previous next


It is contrary to nature for children to come into the world with the feet first, for which reason such children are called Agrippæ, meaning that they are born with difficulty.1 In this manner, M. Agrippa2 is said to have been born; the only instance, almost, of good fortune, out of the number of all those who have come into the world under these circumstances. And yet, even he may be considered to have paid the penalty of the unfavourable omen produced by the unnatural mode of his birth, in the unfortunate weakness of his legs, the misfortunes of his youth, a life spent in the very midst of arms and slaughter, and ever exposed to the approaches of death; in his children, too, who have all proved a very curse to the earth, and more especially, the two Agrippinas, who were the mothers respectively of Caius and of Domitius Nero,3 so many firebrands hurled among the human race. In addition to all this, we may add the shortness of his life, he being cut off in his fifty-first year, the distress which he experienced from the adulteries of his wife,4 and the grievous tyranny to which he was subjected by his father-in-law. Agrippina, too, the mother of Nero, who was lately Emperor, and who proved himself, throughout the whole of his reign, the enemy of the human race, has left it recorded in writing, that he was born with his feet first. It is in the due order of nature that man should enter the world with the head first, and be carried to the tomb in a contrary fashion.

1 This explanation of the name is given by Aulus Gellius, B. xvi. c. 6. —B. It is very doubtful what are the roots from which it is formed; though Pliny evidently thinks that the word is only a corruption of the Latin "ægre partus," "born with difficulty;" a notion savouring of absurdity.

2 M. Vipsanius Agrippa, the son-in-law of Augustus, having married his dissolute daughter, Julia. He was the son of Lucius Agrippa, and was descended from a very obscure family. He divorced his wife Marcella, to marry Julia, the widow of Marcellus, and the daughter of Augustus, by his third wife, Scribonia.

3 Agrippina, the daughter of Agrippa and Julia, was the mother of the Emperor Caligula; and of a second Agrippina, who became the mother of Nero, by whose order she was put to death.—B.

4 Julia, the daughter of Augustus, so notorious for her depravity, who, as already stated, was the wife of Agrippa.—B. See c. 46 of the present Book.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (9 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: