This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
By the encouragement of Titus Livius,1 and with the assistance of Sulpicius Flavus, he attempted at an early age the comlpeitiQof a history; and having called together a numerous auditory, to hear and give their judgment upon it, he read it over with much difficulty, and frequently interrupting himself. For after he had begun, a great laugh was raised amongst the company, by the breaking of several benches from the weight of a very fat man; and even when order was restored, he could not forbear bursting out into violent fits of laughter, at the remembrance of the accident. After he became emperor, likewise, he wrote several things which he was careful to have recited to his friends by a reader. He commenced his history from the death of the dictator Caesar; but afterwards he took a later period, and began at the conclusion of the civil wars; because he found he could not speak with freedom, and a due regard to truth, concerning the former period, having been often taken to task both by his mother and grandmother. Of the earlier history he left only two books, but of the latter, one and forty. He compiled likewise the "'History of his Own Life," in eight books, full of absurdities, but in no bad style; also, "A Defence of Cicero against the Books of Asinius Gallus,"2 which exhibited a considerable degree of learning. He besides invented three new letters, and added them to the former alphabet,3 as highly necessary. He published a book to recommend them while he was yet only a private person; but on his elevation to imperial power he had little difficulty in introducing them into common use; and these letters are still extant in a variety of books, registers, and inscriptions upon buildings.
1 Titus Livius, the prince of Roman historians, died in the fourth year of the reign of Tiberius, A. U. C. 771; at which time Claudius was about twenty-seven years old, having been born A. U. C. 744.
2 Asinius Gallus was the son of Asinius Pollio, the famous orator, and had written a book comparing his father with Cicero, and giving the former the preference.
3 Quintilian informs us, that one of the three new letters the emperor Claudius attempted to introduce, was the AEolic digamma, which had the same force as v consonant. Priscian calls another anti-sigma, and says that the character proposed was two Greek sigmas, back to back, and that it was substituted for the Greek ψ, ps. The other letter is not known, and all three soon fell into disuse.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.