“‘Inspice, nescio quid trepidat mihi pectus et aegris
faucibus exsuperat gravis halitus, inspice sodes’
qui dicit medico, iussus requiescere, postquam
tertia compositas vidit nox currere venas,
de maiore domo modice sitiente lagoena
lenia loturo sibi Surrentina rogabit.
‘heus bone, tu palles.’ ‘nihil est.’ ‘videas tamen istuc,
quidquid id est. surgit tacite tibi lutea pellis.’
‘at tu deterius palles, ne sis mihi tutor.
iam pridem hunc sepeli; tu restas.’ ‘perge, tacebo.’
turgidus hic epulis atque albo ventre lavatur,
gutture sulpureas lente exhalante mefites.
sed tremor inter vina subit calidumque trientem
excutit e manibus, dentes crepuere retecti,
uncta cadunt laxis tunc pulmentaria labris.
hinc tuba, candelae, tandemque beatulus alto
compositus lecto crassisque lutatus amomis
in portam rigidas calces extendit. at illum
hesterni capite induto subiere Quirites.”
(Persius, Sat. 3.88-106)

“‘Examine me. I’ve got strange palpitations in my chest, a sore throat, and my breathing comes hard. Please examine me.’ That’s what he says to his doctor. He’s ordered to take it easy, but when the third night sees his veins running steady, he’ll be round at a rich friend’s house with a pretty thirsty flagon, asking for mild Sorrentine1 to drink at the baths. ‘Hey, you’re looking pale, my friend.’ ‘It’s nothing.’ ‘Well, you should see to it, whatever it is. Your hide’s going puffy and yellow on you.’ ‘Well, ‘I’m not as pale as you. Don’t play the guardian. I buried mine a long time ago, but you’re still here.’ ‘OK, carry on, I’ll shut up.’ Stuffed from his feast this one goes to bathe, his belly white, his throat emitting long sulphurous stenches. But as he drinks, a fit of shivers comes over him and knocks the hot glass out of his hands, his bared teeth chatter, then the lavish flavourings slide from his slack lips. Then come the trumpet and candles, and finally the dear deceased, laid out on a high bier and plastered thick with perfumed balm, sticks out his stiff heels towards the door. And it’s yesterday’s new citizens2 wearing their new hats that carry him out.”

1 A light wine from Sorrento, recommended for invalids.
2 I.e. the slaves given their freedom and citizenship in the dead man’s will. They wear the cap of liberty (pilleum), cf. 5.82

(tr. Susanna Morton Braund, with her notes)



The Elder Seneca on the orator Quintus Haterius:

Ille in hoc scholasticis morem gerebat, ne verbis calcatis et obsoletis uteretur; sed quaedam antiqua et a Cicerone dicta, a ceteris deinde deserta dicebat, quae ne ille quidem orationis citatissimae cursus poterat abscondere: adeo quidquid insolitum est etiam in turba notabile est. hoc exempto nemo erat scholasticis nec aptior nec similior, sed, dum nihil vult nisi culte, nisi splendide dicere, saepe incidebat in ea quae derisum effugere non possent. memini illum, cum libertinum reum defenderet, cui obiciebatur quod patroni concubinus fuisset, dixisse: “Impudicitia in ingenuo crimen est, in servo necessitas, in liberto officium.” res in iocos abiit: “non facis mihi officium” et “multum ille huic in officiis versatur.” ex eo impudici et obsceni aliquamdiu officiosi vocitati sunt.
(Seneca the Elder, Controversiae 4 Pr. 9-10)

With this exception, no-one was better adapted to the schoolmen or more like them; but in his anxiety to say nothing that was not elegant and brilliant, he often fell into expressions that could not escape derision. I recall that he said, while defending a freedman who was charged with being his patron’s lover: “Losing one’s virtue is a crime in the freeborn, a necessity in a slave, a duty for the freedman.” The idea became a handle for jokes, like “you aren’t doing your duty by me” and “he gets in a lot of duty for him.” As a result the unchaste and obscene got called “dutiful” for some while afterwards. (tr. Michael Winterbottom)


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)