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The name given to the six authors of biographies of the Roman emperors, united at an uncertain date into a single collection. The biographies extend from Hadrian to Numerian, 117-284 A.D. (with the exception of the years 244-253). Of the six biographers, Aelianus Spartianus, Volcatius Gallicanus, and Trebellius Pollio wrote under Diocletian;Flavius Vopiscus Syracusius, Aelius Lampridius, and Julius Capitolinus under Constantius Chlorus and Constantine the Great. The biographies are merely dry compilations from the lost writings (1) of Marius Maximus (who at the beginning of the 3rd century, under Alexander Severus, continued the work of Suetonius by writing the lives of the emperors from Nerva to Elagatbalus); and (2) of his contemporary Junius Cordus, who wrote biographies of the less famous emperors. In spite of their deficiencies in style and spirit, they are of value as authorities for history.
VOPISCUS 291.88%
One of the Scriptores Historioe Augustoe (q.v.).
AELIUS 55.47%
Aelius Lampridius and Aelius Spartianus, Roman historians of the Empire. (See SCRIPTORES HIST. AUG.)
Claudius Aelianus, called the Sophist, a Roman of Praeneste, who wrote in Greek, lived at Rome in the 2nd century A.D. as teacher of rhetoric. His surviving works are: (1) 20 insignificant Peasants' Letters, so called because attributed to Attic peasants; (2) Variae Historiae or miscellanies, in 14 books, some preserved only in extracts, and (3) De Natura Animalium. The two last-mentioned are copious and valuable collections of all kinds of curiosities in human and animal life, mostly taken from earlier writings now lost.
In Homer the priest of Hephaestus in Troy, supposed to have been the author of a pre-Homeric Iliad. It is doubtful whether there ever was any Greek work bearing this title, but a Latin piece of the 5th century A.D. (Daretis Phrygii De Excedio Troiae Historia), bearing a supposed dedication by Cornelius Nepos to Sallust, professes to be a translation of one. This absurd production, and the work of Dietys, was the chief source followed by the medipeval poets in their stories of the Trotian war (see DICTYS).
SALUS 27.72%
The personification of health and prosperity among the Romans. As godess of health, she was identified with the Greek Hygieia (q.v.), the daughter of Asclepius, and represented in the same way. As the deity representing the welfare of the Roman people (Salus Publica Populi Romani) she had from the year 302 B.C. a temple on the Quirinal. Under the Empire, she was also worshipped as guardian goddess of the emperors (<illegible>Salus Augusta</illegible>). Prayers were frequently made to her by the priestly colleges and the political bodies, especially at the beginning of the year, in times of sickness, and on the birthdays of the emperors. As her counterpart among the Sabines, we have the goddess Strenia. (See STRENAe.)
A Roman historian who took part in the expedition of Julian against the Parthians in 363 A.D. In 378, under Valentinian, he wrote and dedicated to this emperor a sketch of Roman history (Breviarium ab Urbe Condita) in ten books, from the earliest times to the death of Jovian in 364. The language is simple, and the narrative intelligent and impartial. The work was useful and concise, and became very popular. Succeeding writers down to the Middle Ages, and especially Hieronymus and Orosius, used it a great deal. It was several times turned into Greek, indeed as early as 380 by Paeanios, whose translation has been preserved almost entire. The work of Eutropius was enlarged and continued by Paulus Diaconus, who, in the last part of the 8th century A.D., added six books to it. It was also used in the Historia Miscella, or Collective History, and has continued to be a favourite school book down to our own day.
The Latin personification of concord or harmony, especially among Roman citizens. Shrines were repeatedly erected to Concordia during the republican period after the cessation of civil dissensions. The earliest was dedicated by Camillus in 367 B.C. The goddess Concordia was also invoked, together with Janus, Salus, and Pax, at the family festival of the Caristia, on the 30th March, and, with Venus and Fortuna, by married women on the 1st of April (see MANES). During the imperial period Concordia Augusta was worshipped as the protectress of harmony, especially of matrimonial agreement; in the emperor's household.
A Christian Latin poet and a presbyter in Spain. About 330 he composed a poetic version of the gospel narrative (Historia Evangelica) in four books; he also cast the books of Moses and Joshua [and Judges] into the form and phraseology of the Roman epic poets. This seems to have been the earliest attempt to make the Christian literature rival the pagan in beauty of form, and to supplant and supersede heathen poetry as a means of education. [The epic paraphrase of the Heptateuch is now no longer ascribed to Juvencus but to Cyprian, not the bishop of Carthage: but a Gaul of the 6th century, in all probability the third bishop of Toulon. (The Latin Heptateuch, critically reviewed by Prof. Mayor, pp. xxxiv-xlii). See CYPRIAN, 2.]
The act of placing a human being among the gods, of which the Greeks have an instance as early as Homer, but only in the single case of Leucothea. The oldest notion was that of a bodily removal; then arose the idea of the mortal element being purged away by fire, as in the case of Heracles. There was a kind of deification which consisted in the decreeing of heroic honours to distinguished men after death, which was done from the time of the Peloponnesian War onwards, even in the case of living men (see HEROES). The successors of Alexander the Great, both the Seleucidae and still more the Ptolemies, caused themselves to be worshipped as gods. Of the Romans, whose legend told of the translation of Eneas and Romulus into heaven, Caesar was the first who claimed divine honours, if not by building temples to himself, yet by setting his statue among the gods in every sanctuary at Rome and in the empire, and by having a special flamen assigned to him. The belief in his divinity was confirmed by the comet that shone several months after his death, as long as his funeral games lasted; and under the triumvirate he was formally installed among the deities of Rome, as Divus Iulius, by a decree of the senate and people. His adopted son and successor Octavian persistently declined any offer of public worship, but he accepted the title of Augustus (the consecrated), and allowed his person to be adored in the provinces. On his death the senate decreed divine honours to him under the title of Divus Augustus, the erection of a temple, the founding of special games, and the establishment of a peculiar priesthood. After this, admission to the number of the Divi, as the deified emperors were called, becomes a prerogative of the imperial dignity. It is, however, left dependent on a resolution of the senate moved in honour of the deceased emperor by his successor. Hence it is not every emperor who obtains it, nor does consecration itself always lead to a permanent worship. Empresses too were often consecrated, first Augustus' wife Livia as Diva Augusta, and even other members of the imperial house. The ceremony of Apotheosis used from the time of Augustus was the following. After the passing of the senate's decree a waxen image of the dead, whose body lay hidden below, was exhibited for seven days on an ivory bed of state in the palace, covered with gold-embroidered coverlets; then the bier was borne by knights and senators amidst a brilliant retinue down the Via Sacra to the ancient Forum, where the funeral oration was delivered, and thence to the Campus Martius, where it was deposited in the second of the four stories of a richly decorated funeral pile of pyramid shape. When the magistrates sacred and secular, the knights, lifeguard, and others concerned, had performed the last honours by processions and libations, the pile was set on fire, and as it burned up, an eagle soared from the topmost storey into the sky, a symbol of the ascending soul.
PLINY 11.37%
The elder, Gaius Plinius Secundus. A Roman representative of encyclopaedic learning, born 23 A.D., at Novum Comum (Como), in Upper Italy. Although throughout his life he was almost uninterruptedly occupied in the service of the State, yet at the same time he carried on the most widely extended scientific studies. To these he most laboriously devoted all his leisure hours, and thus gained for himself the reputation of the most learned man of his age. Under Claudius he served as commander of a troop of cavalry (praefectus alae) in Germany; under Vespasian, with whom he was in the highest favour, he held several times the office of imperial governor in the provinces, and superintended the imperial finances in Italy. Finally, under Titus, he was in command of the fleet stationed at Misenum, when in 79, at the celebrated eruption of Vesuvius, his zeal for research led him to his death. For a detailed account of this event, as well as of his literary labours, we have to thank his nephew, the younger Pliny [Ep. iii 5 vi 16]. Besides writings upon military, grammatical, rhetorical, and biographical subjects, he composed two greater historical works: a history of the Germanic wars in twenty books, and a history of his own time in thirty-one books. His last work was the Natural History (Nataralis Historia), in thirty-seven books, which has been preserved to us. This was dedicated to Titus, and was published in 77; but he was indefatigably engaged in amplifying it up to the time of his death. This Encyclopaedia is compiled from 20,000 notices, which he had extracted from about 2,000 writings by 474 authors. Book i gives a list of contents and the names of the authors used. ii is on astronomy and physics. iii-vi, a general sketch of geography and ethnography, mainly a list of names. vii-xix, natural history proper (vii, anthropology; viii-xi, zoology of land and water animals, birds, and insects; xii-xix, botany). xx-xxxii, the pharmacology of the vegetable, kingdom (xx-xxvii) and of the animal kingdom (xxviii-xxxii). xxxiii-xxxvii, mineralogy and the use of minerals in medicine and in painting, sculpture, and the engraving of gems, besides valuable notices upon the history of art. A kind of comparative geography forms the conclusion. Considering the extent and varied character of the undertaking, the haste with which the work was done, the defective technical knowledge and small critical ability of the author, it cannot be surprising that it includes a large number of mistakes and misunderstandings, and that its contents are of very unequal value, details that are strange and wonderful, rather than really important, having often unduly attracted the writer's attention. Nevertheless, the work is a mine of inestimable value in the information it gives us respecting the science and art of the ancient world; and it is also a splendid monument of human industry. Even the unevenness of the style is explained by the mosaic-like character of the work. At one time it is dry and bald in expression; at another, rhetorically coloured and impassioned, especially in the carefully elaborated introductions to the several books. On account of its bulk, the work was in early times epitomized for more convenient use. An epitome of the geographical part of Pliny's Encyclopaedia, belonging to the time of Hadrian, and enlarged by additions from Pomponius Mela, and other authors, forms the foundation of the works of Solinus and Martianus Capella. Similarly the Medicina Plinii is an epitome prepared in the 4th century for the use of travellers.
Marcus Terentius Varro Reatinus (i.e. a native of Reate in the Sabine territory). The most learned of the Romans; born 116 B.C. of an ancient senatorial family. He devoted himself to study at an early age, under the direction chiefly of the learned antiquarian and philologist Aelius Stilo, without however withdrawing from public life either in time of peace or war. He held the public offices of tribune, curule aedile, and praetor. In 67 he was lieutenant to Pompey in the war against the pirates; in 49 he again held a command under Pompey in the province of Spain beyond the Iberus, but was taken prisoner by Caesar after the capitulation of Ilerda. Although he afterwards rejoined Pompey, Caesar received him into favour, and he returned to Rome in 46 B.C., where he is said to have had the superintendence of the great library which Caesar destined for the public use. In spite of his abstaining henceforward from taking any active part in public affairs, he was prescribed by Antony in 43, and only narrowly escaped with his life. Pardoned by Octavianus, he lived till the year 27, full of vigour and literary activity to the last. Varro's learning comprised all the provinces of literature known at that time, and in productivity he was equalled by no Romans, and only a few Greeks. According to his own statement, he had composed 490 books before his 78th year; the total number of his works, either in prose or verse, theoretical or practical, exceeded 70, in more than 600 books. Of these, the three books on agriculture (Rerum Rusticarum Libri), written in the form of a dialogue in his 80th year, in which he treats the subject exhaustively, drawing from his own experience as well as from more ancient sources, are the only ones that have been completely preserved. Further, of the original 25 books on the Latin language (De Lingua Latina) dedicated to Caesar, in which he systematically treats, under the head of etymology, inflexions and syntax, only books v-x exist, in a mutilated condition. This work was followed by a number of other grammatical writings. It is only through a series of extant titles of his works that we know of his literary and historical studies, which were especially directed to dramatic poetry, and in particular to the comedies of Plautus, as well as of his researches into the history and antiquities of his own nation. His principal work, of which much use has been made by later writers, the Antiquitatas Rerum Humanarum et Divinarum, in 41 books. This was the most important of his writings on these subjects, as it gave a complete account of the political and religious life of the Romans from the earliest times. The 15 books, entitled Imagines or Hebdomades, published about B.C. 39, contained 700 portraits of celebrated Greeks and Romans, in sets of seven in each group, with epigrams written beneath them. His nine Disciplinarum Libri gave an encyclopaedia of the arts pertaining to general culture (grammar, dialectics, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music, architecture, medicine). His 76 Libri Logistorici included shorter popular treatises of a historical and philosophical nature, described by titles appropriate to their contents, borrowed from the names of well-known persons (e.g. Sisenna de Historia). Among Varro's numerous and varied poetical works we will only mention, as the most original, the 150 books of Menippean Satires (Saturoe Menippeoe), which were completed before 45 B.C., a species of composition which he introduced into Roman literature in imitation of the Cynic Menippus of Gadara. In these Satires, written alternately in prose and different kinds of verse, he treats of philosophical questions, especially those relating to morality, science, etc., chiefly with the view of exposing the failings of the age. Only a number of titles and fragments of this work have been preserved.
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