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This webpage is an appendix to
The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

C. Suetonius Tranquillus

published in the Transactions and Proceedings
of the American Philological Association,
45:35‑47 (1914)

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

Notes on Suetonius
by Professor John C. Rolfe
University of Pennsylvania


1. Regia, Augustus31.5 and 76.2

The first of these passages reads as follows: Pompei statuam contra theatri eius regiam marmoreo Iano superposuit, translatam e curia, in qua C. Caesar fuerat occisus; the second: dum lectica ex regia domo redeo, panis unciam . . . comedi. The difficulty in their interpretation is due to the ingenuity of the commentators in conjecturing meanings for regiam in the former, and their assumption that regia in the latter passage refers to the same structure.

Regia, an adjective with a feminine noun to be supplied, has the meaning 'palace,' with the secondary significations of 'the royal tent in a camp' and 'the court' (aula). In the last of these sense it is used of the early kings of Rome (e.g. Livy, I.46.3) and also occasionally of the emperors (Tac. Ann. XI.29, of Caligula). Therefore in Aug. 31.5 regiam has been taken by some to refer to the house of Pompey, after the rebuilding and embellishment mentioned in Plut. Pomp. 40.5. But we seem to have no evidence that Pompey transferred his dwelling-place to the Campus Martius from its original situation on the Carinae; and besides the use of regia for the abode of any one except a king or an emperor appears to lack support. Nevertheless the word is apparently so interpreted by Holland ("over against the princely Pallace of his theatre") and is certainly taken in that sense by Stahr ("gegenüber dem bei dem Theater des Pompejus liegendem Prachtpalaste desselben"). It may be noted that the only certain example of regia = 'palace' in Suetonius is of the palace of Polycrates, Calig. 21.

A gloss of unknown origin (C. G. L. III.267.36) reads regiabasilica, but our only literary testimony to such a meaning is in Stat. Silv. I.1.30, belligeri sublimis regia Pauli, where Vollmer seems right in regarding regia as a mere  p36 translation of the Greek βασιλική, citing in his note on Silv. I.1.6 numerous examples of Statius' fondness for such translations. The edition of Baumgarten-Crusius, however, takes regia in the sense of basilica in both our passages: in the former, of the basilica connected with Pompey's theatre; in the latter, of some basilica or other (basilica quaedam), which is not expressly designated. Since Suetonius makes free use of Greek words, and has the Latin form basilica at least five times, such a use of regia on his part seems doubtful, to say nothing of the suspicious indefiniteness of the allusion in the second passage.

Others, for example Shuckburgh, in his edition of the Augustus, believe that regia refers to the porticus, or colonnade, connected with the theatre, being a translation of the Greek βασιλικὴ (στοά). To this view there are several objections. First, the habit of Suetonius with regard to Greek words and his frequent employment of the Latin porticus; secondly, the lack of conclusive evidence for regiaporticus;1 and finally the indefiniteness of locating the statue "opposite" such a structure as a colonnade.

Lastly we have the interpretation of Jordan (Topogr. III.526) and Richter (Topogr. 229), who take regia to mean the 'main door' of the theatre in the centre of the scena. This is based on Vitr. V.6.8: ipsae autem scaenae habent rationes explicatas ita uti mediae valvae ornatus habeant aulae regiae, dextra et sinistra hospitalis. Although, so far as I know, regia does not actually occur in the sense of the 'main door,' unless it be so taken in Aug. 31 and in the passage from Asconius, this seems decidedly the most natural translation in the phrase regia theatri, since the colonnade and the basilica were not really parts of the theatre itself; moreover, there seems to be no other single term in Latin to designate the central door of the stage. Finally, to say that a statue is  p37 opposite the main door of a theatre locates it definitely, whether we take it to have been "im Theater selbst" with Jordan, or outside of the building, as Richter seems with greater probability to assume. His words are: "die Hauptthür . . . welche von der Scena in den Säulengang führte. Und an diese Stelle zeigt auch das Fragment des kapitolinischen Stadtplans (F. U. 4.30.a) einen Bogen." I must admit that the "Bogen" on the F. U. is not very evident to me.

The word was also applied to the Regia of Numa and to the building in the Forum which took its place in later times, and this would appear to be the only sense in which it could clearly be understood when used alone, without a qualifying adjective or genitive. This therefore seems the natural interpretation in Aug. 76.2, and there is absolutely nothing to suggest the connection between that passage and Aug. 31.5 which is assumed by the greater number of the commentators. It can hardly refer to the palace of Augustus, since he would not speak of returning "home" from his own dwelling, while to take regia without further definition as "die Pompejanischen Paläste" with Stahr, or indefinitely as basilica quaedam, seems very dubious. In my translation of Suetonius (in the Loeb Library), misled as it now seems to me by Shuckburgh's note, I took regia as referring to the colonnade of Pompey's theatre in both passages of the Augustus. Later, because of Jordan and Richter, I interpreted regia in the first passage as the 'grand door' of the theatre (that is, the central door of the stage); and in the second as the building known as the Regia. I made the change in the former passage, but overlooked it in the latter.

It must be admitted that the evidence for a substantive regia, meaning the 'main door' of a theatre, is little, if any, better than that for one designating a colonnade. For the reasons given above I prefer the former; but whether regia means the one or the other, its use appears to be so rare in either sense that it seems impossible that Augustus should have employed the word without further definition except of the regia par excellence, namely, the well-known building in the Forum. In other words, it does not seem possible that  p38 any part of Pompey's theatre or of the buildings connected with it could have been known as "the regia."

2. Hoc age, Caligula, 58.2; Galba, 20.1

In his account of the assassination of Caligula Suetonius says: duplex dehinc fama est: alii tradunt adloquenti pueros a tergo Chaeream cervicem gladio icaesim graviter percussisse praemissa voce: "Hoc age!" dehinc, etc.

Hoc age (agite) has two distinct meanings in Latin literature, which are rightly given separate places in the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (I.1380.52 ff. and I.1390.36 ff.). The Thesaurus is, however, somewhat indefinite and misleading with regard to the passages under discussion, putting the first under the former head, wrongly in my opinion, with the note "cf. Galba, 20"; the second correctly under the latter caption "absolute, de agendo in sacris," but without referring to Calig. 58.

Both uses are traced in the Thesaurus and elsewhere to religious formulas, and it seems probable from the similarity in their meanings that one arose from the other. If this be so, the distinction between them antedates the time of Plautus, and the earlier one, in all probability, was that illustrated by Sen. Contr. II.3.19: belle deridebat hoc Asinius Pollio: filius, inquit, cervicem porrigat, carnifex manum tollat, deinde respiciat ad patrem et dicat: "Agon?" quod fieri solet victumis.

Although Pollio is speaking ironically, he refers to a ritual observed at the sacrifice of a victim to a god. The one who knocked down the animal (popa, Suet. Calig. 32.3) raised his axe with the question "Agon(e)?: to which the officiating priest replied "Hoc age!" The same formula is referred to by Varro, Ling. Lat. VI.12, who wrongly derives the name of the festival called Agonalia from the "Agon?" of the popa; see Pauly-Wissowa, I.870.24. Varro's etymology is also suggested by Ovid, FastiI.322 ff.

It was undoubtedly this ritual which Chaerea had in mind when he cried "Hoc age!" of course addressing the remark to himself, and not to Caligula or to his fellow assassins.  p39 This is indicated not merely by the entire inappropriateness of the other formula, but by Calig. 57.1: supervenitque ilico quidam Cassius nomine, iussum se somnio affirmans immolare taurum Iovi . . ., 57.3: monuerunt et Fortunae Antiatinae ut a Cassio caveret; qua causa ille Cassium Longinum . . . occidendum delegaverat, immemor Chaeream Cassium nominari.

The two parts of the ritual meant in effect "Am I to strike?" and "Strike!" but that this was not their exact force is shown by Galba, 20.1: plures autem prodiderunt optulisse ultro iugulum et ut hoc agerent ac ferirent, quando ita videretur, hortatum; the same language is used by Tacitus, Hist. I.41. In the light of these passages from Suetonius and Tacitus the exact meaning would appear to be "Shall I do the deed?" and "Do it!" or "Do your duty!" Cf. Plut. Galb. 27, δρᾶτε.

In the phrase hoc agite sultis, spectatores, Plaut. Asin. 1, the meaning of hoc agite is 'pay attention' or 'pay attention to this'; that is, to the matter in hand. This also is traced to a religious formula by Plutarch, Numa 14: ὂταν ἄρχων πρὸς ὄρνισιν ἥ θυσίαις διατρίβῃ, βοῶσι "οὐκ ἄγε": σημαίνει δὲ ἡ φονὴ "τοῦτο πράσσε," συνεπιστρέφουσα καὶ κατακοσμοῦσα τοὺς προστυγχάνοντας.

Although hoc age (agite) evidently acquired two distinct meanings, it is probable, as has been said, that their origin was the same, and that hoc age in the formula alluded to by Varro, Ovid and Seneca gave rise to that mentioned by Plutarch, the former meaning attaching to the words when a victim was offered up; the latter, when the worshippers were exhorted to look or listen. The meaning 'pay attention' is by far the more common of the two: see Horace, Serm. II.3.152; Epist. I.6.31; Sen. de Clem. I.12.2: et cum in vicino ad aedem Bellonae sedens (Sulla) exaudivisset conclamationem tot milium sub gladio gementium, exterrito senatu: "Hoc agamus," inquit, "P. C., seditiosi pauculi meo iussu occiduntur." That is, "Let us attend to the business before us." It is particularly frequent in comedy and it is unnecessary to multiply examples.

 p40  3. Tiberius, 68.3

In his description of the personal appearance of Tiberius Suetonius says: incedebat cervice rigida et obstipa, which is variously interpreted. Some take it to mean, with Holland, 'with his necke stiffe and shooting forward (or downward)º into his bosom'; others 'mit stiefem, zurückgebogenen Nacken' (Baum.-Crusius).

The adjective obstipus seems to have the general meaning of 'bent from a straight line'; cf. Lucr. IV.516: et libella aliqua, si ex parti claudicat hilum, Omnia mendose fieri atque obstipa necesse est; Colum. VII.10: earum (suum) notanda sunt capita, quam in partem proclinantur. Febricantium signa sunt, cum obstipae sues transversa capita ferunt; cf. Plin. N. H. VIII.207: index suis invalidae . . . caput obliquum in incessu. In all these cases the meaning appears to be 'bent to one side'; see Merrill on Lucr. l.c.

We have two or three instances in which the meaning unquestionably is 'bent forward': Hor. Serm. II.5.92: stes capite obstipo, multum similis metuenti; Pers. III.80: obstipo capite et figentes lumine terram; cf. Gloss. Placid. (C. G. L. V.36.17; V.88.24; V.124.57, where the correct reading is perhaps obstipusculus): obstipeculus, inclinato capite, ut solent adseverantes.

From the general meaning of obstipus, and from the fact that it may mean 'bent to one side' or 'bent forward' one would naturally infer that it also might mean 'bent backward'; but actual examples of that meaning are few. In the description of the constellation Draco in N. D. II.107 Cicero says: Obstipum caput a tereti cervice reflexum Obtutum in cauda maioris (sc. ursae) figere dicas. The corresponding passages in Germanicus, 61, serpentis declive caput (with the scholium: serpentis caput iam deflectum, Herculem super genu prementem, altero pede caput calcantem) and in Avienus, 156, ipsa forma verticis, in nutum velut curvata, indicate that here too the meaning is 'bent forward'; but Mayor, who discusses the matter at some length in his edition of the de Natura Deorum (l.c.), thinks that Germanicus and Avienus  p41 misunderstood the force of νεύοντι in the original. His translation is 'the head is slanted, thrown back from the shapely neck,' and he supports it with imitations of Cicero's lines by Lucretius (I.35) and Vergil (VIII.633), in which reflexamº clearly has the meaning of 'bent backward,' but obstipus does not occur. He also cites in favor of his interpretation Caecil. Stat. 99: resupina obstipo capitulo sibi ventum facere tunicula (cunicula, Mss.), but this is quite indefinite without its context. resupina may mean 'with head thrown back,' which is perhaps the more probable signification, or 'lying on one's back,' in which case one would have to raise the head and bend it forward, in order to fan oneself with one's tunic. Still, it is perhaps necessary to admit that obstipus may mean 'bent backward,' although the evidence for such a meaning is by no means so clear and convincing as that for the other two; it is certainly a less common signification.

Eliminating the meaning 'bent to one side,' which, so far as I know, no one has used in connection with the description of Tiberius, that of 'bent forward' seems to have better support than 'bent backward.' Those who take obstipus in the latter sense are doubtless led to do by the fact that Suetonius includes the emperor's manner of carrying his head among the signs of his arrogance. But it is quite as much an indication of arrogance to stride along with bowed head, wrapped in one's own thoughts and paying no attention to one's companions or to those whom one meets. Such an attitude too corresponds better with the rest of the description and with what we know of Tiberius' character and habits. This manner of carrying the head is defined by Pollux, OnomasticonII.135 as follows: βυσαύχην δὲ τοὺς ὤμους ἀνέλκων, τὴν δὲ αὐχένα συνέλκων· ὃν ἐπίβοθλον Ἀριστοτέλης φυσιογνωμεῖ. Here the literal meaning of βυσαύχην, 'short-necked,' as well as the description, shows that the neck was held stiff and compressed, while the shoulders were raised. Such a carriage, as Aristotle observed, characterized a crafty, designing man, and while we know that Tiberius was not the monster of iniquity that Tacitus and Suetonius would have us believe him,  p42 there is abundant evidence of his reserve and his calculating disposition. The use of the term by the Ecclesiastical writers in the sense of 'stiff-necked,' that is, 'obstinate' or 'perverse,' is also as appropriate to such a carriage of the head as to the opposite.

It is not surprising that our extant portraits of Tiberius throw little or no light on the question; for in the case of an emperor a defect of either kind would be softened, if not wholly concealed, even by a realistic Roman artist. We may compare the portraits of Caligula, Galba, and Domitian, which do not represent the baldness of those princes (Calig. 50.1; Galb. 21; Dom. 18.1).a So far as any evidence may be drawn from that source, it seems slightly in favor of 'bent forward.' Probably no inference as to the appearance of the emperor in early manhood can fairly be derived from his incurva proceritas in old age (Tac. Ann. IV.57), although a confirmed stoop at that time of life might appear more natural in one who had always had a tendency to look downward, than in one who habitually carried his head back of the perpendicular. After all, the decisive arguments in favor of 'bent forward' are the passages in Horace and Persius, and the lack of anything equally plain and definite to set against them.

Titus, 10.2.

Just before his death Titus is said to have lamented his approaching end, which he thought untimely and undeserved: neque enim exstare ullum suum factum paenitendum excepto dum taxat uno. His biographer continues: id quale fuerit, neque ipse tunc prodidit neque cuiquam facile succurrat. He then mentions a suspicion as to the act in question which had occurred to some, but gives a good reason for rejecting it, though he has none other to suggest. Dio Cassius (LXVI.26) also mentions and rejects the suspicion that Titus referred to undue intimacy with his brother's wife, preferring the view held by others, that after finding Domitian openly plotting against him, he had not killed him, but had chosen rather himself to suffer that fate at his rival's hands and to surrender  p43 the government of Rome to a man whose nature Dio is shortly to portray. Ausonius, CaesaresII.3 (p190 Peip.) suggests that the evil deed did not exist at all:

Unum dixisti moriens te crimen habere;

Set nulli de te, nec tibi credidimus.

This last view is held also by some modern scholars, who think that Titus spoke in the delirium of fever and that his words were meaningless, which is of course possible. The view which Dio prefers may be rejected with as much confidence as the one which he and Suetonius discard; for it is most unlikely that a prince who accepted the office of pontifex maximus, ut puras servaret manus . . . periturum se potius quam perditurum adiurans (Tit. 9.1) — should regret in his last moments that he had not committed fratricide. It is also doubtful whether a sin of omission could be referred to as a factum paenitendum.

Moreover, there are in Suetonius two passages on which a more probable conjecture may perhaps be based. In Tit. 3.2 we read: e pluribus comperi notis quoque excipere velocissime solitum (Titum) . . . imitarique chirographa quaecumque vidisset, ac saepe profiteri maximum falsarium esse potuisse. If beside this we place Dom. 2.3: numquam iactare dubitavit (Domitianus) relictum se participem imperii, sed fraudem testamento adhibitam, it is not unnatural to suspect that perhaps Domitian was justified in his charge, and that this was the act of which his brother repented. At any rate, it appears highly probable that Domitian's suspicion and his accusation were inspired by the boasted facility of Titus in imitating the handwriting of others.

The second of these two passages is also interesting as showing that Vespasian, following the example of the earlier emperors, named his successor in his will; it thus throws some light on the question of the duration of the reigns of the Flavian emperors and their relation to one another. Most historians assume that after 71, when Titus received the tribunician power, he and Vespasian ruled jointly; so for example Niese, in Müller's Handbuch, III3.5.295, "des Kaisers  p44 feste Stütze war sein älterer Sohn Titus, der bald Mitregent und, was sonst nicht vorkommt, praefectus praetorio seines Vaters ward. Als Vespasian den 24 Juni 79 n. Chr. starb, folgte er ihm nach." As further evidence for this sharing of the principate Tit. 6.1 is commonly cited: neque ex eo destitit participem atque etiam tutorem imperii agere. But we are no more justified in assuming from this passage an actual joint sovereignty than we are in assuming a division of the power between Titus and Domitian from Tit. 9.3: (Titus) a primo imperii die (Domitianum) consortem successoremque testari perseveravit. No one, I think, makes the latter assumption, which would be proved false by Dom. 2.3. The holding of the tribunician power, while it marked Titus as his father's successor, does not of necessity point to a joint rule. That honor was held by Tiberius during the last ten years of the life of Augustus, but he did not succeed to the throne until after the death of Augustus, and did so then by virtue of the last will and testament of his adoptive father.

It seems to me that Abbott is absolutely right in saying (Rom. Polit. Inst. p309): "Vespasian had not settled the principle of the succession. He had secured for his son Titus a point of vantage by making him the praetorian guard, by granting him the tribunician power in 71, by allowing him to receive the title of imperator after his successes in Judaea, and by making him his colleague in the censorship and the consulship." All the evidence at our disposal seems to show that Titus succeeded his father, as Tiberius succeeded Augustus, because he was named as his heir and successor in Vespasian's will, that Titus held the power in his own hands, and that Domitian suspected and openly declared that the will, before it was altered, had named Titus and himself joint rulers.

The idea that Titus really did change the provision of the will is perhaps saved from being a mere fanciful conjecture by a passage in Vesp. 25: convenit inter omnes, tam certum eum de sua suorumque genitura semper fuisse, ut . . . ausus sit adfirmare senatui aut filios sibi successuros aut neminem.  p45 This remark, if it be correctly reported by Suetonius,2 certainly implies that Vespasian looked forward to the succession of Domitian, as well as that of Titus, either immediately after his own death or on the demise of his elder son. Now the only way in which he could be sure that both his sons would succeed him was by naming them joint heirs in his will or by directing Titus to adopt his brother. Since there is no hint of the latter, it seems at least not improbable that he resorted to the former means. Vespasian was a hard-headed, practical man, who might be expected to hold the belief that the gods help those who help themselves. He did not take his own divinity seriously (Vesp. 23.4) in spite of the miracles which he was credited with performing (Vesp. 7.2‑3), and his faith in astrology,3 in spite of Suetonius, was probably not too strong to prevent him from doing what he could to aid the stars in bringing to pass their prediction about his family.

The only valid objections which can be urged against our supposition are the high repute of Titus and a possible lack of confidence in Domitian on the part of Vespasian. With regard to the former it is not necessary to resort to Dio's suggestion (LXVI.18) that perhaps Titus' reputation after he became emperor was due to his surviving for so short a time as compared with most rulers, echoed by Ausonius' "Titus imperii felix brevitate" (Caes. 2.16, p184 Peip.); for it is evident enough from Tit. 7‑8 and other sources, that before his accession Titus conducted himself in anything but a scrupulously honorable fashion. It is certainly not a long step from selling judicial decisions and accepting bribes to forgery, especially when the expert in handwriting could quiet his conscience by assuring himself that he was acting for the best interests of the Roman people. Indeed, his sudden and complete reform upon becoming emperor might be traced to an effort to keep the vows which he had secretly made to justify his action.

 p46  Vespasian's doubts of Domitian, if they existed at the time when he made his will, really favor our supposition; for if he had made up his mind that Domitian was eventually to become emperor, it may have seemed to him wise to give the headstrong young prince some preliminary experience as his brother's partner in power. That Titus did not consider such an arrangement to be to his own advantage is shown by the fact that, in spite of his repeated assertion that his brother was his partner and successor, he did not even bestow upon him the tribunician power, with which he had been honored and "given a point of vantage" by Vespasian. It is not wholly unthinkable that the reverse was true; that the violence and cruelty of Titus in his exercise of powers as praefectus praetorio (Tit. 6) and Domitian's pretence of modesty and devotion to literary pursuits (which, if they were feigned, may have imposed upon his father) led Vespasian to think it wise to associate the two brothers in sovereignty.

If Titus, for whatever reason, desired to rule alone, the temptation to make use of his abilities as a forger must have been great; and the opportunity could not have been lacking to one who dictated letters and wrote edicts in his father's name (Tit. 6.1) and therefore very probably wrote his will for him. It may be noted that we have an example of an imperial forger in the person of Tiberius, who, according to Suetonius (Galb. 5.2), so altered Livia's will that Galba's inheritance of 50,000,000 sesterces was reduced to 500,000. This, however, — quia notata non prescripta erat summa, — was a simple matter, not requiring a special talent like that of Titus.

5. Caesar's Oratory

In Jul. 55.1 Suetonius says: certe Cicero ad Brutum oratores enumerans negat se videre cui debeat Caesar cedere, aitque eum elegantem, splendidam quoque atque etiam magnificam et generosam quodam modo rationem dicendi tenere. The words of Cicero (Brut. 261) are: non video cui debeat cedere. Splendidam quandam minimeque veteratoriam rationem dicendi tenet, voce, motu, forma etiam magnifica et  p47 generosa quodam modo. In citing Cicero's opinion of Caesar's Commentaries in Jul. 56.2, Suetonius transcribes Cicero's language in Brut. 262 word for word, except for the omission of enim and the transposition of illa and volent. The quotation regarding his oratory is an indirect one, while the other is in the direct form. Yet the former is essentially literal, with one exception. That exception is the word veteratoria, meaning 'crafty,' 'astute,' which is rather rare, but a very significant term. It occurs also in Cicero, Verr. II.1.141, where it is defined by its opposites: nihil veteratorium exspectaveritis; omnia aperta, omnia perspicua reperientur; and the adverb is found in Orat. 99, quod acute et veteratorie dicit.

It seems probable from its omission that veteratorius was an obsolete word in the time of Suetonius, which is also suggested by its non-occurrence after Cicero, and that he therefore substituted for it another term. If he clearly understood the meaning of the word, which is probable, for minime veteratoriam he substituted splendidam in the sense of 'transparent,' 'clear'; cf. Horace, OdesIII.13.1, O fons Bandusiae, splendidior vitro. Then, having already used splendidam in this sense, he was obliged to render Cicero's splendidam by another word, and chose elegantem. If this be so, we should render splendidam in the passage of Suetonius by 'transparent,' rather than by 'brilliant' (cf. perspicua in Verr. l.c.), in spite of the frequent characterization of oratory as splendida in the latter sense.

There is another possibility, which seems less probable, and is less suited to Suetonius' word order. It is, that Suetonius misunderstood the exact meaning of veteratoria, connecting it with vetus in a different sense and thinking that it referred to Caesar's diction. In that case he rendered splendidam by the same word and minime veteratoriam by elegantem. Although this supposition requires less change in the quotation, it does not seem likely that a grammarian and a scholar like Suetonius should have missed the meaning of a word used by Cicero. But in either case he evidently felt justified in discarding the obsolete word veteratoriam.

The Author's Notes:

1 Harper's Lexicon cites under this head Suet. Aug. 31, the passage under discussion; Aug. 76, which will be treated later; Stat. Silv. I.1.30, where the more natural meaning is 'basilica'; Vitr. V.6.8, where the reference is clearly not to a portico; and Ascon. on Cic. pro Scaur. 45 (23): in huius domus atrio fuerunt quattuor columnae marmoreae insigni magnitudine, quae nunc esse in regia theatri Marcelli dicuntur, where the interpretation of regia is at least doubtful.

2 Dio LXVI.12 says: ἐμὲ μὲν υἱὸς διαδέχεται ἢ οὐδεὶς ἄλλος.

3 We may note his jest on the subject in Dom. 14.1: pater quoque super cenam quondam fungis abstinentem (Domitianum) palam irriserat ut ignarum sortis, quod non ferrum potius timeret.

Thayer's Note:

a flattering portraits of emperors: for an example in the opposite direction, maybe — i.e., supplying hair where there may have been none — see the case of Elagabalus.

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