Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/499
A.D. 369.] 487
FAULTS OF THE NOBLES.
airs, and call themselves Reburri, and Fabunii, and Pagonii, and Geriones, Dalii, Tarracii, or Perrasii, and other finely-sounding appellations, indicating the antiquity of their family.
8. Some also are magnificent in silken robes, as if they were being led to execution, or, to speak without words of so unfavourable an omen, as if after the army had passed they were bringing up the rear, and are followed by a vast troop of servants, with a din like that of a company of soldiers.
9. Such men when, while followed by fifty servants apiece, they have entered the baths, cry out with threatening voice, "Where are my people?" And if they suddenly find out that any unknown female slave has appeared, or any worn-out courtesan who has long been subservient to the pleasures of the townspeople, they run up, as if to win a race, and patting and caressing her with disgusting and unseemly blandishments, they extol her, as the Parthians might praise Semiramis, Egypt her Cleopatra, the Carians Artemisia, or the Palmyrene citizens Zenobia. And men do this, whose ancestor, even though a senator, would have been branded with a mark of infamy because he dared, at an unbecoming time, to kiss his wife in the presence of their common daughter.
10. Some of these, when any one meets and begins to salute them, toss their heads like bulls preparing to butt, offering their flatterers their knees or hands to kiss, thinking that quite enough for their perfect happiness; while they deem it sufficient attention and civility to a stranger who may happen to have laid them under some obligation to ask him what warm or cold bath he frequents, or what house he lives in.11. And while they are so solemn, looking upon themselves as especial cultivators of virtue, if they learn that any one has brought intelligence that any fine horses or skilful coachmen are coming from any place, they rush with as much haste to see them, examine them, and put questions concerning them, as their ancestors showed on beholding the twin-brothers Tyndaridæ, when they filled
- This is an allusion to the story of Castor and Pollux bringing news of the victory gained at the battle of Regillus to Domitius (B.C. 496). The legend adds that they stroked his black beard, which immediately became red; from which he and his posterity derived the surname of Ænobarbus. — See Dion. Hal. vi. 13.