This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
He took from the noblest persons in the city the ancient marks of distinction used by their families; as the collar from Torquatus;1 from Cincinnatus the curl of hair;2 and from Cneius Pompey the surname of the Great, belonging to that ancient family. Ptolemy, mentioned before, whom he invited from his kingdom, and received with great honours, he suddenly put to death, for no other reason, but because he observed that upon entering the theatre, at a public exhibition, he attracted the eyes of all the spectators by the splendour of his purple robe. As often as he met with handsome men, who had fine heads of hair, he would order the back of their heads to be shaved, to make them appear ridiculous. There was one Esius Proculus, the son of a centurion of the first rank, who, for his great stature and fine proportions, was called the Colossal. Him he ordered to be dragged from his seat in the arena, and matched with a gladiator in light armour, and afterwards with another completely armed; and upon his worsting them both, commanded him forthwith to be bound, to be led clothed in rags up and down the streets of the city, and, after being exhibited in that plight to the women, to be then butchered. There was no man of so abject or mean condition whose excellency in any kind he did not envy. The Rex Nemorensis 3 having many years enjoyed the honour of the priesthood, he procured a still stronger antagonist to oppose him. One Porius, who fought in a chariot, 4 having been victorious in an exhibition, and in his joy given freedom to a slave, was applauded so vehemently that Caligula rose in such haste from his seat that, treading upon the hem of his toga, he tumbled down the steps, full of indignation, and crying out, "A people who are masters of the world, pay greater respect to a gladiator for a trifle, than to princes admitted amongst the gods, or to my own majesty here present amongst them."
1 The collar of gold taken from the gigantic Gaul who was killed in single combat by Titus Manlius, called afterwards Torquatus, was worn by the lineal male descendants of the Manlian family. But that illustrious race becoming extinct, the badge of honour, as well as the cognomen of Torquatus, was revived by Augustus, in the person of Caius Nonius Asprenas, who perhaps claimed descent by the female line from the family of Manlius.
2 Cincinnatus signifies one who has curled or crisped hair, from which Livy informs us that Lucius Quintus derived his cognomen. But of what badge of distinction Caligula deprived the family of the Cincinnati, unless the natural feature was hereditary, and he had them all shaved -- a practice we find mentioned just below -- history does not inform us, nor are we able to conjecture.
3 The priest of Diana Nemorensis obtained and held his office by his prowess in arms, having to slay his competitors, and offer human sacrifices, and was called Rex from his reigning paramount in the adjacent forest. The temple of this goddess of the chase stood among the deep woods which clothe the declivities of the Alban Mount, at a short distance from Rome-nemus signifying a grove. Julius Caesar had a residence there. See his Life, c. lxxi. The venerable woods are still standing, and among them chestnut-trees, which, from their enormous girth and vast apparent age, we may suppose to have survived from the era of the Caesars. The melancholy and sequestered lake of Nemi, deep set in a hollow of the surrounding woods, with the village on its brink, still preserves the name of Nemi.
4 An Essedarian was one who fought from an Esseda, the light carriage described in a former note, p. 258.
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.