Pliny,   Natural History

-   Book 7 ,   sections 77-152


Translated by H.Rackham (1952), with some minor alterations. Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each chapter.    

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{17.} L   [77] It has been noticed that a man's height from head to foot is equal to his full span measured from the tips of the middle fingers; likewise that the right-hand side of the frame is the stronger, though in some cases both sides are equally strong and there are people whose left side is the stronger, though this is never the case with women; and that males are the heavier; and that the bodies of all creatures are heavier when dead than when alive, and when asleep than when awake; and that men's corpses float on their backs, but women's on their faces, as if nature spared their modesty after death.

{18.} L   [78] Cases are recorded of persons living whose bones were solid and without marrow; and we are told that their distinguishing mark is insensibility to thirst and absence of perspiration, although we know that thirst can also be subdued by the will, and that a Roman knight of the allied tribe of the Vocontii named Julius Viator, suffering from dropsy when a minor, was forbidden liquid by the doctors and habituated himself to defeat nature, going without drink till old age. Moreover other persons also have exercised many kinds of self-control.

{19.} L   [79] It is stated that Crassus the grandfather of Crassus who fell in Parthia never laughed, and was consequently called Agelastus, and that likewise there have been many cases of people who never wept, and that the famous philosopher Socrates always wore the same look on his countenance, never gayer and never more perturbed. This temperament sometimes develops into a kind of rigidity and a hard, unbending severity of nature, and takes away the emotions natural to humanity; persons of this sort are called 'apathetic' by the Greeks, who have known many men of the kind, [80] and among them surprising to say, chiefly founders of schools of philosophy, Diogenes the Cynic, Pyrrho, Heraclitus, Timon - the last indeed going as far as to hate the whole human race. But these small peculiarities of nature are known to occur variously in many persons, for instance in the case of Drusus's wife Antonia never spitting, in the poet and ex-consul Pomponius never belching. Persons whose bones are by nature solid, a rather rare class, are called 'horny.'

{20.} L   [81] Varro in his account of cases of remarkable strength records that one Tritanus, famous in the gladiatorial exercise with the Samnite equipment, was slightly built but of exceptional strength, and that his son, a soldier of Pompey the Great, had a chequered crisscross of sinews all over his body, even in his arms and hands; and moreover that once he challenged one of the enemy to single combat, defeated him without a weapon in his hand, and finally took hold of him with a single finger and carried him off to the camp. [82] Vinnius Valens served as centurion in the Praetorian Guard of the deified Augustus; he was in the habit of holding carts laden with wine-sacks up in the air until they were emptied, and of catching hold of wagons with one hand and stopping them by throwing his weight against the efforts of the teams drawing them, and doing other marvellous exploits which can be seen carved on his monument. [83] Marcus Varro likewise states: 'Rusticelius, who was nicknamed Hercules, used to lift his mule; Fufius Salvius used to walk up a ladder with two hundred pound weights fastened to his feet, the same weights in his hands and two two-hundred-pound weights on his shoulders.' We also saw a man named Athanatus, who was capable of a miraculous display: he walked across the stage wearing a leaden breast-plate weighing 500 pounds and shod in boots of 500 pounds' weight. When the athlete Milo took a firm stand, no one could make him shift his footing, and when he was holding an apple no one could make him straighten out a finger.

[84] Phidippides's running the 130 miles from Athens to Sparta in two days was a mighty feat, until the Spartan runner Anystis and Alexander the Great's courier Philonides ran the 148 miles from Sicyon to Elis in a day. At the present day indeed we are aware that some men can last out 128 miles in the circus, and that recently in the consulship of Fonteius and Vipstanus {59 AD} a boy of 8 ran 68 miles between noon and evening. The marvellous nature of this feat will only get across to us in full measure if we reflect that Tiberius Nero completed by carriage the longest twenty-four hours' journey on record when hastening to Germany to his brother Drusus who was ill: this measured 182 miles.

{21.} L   [85] Keenness of sight has achieved instances transcending belief in the highest degree. Cicero records that a parchment copy of Homer's poem The Iliad was enclosed in a nutshell. He also records a case of a man who could see 123 miles. Marcus Varro also gives this man's name, which was Strabo, and states that in the Punic Wars he was in the habit of telling from the promontory of Lilybaeum in Sicily the actual number of ships in a fleet that was passing out from the harbour of Carthage. Callicrates used to make such small ivory models of ants and other creatures that to anybody else their parts were invisible. A certain Myrmecides won fame in the same department by making a four-horse chariot of the same material that a fly's wings would cover, and a ship that a tiny bee could conceal with its wings.

{22.} L   [86] There is one marvellous instance of the transmission of a spoken message: the battle that resulted in the destruction of Sybaris was heard of at Olympia on the day on which it was fought. For the messengers who brought news of the victory over the Cimbri and the brothers Castor who reported the victory over Perseus to the Romans on the very day on which it happened were visions and warnings sent by the divine powers.

{23.} L   [87] Bodily endurance, so fertile of disasters is fate, has produced countless examples, the most famous in the case of women being that of the harlot Leaena who on the rack refused to betray the tyrannicides Harmodius and Aristogiton, and among men that of Anaxarchus, who when being tortured for a similar reason bit off his tongue and spat the only hope of betrayal in the tyrant's face.

{24.} L   [88] As to memory, the boon most necessary for life, it is not easy to say who most excelled in it, so morning. many men having gained renown for it. King Cyrus could give their names to all the soldiers in his army, Lucius Scipio knew the names of the whole Roman people, King Pyrrhus's envoy Cineas knew those of the senate and knighthood at Rome the day after his arrival. Mithridates who was king of twenty-two races gave judgements in as many languages, in an assembly addressing each race in turn without an interpreter. [89] A person in Greece named Charmadas recited the contents of any volumes in libraries that anyone asked him to quote, just as if he were reading them. Finally, a memoria technica was constructed, which was invented by the lyric poet Simonides and perfected by Metrodorus of Scepsis, enabling anything heard to be repeated in the identical words. [90] Also no other human faculty is equally fragile: injuries from, and even apprehensions of, diseases and accident may affect in some cases a single field of memory and in others the whole. A man has been known when struck by a stone to forget how to read and write but nothing else. One who fell from a very high roof forgot his mother and his relatives and friends, another when ill forgot his servants also; the orator Messala Corvinus forgot his own name. Similarly tentative and hesitating lapses of memory often occur when the body even when uninjured is in repose; also the gradual approach of sleep curtails the memory and makes the unoccupied mind wonder where it is.

{25.} L   [91] The most outstanding instance of innate mental vigour I take to be the dictator Caesar; and I am not now thinking of valour and resolution, nor of a loftiness embracing all the contents of the firmament of heaven, but of native vigour and quickness winged as it were with fire. We are told that he used to write or read and dictate or listen simultaneously, and to dictate to his secretaries four letters at once on his important affairs - or, if otherwise unoccupied, seven letters at once. [92] He also fought fifty pitched battles, and alone beat the record of Marcus Marcellus who fought thirty-nine - for I would not myself count it to his glory that in addition to conquering his fellow-citizens he killed in his battles 1,192,000 human beings, a prodigious even if unavoidable wrong indicted on the human race, as he himself confessed it to be by not publishing the casualties of the civil wars.

[93] It would be more just to credit Pompey the Great with the 846 ships that he captured from the pirates; while to Caesar let us assign, in addition to the facts mentioned above, the peculiar distinction of the clemency in which (even to the point of subsequent regret) he surpassed all men; also he afforded an example of magnanimity that no other can parallel. [94] For while to count under this head the shows that he gave and the wealth that he squandered, or the magnificence of his public works, would display indulgence to luxury, it showed the genuine and unrivalled sublimity of an unconquered spirit that, when Pompey the Great's despatch cases were captured at Pharsalia and again those of Scipio at Thapsus, he scrupulously burnt them and did not read them.

{26.} L   [95] But it concerns the glory of the Roman Empire, and not that of one man, to mention in this place all the records of the victories of Pompey the Great and all his triumphs, which equal the brilliance of the exploits not only of Alexander the Great but even almost of Hercules and Father Liber. [96] Well then, after the recovery of Sicily, which inaugurated his emergence as a champion of the commonwealth in the party of Sulla, and after the conquest of the whole of Africa and its reduction under our sway, and the acquirement as a trophy therefrom of the title of The Great, he rode back in a triumphal chariot though only of equestrian rank, a thing which had never occurred before; and immediately afterwards he crossed over to the West, and after erecting trophies in the Pyrenees he added to the record of his victorious career the reduction under our sway of 876 towns from the Alps to the frontiers of Further Spain, and with greater magnanimity refrained from mentioning Sertorius, and after crushing the civil war which threatened to stir up all our foreign relations, a second time led into Rome a procession of triumphal chariots as a Knight, having twice been commander-in-chief before having ever served in the ranks. [97] Subsequently he was despatched to the whole of the seas and then to the far east, and he brought back titles without limit for his country, after the manner of those who conquer in the sacred contests before these are not crowned with wreaths themselves but crown their native land; consequently he bestowed these honours on the city in the shrine of Minerva that he was dedicating out of the proceeds of the spoils of war:

Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, Commander in Chief, having completed a thirty years' war, routed, scattered, slain or received the surrender of 12,183,000 people, sunk or taken 846 ships, received the capitulation of 1538 towns and forts, subdued the lands from the Maeotians to the Red Sea, duly dedicates his offering vowed to Minerva.

[98] This is his summary of his exploits in the east. But the announcement of the triumphal procession that he led on September 28 in the consulship of Marcus Piso and Marcus Messala {61 BC} was as follows:

After having rescued the sea coast from pirates and restored to the Roman People the command of the sea, he celebrated a triumph over Asia, Pontus, Armenia, Paphlagonia, Cappadocia, Cicilia, Syria, the Scythians, Jews and Albanians, Iberia, the Island of Crete, the Basternae, and, in addition to these, over King Mithridates and Tigranes.

[99] The crowning pinnacle of this glorious record was (as he himself declared in assembly when discoursing on his achievements) to have found Asia the remotest of the provinces and then to have made her a central dominion of his country. If anybody on the other side desires to review in similar manner the achievements of Caesar, who showed himself greater than Pompey, he must assuredly roll off the entire world, and this it will be agreed is a task without limit.

{27.} L   [100] There have been various and numerous cases of eminence in the other kinds of excellence. Cato the first of that name in the Gens Porcia is deemed to have exemplified the three supreme human achievements, excelling alike as orator, as general and as senator; all of which distinctions seem to me to have been achieved though not previously yet with greater brilliance in the case of Scipio Aemilianus, and that moreover without the very wide unpopularity that handicapped Cato. So it may be counted an exceptional fact about Cato that he took part in forty-four actions at law and was sued more frequently than anybody else and always acquitted.

{28.} L   [101] What person has possessed the most outstanding courage is a subject of unending enquiry, at all events if the legendary testimony of poetry be accepted. Quintus Ennius had a particular admiration for Titus Caecilius Teucer and his brother, adding Book XVI to his Annals on their account. Lucius Siccius Dentatus, Tribune of the Plebs in the consulship of Spurius Tarpeius and Aulus Aternius {454 BC} not long after the expulsion of the kings, scores an exceedingly large number of votes, as having fought in 120 battles, been challenged to and having won eight single combats, and having the distinction of 45 scars in front and none at all on his back. [102] He also captured spoils 34 times, had bestowed upon him 18 spear-shafts, 25 breast-badges, 83 necklets, 160 bracelets, 26 crowns (including 14 civic crowns, eight of gold, three mural crowns, one siege-rescue crown), a bag of money, ten prisoners of war and with them 20 cows; also he followed in the triumphs of nine generals whose victories were chiefly due to his aid, and in addition - and this in my opinion is his finest achievement - [103] procured the conviction in the People's Court at the termination of his consulship of one of his leaders Titus Romilius on the charge of maladministration of his office. The military distinctions of Capitolinus would be not inferior, if he had not cancelled them by the conclusion of his career. He had twice captured enemy's spoils before he was seventeen years old; he had been the first of any one to receive a mural crown as a Knight, as well as six civic crowns and 37 gifts; he had received 23 wounds on the front of his body; he had rescued Publius Servilius Master of the Horse, when himself wounded in the shoulder and thigh; [104] above all he had alone saved the Capitol and the fortunes of the state therein from the Gauls - if only he had not saved it to make himself king.

But, although these cases exhibit great achievements of valour, yet they involve still greater achievements of fortune; whereas nobody, in my judgement at all events, can rightly rank any human being above Marcus Sergius, albeit his great-grandson Catiline diminishes the credit of his name. Sergius in his second campaign lost his right hand; in two campaigns he was wounded twenty-three times, with the result that he was crippled in both hands and both feet, only his spirit being intact; yet although disabled, he served in numerous subsequent campaigns. He was twice taken prisoner by Hannibal (for it was with no ordinary foe that he was engaged), and twice escaped from Hannibal's fetters, although he was kept in chains or shackles on every single day for twenty months. He fought four times with only his left hand, having two horses he was riding stabbed under him. [105] He had a right hand of iron made for him and going into action with it tied to his arm, raised the siege of Cremona, saved Placentia, captured twelve enemy camps in Gaul: all of which exploits are testified by his speech delivered during his praetorship when his colleagues wanted to debar him from the sacrifices as infirm - a man who with a different foe would have accumulated what piles of wreaths! inasmuch as it makes the greatest difference with what period of history a particular man's valour happens to coincide. [106] What civic wreaths were bestowed by Trebia or Ticinus or Trasimene? what crown was won at Cannae, where successful flight was valour's highest exploit? All other victors truly have conquered men, but Sergius vanquished fortune also.

{29.} L   [107] Who could make an honours class-list of geniuses, ranging through all the kinds of systems and all the varieties of subject and of treatment? unless perhaps it is agreed that no genius has ever existed who was more successful than Homer the bard of Greece, whether he be judged by the form or by the matter of his work. Consequently Alexander the Great - for so lordly an assessment will be effected best and least invidiously by the most supreme tribunals - [108] when among the booty won from the Persian King Darius there was a case of unguents made of gold and enriched with pearls and precious stones, and when his friends pointed out the various uses to which it could be put, since a warrior soiled with warfare had no use for perfume, said, 'No, by Hercules, rather let it be assigned to keeping the works of Homer, so that the most precious achievement of the mind of man might be preserved in the richest possible product of the craftsman's art. [109] Alexander also gave orders at the sack of Thebes for the household and home of the poet Pindar to be spared; and he felt the native place of the philosopher Aristotle to be his own, and blended that evidence of kindliness with all the glory of his exploits. Apollo at Delphi exposed the murderers of the poet Archilochus. When Sophocles the prince of the tragic buskin died Father Liber gave orders for his burial though the Spartans were besieging the city walls, the Spartan king Lysander receiving frequent admonitions in dreams 'to permit the interment of the darling of the god.' The king enquired what persons had expired at Athens and had no difficulty in understanding which among them the god meant, and he granted an armistice for the funeral.

{30.} L   [110] The tyrant Dionysius, who was in other matters by nature given to cruelty and pride, sent a ship decked with garlands to meet Plato the high priest of wisdom, and as he disembarked received him at the coast in person, in a chariot with four white horses. Isocrates sold a single speech for 20 talents. The eminent Athenian orator Aeschines, after reading to the citizens of Rhodes the speech that he had made in prosecuting, also read Demosthenes's speech in defence that had driven him into exile at Rhodes, and on their expressing admiration said that they would have admired it even more on the actual occasion, if they had heard the orator himself: thus his disaster constituted him a powerful witness for his enemy's case. [111] Thucydides as military commander was sentenced to exile by the Athenians but as historian was recalled: they admired the eloquence of a man whose valour they had condemned. High testimony was also born to Menander's eminence in comedy by the kings of Egypt and Macedonia when they sent a fleet and an embassy to fetch him, but higher testimony was derived from himself by his preferment of the consciousness of literary merit to royal fortune.

[112] Roman leaders also have borne witness even to foreigners. At the conclusion of the war with Mithridates Gnaeus Pompey when going to enter the abode of the famous professor of philosophy Posidonius forbade his retainer to knock on the door in the customary manner, and the subduer of the East and of the West dipped his standard to the portals of learning. Cato the censor, on the occasion when the famous embassy of the three leaders of philosophy was sent from Athens, after hearing Carneades advised that these envoys should be sent away as soon as possible, because when Carneades was discoursing it was difficult to distinguish where the truth lay. [113] What a complete change of fashion! The Cato in question always on other occasions recommended the total banishment of Greeks from Italy, whereas his great-grandson Cato of Utica brought home one from his military tribunate and another from his mission to Cyprus; and of the two Catos the former has the distinction of having banished and the other of having introduced the same language.

[114] But let us also pass in review the glory of our own countrymen. The elder Africanus gave orders for a statue of Quintus Ennius to be placed on his own tomb, and for that famous name, or rather trophy of war won from a third part of the world, to be read above his last ashes together with the memorial of a poet. The deified Augustus overrode the modesty of Virgil's will and forbade the burning of his poems, and thus the bard achieved a stronger testimony than if he had commended his own works himself. [115] In the library founded at Rome by Asinius Pollio, the earliest library in the world established out of the spoils of war, the only statue of a living person erected was that of Marcus Varro, the bestowal by a leading orator and citizen of this crowning honour on one only out of the multitude of men of genius then existing constituting no less a distinction, in my own opinion, than when Pompey the Great gave to that same Varro a naval crown for his conduct in the war with the pirates. [116] There is a countless series of Roman examples, if one chose to pursue them, since a single race has produced more men of distinction in every branch whatever than the whole of the other countries. But what excuse could I have for omitting mention of you, Marcus Tullius? or by what distinctive mark can I advertise your superlative excellence? by what in preference to the most honourable testimony of that whole nation's decree, selecting out of your entire life only the achievements of your consulship? [117] Your oratory induced the tribes to discard the agrarian law, that is, their own livelihood; your advice led them to forgive Roscius the proposer of the law as to the theatre, and to tolerate with equanimity the mark put upon them by a distinction of seating; your entreaty made the children of the men sentenced to proscription ashamed to stand for office; your genius drove Catiline to flight; you proscribed Mark Antony. Hail, first recipient of the title of Father of the Country, first winner of a civilian triumph and of a wreath of honour for oratory, and parent of eloquence and of Latin literature; and (as your former foe, the dictator Caesar, wrote of you) winner of a greater laurel wreath than that of any triumph, inasmuch as it is a greater thing to have advanced so far the frontiers of the Roman genius than the frontiers of Rome's empire.

{31.} L   [118] Persons who have surpassed the rest of mortal kind in the remaining gifts of the mind are: in wisdom, the people who on this account won at Rome the surnames of Catus {"Wise"} and Corculum {"Sage"}, and in Greece Socrates, whom Pythian Apollo's oracle placed before all other men.

{32.} L   [119] Again, partnership with the oracles was bestowed by mortals on the Spartan Chilo, by canonizing in letters of gold at Delphi his three precepts, which are these: Know thyself; Desire nothing too much; The comrade of debt and litigation is misery. Moreover when he expired from joy on his son's being victorious at Olympia, the whole of Greece followed in his funeral procession.

{33.} L   The most famous instances of the gift of divination and so to speak communion with the heavenly beings are, among women, the Sibyl, and among men, Melampus in Greece and Marcius at Rome.

{34.} L   [120] Scipio Nasica was judged by the verdict of the senate on oath to be once for all the noblest man since the foundation of time, although he was twice branded by the nation with defeat when a candidate for office. At the end he was not permitted to die in his native land, any more in truth than the great Socrates, whom Apollo judged to be the wisest of mankind, was allowed to die freed from fetters.

{35.} L   The first case of a woman judged by the vote of the matrons to be the most modest was Sulpicia, a daughter of Paterculus and wife of Fulvius Flaccus, who was elected from a previously chosen list of 100 to dedicate the image of Venus in accordance with the Sibylline books; and on a second occasion, by the test of religion, Claudia, when the Mother of the Gods was brought to Rome.

{36.} L   [121] Of filial affection there have it is true been unlimited instances all over the world, but one at Rome with which the whole of the rest could not compare. A plebeian woman of low position and therefore unknown, who had just given birth to a child, had permission to visit her mother who had been shut up in prison as a punishment, and was always searched in advance by the doorkeeper to prevent her carrying in any food; she was detected giving her mother sustenance from her own breasts. In consequence of this marvel the daughter's pious affection was rewarded by the mother's release and both were awarded maintenance for life; and the place where it occurred was consecrated to the Goddess concerned, a temple dedicated to Pietas {"Filial Affection"} being built on the site of the prison, where the Theatre of Marcellus now stands, in the consulship of Gaius Quinctius and Manius Acilius. [122] In the house of the father of the Gracchi two snakes were caught, and in reply to enquiry an oracle declared that he himself would live if the snake of the other sex were killed; "No," said he, "kill my snake: Cornelia is young and still able to bear children." This meant, to spare his wife and think of the public interest; and the result prophesied soon followed. Marcus Lepidus after divorcing his wife Appuleia died for love of her. Publius Rutilius when suffering from a slight illness received news of his brother's defeat in his candidature for the consulship, and at once expired. Publius Catienus Philotimus loved his patron so dearly that he threw himself upon his funeral pyre, although left heir to the whole of his property.

{37.} L   [123] The people who have achieved distinction in the knowledge of the various sciences are innumerable, but nevertheless they must be touched on when we are culling the flower of mankind: in astronomy, Berosus, to whom on account of his marvellous predictions Athens officially erected in the exercising ground a statue with a gilt tongue; philology, Apollodorus, whom the Amphictyons of Greece honoured; in medicine, Hippocrates, who foretold a plague that was coming from Illyria and despatched his pupils round the cities to render assistance, in return for which service Greece voted him the honours that it gave to Hercules. The same knowledge in the case of Cleombrotus of Ceos was rewarded by King Ptolemy at the Megalensian Festival with 100 talents, after he had saved the life of King Antiochus. [124] Critobulus also has a great reputation for having extracted an arrow from King Philip's eye, and having treated his loss of sight without causing disfigurement of his face; but the highest reputation belongs to Asclepiades of Prusa, for having founded a new school, despised the envoys and overtures of King Mithridates, discovered a method of preparing medicated wine for the sick, brought back a man from burial and saved his life, but most of all for having made a wager with fortune that he should not be deemed a physician if he were ever in any way ill himself: and he won his bet, as he lost his life in extreme old age by falling downstairs.

[125] Archimedes also received striking testimony to his knowledge of geometry and mechanics from Marcus Marcellus, who at the capture of Syracuse forbade violence to be done to him onlyhad not the ignorance of a soldier foiled the command. Others who won praise were Chersiphron of Knossos Gnossus who constructed the wonderful Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Philon who made a dockyard for 400 ships at Athens, Ctesibius who discovered the theory of the pneumatic pump and invented hydraulic engines, Dinochares who acted as surveyor for Alexander when founding Alexandria in Egypt. This ruler also issued a proclamation that only Apelles should paint his picture, only Pyrgoteles sculpture his statue, and only Lysippus cast him in bronze: there are many celebrated examples of these arts.

{38.} L   [126] King Attalus bid 100 talents for one picture by the Theban painter Aristides; the dictator Caesar purchased two by Timomachus for 80, the Medea and the Ajax, to dedicate them in the temple of Venus Genetrix. King Candaules paid its weight in gold for a picture of considerable size by Bularchus representing the downfall of the Magnesians. King Demetrius surnamed Poliorcetes refrained from setting fire to Rhodes for fear of burning a picture by Protogenes stored in that part of the fortification. [127]  Praxiteles is famous for his marbles, and especially for his Aphrodite at Cnidos, which is celebrated because of the infatuation that it inspired in a certain young man, and because of the value set on it by King Nicomedes, who attempted to obtain it in return for discharging a large debt owed by the Cnidians. Daily testimony is borne to Phidias by Olympian Zeus, and to Mentor by Capitoline Jupiter and by Diana of Ephesus, works that have immortalized the tools of this craft.

{39.} L   [128] The highest price hitherto paid, so far as I have ascertained, for a person born in slavery was when Attius of Pisaurum was selling a skilled linguist named Daphnis and Marcus Scaurus, Head of the state, bid 700,000 sesterces. This has been exceeded, and considerably, in our own time by actors when buying their own freedom by means of their earnings, inasmuch as already in the time of our ancestors the actor Roscius is said to have earned 500,000 sesterces a year, [129] unless anybody expects a mention in this place of the commissary in the Armenian war carried on not long ago for Tiridates, whom Nero liberated for 13,000,000 sesterces. But this was the price paid for a war, not for an individual, just as in truth when Clutorius Priscus bought one of Sejanus's eunuchs Paezon for 50,000,000, this was the price of lust and not of beauty. But Clutorius got away with this outrageous affair during a period of national mourning, as nobody had time to show him up.

{40.} L   [130] The one race of outstanding eminence in virtue among all the races in the whole world is undoubtedly the Roman. What human being has had the greatest happiness is not a question for human judgement, since prosperity itself different people define in different ways and each according to his own temperament. If we wish to make a true judgement and discard all fortune's pomp in deciding the point, none among mortals is happy. Fortune deals lavishly and makes an indulgent bargain with the man whom it is possible justly to pronounce not unhappy. In fact, apart from other considerations, assuredly there is a fear that fortune may grow weary, and this fear once entertained, happiness has no firm foundation. [131] What of the proverb that none among mortals is wise all the time? And would that as many men as possible may deem this proverb false, and not as the utterance of a prophet! Mortality, being so vain and so ingenious in self-deception, makes its calculation after the manner of the Thracian tribe that puts stone counters of different colours corresponding to each day's experience in an urn, and on the last day sorts them and counts them out and thus pronounces judgement about each individual. [132] What of the fact that the very day commended by that stone of brilliant whiteness contained the source of misfortune? How many men have been overthrown by attaining power! How many have been ruined and plunged into the direst torments by wealth! Wealth forsooth it is called if a man has had an hour of joy while surrounded by it. So doubtless is it! Different days pass verdict on different men and only the last day a final verdict on all men; and consequently no day is to be trusted. What of the fact that goods are not equal to evils even if of equal number, and that no joy can counterbalance the smallest grief? Alas what vain and foolish application! we count the number of the days, when it is their weight that is in question!

{41.} L   [133] Only one woman can be found in the whole of history, the Spartan Lampito, who was daughter, wife and mother of a king; only one, Berenice, who was daughter, sister and mother of Olympic winners; only one family, the Curios, that has produced three orators in unbroken series, only one, the Fabii, three successive principes of the Senate, Marcus Fabius Ambustus, his son Fabius Rullianus and his grandson Quintus Fabius Gurges.

{42.} L   [134] All other cases are instances of changing Fortune, and are beyond counting. For what great joys does she produce except when following on disasters, or what immeasurable disasters except when following on enormous joys?

{43.} L   She preserved the senator Marcus Fidustius for 36 a years after his proscription by Sulla, but only to proscribe him a second time: he survived Sulla, but he lived to see Antony, and it is known that Antony proscribed him for no other reason than that he had been proscribed before! [135] It is true she willed that Publius Ventidius should alone win a triumph from the Parthians, but she also in his boyhood led him captive in Gnaeus  Pompeius's triumph after Asculum - albeit Masurius states that he was led in triumph twice, and Cicero that he was a mule-driver for an army bakery, and many authorities say that in his youth he supported his poverty by foot-slogging in the ranks! [136] Also the elder Cornelius Balbus was consul, but he was impeached and handed over to a court of justice to decide as to his legal liability to a flogging - he being the first foreigner and actual native of the Atlantic coast to have held an honour refused by our ancestors even to Latium. Lucius Fulvius also is one of the notable examples, having been consul of the Tusculans at the time of their revolt and after coming over having been at once honoured with the same office by the Roman nation: he is the only man who ever in the same year in which he had been Rome's enemy won a triumph from the people whose consul he had been. [137] Lucius Sulla is the sole human being hitherto who has assumed the surname {"Fortunate"}, in fact achieving the title by civil bloodshed and by making war upon his country. And what tokens of good fortune were his motive? His success in exiling and slaughtering so many thousands of his fellow-countrymen?

O what a false meaning to attach to the title! How doomed to misfortune in the future! Were not his victims more fortunate at the time when dying, whom we pity today when Sulla is universally hated? [138] Come, was not the close of his life more cruel than the calamity of all the victims of his proscriptions, when his body ate itself away and bred its own torments? And although he dissembled the pangs, and although on the evidence of that last drama of his, which may almost be said to have accompanied his death, we believed that he alone vanquished odium by glory, nevertheless he admitted forsooth that this one thing was wanting to his happiness - he had not dedicated the Capitol.

[139] Quintus Metellus, in the panegyric that he delivered at the obsequies of his father Lucius Metellus the pontiff, who had been Consul twice, dictator, Master of the Horse and Land-commissioner, and who was the first person who led a procession of elephants in a triumph, having captured them in the First Punic War, has left it in writing that his father had achieved the ten greatest and highest objects in the pursuit of which wise men pass their lives: [140] for he had made it his aim to be a first-class warrior, a supreme orator and a very brave commander, to have the direction of operations of the highest importance, to enjoy the greatest honour, to be supremely wise, to be deemed the most eminent member of the senate, to obtain great wealth in an honourable way, to leave many children, and to achieve supreme distinction in the state; and that these things had fallen to his father's lot, and to that of no one else since Rome's foundation. [141] It would be a lengthy matter to refute this, and it is superfluous to do so as it is abundantly rebutted by a single accidental misfortune: inasmuch as this Metellus passed an old age of blindness, having lost his sight in a fire when saving the Palladium from the temple of Vesta, a memorable purpose but disastrous in its result. Consequently though he must not be pronounced unhappy, still he cannot be called happy. The nation bestowed on him a privilege given to no one else since the foundation of time, permission to ride to the senate-house in a chariot whenever he went to a meeting of the senate - a great and highly honourable privilege, but one that was bestowed on him as a substitute for sight.

{44.} L   [142] The son of this Metellus who made those remarks about his father is also counted among the exceptional instances of human happiness. Besides receiving an abundance of high honours and the surname of Macedonicus, he was borne to the tomb by four sons, one a praetor, three ex-consuls (two winners of triumphs), one an ex-censor - things that even separately have fallen to few men's lot. [143] Nevertheless at the very height of his distinguished career, when coming back from the Field at midday, the market place and Capitol being empty, he was carried off to the Tarpeian Rock by Gaius Atinius Labeo, surnamed Macerio, tribune of the plebs, whom when censor he had ejected from the senate, with the intention of hurling him down the cliff; the numerous company of persons who called him their father did it is true hasten to his aid, but as was inevitable in this sudden emergency, too late and as if coming for his funeral, and as he had not the right to resist and to repel the hallowed person of a tribune his virtue and his strictness would have resulted in his destruction, but with difficulty another tribune was found to intercede, and he was recalled from the very threshold of death; [144] and subsequently he lived on the charity of another, as his own property had immediately been confiscated on the proposal of the very man whom he had himself caused to be condemned, just as though the penalty exacted from him of having his throat tied in a rope and the blood forced out through his ears were not sufficient! Although for my own part I should also reckon it as a disaster to have been at enmity with the second Africanus, on the evidence of Macedonicus himself, inasmuch as he said, "Go, my sons, celebrate his obsequies; you will never see the funeral of a greater citizen!" And he said this to sons who had already won the titles of Balearicus and Dalmaticus, while he himself was already Macedonicus. [145] But even if only that injury be taken into account, who could rightly pronounce happy this man who ran the risk of perishing at the will of an enemy, and him not even an Africanus? Victory over what enemies was worth so much? or what honours and triumphal cars did not fortune put into the shade by that violent stroke - a censor dragged through the middle of the city (for this had been the sole reason for delaying), dragged to that same Capitol to which he himself had not thus dragged even prisoners when he was triumphing over the spoils taken from them? [146] This was rendered a greater crime by the happiness that followed, as it placed Macedonicus in danger of losing even that great and glorious funeral in which he was carried to the pyre by his children who had themselves won triumphs, so that even his obsequies were a triumphal procession. Assuredly it is no firmly founded happiness that any outrage in a man's career has shattered, let alone so great an outrage as that. For the rest I know not whether it counts to the credit of our morals or increases the anguish of our indignation that among all the many Metelli that criminal audacity of Gaius Atinius for ever went unpunished.

{45.} L   [147] Also in the case of the deified Augustus, whom the whole of mankind enrols in the list of happy men, if all the facts were carefully weighed, great revolutions of man's lot could be discovered: his failure with his uncle in regard to the office of Master of the Horse, when the candidate opposing him, Lepidus, was preferred; the hatred caused by the proscription; his association in the triumvirate with the wickedest citizens, and that not with an equal share of power but with Antony predominant; [148] his flight in the battle of Philippi when he was suffering from disease, and his three days' hiding in a marsh, in spite of his illness and his swollen dropsical condition (as stated by Agrippa and Maecenas); his shipwreck off Sicily, and there also another period of hiding in a cave; his entreaties to Proculeius to kill him, in the naval rout when a detachment of the enemy was already pressing close at hand; the anxiety of the struggle at Perusia, the alarm of the Battle of Actium, his fall from a tower in the Pannonian Wars; [149] and all the mutinies in his troops, all his critical illnesses, his suspicion of Marcellus's ambitions, the disgrace of Agrippa's banishment, the many plots against his life, the charge of causing the death of his children; and his sorrows that were not due solely to bereavement, the adultery of his daughter { Julia } and the disclosure of her plots against her father's life, the insolent withdrawal of his stepson Nero, another adultery, that of his grand-daughter; then the long series of misfortunes - lack of army funds, rebellion of Illyria, enlistment of slaves, shortage of man power, plague at Rome, famine in Italy, resolve on suicide and death more than half achieved by four days' starvation; [150] next the disaster of Varus and the foul slur upon his dignity; the disowning of Postumus Agrippa after his adoption as heir, and the sense of loss that followed his banishment; then his suspicion in regard to Fabius and the betrayal of secrets; afterwards the intrigues of his wife and Tiberius that tormented his latest days. In fine, this god - whether deified more by his own action or by his merits I know not - departed from life leaving his enemy's son his heir.

{46.} L   [151] In this review there come to mind the Delphic oracles sent forth by the god as if for the purpose of chastising the vanity of mankind. Here are two: 'The happiest of men is Pedius, who lately fell in battle for his country'; and secondly, when the oracle was consulted by Gyges, then the wealthiest king in the world, 'Aglaus of Psophis is happier.' This was an elderly man who cultivated an estate, small but amply sufficient for his yearly provision, in a very shut in corner of Arcadia, and who had never left it, and being (as his kind of life showed) a man of very small desires experienced a very small amount of misfortune in life.

{47.} L   [152] By the command of the same oracle and with the assent of  Zeus the supreme deity, Euthymus the boxer, who won all his matches at Olympia and was only once beaten, was made divine in his lifetime and to his own knowledge. His native place was Locri in Italy; I noticed that Callimachus records as an unparalleled marvel that a statue of him there and another at Olympia were struck by lightning on the same day, and that the oracle commanded that sacrifice should be offered to him; this was repeatedly done both during his lifetime and when he was dead, and nothing about it is surprising except that the gods so decreed.

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