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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



10588
Tacitus, Annals, 15.44.1


nan So far, the precautions taken were suggested by human prudence: now means were sought for appeasing deity, and application was made to the Sibylline books; at the injunction of which public prayers were offered to Vulcan, Ceres, and Proserpine, while Juno was propitiated by the matrons, first in the Capitol, then at the nearest point of the sea-shore, where water was drawn for sprinkling the temple and image of the goddess. Ritual banquets and all-night vigils were celebrated by women in the married state. But neither human help, nor imperial munificence, nor all the modes of placating Heaven, could stifle scandal or dispel the belief that the fire had taken place by order. Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians. Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus, and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease, but in the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue. First, then, the confessed members of the sect were arrested; next, on their disclosures, vast numbers were convicted, not so much on the count of arson as for hatred of the human race. And derision accompanied their end: they were covered with wild beasts' skins and torn to death by dogs; or they were fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed were burned to serve as lamps by night. Nero had offered his Gardens for the spectacle, and gave an exhibition in his Circus, mixing with the crowd in the habit of a charioteer, or mounted on his car. Hence, in spite of a guilt which had earned the most exemplary punishment, there arose a sentiment of pity, due to the impression that they were being sacrificed not for the welfare of the state but to the ferocity of a single man.


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

4 results
1. Livy, History, 22.57.2-22.57.7 (1st cent. BCE - missingth cent. CE)

2. Tacitus, Annals, 4.1.1, 6.28, 11.15, 12.43.1, 12.64.1, 13.24.1-13.24.2, 13.58, 14.12.2, 15.23.4, 15.34, 15.41.1, 15.44.2-15.44.5, 15.47.1-15.47.2, 15.74.2, 16.13.1 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

4.1.1.  The consulate of Gaius Asinius and Gaius Antistius was to Tiberius the ninth year of public order and of domestic felicity (for he counted the death of Germanicus among his blessings), when suddenly fortune disturbed the peace and he became either a tyrant himself or the source of power to the tyrannous. The starting-point and the cause were to be found in Aelius Sejanus, prefect of the praetorian cohorts. of his influence I spoke above: now I shall unfold his origin, his character, and the crime by which he strove to seize on empire. Born at Vulsinii to the Roman knight Seius Strabo, he became in early youth a follower of Gaius Caesar, grandson of the deified Augustus; not without a rumour that he had disposed of his virtue at a price to Apicius, a rich man and a prodigal. Before long, by his multifarious arts, he bound Tiberius fast: so much so that a man inscrutable to others became to Sejanus alone unguarded and unreserved; and the less by subtlety (in fact, he was beaten in the end by the selfsame arts) than by the anger of Heaven against that Roman realm for whose equal damnation he flourished and fell. He was a man hardy by constitution, fearless by temperament; skilled to conceal himself and to incriminate his neighbour; cringing at once and insolent; orderly and modest to outward view, at heart possessed by a towering ambition, which impelled him at whiles to lavishness and luxury, but oftener to industry and vigilance — qualities not less noxious when assumed for the winning of a throne. 6.28.  In the consulate of Paulus Fabius and Lucius Vitellius, after a long period of ages, the bird known as the phoenix visited Egypt, and supplied the learned of that country and of Greece with the material for long disquisitions on the miracle. I propose to state the points on which they coincide, together with the larger number that are dubious, yet not too absurd for notice. That the creature is sacred to the sun and distinguished from other birds by its head and the variegation of its plumage, is agreed by those who have depicted its form: as to its term of years, the tradition varies. The generally received number is five hundred; but there are some who assert that its visits fall at intervals of 1461 years, and that it was in the reigns, first of Sesosis, then of Amasis, and finally of Ptolemy (third of the Macedonian dynasty), that the three earlier phoenixes flew to the city called Heliopolis with a great escort of common birds amazed at the novelty of their appearance. But while antiquity is obscure, between Ptolemy and Tiberius there were less than two hundred and fifty years: whence the belief has been held that this was a spurious phoenix, not originating on the soil of Arabia, and following none of the practices affirmed by ancient tradition. For — so the tale is told — when its sum of years is complete and death is drawing on, it builds a nest in its own country and sheds on it a procreative influence, from which springs a young one, whose first care on reaching maturity is to bury his sire. Nor is that task performed at random, but, after raising a weight of myrrh and proving it by a far flight, so soon as he is a match for his burden and the course before him, he lifts up his father's corpse, conveys him to the Altar of the Sun, and consigns him to the flames. — The details are uncertain and heightened by fable; but that the bird occasionally appears in Egypt is unquestioned. 12.43.1.  Many prodigies occurred during the year. Ominous birds took their seat on the Capitol; houses were overturned by repeated shocks of earthquake, and, as the panic spread, the weak were trampled underfoot in the trepidation of the crowd. A shortage of corn, again, and the famine which resulted, were construed as a supernatural warning. Nor were the complaints always whispered. Claudius, sitting in judgement, was surrounded by a wildly clamorous mob, and, driven into the farthest corner of the Forum, was there subjected to violent pressure, until, with the help of a body of troops, he forced a way through the hostile throng. It was established that the capital had provisions for fifteen days, no more; and the crisis was relieved only by the especial grace of the gods and the mildness of the winter. And yet, Heaven knows, in the past, Italy exported supplies for the legions into remote provinces; nor is sterility the trouble now, but we cultivate Africa and Egypt by preference, and the life of the Roman nation has been staked upon cargo-boats and accidents. 12.64.1.  In the consulate of Marcus Asinius and Manius Acilius, it was made apparent by a sequence of prodigies that a change of conditions for the worse was foreshadowed. Fire from heaven played round the standards and tents of the soldiers; a swarm of bees settled on the pediment of the Capitol; it was stated that hermaphrodites had been born, and that a pig had been produced with the talons of a hawk. It was counted among the portents that each of the magistracies found its numbers diminished, since a quaestor, an aedile, and a tribune, together with a praetor and a consul, had died within a few months. But especial terror was felt by Agrippina. Disquieted by a remark let fall by Claudius in his cups, that it was his destiny first to suffer and finally to punish the infamy of his wives, she determined to act — and speedily. First, however, she destroyed Domitia Lepida on a feminine quarrel. For, as the daughter of the younger Antonia, the grand-niece of Augustus, the first cousin once removed of Agrippina, and also the sister of her former husband Gnaeus Domitius, Lepida regarded her family distinctions as equal to those of the princess. In looks, age, and fortune there was little between the pair; and since each was as unchaste, as disreputable, and as violent as the other, their competition in the vices was not less keen than in such advantages as they had received from the kindness of fortune. But the fiercest struggle was on the question whether the domit influence with Nero was to be his aunt or his mother: for Lepida was endeavouring to captivate his youthful mind by a smooth tongue and an open hand, while on the other side Agrippina stood grim and menacing, capable of presenting her son with an empire but not of tolerating him as emperor. 13.24.1.  At the end of the year, the cohort usually present on guard at the Games was withdrawn; the objects being to give a greater appearance of liberty, to prevent the troops from being corrupted by too close contact with the licence of the theatre, and to test whether the populace would continue its orderly behaviour when its custodians were removed. A lustration of the city was carried out by the emperor at the recommendation of the soothsayers, since the temples of Jupiter and Minerva had been struck by lightning. 13.58.  In the same year, the tree in the Comitium, known as the Ruminalis, which eight hundred and thirty years earlier had sheltered the infancy of Remus and Romulus, through the death of its boughs and the withering of its stem, reached a stage of decrepitude which was regarded as a portent, until it renewed its verdure in fresh shoots. 15.34.  There an incident took place, sinister in the eyes of many, providential and a mark of divine favour in those of the sovereign; for, after the audience had left, the theatre, now empty, collapsed without injury to anyone. Therefore, celebrating in a set of verses his gratitude to Heaven, Nero — now bent on crossing the Adriatic — came to rest for the moment at Beneventum; where a largely attended gladiatorial spectacle was being exhibited by Vatinius. Vatinius ranked among the foulest prodigies of that court; the product of a shoemaker's shop, endowed with a misshapen body and a scurrile wit, he had been adopted at the outset as a target for buffoonery; then, by calumniating every man of decency, he acquired a power which made him in influence, in wealth, and in capacity for harm, pre-eminent even among villains. 15.41.1.  It would not be easy to attempt an estimate of the private dwellings, tenement-blocks, and temples, which were lost; but the flames consumed, in their old-world sanctity, the temple dedicated to Luna by Servius Tullius, the great altar and chapel of the Arcadian Evander to the Present Hercules, the shrine of Jupiter Stator vowed by Romulus, the Palace of Numa, and the holy place of Vesta with the Penates of the Roman people. To these must be added the precious trophies won upon so many fields, the glories of Greek art, and yet again the primitive and uncorrupted memorials of literary genius; so that, despite the striking beauty of the rearisen city, the older generation recollects much that it proved impossible to replace. There were those who noted that the first outbreak of the fire took place on the nineteenth of July, the anniversary of the capture and burning of Rome by the Senones: others have pushed their researches so far as to resolve the interval between the two fires into equal numbers of years, of months, and of days. 15.47.1.  At the close of the year, report was busy with portents heralding disaster to come — lightning-flashes in numbers never exceeded, a comet (a phenomenon to which Nero always made atonement in noble blood); two-headed embryos, human or of the other animals, thrown out in public or discovered in the sacrifices where it is the rule to kill pregt victims. Again, in the territory of Placentia, a calf was born close to the road with the head grown to a leg; and there followed an interpretation of the soothsayers, stating that another head was being prepared for the world; but it would be neither strong nor secret, as it had been repressed in the womb, and had been brought forth at the wayside. 16.13.1.  Upon this year, disgraced by so many deeds of shame, Heaven also set its mark by tempest and disease. Campania was wasted by a whirlwind, which far and wide wrecked the farms, the fruit trees, and the crops, and carried its fury to the neighbourhood of the capital, where all classes of men were being decimated by a deadly epidemic. No outward sign of a distempered air was visible. Yet the houses were filled with lifeless bodies, the streets with funerals. Neither sex nor age gave immunity from danger; slaves and the free-born populace alike were summarily cut down, amid the laments of their wives and children, who, themselves infected while tending or mourning the victims, were often burnt upon the same pyre. Knights and senators, though they perished on all hands, were less deplored — as if, by undergoing the common lot, they were cheating the ferocity of the emperor. In the same year, levies were held in Narbonese Gaul, Africa, and Asia, to recruit the legions of Illyricum, in which all men incapacitated by age or sickness were being discharged from the service. The emperor alleviated the disaster at Lugdunum by a grant of four million sesterces to repair the town's losses: the same amount which Lugdunum had previously offered in aid of the misfortunes of the capital.
3. Tacitus, Histories, 1.86, 3.56.1 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

1.86.  Prodigies which were reported on various authorities also contributed to the general terror. It was said that in the vestibule of the Capitol the reins of the chariot in which Victory stood had fallen from the goddess's hands, that a superhuman form had rushed out of Juno's chapel, that a statue of the deified Julius on the island of the Tiber had turned from west to east on a bright calm day, that an ox had spoken in Etruria, that animals had given birth to strange young, and that many other things had happened which in barbarous ages used to be noticed even during peace, but which now are only heard of in seasons of terror. Yet the chief anxiety which was connected with both present disaster and future danger was caused by a sudden overflow of the Tiber which, swollen to a great height, broke down the wooden bridge and then was thrown back by the ruins of the bridge which dammed the stream, and overflowed not only the low-lying level parts of the city, but also parts which are normally free from such disasters. Many were swept away in the public streets, a larger number cut off in shops and in their beds. The common people were reduced to famine by lack of employment and failure of supplies. Apartment houses had their foundations undermined by the standing water and then collapsed when the flood withdrew. The moment people's minds were relieved of this danger, the very fact that when Otho was planning a military expedition, the Campus Martius and the Flaminian Way, over which he was to advance, were blocked against him was interpreted as a prodigy and an omen of impending disaster rather than as the result of chance or natural causes.
4. Justinian, Digest, 47.9.9 (5th cent. CE - 6th cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
agrippina Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
archives Rohmann (2016) 257
assmann,aleida Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
astrologers,expulsions of Shannon-Henderson (2019) 322
babylon,babylonians Rohmann (2016) 257
burning alive Rohmann (2016) 257
capitoline hill Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
ceres Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
christians Shannon-Henderson (2019) 322
claudius Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
comet,as sign Davies (2004) 200
cult statues Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
decemuiri sacris faciundis Davies (2004) 205
decline,of religion Davies (2004) 200, 205
diviners Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
expiation Davies (2004) 200, 205; Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166; Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
ficus ruminalis Davies (2004) 205
fire,of ad Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321, 322
fire (as purification) Rohmann (2016) 257
foreign cults Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
gods,agency deduced Davies (2004) 205
gods,and impiety Davies (2004) 200
gods,give warnings Davies (2004) 200
gods,intervention Davies (2004) 205
gods,mood deduced Davies (2004) 200
gods,negotiation with Davies (2004) 200
haruspices Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
interpretation,of prodigies Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
interpretation,positive Davies (2004) 200
interventions,haruspical Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
invidia,isis,cult of Shannon-Henderson (2019) 322
ira deorum Davies (2004) 205
italy Shannon-Henderson (2019) 322
jews and judaism Shannon-Henderson (2019) 322
judgment day Rohmann (2016) 257
juno Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
late republican prodigies Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
law of the twelve tables Rohmann (2016) 257
lightning,as prodigy Davies (2004) 200
memory,cultic,decline and Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
memory,functional vs. stored Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
memory,individual Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
monumenta Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
nero,and signs Davies (2004) 200, 205
nero,offends gods Davies (2004) 200
nero,undermines religion Davies (2004) 200
nero Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
pax deorum Davies (2004) 205
phoenix Davies (2004) 205
placentia Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
prodigies,as wrath of gods Davies (2004) 200
prodigies,in early principate Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
prodigies,reporting Davies (2004) 200
prodigies,symbolic Davies (2004) 205
prodigies,under claudius Davies (2004) 205
prodigies,under nero Davies (2004) 200
prodigies,under tiberius (lack of) Davies (2004) 205
prodigy reports Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
prophecy Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
proserpina Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
provinces and provincials Shannon-Henderson (2019) 322
religio,religio,ritual,and emperors Davies (2004) 200
religio,religio,ritual,of Davies (2004) 200
ritual,error Davies (2004) 205
ritual Davies (2004) 200
rome,early principate Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
rumor Shannon-Henderson (2019) 322
sack of rome Rohmann (2016) 257
sacrilege Shannon-Henderson (2019) 322
saevitia Shannon-Henderson (2019) 322
sellisternia Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
senate,failure of authority Davies (2004) 205
senate/senators Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
sibylline books Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
sin Rohmann (2016) 257
sodom Rohmann (2016) 257
superstitio Shannon-Henderson (2019) 322
supplicatio and supplicia Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
tablets Rohmann (2016) 257
tacitus Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
temple destruction Rohmann (2016) 257
temples,destruction of Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
temples,religious memory and Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321
temples,robbery of Shannon-Henderson (2019) 322
theatre Rohmann (2016) 257
tree portents,ficus ruminalis' Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019) 166
vespasian,vesta,temple of Shannon-Henderson (2019) 322
vesta Davies (2004) 200
vindex Davies (2004) 200
vulcan Shannon-Henderson (2019) 321