|1. Tacitus, Annals, 6.28.1, 11.15, 12.43.1, 12.64.1, 13.24.2, 13.58, 15.44.1, 15.47.2, 16.13.1 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)
Tagged with subjects: • Rome, ficus Ruminalis • ficus Ruminalis • tree portents, ficus Ruminalis
Found in books: Davies (2004), Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods, 205, 213, 216; Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019), Esther Eidinow, Ancient Divination and Experience, 165, 166; Rutledge (2012), Ancient Rome as a Museum: Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting, 166; Shannon-Henderson (2019), Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s , 229, 230, 290, 291, 292, 297, 306
13.58 Eodem anno Ruminalem arborem in comitio, quae octingentos et triginta ante annos Remi Romulique infantiam texerat, mortuis ramalibus et arescente trunco deminutam prodigii loco habitum est, donec in novos fetus revivesceret.' ' None
6.28.1 \xa0In 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\xa0propose 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\xa01461\xa0years, 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 â\x80\x94 so the tale is told â\x80\x94 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. â\x80\x94 The details are uncertain and heightened by fable; but that the bird occasionally appears in Egypt is unquestioned. <" 12.43.1 \xa0Many 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\xa0shortage 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 \xa0In 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\xa0swarm 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\xa0few 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 â\x80\x94 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.
13.24.2 \xa0At 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\xa0lustration 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 \xa0In 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.' "
15.44.1 \xa0So 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." 15.47.2 \xa0At the close of the year, report was busy with portents heralding disaster to come â\x80\x94 lightning-flashes in numbers never exceeded, a comet (a\xa0phenomenon 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 \xa0Upon 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 â\x80\x94 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." " None