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It is with the leaves of this class of trees that our civic crown is made, the most glorious reward that can be bestowed on military valour, and, for this long time past, the emblem of the imperial1 clemency; since the time, in fact, when, after the impiety of civil war, it was first deemed a meritorious action not to shed the blood of a fellow-citizen. Far inferior to this in rank are the mural2 crown, the vallar,3 and the golden4 one, superior though they may be in the value of the material: inferior, too, in merit, is the rostrate5 crown, though ennobled, in recent times more particularly, by two great names, those of M. Varro,6 who was presented with it by Pompeius Magnus, for his great achievements in the Piratic War, and of M. Agrippa, on whom it was bestowed by Cæsar, at the end of the Sicilian War, which was also a war against pirates.

In former days the beaks7 of vessels, fastened in front of the tribunal, graced the Forum, and seemed, as it were, a crown placed upon the head of the Roman people itself. In later times, however, they began to be polluted and trodden under foot amid the seditious movements of the tribunes, the public interest was sacrificed to private advantage, each citizen sought solely his own advancement, and everything looked upon as holy was abandoned to profanation—still, from amid all this, the Rostra8 emerged once again, and passed from beneath the feet of the citizens to their heads. Augustus presented to Agrippa the rostrate crown, while he himself received the civic crown9 at the hands of all mankind.

1 He alludes to the crown of oak-leaves, which was suspended on the gates before the palace of the emperors. A civic crown had been voted by the senate to Julius Cæsar, on the ground of having saved his country.

2 Given to the first man who scaled the wall of a besieged place. It was made of gold, and decorated with turrets.

3 Given to the first soldier who surmounted the vallum or entrenchments. It was made of gold, and ornamented with "valli," or palisades.

4 One of the varieties of the triumphal crown was the "corona aurea," or "golden crown."

5 Made of gold, and decorated with the "rostra," or "beaks" of ships.

6 See B. vii. c. 31.

7 The orator's stage in the Forum was decorated with the "rostra," or "beaks" of the ships of the Antiates; hence it received the name of "Rostrum." The locality of the Rostra was changed by Julius Cæsar.

8 Alluding to the prostitution of the Rostra by the tribunes and others for the purposes of sedition, and the presentation by Augustus of the rostrate crown to Agrippa.

9 Which was suspended, as already mentioned, at the gate of his palace.

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