispus, stiled (as I mentioned) Caesar, on suspicion of debauching his mother-in-law Fausta, without any regard to the ties of nature. And when his own mother Helena expressed much sorrow for this atrocity, lamenting the young man’s death with great bitterness, Constantine under pretence of comforting her, applied a remedy worse than the disease. For causing a bath to be heated to an extraordinary degree, he shut up Fausta in it, and a short time after took her out dead.
(tr. W. Green & T. Chaplin)


Smyrna Cinyrae Assyriorum regis et Cenchreidis filia, cuius mater Cenchreis superbius locuta quod filiae suae formam Veneri anteposuerat. Venus matris poenas exsequens Smyrnae infandum amorem obiecit, adeo ut patrem suum amaret. quae ne suspendio se necaret nutrix intervenit et patre nesciente per nutricem cum eo concubuit, ex quo concepit, idque ne palam fieret, pudore stimulata in silvis se abdidit. cui Venus postea miserta est et in speciem arboris eam commutavit unde myrrha fluit, ex qua natus est Adonis, qui matris poenas a Venere est insecutus.
(Hyginus, Fab. 58.1-3)

Smyrna was the daughter of Cinyras, King of the Assyrians, and Cenchreis. Her mother Cenchreis boasted proudly that her daughter excelled Venus in beauty. Venus [Aphrodite], to punish the mother, sent forbidden love to Smyrna so that she loved her own father. The nurse prevented her from hanging herself, and without knowledge of her father, helped her lie with him. She conceived, and goaded by shame, in order not to reveal her fault, hid in the woods. Venus later pitied her, and changed her into a kind of tree from which myrrh flows; Adonis, born from it, exacted punishment for his mother’s sake from Venus.
(tr. Mary Grant)