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GAVIUS BASSUS in his Commentaries, 1 and Julius Modestus in the second book of his Miscellaneous Questions, 2 tell the history of the horse of Seius, a [p. 265] tale wonderful and worthy of record. They say that there was a clerk called Gnaeus Seius, and that he had a horse foaled at Argos, in the land of Greece, about which there was a persistent tradition that it was sprung from the breed of horses that had belonged to the Thracian Diomedes, those which Hercules, after slaying Diomedes, had taken from Thrace to Argos. They say that this horse was of extraordinary size, with a lofty neck, bay in colour, with a thick, glossy mane, and that it was far superior to all horses in other points of excellence; but that same horse, they go on to say, was of such a fate or fortune, that whoever owned and possessed it came to utter ruin, as well as his whole house, his family and all his possessions. Thus, to begin with, that Gnaeus Seius who owned him was condemned and suffered a cruel death at the hands of Marcus Antonius, afterwards one of the triumvirs for setting the State in order. 3 At that same time Cornelius Dolabella, the consul, on his way to Syria, attracted by the renown of this horse, turned aside to Argos, was fired with a desire to own the animal, and bought it for a hundred thousand sesterces; but Dolabella in his turn was besieged in Syria during the civil war, and slain. And soon afterwards Gaius Cassius, who had besieged Dolabella, carried off this same horse, which had been Dolabella's. It is notorious too that this Cassius, after his party had been vanquished and his army routed, met a wretched end. Then later, after the death of Cassius, Antonius, who had defeated him, sought for this famous horse of Cassius, and after getting possession of it was himself afterwards defeated and deserted in his turn, and died an ignominious death. Hence the proverb, [p. 267] applied to unfortunate men, arose and is current:

“That man has the horse of Seius.”
The meaning is the same of that other old proverb, which I have heard quoted thus: “the gold of Tolosa.” For when the town of Tolosa in the land of Gaul was pillaged by the consul Quintus Caepio, and a quantity of gold was found in the temples of that town, whoever touched a piece of gold from that sack died a wretched and agonizing death.

Gavius Bassus reports that he saw this horse at Argos; that it was of incredible beauty and strength and of the richest possible colouring.

This colour, as I have said, we call poeniceus; the Greeks sometimes name it φοῖνιξ, at others σπάδιξ, since the branch of the palm (φοῖνιξ), torn from the tree with its fruit, is called spadix. 4

1 Frag. 4, Fun.

2 p. 15, Bunte.

3 Illviri reipublicae constituendae was the formal designation of the powers conferred upon Antony, Octavian and Lepidus in 43 B C. by the bill of the tribune P. Titius. The so-called “first triumvirate,” in 60 B. C., was a private arrangement by Caesar, Pompey and Crassus.

4 See ii. 26, 10. The colour is a purple-red, or reddish purple.

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