Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/28

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16
[BK. XIV. CH. VI
AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS.

nevertheless, in every quarter of the world Rome is still looked up to as the mistress and the queen of the earth, and the name of the Roman people is respected and venerated.

7. But this magnificent splendour of the assemblies and councils of the Roman people is defaced by the inconsiderate levity of a few, who never recollect where they have been born, but who fall away into error and licentiousness, as if a perfect impunity were granted to vice. For as the lyric poet Simonides teaches us, the man who would live happily in accordance with perfect reason, ought above all things to have a glorious country.

8. Of these men, some thinking that they can be handed down to immortality by means of statues, are eagerly desirous of them, as if they would obtain a higher reward from brazen figures unendowed with sense than from a consciousness of upright and honourable actions; and they even are anxious to have them plated over with gold, a thing which is reported to have been first done in the instance of Acilius Glabrio, who by his wisdom and valour had subdued King Antiochus. But how really noble a thing it is to despise all these inconsiderable and trifling things, and to bend one's attention to the long and toilsome steps of true glory, as the poet of Ascrea[1] has sung, and Cato the Censor has shown by his example. For when he was asked how it was that while many other nobles had statues he had none, replied: "I had rather that good men should marvel how it was that I did not earn one, than (what would be a much heavier misfortune) inquire how it was that I had obtained one."

9. Others place the height of glory in having a coach higher than usual, or splendid apparel; and so toil and sweat under a vast burden of cloaks, which are fastened to their necks by many clasps, and blow about from the excessive fineness of the material; showing a desire, by the continual wriggling of their bodies, and especially by the waving of the left hand, to make their long fringes and tunics, embroidered in multiform figures of animals with threads of various colours, more conspicuous.

10. Others, with not any one asking them, put on a

  1. Hesiod. Ammianus refers to the passage in Hesiod's Op. et Dies, 289, beginning — [Greek text].