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republic: while Rome was still adored as the queen of the earth; and the subject nations still reverenced the name of the people and the majesty of the senate. But this native splendor,” continues Ammianus, “is degraded, and sullied, by the conduct of some nobles, who, unmindful of their own dignity, and of that of their country, assume an unbounded license of vice and folly. They contend with each other in the empty vanity of titles and surnames; and curiously select, or invent, the most lofty and sonorous appellations, Reburrus, or Fabunius, Pagonius, or Tarasius,” which may impress the ears of the vulgar with astonishment and respect. From a vain ambition of perpetuating their memory, they affect to multiply their likeness in statues of bronze and marble; nor are they satisfied, unless those statues are covered with plates of gold; an honorable distinction, first granted to Acilius the consul, after he had subdued, by his arms and counsels, the power of King Antiochus. The ostentation of displaying, of magnifying, perhaps, the rent-roll of the estates which they possess in all the provinces, from the rising to the setting sun, provokes the just resentment of every man, who recollects, that their poor and invincible ancestors were not distinguished from the meanest of the soldiers, by the delicacy of their food, or the splendor of their apparel. But the modern nobles measure their rank and consequence according to the loftiness of their chariots,” and the weighty magnificence of their dress. Their long robes of silk and purple float in the wind; and as they are agitated by art or accident, they occasionally discover the under-garments, the rich tunics, embroidered with the figures of various animals.” Followed by a train of fifty servants, and tearing up the pavement, they move along the streets with the same impetuous speed as if they travelled with post-horses; and the example of the senators is boldly imitated by the matrons and ladies, whose covered carriages are continually driving round the immense space of the city and suburbs. Whenever these |...". of high distinction condescend to visit the public aths, they assume, on their entrance, a tone of loud and insolent command, and appropriate to their own use the conveniences which were designed for the Roman people. If, in these places of mixed and general resort, they meet any of the infamous ministers of their pleasures, they express their affection by a tender embrace; while they proudly decline the salutation of their fellow-citizens, who are not permitted to aspire above the honor of kissing their hands, or their knees. As soon as they have indulged themselves in the refreshment of the bath, they resume their rings, and the other ensigns of their dignity; select from their private wardrobe of the finest linen, such as might suffice for a dozen persons, the garments the most agreeable to their fancy, and maintain till their departure the same haughty demeanor; which perhaps might have been excused in the great Marcellus, after the conquest of Syracuse. Sometimes, indeed, these heroes undertake more arduous achievements; they visit their estates in Italy, and procure themselves, by the toil of servile hands, the amusements of the chase.” If at any time, but more especially on a hot day, they have courage to sail, in their painted galleys, from the Lucrine Lake” to their elegant villas on the sea-coast of Puteoli and Cayeta,” they compare their own expeditions to the marches of Caesar and Alexander. Yet should a fly Ammian. xiv. 6) that this was a new fashion; that bears, wolves, lions, and tigers, woods, hunting-matches, &c., were represented in embroidery ; and that the more pious coxcombs substituted the figure or legend of some favorite Saint. 30 See Pliny’s Epistles, i. 6. Three large wild boars were allured and taken in the toils without interrupting the studies of the philosophic sportsman. 40 The change from the inauspicious word Avermus, which stands in the text, is immaterial. The two lakes, Avernus and Lucrinus, communicated with each other, and were fashioned by the stupendous moles of Agrippa into the Julian port, which opened, through a narrow entrance, into the Gulf of Puteoli. Virgil, who resided on the spot, has described (Georgic ii. 16) this work at the moment of its execution : and his commentators, especially Catrou, have derived much light from Strabo. Suetonius, and Dion. Earthquakes and volcanoes have changed the face of the country, and turned the Lucrine Lake, since the year 1538, into the Monte Nuovo. See Camillo Pellegrino Discorsi della Campania Felice, p. 239,244, &c. Antonii Sanfelicii Campania, p. 13, 88.*
* The minute diligence of antiquarians has not been able to verify these extoo, names. T am of opinion that they were invented by the historian himself, who was afraid of any personal satire or application. It is certain, howeyer, that the simple denominations of the Romans were gradually lengthened to the number of four, five, or even seven, pompous surnames; as, for instance, Marcus Maecius Maemmius Furius Balburius Caecilianus Placidus. See Noris Cenotaph. Pisan. Dissert. c. iv. p. 438.
* The carrucae, or coaches of the Romans, were often of solid silver, curiously carved and engraved; and the trappings of the mules, or horses, were embossed with gold. This magnificence continued from the reign of Nero to that of Homorius; and the Appian way was covered with the splendid equipages of the nobles, who came out to meet St. Melania, when she returned to Rome, six years before the Gothic siege (Seneca, epist. Ixxxvii. Plin. Hist. Natur. xxxiii. 49. I’aulin. Nolan. apud Baron. Annal. Eccles. A. D. 397. No 5). Yet pomp is well exchanged for convenience; and a plain modern coach, that is hung upon springs, is much preferable to the silver or gold carts of antiquity, which rolled on * axle-tree, and were exposed, for the most part, to the inclemency of the Weather.
*In a homily of Asterius, bishop of Amasia, M. de Valois has discovered (ad *The regna Cumana et Puteolana; loca caetiroqui valde expetenda, interpellantium auten, multitudine paene fugienda. Cicero ad Attic Xvi. 17.
presume to settle on the silken folds of their gilded um, brellas; should a sunbeam penetrate through some unguarded and imperceptible chink, they deplore their intolerable hardships, and lament, in affected language, that they were not born in the land of the Cimmerians,” the regions of eternal darkness. In these journeys into the country,” the whole body of the household marches with their master. In the same manner as the cavalry and infantry, the heavy and the light armed troops, the advanced guard and the rear, are marshalled by the skill of their military leaders; so the domestic officers, who bear a rod, as an ensign of authority, distribute and arrange the numerous train of slaves and attendants. The baggage and wardrobe move in the front; and are immediately followed by a multitude of cooks, and inferior ministers, employed in the service of the kitchens, and of the table. The main body is composed of a promiscuous crowd of slaves, increased by the accidental concourse of idle or dependent plebeians. The rear is closed by the favorite band of eunuchs, distributed from age to youth, according to the order of seniority. Their numbers and their deformity excite the horror of the indignant spectators, who are ready to execrate the memory of Semiramis, for the cruel art which she invented, of frustrating the purposes of nature, and of blasting in the bud the hopes of future generations. In the exercise of domestic jurisdiction, the nobles of Rome express an exquisite sensibility for any personal injury, and a contemptuous indifference for the rest of the human species. When they have called for warm water, if a slave has been tardy in his obedience, he is instantly chastised with three hundred lashes: but should the same slave commit a wilful murder, the master will mildly observe that he is a worthless fellow ; but that if he repeats the offence, he shall not escape punishment. Hospitality was formerly the virtue of the Romans; and every stranger who could plead either merit or misfortune, was relieved, or 42 The proverbial expression of Cimmerian darkness was originally borrowed from the description of Homer (in the eleventh book of the Odyssey), which he applies to a remote and fabulous country on the shores of the ocean. See Erasmi Adagia, in his works, tom. ii. p. 593, the Leyden edition. 43 We may learn from Seneca (epist. c. xxiii.) three curious circumstances relative to the journeys of the Romans. 1. They were preceded by a troop of Numidian light horse, who announced, by a cloud of dust, the approach of a great man. 2. Their baggage mules transported not only the precious vases, but even the fragile vessels of crystal and murra, which last is almost proved, by the learned French translator of Seneca (tom. iii. pp. 402–422), to mean the porcelain of China and Japan. 3. The beautiful faces of the young slaves were covered
with a medicated crust, or ointment, which secured them against the effects of the sun and frost.
rewarded, by their generosity. At present, if a foreigner, perhaps of no contemptible rank, is introduced to one of the proud and wealthy senators, he is welcomed indeed in the first audience, with such warm professions, and such kind inquiries, that he retires, enchanted with the affability of his illustrious friend, and full of regret that he had so long delayed his journey to Rome, the native seat of manners, as well as of empire. Secure of a favorable reception, he repeats his visit the ensuing day, and is mortified by the discovery, that his person, his name, and his country, are already forgotten. If he still has resolution to persevere, he is gradually numbered in the train of dependents, and obtains the permission to pay his assiduous and unprofitable court to a haughty patron, incapable of gratitude or friendship; who scarcely deigns to remark his presence, his departure, or his return. Whenever the rich prepare a solemn and popular entertainment; “whenever they celebrate, with profuse and pernicious luxury, their private banquets; the choice of the guests is the subject of anxious deliberation. The modest, the sober, and the learned, are seldom preferred; and the nomenclator's, who are commonly swayed by interested motives, have the address to insert, in the list of invitations, the obscure names of the most worthless of mankind. But the frequent and familiar companions of the great, are those parasites, who practice the most useful of all arts, the art of flattery; who eagerly applaud each word, and every action, of their immortal patron; gaze with rapture on his marble columns and variegated pavements; and strenuously praise the pomp and elegance which he is taught to consider as a part of his personal merit. At the Roman tables, the birds, the squirrels,” or the fish, which appear of
* Distributio solemnium sportularum. The sportulae, or sportellae, were small baskets, supposed to contain a quantity of hot provisions, of the value of 100 quadrantes, or twelvepence halfpenny, which were ranged in order in the hall, and o distributed to the hungry or servile crowd who waited at the door. This indelicate custom is very frequently mentioned in the epigrams of Martial, and the satires of Juvenal. See likewise Suetonius, in Claud. c. 21, in Neron. c. 16, in Domitian, c. 4, 7. These baskets of provisions were afterwards converted into large pieces of gold and silver coin, or plate, which were mutually given and accepted even by persons of the highest rank (see Symmach. epist. iv. & ix. 124, and Miscell. p. 256), on solemn occasions, of consulships, marriages,
* The want of an English name obliges me to refer to the common genus of squirrels,”, the Latin glis, the French toir; a little animal, who inhabits the Woods, and remains torpid in cold weather (see Plin. Hist. Natur. viii. 82. Busson, Hist, Naturelle, tom. viii. 153. Pennant's Synopsis of Quadrupeds, p: 289.) The art of rearing and fattening great numbers of glires was practised in Roman
*Is it not the dormouse?—M.
an uncommon size, are contemplated with curious attention; a pair of scales is accurately applied, to ascertain their real weight; and, while the more rational guests are disgusted by the vain and tedious repetition, notaries are summoned to attest, by an authentic record, the truth of such a marvellous event. Another method of introduction into the houses and society of the great, is derived from the profession of gaming, or, as it is more politely styled, of play. The confederates are united by a strict and indissoluble bond of friendship, or rather of conspiracy; a superior degree of skill in the Tesserarian art (which may be interpreted the game of dice and tables)” is a sure road to wealth and reputation. A master of that sublime science, who in a supper, or assembly, is placed below a magistrate, displays in his countenance the surprise and indignation which Cato might be supposed to feel, when he was refused the praetorship by the votes of a capricious people. The acquisition of knowledge seldom engages the curiosity of nobles, who abhor the fatigue, and disdain the advantages, of study; and the only books which they peruse are the Satires of Juvenal, and the verbose and fabulous histories of Marius Maximus." The libraries, which they have inherited from their fathers, are secluded, like dreary sepulchres, from the light of day.” But the costly instruments of the theatre, flutes, and enormous lyres, and hydraulic organs, are constructed for their use; and the harmony of vocal and instrumental music is incessantly repeated in the palaces of Rome. In those palaces, sound is preferred to
villas as a|. article of rural economy (Varro, de Re Rustică, iii. 15.) The excessive demand of them for luxurious tables was increased by the foolish prohibitions of the censors; and it is reported that they are still csteemed in modern Rome, and are frequently sent as presents by the Colonna princes (see IBrotier, the last editor of Pliny, tom. ii. p. 458, apud Barbou, 1779.)
43 This game, which might be translated by the more familiar names of tricktrac, or backgammon, was a favorite amusement of the gravest, Romans; and old Mucius Scaevola, the lawyer, had the reputation of a very skilful player. It was called ludus duodecim scriptorum, from the twelve scripta, or lines, which equally divided the alveolus or table. On these, the two armies, the white and the black, each consisting of fifteen men, or calculi, were regularly placed, and alternately moved according to the laws of the game, and the chances of the tesserae, or dice. Dr. Hyde, who diligently traces the history and varieties of the nerdi'udiam (a name of Persic etymology) from Ireland to Japan, pours forth, on this trifling subject, a copious torrent of classic and Oriental learning. See Syntagma Dissertat. tom. ii. pp. 217-405.
47 Marius Maximus, homo omnium verbosissimus, qui, et mythistoricis se voluminibus implicavit. Vopiscus in Hict, August. p. 242. Ise wrote the lives of the emperors, from Trajān to Alexander Severus. See Gerard Vossius de Historicis Latin.T. ii. c. 3, in liis works, vol. iv. p. 47.
48 This satire is probably exaggerated. The Saturnality of Macrobius, and the epistles of Jerom, assord satisfactory proofs that Christian theology and classic literature were studiously cultivated by several IRomans, of both sexes, and of the lighest rank.