Pliny: Natural History

omittendo memorabili exemplo vel magis, quoniam 107celeberrimis rerum conditoribus omissum est. cum id opus Tarquinius Priscus plebis manibus faceret, essetque labor incertum maior an longior,1 passim conscita nece Quiritibus taedium fugientibus, novum, inexcogitatum ante posteaque remedium invenit ille rex, ut omnium ita defunctorum corpora figeret cruci spectanda civibus simul et feris volucribusque 108laceranda. quam ob rem pudor Romani nominis proprius, qui saepe res perditas servavit in proeliis, tunc quoque subvenit, sed illo tempore inposuit iam erubescentibus,2 cum puderet vivos, tamquam puditurum esset extinctos. amplitudinem cavis eam fecisse proditur, ut vehem faeni large onustam transmitteret.


Parva sunt cuncta quae diximus, et omnia uni comparanda miraculo, antequam nova attingam. M. Lepido Q. Catulo cos., ut constat inter diligentissimos auctores, domus pulchrior non fuit Romae quam Lepidi ipsius, at, Hercules, intra annos xxxv eadem 110centensimum locum non optinuit.3 computet in hac aestimatione qui volet marmorum molem, opera



not fail to mention an occasion that is all the more worthy of record because the best-known historians have overlooked it. Tarquinius Priscus was carrying out the work using the common folk as his labourers, and it became doubtful whether the toil was to be more notable for its intensity or for its duration. Since the citizens were seeking to escape from their exhaustion by committing suicide wholesale, the king devised a strange remedy that was never contrived except on that one occasion. He crucified the bodies of all who had died by their own hands, leaving them to be gazed at by their fellow-citizens and also torn to pieces by beasts and birds of prey. Consequently, the sense of shame, which is so characteristic of the Romans as a nation and has so often restored a desperate situation on the battlefield, then too came to their aid; but this time it imposed upon them at the very moment when they blushed for their honour, since they felt ashamed while alive under the illusion that they would feel equally ashamed when dead. Tarquin is said to have made the tunnels large enough to allow the passage of a waggon fully loaded with hay.a

The works that we have so far mentioned amount in all to little; and before we touch upon fresh topics we will show that just one marvel by itself bears comparison with them all. Our most scrupulous authorities are agreed that in the consulship of Marcus Lepidus and Quintus Catulus as fine a house as any78 b.c. in Rome was that of Lepidus himself; but, I swear, within 35 years the same house was not among the first hundred. Confronted by this assessment, anyone who so wishes may count the cost of the masses

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938