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The high estimation in which the paintings of foreigners were held at Rome commenced with Lucius Mummius, who, from his victories, acquired the surname of "Achaicus." For upon the sale of the spoil on that occasion, King Attalus having purchased, at the price of six thousand denarii, a painting of Father Liber by Aristides,1 Mummius, feeling surprised at the price, and suspecting that there might be some merit in it of which he himself was unaware,2 in spite of the complaints of Attalus, broke off the bargain, and had the picture placed in the Temple of Ceres;3 the first instance, I conceive, of a foreign painting being publicly exhibited at Rome.

After this, I find, it became a common practice to exhibit foreign pictures in the Forum; for it was to this circumstance that we are indebted for a joke of the orator Crassus. While pleading below the Old Shops,4 he was interrupted by a witness who had been summoned, with the question, "Tell me then, Crassus, what do you take me to be?" "Very much like him," answered he, pointing to the figure of a Gaul in a picture, thrusting out his tongue in a very unbecoming manner.5 It was in the Forum, too, that was placed the picture of the Old Shepherd leaning on his staff; respecting which, when the envoy of the Teutones was asked what he thought was the value of it, he made answer that he would rather not have the original even, at a gift.

1 See Chapter 36 of this Book.

2 We have an amusing proof of this ignorance of Mummius given by Paterculus, B. i. c. 13, who says that when he had the choicest of the Corinthian statues and pictures sent to Italy, he gave notice to the contractors that if they lost any of them, they must be prepared to supply new ones. Ajasson offers a conjecture which is certainly plausible, that Mummius might possibly regard this painting as a species of talisman.—B.

3 In the Eleventh Region of the City.

4 "Sub Veteribus;" meaning that part of the Forum where the "Old Shops" of the "argentarii" or money-brokers had stood.

5 We have an anecdote of a similar event, related by Cicero, as having occurred to Julius Cæsar, De Oratore, B. ii. c. 66.—B.

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