Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 371: 434-435

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Pliny: Natural History

est et inter papavera genus quoddam quo candorem lintea praecipuum trahunt.

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V. Temptatum est tingui linum quoque, ut vestium insaniam acciperet, in Alexandri Magni primum classibus Indo amne navigantis, cum duces eius ac praefecti certamine quodam variassent et insignia navium, stupueruntque litora flatu versicoloria pellente. velo1 purpureo ad Actium cum M. Antonio Cleopatra venit eodemque fugit. hoc fuit imperatoriae navis insigne postea.2

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VI. In theatris tenta3 umbram fecere, quod primus omnium invenit Q. Catulus cum Capitolium dedicaret. carbasina deinde vela primus in theatro duxisse traditur Lentulus Spinther Apollinaribus ludis. mox Caesar dictator totum forum Romanum intexit viamque sacram ab domo sua et clivum usque in Capitolium, quod munere ipso gladiatorio mirabilius 24visum tradunt. deinde et sine ludis Marcellus Octavia Augusti sorore genitus in aedilitate sua avunculi xi consulatu a kal. Aug. velis forum inumbravit, ut salubrius litigantes consisterent, quantum mutati a4 moribus Catonis censorii qui sternendum quoque forum muricibus censuerat! vela nuper et

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Book XIX

Among the poppies also there is a kind from which an outstanding material for bleaching linen is extracted.

V. An attempt has been made to dye even linenDyed linen ensigns and sails. so as to adapt it for our mad extravagance in clothes. This was first done in the fleets of Alexander the Great when he was voyaging on the river Indus, his generals and captains having held a sort of competition even in the various colours of the ensigns of their ships; and the river banks gazed in astonishment as the breeze filled out the bunting with its shifting hues. Cleopatra had a purple sail when she came with Mark Antony to Actium, and with the same sail she fled. A purple sail was subsequently the distinguishing mark of the emperor’s ship.

VI. Linen cloths were used in the theatres as awnings,Coloured awnings in theatres. a plan first invented by Quintus Catulus when dedicating the Capitol. Next Lentulus Spinther is recorded to have been the first to stretch awnings of cambric in the theatre, at the games of Apollo. Soon afterwards Caesar when dictator stretched awnings49–44 b.c. over the whole of the Roman Forum, as well as the Sacred Way from his mansion, and the slope right up to the Capitol, a display recorded to have been thought more wonderful even than the show of gladiators which he gave. Next even when there was no display of games Marcellus the son of Augustus’s sister Octavia, during his period of office as aedile, in the eleventh consulship of his uncle, from the first of23 b.c. August onward fixed awnings of sailcloth over the forum, so that those engaged in lawsuits might resort there under healthier conditions: what a change this was from the stern manners of Cato the ex-censor, who had expressed the view that even the forum ought to be paved with sharp pointed stones!a Recently

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938