Gellius, Attic Nights

LCL 212: 58-59

Go To Section
Go To Section
Tools

Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius

Liber Quintus Decimus

I

Quod in Quinti Claudii Annalibus scriptum est lignum alumine oblitum non ardere.

1Declamaverat Antonius Iulianus rhetor, praeterquam semper alias, tum vero nimium quantum delectabiliter et feliciter. Sunt enim ferme scholasticae istae declamationes eiusdem hominis eiusdemque facundiae, 2non eiusdem tamen cotidie felicitatis. Nos ergo familiares eius circumfusi undique eum prosequebamur domum, cum inde subeuntes montem Cispium conspicimus insulam quandam occupatam igni multis arduisque tabulatis editam et propinqua iam omnia 3flagrare vasto incendio. Tum quispiam ibi ex comitibus Iuliani: “Magni,” inquit, “reditus urbanorum praediorum, sed pericula sunt longe maxima. Si quid autem posset remedii fore, ut ne tam adsidue domus Romae arderent, venum hercle dedissem res 4rusticas et urbicas emissem.” Atque illi Iulianus laeta, ut mos eius fuit, inter fabulandum venustate: “Si Annalem,” inquit, “undevicensimum Q. Claudi legisses, optumi et sincerissimi scriptoris, docuisset te profecto Archelaus, regis Mitridati praefectus, qua medella quaque sollertia ignem defenderes, ut ne

58

Book XV. i.

Book XV

I

That it is written in the Annals of Quintus Claudius that wood smeared with alum does not burn.

The rhetorician Antonius Julianus, besides holding forth on many other occasions, had once declaimed with marvellous charm and felicity. For such scholastic declamations generally show the characteristics of the same man and the same eloquence, but nevertheless are not every day equally happy. We friends of his therefore thronged about him on all sides and were escorting him home, when, as we were on our way up the Cispian Hill, we saw that a block of houses, built high with many stories, had caught fire, and that now all the neighbouring buildings were burning in a mighty conflagration. Then some one of Julianus’ companions said: “The income from city property is great, but the dangers are far greater. But if some remedy could be devised to prevent houses in Rome from so constantly catching fire, by Jove! I would sell my country property and buy in the city.” And Julianus replied to him in his usual happy and graceful style: “If you had read the nineteenth book of the Annals of Quintus Claudius, that excellent and faithful writer, you would surely have learned from Archelaus, a praefect of king Mithridates, by what method and by what skill you might prevent fires, so that no wooden building of yours

59
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.gellius-attic_nights.1927