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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



9458
Pliny The Elder, Natural History, 36.24


nanBut this is indeed the moment for us to pass on to the wonders of our own city, to review the resources derived from the experiences of 800 years, and to show that here too in our buildings we have vanquished the world; and the frequency of this occurrence will be proved to match within a little the number of marvels that we shall describe. If we imagine the whole agglomeration of our buildings massed together and placed on one great heap, we shall see such grandeur towering above us as to make us think that some other world were being described, all concentrated in one single place. Even if we are not to include among our great achievements the Circus Maximus built by Julius Caesar, three furlongs in length and one in breadth, but with nearly three acres of buildings and seats for 250,000, should we not mention among our truly noble buildings the Basilica of Paulus, so remarkable for its columns from Phrygia, or the Forum of Augustus of revered memory or the Temple of Peace built by his Imperial Majesty the Emperor Vespasian, buildings the most beautiful the world has ever seen? Should we not mention also the roof of Agrippa's Ballot Office, although at Rome long before this the architect Valerius of Ostia had roofed a whole theatre for Libo's games? We admire the pyramids of kings when Julius Caesar gave 100,000,000 sesterces merely for the ground on which his forum was to be built, and Clodius, who was killed by Milo, paid 14,800,000 sesterces (if references to expenditure can impress anyone now that miserliness has become an obsession) just for the house in which he lived. This amazes me for my part just as much as the mad schemes of kings; and therefore I regard the fact that Milo himself incurred debts amounting to 70,000,000 sesterces as one of the oddest manifestations of the human character. But at that time elderly men still admired the vast dimensions of the Rampart, the substructures of the Capitol and, furthermore, the city sewers, the most noteworthy achievement of all, seeing that hills were tunnelled and Rome, as we mentioned a little earlier, became a hanging city, beneath which men travelled in boats during Marcus Agrippa's term as aedile after his consulship. Through the city there flow seven rivers meeting in one channel. These, rushing downwards like mountain torrents, are constrained to sweep away and remove everything in their path, and when they are thrust forward by an additional volume of rain water, they batter the bottom and sides of the sewers. Sometimes the backwash of the Tiber floods the sewers and makes its way along them upstream. Then the raging flood waters meet head on within the sewers, and even so the unyielding strength of the fabric resists the strain. In the streets above, massive blocks of stone are dragged along, and yet the tunnels do not cave in. They are pounded by falling buildings, which collapse of their own accord or are brought crashing to the ground by fire. The ground is shaken by earth tremors; but in spite of all, for 700 years from the time of Tarquinius Priscus, the channels have remained well-nigh impregnable. We should 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., 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 any 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 of marble, the paintings, the regal budgets, the cost, in fact, of a hundred houses, each of which rivalled one that had been the finest and the most highly appreciated in its time, houses that were themselves to be surpassed by countless others right up to the present day. Fires, we may be sure, are punishments inflicted upon us for our extravagance; and even so, human nature cannot be made to understand that there are things more mortal than man himself., However, all these houses were surpassed by two. Twice have we seen the whole city girdled by imperial palaces, those of Gaius and Nero, the latter's palace, to crown all, being indeed a House of Gold. Such, doubtless, were the dwellings of those who made this empire great, who went straight from plough or hearth to conquer nations and win triumphs, whose very lands occupied a smaller space than those emperors' sitting-rooms! Indeed, one begins to reflect how small in comparison with those palaces were the building-sites formally granted by the state to invincible generals for their private houses. The highest distinction that these houses displayed was one accorded, for example, after his many services to Publius Valerius Publicola, the first of our consuls along with Lucius Brutus, and to his brother, who — also as consul — inflicted two crushing defeats on the Sabines. I refer to the additional decree which provided that the doors of their houses should be made to open outwards so that the portals could be flung open on to the public highway. This was the most notable mark of distinction in the houses even of men who had celebrated a triumph., I shall not allow these two birds of a feather, two Gaiuses or two Neros as you please, to enjoy unchallenged even renown such as this; and so I shall show that even their madness was outdone by the resources of a private individual, Marcus Scaurus, whose aedileship may perhaps have done more than anything to undermine morality, and whose powerful ascendancy may have been a more mischievous achievement on the part of his stepfather Sulla than the killing by proscription of so many thousands of people. As aedile he constructed the greatest of all the works ever made by man, a work that surpassed not merely those erected for a limited period but even those intended to last for ever. This was his theatre, which had a stage arranged in three storeys with 360 columns; and this, if you please, in a community that had not tolerated the presence of six columns of Hymettus marble without reviling a leading citizen. The lowest storey of the stage was of marble, and the middle one of glass (an extravagance unparalleled even in later times), while the top storey was made of gilded planks. The columns of the lowest storey were, as I have stated, each 38 feet high. The bronze statues in the spaces between the columns numbered 3000, as I mentioned earlier. As for the auditorium, it accommodated 80,000; and yet that of Pompey's theatre amply meets all requirements with seats for 40,000 even though the city is so many times larger and the population so much more numerous than it was at that time. The rest of the equipment, with dresses of cloth of gold, scene paintings and other properties was on so lavish a scale that when the surplus knick-knacks that could be put to ordinary use were taken to Scaurus' villa at Tusculum and the villa itself set on fire and burnt down by the indignant servants, the loss was estimated at 30,000,000 sesterces., Thoughts of this wasteful behaviour distract our attention and force us to leave our intended course, since with this theatre they cause us to associate another, even more frenzied, fantasy in wood. Gaius Curio, who died during the Civil War while fighting on Caesar's side, could not hope, in the entertainment which he provided in honour of his father's funeral, to outstrip Scaurus in the matter of costly embellishments. For where was he to find a stepfather like Sulla or a mother like Metella, who speculated by buying up the property of the proscribed, or a father like Marcus Scaurus, who was for so long a leader in the government and acted for Marius and his cronies as their receiver of goods plundered from the provinces? Even Scaurus himself could no longer have matched his own achievement, for since he had collected his material from all parts of the world, he gained at any rate one advantage from that fire, namely that it was impossible in the future for anyone to emulate his madness. Curio, therefore, had to use his wits and devise some ingenious scheme. It is worth our while to be acquainted with his discovery, and so to be thankful for our modern code of morality and call ourselves 'elders and betters,' reversing the usual meaning of the term. He built close to each other two very large wooden theatres, each poised and balanced on a revolving pivot. During the forenoon, a performance of a play was given in both of them and they faced in opposite directions so that the two casts should not drown each other's words. Then all of a sudden the theatres revolved (and it is agreed that after the first few days they did so with some of the spectators actually remaining in their seats), their corners met, and thus Curio provided an amphitheatre in which he produced fights between gladiators, though they were less in chancery than the Roman people itself as it was whirled around by Curio. Truly, what should first astonish one in this, the inventor or the invention, the designer or the sponsor, the fact that a man dared to plan the work, or to undertake it, or to commission it? What will prove to be more amazing than anything is the madness of a people that was bold enough to take its place in such treacherous, rickety seats. Here we have the nation that has conquered the earth, that has subdued the whole world, that distributes tribes and kingdoms, that despatches its dictates to foreign peoples, that is heaven's representative, so to speak, among mankind, swaying on a contraption and applauding its own danger! What a contempt for life this showed! What force now have our complaints of the lives lost at Cannae! What a disaster it could have been! When the earth yawns and cities are engulfed, whole communities grieve. Here the entire Roman people, as if on board two frail boats, was supported by a couple of pivots, and was entertained with the spectacle of its very self risking its life in the fighting arena, doomed, as it was, to perish at some moment or other if the framework were wrenched out of place. And the aim, after all, was merely to win favour for the speeches that Curio would make as tribune, so that he might continue to agitate the swaying voters, since on the speaker's platform he would shrink from nothing in addressing men whom he had persuaded to submit to such treatment. For, if we must confess the truth, it was the whole Roman people that struggled for its life in the arena at the funeral games held at his father's tomb. When the pivots of the theatres were worn and displaced he altered this ostentatious display of his. He kept to the shape of the amphitheatre, and on the final day gave athletic displays on the two stages as they stood back to back across the middle of the arena. Then suddenly the platforms were swept away on either side, and during the same day he brought on those of his gladiators who had won their earlier contests. And Curio was not a king nor an emperor nor, indeed, was he particularly rich, seeing that his only financial asset was the feud that had arisen between the heads of state., But we must go on to describe marvels which are unsurpassed in virtue of their genuine value. Quintus Marcius Rex, having been ordered by the senate to repair the conduits of the Aqua Appia, the Anio, and the Tepula, drove underground passages through the mountains and brought to Rome a new water-supply called by his own name and completed within the period of his praetorship. Agrippa, moreover, as aedile added to these the Aqua Virgo, repaired the channels of the others and put them in order, and constructed 700 basins, not to speak of 500 fountains and 130 distribution-reservoirs, many of the latter being richly decorated. He erected on these works 300 bronze or marble statues and 400 marble pillars; and all of this he carried out in a year. He himself in the memoirs of his aedileship adds that in celebration games lasting for 59 days were held, and the bathing establishments were thrown open to the public free of charge, all 170 of them, a number which at Rome has now been infinitely increased. But all previous aqueducts have been surpassed by the most recent and very costly work inaugurated by the Emperor Gaius and completed by Claudius, inasmuch as the Curtian and Caerulean Springs, as well as the Anio Novus, were made to flow into Rome from the 40th milestone at such a high level as to supply water to all the seven hills of the city, the sum spent on the work amounting to 350,000,000 sesterces. If we take into careful consideration the abundant supplies of water in public buildings, baths, pools, open channels, private houses, gardens and country estates near the city; if we consider the distances traversed by the water before it arrives, the raising of arches, the tunnelling of mountains and the building of level routes across deep valleys, we shall readily admit that there has never been anything more remarkable in the whole world. One of the most remarkable achievements of the same emperor, Claudius, neglected, though it was, by his malicious successor, is, in my opinion at least, the channel that he dug through a mountain to drain the Fucine Lake. This, I need hardly say, entailed the expenditure of an indescribably large sum of money and the employment for many years of a horde of workers because, where earth formed the interior of the mountain, the water channel had to be cleared by lifting the spoil to the top of the shafts on hoists and everywhere else solid rock had to be cut away, and operations underground (and how vast they were!) had to be carried out in darkness, operations which only those who witnessed them can envisage and no human utterance can describe. Incidentally, I must forbear to mention the harbour works at Ostia, and likewise the roads driven through hills in cuttings, the moles that were built to separate the Tyrrhenian sea from the Lucrine Lake, and all the bridges erected at such great cost. Among the many marvels of Italy itself is one for which the accomplished natural scientist Papirius Fabianus vouches, namely that marble actually grows in its quarries; and the quarrymen, moreover, assert that the scars on the mountain sides fill up of their own accord. If this is true, there is reason to hope that there will always be marble sufficient to satisfy luxury's demands.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

7 results
1. Catullus, Poems, 10 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

2. Horace, Letters, 2.1.187-2.1.193 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

3. Ovid, Tristia, 3.1.61 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

4. Propertius, Elegies, 2.31.3-2.31.8, 2.31.15-2.31.16 (1st cent. BCE

5. Pliny The Elder, Natural History, 35.114, 35.139, 36.13-36.14, 36.22, 36.25, 36.28, 36.32, 36.35, 36.42, 37.11, 37.14 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

6. Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.27.3 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

9.27.3. Sappho of Lesbos wrote many poems about Love, but they are not consistent. Later on Lysippus made a bronze Love for the Thespians, and previously Praxiteles one of Pentelic marble. The story of Phryne and the trick she played on Praxiteles I have related in another place. See Paus. 1.20.1 . The first to remove the image of Love, it is said, was Gaius the Roman Emperor; Claudius, they say, sent it back to Thespiae, but Nero carried it away a second time.
7. Velleius Paterculus, Roman History, 2.1.2, 2.81.3



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
aegyptus, sons of Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
aemilius scaurus, m. Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
alcibiades, and eros Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
alexander the great, his lamp stand Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
antiphilus, his alexander, philip, and athena Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
antiphilus, his hesione Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
apollo cumanus, palatinus Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 139
archermos Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
artemis, in temple of apollo palatinus Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
artemon, works in portico of octavia Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
athenis Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
augustus, and alexander the great Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
augustus, and apollo Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
augustus, and the palatine Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
avianius evander, c. Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
bupalos Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
caecilius metellus macedonicus, q. Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
caesar, c. iulius Soldo and Jackson, ›Res vera, res ficta‹: Fictionality in Ancient Epistolography (2023) 187
cephisodotus, his aesculapius Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
cephisodotus, his diana Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
cephisodotus, works in temple of apollo palatinus Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
cephisodotus Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 139
cornelia Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
dactyliotheca, in the temple of apollo palatinus Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
dactyliotheca Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
danaos Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
danaë Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
diana Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 139
dionysius, his zeus Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
doidalses, his venus at bath Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
failure Soldo and Jackson, ›Res vera, res ficta‹: Fictionality in Ancient Epistolography (2023) 187
games Soldo and Jackson, ›Res vera, res ficta‹: Fictionality in Ancient Epistolography (2023) 187
hercules, and deianira Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
his pan and olympus Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
imagined/possible worlds Soldo and Jackson, ›Res vera, res ficta‹: Fictionality in Ancient Epistolography (2023) 187
intertextuality, as fictionalising strategy Soldo and Jackson, ›Res vera, res ficta‹: Fictionality in Ancient Epistolography (2023) 187
jupiter, capitolinus Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 139
laomedon Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
latona Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238; Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 139
lysippus, his granicus group Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
marius, m. Soldo and Jackson, ›Res vera, res ficta‹: Fictionality in Ancient Epistolography (2023) 187
mithridates, his dactyliotheca Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
myron, works on palatine Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
neptune Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
octavian, and apollo palatinus Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 139
palatine Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 139
philip ii of macedon Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
philiscus of rhodes, his aphrodite Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
polycharmus, his aphrodite Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
polycles, his zeus Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
pompeius, sex., defeated at naulochus Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
pompeius magnus, cn. Soldo and Jackson, ›Res vera, res ficta‹: Fictionality in Ancient Epistolography (2023) 187
pompey the great, collects gems Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
praxiteles, eros Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
realism Soldo and Jackson, ›Res vera, res ficta‹: Fictionality in Ancient Epistolography (2023) 187
rome, arch of octavius Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
rome, portico of octavia, a famous eros in Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
rome, portico of octavia, and athena Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
rome, portico of octavia, and phidias aphrodite Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
rome, portico of octavia, and the granicus group Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
rome, portico of octavia, gabinius deposits standards in Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
rome, portico of octavia, its collection Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
rome, portico of octavia, its scholae Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
rome, portico of octavia, praxiteles works in Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
rome, portico of octavia Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
rome, temple of apollo palatinus, portico of the danaids Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
rome, temple of apollo palatinus, triad represented on sorrento base Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
rome, temple of apollo palatinus Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
rome, temple of jupiter stator, junos statue in Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
scopas, cupid attributed to Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
scopas, works in temple of apollo palatinus Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
sibylline books Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 139
sorrento Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 139
stratonice Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 259
timotheos' Santangelo, Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond (2013) 139
timotheus Rutledge, Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (2012) 238
villa description Soldo and Jackson, ›Res vera, res ficta‹: Fictionality in Ancient Epistolography (2023) 187