Temeritatem

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Mira etiam censoris Augusti et laudata patientia. corripiebatur eques Romanus a principe, tamquam minuisset facultates suas, at ille se multiplicasse coram probavit. mox eidem obiecit quod ad contrahendum matrimonium legibus non paruisset. ille uxorem sibi et tres esse liberos dixit. tum adiecit: “posthac, Caesar, cum de honestis hominibus inquiris, honestis mandato.” etiam militis non libertatem tantum sed et temeritatem tulit. in quadam villa inquietas noctes agebat rumpente somnum eius crebro noctuae cantu. prendendam curavit noctuam miles aucupii peritus et spe ingentis praemii pertulit. laudato imperator mille nummos dari iussit. ille ausus est dicere: “malo vivat,” avemque dimisit. quis non miratus est non offenso Caesare abisse militem contumacem? veteranus, cum die sibi dicto periclitaretur, accessit in publico ad Caesarem, rogavitque ut sibi adesset. ille advocatum quem ex comitatu suo elegerat sine mora dedit, commendavitque ei litigatorem. exclamavit ingenti voce veteranus: “at non ego, Caesar, periclitante te Actiaco bello vicarium quaesivi, sed pro te ipse pugnavi,” detexitque impressas cicatrices. erubuit Caesar, venitque in advocationem, ut qui vereretur non superbus tantum sed etiam ingratus videri.
(Macrobius, Sat. 2.4.25-27)

As censor Augustus displayed a striking and praiseworthy forbearance. He was upbraiding a Roman knight for having squandered his resources, but the man demonstrated in his presence that he had actually increased them. Soon after he reproached the same man for not obeying the laws prescribing marriage, but the man said he had a wife and three children, and added, “From now on, Caesar, give honorable men the job of investigating honorable men.” In the case of a soldier, he tolerated speech that was not merely free but brazen: when he was passing some restless nights at a villa where an owl’s hooting was disturbing his sleep, a soldier who was also a skilled bird-catcher caught the bird and brought it to Augustus, expecting a huge reward. The emperor praised him and ordered that he be given 1,000 sesterces—at which point the soldier dared to say, “I’d rather see it live,” and let the bird go. Who could not be amazed that Caesar took no offense and let the defiant soldier off scot-free? When an army veteran was facing a trial and had his court-date set, he approached Caesar in public and asked him to support him at his trial. Caesar immediately chose someone from his entourage to serve as his advocate and introduced the man to the soldier: thereupon the veteran cried out in a loud voice, “But did not look for someone to serve in my place when you were in danger at the battle of Actium: I fought for you myself,” and he uncovered his scars. Caesar blushed and came to support him, for fear of appearing not just arrogant but also ungrateful. (tr. Robert A. Kaster)

Ianuarium

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Haec fuit a Romulo annua ordinata dimensio, qui, sicut supra iam diximus, annum decem mensium, dierum vero quattuor et trecentorum habendum esse constituit, mensesque ita disposuit ut quattuor ex his tricenos singulos, sex vero tricenos haberent dies. sed cum is numerus neque solis cursui neque lunae rationibus conveniret, non numquam usu veniebat ut frigus anni aestivis mensibus et contra calor hiemalibus proveniret, quod ubi contigisset, tantum dierum sine ullo mensis nomine patiebantur absumi quantum ad id anni tempus adduceret quo caeli habitus instanti mensi aptus inveniretur. sed secutus Numa, quantum saeculo rudi et adhuc impolito solo ingenio magistro comprehendere potuit, vel quia Graecorum observatione forsan instructus est, quinquaginta dies addidit, ut in trecentos quinquaginta quattuor dies quibus duodecim lunae cursus confici credidit annus extenderetur. atque his quinquaginta a se additis adiecit alios sex retractos illis sex mensibus qui triginta habebant dies, id est de singulis singulos, factosque quinquaginta et sex dies in duos novos menses pari ratione divisit. ac de duobus priorem Ianuarium nuncupavit primumque anni esse voluit, tamquam bicipitis dei mensem, respicientem ac prospicientem transacti anni finem futurique principia; secundum dicavit Februo deo, qui lustrationum potens creditur. lustrari autem eo mense civitatem necesse erat, quo statuit ut iusta dis Manibus solverentur.
(Macrobius, Sat. 1.12.38-1.13.3)

This was the measure of the year set in order by Romulus, who, as I said above, established that the year should be reckoned at ten months or 304 days, and arranged the months so that four of them had thirty-one days, while six had thirty. But since that number matched neither the revolution of the sun nor the phases of the moon, it sometimes happened that the cold season fell out in the summer months and, conversely, the hot season in the winter months: when that happened, they let pass as many days—assigned to no particular month—as were needed to bring them to the time of year when the condition of the heavens matched the month they were in. But Numa followed Romulus. With all the understanding he could muster, following his wits alone in an age still uncouth and unrefined—or perhaps because he learned from the Greeks—he added fifty days, extending the year to the 354 days he thought comprised twelve lunar cycles. To these additional fifty days he added another six taken from the months that had thirty days—that is, one day from each—and divided the resulting fifty-six days into two months of equal length. The first of these he named January and decided it should be the first month of the year, the month of the two-headed god, looking back to the end of the year past and ahead to the start of the year to come. The second he dedicated to the god Februus, who is believed to control rites of purification: the community had to be purified in that month, when he determined that the Good Gods be paid the offerings due to them. (tr. Robert A. Kaster)

Urbanitas

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In consulatu Vatinii, quem paucis diebus gessit, notabilis Ciceronis urbanitas circumferebatur. “Magnum ostentum” inquit “anno Vatinii factum est, quod illo consule nec bruma nec ver nec aestas nec autumnus fuit. [Cicero, Dicta 31]” querenti deinde Vatinio quod gravatus esset domum ad se infirmatum venire, respondit, “volui in consulatu tuo venire, sed nox me comprehendit. [Dicta 32]” ulcisci autem se Cicero videbatur, ut qui respondisse sibi Vatinium meminerat, cum umeris se rei publicae de exilio reportatum gloriaretur, “Unde ergo tibi varices?”
(Macrobius, Sat. 2.3.5)

In Vatinius’ consulship, which he held for only a few days, one of Cicero’s noteworthy mots was in circulation: “A great marvel,” he said, “came to pass in the year of Vatinius, when there was neither winter nor spring nor summer nor fall while he was consul.” When Vatinius complained that Cicero had found it a bother to pay him a sick-call at home, Cicero replied, “I wanted to come during your consulship, but nightfall overtook me.” Cicero appeared to be getting his own back, since he recalled that when he boasted how he had been borne back from exile on the shoulders of the commonwealth, Vatinius had said, “How did you get those varicose veins, then?” (tr. Robert A. Kaster)

Centum

Homeri est:
‘οὐδ’ εἴ μοι δέκα μὲν γλῶσσαι δέκα δὲ στόματ’ εἶεν…’
hunc secutus Hostius poeta in libro secundo belli Histrici ait:
‘non si mihi linguae
centum atque ora sient totidem vocesque liquatae…’
hinc Vergilius ait:
‘non mihi si linguae centum sint oraque centum…’
(Macrobius, Sat. 6.3.6)

Homer’s line is (Il. 2.489):
Not if I had ten tongues, ten mouths…
The poet Hostius followed Homer in Book 2 of his Histria War (fr. 3 FPL³):
Not if I had one hundred tongues and as many mouths and a clear-sounding voice…
Hence Virgil says (A. 6.625):
Not if I should have one hundred tongues, one hundred mouths…
(tr. Robert A. Kaster)

Intemperantes

Sed quia voluptatum fecimus mentionem, docet Aristoteles a quibus voluptatibus sit cavendum. quinque enim sunt hominum sensus, quos Graeci αἰσθήσεις appellant, per quos voluptas animo aut corpori quaeri videtur, tactus gustus odoratus visus auditus. ex his omnibus voluptas quae immodice capitur ea turpis atque improba est. sed enim quae nimia ex gustu atque tactu est, ea igitur gemina voluptas, sicut sapientes viri censuerunt, omnium rerum foedissima est eosque maxime qui sese duabus istis voluptatibus dediderunt gravissimi vitii vocabulis Graeci appellaverunt vel ἀκρατεῖς vel ἀκολάστους, nos eos vel incontinentes dicimus vel intemperantes. istas autem voluptates duas, gustus atque tactus, id est cibi et veneris, solas hominibus communes videmus esse cum beluis, et idcirco in pecudum ferorumque animalium numero habetur quisquis est his ferarum voluptatibus occupatus; ceterae ex tribus aliis sensibus proficiscentes hominum tantum propriae sunt.
(Macrobius, Sat. 8.10-12)

But since the topic of pleasure has come up, Aristotle teaches us which pleasures we have to guard against. Human beings have five senses, which the Greeks call aisthêseis, and these – touch, taste, smell, slight, hearing – are the pathways by which the body ad mind seek pleasure. Pleasure derived immoderately from all these senses is base and wicked, but excessive pleasure derived from taste and touch – a compound pleasure, as wise men have judged it – is the most disgusting of all: to those, especially, who surrendered to these pleasures the Greeks applied the terms for the most serious of vices, calling them akratês or akolastoi, or as we say, “incontinent” or “uncontrolled.” We understand that the two pleasures of taste and touch – that is, food and sex – are the only ones that human beings share with the beasts, and that’s why anyone wholly in the grip of these pleasure is counted among the animals of the fields and the wilds; all other pleasures, which derive from the three remaining senses, are peculiar to human beings. (tr. Robert A. Kaster)