LCL 96: 334-335
5Claudius ambiguo conclusit fata veneno. matricida Nero proprii vim pertulit ensis. Galba senex periit saevo prostratus Othone. mox Otho famosus, clara set morte potitus. prodiga succedunt perimendi sceptra Vitelli. 5laudatum imperium, mors lenis Vespasiano. at Titus, orbis amor, rapitur florentibus annis. sera gravem perimunt, sed iusta piacula fratrem.
Nunc et praedictos et regni sorte sequentes expediam, series quos tenet imperii, incipiam ab divo percurramque ordine cunctos, novi Romanae quos memor historiae.
5Imperium, binis fuerat sollemne quod olim consulibus, Caesar Iulius optinuit. set breve ius regni, sola trieteride gestum: perculit armatae factio saeva togae.
Ultor successorque dehinc Octavius, idem 10Caesar et Augusti nomine nobilior.
his end through poison in doubtful circumstances.1 Nero, his mother’s slayer, felt the point of his own sword. Old Galba died, o’erthrown by ruthless Otho. Soon ill-famed Otho perished, but won a glorious end. Then came the wasteful reign of Vitellius, doomed to be massacred. Vespasian s rule was praised, his death was easy. But Titus, the world’s darling, was snatched away in the flower of life. Late but righteous vengeance destroyed his tyrannous brother.
Now I will tell both of those already mentioned and of those who, following them upon the throne, fill up the list of Empire.2 I will begin with the divine3 and run in sequence over all those princes whom I know, mindful of Roman history.I.—Julius Caesar
That command which once had been the yearly privilege of consuls twain, Julius Caesar grasped. But brief was his kingly sway, wielded for but three years: ruthless conspiracy of citizens in arms struck it down.
Next came Octavius, a successor and avenger, he too called Caesar, and under the title of Augustus
- 1Suetonius regards his death as certainly due to poison, but states that it was not known where or by whom it was administered. The popular belief was that he died through eating mushrooms: cp. Juv. Sat. v. 146 f.: ancipites fungi ... quales Claudius edit. Ambiguo therefore alludes to the doubtful quality of the mushrooms.
- 2This promise was never fulfilled, or the latter part of the work has been lost, Heliogabalus being the last Emperor commemorated.
- 3i.e. from “divus Julius”: cp. Caemres (Monosticha), iii. 1. But doubtless Ausonius is also thinking of the conventional invocation prefixed to poetic efforts: cp. Virgil, Ecl. iii. 60: ab love principium.