Natural History (Rackham, Jones, & Eichholz)/Book 7
THE above is a description of the world, and of the lands, races, seas, important rivers, islands and cities that it contains.
The nature of the animals also contained in it is not less important than the study of almost any other department, albeit here too the human mind is not capable of exploring the whole field.
The first place will rightly be assigned to man, for whose sake [great] Nature appears to have created all other thingsthongh she asks a cruel price for all her generous gifts, making it hardly possible to judge whether she has been more a kind parent to man or more a harsh stepmother. First of all, man alone of all animals she drapes with borrowed resources. On all the rest in various wise she bestows coveringsshells, bark, spines, hides, fur, bristles, hair, down, feathers, scales, fleeces; even the trunks of trees she has protected against cold and heat by bark, sometimes in two layers: but man alone on the day of his birth she casts away naked on the naked ground, to burst at once into wailing and weeping, and none other among all the animals is more prone to tears, and that immediately at the very beginning of life; whereas, I vow, the much-talked-of smile of infancy even at the earliest is bestowed on no child less than six weeks old. This initiation into the light is followed by a period of bondage such as befalls not even the animals bred in our midst, fettering all his limbs; and thus when successfully born he lies with hands and feet in shackles, weepingthe animal that is to lord it over all the rest, and he initiates his life with punishment because of one fault only, the offence of being born. Alas the madness of those who think that from these beginnings they were bred to proud estate!
His earliest promise of strength and first grant of time makes him like a four-footed animal. When does man begin to walk? when to speak? when is his mouth firm enough to take food? how long does his skull throb, a mark of his being the weakest among all animals? Then his diseases, and all the cures contrived against his illsthese cures also subsequently defeated by new disorders! And the fact that all other creatures are aware of their own nature, some using speed, others swift flight, others swimming, whereas man alone knows nothing save by educationneither how to speak nor how to walk nor who to eat; in short the only thing he can do by natural instinct is to weep! Consequently there have been many who believed that it were best not to be born, or to be put away as soon as possible. On man alone of living creatures is bestowed grief, on him alone luxury, and that in countless forms and reaching every separate part of his frame; he alone has ambition, avarice, immeasurable appetite for life, superstition, anxiety about burial and even about what will happen after he is no more. No creature's life is more precarious, none has a greater lust for all enjoyments, a more confused timidity, a fiercer rage. In fine, all other living creatures pass their time worthily among their own species: we see them herd together and stand firm against other kinds of animalsfierce lions do not fight among themselves, the serpent's bite attacks not serpents, even the monsters of the sea and the fishes are only cruel against different species; whereas to man, I vow, most of his evils come from his fellowman.
I. And about the human race as a whole we have in large part spoken in our account of the various nations. Nor shall we now deal with manners and customs, which are beyond counting and almost as numerous as the groups of mankind; yet there are some that I think ought not to be omitted, and especially those of the people living more remote from the sea; some things among which I doubt not will appear portentous and incredible to many. For who ever believed in the Ethiopians before actually seeing them? or what is not deemed miraculous when first it comes into knowledge? how many things are judged impossible before they actually occur? Indeed the power and majesty of the nature of the universe at every turn lacks credence if one's mind embraces parts of it only and not the whole. Not to mention peacocks, or the spotted skins of tigers and panthers and the colourings of so many animals, a small matter to tell of but one of measureless extent if pondered on is the number of national languages and dialects and varieties of speech, so numerous that a foreigner scarcely counts as a human being for someone of another race! Again though our physiognomy contains ten features or only a few more, to think that among all the thousands of human beings there exist no two countenances that are not distincta thing that no art could supply by counterfeit in so small a number of specimens! Nevertheless in most instances of these I shall not myself pledge my own faith, and shall preferably ascribe the facts to the authorities who will be quoted for all doubtful points: only do not let us be too proud to follow the Greeks, because of their far greater industry or older devotion to study.
II. We have pointed out that some Scythian tribes, and in fact a good many, feed on human bodiesa statement that perhaps may seem incredible if we do not reflect that races of this portentous character have existed in the central region of the world, named Cyclopes and Laestrygones, and that quite recently the tribes of the parts beyond the Alps habitually practised human sacrifice, which is not far removed from eating human flesh. But also a tribe is reported next to these, towards the North, not far from the actual quarter whence the North Wind rises and the cave that bears its name, the place called the Earth's Doorbolt the Arimaspi whom we have spoken of already, people remarkable for having one eye in the centre of the forehead. Many authorities, the most distinguished being Herodotus and Aristeas of Proconnesus, write that these people wage continual war around their mines with the griffins, a kind of wild beast with wings, as commonly reported, that digs gold out of mines, which the creatures guard and the Arimaspi try to take from them, both with remarkable covetousness.
But beyond the other Scythian cannibals, in a certain large valley in the Himalayas, there is a region called Abarimon where are some people dwelling in forests who have their feet turned backward behind their legs, who run extremely fast and range abroad over the country with the wild animals. It is stated by Baeton, Alexander the Great's route-surveyor on his journeys, that these men are unable to breathe in another climate, and that consequently none of them could be brought to the neighbouring kings or had ever been brought to Alexander. According to Isogonus of Nicaea the former cannibal tribes whom we stated to exist to the north, ten days' journey beyond the river Dnieper, drink out of human skulls and use the scalps with the hair on as napkins hung round their necks. The same authority states that certain people in Albania are born with keen grey eyes and are bald from childhood, and that they see better by night than in the daytime. He also says that the Sauromatae, thirteen days' journey beyond the Dnieper, always take food once every two days.
Crates of Pergamum states that there was a race of men round Parium on the Dardanelles, whom he calls Ophiogenes, whose custom it was to cure snakebites by touch and draw the poison out of the body by placing their hand on it. Varro says that there are still a few people there whose spittle is a remedy against snakebites. According to the writings of Agatharchides there was also a similar tribe in Africa, the Psylli, named after King Psyllus, whose tomb is in the region of the greater Syrtes. In their bodies there was engendered a poison that was deadly to snakes, and the smell of which they employed for sending snakes to sleep, while they had a custom of exposing their children as soon as they were born to the most savage snakes and of using that species to test the fidelity of their wives, as snakes do not avoid persons born with adulterous blood in them. This tribe itself has been almost exterminated by the Nasamones who now occupy that region, but a tribe of men descended from those who had escaped or had been absent when the fighting took place survives today in a few places. A similar race lingers on in Italy also, the Marsi, said to be descended from the son of Circe and to possess this natural property on that account. However, all men contain a poison available as a protection against snakes: people say that snakes flee from contact with saliva as from the touch of boiling water, and that if it gets inside their throats they actually die; and that this is especially the case with the saliva of a person fasting.
Beyond the Nasamones and adjacent to them Calliphanes records the Machlyes, who are Adrogyni and perform the function of either sex alternately. Aristotle adds that their left breast is that of a man and their right breast that of a woman. Isogonus and Nymphodorus report that there are families in the same part of Africa that practise sorcery, whose praises cause meadows to dry up, trees to wither and infants to perish. Isogonus adds that there are people of the same kind among the Triballi and the Illyrians, who also bewitch with a glance and who kill those they stare at for a longer time, especially with a look of anger, and that their evil eye is most felt by adults; and that what is more remarkable is that they have two pupils in each eye. Apollonides also reports women of this kind in Scythia, who are called the Bitiae, and Phylarchus also the Thibii tribe and many others of the same nature in Pontus, whose distinguishing marks he records as being a double pupil in one eye and the likeness of a horse in the other, and he also says that they are incapable of drowning, even when weighed down with clothing. Damon records a tribe not unlike these in Ethiopia, the Pharmaces, whose sweat relieves of diseases bodies touched by it. Also among ourselves Cicero states that the glance of all women who have double pupils is injurious everywhere. In fact when nature implanted in man the wild beasts' habit of devouring human flesh, she also thought fit to implant poisons in the whole of the body, and with some persons in the eyes as well, so that there should be no evil anywhere that was not present in man.
There are a few families in the Faliscan territory, not far from the city of Rome, named the Hirpi, which at the yearly sacrifice to Apollo performed on Mount Soracte walk over a charred pile of logs without being scorched, and who consequently enjoy exemption under a perpetual decree of the senate from military service and all other burdens. Some people are born with parts of the body possessing special remarkable properties, for instance King Pyrrhus in the great toe of his right foot, to touch which was a cure for inflammation of the spleen; it is recorded that at his cremation it proved impossible to bum the toe with the rest of the body, and it was stored in a chest in a temple.
India and parts of Ethiopia especially teem with marvels. The biggest animals grow in India: for instance Indian dogs are bigger than any others. Indeed the trees are said to be so lofty that it is not possible to shoot an arrow over them, and [the richness of the soil, temperate climate and abundance of springs bring it about] that, if one is willing to believe it, squadrons of cavalry are able to shelter beneath a single fig-tree; while it is said that reeds are of such height that sometimes a single section between two knots will make a canoe that will carry three people. It is known that many of the inhabitants are more than seven feet six inches high, never spit, do not suffer from headache or toothache or pain in the eyes, and very rarely have a pain in any other part of the bodyso hardy are they made by the temperate heat of the sun; and that the sages of their race, whom they call Gymnosophists, stay standing from sunrise to sunset, gazing at the sun with eyes unmoving, and continue all day long standing first on one foot and then on the other in the glowing sand. Megasthenes states that on the mountain named Nulus there are people with their feet turned backwards and with eight toes on each foot, while on many of the mountains there is a tribe of human beings with dogs' heads, who wear a covering of wild beasts' skins, whose speech is a bark and who live on the produce of hunting and fowling, for which they use their nails as weapons; he says that they numbered more than 120,000 when he published his work. Ctesias writes that also among a certain race of India the women bear children only once in their lifetime, and the children begin to turn grey directly after birth; he also describes a tribe of men called the Monocolia who have only one leg, and who move in jumps with surprising speed; the same are called the Umbrella-foot tribe, because in the hotter weather they lie on their backs on the ground and protect themselves with the shadow of their feet; and that they are not far away from the Cave-dwellers; and again westward from these there are some people without necks, having their eyes in their shoulders. There are also satyrs [doubtless a kind of monkey] in the mountains in the east of India (it is called the district of the Catarcludi); this is an extremely swift animal, sometimes going on all fours and sometimes standing upright as they run, like human beings; because of their speed only the old ones or the sick are caught. Tauron gives the name of Choromandae to a forest tribe that has no speech but a horrible scream, hairy bodies, keen grey eyes and the teeth of a dog. Eudoxus says that in the south of India men have feet eighteen inches long and the women such small feet that they are called Sparrowfeet. Megasthenes tells of a race among the Nomads of India that has only holes in the place of nostrils, like snakes, and bandy-legged; they are called the Sciritae. At the extreme boundary of India to the East, near the source of the Ganges, he puts the Astomi tribe, that has no mouth and a body hairy all over; they dress in cotton-wool and live only on the air they breathe and the scent they inhale through their nostrils; they have no food or drink except the different odours of the roots and flowers and wild apples, which they carry with them on their longer journeys so as not to lack a supply of scent; he says they can easily be killed by a rather stronger odour than usual. Beyond these in the most outlying mountain region we are told of the Three-span men and Pygmies, who do not exceed three spans, i.e. twenty-seven inches, in height; the climate is healthy and always spring-like, as it is protected on the north by a range of mountains; this tribe Homer has also recorded as being beset by cranes. It is reported that in springtime their entire band, mounted on the backs of rams and she-goats and armed with arrows, goes in a body down to the sea and eats the cranes eggs and chickens, and that this outing occupies three months; and that otherwise they could not protect themselves against the flocks of cranes that would grow up; and that their houses are made of mud and feathers and eggshells. Aristotle says that the Pygmies live in caves, but in the rest of his statement about them he agrees with the other authorities. The Indian race of Cyrni according to Isigonus live to 140; and he holds that the same is true of the Long-lived Ethiopians, the Chinese and the inhabitants of Mount Athosin the last case because of their diet of snakes' flesh, which causes their head and clothes to be free from creatures harmful to the body. Onesicritus says that in the parts of India where there are no shadows there are men five cubits and two spans a high, and people live a hundred and thirty years, and do not grow old but die middle-aged. Crates of Pergamum tells of Indians who exceed a hundred years, whom he calls Gymnetae, though many call them Long-livers. Ctesias says that a tribe among them called the Pandae, dwelling in the mountain valleys, live two hundred years, and have white hair in their youth that grows black in old age; whereas others do not exceed forty years, this tribe adjoining the Long-livers, whose women bear children only once. Agatharchides records this as well, and also that they live on locusts, and are very swift-footed. Clitarchus gave them the name of Mandi; and Megasthenes also assigns them three hundred villages, and says that the women bear children at the age of seven and old age comes at forty. Artemidorus says that on the Island of Ceylon the people live very long lives without any loss of bodily activity. Duris says that some Indians have union with wild animals and the offspring is of mixed race and half animal; that among the Calingi, a tribe of the same part of India, women conceive at the age of five and do not live more than eight years, and that in another part men are born with a hairy tail and extremely swift, while others are entirely covered by their ears.
The river Arabis is the frontier between the Indians and the Oritae. These are acquainted with no other food but fish, which they cut to pieces with their nails and roast in the sun and thus make bread out of them, as is recorded by Clitarchus. Crates of Pergamum says that the Cavemen beyond Ethiopia are swifter than horses; also that there are Ethiopians more than twelve feet in height, and that this race is called the Syrbotae. The tribe of the Ethiopian nomads along the river Astragus towards the north called the Menismini is twenty days' journey from the Ocean; it lives on the milk of the animals that we call dog-headed apes, herds of which it keeps in pastures, killing the males except for the purpose of breeding. In the deserts of Africa ghosts of men suddenly meet the traveller and vanish in a moment.
These and similar varieties of the human race have been made by the ingenuity of Nature as toys for herself and marvels for us. And indeed who could possibly recount the various things she does every day and almost every hour? Let it suffice for the disclosure of her power to have included whole races of mankind among her marvels. From these we turn to a few admitted marvels in the case of the individual human being.
III. The birth of triplets is attested by the case of the Horatii and Curiatil; above that number is considered portentous, except in Egypt, where drinking the water of the Nile causes fecundity. Recently on the day of the obsequies of his late Majesty Augustus a certain woman of the lower orders named Fausta at Ostia was delivered of two male and two female infants, which unquestionably portended the food shortage that followed. We also find the case of a woman in the Peloponnese who four times produced quintuplets, the greater number of each birth surviving. In Egypt also Trogus alleges cases of seven infants born at a single birth.
Persons are also born of both sexes combinedwhat we call Hermaphrodites, formerly called androgyni and considered as portents, but now as entertainments. Pompey the Great among the decorations of his theatre placed images of celebrated marvels, made with special elaboration for the purpose by the talent of eminent artists; among them we read of Eutychis who at Tralles was carried to her funeral pyre by twenty children and who had given birth 30 times, and Alcippe who gave birth to an elephantalthough it is true that the latter case ranks among portents, for one of the first occurrences of the Marsian War was that a maidservant gave birth to a snake, and also monstrous births of various kinds are recorded among the ominous things that happened. Claudius Caesar writes that a hippo-centaur was born in Thessaly and died the same day; and in his reign we actually saw one that was brought here for him from Egypt preserved in honey. One case is that of an infant at Saguntum which at once went back into the womb, in the year [218 BC] in which that city was destroyed by Hannibal.
IV. Transformation of females into males is not an idle story. We find in the Annals that in the consulship [171 BC] of Publius Licinius Crassus and Gaius Cassius Longinus a girl at Casinum was changed into a boy, under the observation of the parents, and at the order of the augurs was conveyed away to a desert island. Licinius Mucianus has recorded that he personally saw at Argos a man named Arescon who had been given the name of Arescusa and had actually married a husband, and then had grown a beard and developed masculine attributes and had taken a wife; and that he had also seen a boy with the same record at Smyrna. I myself saw in Africa a person who had turned into a male on the day of marriage to a husband; this was Lucius Constitius, a citizen of Thysdritum....(It is said that) at the birth of twins neither the mother nor more than one of the two children usually lives, but that if twins are born that are of different sex it is even more unusual for either to be saved; that females are born more quickly than males, just as they grow older more quickly; and that movement in the womb is more frequent in the case of males, and males are usually carried on the right side, females on the left.
V. All the other animals have a fixed season both for copulation and for bearing offspring, but human reproduction takes place all the year round and the period of gestation variesin one case it may exceed six months, in another seven, and it may even exceed ten; a child born before the seventh month is usually still born. Only those conceived the day before or the day after full moon, or when there is no moon, are born in the seventh month. It is a common thing in Egypt for children to be born even in the eighth month; and indeed in Italy also for such cases to live, contrary to the belief of old times. These matters vary in more ways also. Vistilia the wife of Glitius and subsequently of Pomponius and of Orfitius, citizens of the highest distinction, bore these husbands four children, in each case after six months' pregnancy, but subsequently gave birth to Suillius Rufus after ten months and Corbulo after sixboth of these became consulsand subsequently bore Caesonia, the consort of the Emperor Gaius, after seven months. Infants born in this number of months are weakest in health during the first six weeks, the mothers iu the fourth and eighth months of pregnancy; and abortions in these cases are fatal. Masurius states that Lucius Papirius as praetor in a suit for an estate brought by an heir presumptive gave judgement for the defendant; the plaintiff's case was that the heir apparent's mother said that he had been born after thirteen months' pregnancy, and the ground for the judgement was that there appeared to be no fixed period of pregnancy.
VI. On the tenth day from conception pains in the head, giddiness and dim sight, distaste for food, and vomiting are symptoms of the formation of the embryo. If the child is a male, the mother has a better colour and an easier delivery; there is movement in the womb on the fortieth day. In a case of the other sex all the symptoms are the opposite: the burden is hard to carry, there is a slight swelling of the legs and groin, but the first movement is on the ninetieth day. But in the case of both sexes the greatest amount of faintness occurs when the embryo begins to grow hair; and also at the full moon, which period is also specially inimical to infants after birth. The gait in walking and every thing that can be mentioned are so important during pregnancy that mothers eating food that is too salt bear children lacking nails, and that not holding the breath makes the delivery more difficult; indeed, to gape during delivery may cause death, just as a sneeze following copulation causes abortion.
VII. One feels pity and even shame in realizing how trivial is the origin of the proudest of the animals, when the smell of lamps being put out usually causes abortion! These are the beginnings from which are born tyrants and the pride that deals slaughter. You who put confidence in your bodily strength, you who accept fortune's bounty and deem yourself not even her nurseling but her offspring, you whose thoughts are of empire, you who when swelling with some success believe yourself a god, could you have been made away with so cheaply? and even today you can be more cheaply, from being bitten by a snake's tiny tooth, or even choked by a raisin-stone like the poet Anacreon, or by a single hair in a draught of milk, like the praetor Fabius Senator. Assuredly only he who always remembers how frail a thing man is will weigh life in an impartial balance!
VIII. It is against nature to be born feet foremost; this is the reason why the designation of 'Agrippa' has been applied to persons so bornmeaning 'born with difficulty' [aegre partus]; Marcus Agrippa is said to have been born in this manner, almost the solitary instance of a successful career among all those so bornalthough he too is deemed to have paid the penalty which his irregular birth foretold, by a youth made unhappy by lameness, a lifetime passed amidst warfare and ever exposed to the approach of death, by the misfortune caused to the world by his whole progeny but especially due to his two daughters a who became the mothers of the emperors Gaius Caligula and Domitius Nero, the two firebrands of mankind; and also by the shortness of his life, as he was cut off at the age of fifty during the agony caused him by his wife's adulteries and during his irksome subjection to his father-in-law Augustus. Nero also, who was emperor shortly before and whose entire rule showed him the enemy of mankind, is stated in his mother Agrippina's memoirs to have been born feet first. It is Nature's method for a human being to be born head first, and it is the custom for him to be carried to burial feet first.
IX. It is a better omen when the mother dies in giving birth to the child; instances are the birth of the elder Scipio Africanus and of the first of the Caesars, who got that name from the surgical operation performed on his mother; the origin of the family name Caeso is also the same. Also Manilius who entered Carthage with his army was born in the same manner.
X. The name Vopiscus used to be given to cases of a twin born after being retained in the womb when the other twin had been killed by premature deliveryfor extremely remarkable though infrequent cases of this occur.
XI. Few animals except woman ever have sexual intercourse when pregnantat all events superfetation only occurs with animals in very few cases. In the records of the medical profession and of writers who have been interested in collecting such occurrences, there is a case of miscarriage in which twelve infants were stillborn at once. When, however, a moderate interval of time separates two conceptions, both may be successful, as was seen in the instance of Hercules and his brother Iphicles and in the case of the woman who bore twins of whom one resembled her husband and the other an adulterer; and also in that of the maidservant of Marmara who, as a result of intercourse on the same day, bore one twin resembling her master and another resembling his steward, and that of another woman who bore one twin at the proper period and the other a five-months' child, and again of another who after bearing a seven months' child was delivered of twins three months later.
It is also well known that sound parents may have deformed children and deformed parents sound children or children with the same deformity, as the case may be; that some marks and moles and even scars reappear in the offspring, in some cases a birth-mark on the arm reappearing in the fourth generation
XII. (we are told that in the Lepidus family three children were born, though not all in succession, with a membrane over the eyes); and indeed that other children have resembled their grandfather, and that also there has been a case of twins of which one resembled the father and the other the mother, and one of a child who resembled his brother like a twin although born a year later. Also that some women always bear children like themselves, some bear children like their husbands, some children with no family likeness, some a female child like its father and a male child like themselves. One unquestioned instance is that of the famous boxer Nicaeus, born at Istamboul, whose mother was the offspring of adultery with an Ethiopian but had a complexion no different from that of other women, whereas Nicaeus himself reproduced his Ethiopian grandfather.
Cases of likeness are indeed an extremely wide subject, and one which includes the belief that a great many accidental circumstances are influentialrecollections of sights and sounds and actual sense-impressions received at the time of conception. Also a thought suddenly flitting across the mind of either parent is supposed to produce likeness or to cause a combination of features, and the reason why there are more differences in man than in all the other animals is that his swiftness of thought and quickness of mind and variety of mental character impress a great diversity of patterns, whereas the minds of the other animals are sluggish, and are alike for all and sundry, each in their own kind. A man of low station named Artemo so closely resembled Antiochus [III, 223-187 BC], king of Syria, that the royal consort Laodice after she had murdered Antiochus successfully made use of him to stage a play of her being recommended for succession to the throne. Pompey the Great had two doubles almost indistinguishable from him in appearance, a plebeian named Vibius and one Publieius who was actually a liberated slave, both of whom reproduced that noble countenance and the actual dignity of his magnificent brow. A similar resemblance was the reason that saddled Pompey's father also with the surname Menogenes, that being the name of his cook, when he already had the surname Strabo [cross-eyed] from the appearance of his eyes, which actually copied a defect in his slave; and a Scipio received the surname Serapio in a similar way, Serapio being a low chattel belonging to a dealer in hogs. Another Scipio of a later generation received his name from an actor Salutio, just as Spinther and Pamphilus who played second and third roles respectively gave their names to the colleagues in the consulship Lentulus and Metellus, a situation which also (most inappropriately) resulted incidentally in the counterfeit presentations of two consuls being seen on the stage at once. Vice versa, Lucius Plancus an orator gave a surname to a player Rubrius, whereas Burbuleius gave his name to Curio senior and likewise Menogenes to the former censor Messala, both alike being actors. A fisherman in Sicily not only resembled the proconsul Sara in appearance but actually reproduced his gape while speaking and his tongue-tied stammering utterance. The famous orator Cassius Severus was taunted for his likeness to the gladiator Armentarius. Recently in the household of Annaeus people used to mistake Gallio for the freedman Castellanus and the senator Agrippinus for the actor Sannius, surnamed Paris. The slave-dealer Toranius sold to Antony after he had become one of the triumvirate two exceptionally handsome boys, who were so identically alike that he passed them off as twins, although one was a native of Asia and the other of a district North of the Alps. Later the boys' speech disclosed the fraud, and a protest was made to the dealer by the wrathful Antony, who complained especially about the large amount of the price (he had bought them for 200,000 sesterces); but the crafty dealer replied that the thing protested about was precisely the cause of his having charged so much, because there was nothing remarkable in a likeness between any pair of twin brothers, whereas (he said) to find natives of different races so precisely alike in appearance was something above all appraisal; and this produced in Antony so convenient a feeling of admiration that the great inflictor of outlawry, who had just been in a fury of threats and abuse, considered that no other property that he possessed was more suited to his station!
XIII. Particular individuals may have a certain physical incongruity between them, and persons whose union is infertile may have children when they form other connexionsfor instance Augustus and Livia, and similarly others. Also some women have only female or only male children, though usually the sexes come alternatelyfor instance in the case of the mother of the Gracchi this occurred twelve times, and in that of Germanicus's wife Agrippina nine times; some women are childless in youth; on some parentage is bestowed once in a lifetime; certain women are always delivered prematurely, and those of this class, if ever they succeed in overcoming this tendency by the use of drugs, usually bear a female child. One of the many exceptional circumstances connected with his late Majesty Augustus is that he lived to see his daughter's grandson, Marcus Silanus, who was born in the year of his death; Silanus, after succeeding the emperor Nero as consul, held the province of Asia, and during his office Nero despatched him by poison. Quintus Metellus Macedonicus, leaving six children, left eleven grandchildren, but including daughters-in-law and sons-in-law the total of those who greeted him by the title of father was twenty-seven. In the annals of the period of his late Majesty Augustus is found a statement that in his twelfth consnlship, [4 BC] when Lucius Sulla was his colleague, on the 9th April a freeman of humble station at Fiesole named Gaius Crispinius Hilarus went in procession preceded by eight children, including two daughters, twenty-seven grandchildren, eighteen great-grandchildren, and eight granddaughters by marriage, and with all of these in attendance offered sacrifice on the Capitol.
XIV. A woman does not bear children after the age of fifty, and with the majority menstruation ceases at 40. As for the case of men, it is well known that King Masinissa begot a son when over 86, whom he called Methimannus, and Cato the ex-censor had a son by the daughter of his client Salonius when he was 81: this is the reason why this branch of his family bears the surname of Salonianus, although that of the other branch is Licinianus; Cato of Utica belonged to the Salonian branch. Recently also Lucius Volusins Saturninus, who died while holding the office of City Praefect, is known to have had a son, by Cornelia of the Scipio family, born after he was 62, Volusius Saturninus, who was consul. Parentage even up to the age of 75 is commonly found in the lower classes.
XV. Woman is, however, the only animal that has monthly periods; consequently she alone has what are called moles in her womb. This mole is a shapeless and inanimate mass of flesh that resists the point and the edge of a knife; it moves about, and it checks menstruation, as it also checks births: in some cases causing death, in others growing old with the patient, sometimes when the bowels are violently moved being ejected. A similar object is also formed in the stomach of males, called a tumour, as in the case of the praetorian Oppius Gapito. But nothing could easily be found that is more remarkable than the monthly flux of women. Contact with it turns new wine sour, crops touched by it become barren, grafts die, seeds in gardens are dried up, the fruit of trees falls off, the bright surface of mirrors in which it is merely reflected is dimmed, the edge of steel and the gleam of ivory are dulled, hives of bees die, even bronze and iron are at once seized by rust, and a horrible smell fills the air; to taste it drives dogs mad and infects their bites with an incurable poison. Moreover bitumen, a substance generally sticky and viscous, that at a certain season of the year floats on the surface of the lake of Judaea called the Asphalt Pool [Dead Sea], adheres to everything touching it, and cannot be drawn asunder except by a thread soaked in the poisonous fluid in question. Even that very tiny creature the ant is said to be sensitive to it, and throws away grains of corn that taste of it and does not touch them again. Not only does this pernicious mischief occur in a woman every month, but it comes in larger quantity every three months; and in some cases it comes more frequently than once a month, just as in certain women it never occurs at all. The latter, however, do not have children, since the substance in question is the material for human generation, as the semen from the males acting like rennet collects this substance within it, which thereupon immediately is inspired with life and endowed with body. Hence when this flux occurs with women heavy with child, the offspring is sickly or still-born or sanious, according to Nigidius.
XVI. (The same writer holds that a woman's milk does not go bad while she is suckling a baby if she has become pregnant again from the same male.) It is stated, however, that the easiest conceptions are when this condition is beginning or ceasing. We have it recorded as a sure sign of fertility in women if when the eyes have been anointed with a drug the saliva contains traces of it.
Moreover, it is known that children cut their first teeth when six months old, the upper ones mostly coming first, and that the first teeth fall out and are replaced by others when they are six years old; and that some children are born having teethtwo distinguished instances are Manius Curius, who received the surname Dentatus in consequence, and Gnaeus Papirius Carbo. In the regal period this occurrence was considered a sign of bad luck in females; Valeria was born with teeth, and the soothsayers in reply to inquiry prophesied that she would bring disaster to any community to which she was taken; she was deported to Suessa Pometia, at that period a very flourishing place, the eventual result verifying the oracle. (Some females are born with the genitals closed; this is proved by the ease of Cornelia the mother of the Graechi to be a sign of bad luck.) Some infants are born with a ridge of bone instead of teeth; this was the case as regards the upper jaw with the son of Prusias, King of Bithynia. The teeth are so far indestructible by fire as not to burn when the rest of the body is cremated, but although they resist fire they are corroded by a morbid state of the saliva. A certain drug gives them whiteness. Use wears them down, and in some people they decay much before this. Nor are they only necessary for food and nourishment, as the front teeth regulate the voice and speech, meeting the impact of the tongue with a kind of harmony, and according to their regularity of arrangement and size clipping or modulating or else dulling the words, and when they are lost preventing all clear articulation. Moreover this part of the body is believed to possess prophetic powers. Males (excepting the Turduli tribe) have 32 teeth; there have been cases of men with morethis is thought to foretell a longer term of life. Women have fewer; with them two dogteeth on the right side of the upper jaw are a promise of fortune's favours, as in the case of Domitius Nero's mother Agrippina; on the left side the opposite.(It is the universal custom of mankind not to cremate a person who dies before cutting his teeth.)But more of this later when our researches go through the parts of the body seriatim.
It is recorded of only one person, Zoroaster, that he laughed on the same day on which he was born, and also that his brain throbbed so violently as to dislodge a hand placed on his headthis foretelling his future knowledge.
It is known that at the age of three a person's measurement is half his future stature. But it is almost a matter of observation that with the entire human race the stature on the whole is becoming smaller daily, and that few men are taller than their fathers, as the conflagration that is the crisis towards which the age is now verging is exhausting the fertility of the semen. When a mountain in Crete was cleft by an earthquake a body 69 feet in height was found, which some people thought must be that of Orion and others of Otus. The records attest that the body of Orestes dug up at the command of an oracle measured l0 ft. 6 in. Moreover, the famous bard Homer nearly 1000 years ago never ceased to lament that mortals were smaller of stature than in he old days. In the case of Naevius Pollio the annals do not record his height, but they show that was deemed portentous, because he was almost killed by the people flocking round him. The tallest person our age has seen was a man named Gabbara brought from Arabia in the principate of his late Majesty Claudius who was 9 ft. 9 in. in height. Under his late Majesty Augustus there were two persons 6 in. taller, whose bodies on account of this remarkable height were preserved in the tomb in Sallust's Gardens; their names were Pusio and Secundilla. When the same emperor was head of the state the smallest person was a dwarf 2 ft. 5 in. high named Conopas, the pet of his granddaughter Julia, and the smallest female was Andromeda, a freed-woman of Julia Augusta. Marcus Varro states that the Knights of Rome Manius Maximus and Marcus Tullius were 3 ft. high, and we have ourselves men their bodies preserved in coffins. It is a matter of common knowledge that persons are born 18 in. high and some taller, who complete their life's course at the age of three.
We find in the records that at Salamis the son of Euthymenes grew to 4 ft. 6 in. in his third year; he walked slowly, was dull of sense, became sexually quite mature, had a bass voice, and was carried off by a sudden attack of paralysis when he turned three. We ourselves recently saw almost all these features except sexual maturity in a son of the Knight of Rome Cornelius Tacitus, Deputy Finance Minister in Belgic Gaul. The Greeks call these cases 'perverts,' but in the Latin country there is no name for them.
XVII. 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.
XVIII. 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 Knight of Rome of the allied tribe of the Vocontil 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.
XIX. 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, and among them surprising to say, chiefly founders of schools of philosophy, Diogenes the Cynic, Pyrrho, Herachtus, Timothe 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 daughter 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.'
XX. 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. Vinnius Valens served as captain in the Imperial Guard of the late lamented 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. 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.
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 This 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 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.
XXI. 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.
XXII. 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.
XXIII. 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.
XXIV. 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. 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 Seepsis, enabling anything heard to be repeated in the identical words. 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.
XXV. 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 affairsor, if otherwise unoccupied, seven letters at once. He also fought fifty pitched battles, and alone beat the record of Marcus Marcellus who fought thirty-ninefor 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.
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. 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.
XXVI. 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. 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. 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.
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 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.
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.
XXVII. 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.
XXVIII. 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 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. 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 additionand this in my opinion is his finest achievementprocured 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; above all he had alone saved the Capitol and the fortunes of the state therein from the Gaulsif 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. 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 Piacenza, 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 infirma 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. What civic wreaths were bestowed by Trebbia or Ticino or Trasimeno? 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.
XXIX. 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 Greatfor so lordly an assessment will be effected best and least invidiously by the most supreme tribunalswhen 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. 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 [406 BC] 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.
XXX. 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 hat 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. 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 Macedon 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.
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. 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.
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. His late Majesty 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. 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. 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? 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 Latium's letters; 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.
XXXI. 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 Wise and Sage, and in Greece Socrates, whom Pythian Apollo's oracle placed before all other men.
XXXII. 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.
XXXIII. 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.
XXXIV. 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.
XXXV. 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.
XXXVI. 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 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. 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.
XXXVII. 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 he 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. 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.
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 Gnossus who constructed the wonderful temple of Diana at Ephesus, Philo 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.
XXXVIII. 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 Besieger of Cities refrained from setting fire to Rhodes for fear of burning a picture by Protogenes stored in that part of the fortification. Praxiteles is famous for his marbles, and especially for his Venus 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 Jove, and to Mentor by Capitoline Jove and by Diana of Ephesus, works that have immortalized the tools of this craft.
XXXIX. The highest price hitherto paid, so far as I have ascertained, for a person born in slavery was when Attius of Pesaro 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,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.
XL. 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. 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. 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!
XLI. Only one woman can be found in the whole of history, the Spartan Lampido, 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 Chiefs of the Senate, Marcus Fabius Ambustus, his son Fabius Rullianus and his grandson Quintus Fabius Gurges.
XLII. 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?
XLIII. 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! 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 Asculumalbeit 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! 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 flogginghe 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. 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? 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 happinesshe had not dedicated the Capitol.
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: 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. 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 statue of Pallas 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 senatea great and highly honourable privilege, bnt one that was bestowed on him as a substitute for sight.
XLIV. 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-censorthings that even separately have fallen to few men's lot. 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; 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 Dahnaticus, while he himself was already Macedonicus. 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 strokea 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? 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.
XLV. Also in the case of his late Majesty 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; 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 Perugia, the alarm of the Battle of Actium, his fall from a tower in the Pannonian Wars; 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, his daughter's [Julia] adultery 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 misfortuneslack 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; next the disaster of Varus and the foul slur upon his dignity; the disowning of Postumius 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 godwhether deified more by his own action or by his merits I know notdeparted from life leaving his enemy's son his heir.
XLVI. 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.
XLVII. By the command of the same oracle and with the assent of Jupiter the supreme deity, Euthynus the boxer, who won all his matches at Olympia and was only once beaten, was made a saint 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.
XLVIII. As to the length and duration of men's life, not only geographical position but also dates and the various fortunes allotted at birth to each individual have made it uncertain. Hesiod, who first put forth some observations on this matter, placing many creatures above man in respect of longevity, fictitiously as I think, assigns nine of our lifetimes to the crow, four times a crow s life to stags, three times a stag's to ravens, and for the rest in a more fictitious style in the case of the phoenix and the nymphs. The poet Anacreon attributes 150 years to Arganthonius king of the Tartcsii, 10 years more to Cinyras king of Cyprus, and 200 to Aegimius. Theopompus gives 157 to Epimenides of Cnossus. Hellanicus says that some members of the clan of the Epii in Aetolia complete 200 years, and he is supported by Damastes who records that one of them, Pictoreus, a man of outstanding stature and strength, even lived 300 years; Ephorus records Arcadian kings of 300 years; Alexander Cornelius says that a certain Dando in Illyria lived 500 years. Xenophon in his Coasting Voyage says that a king of the island of the Lutmii lived to 600, andas though that were only a modest fabricationthat his son lived to 800. All of these exaggerations were due to ignorance of chronology, because some people made the year coincide with the summer, the winter being a second year, others marked it by the periods of the four seasons, for example the Arcadians whose years were three months long, and some by the waning of the moon, as do the Egyptians. Consequently with them even individuals are recorded to have lived a thousand years.
But to pass to admitted facts, it is almost certain that Argathonius of Cadiz reigned for 80 years; his reign is thought to have begun in his fortieth year. It is not questioned that Masinissa reigned 60 years and that the Sicilian Gorgias lived 108 years. Quintus Fabius Maxixnus was augur for 63 years. Marcus Perperna and recently Lucius Volusius Saturninus outlived all the persons whose votes in debate they had taken as consuls; Perperna left only seven of those whom as censor he had electedhe lived to 98. In this matter it occurs to me to note also that there has only been a single five-year period in which no senator has died, from when Flaccus and Albinus as censors performed the purification ceremony to the next censorsbeginning 175 B.C. Marcus Valerius Corvinus completed 100 years, and there was an interval of 46 years between his first and sixth consulships. He also took his seat in the curule chair 21 times, which is a record; but his length of life was equalled by the pontifex Metellus.
Also among women Livia wife of Rutilius exceeded 97 years, Statilia a lady of noble family under the Emperor Claudius 99, Terentia Cicero's wife 103, Clodia Ofilius's wife 115; the latter also bore 15 children. The actress Lucceia delivered a recitation on the stage at 100. Galeria Copiola the actress of interludes was brought back to the stage in the consulship of Gaius Poppaeus and Quintus Sulpicius, at the votive games celebrated for the recovery of his late Majesty Augustus, when in her 104th year; she had been brought out at her first appearance by Marcus Pomponius, aedile of the plebs, in the consulship of Gaius Marius and Gnaeus Carbo, 91 years before, and she was brought back to the stage when an old woman by Pompey the Great as a marvel at the deification of the big theatre. Also Pedianus Asconius states that Sammula lived 110 years. I am less surprised that Stephanio, who first introduced dancing in national costume, danced at both secular games, both those of his late Majesty Augustus and those celebrated by Claudius Caesar in his fourth consulship, as the interval was only 63 years, although he also lived a long time afterwards. Mucianus is the authority for one Tempsis having lived 150 years at the place called Mount Tmolus Heights; and the census of Claudius Caesar gives the same number of years for Titus Fullonius of Bologna, which has been verified by comparing the census returns he had made previously and by the facts of his careerfor the emperor gave his attention to this matter.
XLIX. The topic seems of itself to call for the view held by astronomical science. Epigenes declared that it is impossible to live 112 years; Berosus said that 116 years can be exceeded. Also the theory handed down by Petosiris and Necepsos is still extant (it is called the Theory of Quarters, from its dividing up the Zodiac into groups of three signs); this theory shows it possible to attain 124 years of life in the region of Italy. These thinkers declared that nobody exceeds the ascendant measure of 90 degrees (what is called `risings'), and stated that this period itself may be cut short by the encounter of maleficent stars, or even by their rays and by those of the sun. Again it is uncertain what is the greatest longevity allowed by the school of Aesculapius, which says that fixed periods of life are received from the stars; however, they say that longer periods of life are rare, inasmuch as vast crowds of men are born at critical moments in the hours of the lunar days, for example the 7th and the 15th hour counting by night and day, who are liable to die under the law of the ascending scale of years, called 'gradations', persons so born rarely exceeding their fifty-fourth year.
At the outset therefore the variations in the science itself show how uncertain the matter is. In addition there are the experiences of the last census, held within the last four years by the Emperors Caesar Vespasian father and son as Censors. Nor is it necessary to ransack all the records: we will only produce cases from the middle region between the Apennines and the Po. Three persons declared 120 years at Parma and one at Brescello; two at Parma 125; one man at Piacenza and one woman at Faenza 130; Lucius Terentius son of Marcus at Bologna 135; Marcus Aponius 140 and Tertulla 137 at Itimini. In the hills this side of Piacenza is the township of Veleia, where six declared 110 years, four 120, one (Marcus Mucius Felix, son of Marcus, of the Galerian tribe) 150. And, not to delay with further instances in a matter of admitted fact, the census registered in the eighth region of Italy 54 persons of 100 years of age, 14 of 110, 2 of 125, 4 of 130, the same number of 135 or 137, 3 of 140.
Other instances of the fickleness of mortal fortunes are these: Homer has recorded that men of such diverse fates as Hector and Polydamas were born on the same night; Marcus Caelius Rufus and Gaius Licinius Calvus, both orators but with such different success, were born on the same day, May 28 in the consulship [82 BC] of Gaius Marius and Gnaeus Carbothe latter's third. Taking the entire world, this happens daily even to persons born at the same hoursmasters and slaves, kings and paupers come into existence simultaneously.
L. Fublius Cornelius Rufus, who was consul with Manius Curius, lost his sight while asleep, when dreaming that it was happening to him. In the opposite way, Jason of Pherae being ill with a tumour and given up by the doctors sought death in battle, but was wounded in the chest and so obtained a cure from the enemy. In the battle against the clans of the Allobroges and Arverni on the river Isre, on August 8, when 130,000 of the foe were killed, the consul Quintus Fabius Maximus got rid of a quartan ague in action. In fact whatever be this gift of nature that is bestowed upon us, it is uncertain and insecure, indeed sinister and of brief duration even in the case of those to whose lot it has fallen in most bounteous measure, at all events when we regard the whole extent of time. What of the fact that, if we take into account our nightly period of slumber, everybody is alive for only a half of his life, whereas an equal portion is passed in a manner that resembles death, or, in default of slumber, torture. And we are not counting in the years of infancy that lack sensation, nor those of old age that remains alive to be tormented, nor all the kinds of dangers, all the diseases, all the fears, all the anxieties, with death so often invoked that this is the commonest of prayers. But nature has granted man no better gift than the shortness of life. The senses grow dull, the limbs are numb, sight, hearing, gait, even the teeth and alimentary organs die before we do, and yet this period is reckoned a portion of life. Consequently it is virtually a miracleand this is the solitary instance of it foundthat the musician Xenophilus lived to 105 without any bodily disablement. But assuredly with all the rest of men, as in the case of none of the other animals, morbid heat or else stiffness returns through the several portions of the limbs at fixed hours, and not only at certain hours but also every three or four days or nights, even all the year round. And moreover the death of the intellect in some measure is a disease. For nature has imposed certain laws even upon diseases: a four-day-period fever never begins at midwinter or in the winter months, and some people are not attacked by it when over the age of 60, while with others, particularly women, it is discarded at puberty; and old men are least susceptible to plague. For diseases attack not only entire nations but also particular classes, sometimes the slaves, sometimes the nobility, and so Through other grades. In this respect it has been observed that plague always travels from southern quarters westward and almost never otherwise, and that it does not spread in winter, nor during a period exceeding three months.
LI. Again, signs of approaching death are: in a case of insanity laughter, but in delirium toying with fringes and making folds in the bed-clothes, disregard of persons trying to keep the patient awake, making water, while the most unmistakable signs are in the appearance of the eyes and nostrils, and also in lying constantly on the back, in an irregular and excessively slow pulse, and the other symptoms noted by that prince of medicine Hippocrates. And whereas the signs of death are innumerable, there are no signs of health being secure; inasmuch as the ex-censor Cato gave an as it were oracular utterance addressed to his son about healthy persons also, to the effect that senile characteristics in youth are a sign of premature death. But so unlimited is the number of diseases that the Syrian Pherecydes expired with a swarm of maggots bursting out of his body. Some people suffer from perpetual fever, for instance Gaius Maecenas: the same had not an hour's sleep in the last three years of his life. The poet Antipater of Sidon used to have a yearly attack of fever on one day only, his birthday, and this at a fairly advanced age carried him off.
LII. The ex-consul Aviola came to life again on the funeral pyre, and as the flame was too powerful for it to be possible to come to his assistance, was burnt alive. A similar cause of death is recorded in the case of the ex-praetor Lucius Lamia, while Gaius Aelius Tubero, a former praetor, is recorded by Messala Rufus and most authorities to have been recovered from the pyre. This is the law of mortals: we are born for these and similar accidents of fortune, so that in the case of a human being no confidence must he placed even in death. Among other instances we find that the soul of Hermotimus of Clazomenae used to leave his body and roam abroad, and in its wanderings report to him from a distance many things that only one present at them could know ofhis body in the meantime being only half-conscious; till finally some enemies of his named the Cantharidae burned his body and so deprived his soul on its return of what may be called its sheath. We also read that the soul of Aristeas at Proconnesus was seen flying ont of his mouth in the shape of a raven, with a great deal of fabulous invention that follows this. This inventiveness I for my part also receive in a similar way in the case of Epimenides of Cnossusthat when a boy, being weary with the heat and with travel, he slept in a cave 57 years, and when he woke, just as if it had been on the following day, was surprised at the appearance of things and the change in them; and afterwards old age came on him in the same number of days as he had slept years, though nevertheless he lived to the age of 157. The female sex seems specially liable to this malady, caused by distortion of the womb; if this is set right, the breathing is restored. To this subject belongs the essay of Heracides, well known in Greece, about the woman recalled to life after being dead for seven days.
Also Varro records that when he was acting as one of the Twenty Commissioners and apportioning lands at Capua a person being carried out on a bier to burial returned home on foot; and that the same thing occurred at Aquino; and that also at Rome his maternal aunt's husband Corfidius came to life again after his funeral had been arranged for with an undertaker, and that he himself superintended the funeral of the relative who had made the arrangement. He adds some marvellous occurrences that it would be suitable to have set out in their entirety: that there were two brothers Corfidius, of the rank of knights, to the elder of whom it happened that he appeared to have expired, and when his will was opened the younger brother was read out as his heir, and set about arranging his funeral; in the meantime the brother who appeared to be dead summoned the servants by clapping his hands and told them that he had come from his brother, who had entrusted his daughter to his care, and had also shown him where he had without anybody's knowledge hidden some gold in a hole dug in the ground, and had asked that the preparations that he had made for his brother's funeral might be used for himself. While he was telling this story his brother's servants hurriedly came with the news that their master was dead; and the gold was found in the place where he had said. Moreover life is full of these prophecies, but they are not worth collecting, because more often than not they are false, as we will prove by an outstanding example. In the Sicilian War the bravest man in Caesar's navies Gabienus was taken prisoner by Sextus Pompeius, by whose order his throat was cut and almost severed, and so he lay a whole day on the shore. Then on the arrival of evening, a crowd having been gathered to the spot by his groans and entreaties, he besought that Pompey should come to him, or send one of his personal staff, as he had come back from the lower world and had some news to tell him. Pompey sent several of his friends, who were told by Gabienus that the gods below approved Pompey's cause and the righteous party, so that the issue would be what Pompey desired; that he had had orders to bring this news, and that a proof of its truth would be that as soon as his errand was accomplished he would expire. And this so happened. There are also cases of persons appearing after burialsave that our subject is the works of nature, not prodigies.
LIII. But most miraculous and also frequent, are sudden deaths (this is life's supreme happiness), which we shall show to be natural. Verrius has reported a great many, but we will preserve moderation with a selection. Cases of people who died of joy are (besides Chilo about whom we have spoken) Sophocles and Dionysius the tyrant of Sicily, in both cases after receiving news of a victory with a tragedy: also the mother who saw her son back safe from Cannae in contradiction of a false message; Diodorus the professor of logic died of shame because he could not at once solve a problem put to him in jest by Stilpo. Cases of men dying from no obvious causes are: while putting on their shoes in the morning, the two Caesars, the praetor and the ex-praetor, father of the dictator Caesar, the latter dying at Pisa and the former at Rome; Quintus Fabius Maximus on 31 December in the year of his consulship, in whose place Gaius Rebilus obtained the office for only a few hours; also the senator Gaius Volcatius Gurgesall of these men so healthy and fit that they were thinking of going out for a walk; QuintusAemilius Lepidus who bruised his great toe in the doorway of his bedroom just as he was going out; Gaius Aufidius who after he had gone out hit his foot against something in the Cornitium when he was on his way to the senate. Also an envoy who had pleaded the cause of Rhodes in the senate to the general admiration, just as he wanted to leave the senate-house expired on the threshold; Gnaeus Baebius Tamphilus, who had himself also held the praetorship, died just after asking his footman the time; Aulus Pompeius died on the Capitol after paying reverence to the gods, Mantis Juventius Thalna the consul while offering sacrifice, Gaius Servilius Pansa while standing at a shop in the market-place, leaning on his brother Publius's arm, at seven o'clock in the morning, Baebius the judge while in the act of giving an order for enlargement of bail, Marcus Terentius Corax while writing a note in the market-place; and moreover last year, a Knight of Rome died while saying something in the ear of an ex-consul, just in front of the ivory statue of Apollo in the Forum of Augustus; and, most remarkable of all, the doctor Gaius Julius died from passing the probe through his eye while pouring in ointment, the ex-consul Aulus Manlius Torquatus while helping himself to a cake at dinner, Lucius Tuccius, Sulla's doctor, while drinking a draught of mead, Appius Saufeius when he had drunk some mead and was sucking an egg after coming back from the bathhouse, Publius Quintius Scapula when out to dinner with Aquilius Gallus, Decimus Saufeius the clerk when lunching at home. Cornelius Gallus, expraetor, and Titus Hetereius Knight of Rome died while with women; and, cases remarked on by our own generation, two members of the Order of Knighthood died when with the same ballet-dancer Mystieus, the leading beauty of the day. However, the most enviable case of a peaceful end is one recorded by our forefathers, that of Marcus Ofilius Hilarus: he was an actor in comedy, and having had a considerable success with the public on his birthday and while giving a party, when dinner was served called for a hot drink in a tankard, and at the same time picked up the mask that he had worn on that day and while gazing at it transferred the wreath from his own head to it, and in this attitude lay quite stiff without anybody noticing, until the guest on the next couch warned him that his drink was getting cold.
These are happy instances, but there are countless numbers of unhappy ones. Lucius Domitius, a man of very distinguished family, who was defeated at Marseilles and was taken prisoner, also by Caesar, at Corfinium, grew tired of life and drank poison, but afterwards made every effort to save his life. It is found in the official records that at the funeral of Felix the charioteer of the Reds one of his backers threw himself upon the pyrea pitiful storyand the opposing backers tried to prevent this score to the record of a professional by asserting that the man had fainted owing to the quantity of scents! Not long before, the corpse of Marcus Lepidus, the man of distinguished family whose death from anxiety about his divorce we have recorded above, had been dislodged from the pyre by the violence of the flame, and as it was impossible to put it back again because of the heat, it was burnt naked with a fresh supply of faggots at the side of the pyre.
LIV. Cremation was not actually an old practice at Rome: the dead used to be buried. But cremation was instituted after it became known that the bodies of those fallen in wars abroad were dug up again. All the same many families kept on the old ritual, for instance it is recorded that nobody in the family of the Cornelii was cremated before Sulla the dictator, and that he had desired it because he was afraid of reprisals for having dug up the corpse of Gaius Marius. [But burial is understood to denote any mode of disposal of a corpse, but interment means covering up with earth.]
LV. There are various problems concerning the spirits of the departed after burial. All men are in the same state from their last day onward as they were before their first day, and neither body nor mind possesses any sensation after death, any more than it did before birth for the same vanity prolongs itself also into the future and fabricates for itself a life lasting even into the period of death, sometimes bestowing on the soul immortality, sometimes transfiguration, sometimes giving sensation to those below, and worshipping ghosts and making a god of one who has already ceased to be even a manjust as if man's mode of breathing were in any way different from that of the other animals, or as if there were not many animals found of greater longevity, for which nobody prophesies a similar immortality! But what is the substance of the soul taken by itself? what is its material? where is its thought located? how does it see and hear, and with what does it touch? what use does it get from these senses, or what good can it experience without them? Next, what is the abode. or how great is the multitude, of the souls or shadows in all these ages? These are fictions of childish absurdity, and belong to a mortality greedy for life unceasing. Similar also is the vanity about preserving men's bodies, and about Democritus's promise of our coming to life again who did not come to life again himself! Plague take it, what is this mad idea that life is renewed by death? what repose are the generations ever to have if the soul retains permanent sensation in the upper world and the ghost in the lower? Assuredly this sweet but credulous fancy ruins nature's chief blessing, death, and doubles the sorrow of one about to die by the thought of sorrow to come hereafter also; for if to live is sweet, who can find it sweet to have done living? But how much easier and safer for each to trust in himself, and for us to derive our idea of future tranquillity from our experience of it before birth!
LVI. Before we quit the subject of man's nature it seems suitable to point out the various discoveries of different persons. Father Liber instituted buying and selling, and also invented the emblem of royalty, the crown, and the triumphal procession. Ceres discovered corn, men having hitherto lived on acorns; she also invented grinding corn and making flour in Attica (or, as others say, in Sicily), and for this was deemed a goddess. Also she first gave laws, though others have thought this was done by Rhadamanthus.
I am of opinion that the Assyrians have always had writing, but others, e.g. Gellius, hold that it was invented in Egypt by Mercury, while others think it was discovered in Syria; both schools of thought believe that Cadmus imported an alphabet of 16 letters into Greece from Phoenicia and that to these Palamedes at the time of the Trojan war added the four characters ΖΨΦΧ, and after him Simonides the lyric poet added another four ΥΞΩΘY, all representing sounds recognized also in the Roman alphabet. Aristotle holds that the primitive alphabet contained 18 letters, and that Ψ and Z were added by Epicharmus more probably than Palamedes. Anticlides records that a person named Menos invented the alphabet in Egypt 15,000 years before Phoroneus, the most ancient king of Greece, and he attempts to prove this by the monuments. On the other side Epigenes, an authority of the first rank, teaches that the Babylonians had astronomical observations for 730,000 years inscribed on baked bricks; and those who give the shortest period, Berosus and Critodemus, make it 490,000 years; from which it appears that the alphabet has been in use from very ancient times. It was brought to Latium by the Pelasgi.
Brick-kilns and houses were first introduced by the brothers Euryalus and Hyperbius at Athens; previously caves had served for dwellings. Gellius accepts Toxius son of Uranus as the inventor of building with clay, the example having been taken from swallows' nests. Cecrops named after himself the first town, Cecropia, which is now the Acropolis at Athens; though some hold that Argos had been founded before by King Phoroneus, and certain authorities say Sicyon also, but the Egyptians hold that Diospolis was founded in their country long before. Tiles were invented by Cinyra, son of Agriopa, as well as mining for copper, both in the island of Cyprus, and also the tongs, hammer, crowbar and anvil; wells by Danaus who came from Egypt to Greece to the region that used to be called Dry Argos; stone quarrying by Cadmus at Thebes, or according to Theophrastus, in Phoenicia; walls were introduced by Thrason, towers by the Cyclopes according to Aristotle but according to Theophrastus by the Tirynthians; woven fabrics by the Egyptians, dyeing woollen stuffs by the Lydians at Sardis, the use of the spindle in the manufacture of woollen by Closter son of Arachne, linen and nets by Arachne, the fuller's craft by Nicias of Ntegara, the shoemaker's by Tychius of Boeotia; medicine according to the Egyptians was discovered among themselves, but according to others through the agency of Arabus son of Babylon and Apollo; and the science of herbs and drugs was discovered by Chiron the son of Saturn and Philyra. Aristotle thinks that Lydus the Scythian showed how to melt and work copper, but Theophrastus holds that it was the Phrygian Delas; manufactures of bronze some ascribe to the Chalybes and others to the Cyclopes; the forging of iron Hesiod ascribes to the people called the Dactyli of Ida in Crete. Erichthonius of Athens, or according to others Aeacus, discovered silver; mining and smelting gold was invented by Cadmus the Phoenician at Mount Pangaeus, or according to others by Thoas or Aeacus in Panchaia, or by the Sun, son of Oceanus, to whom Gellius also assigns the discovery of medicine derived from minerals. Tin was first imported by Midacritus from the island of Cassiteriss Working in iron was invented by the Cyclopes, potteries by Coroebus of Athens, the potter's wheel by the Scythian Anacharsis, or according to others by Hyperbius of Corinth. Carpentry was invented by Daedalus, and with it the saw, axe, plumb-line, gimlet, glue, isinglass; but the square, the plummet, the lathe and the lever by Theodorus of Samos, measures and weights by Phidon of Argos, or, as Gellius preferred, Palamedes; fire from flint by Pyrodes son of Cilix, the storing of fire in a fennel-stalk by Prometheus; a vehicle with four wheels by the Phrygians, trade by the Phoenicians, viticulture and arboriculture by Eumolpus of Athens, diluting wine with water by Staphylus son of Silenus, oil and oil-mills by Aristaeus of Athens, honey by the same; the ox and the plough by Buzyges of Athens, or, as others say, by Triptolemus; monarchical government by the Egyptians, republican by the Athenians after Theseus. The first tyrant was Phalaris at Girgenti. Slavery was invented by the Spartans. Capital trials were first carried on in the Areopagus.
The Africans first fought with clubs (called poles) in a war against the Egyptians. Shields were invented by Proetus and Acrisius in making war against each other, or else by Chalcus son of Athamas; the breastplate by Midias of Messene, the helmet, sword and spear by the Spartans, greaves and helmet-plumes by the Carians. The bow and arrow is said by some to have been invented by Scythes son of Jove; others say that arrows were invented by Perses son of Perseus, lances by the Aetolians, the spear slung with a thong by Aetolus son of Mars, spears for skirmishing by Tyrrhenus, the javelin by the same, the battle-axe by Penthesilea the Amazon, hunting-spears and among missile engines the scorpion by Pisaeus, the catapult by the Cretans, the ballista and the sling by the Syrophoenicians, the bronze trumpet by Pysaeus son of Tyrrhenus, tortoise-screens by Artemo of Clazomenae, among siege-engines the horse (now called the ram) by Epius at Troy; horse-riding by Bellerophon, reins and saddles by Pelethronius, fighting on horseback by the Thessalians called Centaurs, who dwelt along Mount Pelion. The Phrygian race first harnessed pairs, Erichthonius four-in-hands. Military formation, the use of passwords, tokens and sentries were invented by Palamedes in the Trojan war, signalling from watch-towers by Sinon in the same war, truces by Lycaon, treaties by Theseus.
Auguries from birds were invented by Car, from whom Caria got its name; Orpheus added auspices derived from the other animals, Delphus divination from victims, Amphiaraus divination from fire, Tiresias of Thebes divination by inspecting birds' entrails, Amphictyon the interpretation of portents and dreams; Atlans son of Libya, or as others say the Egyptians and others the Assyrians, astronomy, Anaximander of Miletus the use of a globe in astronomy, Aeolus son of Hellen the theory of winds; Amphion music, Pan son of Mercury the pipe and single flute, Midas in Phrygia the slanting flute, Marsyas in the same nation the double flute, Amphion the Lydian modes, the Thracian Thamyras the Dorian, Marsyas of Phrygia the Phrygian, Amphion, or others say Orpheus and others Linus, the harp. Terpander first sang with seven strings, adding three to the original four, Simonides added an eighth, Timothens a ninth. Thamyris first played the harp without using the voice, Amphion, or according to others Linus, accompanied the harp with singing; Terpander composed songs for harp and voice. Ardalus of Troezen instituted singing to the flute. The Curetes taught dancing in armour, Pyrrhus the Pyrrhic dance; both of there were in Crete. Hexameter verse we owe to the Pythian oracle, but as to the origin of poetry there is much debate, though it is proved to have existed before the Trojan War. Pherecydes of Syria instituted prose composition in the period of King Cyrus, Cadmus of Miletus history; gymnastic games were started by Lycaon in Arcadia, funeral games by Acastus in Iolcus, and subsequently by Theseus at the Isthmus and by Hercules at Olympia; wrestling by Pytheus, the sport of ball-throwing by Gyges of Lydia; painting by the Egyptians, and in Greece by Euchir the kinsman of Daedalus according to Aristotle, but according to Theophrastus by Polygnotus of Athens.
Danaus first came from Egypt to Greece by ship; before that time rafts were used for navigation, having been invented by King Erythras for use between the islands in the Red Sea. Persons are found who think that vessels were devised earlier on the Hellespont by the Mysians and Trojans when they crossed to war against the Thracians. Even now in the British ocean coracles are made of wicker with hide sown round it, and on the Nile canoes are made of papyrus, rushes and reeds. The first voyage made in a long ship is attributed by Philostephanus to Jason, by Hegesias to Parhalus, by Ctesias to Semiramis, and by Archemachus to Aegaeo. Further advances were as follows:
The freight-ship was invented by Hippus of Tyre, the cutter by the Cyrenians, the skiff by the Phoenicians, the yacht by the Rhodians, the yawl by the Cyprians; the Phoenicians invented observing the stars in sailing, the town of Copae invented the oar, the city of Plataea the oar-blade, Icarus sails, Daedalus mast and yard, the Samians or Pericles of Athens the cavalry transport, the Thasians decked longshipspreviously the marines had fought from the bows and stem only. Pisaeus son of Tyrrenus added beaks, Enpalamus the anchor, Anacharsis the double-fluked anchor, Pericles of Athens grappling-irons and claws, Tiphys the tiller. Minos was the first who fought a battle with a fleet.
Hyperbius son of Mars first killed an animal, Prometheus an ox.
LVII. The first of all cases of tacit agreement between the nations was the convention to employ the alphabet of the Ionians.
LVIII. The practical identity of the old Greek alphabet with the present Latin one will be proved by an ancient Delphic tablet of bronze (at the present day in the Palace, a gift of the emperors) dedicated to Minerva, with the following inscription: Tithe dedicated by Nausicrates to the Daughter of Zeus...
LIX. The next agreement between nations was in the matter of shaving the beard, but with the Romans this was later. Barbers came to Rome from Sicily in 300 B.C., according to Varro being brought there by Publius Titinius Mena; before then the Romans had been unshaved. The second Africanus first introduced a daily shave. His late Majesty Augustus never neglected the razor.
LX. The third agreement was in the observation of the hours (this now being an addition made by theory), the date and inventor of which we have stated in Book II. This also happened later at Rome: 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 ware 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 a 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.
We will now turn to the rest of the animals, beginning with land-animals.