Spectaculum

590 (15)

Romae pugnasse* Fenestella tradit primum omnium in circo Claudi Pulchri aedilitate curuli M. Antonio A. Postumio cos. anno urbis DCLV, item post annos viginti Lucullorum aedilitate curuli adversus tauros. Pompei quoque altero consulatu, dedicatione templi Veneris Victricis, viginti pugnavere in circo aut, ut quidam tradunt, septendecim, Gaetulis ex adverso iaculantibus, mirabili unius dimicatione, qui pedibus confossis repsit genibus in catervas, abrepta scuta iaciens in sublime, quae decidentia voluptati spectantibus erant in orbem circumacta, velut arte, non furore belvae, iacerentur. magnum et in altero miraculum fuit uno ictu occiso; pilum autem sub oculo adactum in vitalia capitis venerat. universi eruptionem temptavere, non sine vexatione populi, circumdatis claustris ferreis. qua de causa Caesar dictator postea simile spectaculum editurus euripis harenam circumdedit, quos Nero princeps sustulit equiti loca addens. sed Pompeiani amissa fugae spe misericordiam vulgi inenarrabili habitu quaerentes supplicavere quadam sese lamentatione complorantes, tanto populi dolore, ut oblitus imperatoris ac munificentiae honori suo exquisitae flens universus consurgeret dirasque Pompeio, quas ille mox luit, imprecaretur.

* sc. elephantem

(Pliny the Elder, Nat. Hist. 8.19-21)

Fenestella states that the first elephant fought in the circus at Rome in the curule aedileship of Claudius Pulcher and the consulship of Marcus Antonius and Aulus Postumius, 99 B.C., and also that the first fight of an elephant against bulls was twenty years later in the curule aedileship of the Luculli. Also in Pompey’s second consulship at the dedication of the Temple of Venus Victrix, twenty, or, as some record, seventeen, fought in the Circus, their opponents being Gaetulians armed with javelins, one of the animals putting up a marvelous fight—its feet being disabled by wounds it crawled against the hordes of the enemy on its knees, snatching their shields from them and throwing them into the air, and these as they fell delighted the spectators by the curves they described, as if they were being thrown by a skilled juggler and not by an infuriated wild animal. There was also a marvelous occurrence in the case of another, which was killed by a single blow, as the javelin striking it under the eye had reached the vital parts of the head. The whole band attempted to burst through the iron palisading by which they were enclosed and caused considerable trouble among the public. Owing to this, when subsequently Caesar in his dictatorship was going to exhibit a similar show he surrounded the arena with channels of water; these the emperor Nero removed when adding special places for the Knighthood. But Pompey’s elephants when they had lost all hope of escape tried to gain the compassion of the crowd by indescribable gestures of entreaty, deploring their fate with a sort of wailing, so much to the distress of the public that they forgot the general and his munificence carefully devised for their honour, and bursting into tears rose in a body and invoked curses on the head of Pompey for which he soon afterwards paid the penalty. (tr. Harris Rackham)

Horologium

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XII tabulis ortus tantum et occasus nominantur, post aliquot annos adiectus est et meridies, accenso consulum id pronuntiante, cum a curia inter Rostra et Graecostasin prospexisset solem; a columna Maenia ad carcerem inclinato sidere supremam pronuntiavit, sed hoc serenis tantum diebus, usque ad primum Punicum bellum. princeps solarium horologium statuisse ante XII annos quam cum Pyrro bellatum est ad aedem Quirini L. Papirius Cursor, cum eam dedicaret a patre suo votam, a Fabio Vestale proditur. sed neque facti horologii rationem vel artificem significat nec unde translatum sit aut apud quem scriptum id invenerit. M. Varro primum statutum in publico secundum Rostra in columna tradit bello Punico primo a M’. Valerio Messala cos. Catina capta in Sicilia, deportatum inde post XXX annos quam de Papiriano horologio traditur, anno urbis CCCCLXXXX. nec congruebant ad horas eius lineae, paruerunt tamen ei annis undecentum, donec Q. Marcius Philippus, qui cum L. Paulo fuit censor, diligentius ordinatum iuxta posuit, idque munus inter censoria opera gratissima acceptum est. etiam tum tamen nubilo incertae fuere horae usque ad proximum lustrum. tunc Scipio Nasica collega Laenati primus aqua divisit horas aeque noctium ac dierum idque horologium sub tecto dicavit anno urbis DXCV. tam diu populo Romano indiscreta lux fuit.
(Pliny the Elder, Nat. Hist. 7.212-215)

In the Twelve Tables only sunrise and sunset are specified; a few years later noon was also added, the consuls’ apparitor announcing it when from the Senate-house he saw the sun between the Beaks and the Greek Lodging. When the sun sloped from the Maenian Column to the Prison he announced the last hour, but this only on clear days, down to the First Punic War. We have it on the authority of Fabius Vestalis that the first sundial was erected 11 years before the war* with Pyrrhus at the Temple of Quirinus by Lucius Papirius Cursor when dedicating that temple, which had been vowed by his father; but Fabius does not indicate the principle of the sundial’s construction or the maker, nor where it was brought from or the name of the writer who is his authority for the statement. Marcus Varro records that the first public sundial was set up on a column along by the Beaks during the First Punic War after Catania in Sicily had been taken** by the consul Manius Valerius Messala, and that it was brought from Sicily thirty years later than the traditional date of Papirius’s sundial, B.C. 264. The lines of this sundial did not agree with the hours, but all the same they followed it for 99 years, till Quintus Marcius Philippus who was Censor with Lucius Paulus placed a more carefully designed one next to it, and this gift was received as one of the most welcome of the censor’s undertakings. Even then however the hours were uncertain in cloudy weather, until the next lustrum, when Scipio Nasica the colleague of Laenas instituted the first water-clock dividing the hours of the nights and the days equally, and dedicated this timepiece in a roofed building, B.C. 159. For so long a period the divisions of daylight had not been marked for the Roman public.

* Begun 281 B.C.
** 263 B.C.

(tr. William Henry Samuel Jones, with his notes)

Ardua

pliny-the-elder

Res ardua vetustis novitatem dare, novis auctoritatem, obsoletis nitorem, obscuris lucem, fastiditis gratiam, dubiis fidem, omnibus vero naturam et naturae sua omnia. itaque nobis etiam non assecutis voluisse abunde pulchrum atque magnificum est.
(Pliny the Elder, Nat. Hist. praef. 15)

It is a difficult task to give novelty to what is old, authority to what is new, brilliance to the common-place, light to the obscure, attraction to the stale, credibility to the doubtful, but nature to all things and all her properties to nature. Accordingly, even if we have not succeeded, it is honourable and glorious in the fullest measure to have resolved on the attempt. (tr. Harris Rackham)

Versipelles

werewolf

Homines in lupos verti rursusque restitui sibi falsum esse confidenter existimare debemus aut credere omnia quae fabulosa tot saeculis comperimus; unde tamen ista vulgo infixa sit fama in tantum ut in maledictis versipelles habeat indicabitur. Euanthes, inter auctores Graeciae non spretus, scribit Arcadas tradere ex gente Anthi cuiusdam sorte familiae lectum ad stagnum quoddam regionis eius duci vestituque in quercu suspenso tranare atque abire in deserta transfigurarique in lupum et cum ceteris eiusdem generis congregari per annos novem; quo in tempore si homine se abstinuerit, reverti ad idem stagnum et, cum tranaverit, effigiem recipere, ad pristinum habitum addito novem annorum senio, addit quoque fabulosius eandem recipere vestem! mirum est quo procedat Graeca credulitas: nullum tam impudens mendacium est ut teste careat. item Apollas, qui Olympionicas scripsit, narrat Demaenetum Parrhasium in sacrificio, quod Arcades Iovi Lycaeo humana etiamtum hostia faciebant, immolati pueri exta degustasse et in lupum se convertisse, eundem decimo anno restitutum athletice se exercuisse in pugilatu victoremque Olympia reversum. quin et caudae huius animalis creditur vulgo inesse amatorium virus exiguo in villo eumque cum capiatur abici nec idem pollere nisi viventi direptum.
(Pliny the Elder, Nat. Hist. 8.80-83)

We are bound to pronounce with confidence that the story of men being turned into wolves and restored to themselves again is false—or else we must believe all the tales that the experience of so many centuries has taught us to be fabulous; nevertheless we will indicate the origin of the popular belief, which is so firmly rooted that it classes werewolves among persons under a curse. Evanthes, who holds no contemptible position among the authors of Greece, writes that the Arcadians have a tradition that someone chosen out of the clan of a certain Anthus by casting lots among the family is taken to a certain marsh in that region, and hanging his clothes on an oak-tree swims across the water and goes away into a desolate place and is transformed into a wolf and herds with the others of the same kind for nine years; and that if in that period he has refrained from touching a human being, he returns to the same marsh, swims across it and recovers his shape, with nine years’ age added to his former appearance; Evanthes also adds the more fabulous detail that he gets back the same clothes. It is astounding to what lengths Greek credulity will go; there is no lie so shameless as to lack a supporter. Similarly Apollas the author of Olympic Victors relates that at the sacrifice which even at that date the Arcadians used to perform in honour of Lycaean Jove with a human victim, Daemenetus of Parrhasia tasted the vitals of a boy who had been offered as a victim ad turned himself into a wolf, and furthermore that he was restored then years later and trained himself in athletics for boxing and returned a winner from Olympia. Moreover it is popularly believed that even the tail of this animal contains a love-poison in a small tuft of hair, and when it is caught it sheds the tuft, which has not the same potency unless plucked from the animal while it is alive. (tr. Harris Rackham)

Aquilarum

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Romanis eam* legionibus Gaius Marius in secundo consulatu suo proprie dicavit. erat et antea prima cum quattuor aliis: lupi, minotauri, equi aprique singulos ordines anteibant; paucis ante annis sola in aciem portari coepta erat, reliqua in castris relinquebantur; Marius in totum ea abdicavit. ex eo notatum non fere legionis umquam hiberna esse castra ubi aquilarum non sit iugum.

* sc. aquilam

(Pliny the Elder, Nat. Hist. 10.16)

The eagle was assigned to the Roman legions as their special badge by Gaius Marius in his second consulship. Even previously it had been their first badge, with four others, wolves, minotaurs, horses and boars going in front of the respective ranks; but a few years before the custom had come in of carrying the eagles alone into action, the rest being left behind in camp. Marius discarded them altogether. Thenceforward it was noticed that there was scarcely ever a legion’s winter camp without a pair of eagles being in the neighbourhood. (tr. Harris Rackham)

Capillus

bad-hair

Capillus puero qui primum decisus est podagrae impetus dicitur levare circumligatus, et in totum impubium impositus. virorum quoque capillus canis morsibus medetur ex aceto et capitum volneribus ex oleo aut vino; si credimus, a revulso cruci quartanis, combustus utique capillus carcinomati. pueri qui primus ceciderit dens, ut terram non attingat, inclusus in armillam et adsidue in bracchio habitus muliebrium locorum dolores prohibet.
(Pliny the Elder, Nat. Hist. 28.41)

The hair cut off first from a child’s head, if tied round the affected part, is said to relieve attacks of gout, as does the application of the hair of all, generally speaking, who have not arrived at puberty. The hair of adult men also, applied with vinegar, is good for dog bites, with oil or wine for wounds on the head. If we believe it, the hair of a man torn from the cross is good for quartan ague; burnt hair is certainly good for carcinoma. The first tooth of a child to fall out, provided that it does not touch the ground, if set in a bracelet and worn constantly on a woman’s arm, keeps pain away from her private parts. (tr. William Henry Samuel Jones)

Porcaria

dscf4453

Vulva eiecto partu melior quam edito; eiecticia vocatur illa, haec porcaria. primiparae suis optima, contra effetis. a partu, praeterquam eodem die suis occisae, livida ac macra; nec novellarum suum praeter primiparas probatur, potiusque veterum, dum ne effetarum, nec biduo ante partum aut post partum aut quo eiecerint die. proxima ab eiecticia est occisae uno die post partum; huius et sumen optimum, si modo fetus non hauserit; eiecticiae deterrimum.
(Pliny the Elder, Nat. Hist. 11.210-211)

Sow’s paunch is a better dish after a miscarriage than after a succesful delivery; in the former case it is called ‘miscarryings’ and in the latter ‘farrowings.’ That of a sow farrowing for the first time is best, and the contrary with those exhausted with breeding. After farrowing the paunch is a bad colour and lacking in fat, unless the sow was killed the same day; nor is that of young sows thought much of, except from those farrowing for the first time, and the paunch of old sows is preferable provided they are not quite worn out, and not killed on the actual day of farrowing or the day before or the day after. The paunch next best to miscarryings is that of a sow slaughtered the day after farrowing; also its paps are the best, provided it has not yet suckled the litter; the paps of a sow that has had a miscarriage are the worst. (tr. Harris Rackham)