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It was the same conquest, too, that first introduced murrhine1 vessels at Rome; Pompeius being the first to dedicate, at the conclusion of this triumph, vases and cups, made of this material, in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus: a circumstance which soon brought them into private use, waiters, even, and eating-utensils made of murrhine being in great request. This species of luxury, too, is daily on the increase, a single cup, which would hold no more than three sextarii, having been purchased at the price of seventy thousand sesterces. A person of consular rank, who some years2 ago used to drink out of this cup, grew so passionately fond of it, as to gnaw its edges even, an injury, however, which has only tended to enhance its value: indeed there is now no vessel in murrhine that has ever been estimated at a higher figure than this. We may form some opinion how much money this same personage swallowed up in articles of this description, from the fact that the number of them was so great, that, when the Emperor Nero deprived his children of them, and they were exposed to public view, they occupied a whole theatre to themselves, in the gardens beyond the Tiber; a theatre which was found sufficiently large even, for the audience that attended on the occasion when Nero3 rehearsed his musical performances before his appearance in the Theatre of Pompeius. It was at this exhibition, too, that I saw counted the broken fragments of a single cup, which it was thought proper to preserve in an urn and display, I suppose, with the view of exciting the sorrows of the world, and of exposing the cruelty of fortune; just as though it had been no less than the body of Alexander the Great himself!

T. Petronius,4 a personage of consular rank, intending, from his hatred of Nero, to disinherit the table of that prince, broke a murrhine basin, which had cost him no less than three hundred thousand sesterces. But Nero himself, as it was only proper for a prince to do, surpassed them all, by paying one million of sesterces for a single cup: a fact well worthy of remembrance, that an emperor, the father of his country, should have drunk from a vessel of such costly price!

1 Modern writers differ as to the material of which these vessels were composed. Some think that they were of variegated glass, and others of onyx; but the more general opinion is, that they were Chinese porcelain, and we have the line in Propertius, B. iv. El. 5, 1. 26. "And murrhine vessels baked on Parthian hearths." Ajasson is of opinion, from the description given by Pliny, that these vessels were made of Fluor spar, or fluate of lime. "Myrrhine" is another reading of the word.

2 "Ante hos annos." Sillig is of opinion that the reading here should be "L. Annius," and that L. Annius Bassus, who was Consul suffectus in the year 70 A.D., is the person referred to; or possibly, T. Arrius Antoninus, who was Consul suffectus, A.D. 69.

3 The Gardens of Nero, in the Fourteenth Region of the City.

4 He had been formerly a sharer in the debaucheries of Nero. Tacitus called him "Caius."

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