Lives of the Caesars, IV
2” duci imperavit. Votum exegit ab eo, qui pro salute sua gladiatoriam operam promiserat, spectavitque ferro dimicantem nec dimisit nisi victorem et post multas preces. Alterum, qui se periturum ea de causa voverat, cunctantem pueris tradidit, verbenatum infulatumque votum reposcentes per vicos agerent, quoad praecipitaretur ex aggere. 3 Multos honesti ordinis deformatos prius stigmatum notis ad metalla et munitiones viarum aut ad bestias condemnavit aut bestiarum more quadripedes cavea coercuit aut medios serra dissecuit, nec omnes gravibus ex causis, verum male de munere suo opinatos, vel quod 4 numquam per genium suum deierassent. Parentes supplicio filiorum interesse cogebat: quorum uni valitudinem excusanti lecticam misit, alium a spectaculo poenae epulis statim, adhibuit atque omni comitate ad hilaritatem et iocos provocavit. Curatorem munerum ac venationum per continuos dies in conspectu suo catenis verberatum non prius occidit quam offensus putrefacti cerebri odore. Atellanae poetam ob ambigui ioci versiculum media amphitheatri harena igni cremavit. Equitem R. obiectum feris, cum se innocentem proclamasset, reduxit abscisaque lingua rursus induxit.
XXVIII. Revocatum quendam a vetere exilio sciscitatus, quidnam ibi facere consuesset, respondente eo per adulationem:
be led away “from baldhead to baldhead.”59 A man who had made a vow to fight in the arena,60 if the emperor recovered, he compelled to keep his word, watched him as he fought sword in hand, and would not let him go until he was victorious, and then only after many entreaties. Another who had offered his life for the same reason, but delayed to kill himself, he turned over to his slaves, with orders to drive him decked with sacred boughs and fillets through the streets, calling for the fulfilment of his vow, and finally hurl him from the embankment. Many men of honourable rank were first disfigured with the marks of branding-irons and then condemned to the mines, to work at building roads, or to be thrown to the wild beasts; or else he shut them up in cages on all fours, like animals, or had them sawn asunder. Not all these punishments were for serious offences, but merely for criticising one of his shows, or for never having sworn by his Genius.61 He forced parents to attend the executions of their sons, sending a litter for one man who pleaded ill health, and inviting another to dinner immediately after witnessing the death, and trying to rouse him to gaiety and jesting by a great show of affability. He had the manager of his gladiatorial shows and beastbaitings beaten with chains in his presence for several successive days, and would not kill him until he was disgusted at the stench of his putrefied brain. He burned a writer of Atellan farces alive in the middle of the arena of the amphitheatre, because of a humorous line of double meaning. When a Roman knight on being thrown to the wild beasts loudly protested his innocence, he took him out, cut off his tongue, and put him back again.
XXVIII. Having asked a man who had been recalled from an exile of long standing, how in the world he spent
- 59The expression was proverbial; perhaps it meant ‘from the cradle to the grave,’ i.e., everyone.
- 60See chap. xiv. 2.
- 61See Aug. lx.