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[9] At last it came into Jove's head, that while strangers were in the House it was not lawful to speak or debate.

“My lords and gentlemen,” said he, “I gave you leave to ask questions, and you have made a regular farmyard1 of the place. Be so good as to keep the rules of the House. What will this- person think of us, whoever he is?” So Claudius was led out, and the first to be asked his opinion was Father Janus: he had been made consul elect for the afternoon of the next first of July,2 being as shrewd a man as you could find on a summer's day: for he could see, as they say, before and behind.3 He made an eloquent[p. 391] harangue, because his life was passed in the forum, but too fast for the notary to take down. That is why I give no full report of it, for I don't want to change the words he used. He said a great deal of the majesty of the gods, and how the honour ought not to be given away to every Tom, Dick, or Harry.

“Once,” said he, it was a great thing to become a god; now you have made it a farce.4 Therefore, that you may not think I am speaking against one person instead of the general custom, I propose that from this day forward the godhead be given to none of those who eat the fruits of the earth, or whom mother earth doth nourish.5 After this bill has been read a third time, whosoever is made, said, or portrayed to be god, I vote he be delivered over to the bogies, and at the next public show be flogged with a birch amongst the new gladiators."6 The next to be asked was Diespiter, son of Vica Pota, he also being consul elect, and a moneylender;7 by this trade he made a living, used to sell rights of citizenship in a small way. Hercules trips me up to him daintily, and tweaks him by the ear. So he uttered his opinion in these words: “Inasmuch as the blessed Claudius is akin to the blessed Augustus, and also to the blessed Augusta, his grandmother, whom he ordered to be made a goddess, and whereas he far surpasses all mortal men in wisdom, and seeing that it is for the public good that there be some one able to join Romulus in devouring boiled turnips,8 I propose that from this day forth blessed Claudius be a god, to enjoy that honour with all its appurtenances in as full a degree as any other before him, and that a note to that effect be added to Ovid's Metamorphoses.” The meeting was divided, and it looked as though Claudius was to[p. 393] win the day. For Hercules saw his iron was in the fire, trotted here and trotted there, saying, “Don't deny me; I make a point of the matter. I'll do as much for you again, when you like; you roll my log, and I'll roll yours: one hand washes another.”

1 Proverb: meaning unknown.

2 Perhaps an allusion to the shortening of the consul's term, which was done to give more candidates a chance of the honour.

3 Il. iii, 109; alluding here to Janus's double face.

4 No one knows what this phrase really means. Cic. Att. i, 1613 has fabam mimtum, which makes it likely that there should be the same reading here; but as the meaning is so uncertain it seems best not to alter the text.

5 Il. vi, 142 and other phrases.

6 Part of the training.

7 Apparently sometimes identified with Pluto, Dis.

8 A quotation from some unknown poet. Martial speaks of Romulus eating turnips, xiii, 16.

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