Valerius Maximus

-   Book 8 , chapters 1-7


Adapted from the translation by S. Speed (1678). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section.   

Contents:   I. Of Notorious Public Judgments
II. Of Remarkable Private Judgments
III. Of Women that pleaded Cases before Magistrates
IV. Of Interrogations
V. Of Witnesses ignored or confirmed
VI. Of those who committed themselves what they condemned in others
VII. Of Study and Diligence
VIII. Of praiseworthy Leisure
IX. Of the force of Eloquence
X. Of Delivery, and apt Motion of the Body
XI. Of the remarkable effects of the Arts
XII. That we must yield to the best Masters in their Arts
XIII. Of Memorable Old Age
XIV. Of the Desire for Glory
XV. What Magnificent Honours have been bestowed on Persons

Book 7

I.   Of Notorious Public Judgments

Now, so that the doubtful motions of legal judgments may more easily be endured, let us relate for what causes persons who laboured under envy, were either acquitted or condemned.


[1.1] L   M. Horatius was condemned by king Tullus for having slain his sister, but was acquitted on appeal to the people. The king was incensed by the cruelty of the murder, but the people were more inclined to mercy because of the reason for the deed: they believed that the punishment of the immature love of the girl was severe rather than impious. And thus the brother's right hand, being saved from punishment for his bold action, reaped as much honour from the blood of his sister, as from the blood of an enemy.     { see also: Livy 1.26 }

[1.2] L   On that occasion the Roman people showed themselves fierce preservers of chastity; later they were milder judges than justice itself required. For Servius Galba was vigorously accused on the rostra by Libo, a tribune of the plebs, because when he was a praetor in Spain, he had put to death a great number of the Lusitanians, contrary to his pledge given to them. Cato, at that time very advanced in age, in a speech that he recorded in his 'Origins', supported the tribune's action, so that the party accused had not a word to say for his own defence. Yet when with tears in his eyes he only recommended to the assembly his little children, and the young son of Gallus, who was closely related to him, he so appeased the wrath of his judges, that he, who just before was about to be condemned by all their votes, in an instant had hardly a single vote against him. Pity, not justice, brought about that decision; since the acquittal that could not be granted to innocence, was given out of compassion for the children.     { see also: 149/15 }

[1.3] L   Similar to that was what follows. A. Gabinius, in the height of infamy, was by the accusation of C. Memmius subjected to the votes of the people, and seemed to be past all hope. For the indictment was full, the defence weak, and his judges such as would angrily desire his punishment. The officers and imprisonment hovered before his eyes, and then vanished again by the intervention of propitious Fortune. For Sisenna, the son of Gabinius, driven by consternation, threw himself as a suppliant at the feet of Memmius, and sought for some lessening of his troubles, from the very source of the whole fury of the storm. The victor looked at him with a stern countenance, and knocking his ring from his finger, allowed him for some time to lie grovelling upon the ground. This sad spectacle had such an effect, that Laelius the tribune by general consent ordered the prisoner to be set free. This teaches  us, that no man ought insolently to abuse the successes of his prosperity, nor over-weakly to succumb to adversity.

[1.4] L   This is made manifest by the next example. Publius Claudius - I cannot tell whether to the greater detriment of religion or his country, for he despised the ancient customs of the one, and lost a magnificent fleet of the other - was subjected to the anger of the people. When it was thought that there was no way he could avoid the punishment that he deserved, he saved himself from condemnation, by the benefit of a sudden storm. After the trial had been postponed because of the storm, the people decided never to start it again, as if the gods themselves had forbidden it. Thus was he saved by a land-storm, whom a sea-storm was likely to have brought to condemnation.     { see also: 248/5 }

[1.5] L   By the same sort of assistance the chastity of Tuccia, a Vestal Virgin who was accused of incest, escaped from a black cloud of infamy. Trusting in the sincerity of her innocence, she ventured the hope of her safety upon a doubtful proposition. For, snatching up a sieve, "Vesta," said she, "If I have always attended your rites with clean and chaste hands, grant that I may take up water out of Tiber in this, and carry it to your temple." Nature yielded to the rash and bold prayers of the priestess.     { see also: 236/10 }

[1.6] L   L. Piso also, being accused by C. Claudius Pulcher of having caused great and intolerable harm to the Roman allies, by a lucky chance escaped the fear of certain ruin. For at the same time that they were about to give a severe judgment against him, there fell a sudden shower, which filled his mouth full of mud, as he lay prostrate at the feet of his judges. This spectacle changed the whole trial from severity into pity and clemency. For they believed he had given full satisfaction to their allies, by being compelled to prostrate himself so submissively, and rise again so squalidly.

[1.7] L   I will add two who escaped through the fault of their accusers. Q. Flavius the augur was accused by C. Valerius the aedile before the people; and when he had been condemned as guilty by the votes of fourteen tribes, he cried out that he was condemned though he was innocent.  Valerius replied to him with a loud voice, that he cared not whether he was guilty or innocent, so long as he perished. This violent outburst brought over the rest of the tribes to his adversary's side. He had cast down his enemy: but when he thought him certainly ruined, he re-established him; and lost the victory, even in the victory itself.

[1.8] L   C. Cosconius was prosecuted under the Servilian Law, and shown to be guilty of many evident and notorious crimes, but was saved by one poem of Valerius Valentinus his accuser, which was recited in court, suggesting in humorous verse that he had defiled a noble youth and a free virgin. For they thought it unjust that he should go away as the victor, who rather deserved that prize to be taken from himself, than to take it from another. Therefore was Valerius rather condemned by the acquittal of Cosconius, than Cosconius freed from the accusation.

[1.9] L   I will touch upon those also whose crimes, having ruined all their hopes, have been pardoned though the renown of their relatives. A. Atilius Calatinus was prosecuted for having betrayed the town of Sora, and was a person otherwise infamous, but a few words of Q. Maximus, his father-in-law, saved him from the threatening danger; Maximus affirmed, that if he had found him guilty of that crime, he would have broken off his relationship. Promptly the people yielded up their own judgment to the judgment of a single man; they believed it an unworthy thing, not to believe the testimony of a man, whom they had trusted in the greatest dangers of the commonwealth.

[1.10] L   M. Aemilius Scaurus, who was also guilty of bribery, made so lame and pitiful a defence at his trial, that his accuser said openly, that he would be able to name an hundred and twenty witnesses for himself; and that he would be content to have the defendant acquitted, if he could produce so many in the province, from whom he had never taken anything. Yet, though he could not make use of so fair an offer, he was freed because of his nobility, and the recent memory of his father.     { see also: 54/34 }

[1.11] L   But as the fame of great men has prevailed to protect the guilty, so has it has sometimes been of little avail in convicting them: rather it has been a safeguard to opponents in the midst of prosecution. P. Scipio Aemilianus accused L. Cotta before the people; this case, though it concerned serious crimes, was seven times adjourned, and the eighth sitting acquitted him. For those wise men did not wish it to be thought that he had been condemned, only because his accuser was so great a person. And therefore I believe they reasoned thus amongst themselves: "we must not allow a man who seeks a capital sentence against another, to bring triumphs, trophies and beaks of captured ships into the court. Let him be terrible to our enemies, but let him not, trusting in his high merits and great honour, threaten the safety of another citizen."     { see also: 138/29 }

[1.12] L   Those judges were steadfast against a most noble accuser, but these that follow were mild toward a criminal of a far lower degree. Calidius of Bononia, being caught by night in a husband's bedroom, was brought to court for adultery. He buoyed himself up among the greatest and most violent waves of infamy, floating around like fragments in a shipwreck, and laid hold of a very slight kind of defence. For he pleaded, that he came there out of love of a slave-boy. The place was suspicious, the time suspicious, the character of the wife was suspected, and his youth was suspected. But the confession of a more unseemly lust freed him from the crime of adultery.

[1.13] L   The next example is of more concern. The two Cloelii brothers, born from a noble family in Tarracina,  were brought to trial for parricide, after their father was killed in his bed, while the sons lay asleep in the same room, and neither slave nor free person could be found upon whom to fasten the suspicion of the murder. They were both acquitted, only for this reason, that it was made apparent to the judges, that they were both found fast asleep when the door was opened. Sleep, the certain mark of innocent security, saved the unfortunate men. For it was adjudged impossible, that having murdered their father, they could have slept so soundly over his wounds and blood.     { see also: Cicero RoscAm_64 }


[1d.1] L   Now we will briefly touch upon those, to whom incidental things did more harm, than their own innocence did good. L. Scipio, after a splendid triumph over king Antiochus, was condemned for taking money off him. Not that I think he was bribed to confine beyond Mount Taurus the man who was until then lord of all Asia, and intending to lay his victorious hands upon Europe. But being otherwise a man of a most upright life, and free far enough from any such suspicion, he could nor resist the envy that surrounded the two famous surnames of the two brothers.     { see also: Livy 38.55 }

[1d.2] L   Scipio was damaged by his great renown. But Decianus, a person of spotless integrity, was undone by his own tongue. For when he accused on the rostra P. Furius, a man of a lewd life, because in one part of his speech he ventured to complain about the death of Saturninus, he not only failed to condemn the defendant, but paid the penalty appointed to him.     { see also: Cicero RabPerd_24-25 }

[1d.3] L   The same reason overthrew Sex. Titius. He was innocent, and in favour with the people, on account of his agrarian law. But because he had a statue of Saturninus in his house, the whole assembly with one accord condemned him.     { see also: Cicero RabPerd_24-25 }

[1d.4] L   We may to these add Claudia; though she was innocent of a crime, an impious exclamation brought her to ruin. For when she was surrounded by crowds, as she returned home from the games, she said she wished that her brother, who had caused the greatest loss of our naval forces, were alive again, so that being often made consul, he might by his foolhardy leadership rid the city of the multitude of people.     { see also: 246/47 }

[1d.5] L   We may pass to those whom savage condemnation dragged away for slight causes. M. Mulvius, Cn. Lollius, L. Sextilius the triumvirs, because they did not come as quickly as they ought, to quench a fire that happened in the Via Sacra, were brought to trial before the people by the tribunes of the plebs, and were convicted.

[1d.6] L   Publius Villius also, a nocturnal triumvir, was accused by P. Aquillius the tribune of the plebs, and convicted by the sentence of the people, because he was negligent in performing his watch.

[1d.7] L   Very severe was that sentence of the people, when they heavily fined M. Aemilius Porcina, who was accused by L. Cassius, for having built his country house in the district of Alsium a little too high.     { see also: Velleius 2.10.1 }

[1d.8] L   Nor is this condemnation to be omitted: a man, being over-fond of his little boy, and being asked by him to buy him some tripe for supper, because there were none to be found in the neighbourhood, killed an ox, to satisfy the boy's appetite. For this reason he was brought to public trial; he would have been innocent, if he had not lived in ancient times.     { see also: Pliny 8.180 }

Neither Acquitted nor Condemned {"Scorched"}

[1a.1] L   Now we will say something of those, who being tried for their lives, were neither acquitted not condemned. There was a woman brought before M. Popillius Laenas the praetor, for having beaten her mother to death with a club. But the praetor adjudged nothing against her, neither one way nor the other. For it was plain that she did it to avenge the death of her children, whom their grandmother, being angry with her daughter, had poisoned. The first killing was judged [to deserve] revenge, but the second killing was not judged to deserve acquittal.

[1a.2] L   The same ambivalence was shown by P. Dolabella the proconsul of Asia. A woman of Smyrna killed her husband and her son, understanding that they had killed another son of hers, a promising young man whom she had by a former husband. Dolabella would not make a judgement on the  case, but sent it to be determined by the Areopagus at Athens. He was unwilling to set at liberty a woman defiled with two murders, nor to punish her whom a just grief had moved to do so. The Roman magistrate acted considerately and mildly; nor did the Areopagite act less wisely, who on examining the cause, bound the accuser and the defendant to appear a hundred years later, upon the same grounds as Dolabella had acted. He by transferring the trial, and they by deferring it, delayed the difficult decision of condemnation or acquittal.     { see also: 68/28 }

II.   Of Remarkable Private Judgments

To public judgments I will add private ones, in the hope that the fairness of the decisions will delight the reader more than their multitude annoys him.

[2.1] L   Claudius Centumalus, who was commanded by the augurs to reduce the height of his house, which he had built upon the Caelian hill, because it hindered them from observing their auguries from the citadel, sold it to Calpurnius Lanarius, but concealed the command of the augurs.  When Calpurnius was compelled by them to pull down part of his house, he brought in Marcus Porcius Cato, father of the famous Cato, as an arbitrator between himself and Claudius, under the formula, "Whatever he ought to give to him or do in good faith." Cato, understanding that Claudius had deliberately suppressed the augurs' edict, promptly judged against him in favour of Calpurnius, with all the justice in the world. For they that sell with honesty and fairness, ought neither to exaggerate the advantages of the bargain, nor conceal the inconveniences.

[2.2] L   I have recited a judgment which was famous in those times; and the one I am about to relate has not been buried in silence. C. Visellius Varro, when he was seriously ill, agreed to record a debt of three hundred thousand sesterces, as if he had borrowed it from Otacilia, wife of Laterensis, with whom he had an illicit relationship. He intended, that if he died, she might claim that sum off his heirs; disguising the liberality of his lust, under the title of a debt. After that, Visellius, contrary to Otacilia's expectations, recovered. Offended that she had lost her loot by his recovery, she began to act like a common money-lender instead of  a obliging mistress, and challenged for the money, which she shamelessly sought through the fictitious contract. C. Aquillius, a man of great authority and knowledge in the civil law, was chosen to be judge of the matter. He consulted with the principal men of the city, and by his prudence and good faith he thwarted the woman. If under the same formula Varro had been condemned, and the adversary absolved, he would undoubtably have willingly punished his foul and unwarrantable folly. But now Aquillius stifled the calumny of the private lawsuit, and left the crime of adultery to public justice.

[2.3] L   Much more vigorously, as was fitting for  a soldier, did C. Marius conduct himself in a judgment of the same nature. For C. Titinius of Minturnae took Fannia as his wife, although he knew her to be unchaste, and then  divorced her for the same crime, but intended to keep her dowry.  Marius was chosen as judge, and having examined the business, he took Titinius aside, and urged him to proceed no farther, but to return the dowry to the woman; but finding that all his advice was in vain, and being forced to pronounce sentence, he fined the woman one sestertius for adultery, and Titinius the whole sum of the dowry. He told them, that he had used that method of judgment, because it seemed to him apparent, that Titinius had married Fannia, whom he knew to be a lewd woman, so that he might cheat her of her property. This was the Fannia who afterwards, when Marius was proclaimed a public enemy, received him into her house at Minturnae, all smeared with the mud of the swamp from which he had been dragged, and assisted him as far as she was able. She remembered that he had convicted her of unchastity because of her manner of life, but that he had saved her dowry because of his piety.     { see also: Plutarch Mar_38 }

[2.4] L   That judgment was also much discussed, by which a certain person was condemned for theft, because having borrowed a horse to carry him to Aricia, he rode it to a hill on the far side of that city. What can we do here but praise the rigour of that age, when such minute departures from honesty were punished?

III.   Of Women that pleaded Cases before Magistrates

Nor must we omit those women, whom the condition of their sex, and the modesty of a woman's robe could not hinder from appearing and speaking in the forum and the courts.

[3.1] L   Maesia of Sentinum, being accused, before a great concourse of people pleaded her own case, when Titius the praetor then presided over the court. She observed all the parts and stages of a true defence, not only diligently but courageously, and was acquitted at the first hearing by the votes of all. And because under the body of a woman she carried a manly resolution, they called her Androgyne.

[3.2] L   Afrania, the wife of Licinius Buccio the senator, being extremely eager for law-suits, always pleaded for herself before the praetor; not because she lacked advocates, but because she abounded in insolence. By her perpetual vexing of the tribunal with her bawling, to which the forum was unaccustomed, she grew to be a noted example of female vindictiveness. So the name of Afrania was given as a reproach to all contentious women. She died when C. Caesar was consul (for the second time) with P. Servilius {48 B.C.}. For it is better to remember when such a monster departed from the world, than when she came in.     { see also: Ulpian Dig_3.1.1.5 }

[3.3] L   Hortensia, the daughter of Q. Hortensius, when the order of wives was too heavily taxed by the triumvirs, and none of the men dared undertake to speak on their behalf, pleaded the wives' case before the triumvirs, not only with boldness, but with success. By reviving the image of her father's eloquence she obtained, that the greatest part of the imposition was remitted. Q. Hortensius then lived again in the female sex, and breathed in the words of his daughter. If his male descendants had copied her force and vigour, so great an inheritance of Hortensian eloquence would not come to an end in the speech of a woman.     { see also: Appian BCiv_4.32-34  }

IV.   Of Interrogations

And so that we may complete all forms of judgments, let us recite those interrogations, to which either no credit at all was given, or else rashly too much faith.

[4.1] L   Alexander, the slave of the banker M. Agrius, was accused of murdering the slave of A. Fannius, and when he was for that reason tortured by his master, he constantly affirmed, that he did commit the deed. Thereupon he was delivered up to Fannius, and put to death. A little while later, the slave who was thought to be slain, returned home.

[4.2] L   On the other side, the slave of P.Atinius, being accused of murdering C. Flavius, a Roman knight, was tortured six times but denied that he was in any way guilty of it. But just as if he had confessed it, he was convicted by the judges, and crucified by L. Calpurnius the triumvir.

[4.3] L   When Fulvius Flaccus was prosecuted, Philippus his slave, upon whom the whole testimony lay, was tortured eight times, but would not utter a word against his master. And yet Flaccus was condemned as guilty, when one man eight times tortured had given a more certain argument of his innocence, than eight once tormented would have afforded.

V.   Of Witnesses ignored or confirmed

[5.1] L   It follows that I should relate pertinent examples concerning witnesses. Cn. and Q. Servilius Caepio, both born of the same parents, had risen through all the ranks of honour to great eminence. Similarly the two brothers Q. and L. Metellus, had both been consul and censor, and one of them had triumphed. They all gave severe testimony against Q. Pompeius son of Aulus, who stood accused of extortion. The trustworthiness of their testimony was not quite denied by the acquittal of Pompeius; but it was done so that an opponent might not seem to have been overwhelmed by their power.     { see also: Cicero Font_23 }

[5.2] L   M. Aemilius Scaurus, princeps senatus, prosecuted C. Memmius for extortion, with strong evidence. As a witness he attacked C. Flavius, accused by the same law, with the same fierceness; he openly endeavoured to ruin C. Norbanus, who was brought to trial for treason. Yet neither by his authority, which was very great, nor by his piety, which no man doubted, could he inflict damage on any of them.     { see also: Cicero Font_24-26 }

[5.3] L   L. Crassus also was as great among the judges, as Aemilius Scaurus was among the conscript fathers. For he governed their opinions and judgments by the potent and felicitous ventures of his eloquence. He was the leading man of the forum, just as Scaurus was of the senate. Yet when he shot a thunderbolt of testimony against the defendant M. Marcellus, it fell heavily indeed, but then vanished in smoke.     { see also: Cicero Font_24 }

[5.4] L   Again, there was Q. Metellus Pius, L. and M.  Lucullus, Q. Hortensius, and M. Lepidus: with what weight did they not only threaten the life of C. Cornelius, who was accused of treason, but even demanded it, by denying that the commonwealth could survive, so long as he were safe! Those ornaments of the city, it shames me to relate it, were all rebuffed by the shield of Justice.

[5.5] L   What! M. Cicero, who by the warfare of the forum attained to the highest honours and the noblest position of dignity, was he not as a witness thrown out of the very camp of his eloquence, when he swore that Clodius was at his house in Rome? For by that single argument of his absence, the defendant fended off the accusation of sacrilege And so the judges  chose to acquit Clodius of impiety, rather than Cicero of the suspicion of perjury.     { see also: Plutarch Cic_29 }

[5.6] L   Among so many witnesses of high rank, I will relate one, whose authority was confirmed by a new manner of reasoning in court. Publius Servilius, who was consul and censor, who celebrated a triumph, who added the name of Isauricus to that of his ancestors, while walking by in the forum saw several witnesses being produced against a defendant. He placed himself among the witnesses, and to the great surprise of the defendant's friends and accusers, began to speak thus: "This person, most reverend judges, who is accused, where he comes from, or what course of life he leads, or whether he be deservedly or wrongfully accused, I do not know. But this I know, that meeting me once in the Laurentine Way, as I was travelling along, in a very narrow passage, he would not alight from his horse. Whether it is relevant to you in performing your duty, I know not - you should consider that. I thought it right not to conceal this fact." Soon the judges condemned the man, scarcely listening to any other witnesses. For the grandeur of the speaker prevailed upon them, and his indignation at the contempt show to his dignity. They believed that he, who scorned to show respect to eminent men, would not hesitate to stoop to any kind of wickedness.

VI.   Of those who committed themselves what they condemned in others

Nor must we pass over in silence those, who committed themselves what they condemned in others.

[6.1] L   C. Licinius, surnamed Hoplomachus, requested of the praetor that his father should be deprived of his estate, as one who squandered it. His request was granted. But he himself, a short time afterwards, when the old man was dead, promptly squandered the great sum of money that had been left to him. He escaped punishment in his turn, because he preferred to use up all his estate, rather than find an heir for it.

[6.2] L   C. Marius had acted the part of a great and faithful citizen, in destroying L. Saturninus, who held forth a cap of liberty to the slaves, like an ensign, inviting them to take up arms. But when Sulla invaded the city with his army, he himself fled to the assistance of slaves, by holding forth the cap of liberty, as the other had done. Therefore while he imitated a deed which he had punished, he found another Marius to destroy himself.     { see also: Plutarch Mar_35 }

[6.3] L   C. Licinius Stolo, by whom the plebeians were empowered to seek the consulship, when he had made a law that no man should possess above five hundred iugera of land, purchased a thousand for himself; and to disguise the matter, made over half of it to his son. For this reason he was prosecuted by M. Popillius Laenas, and he was the first to be convicted by his own law. He taught us that nothing ought to be imposed on others, which is not first imposed upon oneself.     { see also: Livy 7.16 }

[6.4] L   Q. Varius, because of the his dubious claim to citizenship, was surnamed Hybrida. As tribune of the plebs, he passed a law, despite the intercession of the other tribunes, which ordered an investigation to discover who had treacherously impelled the allies to take up arms, to the great detriment of the commonwealth - for first they stirred up the Social War, and then the Civil War. But while he was acting like a noxious tribune of the plebs, rather than a true citizen, his own law brought him down, and he was entangled in snares of his own making.     { see also: Cicero Brut_305 }

VII.   Of Study and Diligence

Why do I delay to commemorate the value of diligence? By its active spirit the conduct of warfare is strengthened, and the glory of the forum is enflamed. All studies are cherished in its faithful breast. Whatever is performed by the hand, by the mind, by the tongue, by this achieves more praise. By this even the most perfect virtue is enhanced through its tenacity.

[7.1] L   Cato in the eighty-sixth year of his age, while he persisted with a youthful vigour in defending the commonwealth, was accused of a capital crime by his enemies, and pleaded in his own defence. Yet no man ever observed so firm a memory, a greater strength of body, or less hesitation of speech; because he kept all those things in equally good condition, and perpetually exercised by toil. And at the very conclusion of his long life, he delivered his own accusations on behalf of Spain in opposition to the defence of the most eloquent orator Galba.     { see also: Plutarch CatMai_15 }

The same person wished to learn the Greek language - how late, we may guess from the fact that he was an old man before he learnt to read Latin. And when he had won great honour by his eloquence, he managed to make himself skilful in civil law as well.     { see also: Cicero Sen_26 }

[7.2] L   His admirable descendant, nearer to our age, Cato also burned with such a desire of learning, that even in the senate house, while the senate was assembling, he would be reading Greek books. By this industry he showed that some lack time, but others are above time.     { see also: Cicero Fin_3.7  }

[7.3] L   Terentius Varro was an example of human life, and one that might be truly called a span; not so much for his years, which were equal to a century, as for the extent of his writing. For in the same bed his spirit, and the course of his exceptional works expired.

[7.4] L   Livius Drusus was a man of the same perseverance, who although defective in vigour of age and eye-sight, most plentifully interpreted the civil law to the people, and composed most profitable books for them that desire to learn it. For though Nature might make him old, and Fortune blind, yet neither could prevent him from being vigorous and quick-witted in mind.

[7.5] L   Publilius a senator, and Lupus Pontius a Roman knight, who were famous pleaders in their times, having both lost their sight, with the same diligence continued to be active in the forum. Therefore they also had a larger number of listeners, when among the crowds there were some who were delighted with their skill, and others who admired their tenacity. For men who suffer such misfortunes generally desire retirement, and add voluntary to fortuitous darkness.

[7.6] L   Now P. Crassus, when he came as consul into Asia against king Aristonicus, stored knowledge of the Greek language in his mind with so much care, that he understood it, though it was divided into five dialects, in all its variety and parts. This certainly won him the love of the allies, when he answered everyone in the dialect they used to make their requests before his tribunal.     { see also: Quintilian 11.2.50 }

[7.7] L   Let not Roscius be left out, a notable example of theatrical diligence, who never displayed to the people any other action or gesture, except what he had practiced before at his own house. Therefore the art of acting did not make Roscius esteemed, but Roscius made the art of acting esteemed; whereby he obtained not only the favour of the people, but the friendship of eminent men. These are the rewards of intent, eager, and never-ceasing study. Therefore the character of an actor can be inserted without impudence among the praises of so many great men.


[7e.1] L   Greek diligence also, because it has been very advantageous to ours, ought to receive the reward which it deserves in the Latin language. Demosthenes, the mention of whose name implies in the thoughts of the hearers the perfection of the greatest eloquence, when in his youth he could not pronounce the first letter of the profession which he so much affected, with so much labour vanquished this defect of delivery, that no man ever pronounced that letter more clearly. Then again, having a shrill squeaking voice, harsh to the ear, he brought it at length to a grave and acceptable tone. Then although he had weak lungs, he borrowed from labour and practice, that strength of body which nature had denied him. For he contained several sentences in one breath, and pronounced them walking up hill at a swift pace. And standing upon the sea-shore, he uttered his declamations to the roaring of the waves, that he might accustom his ears to withstand the clamours and noises of tumultuous assemblies. He is reported also to have accustomed himself to speak much and long with stones held in his mouth, that he might speak with more freedom when it was empty. He warred against Nature, and came off victor, because with a most obstinate strength of mind he overcame her malignity. Therefore his mother gave birth to one Demosthenes, and his diligence gave birth to another.     { see also: Cicero DeOr_1.260 }

[7e.2] L   And to go back to a more ancient example of industriousness, Pythagoras, a most perfect specimen of a wisdom from his childhood, and inflamed with a desire of understanding all knowledge and virtue, went into Egypt, where becoming acquainted with the language, he searched the commentaries of all the ancient priests, and learned the observations of innumerable ages. Then travelling into Persia, he delivered himself up to be taught by the thorough wisdom of the magi. From them he gathered in his receptive mind the motions of the stars; as their courses, their effects, properties, and force, were liberally explained to him. From there he visited Crete and Lacedaemon, and investigated  their laws and customs; and then he went to the Olympic Games, where, to the admiration of all the Greeks, he gave a  clear demonstration of his wide-ranging knowledge. When he was asked, by what title he should be called, he replied, that he was not wise, (for that title belonged only to the seven most excellent men) but a lover of wisdom, which is in Greek a philosopher. He also travelled into that part of Italy, which was then called Magna Graecia, where in many of the richest cities he exhibited the results of his studies. Metapontum beheld his funeral pyre with eyes full of veneration - a town more famous for Pythagoras' tomb, than the monument of its own ashes.

[7e.3] L   Plato had Athens as his birthplace, and Socrates as his teacher, both place and man fertile in learning. He himself was acknowledged to have a celestial abundance of intelligence, while he was accounted the wisest of all mortals, to such an extent, that if Jupiter should descend from heaven, he could not make use of a more elegant or abundant eloquence. He travelled through Egypt, where he learnt from the priests of that nation the manifold secrets of geometry, and the details of their celestial observations. And at the same time that the studious men of Athens sought for Plato, whom everyone strove to have as his tutor, he by visiting the intricate banks of the Nile, and the vast regions, extended (?) barbarism, and winding canals of a foreign country, became a pupil of elderly Egyptians. No wonder then that he travelled into Italy, to learn there the precepts of Pythagoras, from Archytas of Tarentum, and Timaeus, Arion and Echecrates of Locri. For he had to collect so great a quantity, so great an abundance of learning from everywhere, that it might then be dispersed and spread throughout the whole world. He also had under his head in his eighty-first year, when he lay dying, the mimes of Sophron; so that even the last hour of his life was not free from the exercise of study.     { see also: Cicero Fin_5.87 }

[7e.4] L   Democritus, although he was notable for his vast wealth, which was so great, that his father was able to give a banquet to the army of Xerxes, yet so that his mind might be more free for the study of learning, kept a small pittance to himself and gave all the rest to his country. Then abiding at Athens for several years, he spent all his time in gaining and using learning, and lived unknown in the city, as he himself says in a certain book. I am amazed at so much labour, and therefore must pass on.     { see also: Diogenes 9.34-36 }

[7e.5] L   Carneades was a laborious and persistent soldier of wisdom. For after completing ninety years, he made a joint end of living and philosophising. He had so devoted himself to the works of learning, that when he sat down to eat, busy in his thoughts, he would forget to reach for his food. But Melissa, whom he kept as a wife, made it her duty to relieve his hunger, and fed him without interrupting his studies; so that he lived only in his soul, which was surrounded by a superfluous body. When he was going to dispute with Chrysippus, he purged his body beforehand with hellebore, so that he could express his own mind more effectively, and repel his adversary more powerfully. What strange potions did diligence make desirable to those who sought after genuine praise!     { see also: Gellius 17.15 }

[7e.6] L   How great should we think was the zeal of Anaxagoras for learning? When he returned home after a long journey, and saw that his estate lay untilled and deserted, he said: "I could not have been safe, unless these things were ruined." That was a fitting expression of widely-sought wisdom. For if he had laboured more in the cultivation of his lands than of his mind, he would have remained master of his property at home, but would not have returned to his home as the great Anaxagoras.     { see also: Plato HippMai_283a }

[7e.7] L   I might say that the diligence of Archimedes was very profitable, except that just as it gave him life, it also took it away from him again. For when Syracuse was captured, Marcellus, who was aware that his victory had been much delayed by his machines, yet being greatly impressed by the cleverness of the person, commanded the soldiers to spare the life of Archimedes -  reckoning there to be almost as much glory in saving him, as in destroying Syracuse. But while Archimedes was drawing diagrams, with his mind and eyes fixed upon the ground, a soldier who broke into his house for plunder, with his sword drawn over his head asked him who he was. Archimedes was so engrossed in his thoughts, that he did not state his name, but covering the dust with his hands, "Be careful," said he, "not to spoil this diagram." Thereupon, because he seemed to disregard the victor's command, the soldier cut off his head, and mixed his blood with the drawings of his art. Thus the same study gave him his life, and deprived him of it again.     { see also: Livy 25.31  }

[7e.8] L   Most certain it is that Socrates, when he was advanced in years, began to learn to play the lyre; believing it better to learn that art late rather than never. How little an accession of knowledge was that to Socrates! Yet the obstinate diligence of that man, on top of so much wealth and treasure of learning, wished also to add the petty elements of music. Thus while he thought himself poor in learning, he made himself rich in teaching.     { see also: Plato Euthyd_272c }

[7e.9] L   And so that we may gather together the examples of long and successful labour into one person: Isocrates composed that most noble book, entitled Panathenaikos, when he was ninety-four years of age, and yet it is work full of life and spirit. This shows, that the bodies of learned men  may grow old, yet their minds, by the benefit of diligence, retain the full vigour of youth. Nor did he end his days, till for another five years he had enjoyed the fruit of the admiration of his work.     { see also: Cicero Sen_13 }

[7e.10] L   Lesser bounds terminated the life of Chrysippus, yet he was not short-lived; for he left behind him the thirty-ninth book of his 'Logica', a book of great subtlety, begun in the eightieth year of his age. His zeal in recording the results of his wisdom took up so much time and labour, that a longer life would be needed to understand the depth of his writings.

[7e.11] L   You also, Cleanthes, were so industrious in searching after, and laboriously transmitting wisdom, that the deity of diligence could not but admire; when she beheld you in your youth, maintaining yourself despite your poverty by carrying water at night, while in the day you were a diligent hearer of Chrysippus; and until your ninety-ninth year, with attentive care you instructed your pupils. With a double labour you filled up the length of a century, making it uncertain, whether you were more admirable as a pupil or a master.

[7e.12] L   Sophocles had also a glorious contest with Nature, as liberal in his wonderful works, as she was liberal in giving him such a long time to compose them. For he lived nearly a hundred years, and he wrote his Oedipus Coloneus just before his death. By this single tragedy he preempted the glory of all poets in that genre. Iophon, the son of Sophocles, did not want this to be concealed from posterity, and therefore caused it to be inscribed upon his father's tomb.     { see also: Cicero Sen_22 }

[7e.13] L   Simonides the poet at eighty years of age boasted himself, that he taught verses, and contended for prizes throughout those years. Nor was it wrong that he should for long cherish the pleasure of his own genius, since he was himself to pass it on for the benefit of eternity.     { see also: Plutarch Mor_785a }

[7e.14] L   As for Solon, how industrious he was, he himself has declared in his verses. In them he indicates, that he grew old, learning something new every day; and the last day of his life confirmed it. For as his friends were sitting by him, and discoursing among themselves upon some subject or other, he lifted up his head, which was then just about to yield to fate; and being asked why he did so; "So that when I have understood," said he, "what it is you are disputing upon, then I may die." Certainly sloth would be banished from among mankind, if all men come into the world with the same spirit that Solon had when he left it.

[7e.15] L   How great was the diligence of Themistocles ! Though he had the management of the greatest affairs of his country upon his shoulders, yet he was able to remember the individual names of all his fellow-citizens. And when through great injustice he was banished from his country, and compelled to flee to Xerxes, whom a little before he had vanquished in battle, before he come into his presence, he acquainted himself with the Persian language, so that having gained commendation by labour, he might render the tone of his voice familiar and customary to the king's ear.     { see also: Nepos 2.10 }

[7e.16] L   Two kings divided between them the praise for both those kinds of industriousness. Cyrus remembered all the names of his soldiers; Mithridates learned twenty-two different languages spoken within his dominions. The former did this, so that he might speak to his army without a guide; the latter, so that he might discourse to the people, whom he governed, without an interpreter.     { see also: Pliny HN_7.88 }

Following chapters (8-15)

Attalus' home page   |   16.09.21   |   Any comments?