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I'R \I\VS COl.l'MN \\!) HI I\s ()| B \SILK \ I MM \ 







Edited with Bibliography and Notes 



Translated fro 
by E. O. I 



Printed in Great Britain by 
Lowe and Brydone Printers Limited, London, 




In rendering quotations from Martial and Juvenal, Tacitus, Petronius 
and Pliny the Younger, I have gratefully adopted less often adapted 
the phrasing of the Loeb Classics, edited by T.E. Page, and Dr. W.H.D 
Rouse (Heinemann, London). 

E. O. L. 





The Physical and Moral Background of Roman Life 


1. The Splendour of the Urbs 3 

2. The Precincts of Rome and the City's True Extent 10 

3. The Growth of the City's Population 16 


1. Modern Aspects of the Roman House 23 

2. Archaic Aspects of the Roman House 31 

3. Streets and Traffic 44 


1. Romans and Foreigners 52 

2. Slavery and Manumission 56 

3. The Confusion of Social Values 61 

4. Living Standards and the Plutocracy 65 


1. The Weakening of Paternal Authority .... 76 

2. Betrothal and Marriage 80 

3. The Roman Matron 84 

4. Feminism and Demoralisation 90 

5. Divorce and the Instability of the Family ... 95 


1. Symptoms of Decomposition 101 

2. Primary Education 103 

3. The Routine Teaching of the Grammarian . . . 107 

4. Impractical Rhetoric 114 

5. The Decay of Traditional Religion 121 

6. The Progress of Oriental Mysticism 128 

7. The Advent of Christianity 136 



The Day's Routine 


1. The Days and Hours of the Roman Calendar . . 143 

2. The Roman Begins the Day 150 

3. The Barber 157 

4. The Matron Dresses 164 


1. The Duties of a "Client" 171 

2. Businessmen and Manual Labourers 173 

3. Justice and Politics 184 

4. Public Readings 193 


1. "Panem et Cir censes" 202 

2. The Employment of Leisure 206 

3. The Races 212 

4. The Theatre 221 

5. The Amphitheatre 231 

6. Late Opposition 244 


1. Strolling, Gaming, and Pleasure 248 

2. The Baths 254 

3. Dinner 263 


NOTES 289 

INDEX 319 


Trajan's Column and Ruins of Basilica Ulpia . . . frontispiece 
Hemicycle of Trajan's Market (photo Alinari) . . . frontispiece 

The Imperial Fora (plan by I. Gismondi, reproduced by courtesy 
of the Governatorato di Roma) 4 

Via Biberatica in Trajan's Market (photo Governatorato di 
Roma) 6 

Great Hall of the Market (photo Governatorato di Roma) . . 6 

Remains of an Ostian Insula with Shops and Apartments (Photo 
Direzione degli Scavi di Ostia) 26 

Reconstruction (by I. Gismondi, reproduced by courtesy of Pro- 
fessor G. Calza; cf. "Le origini latine dell' abitazione mo- 
derna," Architettura e Arti Decorative III [1923] .... 26 

Remains of an Ostian Apartment House (photo Direzione degli 
Scavi di Ostia) 30 

Reconstruction (by I. Gismondi, reproduced by courtesy of Pro- 
fessor G. Calza; cf. op. cit.) 30 

Floor Plan (by Lawrence, reproduced by courtesy of Professor G. 
Calza; cf. op. cit.) 30 

Marble Table with Bronze Base (from Pompeii, now in the 
Museo Nazionale, Naples; photo Alinari) 38 

Chest or Safe for Valuables (from Pompeii, now in the Museo 
Nazionale, Naples; photo Alinari) 38 

Combination Brazier and Stove (from Stabiae, now in the Museo 
Nazionale, Naples; photo Alinari) 38 

Multiple Lamp Holder (from Pompeii, now in the Museo Na- 
zionale, Naples; photo Alinari) 38 

A Lar (now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; 
photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) . . . 130 


A Camillus (now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New 
York; photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art) . 130 

A Sistrum (now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; 
photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art) . . . 130 

The Magna Mater (now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 
New York; photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of 
Art) 130 

A Gladiator's Greaves (from Pompeii, now in the Museo Na- 
zionale, Naples; photo Alinari) 216 

A Gladiator's Helmet (from Pompeii, now in the Museo Na- 
zionale. Naples; photo Alinari) 216 

Charioteers of the Four Factions (from an estate on the Via 
Cassia outside of Rome, now in the Museo Nazionale Romano, 
Rome; photo Alinari) 216 

Theatre of Marcellus (photo Alinari) 234 

Colosseum and Arch of Constantine (photo Aiinari) .... 234 


F "Roman life" is not to become lost in 
anachronisms or petrified in abstrac- 
tion, we must study it within a strictly 
defined period. Nothing changes more 
rapidly than human customs. Apart 
from the recent scientific discoveries 
which have turned the world of today 
upside down steam, electricity, rail- 
ways, motorcars, and aeroplanes it is 
clear that even in times of greater sta- 
bility and less highly developed tech- 
nique the elementary forms of everyday life are subject to unceasing 
change. Coffee, tobacco, and champagne were not introduced into Eu- 
rope until the seventeenth century; potatoes were first eaten toward the 
end of the eighteenth, the banana became a feature of our dessert at the 
beginning of the twentieth. The law of change was not less operative 
in antiquity. It was a commonplace of Roman rhetoric to contrast the 
rude simplicity of the republic with the luxury and refinement of impe- 
rial times and to recall that Curius Dentatus "gathered his scanty veg- 
etables and himself cooked them on his little stove/' l There is no com- 
mon measure, whether of food or house or furniture, between ages so 
different. Since a choice of period must necessarily be made, 1 shall 
deliberately confine myself to studying the generation which was born 
about the middle of the first century A. D., toward the end of the reign 
of Claudius or the beginning of the reign of Nero, and lived on into the 
reigns of Trajan (98-117) and of Hadrian (117-138). This generation 
saw Roman power and prosperity at their height. It was witness of the 
last conquests of the Caesars: the conquest of Dacia ( 106) which poured 
into the empire the wealth of the Transylvanian mines; the conquest 
of Arabia (109) which, supplemented by the success of the Parthian 
campaign (115), brought flooding into Rome the riches of India and 
the Far East, guarded by the legionaries of Syria and their desert allies. 
In the material domain, this generation attained the highest plane 


of ancient civilisation. By a fortunate coincidence all the more for- 
tunate in that Latin literature was soon to run so nearly dry this gen- 
eration is the one whose records combine to offer us the most complete 
picture of Roman life that we possess. The Forum of Trajan in Rome 
itself, the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii, the two prosperous resorts 
buried alive by the eruption of 79, supply an immense fund of archaeo- 
logical evidence. Recent excavations have also restored to us the ruins 
of Ostia which date in the main from the time when the emperor Hadrian 
created this great commercial city as the realisation of his town plan- 
ning. Literature adds her testimony. We possess a profusion of vivid 
and picturesque descriptions, precise and colorful, in the satirical 
romance of Petronius, the Silvae of Statius, the Epigrams of Martial, 
the Satires of Juvenal, and the Letters of Pliny the Younger. Fortune 
has indeed favoured the historian in this case, supplying him with 
both the obverse and the reverse of the medal. 

It is not enough to focus our study of the Roman's life on a fixed 
point in time. It would lack foundation and consistency if we did not 
also focus it in space in the country or in the town. Even today, when 
the facilities for communication, the diffusion of newspapers, the posses- 
sion of radios bring something of the pleasure, the thought, and the 
noise of the metropolis into the humblest country cottage, there remains 
a vast discrepancy between the monotony of peasant existence and 
the excitement of city life. A still greater gulf divided the peasant 
from the townsman of antiquity. So glaring was the inequality between 
them that, if we are to believe the learned historian Rostovtzeff, it 
pitted the one against the other in a fierce and silent struggle which 
pierced the dyke that protected the privileged classes from the barbarian 
flood. The peasant pariah abetted the invading barbarian. 

The townsman, in fact, enjoyed all the goods and resources of the 
earth; the peasant knew nothing but unending labour without profit, 
and lacked for ever the joys which warmed the heart of even the most 
wretched in the cities: the liveliness of the palaestra, the warmth of the 
baths, the gaiety of public banquets, the rich man's doles, the magnifi- 
cence of public spectacles. 

We must renounce the attempt to blend two such dissimilar pictures 
into one, and must make a choice between them. The period which I 
propose to describe day by day is that of the Roman subject of the first 
Antonines days spent exclusively in the town, or rather in The City, 
Rome, the Urbs, the hub and centre of the universe, proud and wealthy 
queen of a world which she seemed at the time to have pacified for ever. 


We cannot, however, hope to paint the daily life of our Roman in 
its reality if we do not first try to form a summary but adequate pic- 
ture of the setting in which it was passed and by which it was coloured, 
and free ourselves from false preconceptions concerning it. We must 
seek to reconstruct the physical milieu of the great city in which this 
life was lived; the social milieu of the various classes of the hierarchy 
by which it was governed; the moral milieu of thought and sentiment 
which explains both its merits and its weaknesses. We can satisfactorily 
study the method in which the Roman of Rome employed his time only 
after we have plotted out the main lines of the framework within which 
he lived and outside which the routine of his daily life would be more 
or iess unintelligible. 

La Ferte-sur-Aube 



The material characteristics of Imperial Rome are full of contradictions. 
On the one hand the size of her population, the architectural grandeur 
and the marble beauty of her buildings proclaim her kinship with the 
great modern capitals of the West. On the other, the overcrowding to 
which her multitudes were condemned piled ,on top of each other on 
her irregular hills within an area restricted alike by nature and by 
man the narrowness of her tangled lanes, the scantiness of her sani- 
tary services, and the dangerous congestion of her traffic reveal a 
closer relationship to those mediaeval towns of which the chroniclers 
tell, whose appealing yet sordid picturesqueness, unexpected ugliness, 
and swarming chaos survive in certain Moslem cities of today. 
Our first task is to throw light on this essential contrast. 



HERE is little need to dwell on the 
splendour of the city of Rome at the 
beginning of the second century of 
our era. The ruins which reflect it 
are incomparable; it would be 
superfluous to enumerate them, still 
more superfluous to describe them 
one by one. It is enough to dwell 
for a moment on the group which 
is linked with the name of Trajan 
and in which the genius of his time 
reaches its zenith. 1 In the warm light which bathes them, these 
ruins everywhere preserve the strength and harmony of those 
vanished monuments of which for the most part they are but the 
naked skeleton. Nowhere do they inspire us with a nobler or 
more satisfying idea of the civilisation whose riches they display, 
of the society whose discipline they evoke, of the men our ances- 
tors and equals to whose intellectual stature and artistic mas- 
tery they bear witness, than in the Forum of Trajan, which in the 
very centre of the Urbs prolongs the forum of Augustus to the 
north. In this spot, between the years 109 and 113, Trajan brought 
to completion a work which calls forth not only our admiration but 
our love. Thanks to the recent excavations of Corrado Ricci, we 
are able to reconstruct it in its earliest perfection. The spacious- 
ness of the conception as a whole, the supple complexity and 
generous elaboration of every part, the sumptuousness of the 
materials, the daring sweep of the lines, the ordered movement 
of the decorations enable this creation of Trajan's easily to chal- 
lenge comparison with the most ambitious work of modern archi- 
tects. Even in its decay it has never ceased to supply them 
with lessons and with models. Brilliant and faithful expression of 


its own time, it seems under our very eyes to forge a link between 
its day and ours. 

Defying the difficulties which the irregularity of the ground 
and the inconvenient proximity of earlier monuments opposed to 
its development, this group of buildings united in a coherent and 
harmonious whole a public square or forum, a judicial basilica, 
two libraries, the famous column which rose between them, and 
an immense covered market. We do not know the date at which 
the market was completed, but it must have been built before 
the Column, whose height, as we shall see, was governed by the 
proportions of the market. The Forum and the Basilica were 
inaugurated by Trajan on January i, 112; the Column on May 
13, ii3. 2 The whole formed a sequence of daring magnificence. 

To the south rose the Forum proper in majestic simplicity a 
vast esplanade, 116 metres by 95, surrounded on three sides by a 
portico. On the south side, through which the public entered, this 
portico was supported by a single row of columns, and on east and 
west by a double colonnade. To east and west its back wall, built 
of peperino faced with marble, curved out into a semicircle 
45 metres in radius. In the centre of the forum rose the eques- 
trian statue of the emperor in gilded bronze, attended by more 
modest statues ranged between the surrounding columns, com- 
memorating men who had served the empire well by the sword 
or by the spoken word. Three steps of yellow marble led up to 
the entrance of the Basilica Ulpia which derived its title from the 
family name of Trajan. The Basilica, which measured 159 metres 
from east to west and 55 from north to south was raised one metre 
above the level of the Forum and excelled the Forum itself in 
opulence. It was an immense hypostyle hall, designed in oriental 
style and entered from the south on one of its longer sides. The 
interior was divided into five naves 130 metres long, the central 
one reaching a width of 25 metres; there were 96 pillars in all; 
the entire floor was paved with Luna marble, while the roof was 
adorned with tiles of gilded bronze. The hall was encircled by a 
portico with sculptures in the spaces, and the attic was orna- 
mented with bas-reliefs distinguished for their animation and the 
delicacy of their modelling. Finally, the upper entablature re- 
peated several times on each face the brief and haughty inscrip- 
tion "E Manubiis" proclaiming that the building had been erected 
from the spoils of war (the plunder taken from the Dacians of 



Decebalus). Beyond and parallel to .the Basilica, and rising as 
high above it as it rose above the Forum, stretched the two rec- 
tangles of the twin libraries, the Bibliothecae Ulpiae, bearing, like 
the Basilica, the Gentile name of their common founder. One of 
these libraries was consecrated to Greek manuscripts, the other 
to Latin manuscripts and the imperial archives; in each of them 
the space above the plutei, or cupboards which housed the manu- 
scripts, was decorated with a series of busts representing the 
writers who had attained greatest fame in the two languages of 
the empire. 

A narrow quadrilateral 24 metres by 16 separated the two libra- 
ries, and in the centre of it there rose, and still rises almost intact, 
the marvel of marvels: the Column of Trajan. 3 The base is an 
almost perfect cube of stone 5.5 metres high, pierced by a bronze 
gate above which was the dedicatory inscription. The other three 
sides of the pedestal were decorated with arms and trophies, and 
all four sides with bosses interlaced with laurel. The Column is 
composed entirely of marble, has a diameter of 3.70 metres and 
a height of 29.77, an d contains a spiral staircase of white marble 
starting from the base of the pedestal and boasting 185 steps. 
The monumental Doric capital which crowns the column was 
originally surmounted by a bronze eagle with outspread wings. 
After the death of Trajan the eagle was replaced by a bronze 
statue of the dead emperor which was probably torn down and 
melted in the chaos of the invasions. That was replaced in 1588 
by the statue of Saint Peter which we see today. The total height 
of the monument is approximately 38 metres, which corresponds 
to the 128^2 Roman feet of which the ancient documents tell. 

Grandiose as are the mere proportions of the Column of Tra- 
jan in themselves, the effect is heightened by the external arrange- 
ment of the marble blocks of which it is composed. Seventeen 
colossal drums of marble bear twenty-three spiral panels which, 
if ranged in a straight line, would measure nearly 200 metres. 
From base to capital these panels represent in relief the major 
episodes of the two Dacian campaigns in their historic sequence, 
from the beginning of the first campaign to the end of the second. 
They have been executed with so much skill that they conceal 
from view the forty-three windows which serve to light the interior 
of the column. Twenty-five hundred separate figures have been 
counted in these reliefs. Wind and weather have reduced them 


all alike to the warm but uniform colour of the Parian marble in 
which they were carved, but formerly they shone in brilliant 
colours which proclaimed the supremacy of the Roman sculptors 
in this type of historic relief. 

Trajan's unexpected death occurred in the early days of 'Au- 
gust, 117, when he had already set out on his return journey to 
Rome after handing over to Hadrian the command of the army 
he had raised against the Parthians. His ashes were brought back 
from Asia to Rome and placed in the chamber in the pedestal of 
his great Column. The burial of his ashes within the pomcrium 
transgressed the laws which forbade the burial of ordinary mor- 
tals within the sacred space. 4 Though his successor Hadrian and 
the Senate unanimously declared that the deceased emperor was 
above the common law, they nevertheless took in this matter an 
initiative which Trajan himself had neither desired nor foreseen. 
He had not designed his Column as his tomb. His commemora- 
tive purpose in erecting it had been twofold: the reliefs it bore 
were to immortalise the victories he had won over the external 
enemy, and its unique proportions were to symbolise the super- 
human effort he had made to conquer Nature for the adornment 
and prosperity of Rome. The two last lines of his inscription made 
his intention clear. Today only a few letters of the inscription 
cannot be read, but in the seventh century the unknown visitor 
whom we call the Anonymous Traveller from Einsiedeln was able 
to copy it entire. The meaning of Trajan's formula "ad dccla- 
randum quantae altitudinis mons et locus tantis opcribus sit 
cgestus" 7} has become clear since scholars realised that the verb 
cgercre expressed the two contradictory meanings, "to empty" 
and "to erect," both of which are needed to interpret literally 
this noble phrase. The Column was intended to indicate how much 
the spur (mons} which the Quirinal Hill thrust out to meet the 
Capitoline had been levelled, and how great an area (locus} had 
been cleared for the giant monuments which to the east completed 
the emperor's work and which were rescued from the ruins in 
1932 by the scientific faith of Corrado Ricci. The majestic hemi- 
cycle of bricks which encircles the Forum proper on the side of 
the Quirinal and the Subura easily sustained the five stories which 
housed the 150 booths or tabernae of the market. 6 Shallow rooms 
on the level of the Forum formed the ground floor, and here fruit 
and flowers were probably set out for sale. The front of the first 



floor was a loggia of vast arcades, whose long vaulted halls served 
as storehouses for oil and wine. Rarer products, especially pepper 
and spices (piper a) from the distant East could be bought on the 
second and third floors. The Middle Ages preserved the memories 
of the spice market in the name of a steep and winding street 
which served the spice merchants of antiquity before it came to 
serve the subjects of the popes- -the Via Biberatica. Along the 
fourth story ran the formal hall where congiaria* were distributed 
and where, from the second century on, the offices of public assist- 
ance (stationes arcariorwn Caesarianorum) were permanently 
installed. 7 On the fifth and last story were ranged the market fish- 
ponds, one set of them linked by channels to the aqueduct which 
supplied them with fresh water, and another designed to receive 
sea water brought from Ostia. 

From this fifth story spectators can still survey the immensity 
of Trajan's achievement, and note that they are standing exactly 
on a level with the halo of Saint Peter who now crowns the Col- 
umn of Trajan. From this point of vantage they can feel the full 
significance of the inscription and appreciate the matchless gran- 
deur of the works carried out by Apollodorus of Damascus to the 
order of the greatest of the Caesars His massive buildings climb 
and mask the slopes of the Quirinal which were smoothed out to 
fit them without the aid of explosives such as the engineers of 
today have at their disposal. The proportions of these buildings 
have been so harmonised that all thought of their weight is for- 
gotten in the satisfying perception of their perfect equilibrium. 
Here is a masterpiece indeed, which has survived successive ages 
without ceasing to stir each in turn to enthusiasm. The Romans of 
old were aware that neither their city itself nor the world out- 
side offered anything finer to man's admiration. Ammianus Mar- 
cellinus has recorded that when the emperor Constantine, in com- 
pany with the Persian ambassador Ormisda, made his solemn 
entry into Rome in 357 and for the first time trod the pavement 
of Trajan's Forum, he could not restrain a cry of admiration and 
the regret that he could never construct anything like it. 8 He 
stated, however, that he would and could copy the equestrian 
statue of Trajan which stood there. To this the Persian replied, 
"First, Sire, command a like stable to be built, if you can, so that 
the steed which you intend to create may range as widely as this 

* Congiaria were public distributions of food or money. 


which you see." The Romans of the later empire felt impotent 
before these monuments created by the genius of their ancestors. 

The perfection of the prodigious jellipse of the Colosseum can- 
not counteract the uneasiness one feels at the thought of the car- 
nage that took place there. The baths of Caracalla suffer from 
a certain excess which presages decadence. Nothing, on the other 
hand, disturbs the nobility of the impression created by the 
Forum and the market-place of Trajan. They impress without 
overwhelming. The grace of their curves tempers their immen- 
sity. On this high plane of art great artists of great epochs meet, 
and we find that something of this restrained and vital harmony 
flowed into Michael Angelo's facade of the Farnese Palace and 
into the Colonne Vendome which the architects of Napoleon 
Bonaparte cast from the bronze cannons of Jena. Rome at her 
greatest is reflected here. 

It is a striking fact that Trajan obviously strove not alone to 
commemorate the victory which had at one blow replenished the 
treasury of the Caesars and furnished this abundant wealth, 9 but 
also to justify it by the quality of the culture which his soldiers 
brought to the vanquished. The statues of his porticos unceasingly 
connect the glories of the intellect with those of arms. At the 
foot of the market where the people of Rome bought their daily 
food, beside the Forum where the consuls gave their audience and 
the emperors made their pronouncements whether a Hadrian 
proclaimed remission of taxes or a Marcus Aurelius poured his 
private wealth into the public treasury there swept the great 
hemicycle where, as M. Marrou has demonstrated, the masters 
of literature continued down to the fourth century to gather their 
students round them and impart instruction. 10 

The Basilica itself, for all its luxury, stood three steps lower 
than the two great libraries which were its neighbours. According 
to the interpretation recently revived by M. Paribeni, we may 
assume that the historic Column which rose between them repre- 
sents the brilliant realisation by Apollodorus of an original con- 
ception emanating from the emperor himself. No prototype has 
yet been discovered, although it may name among its posterity 
the Aurelian Column at Rome itself and the columns of Theo- 
dosius and Arcadius at Constantinople, to name only examples 
dating from antiquity. It is no accident that the Column of Trajan 
was erected in the very centre of the city of books. Trajan must 


have intended the spirals which clothe it to represent the unroll- 
ing of two scrolls (volumina) which formed a marble record of 
his warlike exploits and extolled to the skies his clemency as well 
as his might. 11 One relief, three times as large as the others, sepa- 
rates the two series of records and reveals their significance. 12 
It represents a figure of Victory in the act of writing on her shield 
"Ense et Stylo," which might be rendered, "By the word and by 
the pen." This is the eloquent symbol of the pacificatory and 
civilising goal which Trajan in all sincerity set himself in his 
conquests. It throws light on the thought which dominated his 
ambitions and led him, while deprecating violence and injustice, 
to seek by all means to find spiritual justification for the imperi- 
alism of Rome. 

In this spot which proclaims the ideal of the new empire we 
see the very heart of the metropolis which had grown with the 
empire's growth and which ended by vying in population with 
the greatest of our modern capitals. The inauguration of his 
Forum completed the renovation of the city which Trajan had 
undertaken in order to make the Urbs worthy of his hegemony 
and to bring relief to a population crushed by its own increasing 
numbers. With this in mind he had enlarged the circus, excavated 
a naumachia, canalised the Tiber, drawn off new aqueducts, built 
the largest public baths that Rome had ever seen, and subjected 
private building enterprise to rigorous and far-sighted control. 13 
The Forum crowned his work. By levelling off the Quirinal he 
opened new roads to traffic, as well as added another immense 
open public space in the centre of the city to those created by his 
predecessors, Caesar, Augustus, the Flavians, and Nerva, who 
one after another had sought to relieve the congestion of the 
Forum proper. By adorning his Forum with exedrae, a Basil- 
ica and libraries, he dignified the leisure of the multitudes who 
daily frequented it; to improve the facilities for provisioning the 
teeming populace, he supplemented these buildings by markets, 
comparable in their spaciousness and the ingenuity of their de- 
sign to those which Paris acquired only in the nineteenth century. 
These works of Trajan can, in fact, be fully understood only when 
we keep in mind the multitudes whose lot they alleviated and 
whose presence still haunts their ruins. We have other irrefutable 
evidence of their having existed, but even without that the works 
of Trajan alone would prove it. 



No question has been more frequently discussed than the 
population of the capital of the Roman Empire, nor is there any 
whose solution is more urgent for the historian especially if it 
is true, as the Berber sociologist Ibn Khaldun contended, that 
the level of a civilisation can be in some degree estimated by the 
size and growth of its cities, an inevitable consequence of the 
development of human society. But there is no question which 
has provoked more polemics or given rise to more contradictory 
opinions. Since Renaissance days the scholars who have ap- 
proached the problem have always been divided into two hostile 
camps. Some, hypnotised by the object of their study, are over- 
ready to ascribe to their beloved antiquity, which they dream of 
as an Age of Gold, the same range and vitality that the modern 
world owes to the progress of science. Justus Lipsius, for instance, 
among others, estimates the population of ancient Rome at about 
four millions. 14 Others, more inclined to underestimate past gen- 
erations, refuse a priori to ascribe to them achievements equal to 
those of modern times, and Bureau de la Malle, who was the first 
French scholar to devote serious research to the distribution of 
populations in ancient times, considers a total of about 261,000 
the highest figure which can plausibly be assigned to the city 
of the Caesars. 15 Both Bureau de la Malle and Justus Lipsius, 
however, started with rooted preconceptions, and an unprejudiced 
critic may perhaps find it possible to arrive at an approximation 
somewhere between these two extremes that is sufficiently near 
the truth. 

Those who champion what I shall call the "Little Rome" theory 
are invariably statisticians who first submit the question to an 
examination of the circumstantial evidence. They dismiss all indi- 
cations, however explicit, given by ancient writers, and base 
their conclusions solely on a consideration of the terrain. They 
accept only one basis of calculation: the relation between the 
known area and the possible population inhabiting it. They con- 
sequently decide that Imperial Rome, which they hold to have 
been exactly delimited by the Aurelian Wall and to have very 
nearly coincided with the area of the present-day Rome they 
have visited, cannot have sheltered a population much larger than 


the present. At first sight this argument might appear convincing. 
Reflection shows, however, that it is based on the fallacy of sup- 
posing that the territorial aspect of ancient Rome was the same 
as at present, and on the false postulate that we are entitled arbi- 
trarily to apply to this :rea the demographic coefficient derived 
'from the most recent statistics. 

In the first place this method makes the mistake of ignoring 
the elasticity of space or, more exactly, the compressibility of 
man. Bureau reached his figures by applying to the space en- 
closed by the Aurelian Wall the population density of Paris under 
Louis Philippe, say 150 persons to the hectare. If he had been 
writing seventy-five years later, when the density of Paris had 
reached 400 persons to the hectare, as it did in 1914, his result 
would have been nearly three times' as large. M. Ferdinand Lot 
fell into the same petitio principii when he overhastily ascribed to 
the Rome of Aurelian the population density of the Rome of 1901, 
and estimated its inhabitants at 538,ooo. 16 Since then, post-war 
building has not nearly doubled the area of Rome, yet the census 
of January, 1939, records a population of 1,284,600, considerably 
more than double. In both these cases it is not the population 
which Rome actually housed in former times that is computed, 
but the population which might have been contained within the 
space of ancient Rome, reckoned by the density of population at 
the time of the writer, a choice which is purely accidental and 
arbitrary. Even on an unchanging terrain, living conditions alter 
from one epoch to another, and it is evident that however in- 
genious the attempt to establish a proportion between an area 
which is conceived as a known quantity and a population which 
is an unknown quantity, this ratio must remain purely hypo- 

If, moreover, as I myself believe, ancient Rome was not circum- 
scribed within the limits that have been affirmed, a further un- 
known quantity is introduced which vitiates the above calcula- 
tions. The Aurelian Wall, which is supposed to have formed its 
perimeter, no more represented the absolute limit of Imperial 
Rome than the pomerium, falsely ascribed to Servius Tullius, had 
earlier sufficed to circumscribe the Rome of the republic. This 
point demands some explanation. 

Like all the Greek and Latin cities of antiquity, ancient Rome, 
from the dawn of her legend to the end of her history, had always 


consisted of two inseparable elements, a sharply defined urban 
agglomeration (Urbs Roma) and the rural territory attached to 
it (Ager Romanus). The Ager Romanus extended to the bound- 
aries of the adjacent cities, which had preserved their municipal 
individuality in spite of political annexation; Lavinium, Ostia, 
Fregenae, Veii, Fidenae, Ficulea, Gabii, Tibur, and Bovillae. The 
Urbs proper was the home of the gods and their sanctuaries, of the 
king, and later of the magistrates who were heirs to his dismem- 
bered power, of the Senate and the comitia who, in co-operation 
first with the king and later with the magistrates, governed the 
City-State. Thus in its origins the city represented something 
greater and different from a more or less closely packed aggregate 
of dwelling houses : it was a templum solemnly dedicated accord- 
ing to rites prescribed by the discipline of the augurs, its precincts 
strictly defined by the furrow which the Latin founder, dutifully 
obeying the prescriptions of Etrurian ritual, had carved round it 
with a plough drawn by a bull and cow of dazzling white. The 
share had been duly lifted over the spots where one day the city 
gates would stand, and the clods of earth thrown up in its passage 
had been scrupulously lifted and thrown within the circuit. The 
sacred orbit thus described in anticipation of the fortifications and 
walls to come, formed the abbreviated ground plan, the prophetic 
image of the future city, and hence was known as the pomerium 
(pone muros). From the pomerium the Urbs derived its name, 
its original definition, and its supernatural protection, assured by 
the taboos which preserved its soil alike from the defilement of 
foreign cults, the threat of armed levies, and the interment of the 
dead. 17 

The position of the pomerium altered with the successive de- 
velopments which produced the Rome of history. Although it 
preserved its religious character and continued to protect the 
citizens by remaining closed to gatherings of the legions, by classic 
times it had ceased to form the limit of the city. It remained a 
spiritual symbol, but its practical functions had been usurped by 
a concrete reality the Great Wall, which false tradition ascribed 
to King Servius Tullius but which was in fact built by order of the 
republican Senate between 378 and 352 B.C. 18 This wall was 
constructed of blocks of volcanic rock so firmly dressed that 
entire sections of it are still extant in the Rome of the twentieth 
century, notably in the Via delle Finanze, in the gardens of the 


Palazzo Colonna, and in the Piazza del Cinquecento opposite the 
railway station; sufficient traces of it remain to enable us to re- 
construct the whole. From the third century B.C., the urban 
area of Rome was no longer defined by the pomerium, but by the 
wall whose massive courses had withstood the assault of Han- 
nibal; and the two areas were clearly distinguished from each 
other. Though both excluded the great plain, the Campus Martius, 
which lay between the Tiber and the hills and was dedicated to 
military exercises, the wall was nevertheless more extensive than 
the pomerium, and comprised many districts not included in the 
latter: the Citadel (arx) and the Capitoline, the north-western 
tip of the Esquiline, the Velabrum, and above all the two summits 
of the Aventine. The northern Aventine had been included .from 
the first, the southern when the consuls of 87 prolonged the wall to 
strengthen the city against the attack of Cinna. In all, it is reck- 
oned that the wall enclosed 426 hectares, a trifling area compared 
to the 7,000 hectares of modern Paris, but large beside the 120 
hectares of ancient Capua, the 117 of Caere, and the 32 with 
which Praeneste had to be content. Such comparisons, however, 
are idle. The calculation of the ground area of the Urbs gives no 
certain clue to the number of its inhabitants. 

From the moment that the Romans, in a fair way to conquer the 
world, had ceased to dread their enemies, the walls which they 
had built for their protection with yesterday's Gallic terror fresh 
in mind had lost all military .value, and the inhabitants of the 
city began to overflow their bounds, as they had earlier over- 
flowed the pomerium. By virtue of the right of the impcratores, 
who had extended the frontiers of the empire, and also with a 
view to placating the urban plebs, Sulla in the year 81 B.C. re- 
leased for dwelling-houses a portion of the Campus Martius be- 
tween the Capitol and the Tiber how large a portion we un- 
fortunately do not know. 19 On this side then, the Urbs officially 
outgrew its boundaries, as it had in fact unofficially spread be- 
yond them in other directions. When Caesar removed to a Roman 
mile beyond the walls the boundary marks assigned to Rome in 
accordance with the posthumous law preserved to us by the Table 
of Heraclea, 20 he merely gave legal recognition to a state of 
affairs which no doubt went back to the second century B.C. 

Augustus in his turn only pursued and amplified the innovation 
initiated by his adoptive father, when in 7 B.C. he completed the 


identification of the Urbs with the fourteen regions into which he 
had redivided the ancient and the newer quarters of the city: 
thirteen regions on the left bank of the Tiber, the fourteenth on 
the right or farther bank, the "regio Trans tibcrina," whose mem- 
ory is kept alive by the Trastevere of today. 21 

Augustus, who boasted that he had pacified the world and who 
solemnly closed the Temple of Janus, 22 had no hesitation in dis- 
mantling the ancient republican fortifications. And Rome, now 
freed thanks to her glory and to her annexations from all 
anxiety about her own security, proceeded to burst her bonds on 
every side. If five of the fourteen regions of Augustus were con- 
tained within the ancient circuit of the city, five others lay partly 
within and partly without, while the remaining four were com- 
pletely outside: the fifth (Esquiline), the seventh (Via Lata), 
the ninth (Circus Flaminius), and the fourteenth (Transti- 
berina). As if to emphasise the emperor's intentions, popular 
usage presently gave the first of these the name of Porta Capena, 
and the gate which had originally been a point on the circum- 
ference now came to occupy the centre. 

The fourteen regions of Augustus lasted as long as the empire, 
and their limits bounded the Rome of the first Antonines. Within 
this framework we must reconstruct the city of this period for 
ourselves. It is not possible to submit these regions to exact meas- 
urement, and it would be a grave error to identify them with 
those still marked by the brick wall with which Aurelian sought 
to protect the capital of the empire against the approach of the 
barbarians, and which, from 274 A.D. on, served at once as ram- 
part and pomerium.' 23 Even today, with its ruined curtains and 
succession of dilapidated towers, this impressive structure, whose 
brick masonry blazes in the rays of the setting sun, conveys to 
the least sensitive of tourists a vivid impression of the majesty 
that made Rome glorious even in her decadence. 

The Aurelian Wall, which reached a length of 18.837 kilo- 
metres and enclosed an area of 1,386 hectares, 68 ares, and 50 
centiares, was constructed in precisely the same manner as the 
almost contemporary enclosures with which Qaul bristled in de- 
fense against the Germanic hordes. These latter have been made 
the subject of an admirable study by M. Adrien Blanchet. 24 The 
Gallic fortifications never attempted to protect an entire town, but 


only its more vital parts, as a cuirasse protects the warrior's 
breast; similarly the Aurelian Wall did not aspire to encircle all 
the fourteen regions of Rome. Far from feeling bound by the 
configuration of the entire city, Aurelian's engineers gave their 
attention to linking together the main strategic points and to 
utilising as far as possible such earlier constructions, like the aque- 
ducts, as could more or less easily be incorporated in thtir system. 
From the Pincian to the Salarian Gate in the seventh region, 
the toll-post marks (dp pi) have been discovered as far as a 
hundred metres beyond the wall. 1 ' 5 From the Praenestine to the 
Asinarian Gate, the fifth region must have extended 300 metres 
beyond it, for at this distance we find the obelisk of Antinoiis 
erected, according to the hieroglyphs of its inscription, "at the 
boundary of the town." Similarly, from the Metrovian to the 
Ardeatine Gate, the first region overshot the wall by an average 
of 600 metres, since the curtain runs in this sector one Roman 
mile (1,482 metres) to the south of the Porta Capena, and the 
region included the Aedis Martis a mile and a half away and 
stretched as far as the River Almo (known today as the Acqua- 
taccio), whose course lies 800 metres farther on. Finally, and 
above all, it would be easy to demonstrate that the fourteenth 
region, whose total perimeter is double that of the wall on the 
farther bank of the Tiber, overshot the wall by 1,800 metres in 
the north and 1,300 in the south. In view of these facts, there can 
be no question of assuming that the fourteen regions which con- 
stituted Imperial Rome were confined within the area surrounded 
by the Aurelian Wall. It would be equally inadmissible to imagine 
them restricted to the 2,000 hectares delimited by the mobile 
cordon of the toll-posts, for from the time of Augustus the jurists 
had laid down the principle that Rom^ of the fourteen regions was 
not confined within an unalterable circumference, but in law, as 
in fact, was in a state of perpetual giowth, and that her area was 
automatically extended as new dwellings were constructed pro- 
longing the blocks of ancient buildings. 26 This essentially realistic 
legal ruling not only defeats at the start any attempt to calculate 
the population of Rome on so uncertain and changeable a basis as 
the area of the fourteen regions, but presupposes in the lawyers 
who enunciated it a faith in an indefinite future growth of the 
Imperial City. 



Available records bear convincing witness to the growth of the 
Roman population. It progressively increased from the time of 
Sulla till the principate, and was further accelerated under the 
prosperous government of the Antonines. To convince ourselves 
of this, we need only collate two sets of statistics, separated by an 
interval of three centuries, which have by a fortunate accident 
been preserved. They give a census of the vici of Rome, that is, 
the quarters within the fourteen regions separated from each other 
by the streets which bounded them. Augustus had granted each 
vicus a special administration presided over by its own magistcr, 
and protected by the Lares of the cross-roads. 27 On the one hand 
the elder Pliny informs us that in the lustrum of 73 A.D. con- 
ducted by the censors Vespasian and Titus, Rome was divided 
into 265 vici. 2 * On the other, the Regionaries f that invaluable com- 
pilation of the fourth century, records a total of 307 vici.-" The 
oldest of the Regionaries, the Notitia, was begun in 334, and the 
latest, the Curiosum, covers the year 357. The year 345 A.D. 
might be taken as an intermediate date. So we find that between 74 
and 345 A.D. the number of vici had grown by 42, which implies a 
territorial increase of 1 5 per cent in the area of Rome. At the same 
time, we observe that between the time of Caesar and that of 
Septimius Severus a corresponding increase of population must 
have taken place. We have, it is true, no direct evidence of this, 
but may unhesitatingly deduce it from the increase in the charges 
for public assistance to the Roman plebs. In the times of Caesar 
and Augustus, Annona, the mythological personification of the 
year's food supplies, had on her hands only 150,000 poor to whom 
she distributed free grain. 30 When Dio Cassius lauded the lib- 
erality of the congiarium of 203 in the reign of Septimius Severus, 
the number of recipients had risen to 175,000, an increase of 16.6 
per cent. 31 The parallelism of these percentages is instructive. 
First of all it proves what might a priori have been assumed 
that the increase of population had gone hand in hand with the 
geographical extension of the fourteen regions. The second thing 
it indicates might also have been taken for granted because of the 
consolidation of the Pax Romana during the second half of the 
second century: the greatest increase to which the Regionaries of 
the fourth century bear witness but of which we have indica- 


tions before the largesse of 203 dates from the Pax Romana. 
From this it follows happily for us and our thesis that we 
must estimate the population of Rome under the early Antonines, 
that is to say at a period of marked prosperity for which statistics 
are unfortunately lacking, at a higher figure than the epochs 
immediately preceding, and not far below the figure supplied by 
the later data of the Regionaries. 

Now from the beginning of the first century B.C. to the middle 
of the first century A.D. we are in a position to follow the irresist- 
ible movement which swelled the population of Rome to a point 
where her cohesion was in danger of being undermined and her 
food supply of breaking down. As I have pointed out elsewhere, 
the outbreak of the Social War in 91 B.C. drove back on Rome in 
chaotic confusion all Italians who refused to make common cause 
with the allied insurgents and sought a refuge from their re- 
prisals. 32 The influx of these refugees caused a sudden leap in 
numbers similar to that of fifteen years before, when the flood of 
Greek refugees from Asia Minor raised Athens to the rank of a 
great European capital. Faced by provinces and an Italy torn 
between the democratic government of Rome and the armies 
mobilised against that government by the senatorial aristocracy, 
the censors of 86 B.C. were obliged to abandon the attempt to 
make the usual general census of all citizens of the empire, and 
proceeded instead to catalogue the different categories of popu- 
lation who were herded together in the city. Saint Jerome records 
in his Chronicle the result of this census, of 463,000 souls, made 
without regard to sex, age, status, or nationality: "descriptions 
Romae facta inventa sunt hominum CCCCLXIII milia" 33 Thirty 
years later the figure was considerably higher, if it is true, as 
Lucan's commentator asserts, that when-Pompey took charge of 
the Annona in September, 57 B.C., he succeeded in getting the 
grain needed to feed a minimum of 486,000 mouths. 34 After the 
triumph of Julius Caesar in 45 B.C. the population made another 
upward bound. The fact itself cannot be doubted, though, for 
lack of figures we cannot make an exact estimate of the increase; 
instead of the 40,000 whom Cicero mentions in his In Verrem 
as receiving free grain in 71 B.C., Caesar in 44 B.C. admitted no 
less than 150,000 to the free distribution. 36 Moreover, as Censor 
Morum, he standardised the accidental procedure of the censors 
of 86 B.C. and ordered that the traditional album of the citizens 


of the empire should be supplemented by detailed statistics on 
the inhabitants of the Urbs, who should henceforth be tabulated 
street by street and building by building from information fur- 
nished by proprietors on their own responsibility. 37 

The advance in numbers continued under the principate of 
Augustus. The available data combine to force us to conclude 
that the inhabitants of Rome must have reached nearly a million. 
First, we note the quantity of grain which the Annona had to 
store each year for the support of the population: Aurelius Victor 
tells us that 20,000,000 modii (1,698,000 hectolitres) were sup- 
plied by Egypt, and Josephus records that Africa furnished twice 
that amount in all, therefore, 60,000,000 modii?* Allowing an 
average yearly consumption of 60 modii (5.094 hectolitres) per 
head, this would represent 1,000,000 recipients. Secondly, we 
have Augustus' own declaration in his Res Gcstae that when he 
was invested for the twenty-second time with the tribunicia 
potestas and for the twelfth time with the consular dignity, that 
is to say, in the year 5 B.C., he gave 60 denarii to each of the 
320,000 citizens composing the urban plebs. 39 Now, according to 
the words which the emperor deliberately employed, this dis- 
tribution was confined to adult males the Latin text specifies 
viritim, the Greek translation XOCT' av&pa. It excluded, therefore, 
all women and girls and all boys under eleven. Taking the aver- 
age proportion established in our time by the actuaries between 
men, women, and children, this yields a Roman population of at 
least 675,000 cives. To this we must add a garrison of 12,000 men 
who lived in Rome but did not partake in the congiaria, the host 
of noncitizens (peregrini), and another item, more important 
than either, the slaves. The words of Augustus himself thus lead 
us to calculate the total population of Rome at close to a million, 
if indeed it did not exceed that figure. 

Lastly, we have the statistics included in the Regionaries of 
the fourth century A.D. These compel us to assess still higher the 
figure for the second century, a time when, as we have seen, the 
population of Rome vigorously increased. Adding up, region by 
region, the dwelling-houses of the Urbs as catalogued in the 
Notitia, we get the two totals: 1,782 domus and 44,300 insulae; 
but both the summary of the Notitia and Zacharias record 1,797 
domus and 46,602 insulae. It is safe to assume that the discrep- 
ancy between these documents is due to the muddle-headedness of 


the copyist of the Notitia, who appears to have dozed over the 
detailed enumerations which he had to transcribe. In the course of 
his uncongenial task he frequently mangled or omitted items be- 
fore his eyes, or simply duplicated them, as when he attributed the 
same number of domus to the tenth and eleventh regions and the 
same number of inmlac to both the third and fourth and the 
twelfth and thirteenth regions. In other words, we are entitled 
to put our trust rather in the summary of the Notitia and Zach- 
arias; and from the figures they give of the dwellings of Rome to 
deduce that other figure which they do not give the total of the 
population which may be inferred from the 1,797 domus and the 
46,602 insulae of their record. 

Obviously the result can only be approximate, and the exag- 
gerated scruples of contemporary criticism have wilfully com- 
plicated the conditions of calculation. In France, especially, M. 
fidouard Cuq 4 " and M. Ferdinand Lot 41 have interpreted the 
plural form "domus" of the Notitia as embracing all the real 
estate of the Urbs, and the plural "insulac" as a synonym for 
"ccnacula" denoting the sets of living quarters or "flats'' into 
which buildings were divided. They hold, therefore, that the 
two figures ^veihip Taking an average of five persons per "flat," 
they dogmatically apply it to the 46,602 insulae of the Notitia, 
and on this basis estimate the total population of the Urbs as 
233,010. Their arithmetical calculations are, however, vitiated 
from the start by the evident falsity of their interpretation of the 
Latin words. To a Latin scholar the word domus, whose etymol- 
ogy implies a hereditary property, means a private house which 
is undivided and in which there live only the owner and his 
family; while the insula, as its name vividly suggests, is a large 
isolated building, an interest-bearing piece of real estate, a 
"block" subdivided into a number of flats or cenacula, each jf 
which houses a tenant or a family of tenants. Examples of these 
usages could be indefinitely multiplied : Suetonius recalls Caesar's 
order laying the duty of filling up the census forms on the owners 
of insulae: "per dominos insularum" ; 4 ' 2 Tacitus shrinks from the 
task of compiling an exact list of the temples, the domus, and 
insulae which had fallen victims to the fire of 64 A.D.; 43 the 
biographer who wrote the Historia Augusta records that during 
the reign of Antoninus Pius a fire in Rome consumed 340 dwell- 
ings in one day apartment houses or private houses : "incendium 


trecentas quadraginta insulas vel domus absumpsit" 44 In all 
these texts the insula never appears as an autonomous building. 
It is an architectural unit, but not a unit of dwelling. That it was 
used in this sense in the Notitia is proved beyond all possibility 
of doubt by the detailed description given there of the Insula of 
Felicula as one of the sights of the ninth region deserving the 
attention of tourists. The reference is to the apartment block of 
Felicula, of whose extraordinary dimensions we shall speak later. 
We are therefore not justified in dividing the 46,602 insulae 
among the 1,797 domus of our statistics. They must on the con- 
trary be added together; and to estimate the inhabitants of the 
insulae, we must multiply not only by the average dwellers in a 
cenaculum but also by the number of cenacula or flats in each 

The total of 233,010 inhabitants at which MM. Cuq and Lot 
arrived by their wrong conception of the insula is less even than 
the total of adult male citizens alone who enjoyed the generosity 
of Augustus. The discrepancy is so obviously ludicrous that it 
suffices to condemn their theory. Are we then, in natural reaction 
against this sort of calculation, to reckon about 25 cenacula to 
each insula, which would result in the Notitia from the ratio be- 
tween the 1,797 domus defined as so many insulae, and the 46,602 
insulae defined as so many cenacula? This would be to fall into 
an error of exaggeration as reprehensible as the opposite. When 
we study the various types of Roman house in the following chap- 
ter, we shall soon be convinced that the average insula contained 
five or six cenacula or flats, each of which housed at least five or 
six occupants. We are hence obliged to conclude, from the evi- 
dence of the Regionaries of the fourth century, that in the second 
century (when the growth of Rome was probably completed, or 
at any rate her population had greatly increased) the city had 
50,000 citizens, bond or free, living in at least 1,000 domus , and 
a further population, which must have varied between 1,165,000 
and 1,677,000, in its 46,602 apartment blocks. Even taking the 
lower of these two figures, and limiting the total estimate to 
around 1,200,000 inhabitants for the Urbs of the Antonines, 45 it 
is clear that Rome's population approached that of our own capi- 
tals in size, without enjoying any of the benefits of improved 
technics and communications which facilitate life and intercourse 
in our modern towns, 


The capital of the empire must have suffered all the distresses 
of overpopulation which we experience, but in a far worse degree. 
If Rome was as enormous for her day as New York is for ours; 
if Rome, Queen of the Ancient World, 

"Terr arum dea gentiumque, Roma 
Cui par est nihil et nihil secundum 4 * 

(goddess of continents and peoples, O Rome, whom nothing can 
equal and nothing approach )" became in the time of Trajan a 
colossal and devouring town which stupefied the stranger and the 
provincial as the American metropolis astonishes the Europe of 
today, she paid even more dearly for the dimensions which her 
dominating position had inflicted upon her. 



|VEN assessing the area of the Urbs 
at more than 2,000 hectares, the 
circuit of the Imperial City was 
too limited to accommodate 1,200,- 
ooo inhabitants, comfortably es- 
pecially since every part of it could 
not be used for housing. We must 
subtract the numerous zones where 
public buildings, sanctuaries, basil- 
icas, docks, baths, circuses, and 
theatres were in the hands of public 
authorities, who permitted only a handful of persons to live in 
them, such as porters, bonders, clerks, beadles, public slaves, or 
members of certain privileged corporations. We must exclude 
the capricious bed of the Tiber and the forty or so parks and 
gardens which stretched along the Esquiline, the Pincian, and 
both banks of the river; the Palatine Hill, which was reserved 
exclusively for the emperor's enjoyment; and finally the Campus 
Martius, whose temples, porticos, palaestrae, ustrinae, and tombs 
covered more than two hundred hectares, from most of which all 
human habitations were banished in deference to the gods. 

Now we must remember that the ancient Romans had no access 
to the almost unlimited suburban space which overground and 
underground transport puts at the disposal of London, Paris, and 
New York. They were condemned to remain within closer terri- 
torial limits owing to a lack of technical skill which strictly limited 
the space at their command; and they were unable to increase 
the area of their city in proportion to the numerical increase of 
their population. They were driven to compensate for this lack of 
room by two contradictory expedients: narrow streets and tall 
houses. Imperial Rome was continually forced to juxtapose her 
splendid monuments to an incoherent confusion of dwelling- 


houses at once pretentious and uncomfortable, fragile and inordi- 
nately large, separated by a network of gloomy, narrow alleys. 
When we try to reconstruct ancient Rome in our imagination, we 
are ever and again disconcerted by the contrast of modern 
spaciousness with primitive mediaeval simplicity, an anticipation 
of orderliness that is almost American with the confusion of an 
oriental labyrinth. 


At first sight the student is struck by the "up-to-date" appear- 
ance of what was of old the prevailing type of Roman building. 
The plan, the dimensions, and the structure of these buildings, 
were revealed in the author's study of the docks of Ostia, pub- 
lished in 1910; 2 by the excavations which were resumed in 1907 
on the site of this colony suburb and faithful miniature of 
Rome herself from which Guido Calza ten years later skilfully 
drew the necessary deductions; 3 by the unearthing in Rome itself 
of Trajan's market-place and of buildings bordering the Via 
Biberatica; 4 by the discovery of ruins surviving under the stair- 
way of the Ara Coeli; r> and finally by the study of buildings which 
existed on the slopes of the Palatine in the Via dei Cerchi, 6 and 
under the gallery of the Piazza Colonna. 7 

Thirty years ago when men tried, in imagination, to visualize 
ancient Rome, they transferred to the banks of the Tiber the 
various types of building which had been recovered from the 
lava and lapilli of Vesuvius and reconstructed an image of the 
Urbs to match those of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Today, on 
the other hand, no trained archaeologist would dream of applying 
this summary and completely illusory method. Certainly it may 
safely be admitted that the mansion known as the House of Livia 
on the Palatine, 8 and the House of the Gamala at Ostia, which 
later passed into the hands of a certain Apuleius, 9 had kinship 
with the country houses of Herculaneum arid Pompeii; and it 
may at a pinch be assumed that the private mansions of the 
wealthy, the domus which are noted in the Regionaries, fre- 
quently borrowed the same features. But the Regionaries give the 
city only 1,797 domus against 46,602 insulae; that is to say, only 
one private house for every 26 blocks of apartment houses. Cor- 
roborating the evidence of the texts and the objective interpre- 
tation of the fragments of the survey register of the Urbs which 


Septimius Severus re-exposed on the Forum of Peace, 10 the most 
recent explorations have shown that there was as large a gulf 
between the predominant insula and the rare domus as between a 
Roman palace and a seaside villa, or between the maisons of the 
great Paris boulevards and the cottages of the Cote d'fimeraude. 
Paradoxical as it may seem at first sight, there is certainly a 
much closer analogy between the insula of Imperial Rome and 
the humble casa of contemporary Rome than between the insula 
and the domus of Pompeian type. 

The Roman domus turned a blind, unbroken wall to the street 
and all its doors and windows opened on its interior courts. The 
insula, on the other hand, opened always to the outside and when 
it formed a quadrilateral around a central courtyard, its doors, 
windows, and staircases opened both to the outside and to the 

The domus was composed of halls whose proportions were cal- 
culated once for all and dictated by custom in advance. These 
halls opened off each other in an invariable order : fauces, atrium, 
alae, triclinium, tablinum, and peristyle. The insula combined 
a number of cenacula, that is to say, distinct and separate dwell- 
ings like our "flats" or "apartments," consisting of rooms not 
assigned in advance to any particular function. The plan of each 
story was apt to be identical with that above and below, the 
rooms being superimposed from top to bottom of the building. 
The domus, influenced by Hellenistic architecture, spread hori- 
zontally, while the insula, begotten probably in the course of the 
fourth century B.C. of the necessity of housing a growing popula- 
tion within the so-called Servian Walls, inevitably developed in a 
vertical direction. 

In contrast to the Pompeian domus, the Roman insula grew 
steadily in stature until under the Empire it reached a dizzy 
height. Height was its dominant characteristic and this height 
which once amazed the ancient world still astounds us by its 
striking resemblance to our own most daring and modern build- 
ings. As early as the third century B.C. insulae of three stories 
(tabulata, contabidationes, contignationes) were so frequent that 
they had ceased to excite remark. In enumerating the prodigies 
which, in the winter of 218-217 B.C., preluded the invasion of 
Hannibal, Livy mentions without further comment the incident 
of an ox which escaped from the cattle market and scaled the 


stairs of a riverside insula to fling itself into the void from the 
third story amid the horrified cries of the onlookers. 11 By the end 
of the republic the average height of the insulae indicated by this 
anecdote had already been exceeded. Cicero's Rome was, as it 
were, borne aloft and suspended in the air on the tiers of its apart- 
ment houses: "Romam cenaculis sublatum atque suspensam." 12 
The Rome of Augustus towered even higher. In his day, as Vitru- 
vius records, "the majesty of the city and the considerable in- 
crease in its population have compelled an extraordinary exten- 
sion of the dwelling houses, and circumstances have constrained 
men to take refuge in increasing the height of the edifices. " 1S 
This remedy proved so perilous that the emperor, alarmed by 
the frequent collapse of buildings, was forced to regulate it and 
to forbid private individuals to erect any building more than 20 
metres high. 14 It followed that avaricious and bold owners and 
contractors vied with each other in exploiting to the full the 
freedom still left them under this decree. Proofs abound to show 
that during the empire period the buildings attained a height 
which for that epoch was almost incredible. In describing Tyre 
at the beginning of the Christian Era, Strabo notes with surprise 
that the houses of this famous oriental seaport were almost higher 
than those of Imperial Rome. ir> A hundred years later, Juvenal 
ridicules this aerial Rome which rests only on beams as long and 
thin as flutes. 16 Fifty years later Aulus Gellius complains of stiff, 
multiple-storied houses ("multis arduisque tabtdatis"); 11 and the 
orator Aelius Aristides calculates in all seriousness that if the 
dwellings of the city were all reduced to one story they would 
stretch as far as Hadria on the upper Adriatic. 18 Trajan in vain 
renewed the restrictions imposed by Augustus and even made 
them more severe by imposing a limit of eighteen metres on the 
height of private houses. 19 Necessity, however, knows no law: 
and in the fourth century the sights of the city included that giant 
apartment house, the Insula of Felicula, besides the Pantheon and 
the Column of Marcus Aurelius. It must have been erected a 
century and a half before, for at the beginning of the reign of 
Septimius Severus (193-211) its fame had already spread across 
the seas. When Tertullian sought to convince his African com- 
patriots of the absurdity of the heretical Valentinians, who filled 
the infinite space which separates the Creator from his creatures 
with mediators and intermediaries, he rallied the heretics on 


having "transformed the universe into a large, furnished apart- 
ment house, in whose attics they have planted their god under 
the tiles ("ad summas tegulas") and accuses them of "rearing to 
the sky as many stories as we see in the Insula of Felicula in 
Rome." 20 

Despite the edicts of Augustus and Trajan, the audacity of the 
builders had redoubled and the Insula of Felicula towered above 
the Rome of the Antonines like a sky-scraper. Even if this particu- 
lar building remained an exception, an unusually monstrous 
specimen, we know from the records that all around it rose build- 
ings of five and six stories. Martial was fortunate in having to 
climb only to the third floor of his quarters on the Quirinal, for 
many other tenants of the house were worse lodged. 21 In Martial's 
insula and in the neighbouring blocks of flats there were many 
dwellers perched much higher up, and in the cruel picture Juvenal 
paints of a fire in Rome, he seemed to be addressing one unfortu- 
nate who, like the god of the Valentinians, lived under the tiles: 
"Smoke is pouring out of your third floor attic, but you know 
nothing of it; if the alarm begins on the ground floor, the last 
man to burn will be he who has nothing to shelter him from the 
rain but the tiles, where the gentle doves lay their eggs." 22 

There are two types of these innumerable and imposing struc- 
tures, whose summits were invisible to the passer-by unless he 
stepped back some distance. In the more luxurious, the ground 
floor or most of it was let as a whole to one tenant. This floor had 
the prestige and the advantages of a private house and was often 
dignified by the name of domus in contrast to the flats or cenacula 
of the upper stories. 28 

Only people of consequence with well-lined purses could indulge 
in the luxury of such a domus. We know for instance that in 
Caesar's day Caelius paid for his annual rent of 30,000 sesterces 
($1,200.00). 24 In the humbler insulae the ground floor might be 
divided into booths and shops, the tabernae, which we can vis- 
ualize the better because the skeletons of many have survived to 
this day in the Via Biberatica and at Ostia. Above the tabernae 
lowlier folk were herded. Each taberna opened straight onto the 
street by a large arched doorway extending its full width, with 
folding wooden leaves which were closed or drawn across the 
threshold every evening and firmly locked and bolted. Each rep- 
resented the storehouse of some merchant, the workshop of some 



artisan, or the counter and show-window of some retailer. But in 
the corner of each taberna there was nearly always a stair of five 
or six steps of stone or brick continued by a wooden ladder. The 
ladder led to a sloping loft, lit directly by one long oblong win- 
dow pierced above the centre of the doorway, which served as 
the lodging of the storekeeper, the caretakers of the shop, or the 
workshop hands.- 5 Whoever they might be, the tenants of tabcr- 
nae had never more than this one room for themselves and their 
families: they worked, cooked, ate, and slept there, and were at 
least as crowded as the tenants of the upper floors. Perhaps on 
the whole they were even worse provided for. Certainly they fre- 
quently found genuine difficulty in meeting their obligations. To 
bring pressure to bear on a defaulter, the landlord might "shut 
up the tenant" (pcrduderc inquilinum). that is, make a lien on 
his property to cover the amount due.' J<; 

There were, then, differences between the two types of apart- 
ment house which are known by the common name of insula, 
but almost all resulted from the primary distinction between 
those houses where the rcz-dc-chaussec formed a domus and those 
in which it was let out in tabrrnac. The two types might be 
found side by side, and they obeyed the same rules in the internal 
arrangement and external appearance of their upper stories. 

Let us for a moment consider the Rome of our own day. It is 
true that in the course of the last sixty years, and particularly 
since the parcelling out of the Villa Ludovisi, Rome has seen the 
separate development of ''aristocratic quarters/' But prior to 
that, an equalitarian instinct had always tended to place the 
most stately dwellings and the humblest side by side; and even 
today the stranger is sometimes surprised to turn from a street 
swarming with the poorest of the poor and find himself face to 
face with the majesty of a Palazzo Farnese. This brotherly feature 
of the living Rome helps us to reconstruct in imagination the 
Rome of the Caesars where high and low, patrician and plebeian, 
rubbed shoulders everywhere without coming into conflict. 
Haughty Pompey did not consider it beneath his dignity to re- 
main faithful to the Carinae.- 7 Before migrating for political and 
religious reasons info the precincts of the Regia, the most fas- 
tidicus of patricians, Julius Caesar, lived in the Subura. 28 Later 
Maecenas planted his gardens in the most evilly reputed part of 
the Esquiline. 29 About the same period the ultra-wealthy Asinius 


Pollio chose for his residence the plebeian Aventine, where Li- 
cinius Sura, vice emperor of the reign of Trajan, also elected to 
make his home. 30 At the end of the first century A.D. the em- 
peror Vespasian's nephew and a parasite poet like Martial were 
near neighbours on the slopes of the Quirinal, 31 and at the end of 
the second century Commodus went to dwell in a gladiatorial 
school on the Caelian. 32 

It is true that when they were laid waste by fire the various 
quarters of the city rose from their ashes more solid and more 
magnificent than before. 33 Nevertheless, the incongruous juxta- 
positions which persist to this day were repeated with a minimum 
of change after each renovation, and every attempt to specialise 
the fourteen regions of the Urbs was foredoomed to failure. 
Hypersensitive people, anxious to escape the mob, were driven 
to move to a greater and greater distance, to take refuge on the 
fringes of the Campagna among the pines of the Pincian or the 
Janiculum, where they could find room for the parks of their 
suburban villas. 34 The common people, meanwhile, driven out of 
the centre of the city by the presence of the court and the pro- 
fusion of public buildings but nevertheless fettered to it by the 
business transacted there, overflowed by preference into the zones 
intermediate between the fora and the outskirts, the outside 
districts adjacent to the Republican Wall, which the reform of 
Augustus had with one stroke of the pen incorporated in the 
Urbs. The Regionaries record the number of insulac or apart- 
ment blocks in each region, and the number of vici or arteries 
serving the insulae; and separate averages may be obtained for 
the eight regions of the old city and the six regions of the new. 
The average for the older regions is 2,965 insulae with 17 vici 
and for the newer 3,429 insulac with 28 vici. We note that the 
largest number of insulae were massed in the new city; and that 
they attained the greatest size not in the old city where there 
were 174 insulae per vicus, but in the new where there were only 
123 per vicus. The Regionaries also locate for us the Insula of 
Felicula, the giant sky-scraper in the ninth region, known as the 
region of the Circus Flaminius, in the very heart of the new city. 
Isolated soundings lead us to the same conclusion as do mass 
statistics: the successful experiments of imperial city planning 
caused the huge modern-style apartment blocks of ancient Rome 
to increase in. number and grow to immoderate size. 


Seen from the outside, all these monumental blocks of flats 
were more or less identical in appearance and presented a fairly 
uniform fagade to the street. Piled story upon story, the large- 
bayed cenacula were superimposed one above the other; the first 
steps of their stone staircases cut through the line of the tabcrnae 
or the walls of the domus. Reduced to its governing essentials, 
the plan of these buildings is familiar. They might well be urban 
houses of today or yesterday. From a study of the best preserved 
c.i their ruins, the most competent experts have been able to 
reproduce on paper the original plan and elevation; and these 
drawings show such startling analogies with the buildings in 
which we ourselves live that at first sight we are tempted to mis- 
trust them. A more attentive examination, however, bears witness 
to the conscientious accuracy of these reconstructions. M. Boe- 
thius, for instance, has brought together on one photographic 
plate such and such a section of Trajan's market or such and 
such a building at Ostia and an equivalent existing piece of build- 
ing in the Via.dei Cappellari at Rome or the Via dei Tribunali at 
Naples. By this means he has demonstrated a surprising re- 
semblance at moments approaching identity between these 
plans, separated in time by so many centuries. 35 If they could 
rise from the dead, the subjects of Trajan or of Hadrian would 
feel they had come home when they crossed the threshold of these 
modern Roman casoni; but they might with justice complain that 
in external appearance their houses had lost rather than gained 
in the course of the ages. 

Superficially compared with its descendant of the Third Italy, 
the insula of Imperial Rome displays a more delicate taste and a 
more studied elegance, and in truth the ancient building gives the 
more modern impression. Here wood and rubble are ingeniously 
combined in its facings and there bricks are disposed with cun- 
ning skill, all harmonised with a perfection of art which has been 
forgotten among us since the Norman mansions and the castles 
of Louis XIII. Its doorways and its windows were no less numer- 
ous and often larger. Its row of shops was usually protected and 
screened with the line of a portico. In the wider streets its stories 
were relieved by a picturesque variety either of loggias (pergulae) 
resting on the porticos or of balconies (maeniana). Some were of 
wood, and the beams that once supported them may be found 
still embedded in the masonry; others were brick, sometimes 


thrown out on pendentives whose lines of horizontal impost are 
the parents of the parallel extrados, sometimes based on a series 
of cradle-vaults supported by large travertine consoles firmly em- 
bedded in the masonry of the prolonged lateral walls. 

Climbing plants clung round the pillars of the loggias and the 
railing of the balconies, while most of the windows boasted minia- 
ture gardens formed of pots of flowers such as the elder Pliny 
has described. In the most stifling corners of the great city these 
flowers assuaged somewhat the homesickness for the countryside 
which lay heavy on the humble town dweller sprung from a long 
line of peasant ancestors. 30 We know that at the end of the fourth 
century the host of a modest inn at Ostia, like that in which Saint 
Augustine set his gentle and memorable discourse with Saint 
Monica, 37 always surrounded his guest house with green and 
shady trees. The Casa dei Dipinti, considerably older still, seems 
to have been completely festooned with flowers, and the highly 
plausible reconstruction of it which MM. Calza and Gismondi 
have made suggests a garden city in every respect like the most 
attractive ones that enlightened building societies and philan- 
thropic associations are putting up today for the workmen and 
lower middle classes of our great towns. 

Unfortunately for this insula, the most luxurious of those to 
which archaeology has so far introduced us, its external appear- 
ance belied its comforts. The architects had indeed neglected 
nothing in its outward embellishment. They had paved it with tiles 
and mosaics. By long and costly processes they had clothed it with 
colours as fresh and living in their day as those of the frescoes of 
Pompeii, though now three parts obliterated. To these it owes 
the name by which learned Italians call it, Casa dei Dipinti, the 
House of Paintings. I dare not assert that it was equipped with 
laquearia enamelled on movable plaques of arbor vitae or carved 
ivory, such as wealthy upstarts like Trimalchio fixed above their 
dining-tables and worked by machinery to rain down flowers or 
perfume or tiny valuable gifts on their surprised and delighted 
guests, 38 but it is not improbable that the ceilings of the rooms 
were covered with the gilded stucco which the elder Pliny's con- 
temporaries admired. 39 Be that as it may, all this luxury had 
its price, and the most opulent of the insulae suffered from the 
fragility of their construction, the scantiness of their furniture, 
insufficient light and heat, and absence of sanitation. 






These lofty buildings were far too lightly built. While the 
domtis of Pompeii easily covered 800 to 900 square metres, the 
insulae of Ostia, though built according to the specifications 
which Hadrian laid down, were rarely granted such extensive 
foundations. As for the Roman insulae, the ground plans recov- 
erable from the cadastral survey of Septimius'Severus, who repro- 
duced them, show that they usually varied between 300 and 400 
square metres. 40 Even if there were no smaller ones (which is 
extremely unlikely) of which all trace has been buried for ever 
in the upheavals of the terrain, these figures are misleading: a 
foundation of 300 square metres is inadequate enough to carry a 
structure of 1 8 to 20 metres high, particularly when we remember 
the thickness of the flooring which separated the stories from 
each other. We need only consider the ratio of the two figures 
given to feel the danger inherent in their disproportion. The lofty 
Roman buildings possessed no base corresponding to their height 
and a collapse was all the more to be feared since the builders, 
lured by greed of gain, tended to economise more and more at the 
expense of the strength of the masonry and quality of the mate- 
rials. Vitruvius states that the law forbade a greater thickness 
for the outside walls than a foot and a half, and in order to 
economise space the other walls were not to exceed that. 41 He 
adds that, at least from the time of Augustus, it was the custom 
to correct this thinness of the walls by inserting chains of bricks 
to strengthen the concrete. He observes with smiling philosophy 
that this blend of stone-course, chains of brick and layers of con- 
crete in which the stones and pebbles were symmetrically em- 
bedded, permitted the convenient construction of buildings of 
great height and allowed the Roman people to create handsome 
dwellings for themselves with little difficulty: "populus romanus 
egregias habet sine impeditione habitationes." 

Twenty years later Vitruvius would have recanted. The ele- 
gance he so admired had been attained only at the sacrifice of 
solidity. Even after the brick technique had been perfected in 
the second century, and it had become usual to cover the entire 
facade with bricks, the city was constantly filled with the noise 
of buildings collapsing or being torn down to prevent it; and the 
tenants of an insula lived in constant expectation of its coming 


down on their heads. We may recall the savage and gloomy tirade 
of Juvenal: "Who at cool Praeneste, or at Volsinii amid its leafy 
hills, was ever afraid of his house tumbling down? . . . But here 
we inhabit a city propped up for the most part by slats : for that 
is how the landlord patches up the crack in the old wall, bidding 
the inmates sleep at ease under the ruin that hangs above their 
heads." 42 

The satirist has not exaggerated and many specific cases pro- 
vided for in the legal code, the Digest, take for granted precisely 
the precarious state of affairs which excited Juvenal's wrath. 

Suppose, for instance, that the owner of an insula has leased it for a 
sum of 30,000 sesterces to a principal tenant who by means of sub- 
letting draws from it a revenue of 40,000 sesterces, and that the owner 
presently, on the pretext that the building is about to collapse, decides 
to demolish it; the principal tenant is entitled to bring an action for 
damages. If the building was demolished of necessity, the plaintiff will 
be entitled to the refund of his rent and nothing further. On the other 
hand, if the building has been demolished only to enable the owner 
to erect a better and ultimately more remunerative building, the de- 
fendant must further pay to the principal tenant who has been com- 
pelled to evict his sub-tenants whatever sum the plaintiff has thus lost. 43 

This text is suggestive both in itself and in its implications. 
The terms in which it is couched leave no doubt as to the fre- 
quency of the practices of which it speaks, and they indicate that 
the houses of Imperial Rome were at least as fragile as the old 
American tenements which not so long ago collapsed or had to be 
demolished in New York. 

The Roman houses, moreover, caught fire as frequently as the 
houses of Stamboul under the Sultans. This was because, in the 
first place, they were unsubstantial; further, the weight of their 
floors involved the introduction of massive wooden beams, and 
the movable stoves which heated them, the candles, the smoky 
lamps, and the torches which lighted them at night 'involved per- 
petual risk of fire; and finally, as we shall see, water was issued 
to the various stories with grudging hand. All these reasons com- 
bined to increase both the number of fires and the rapidity with 
which they spread. The wealthy Crassus in the last century of 
the republic devised a scheme for increasing his immense fortune 
by exploiting these catastrophes. 44 On hearing the news of an 
outbreak, he would run to the scene of the disaster and offer pro- 


fuse sympathy to the owner, plunged in despair by the sudden 
destruction of his property. Then he would offer to buy on the 
spot at a sum far below its real value the parcel of ground, 
now nothing but a mass of smouldering ruins. Thereupon, em- 
ploying one of the teams of builders whose training he had him- 
self superintended, he erected a brand new insula, the income 
from which amply rewarded him for his capital outlay. 

Even later, under the empire, after Augustus had created a 
corps of vigiles or fire-fighting night watchmen, the tactics of 
Crassus would have been no less successful. 4r> In spite of the 
attention Trajan paid to the policing of the Urbs, outbreaks of 
fire were an everyday occurrence in Roman life. The rich man 
trembled for his mansion, and in his anxiety kept a troop of 
slaves to guard his yellow amber, his bronzes, his pillars of 
Phrygian marble, his tortoise-shell inlays. 40 The poor man was 
startled from his sleep by flames invading his attic and the terror 
of being roasted alive. 47 Dread of fire was such an obsession 
among rich and poor alike that Juvenal was prepared to quit 
Rome to escape it: u No, no, I must live where there is no fire and 
the night is free from alarms!" 48 He had hardly overstated the 
case. The jurists echo his satires, and Ulpian informs us that 
not a day passed in Imperial Rome without several outbreaks of 
fire: "plurimis uno die inccndiis cxortis." 4< * 

The scantiness of furniture at least reduced the gravity of 
each of these catastrophes. Granted that they were warned in 
time, the poor devils of the ccnacula (like that imaginary Ucale- 
gon whom Juvenal ironically saddled with the epic name of one 
of the Trojans of the Aeneid) were quickly able "to clear out 
their miserable goods and chattels." <r ' The rich had more to lo^e 
and could not, like Ucalegon, stuff all their worldly possessions 
into one bundle. Apart from their statues of marble and bronze, 
their furniture, however, was sparse enough, for wealth displayed 
itself not in the number of items but in their quality, the precious 
materials employed, and the rare shapes which bore witness to 
their owner's taste. 

In the passage of Juvenal quoted above, 51 the millionaire he 
pictures was taking precaution to save not what we nowadays 
would call "furniture/' but his curios and objcts d'art. For every 
Roman, the main item of furniture was the bed (lectus) on which 
he slept during his siesta and at night and on which he reclined 


by day to eat, read, write, or receive visitors. 52 Humble people 
made shift with a shelf of masonry built along the wall and cov- 
ered with a pallet. Those better off had handsomer and more 
elaborate couches in proportion to their means. Most beds were 
single ones (lectuli). There were double beds for married couples 
(lecti geniales); beds for three which graced the dining-room 
(triclinia) ; and those who wished to make a splash and astonish 
the neighbours had couches for six. Some were cast in bronze; 
most were simply carved in wood, either in oak or maple, tere- 
binth or arbor vitae, or it might be in those exotic woods with 
undulating grain and changing lights which reflected a thousand 
colours like a peacock's tail (lecti pavonini) . Some beds boasted 
bronze feet and a wooden frame, others again ivory feet and a 
frame of bronze. In some cases the woodwork was inlaid with 
tortoise-shell; in some the bronze was nielloed with silver and 
gold. There were even some, like Trimalchio's, of massive silver. 
Whatever its nature and style, the bed was the major piece of 
furniture alike in the aristocratic domus and in the proletarian 
insula, and in many cases it deterred the Romans from seeking 
to provide themselves with anything else. Their tables (mensae) 
had little in common with ours. 53 They never developed into 
sturdy tables with four legs those were introduced late in his- 
tory through the intermediary of Christian rites. When the em- 
pire was in its glory, the mensa was a set of little shelves in tiers, 
supported on one leg, and used to display for a visitor's admira- 
tion the most valuable treasures of the house (cartibula) . Alter- 
natively, it might be a low table of wood or bronze with three 
or four adjustable supports (trapezophores) , or a simple tripod 
whose folding metal legs usually ended in a lion's claw. As for 
seats, remains of these are not without reason more rarely 
found in the excavations than tables. The armchair with back, 
the thronus, was reserved for the divinity; the chair with a more 
or less sloping back, the cathedra, was especially popular with 
women. 54 Great ladies, whose indolence is a target for Juvenal's 
scorn, 55 would languidly repose in them, and we have literary 
record of their existence in two houses : the reception hall in the 
palace of Augustus 56 Corneille's "Be seated, Cinna" is derived 
directly from Seneca's account and in the room (cubiculum) 
where the younger Pliny invited his friends to come and talk with 
him. 67 Also they appear in literature as the distinguishing prop- 


erty of the master who is teaching in a schola or, in connection 
with religious ceremonies, as the property of the jrater arvalis 
of the official religion, 50 of the head of certain esoteric pagan 
sects, and later of the Christian presbyter. We speak with perfect 
right, therefore, of the "Chair of Saint Peter" or the "chair" of 
a university professor. 

Ordinarily the Romans were content with benches (scamna) 
or stools (subsellia) or sellae without arms or back, which they 
carried about with thenr out of doors. Even when the seat was 
the magistrate's ivory sclla curulis, or made of gold like Julius 
Caesar's, it was never more than a folding "camp stool." 60 The 
rest of the furniture, the essentials apart from beds, consisted of 
the covers, the cloths, the counterpanes, the cushions, which were 
spread over or placed on the bed, at the foot of the table, on the 
seat of the stool, and on the bench; and finally, the eating uten- 
sils and the jewellery. Silver table services were so common that 
Martial ridicules patrons who were too niggardly of their Satur- 
nalian gifts to give their clients at least five pounds (a trifle over 
three pounds avoirdupo : s) of silverware. 61 Only the very poor 
used earthenware. The rich had vessels carved by a master hand, 
sparkling with gold and set with precious stones. 02 Reading some 
of the ancient descriptions, one seems to relive a scene out of the 
Arabian Nights, set in spacious, unencumbered rooms where 
wealth is revealed only by the profusion and depth of the divans, 
the iridescence of damask, the sparkle of jewellery and of dama- 
scened copper and yet all the elements of that "comfort" to 
which the West has grown so much attached are lacking. 

Even in the most luxurious Roman house, the lighting left 
much to be desired: though the vast bay windows were capable 
of flooding it at certain hours with the light and air we moderns 
prize, at other times either both had to be excluded or the inhabit- 
ants were blinded and chilled beyond endurance. Neither in the 
Via Biberatica nor in Trajan's market nor in the Casa dei Dipinti 
at Ostia do we find any traces of mica or glass near the windows, 
therefore the windows in these places cannot have been equipped 
with the fine transparent sheets of lapis specularis with which 
rich families of the empire sometimes screened the alcove of a 
bedroom, a bathroom or garden hothouse, or even a sedan chair. 
Nor can they have been fitted with the thick, opaque panes which 
are still found in place in the skylight windows of the baths of 


Herculaneum and Pompeii, where they provided a hermetic clo- 
sure to maintain the heat without producing complete darkness. 63 
The dwellers in a Roman house must have protected themselves, 
very inadequately, with hanging cloths or skins blown by wind 
or drenched by rain; or overwell by folding shutters of one or 
two leaves which, while keeping cold and rain, midsummer heat 
or winter wind at bay, also excluded every ray of light. In quar- 
ters armed with solid shutters of this sort the occupant, were he 
an ex-consul or as well known as the ^ounger Pliny, was con- 
demned either to freeze in daylight or to be sheltered in dark- 
ness. 64 The proverb says that a door must be either open or shut. 
In the Roman insula, on the contrary, the tenant could be com- 
fortable only when the windows were neither completely open nor 
completely shut; and it is certain that in spite of their size and 
number, the Romans' windows rendered them neither the service 
nor the pleasure that ours give us. 

In the same way, the heating arrangements in the insula were 
extremely defective/ 15 As the atrium had been dispensed with, 
and the ccnacula were piled one above the other, it was impos- 
sible for the inhabitants of an insula to enjoy the luxury com- 
mon to the peasantry, of gathering round the fire lighted by the 
womenfolk in the centre of their hovels, while sparks and smoke 
escaped by the gaping hole purposely left in the roof. It would 
be a grave mistake, moreover, to imagine that the insula ever en- 
joyed the benefit of central heating with which a misuse of lan- 
guage and an error of fact have credited it. The furnace arrange- 
ments which are found in so many ruins never fulfilled this 
office. They consisted of, first, a heating apparatus (the hypo- 
causis} consisting of one or two furnaces which were stoked, 
according to the intensity of heat desired and the length of time 
it was to be maintained, with wood or charcoal, faggots or dried 
grass; second, an exit channel through which the heat, the soot, 
and the smoke penetrated indiscriminately into the adjacent 
hypocaustum; third, the heat-chamber (the hypocaustum} char- 
acterised by piles of bricks in parallel rows, between and over 
which heat, soot, and smoke circulated together; and finally the 
heated rooms resting on, or, rather, suspended above the hypo- 
caustum and known, therefore, as the suspensurae. Whether or 
not they were connected with it by the spaces within their parti- 
tion walls, the suspensurae were separated from the hypocaustum 


by a flooring formed of a bed of bricks, a layer of clay, and a 
pavement of stone or marble. This compact floor was designed to 
exclude unwelcome or injurious exhalations and to slow down the 
rise of temperature. It will be noticed that in this device the 
heated surface of the suspcnsurae was never greater than the sur- 
face of the hypocaustum and its working demanded a number of 
hypocauses equal to, if not greater than, the number of hypo- 
causta. It follows, therefore, that this system of furnaces had 
nothing to do with central heating and was not applicable to 
many-storied buildings. In ancient Italy it was never used to heat 
an entire building, unless it was one single and isolated room like 
the latrine excavated in 1929 at Rome between the Great Forum 
and the Forum of Caesar. Moreover, even in the buildings 
where such a furnace system existed, it never occupied more than 
a small fraction of the house: the bathroom in the best-equipped 
villas of Pompeii or the caldarium of the public baths. It need 
hardly be stressed that no traces of such a system have been 
found in any of the insulae known to us. 

This was not the worst. The Roman insula lacked fireplaces as 
completely as furnaces. Only a few bakeries at Pompeii had an 
oven supplied with a pipe somewhat resembling our chimney; it 
would be too much to assume that it was identical with it, for 
of the two examples that can be cited, one is broken off in such a 
way that we cannot tell where it used to come out, and the other 
was not carried up to the roof but into a drying cupboard on the 
first floor. No such ventilation shafts have been discovered in the 
villas of Pompeii or Herculaneum; still less, of course, in the 
houses of Ostia, which reproduce in every detail the plan of the 
Roman insula. We are driven to conclude that in the houses of 
the Urbs bread and cakes were cooked with a fire confined in an 
oven, other food simmered over open stoves, and the inhabitants 
themselves had no remedy against the cold but what a brazier 
could provide. 67 Many of these were portable or mounted on 
runners. Some were wrought in copper or bronze with great taste 
and skill. But the grace of this industrial art was scant compen- 
sation for the brazier's limited heating power and range. The 
haughtiest dwellings of ancient Rome were strangers alike to 
the gentle, equal warmth which the radiator spreads through pur 
rooms and to the cheerfulness of our open fires. They were 
threatened moreover by the attack of noxious fumes and not in- 


frequently by the escape of smoke which was not always pre- 
vented either by the thorough drying or even by the preliminary 
carbonisation of the fuel (ligna coctilia, acapna). 

To make matters worse, the insula was as ill supplied with 
water as with light and heat. I admit that the opposite opinion is 
generally held. People forget that the conveyance of water to the 
city at State expense was regarded as a purely public service 
from which private enterprise had been excluded from the first, 
and which continued to function under the empire for the benefit 
of the collective population wjth little regard for the needs of 
private individuals. According to Frontinus, a contemporary of 
Trajan, eight aqueducts brought 222,237,060 gallons of water a 
day to the city of Rome, 68 but very little of this immense supply 
found its way to private houses. 

In the first place, it was not until the reign of Trajan and the 
opening on June 24, 109, of the aqueduct called by his name, aqua 
Traiana, that fresh spring water was brought to the quarters on 
the right bank of the Tiber; 69 until then, the inhabitants had to 
make their wells suffice for their needs. Secondly, even on the 
left bank access to the distributory channels connected by per- 
mission of the princeps with the castella of his aqueducts was 
granted, on payment of a royalty, only to individual concession- 
aires and to ground landlords; 70 and certainly up to the beginning 
of the second century these concessions were revocable and were, 
in fact, brutally revoked by the administration on the very day 
of the death of a concessionaire. 71 Finally, and most significantly, 
it seems that these private water supplies were everywhere con- 
fined to the ground floor, the chosen residence of the capitalists 
who had their domus at the base of the apartment blocks. 

In the colony of Ostia, for instance, which, like its neighbour 
Rome, possessed an aqueduct, municipal channels, and private 
conduits, no building that has so far been excavated reveals any 
trace of rising columns which might have conveyed spring water 
to the upper stories. All ancient texts, moreover, whatever the 
period in which they were written, bear conclusive witness to the 
absence of any such installations. Under the empire, the poet 
Martial complains that his town house lacks water although it is 
situated near an aqueduct. 72 In the Satires of Juvenal the water- 
carriers (aquarii) are spoken of as the scum of the slave popula- 
tion. 73 The jurists of the first half of the third century consid- 





\face /> 


ered the water-carriers so vital to the collective life of each insula 
that they formed, as it were, a part of the building itself and, like 
the porters (ostiarii) and the sweepers (zetarii), were inherited 
with the building by the heir or legatees. 74 The praetorian prefect 
Paulus, in issuing instructions to the praefectus vigilum, did not 
forget to remind the commandant of the Roman firemen that it 
was part of his duty to warn tenants always to keep water ready 
in their rooms to check an outbreak: "ut aquam unusquisque 
inquilinus in cenaculo habeat iubetur admonere." 75 

Obviously, if the Romans of imperial times had needed only 
to turn a tap and let floods of water flow into a sink, this warning 
would have been superfluous. The mere fact that Paulus expressly 
formulated the warning proves that, with a few exceptions to 
which we shall revert later, water from the aqueducts reached 
only the ground floor of the insula. The tenants of the upper 
cenacula had to go and draw their water from the nearest foun- 
tain. The higher the flat was perched, the harder the task of 
carrying water to scrub the floors and walls of those crowded 
contignationcs. It must be confessed that the lack of plentiful 
water for washing invited the tenants of many Roman cenacula 
to allow filth to accumulate, and it was inevitable that many 
succumbed to the temptation for lack of a water system such as 
never existed save in the imagination of too optimistic archaeolo- 

Far be it from me to stint my well-deserved admiration for the 
network of sewers which conveyed the sewage of the city into 
the Tiber. The sewers of Rome were begun in the sixth century 
B.C. and continually extended and improved under the republic 
and under the empire. The cloacae were conceived, carried out, 
and kept up on so grandiose a scale that in certain places a wag- 
gon laden with hay could drive through them with ease; and 
Agrippa, who perhaps did more than any man to increase their 
efficiency and wholesomeness by diverting the overflow of the 
aqueducts into them through seven channels, had no difficulty in 
travelling their entire length by boat. 76 They were so solidly 
constructed that the mouth of the largest, as well as the oldest 
of them, the Cloaca Maxima, the central collector for all the 
others from the Forum to the foot of the Aventine, can still be 
seen opening into the river at the level of the Ponte Rotto. Its 
semicircular arch, five metres in diameter, is as perfect today as 


in the days of the kings to whom it is attributed. 77 Its patinated, 
tufa voussoirs have triumphantly defied the passage of twenty- 
five hundred years. It is a masterpiece in which the enterprise and 
patience of the Roman people collaborated with the long experi- 
ence won by the Etruscans in the drainage of their marshes; and, 
such as it has come down to us, it does honour to antiquity. But 
it cannot be denied that the ancients, though they were courageous 
enough to undertake it, and patient enough to carry it through, 
were not skilful enough to utilise it as we would have done in 
their place. They did not turn it to full account for securing a 
cleanly town or ensuring the health and decency of the inhabit- 

The system served to collect the sewage of the rcz-de-chausee 
and of the public latrines which stood directly along the route, but 
no effort was made to connect the cloacae with the private latrines 
of the separate cenacula. There are only a few houses in Pompeii 
whose upstairs latrines were so designed that they could empty 
into the sewer below, whether by a conduit connecting them with 
the sewer or by a special arrangement of pipes, and the same 
can be said of Ostia and Herculaneum. 7s But since this type of 
drainage is lacking in the most imposing insulac of Ostia as in 
those of Rome, we may abide in general by the judgment of Abbe 
Thedenat, who thirty-five years ago stated unequivocally that the 
living quarters of the insulae had never at any time been linked 
with the cloacae of the Urbs. 79 The drainage system of the Roman 
house is merely a myth begotten of the complacent imagination 
of modern times. Of all the hardships endured by the inhabitants 
of ancient Rome, the lack of domestic drainage is the one which 
would be most severely resented by the Romans of today. 

The very rich escaped the inconvenience. If they lived in their 
own domus, they had nothing to do but construct a latrine on the 
ground level. Water from the aqueducts might reach it and at 
worst, if it was too far distant from one of the sewers for the 
refuse to be swept away, the sewage could fall into a trench 
beneath. These cess trenches, like the one excavated near San 
Pietro in 1892, were neither very deep nor proof against seepage, 
and the manure merchants had acquired the right probably 
under Vespasian 80 to arrange for emptying them. If the privi- 
leged had their domus in an insula, they rented the whole of the 
ground floor and enjoyed the same advantage as in a private 


house. The poor, however, had a longer way to go. In any case 
they were forced to go outside their homes. If the trifling cost 
was not deterrent, they could pay for entry to one of the public 
latrines administered by the conductores foricarum* 1 The great 
number of these establishments, which the Regionaries attest, is 
an indication of the size of their clientele. In Trajan's Rome, as 
today in some backward villages, the immense majority of private 
people had to have .recourse to the public latrine. But the com- 
parison cannot be pushed further. The latrines of ancient Rome 
are disconcerting on two counts ; we need only recall the examples 
of Pompeii, of Timgad, of Ostia, and that already alluded to at 
Rome itself, which was heated in winter by a hypocausis: the 
jorica at the intersection of the Forum and the Forum lulium. 82 

The Roman jorica was public in the full sense of the term, like 
soldiers' latrines in war time. People met there, conversed, and 
exchanged invitations to dinner without embarrassment. 83 And 
at the same time, it was equipped with superfluities which we 
forego and decorated with a lavishness we are not wont to spend 
on such a spot. All round the semicircle or rectangle which it 
formed, water flowed continuously in little channels, in front of 
which a score or so of seats were fixed. The seats were of marble, 
and the opening was framed by sculptured brackets in the form of 
dolphins, which served both as a support and as a line of demarca- 
tion. Above the seats it was not unusual to see niches containing 
statues of gods or heroes, as on the Palatine, or an altar to For- 
tune, the goddess of health and happiness, as in Ostia; 84 and not 
infrequently the room was cheered by the gay sound of a playing 
fountain as at Timgad. 85 Let us be honest with ourselves: we are 
amazed at this mixture of delicacy and coarseness, at the solem- 
nity and grace of the decorations and the familiarity of the actors. 
It is like nothing but the fifteenth century madrasas in Fez, where 
the latrines were also designed to accommodate a crowd, and 
decorated with exquisitely delicate stucco and covered with a 
lacelike ceiling of cedar wood. Suddenly Rome where even the 
latrines of the imperial palace, as majestic and ornate as a 
sanctuary beneath its dome, contained three seats side by side 86 
Rome at once mystic and sordid, artistic and carnal, without 
embarrassment and without shame seems to join hands with the 
distant Haghrab at the epoch of the Merinids, so far removed 
from us in time and space. 


But the public latrines were not the resort of misers or of the 
very poor. These folk had no mind to enrich the conductores 
joricarum to the tune of even one as. They preferred to have 
recourse to the jars, skilfully chipped down for the purpose, 
which the fuller at the corner ranged in front of his workshop. He 
purchased permission for this from Vespasian, in consideration 
of a tax to which no odour clung, so as to secure gratis the urine 
necessary for his trade. 87 Alternatively they clattered down the 
stairs to empty their chamber pots (las ana) and their commodes 
(sellae pertusae) into the vat or dolium placed under the well of 
the staircase. 88 Or if perhaps this expedient had been forbidden 
by the landlord of their insula, they betook themselves to some 
neighbouring dungheap. For in Rome of the Caesrrs, as in a 
badly kept hamlet of today, more than one alley stank with the 
pestilential odour of a cess trench (lacus) such as those which 
Cato the Elder during his censorship paved over when he cleaned 
the cloacae and led them under the Aventine. 89 Such malodorous 
trenches were extant in the days of Cicero and Caesar; Lucretius 
mentions them in hK poem, DC rcrum natural Two hundred 
years later, in the time of Trajan, they were still there and one 
might see unnatural mothers of the Megaera type, anxious to 
rid themselves of an unwanted child, surreptitiously taking ad- 
vantage of a barbarc us law and exposing a new-born infant there; 
while matrons grieving over their barrenness would hasten no 
less secretly to snatch the baby, hoping to palm it off on a credu- 
lous husband as their own, and thus with a supposititious heir to 
still the ache in his paternal heart. 91 

There were other poor devils who found their stairs too steep 
and the road to these dung pits too long, and to save themselves 
further trouble would empty the contents of their chamber pots 
from their heights into the streets. So much the worse for the 
passer-by who happened to intercept the unwelcome gift! Fouled 
and sometimes even injured, as in Juvenal's satire, 92 he had no 
redress save to lodge a complaint against the unknown assailant; 
many passages of the Digest indicate that Roman jurists did 
not disdain to take cognisance of this offence, to refer the case to 
the judges, to track down the offender, and assess the damages 
payable to the victim. Ulpian classifies the various clues by which 
it might be possible to trace the culprit. 


If [he says] the apartment [cenaculum] is divided among several ten- 
ants, redress can be sought only against that one of them who lives in 
that part of the apartment from the level of which the liquid has been 
poured. If the tenant, however, while professing to have sub-let [cena- 
cularium exercens], has in fact retained for himself the enjoyment of 
the greater part of the apartment, he shall be held solely responsible. 
If, on the other hand, the tenant who professes to have sub-let has in 
fact retained for his own use only a modest fraction of the space, he 
and his sub-tenants shall be jointly held responsible. The same will 
hold good if the vessel or the liquid has been thrown from a balcony. 93 

But Ulpian does not exclude the culpability of an individual if 
the inquiry is able to fix the blame on one guilty person, and he 
requests the praetor to set in equity a penalty proportionate to 
the seriousness of the injury. For instance* 

When in consequence of the fall of one of these projectiles from a house, 
the body of a free man shall have suffered injury, the judge shall award 
to the victim in addition to medical fees and other expenses incurred in 
his treatment and necessary to his recovery, the total of the wages of 
which he has been or shall in future be deprived by the inability to work 
which has ensued. 94 

Wise provisions these, which might seem to have inspired our 
laws relating to accidents, but which we have failed to adopt in 
their entirety, for Ulpian ends with a notable restriction. In for- 
mulating his final paragraph he expresses with unemotional sim- 
plicity his noble conception of the dignity of man: "As for scars 
or disfigurement which may have resulted from such wounds,' no 
damages can be calculated on this count, for the body of a free 
man is without price. " 

The lofty sentiment of this phrase rises like a flower above a 
cess pit and serves to accentuate our dismayed embarrassment at 
the state of affairs of which these subtle legal analyses give a 
glimpse. Our great cities are also shadowed by misery, stained by 
the uncleanness of our slums, dishonoured by the vice they har- 
bour. But at least the disease which gnaws at them is usually 
localised and confined to certain blighted quarters, whereas we 
get the impression that slums invaded every corner of Imperial 
Rome. Almost everywhere throughout the Urbs the insulae were 
the property of owners who had no wish to be concerned directly 
in their management and who leased out the upper stories to a 
promoter for five-year terms in return for a rent at least equal 


to that of the ground-floor domus. This principal tenant who set 
himself to exploit the sub-letting of the cenacula had no bed of 
roses. He had to keep the place in repair, obtain tenants, keep the 
peace between them, and collect his quarterly payments on the 
year's rent. Not unnaturally he sought compensation for his 
worries and his risks by extorting enormous profits. Ever-rising 
rent is a subject of eternal lamentation in Roman literature. 

In 153 B.C. an exiled king had to share a flat with an artist, a 
painter, in order to make ends meet. 95 In Caesar's day the 
humblest tenant had to pay a rent of 2,000 sesterces ($80) a year. 
In the times of Domitian and of Trajan, one could have bought 
a fine estate at Sora or Frusino for the price of quarters in Rome. 96 
So intolerable was the burden of rent that the sub-tenants of the 
first lessee almost invariably had to sub-let in their turn every 
room in their cenaculum which they could possibly spare. Almost 
everywhere, the higher you went in a building, the more breath- 
less became the overcrowding, the more sordid the promiscuity. 
If the rez-de-chaussee was divided into several tabernae, they 
were filled with artisans, shopkeepers and eating-house keepers, 
like those of the insula which Petronius describes. 97 If it had been 
retained for the use of one privileged possessor, it was occupied 
by the retainers of the owner of the domus. But whatever the dis- 
position of the ground floor, the upper stories were gradually 
swamped by the mob: entire families were herded together in 
them; dust, rubbish, and filth accumulated; and finally bugs ran 
riot to such a point that one of the shady characters of Petronius' 
Satyricon, hiding under his miserable pallet, was driven to press 
his lips against the bedding which was black with them. 98 
Whether we speak of the luxurious and elegant domus or of the 
insulae caravanserais whose heterogeneous inhabitants needed 
an army of slaves and porters under the command of a servile 
steward to keep order among them the dwelling-houses of the 
Urbs were seldom ranged in order along an avenue, but jostled 
each other in a labyrinth of steep streets and lanes, all more or 
less narrow, tortuous, and dark, and the marble of the "palaces" 
shone in the obsr irity of cut-throat alleys. 


If some magic wand could have disentangled the jumble of the 
Roman streets ^nd laid them end to end, they would certainly 


have covered a distance of 60,000 passus, or approximately 89 
kilometres. So we learn from the calculations and measurements 
carried out by the censors Vespasian and Titus in 73 A.D. 99 And 
the elder Pliny, moved to pride by the contemplation of this im- 
mense extent of streets, compares with it the height of the build- 
ings they served and proclaims that there existed in all the ancient 
world no city whose size could be compared to that of Rome. 100 
The size is not to be denied, but if instead of admiring the 
imaginary and orderly perspective which Pliny plotted in a 
straight line on his parchment, we consider the actual layout of 
Roman streets, we find them forming an inextricably tangled net, 
their disadvantages immensely aggravated by the vast height of 
the buildings which shut them in. Tacitus attributes the ease and 
speed with which the terrible fire of 64 A.D. spread through 
Rome to the anarchy of these confined streets, winding and twist- 
ing as if they had been drawn haphazard between the masses of 
giant insulae. 101 This lesson was not lost on Nero; but if in re- 
building the burnt-out insulae he intended to reconstruct them 
on a more rational plan with better alignment and more space 
between, he failed on the whole to achieve his aim. 102 Down to 
the end of the empire the street system of Rome as a whole rep- 
resented an inorganic welter rather than a practical and efficient 
plan. The streets always smacked of their ancient origin and 
maintained the old distinctions which had prevailed at the time 
of their rustic development: the timer a y which were tracks only 
for men on foot, the actus, which permitted the passage of only 
one cart at a time, and finally the viae proper, which permitted 
two carts to pass each other or to drive abreast. 103 Among all the 
innumerable streets of Rome, only two inside the old Republican 
Wall could justly claim the name of via. They were the Via 
Sacra and the Via Nova, which respectively crossed and flanked 
the Forum, and the insignificance of these two thoroughfares re- 
mains a perpetual surprise. Between the gates of the innermost 
enclosure and the outskirts of the fourteen regions, not more 
than a score of others de erved the title : the roads which led out 
of Rome to Italy, the Via Appia, the Via Latina, the Via Ostien- 
sis, the Via Labicana, etc. They varied in width from 4.80 to 6.50 
metres, a proof that they had not been greatly enlarged since 
the day when the Twelve Tables had prescribed a maximum 
width of 4.80 metres. 


to that of the ground-floor domus. This principal tenant who set 
himself to exploit the sub-letting of the cenacula had no bed of 
roses. He had to keep the place in repair, obtain tenants, keep the 
peace between them, and collect his quarterly payments on the 
year's rent. Not unnaturally he sought compensation for his 
worries and his risks by extorting enormous profits. Ever-rising 
rent is a subject of eternal lamentation in Roman literature. 

In 153 B.C. an exiled king had to share a flat with an artist, a 
painter, in order to make ends meet. 95 In Caesar's day the 
humblest tenant had to pay a rent of 2,000 sesterces ($80) a year. 
In the times of Domitian and of Trajan, one could have bought 
a fine estate at Sora or Frusino for the price of quarters in Rome. 96 
So intolerable was the burden of rent that the sub-tenants of the 
first lessee almost invariably had to sub-let in their turn every 
room in their cenaculum which they could possibly spare. Almost 
everywhere, the higher you went in a building, the more breath- 
less became the overcrowding, the more sordid the promiscuity. 
If the rez-de-chauss6e was divided into several tabernae, they 
were filled with artisans, shopkeepers and eating-house keepers, 
like those of the insula which Petronius describes. 07 If it had been 
retained for the use of one privileged possessor, it was occupied 
by the retainers of the owner of the domus. But whatever the dis- 
position of the ground floor, the upper stories were gradually 
swamped by the mob: entire families were herded together in 
them; dust, rubbish, and filth accumulated; and finally bugs ran 
riot to such a point that one of the shady characters of Petronius' 
Satyricon, hiding under his miserable pallet, was driven to press 
his lips against the bedding which was black with them. 98 
Whether we speak of the luxurious and elegant domus or of the 
insulae caravanserais whose heterogeneous inhabitants needed 
an army of slaves and porters under the command of a servile 
steward to keep order among them the dwelling-houses of the 
Urbs were seldom ranged in order along an avenue, but jostled 
each other in a labyrinth of steep streets and lanes, all more or 
less narrow, tortuous, and dark, and the marble of the "palaces" 
shone in the obsc'irity of cut-throat alleys. 


If some magic wand could have disentangled the jumble of the 
Roman streets and laid them end to end, they would certainly 


have covered a distance of 60,000 passus, or approximately 89 
kilometres. So we learn from the calculations and measurements 
carried out by the censors Vespasian and Titus in 73 A.D." And 
the elder Pliny, moved to pride by the contemplation of this im- 
mense extent of streets, compares with it the height of the build- 
ings they served and proclaims that there existed in all the ancient 
world no city whose size could be compared to that of Rome. 100 
The size is not to be denied, but if instead of admiring the 
imaginary and orderly perspective which Pliny plotted in a 
straight line on his parchment, we consider the actual layout of 
Roman streets, we find them forming an inextricably tangled net, 
their disadvantages immensely aggravated by the vast height of 
the buildings which shut them in. Tacitus attributes the ease and 
speed with which the terrible fire of 64 A.D. spread through 
Rome to the anarchy of these confined streets, winding and twist- 
ing as if they had been drawn haphazard between the masses of 
giant insulae. 101 This lesson was not lost on Nero; but if in re- 
building the burnt-out insulae he intended to reconstruct them 
on a more rational plan with better alignment and more space 
between, he failed on the whole to achieve his aim. 102 Down to 
the end of the empire the street system of Rome as a whole rep- 
resented an inorganic welter rather than a practical and efficient 
plan. The streets always smacked of their ancient origin and 
maintained the old distinctions which had prevailed at the time 
of their rustic development: the itinera, which were tracks only 
for men on foot, the actus, which permitted the passage of only 
one cart at a time, and finally the viae proper, which permitted 
two carts to pass each other or to drive abreast. 108 Among all the 
innumerable streets of Rome, only two inside the old Republican 
Wall could justly claim the name of via. They were the Via 
Sacra and the Via Nova, which respectively crossed and flanked 
the Forum, and the insignificance of these two thoroughfares re- 
mains a perpetual surprise. Between the gates of the innermost 
enclosure and the outskirts of the fourteen regions, not more 
than a score of others deserved the title: the roads which led out 
of Rome to Italy, the Via Appia, the Via Latina, the Via Ostien- 
sis, the Via Labicana, etc. They varied in width from 4.80 to 6.50 
metres, a proof that they had not been greatly enlarged since 
the day when the Twelve Tables had prescribed a maximum 
width of 4.80 metres. 


The majority of the other thoroughfares, the real streets, or 
vici, scarcely attained this last figure and many fell far below it, 
being simple passages (angiportus) or tracks (semitae) which 
had to be at least 2.9 metres wide to allow for projecting bal- 
conies. 104 Their narrowness was all the more inconvenient in that 
they constantly zigzagged and on the Seven Hills rose and fell 
steeply hence the name of clivi which many of them, like the 
Clivus Capitolinus, the Clivus Argentarius, bore of good right. 
They were daily defiled by the filth and refuse of the neighbour- 
ing houses, and were neither so well kept as Caesar had decreed 
in his law, nor always furnished with the foot-paths and paving 
that he had also prescribed. 105 

Caesar's celebrated text, graven on the bronze tablet of Hera- 
clea, is worth rereading. In comminatory words he commands 
the landlords whose buildings face on a public street to clean in 
front of the doors and walls, and orders the aediles in each quar- 
ter to make good any omission by getting the work done through 
a contractor for forced labour, appointed in the usual manner of 
state contractors, at a fee fixed by preliminary bidding, which 
the delinquent will be obliged forthwith to pay. 106 The slightest 
delay in payment is to be visited by exaction of a double fee. 
The command is imperative, the punishment merciless. But in- 
genious as was the machinery for carrying it out, this procedure 
involved a delay of ten days at least which must have usually 
defeated its purpose, and it cannot be denied that gangs of sturdy 
sweepers and cleaners directly recruited and employed by the 
aediles would have disposed of the business more promptly and 
more satisfactorily. We have, however, no indication that this 
was ever done, and the idea that in this case the State should 
have taken the authority and responsibility off the shoulders of 
the private individual could not possibly have entered the head 
of any Roman, though he were gifted with the genius of a Julius 

It is my opinion that the Romans had been equally unsuccess- 
ful in extending to the whole city the sidewalks (margines, 
crepidines) or even the paving (viae stratae) with which Caesar 
in his day had dreamed of furnishing them. The archaeologists 
who differ from me in this matter cite in all seriousness the 
wide pavements of the Italian roads, forgetting that the paving 
of the Via Appia in 312 B.C. preceded by sixty-five years the 


paving on the Clivus Publicius inside the old republican city. 107 
Alternatively, they take refuge once again in the example of 
Pompeii, ignoring how treacherous is this analogy. The com- 
parison of Roman conditions with those of Pompeii is as invalid 
in the matter of vici as in the matter of insulae. If the streets 
of Imperial Rome had been as generally paved as they suppose, 
the Flavian praetor of whom Martial writes would not have 
been obliged to "walk right through the mud" in using them 
nor would Juvenal in his turn have had his legs caked with 
mud. 108 As for foot-paths, it is impossible that they lined thfe 
streets, which were becoming completely submerged under the 
rising tide of outspread merchandise until Domitian intervened 
with an edict forbidding the display of wares on the street. 
His edict is commemorated in the epigram: "Thanks to you, 
Germanicus, no pillar is now girt with chained flagons, . . . nor 
does the grimy cook-shop monopolise the public way. Barber, 
tavern-keeper, cook, and butcher keep within their own threshold. 
Now Rome exists, which so recently was one vast shop." 109 

Had the above-mentioned edict any permanent effect? We 
may be permitted to doubt it. The retreat of the hucksters may 
have been secured, or not, by day at the will of a despotic em- 
peror; it certainly took place of its own accord at night. This is 
in fact one of the characteristics which most markedly distin- 
guishes Imperial Rome from contemporary cities: when there 
was no moon its streets were plunged in impenetrable darkness. 
No oil lamps lighted them, no candles were affixed to the walls; 
no lanterns were hung over the lintel of the doors, save on festive 
occasions when Rome was resplendent with exceptional illumi- 
nations to demonstrate her collective joy, as when Cicero rid 
her of the Catilinarian plague. In normal times night fell over 
the city like the shadow of a great danger, diffused, sinister, and 
menacing. 110 Everyone fled to his home, shut himself in, and 
barricaded the entrance. The shops fell silent, safety chains were 
drawn across behind the leaves of the doors; the shutters of the 
flats were closed and the pots of flowers withdrawn from the 
windows they had adorned. 

If the rich had to sally forth, they were accompanied by 
slaves who carried torches to light and protect them on their 
way. Other folk placed no undue reliance on the night watchmen 
(sebaciarii), squads of whom, torch in hand, patrolled the sector 


too vast to be completely guarded. Each of the seven cohorts of 
vigiles was theoretically responsible for the policing of two re- 
gions. No ordinary person ventured abroad without vague ap- 
prehension and a certain reluctance. Juvenal sighs that to go 
out to supper without having made your will was to expose 
yourself to the reproach of carelessness; and if his satire goes 
too far in contending that the Rome of his day was more dan- 
gerous than the forest of Gallinaria or the Pontine marshes, we 
need only to turn the leaves of the Digest and note the passages 
which render liable to prosecution by the praefectus vigilum the 
murderers (sicarii), the housebreakers (effractores) , the foot- 
pads of every kind (raptores) who abounded in the city, 111 in 
order to admit that "many misadventures were to be feared" 
in her pitch-dark vici, where in Sulla's day Roscius of Ameria 
met his death. Not all night adventures were tragic, though the 
belated wanderer exposed himself to death or at least to the 
danger of pollution "whenever windows opened above his head 
behind which someone was not yet asleep." The least serious 
kind of mishap was that which overtook the sorry heroes of 
Petronius' story, who leaving Trimalchio's table very late and 
slightly "merry," lost their way for lack of a lantern in the 
rabbit warren of unnamed, unnumbered, unlit streets, and 
reached home barely before daybreak. 112 

All communications in the city were dominated by this con- 
trast between night and day. By day there reigned intense ani- 
mation, a breathless jostle, an infernal din. 113 The tabernae were 
crowded as soon as they opened and spread their displays into 
the street. Here barbers shaved their customers in the middle 
of the fairway. There the hawkers from Transtiberina passed 
along, bartering their packets of sulphur matches for glass 
trinkets. Elsewhere, the owner of a cook-shop, hoarse with call- 
ing to deaf ears, displayed his sausages piping hot in their 
saucepan. Schoolmasters and their pupils shouted themselves 
hoarse in the open air. On the one hand, a money-changer rang 
his coins with the image of Nero on a dirty table, on another a 
beater of gold dust pounded with his shining mallet on his well- 
worn stone. At the cross-roads a circle of idlers gaped round a 
viper tamer; everywhere tinkers' hammers resounded and the 
quavering voices of beggars invoked the name of Bellona or 


rehearsed their adventures and misfortunes to touch the hearts 
of the passers-by. The flow of pedestrians was unceasing and 
the obstacles to their progress did not prevent the stream soon 
becoming a torrent. In sun or shade a whole world of people 
came and went, shouted, squeezed, and thrust through narrow 
lanes unworthy of a country village; and fifteen centuries before 
Boileau sharpened his wit on the Embarras de Paris, the traffic 
jams of ancient Rome provided a target for the shafts of Juvenal. 
It might have been hoped that night would put an end to the 
din with fear-filled silence and sepulchral peace. Not so; it was 
merely replaced by another sort of noise. Ordinary men had by 
now sought sanctuary in their homes, but the human stream 
was, by Caesar's decree, succeeded by a procession of beasts of 
burden, carts, their drivers, and their escorts. 114 The great dic- 
tator had realised that in alleyways so steep, so narrow, and so 
traftic-ridden as the vici of Rome the circulation by day of ve- 
hicles serving the needs of a population of so many hundreds of 
thousands caused an immediate congestion and constituted a 
permanent danger. He therefore took the radical and decisive 
step which his law proclaimed. From sunrise until nearly dusk 
no transport cart was henceforward to be allowed within the 
precincts of the Urbs. Those which had entered during the night 
and had been overtaken by the dawn must halt and stand empty. 
To this inflexible rule four exceptions alone were permitted: 
on days of solemn ceremony, the chariots of the Vestals, of the 
Rex Sacrorum, and of the Flamines; on days of triumph, the 
chariots necessary to the triumphal procession; on days of public 
games, those which the official celebration required. Lastly one 
perpetual exception was made for every day of the year in 
favour of the carts of the contractors who were engaged in 
wrecking a building to reconstruct it on better and hygienic 
lines. Apart from these few clearly defined cases, no daytime 
traffic was allowed in ancient Rome except for pedestrians, horse- 
men, litters, and carrying chairs. Whether it was a pauper funeral 
setting forth at nightfall or majestic obsequies gorgeously carried 
out in full daylight, whether or not the funeral procession was 
preceded by flute-players and horn-blowers or followed by a 
long cortege of relations, friends, and hired mourners (praeficae), 
the dead, enshrined in a costly coffin (capulum) or laid on a 


hired bier (sandaptta), made their last journey to the funeral 
pyre or the tomb on a simple handbarrow borne by the vespU- 

On the other hand, the approach of night brought with it the 
legitimate commotion of wheeled carts of every sort which filled 
the city with their racket. For it must not be imagined that 
Caesar's legislation died with him and that to serve their own 
customs or convenience individuals sooner or later made his 
Draconian regulations a dead letter. The iron hand of the dic- 
tator held its sway through the centuries, and his heirs, the 
emperors, never released the Roman citizens from the restraints 
which Caesar had ruthlessly imposed on them in the interests 
of the public welfare. On the contrary, the emperors in turn 
consecrated and strengthened them. Claudius extended them to 
thcf municipalities of Italy; llfl Marcus Aurelius to every city 
of the empire without regard to its own municipal statutes; 117 
Hadrian limited the teams and the loads of the carts allowed to 
enter the city; 118 and at the end of the first century and the 
beginning of the second we find the writers of the day reflecting 
the image of a Rome still definitely governed by the decrees of 
Julius Caesar. 

According to Juvenal the incessant night traffic and the hum 
of noise condemned the Roman to everlasting insomnia. "What 
sleep is possible in a lodging?" he asks. "The crossing of wag- 
gons in the narrow, winding streets, the swearing of drovers 
brought to a standstill would snatch sleep from a sea-calf or the 
emperor Claudius himself." 119 Amid the intolerable thronging of 
the day against which the poet inveighs immediately after, we 
detect above the hurly-burly of folk on foot only the swaying of 
a Liburnian litter. The herd of people which sweeps the poet 
along proceeds on foot through a scrimmage that is constantly 
renewed. The crowd ahead impedes his hasty progress, the crowd 
behind threatens to crush his loins. One man jostles him with 
his elbow, another with a beam he is carrying, a third bangs his 
head with a wine-cask. A mighty boot tramps on his foot, a 
military nail embeds itself in his toe, and his newly mended tunic 
is torn. Then of a sudden panic ensues: a waggon appears, on 
top of which a huge log is swaying, another follows loaded with 
a whole pine tree, yet a third carrying a cargo of Ligurian 


marble. "If the axle breaks and pours its contents on the crowd, 
what will be left of their bodies?" 

Thus, under the Flavians and under Trajan, just as a century 
and a half earlier after the publication of Caesar's edict, the only 
vehicles circulating by day in Rome were the carts of the building 
contractors. The great man's law had survived its author's death, 
and this continuity is symptom of the quality which guarantees 
to Imperial Rome a unique position among the cites of all time 
and every place. With effortless ease Rome harmonised the most 
incongruous features, assimilated the most diverse forms of past 
and present, and while challenging the remotest comparisons, 
she remains essentially and for all time incomparable. We have 
seen her arrogant and fragile sky-scrapers rise to heights which 
her engineering could scarcely justify, we have seen the most 
modern refinements of extravagant luxury existing side by side 
with preposterous discomfort and mediaeval barbarity, and now 
we are faced with the disconcerting traffic problems of her streets. 
The scenes they witness seem borrowed from the suqs of an 
oriental bazaar. They are thronged by motley crowds, seething 
and noisy, such as might jostle us in the square Jama' Alfna of 
Marrakesh, and filled with a confusion that seems to us incom- 
patible with the very idea of civilisation. And suddenly in the 
twinkling of an eye they are transformed by a logical and im- 
perious decree, swiftly imposed and maintained generation after 
generation, symbol of that social discipline which among the 
Romans compensated for their lack of techniques, and which 
the West today, oppressed by a multiplicity of discoveries and 
the complexities of progress is for its salvation striving to imitate. 




T FIRST sight Roman society ap- 
pears to be divided into water-tight 
compartments and to bristle with 
barriers between class and class. All 
free-born men (ingenui), whether 
citizens of Rome or elsewhere, were 
in principle in a distinct category, 
radically separated by their superi- 
ority of birth from the mass of 
slaves who were originally without 
rights, without guarantees, without 
personality, delivered over like a herd of brute beasts to the 
discretion of their master, and like a herd of beasts treated 
rather as inanimate objects than as sentient beings (res mancipi) . 
Among the ingenui, again, there existed a profound distinction 
between the Roman citizen whom the law protected and the non- 
citizen who was merely subject to the law. Finally, Roman citi- 
zens themselves were classified and their position on this ladder 
of rank determined by their fortunes. 

Whereas under the republic there had been equality for all 
citizens before the law, in the empire of the second and third 
centuries a legal distinction arose which divided the citizen body 
into two classes: the honestiores and the humiliores, also called 
plebeii or tenuiores. 1 To the first class belonged Roman senators 
and knights with their families, soldiers and veterans with their 
children, and men who held or had held municipal offices in towns 
and cities outside of Rome, with their descendants. All other 
citizens belonged to the second, and unless wealth or ability 
brought them into public office, they remained there. 
The humiliores were subject to the most severe and humiliating 


punishments for infraction of the laws. They might be sent to 
the mines (ad metalla), thrown to the beasts in the amphitheatre, 
or crucified. The honestiores, on the other hand, enjoyed certain 
privileges. In case of grave misconduct, they were spared punish- 
ments which would tend to degrade their position in the eyes of 
the people and generally got off with banishment, relegation, or 
losing their property. 

The two highest groups among the honestiores were known as 
"orders" (ordines) and were composed respectively of senators 
and knights. The members of the lower or Equestrian Order had 
to possess a minimum of 400,000 sesterces ($i 6,000). 2 If they 
were honoured by the confidence of the emperor they were then 
qualified to be given command of his auxiliary troops or to fulfill 
a certain number of civil functions reserved for them; they could 
become domanial or fiscal procurators, or governors of secondary 
provinces like those of the Alps or Mauretania. After Hadrian's 
time they could hold various posts in the imperial cabinet, and 
after Augustus they were eligible for any of the prefectures ex- 
cept that of praejectus urbi? 

At the summit of the social scale was the Senatorial Order. 4 
A member of this order had to own at least 1,000,000 sesterces 
($40,000). The emperor could at will appoint him to command 
his legions, to act as legate or proconsul in the most important 
provinces, to administer the chief services of the city, or to hold 
the highest posts in the priesthood. 5 An ingenious hierarchy 
gradually established barriers between the different ranks of the 
privileged, and to make these demarcations more evident Hadrian 
bestowed on each variety its own exclusive title of nobility. Among 
the knights, "distinguished man" (vir egregius) served for a mere 
procurator; "very perfect man" (vir perfectissimus) for a prefect 
unless he were a praetor, who was. "most eminent" (vir emi- 
nentissimus) , a title later restored by the Roman Church for the 
benefit of her cardinals; while the epithet "most famous" (vir 
clarissimus) was reserved for the senator and his immediate rela- 
tives. 8 

This exact and rigid system, whose ingenious variations antici- 
pate the elaborate hierarchy devised by Peter the Great, is paral- 
leled by Napoleon's system of graded precedence in the army and 
the Legion of Honour. In Rome, where officers and functionaries 
came and went, it established assort of social pyramid on the 


summit of which, midway between earth and heaven, the princeps 
was poised in lonely, incomparable majesty. 

As his title indicates, the princeps ws, in one sense, only the 
First of the Senate and of the People. In another sense, however, 
this primacy implied a difference not only of degree but of nature 
between himself and the rest of humanity. For the emperor, as 
incarnation of the law and guardian of the auspices, was closer to 
the gods than to the ordinary human being, from whom he was 
separated after his accession by his sacred character of "Augus- 
tus." He was the offspring of the gods, and at death he would 
return to them after his apotheosis to be proclaimed divus him- 
self in due course. In vain Trajan repudiated with scorn Domi- 
tian's claim to be addressed by the double title of "Master and 
God" (dominus et deus). 7 He could not free himself from the 
toils of the cult which worshipped the imperial genius as repre- 
sented in his person and which bound the incongruous federation 
of cities in East and West together in the universal empire (or bis 
Romanus). He had to endure hearing his decrees publicly hailed 
as "divine" by those whose wishes they fulfilled. 

Thus Rome appears a world petrified under a theocratic aris- 
tocracy, an inflexible structure composed of innumerable separate 
compartments. On closer examination we find, however, that the 
partitions were by no means water-tight, and that powerful 
equalitarian currents never ceased to circulate, continually stirring 
up and renewing the elements of a society whose divisions were 
far from isolated. Not even the imperial house was proof against 
these currents. When the Julian family became extinct on the 
death of Nero, the principate was no longer the monopoly of one 
predestined clan or even of the city. As Tacitus expressed it, 
"The secret of empire was now disclosed that an emperor could 
be made elsewhere than at Rome." 8 

Not the blood of Caesar or of Augustus henceforth conferred 
the principate, but the loyalty of the Legions. Vespasian, legate, 
of the East, Trajan, legate of Germany, were carried to supreme 
power, the former by the acclamations of his troops, the latter 
by the fear his army inspired and the confidence he himself in- 
spired. Both rose to the divine imperial throne because they had 
first seized the power which had the empire in its gift, differing 
in this from Caligula, Claudius, or Nero, whose claims to empire 


lay in their dynasty's divinity. The legionaries who proclaimed 
Vespasian, the senators who compelled Nerva to adopt Trajan, 
the general of the Rhine frontier, had carried through a revolu- 
tion. Thenceforward, just as every corporal of Napoleon's Grand 
Army carried a. marshal's baton in his knapsack, so every army 
chief was felt at Rome to be a potential candidate for the im- 
perial crown, the attainment of which was the ultimate promo- 
tion accorded to the greatest Roman warrior. 

We need, therefore, feel no surprise that at the time when 
this new idea of merit and advancement came to be applied to 
the imperial dignity it should circulate through the whole body 
of the empire to quicken and rejuvenate. Intercommunication 
was established on every side between nations and classes, bring- 
ing fresh air among them, drawing them together, fusing them. 
In proportion as the ius gentium, that is to say, the law applying 
to foreign nations, modelled itself more and more on the ius civile 
or law of the Roman citizen, and at the same time as philosophy 
taught the ius civile to take heed of the ius naturale (natural 
law), the distance between Roman and foreigner, between the 
citizen and the peregrinus, was lessened. Whether by personal 
favour, by emancipation, or by mass naturalisations extended at 
one stroke either to a class of demobilised auxiliaries or to a 
municipality suddenly converted into an honorary colony, a new 
flood of peregrini acquired citizenship. 9 Never had the cosmo- 
politan character of the Urbs been so distinctly marked. The 
Roman proper was submerged on every social plane, not only 
by the influx of Italian immigrants but by the multitude of 
provincials bringing with them from every corner of the universe 
their speech, their manners, their customs, and their supersti- 

Juvenal inveighs against this mud-laden torrent pouring from 
the Orontes into the Tiber. 10 But the Syrians, whom he so greatly 
despised, hastened at the first possible moment to assume the 
guise of Roman civilians; even those who most loudly advertised 
their xenophobia were themselves more or less newcomers to 
Rome, seeking to defend their adopted home against fresh in- 
cursions. Juvenal himself was probably born at Aquinum. 11 In 
his house in "Pear Street" on the Quirinal, Martial sighs for 
Bilbilis, his little home in Aragon. 12 Pliny the Younger, whether 


at Rome or in his Laurentine villa or on his estates in Tuscany, 
remains faithful to his Cisalpine birthplace; distant Como, which 
his liberality embellished, was never absent from his heart. 13 

In the Senate House senators from Gaul, from Spain, from 
Africa, from Asia, sat side by side; the Roman emperors, Roman 
citizens but newly naturalised, came from towns or villages be- 
yond the mountains and the seas. 14 Trajan and Hadrian were 
born in Spanish Italica in Baetica. Their successor, Antoninus 
Pius, sprang from bourgeois Stock in Nemausus (modern Nimes) 
in Gallia Narbonensis; and the end of the second century was to 
see the empire divided between Caesar Clodius Albinus of 
Hadrumetum (Tunis) and Septimius Severus of Leptis Magna 
(Tripoli). The biography of Septimius Severus records that even 
after he had ascended the throne he never succeeded in ridding 
his speech of the Semitic accent which he had inherited from 
his Punic ancestors. 15 Thus Rome of the Antonines was a meeting 
place where the Romans of Rome encountered those inferior 
peoples against whom their laws seemed to have erected solid 
ethnic barriers, or to be more accurate Rome was a melting 
pot in which, despite her laws, the peoples were continually being 
subjected to new processes of assimilation. It was, if you will, a 
Babel, but a Babel where, for better or for worse, all comers 
learned to speak and think in Latin. 


Everyone learned to speak and think in Latin, even the slaves, 
who in the second century raised their standard of living to the 
level of the ingenui. Legislation had grown more and more humane 
and had progressively lightened their chains and favoured their 
emancipation. The practical good sense of the Romans, no less 
than the fundamental humanity instinctive in their peasant hearts, 
had always kept them from showing cruelty toward the servi. 
They had always treated their slaves with consideration, as Cato 
had treated his plough oxen; however far back we go in history 
we find the Romans spurring their slaves to effort by offering 
them pay and bonuses which accumulated to form a nest egg that 
as a rule served ultimately to buy their freedom. With few ex- 
ceptions, slavery in Rome was neither eternal nor, while it lasted, 
intolerable; but never had it been lighter or easier to escape from 
than under the Antonines* 


From the first century of the republic it had been recognised 
that the slave had a soul of his own, and the free citizens had, 
in practice, permitted him to join them in the service of whatever 
cult he preferred. At Minturnae, for instance, as early as 70 B.C., 
the sanctuary of Spes, the Goddess of Hope, had been served by 
as many slave magistri as by free and freed magistri put to- 
gether. 10 Later, as culture grew spiritually richer. and the in- 
fluence of philanthropic philosophies increased, slaves gathered in 
ever greater numbers round the altars of the gods. In the first 
century of our era epitaphs began openly to pay honour to the 
manes of dead slaves; and in the second century the mystic 
funeral collegia, such as that founded at Lanuvium in 133 under 
the double invocation of Diana and Antinoiis, brought ingenui, 
freedmen, and slaves together in brotherly communion. 17 In this 
particular case the slaves engaged, if they later gained their free- 
dom, to regale their fellow members with an amphora of wine 
on the day of their liberation. The laws naturally kept pace with 
the progress of ideas. At the beginning of the empire a certain 
Lex Petronia had forbidden a master to deliver his slave to the 
beasts of the amphitheatre without a judgment authorising him 
to do so. 18 Toward the middle of the first century an edict of 
Claudius decreed that sick or infirm slaves whom their master 
had abandoned should be manumitted; 19 and a short time after- 
wards an edict possibly drawn up by Nero under the inspiration 
of Seneca, who had vigorously championed the human rights of 
the slave, charged the praejectus urbi to receive and investigate 
complaints laid before him by slaves concerning the injustice of 
their masters. 20 In 83 under Domitian a senatus-consultum for- 
bade a master to castrate his slaves, and fixed as the penalty for 
infringement of this decree the confiscation of half the offender's 
property. 21 In the second century Hadrian had to double the 
penalty for this offence, which he declared a "capital crime," and 
he dictated to the Senate two decrees inspired by the same hu- 
manity: the first prevented masters from selling their slaves to 
either the leno or the lanista; that is, either to the procurer or to 
the trainer of gladiators; the second compelled a master who had 
condemned his slave to death to submit the sentence for the ap- 
proval of the praejectus vigilum before carrying it into execu- 
tion. 22 This humanitarian evolution culminated in the middle of 


the century when Antoninus Pius condemned as homicide any 
slaying of a slave by the sole order of his master. 28 

Altogether, at this time Roman legislation reflects rather than 
imposes the humanitarian attitude which manners and customs 
had adopted. Juvenal castigates with the lash of his satire the 
miser who "pinches the bellies of his slaves"; 24 the gambler who 
flings away a fortune on a throw of the dice and "has no shirt to 
give a shivering slave"; 25 the coquette who loses her temper, 
storms and takes out her ill humour on the unoffending backs of 
her maids. 26 The poet's indignation is but the echo of public 
opinion, which abhorred no less than he the abominable cruelties 
of that Rutilus whom Juvenal withered with his scorn. 27 In his 
day most masters, if they did not entirely abstain from corporal 
punishment of their slaves, at most visited their faults with rods 
such as Martial, without compunction, laid on his cook for a 
spoiled dinner. This did not prevent the master from caring for 
his slave and loving hijn even to the point of weeping for his 
death. 28 

In the great houses where many of the slaves were able special- 
ists and some, like the tutor, the doctor, and the reader, had en- 
joyed a liberal education, they were treated exactly like free 
men. Pliny the Younger desires his cousin Paternus to choose 
slaves for him in the .narket with discernment. 29 He watches with 
anxiety over their health, going so far as to shoulder the expense 
of long and costly trips for them to Egypt or to Frejus in the 
Provencal plain. 30 He accedes, with good grace, to their legitimate 
desires, obeying, as he says, their suggestions as if they were 
commands. 81 He relied with confidence more on their devotion 
than on his severity to stimulate their zeal when some relation 
turned up in his house, sure that they would endeavour to please 
their master by their attentions to his guest. 82 The same kindly 
attitude prevailed among Pliny's friends; they felt their slaves 
to be almost part of the family. When the old senator, Corellius 
Rufus, was ill in bed, he liked to have hisr favourite slaves with 
him in the room, and when he had to send them out in order 
to talk privately, his wife withdrew with them. 88 Pliny the 
Younger went even further, and did not disdain to discuss im- 
portant matters with his slaves; when he was in the country he 
would invite the better educated among them to join with him in 


those learned discussions which at evening brightened his after- 
dinner walks. 84 

The slaves on their side were full of consideration for masters 
such as these. Pliny the Younger was stupefied by the news of 
the attack made on the senator Larcius Macedo by a party of 
his household slaves. 85 His amazement is an index of the rarity 
of such a crime. And the care unfortunately useless lavished 
on the victim by those of his slaves who had remained faithful 
proves that even in houses where they were the most severely 
handled, slaves could feel that their masters treated them like 
men. Indeed, a Greek who lived at Rome in the middle of the 
second century was struck by the levelling which had taken place 
between slaves and freemen, which to his amazement extended 
even to their clothes. Appian of Alexandria, writing under An- 
toninus Pius, remarks that even in externals the slave is in no 
way distinguished from his master, and unless his master donned 
the toga praetexta of the magistrate, the two were dressed alike. 86 
Appian supplements this by recording a thing which astonished 
him even more: after a slave had regained his liberty he lived 
on terms of absolute equality with the Roman citizen. 

Rome, alone of all cities of antiquity, has the honour of having 
redeemed her outcasts by opening her doors to them. 87 It is true 
that the freed slave remained bound to his former master, now his 
patronus, sometimes by services due or by pecuniary indebted- 
ness, and always by the duties implied by an almost filial respect 
(obsequium). But once his emancipation or manumissio had been 
duly pronounced, whether by a fictitious statement of claim be- 
fore the praetor (per vindictam) or by the inscription of his name 
on the censors > register (censu) at the solemn sacrifice of the 
lustrum, or more commonly in virtue of a testamentary clause 
(testamento) , the slave obtained by the grace of his master, liv- 
ing or dead, the name and status of a Roman citizen. His de- 
scendants of the third generation were entitled to exercise the 
full political rights of citizenship and nothing further distin- 
guished them from ingenui. In the course of time the formalities 
of manumission were relaxed, and custom, superseding law, sub- 
stituted simpler and speedier methods of procedure for the 
manumission rites: a mere letter from the patron or a verbal 
declaration made, for instance, in the course of some festivity 


where the guests were requested to serve as witnesses. The caprice 
of fashion began to take a hand, and it seemed as if some masters 
took a pride in multiplying the number of manumitted slaves 
round them. This practice became finally so fashionable that 
Augustus, alarmed by such prodigality, made efforts to set some 
limit to its indulgence. 88 He fixed eighteen as the minimum age 
at which a master could exercise the right to free a slave, and 
thirty as the minimum age at which a slave could be manumitted. 
As regarded testamentary manumission, which was by far the 
most frequent form of legal emancipation, he laid down the rule 
that according to circumstances the number of slaves set free 
should bear a certain ratio to the total number of slaves pos- 
sessed by the deceased master, and should in any case not exceed 
a maximum of a hundred. 

He devised an inferior category of semicitizens, who were 
known as Latini luniani, to whom was granted the partial natu- 
ralisation of the lus Latiiy which, however, debarred the holder 
from making or benefiting by a will. All slaves whom their mas- 
ters had manumitted in violation of the imperial decrees or in 
any irregular fashion outside the formal legal procedure were 
flung pell-mell into the category of Latini luniani. But custom 
was stronger than the emperor's will and nullified his legislation. 
In an effort to counteract the falling birth rate, he released all 
Latini luniani who were fathers of families from the inferiority 
of second-class citizenship to which he had himself condemned 
them. Then Tiberius granted the same relaxation to former 
vigiles in order to stimulate enrolment in his cohorts; later, 
Claudius extended full rights to liberti of both sexes who em- 
ployed their capital outfitting merchant ships, Nero to those 
who invested it in building, and Trajan to those who used their 
money to set up bakeries. 89 

Ultimately all the emperors, out of love for their own freed 
slaves or those of their friends, took pains to obliterate the last 
trace of their servile origin, either by utilising the legal fiction 
of the natalium restitutio or by slipping onto their finger the 
gold ring which might open the way to the equestrian status. 
Hence in the period we are studying, the slaves who benefited by 
the ever-increasing numbers of manumissions were placed on a 
footing of complete equality with other Roman citizens, enabled 


to secure positions and fortunes and to purchase droves .of slaves 
in their turn, as we see Trimalchio doing. 

An epigraphist walking through the ruins of ancient Rome 
receives the impression that slaves and freedmen predominated 
in the life of the imperial epoch, for three times out of four they 
alone are mentioned in the inscriptions which are still to be read 
on the walls. In an article remarkable for the quantity and ac- 
curacy of its statistics, Tenney Frank points out that since in 
the majority of cases the form of a slave name betrays its owner's 
Graeco-oriental origin, it is easily proved that at least 80 
per cent of the population of Imperial Rome had been eman- 
cipated from more or less ancient servitude*. 40 At first sight 
the observer is filled with admiration for the strength which this 
constant rise seems to imply, both in a society which can unceas- 
ingly assimilate new elements and in an empire which can extend 
to the farthest horizon the area from which it draws new ele- 
ments; and he is tempted to attribute to the Rome of the An- 
tonines the free play and the deserved advantages of a perfect 


Unfortunately it is impossible not to perceive also the shadows 
which already darkened the brightness of this picture. In the 
reign of Nerva there survived in Rome only one half of the 
senatorial families which had been counted in 65 A.D., thirty- 
five years before; and thirty years later only one remained of 
the forty-five patrician families restored one hundred and sixty- 
five years before by Julius Caesar. 41 There was urgent need there- 
fore for perpetual new blood from the humbler strata of the 
population to nourish and revivify the aristocracy of the Urbs. 
But in drawing this new blood almost exclusively from the servile 
masses, Roman society and the Roman fatherland exposed them- 
selves to great dangers in the future, and in the present to in- 
evitable adulteration. 

Indeed, if the slave classes were to be called on continuously 
to fill the gaps in the classes above, they must themselves be 
continuously replenished from without. Now the wars of Trajan 
especially the second Dacian campaign, from which, according 
to his physician Crito, the emperor brought back fifty thousand 


prisoners who were promptly put up at auction were the last 
wars in which the empire was victorious without difficulty and 
without disappointment. 42 After the two peaceful reigns of his 
successors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, we reach the period of 
the semivictories of Marcus Aurelius, victories dearly bought 
after overcoming exhausting resistance, and finally the period of 
reverses and invasions which dried up the main sources of slave 
supply. We can already foresee the moment when slavery will be 
driven back on itself, owing to the scarcity of new prisoners of 
war, and will cease to be able to support the* rising column on 
which the Roman economy had depended during the preceding 
generations. Then Rome, if she is still to rule the world, must 
force it into that heartbreaking strait jacket which came to govern 
the conditions of human life under the later empire. 

This particular danger, it is true, had not yet shown itself 
under the Flavians or the earlier Antonines. There were, how- 
ever, other more immediate ones which threatened the superficial 
prosperity of their reigns. 

Inasmuch as the Caesars, under cover of legal fictions which 
had long ceased to deceive the most guileless, had seized and were 
exercising an absolute authority, their slaves and their freedmen 
took precedence of the rest of the city. 43 In theory they were still 
"inanimate property," or at best semicitizens. In practice and in 
fact they had daily access to the sacred person of their master, 
they enjoyed his confidence, and to them he delegated some of 
his far-reaching prerogatives, so that they had undisguised com- 
mand alike over nobles and plebeians. Up to the time of Claudius, 
the imperial "cabinet" was composed almost exclusively of 
slaves. 44 They received the petitions of the empire, issued in- 
structions both to provincial governors and to the magistrates 
of Rome, and elaborated jurisprudence of all the tribunals in- 
cluding the highest senatorial court. The emperors from Claudius 
to Trajan inclusive recruited their cabinet from their freedmen. 
Just as the French nobility of the seventeenth century chafed 
under the domination of "la vile bourgeoisie" of ministers and 
their clerks, so the senators of the empire with rage in their 
hearts silently bowed before the power of an ex-slave. Elevated 
at a bound to the steps of the throne, gorged with wealth and 
loaded with honours, men like Narcissus and Pallas in virtue of 
their mysterious services and sovereign power held authority in 


the emperor's name over the advancement, the property, and 
even the life of his subjects. 

Nor was this all: even if the emperor went outside the circle 
of his household and chose confidants and friends from among 
members of the two great orders of the state, these friends and 
confidants in their turn had their slaves and freedmen to whom 
they were wont to delegate the labours and the conduct of their 
business, and the aristocrats who appeared to reign under the 
emperor governed in reality, like their master, through the medium 
of their domestic staff. Thus the slaves and freedmen of the em- 
peror's court joined the slaves and freedmen of the emperor in 
the government of a city and an empire. How far their power 
and their collusion went was seen when those whom the suspicion- 
ridden despotism and insatiable cupidity of Domitian had per- 
mitted to live in the Curia resolved to save their skins by getting 
rid of him. The murder of the tyrant, desired and instigated by 
the senators, was plotted in the antechamber of his own palace 
and carried out by his "people" and the "people" of his entourage: 
the small choir boy of his sacrariwn, the Greek Parthenius, his 
chamberlain {praepositus a cubiculo), and the Greek Stephanus, 
one of the stewards of his sister Domitilla. 45 

After his death the inscription "Libertas Restituta" was indeed 
stamped on the new coins, and the patres conscripti dreamed -of 
resuscitating the republic by conferring the empire on one of the 
most self-effacing of their colleagues, the timid, sixty-year-old 
Nerva. But it is clear that this effort was nothing but a jingle of 
empty words and a parade of vain appearances. The republic, 
which is the Commonwealth of Citizens, and Liberty, who de- 
mands of her votaries a proud apprenticeship, could not be reborn 
of a conspiracy hatched by peregrini and servi, by outsiders and 
slaves; and the emperors began to see the threat to stable rule 
that lay in permitting men of such antecedents and of such a 
type to rear their heads so near the summit of the state. Hadrian 
took the initiative, which his successors respected, of reserving 
all places in his cabinet for members of the Equestrian Order. 46 
If he had wished to carry this reform through with thoroughness, 
he should, however, have gone a step further and regulated also 
the tenure of secondary posts. For in order to command obedience 
and not to fear malpractices which they were powerless to stamp 
out, the emperors and their great men preferred to continue, as 


before, to select foreign slaves to be the procurators and m- 
stitores of their administration. They imagined these men to be 
in their power, while in fact, with the extension of the frontiers 
and the elaboration of the fiscal system, they themselves fell 
more and more into the power of their slave subordinates. It 
would be unjust to deny that there were among these servi, anxious 
to earn their manumission by their zeal, and among these liberti 
who felt a gratitude for their manumission exceeding their obli- 
gations, many conscientious servants, honest stewards, faithful 
and devoted agents; and the fact that the machinery of empire 
ran as smoothly as it did during the second century was due 
perhaps less to the vigilance of its supervising engineers than to 
the professional care and skill of its mechanics. The flock, how- 
ever, was too large not to contain a proportion of black sheep: 
agents too harsh in their demands and exactions and too greedy 
of commissions and gratuities, administrators who were insolent, 
cruel, and untruthful. It was surely a fatal paradox for a govern- 
ment honestly concerned to improve its efficiency to delegate 
its functions to men born in chains and destined for slavery. 

Instead of witnessing a logical and gradual evolution which 
would have demonstrated the value of imperial institutions, the 
Romans had continually to endure the civic degradation entailed 
by this arbitrary and drastic inversion of classes and of roles. 
Both in town and country it demoralised the citizens. Juvenal was 
infuriated to see the sons of free men in the Rome of Trajan 
constrained by self-interest to pay court to the slaves of the 

"Divitis hie servo claudit latus ingenuorum 
Filius . . ," 47 

Under Commodus free citizens, as colonist volunteers, culti- 
vated the African estate of Suq al Khmis (Thursday Market), 
and were mercilessly and unjustly flogged in the emperor's name 
by the slave steward of his Saltus Burunitanus** 

In Juvenal's day and after, it indeed seemed a happier fate to 
be a rich man's slave than a poor, freeborn citizen. Nothing 
more was needed to overturn the fair structure of imperial rule; 
and this pernicious disequilibrium was aggravated now and hence- 
forward by the fact that in a society where rank was decided 
by wealth, this wealth, instead of circulating among hard-working 


families and yielding the fruits of toil and husbandry, tended 
more and more to become concentrated, through the favours of 
the emperor and by speculation, in the hands of a very few. 
While in the provinces and even in Italy there still survived a 
sturdy and numerous middle class who bore the burden of mu- 
nicipal government, the ranks of the middle class in the Urbs 
grew ever thinner, and there was nothing between the satellite 
plutocracy of the court and the mass of a plebs too poor to exist 
without the doles of an emperor and the charity of the rich, and 
too unoccupied to forego the spectacles which, under Trajan, 
were provided every second day for its amusement. 


Accurate figures are lacking, but certain comparisons in some 
degree supply the want. We saw in the first chapter that the 
number of persons receiving public assistance rose in the course 
of the second century from 150,000 to 175,000. We can without 
hesitation deduce from this that about 130,000 families, repre- 
sented by their heads, were fed at the public expense. If we ac- 
cept Martial's estimate of an average of five mouths per family, 49 
the total number must have been between 600,000 and 700,000. 
If we reckon only three persons per family, the total would be 
400,000. Directly or indirectly then, at least one-third and pos- 
sibly one-half of the population of the city lived on public char- 
ity. But we should be wrong to conclude that two-thirds or one- 
half of the population were independent of it, for the total of the 
population includes three classes already mentioned as being 
ineligible for the distributions of free grain: the soldiers of the 
garrison at the lowest computation spme 12,000 men; the 
peregrin* passing through Rome, whose numbers we cannot cal- 
culate; and finally the slaves, whose ratio to the free inhabitants 
may have been at least one to three, as was recorded for Per- 
gamum about the same period. 50 If we suppose that Trajan's 
Rome had a population of 1,200,000 souls, we may deduct 
400,000 slaves. This leaves less than 150,000 heads of Roman 
families who were sufficiently well off not to need to draw on the 
largesse of Annona. 

The numerical inferiority of the Haves to the horde of the 
Have-Nots, sufficiently distressing 1n itself, becomes positively 
terrifying when we realise the inequality of fortune within the 


ranks of the minority; the majority of what we should nowadays 
call the middle classes vegetated in semistarvation within sight 
of the almost incredible opulence of a few thousand multimil- 
lionaires. A yearly income of 20,000 sesterces ($800) was the 
"vital minimum" for a Roman citizen to exist on. This is the 
income which a ruined reprobate whom Juvenal draws in one of 
his satirical scenes craves for his own old age. 51 In another 
passage the poet, speaking on his own behalf, limits a wise man's 
desire to a fortune of 400,000 sesterces ($16,000): "If you turn 
up your nose at this sum," he says to his imaginary interlocutor, 
"take the fortune of two equites (or even three) ; if that doesn't 
satisfy your heart, neither will the riches of Croesus, nor all the 
treasures of the Persian kings!" 52 It is clear that in Juvenal's 
eyes a wise man ought to be happy with modest ease and comfort; 
clear also that modest ease presupposes a capital of 400,000 
sesterces, the property qualification for a "knight." These two 
pieces of evidence corroborate and complement each other, since 
we know beyond possibility of doubt, thanks to the researches 
of Billeter, that in the poet's day the normal interest on money 
was 5 per cent. 58 It follows that in the Rome of Trajan the 
"middle classes" began with the Equestrian Order, and unless a 
person was in a position to spend at least the 20,000 sesterces 
which this capital yielded annually, he could not maintain even 
the most modest standard of bourgeois life. Below this were the 
pauperised masses, to which the "lower middle classes" approxi- 
mated much more closely than to the wealthy capitalists with 
whom a legal fiction classed them. 

What weight could their modest little fortune of 400,000 
sesterces carry, compared with the millions and tens of millions 
that were at the disposal of the real magnates of the city? Senators 
from the provinces, whose estates and enterprises were so ex- 
tensive as to procure them a place among the "most illustrious" 
(clarissimi) and a seat in the Senate House, came to Rome not 
only to fulfil their civic functions or supervise the properties 
which they had been obliged to acquire in Italy, but first and 
foremost to render their name and the country of their origin 
illustrious by the magnificence of their Roman mansion and the 
distinction of the rank they had attained in the Urbs. Now how 
could the capitalist with 400,000 compete with them?' or with 
the equites who had reached the highest posts open to them and 


grown fat as they mounted the successive rungs of the administra- 
tive ladder, handling matters of finance and of supply? Or how 
even compete with these liberti who, in nursing the wealth of the 
emperor and his nobles, had amassed great fortunes for them- 
selves? Rome, mistress of the world, drained all its riches. Making 
due allowance for the difference of time and manners, I cannot be- 
lieve that the concentrations of capital in Rome from the princi- 
pate of Trajan onwards can have been much less than they are 
in our twentieth century among the financiers of "The City" or 
the bankers of Wall Street. 

Some Roman capitalists owned many houses in different quar- 
ters of the metropolis. Martial directed this epigram against a 
certain Maximus : 

You have a house on the Esquiline and another on the Hill of Diana; 
the Vicus Patricius boasts a roof of yours. From one you survey the 
shrine of widowed Cybele; from another the Temple of Vesta; from 
here the new, from there the ancient Temple of Jove. Tell me where I 
can call upon you or in what quarter I may look for you. The man, 
O Maximus, who is .everywhere at home is a man without a home at 
all. 54 

Like the modern financier, the Roman fruitfully employed his 
capital in large and innumerable loans. Another epigram, for in- 
stance, shows us Afer enjoying himself by totting up the number 
of his borrowers and the total of their indebtedness: "Coranus 
owes me 100,000 sesterces and Mancinus 200,000; Titius 300,- 
ooo; Albinus twice as much; Sabinus a million and Serranus an- 
other million. . . .." 55 It may be that this Afer, like Maximus, 
was only an imaginary personage; they are all the more typical 
of the plutocracy which flourished in the Rome of Martial's time. 
In their narrow circle, gleaming with the gold of all the earth, 
we may be very sure that mortgagers were not lacking, like the 
fortune-hunter Africanus with his 100,000,000 sesterces to whom 
Martial alludes. 56 No one could reckon himself rich under 20,- 
000,000. Pliny the Younger, the ex-consul and perhaps the great- 
est advocate of his day, whose will disclosed a sum closely ap- 
proaching this, contended nevertheless that he was not rich, and 
makes the statement with evident sincerity. He writes in perfect 
good faith to Calvina, whose father owed him 100,000 sesterces, 
a debt which Pliny generously cancelled, that his means were 


very limited (modicae facilitates) and that, owing to the way his 
minor estates were being worked, his income was both small and 
fluctuating, so that he had to lead a frugal existence. 57 It is true 
that a freedman like Trimalchio, whose estate Petronius esti- 
mated at 30,000,000, was better off than Pliny; 58 and the un- 
known Afer whom Martial caricatures, whose income from real 
estate alone amounted to 3,000,000, was three times as wealthy. 
Nevertheless Pliny's fortune fifty times that of an eques was 
in the same bracket as theirs, and there was really no common 
measure between it and the incomes of the "middle classes." The 
petit bourgeois was literally crushed by the great, and his sole 
consolation was to see even these enormous fortunes of the 
wealthy overborne in their turn by the incalculable riches of the 

The emperor's wealth did not consist alone in the accumulated 
riches of his family or predecessors, or in the immense latijundia 
he inherited here and there in Africa or Asia, or in the fact that 
he everywhere annexed the bulk of all partial or total confisca- 
tions decreed by the judges. Over and above all this, nothing pre- 
vented his replenishing his private purse from the resources of 
the imperial Exchequer, into which poured the taxes levied for 
the maintenance of his soldiers, and none dared to suggest an 
audit of his accounts. He could dispose at will with no need to 
render account to any man of the revenues of Egypt, which 
was a personal possession of the Crown, and he could plunge 
open hands into the booty of war. To cite one instance: Trajan 
in 1 06 pounced on the entire treasure of Decebalus and made 
speed to reorganise for his personal benefit every source of profit 
in the recent conquests. 59 He became an authentic millionaire, 
whose authority was buttressed less on the loyalty of his legions 
than on the power of unlimited action conferred by an unrivalled 
private fortune, inexhaustible and uncontrolled. Almost as great 
a gulf separated him from the plutocrats of Rome as yawned 
between them and the "middle classes," and the same disparity 
prevailed between his staff of slaves and theirs. 

At the beginning of the second century B.C. houses in the 
Urbs which could boast of more than one slave were rare. This 
is proved by the custom of adding the suffix -por (=puer) to 
the genitive of the master's name to designate a slave: Lucipor, 
the slave of Lucius; Marcipor, the slave of Marcus. In contrast, 


during the second century A.D. there existed practically no mas- 
ters of only one slave. People either bought no slave at all for 
the belly of a slave took a lot of filling or they bought and kept 
several together, which is why Juvenal in the verses already 
quoted uses the word "belly" in the plural: ". . . magno servo- 
rum venires!" 

Two slaves to carry him to the circus was the very minimum 
with which the disillusioned old reprobate whose moderation we 
have appreciated above 61 could manage to get along. But the 
average was four or five times as many. The humblest house- 
holder could not hold his head up unless he could appear with 
a train of eight slaves behind him. Martial records that the 
miser Cimber arranged for eight Syrian slaves to carry the micro- 
scopic loads of his contemptible little gifts at the Saturnalia. 62 
And according to Juvenal a litigant would have thought his case 
already lost if it had been entrusted to an advocate not accom- 
panied to the bar by a train of slaves of at least this size. 68 A 
squad of eight was usually sufficient for a petit bourgeois. The 
man of the upper .middle classes on the other hand commanded 
a battalion or more. Not to be completely swamped by the num- 
ber of their retainers, they divided them into two parties, one of 
which they employed in the Urbs and one in the country; and 
they redivided the town staff again into two, those who served 
indoors (servi atrienses) and those who served without (cursores, 
viatores). Finally, these different batches were again divided into 
tens, each decuria being distinguished by a number. Even these 
precautions were unavailing. Master and slaves ended by not 
knowing each other by sight. In the very middle of his banquet 
Trimalchio fails to know which of his slaves he is giving orders 
to: "What decuria do you belong to?" he asks the cook. "The 
fortieth," answers the slave. "Bought or born in the house?" 
"Neither," is the reply. "I was left you under Pansa's will." 
"Well, then, mind you serve this carefully, or I will have you 
degraded to the messengers' decuria"** Reading such a dialogue, 
one can easily imagine that scarcely one slave in ten among 
Trimalchio's hordes really knew his master. One gathers that 
there were at least 400 of them, but the fact that Petronius al- 
ludes only to the fortieth decuria is no proof that there were not 
many more. Pliny the Younger who, as we have seen, was at 
least poorer than Trimalchio by a matter of 10,000,000 sesterces 


had at least 500 slaves, for his will manumitted 100; and the 
law Fufia Caninia, probably passed in 2 B.C. and still in force 
in the second century A.D., expressly permitted owners of be- 
tween 100 and 500 slaves to set one-fifth free, and forbade owners 
of larger numbers to emancipate more than ioo. 65 

It is impossible to repress our amazement in the face of figures 
so .extravagant; yet it is known that in the second century they 
were often exceeded. The surprise felt by the jurist Gaius a 
century and a half after the passing of the law Fufia Caninia to 
think that it had not extended its scale of testamentary manumis- 
sion beyond ioo per 500 slaves, is a sure indication that the scale 
had no longer fitted the reality. 66 Toward the end of the first 
century A.D. under the Flavians the freedman C. Caelius Isidorus 
left 4,1 1 6 slaves, and while this figure for a private individual 
was sufficiently noteworthy to be judged worthy of mention by 
the elder Pliny, 67 there is no doubt whatever that the familiae 
serviles in the service of the great Roman capitalists often reached 
1,000, and that the emperor, infinitely more wealthy than the 
richest of them, must easily have possessed a "slave family" of 

This is the very high figure that we find in Athenaeus, 68 
and from its size it could apply only to the household of the 
princeps. We must, of course, deduct from this army of slaves 
the groups which the domus divina of the Caesars kept dispersed 
throughout the world for the collection of their taxes, the super- 
vision of their general farms, the administration of their immense 
country properties, their mines, and their quarries of marble and 
porphyry. But even on the Palatine at Rome, where modern 
research has discovered, along with the graffiti of the paeda- 
gogium, the traces of their places of punishment, 69 the imperial 
slaves must have been legion, if only to fulfil the incredible 
number of tasks which were entrusted to them, and which are 
revealed by their obituary inscriptions. 

Reading these without prejudice, the student is dumbfounded 
by the extraordinary degree of specialisation they reveal, the 
insensate luxury and the meticulous etiquette which made this 
specialisation necessary. The emperor had as many categories of 
slaves to arrange and tend his wardrobe as he had separate types 
of clothes: for his palace garments the slaves a veste privata, for 
his city clothes the a veste jorensi, for his undress military uni- 


forms the a veste castrensi, and for his full-dress parade uni- 
forms the a veste triumphal*, for the clothes he wore to the 
theatre the a veste gladiatoria. His eating utensils were polished 
by as many teams of slaves as there were kinds: the eating ves- 
sels, the drinking vessels, the silver vessels, the golden vessels, 
the vessels of rock crystal, the vessels set with precious stones. 
His jewels were entrusted to a crowd of servi or liberti ab orna- 
mentis, among whom were distinguished those in charge of his 
pins (the a fibulis) and those responsible for his pearls (the a 
margaritis). Several varieties of slaves competed over his toilet: 
the bathers (balneatores), the masseurs (aliptae), the hairdress- 
ers (ornatores), and the barbers (tons ores). The ceremonial of 
his receptions was regulated by several kinds of ushers : the velarii 
who raised the curtains to let the visitor enter, the ab admissione 
who admitted him to the presence, the nomenclatores who called 
out the name. A heterogeneous troop were employed to cook his 
food, lay his table, and serve the dishes, ranging from the stokers 
of his furnaces (fornacarii) and the simple cooks' (cod) to his 
bakers (pistores), his pastry-cooks (libarii) and his sweetmeat- 
makers (dttlciarii) , and including, apart from the majordomos 
responsible for ordering his meab (structores) , the dining-room 
attendants (triclinarii), the waiters (ministratores) who carried 
in the dishes, the servants charged with removing them again 
(analectae) , the cupbearers who offered him drink and who dif- 
fered in importance according to whether they held the flagon 
(the a lagona) or presented the cup (the a cyatho), and finally 
the tasters (praegustatores) , whose duty it was to test on them- 
selves the perfect harmlessness of his food and drink and who 
were assuredly expected to perform their task more efficiently 
than the tasters of Claudius and Britannicus. Finally, for his 
recreation, the emperor had an embarrassing variety of choice 
between the songs of his choristers (symphoniaci) , the music of 
his orchestra, the pirouettes of his dancing women (saltatrices) , 
the jests of his dwarfs (nani), of his "chatterboxes" (fatui), 
and of his buffoons (moriones). 

Even if the emperor had simple tastes, like Trajan, and hated 
ceremony and ostentation, he could not fulfil his sacred function 
in the eyes of his subjects without* the pampered splendour which 
surrounded his existence in the capital. His official activity was 
hedged in a semimythological pageantry in which the "King of 


Kings" would have felt at home. To make a straightforward al- 
though a halting comparison, the court of the Valois might have 
envied the delights, and the court of Versailles the pompous 
magnificence and the solemn ritual of the court of Imperial Rome. 
The Roman Caesar might have anticipated the Roi Soleil by 
taking for his motto the nee pluribus impar of Louis XIV. The 
mansions of the Roman magnates no doubt did their best to ape 
the emperor's palace. But they were left far behind, and vast as 
they were, and complex as was their organisation we can read 
it between the lines of the epitaphs of their freedmen and their 
slaves they gave but a feeble, small reflection. Caesar over- 
whelmed even the mightiest of his subjects, and the feeling of his 
unchallengeable superiority, of which all were conscious, helped 
to reconcile the humbler of them to the great discrepancy be- 
tween their own straitened and inferior state and the luxury of 
the dominant classes. 

For the rest, the transition between the plebs and the middle 
classes was relatively easy. Prosperity had followed on the suc- 
cessful campaigns of Trajan; his victories and Hadrian's 
diplomacy had given an impulse to commerce by opening the 
routes to the Far East; the economic liberalism of which the 
first Antonines had set an example had tempered the evils caused 
through the accumulation of lands in the same hands, and created 
independently of and when necessary in spite of the great 
landowners the right of hereditary enjoyment for those who had 
the courage to clear their own fields. All these things gave stimulus 
to business and multiplied the opportunities for industrious and 
energetic men, farmers-general or tenant-partners of the great 
estates, shipowners or bankers, wholesale or retail merchants, 
honestly to acquire a comfortable fortune. 

On the other hand the salutary changes which sovereigns at 
last worthy of their office had imposed on all branches of their 
administration, the re-establishment of a simple but vigorous 
discipline in the army, the care with which civil and military 
chiefs were chosen and promoted, coinciding with the larger 
salaries and increased pay which rewarded their services and 
preserved their independence, constituted a series of factors or 
of measures favourable to the rise and prosperity of a middle 
class of a new social standing. There was not a procurator who 
then drew less than 60,000 sesterces a year, not a centurion or a 


primipilus whose salary fell below the 20,000 to 40,000 range. 70 
The former were in a position to double or treble the equestrian 
fortune they already possessed; and the others to acquire it, as 
so many inscriptions of the second century bear witness. The man 
who best incarnates the spirit of the middle classes at this 
period, Juvenal, is in fact himself one of these ex-officers who had 
been able to make his little pile and secure himself a respectable 
position in the bosom of the Roman bourgeoisie. 

True, Juvenal sighs for the happier life which his limited means 
would have enabled him to enjoy in the country but denied to 
him in Rome. In this he is representative of his time. A man in 
his stratum of society found in fact his real home in the cities 
and provinces of Italy. In Rome people of his type were swamped 
by the superabundance of riches in which they had no share, and 
if a chain seemed to link them on the one hand to the plebs from 
which they had risen and on the other to the great magnates who 
had risen from their ranks, they were more conscious of the 
weight of the latter than the support of the former, and they lost 
all hope of shaking off the burden and rising to join the ranks 
above. The large fortunes on the plane above increased auto- 
matically or benefited from circumstances which profited the 
wealthy alone: from the exercise of the office and authority which 
they monopolised (a pro-consulate for instance brought in a 
million sesterces per annum); from the arbitrary favour of an 
emperor who might delegate his powers indefinitely to the same 
favourite; from a gust of wind on the stock exchange, where 
speculation was all the more unbridled since at Rome, the bank- 
ing house of the world, speculation was the life-blood of an 
economic system where production was losing ground day by 
day and mercantilism was invading everything. Work might still 
ensure a modest living, but no longer yielded such fortunes as 
the chance of imperial favour or a speculative gamble might be- 
stow. Middlemen and entertainers, these parasites who feed on 
multitudes, raked in millions. Martial voices his indignation to 
see advocates accepting their fees in kind and the fairest mental 
gifts cultivated without adequate reward. 

"To what master, Lupus, should you entrust your son? 
I warn you ... let him have nothing to do with the works of 
Cicero or the poems of Virgil. . . . Let him learn to be a harpist 
or a player of the flute; or if he seems dull of intellect make him 


an auctioneer (praeco) or architect." 71 In another place he ex- 
claims: "Two praetors, four tribunes, seven advocates, and ten 
poets recently approached an old father, suing for his daughter's 
hand. Without hesitation he gave the girl to Eulogus the auc- 
tioneer. Tell me, Severus, was that the act of a fool?" 72 Outside 
the city, the middle classes still found it worth while to believe 
in the value of work, but inside Rome they had lost all con- 
fidence in it. 

Let us reread the charming epigram where the "parasite" poet 
has graven what I should like to call the "Plantin sonnet" of 

Latin literature, which assuredly served Plantin as a model : 

The things that make life happier, most genial Martial, are these: 
means not acquired by labour but bequeathed; fields not unkindly, an 
ever-blazing hearth; no lawsuit, the toga seldom worn, a quiet mind; 
a free man's strength, a healthy body; frankness with tact, congenial 
friends, good-natured guests, a board plainly spread; nights not spent 
in wine but freed from cares, a wife not prudish yet pure; sleep such 
as makes the darkness brief: be content with what you are and wish no 
change; nor dread your last day nor long for it. 78 

This poem voices no cry of happiness; it utters a sigh in which 
resignation blends with content. It formulates no aspiration to- 
ward the unattainable. It places happiness in the negation of 
work, whose vanity it implies. The clouds of reality cast their 
shadow over this dreary ideal which breathes the fatigue of an 
aging world. Society, at least in Rome, was beginning to become 
fossilised. The hierarchy, still fluid in the centre, was growing 
petrified toward the summit. The regular inflow which should 
have continuously renewed it gave way too often before acci- 
dental pressure and unexpected shocks. Slowed down and diverted 
from their course, the equalitarian currents tended to exaggerate 
essential inequalities. The democratic order tottered with the 
wavering of the middle classes, who had been its firm founda- 
tion; it was crushed under the double weight of the masses, 
from whom a crazed economic system had stolen all hope of 
normal betterment, and of a corrupt bureaucracy which aggra- 
vated the absolutism of the monarch whose fabulous wealth it 
commanded and translated into acts of arbitrary omnipotence. 
Thus the brilliance of the Urbs of the second century was al- 
ready shrouded in the shadows which under the later empire 


spread from Rome over the rest of the known world, and Rome 
lacked the courage to shake herself free of the sinister gloom 
that thickened round her. To struggle with success against the 
'evils of their day, societies have need to believe in their own 
future. But Roman so^'ety, cheated of its hopes of gradual and 
'equitable progress, obsessed alternately by its own stagnation 
and by its instability, began to doubt itself just at the time when 
the conscious unity f its established families was cracked and 




N THE second century of our era 
the ancient law of the gens had 
fallen into disuse ("totum gentili- 
cium ius in desuetudinem abisse") ; 
and nothing but the memory the 
"archaeological memory" one might 
almost say remained of the prin- 
ciples on which the patriarchal 
family of ancient Rome had been 
based: relationship through the 
male line (agnatio) and the unlim- 
ited power of the pater familias. 1 

Whereas in former days the only recognised relationship was 
that created by male descent (agnatio), relationship was now 
recognised through the female line (cognatio) and extended be- 
yond legitimate marriage. 

This is clearly illustrated by the laws governing inheritance. 
According to the ancient code of the Twelve Tables, a mother had 
no right of succession to a son who had died intestate. Under 
Hadrian, the senatus consultum Tertullianum admitted her as a 
legitimate heir on the condition that she possessed the ius libero- 
rum, which rested on her having had three children (four, if she 
was a freed woman). Then, by the senatus consultum Orphitianum 
passed under Marcus Aurelius; children were entitled to in- 
herit 4rom iflfeif mother, whatever the validity of the union from 
which they sprafijg, and to take precedence of other relatives 
in-' this matter. 2 , *' 

This completed the' development which had undermined the 
ancient system of cftil inheritance, wrecking the fundamental 
conception of the Reman family and recognising instead the 


claims of "blood" in the sense in which our modern societies have 
accepted them. The Roman family is henceforth based on the 
coniunctio sanguinis, because, according to the lofty conception 
of Cicero in the De Officiis, this natural tie was the best qualified 
to bind human beings in affection and mutual goodwill: "et be- 
nevolentia devincit homines et caritate"* 

During the same period the two essential weapons of the 
patria potestas were gradually blunted: the father's absolute au- 
thority over his children, and the husband's absolute authority 
over the wife placed "in his hand" (in manum) as if she were one 
of his daughters (loco filiae). By the second century of our era 
they had disappeared completely. The pater familias had 'been 
deprived of the right of life or death over his children which had 
been granted him by the Twelve Tables and the sacred, so-called 
Royal Laws. 4 But until the beginning of the third century, when 
abandoning a child was considered the equivalent of murder, 6 he 
might expose his new-born child to perish of cold and hunger or 
be devoured by dogs on one of the public refuse dumps, unless 
it was rescued by the pity of some passer-by. 6 No doubt a poor 
man still had recourse as readily as heretofore to this haphazard 
form of legal infanticide, despite the isolated protests of Stoic 
preachers like Musonius Rufus. 7 We may assume that he con- 
tinued remorselessly to expose his bastards and his infant daugh- 
ters, since the records of Trajan's reign show the entries for 
public assistance given to young children for the same city and 
the same year as 179 legitimate children (145 boys and 34 girls) 
and only two bastards (spurii), a boy and a girl. 8 These dis- 
crepancies can best be explained by assuming that a large pro- 
portion of bastards and girl babies were victims of "exposure." 

Having'once spared the infant at its birth, however, the pater 
familias had no power afterwards to get rid of his child, either 
by selling him (mancipatio) into slavery the mancipatio was 
now tolerated only as a legal fiction for the contradictory objects 
of adoption or manumission or by putting^jjjjjfcdb^jggth. A 
father's right to slay his child was still rj 
century B.C., as is proved by the case 
complice of Catiline; but had later ffiofpfe a capital 
Before Constantine equated with parr^ 
by his- father, 10 Hadrian had punished 
a father who had slain his son in the cc 


son was guilty of having committed adultery with his father's 
second wife; 11 and the emperor Trajan had compelled another 
father, guilty only of having maltreated his son, to emancipate the 
youth forthwith, and when the boy died, did not allow the father 
to* share in his estate. 12 

Similarly, after the end of the republic, the emancipation of a 
child had entirely changed in significance and effect. In ancient 
days it was a punishment, less drastic than death or slavery, but 
nevertheless severe enough, for in breaking the ties that bound 
the child to the family, it condemned him to an exclusion from the 
family .which inevitably resulted in his being disinherited. Now, 
emancipation had become a benefit. Thanks to the praetorian 
legislation of the bonorum possessio introduced at the beginning 
of the empire, it enabled a son to acquire and administer his own 
property without being deprived of his paternal inheritance. 
Fathers were reluctant to have recourse to emancipation as long 
as it had the appearance of a punishment. But as soon as it be- 
came an advantage to the son, the cost falling only on the parent, 
fathers began to practise it as a matter of course. The laws had 
once more adapted themselves to public feeling which, condemn- 
ing the atrocious severities of the past, asked in the days of Trajan 
and of Hadrian nothing more of paternal authority than that 
natural affection with which a jurist of the third century finally 
identified it: "patria potestas in pietate debet non atrocitate con- 
sistere." 18 

This was enough completely to alter the atmosphere of the 
Roman home, and to imbue the relationship between father and 
son with a tenderness which was far removed from the coldness 
and rigorous discipline that Cato the Elder had maintained in his 
family. Reading the literature of the time, we find it full of 
examples of fathers of families whose patria potestas was be- 
trayed only in the indulgence shown to their children; and of 
children who in their father's presence behaved as they pleased, 
as though they were completely their own masters. Pliny the 
Younger, whose own marriages were childless, claims for the 
children of his friends an independence of conduct and manners 
he would certainly not have denied to his own children, because 
these things had become accepted and were for "the right sort of 
people" an element of seemly behaviour. "A father," he writes, 
"was scolding his son for somewhat excessive expenditure. . . . 


As soon as the young man had gone I said: 'Well, well, and did 
you never do anything yourself which might 'have deserved a re- 
proof from your father?' " 14 

Pliny the Younger preached a tolerance or, if the word is pre- 
ferred, a liberalism which appeals to us. But, unhappily, the Ro- 
mans failed to strike the happy mean. They were not content to 
lessen the old severity; they yielded to the impulse to become 
far too complaisant. Having given up the habit of controlling 
their children, they let the children govern them, and took pleas- 
ure in bleeding themselves white to gratify the expensive whims 
of their offspring. The result was that they were succeeded by a 
generation of idlers and wastrels like the Philomusus, whose -mis- 
adventure Martial recounts. This young man, having inherited 
his father's entire fortune, suddenly found himself much worse 
off than when he had enjoyed his generous monthly allowance: 
"Your father, Philomusus, arranged to allow you 2,000 sesterces 
a month, and every day he handed you your allowance. . . . 
Dying, he left you every penny. Your father has disinherited you, 
Philomusus!" 15 

Unfortunately, it was not only in money matters that the price 
of overindividualism had to be paid. The fine edge of character 
had been blunted in the Rome of the second century. The stern 
face of the traditional pater familias had faded out; instead we 
see on every hand the flabby face of the son of the house, the 
eternal spoiled child of society, who has grown accustomed to 
luxury and lost all sense of discipline. Worse still, we see looming 
up the sinister face of the father who for love of gain does not 
hesitate to blight the -hope of his race, and methodically to cor- 
rupt the adolescents whom it is his duty to bring up. Such was the 
case of the great advocate Regulus, the enemy and rival of Pliny 
the Younger. 16 He had yielded to every caprice of his son. He 
installed for him an aviary where parrots chattered, blackbirds 
whistled, and nightingales sang. He bought him dogs of every 
breed. He sent tc Gaul for ponies for him to ride and drive. And 
at the death of the boy's mother, whose immense fortune had 
paid for these expensive gifts, the father hastened to emancipate 
his son, so that the young man might at once enjoy the full posses- 
sion of his maternal inheritance. The youth abused it so indis- 
criminately that his foolish prodigality shortened his life. He died 
prematurely and what was left of his fortune reverted to his 


father. This is, no doubt, an extreme example, so singular and 
monstrous that Pliny is scandalised. That it should have been 
possible at all is enough. And it would not have been possible if 
the women had not been emancipated, as much or even more than 
the children, from the family solidarity which the exercise of the 
patria potestas had imposed of old; the two perished together. 


While the patria potestas of the father over his children grew 
progressively weaker, it also ceased to arm the husband against 
his wife. In the old days, three separate forms of marriage had 
placed the wife under her husband's manus: the confarreatio f or 
solemn offering by the couple of a cake of spelt (jarreus panis) 
in the presence of the Pontifex Maximus and the priest of the 
supreme god, the Flamen Dialis; the coemptio, the fictitious sale 
whereby the plebeian father "mancipated" his daughter to her 
husband; and finally the usus, whereby uninterrupted cohabita- 
tion for a year produced the same legal result between a plebeian 
man and a patrician woman. 17 It appears certain that none of 
these three forms had survived till the second century A.D. The 
usus had been the first to be given up, and it is probable that 
Augustus had formally abolished it by law. Confarreatio and 
coemptio were certainly practiced in the second century A.D., 
but seem to have been rather uncommon. Their place had been 
taken by a marriage which both in spirit and in -external form 
singularly resembles our own, and from which we may be per- 
mitted to assume that our own is derived. 

This more modern form of marriage was preceded by a be- 
trothal, which, however, carried no actual obligations. Betrothals 
were so common in the Rome of our epoch that Pliny the Younger 
reckons them among the thousand-and-one trifles which uselessly 
encumbered the days of his contemporaries. 18 It consisted of a 
reciprocal engagement entered into by the young couple with the 
consent of their fathers and in the presence of a certain number 
of relatives and friends, some of whom acted as witnesses, while 
the rest were content to make merry at the banquet which con- 
cluded the festivities. The concrete symbol of the betrothal was 
the gift to the girl from her fiancd of a number of presents, more 
or less costly, and a ring which was probably a survival of the 
arra or earnest money, a preliminary of the ancient coemptio. 19 


Whether the ring consisted of a circle of iron set in gold or a circle 
of gold, the girl immediately slipped it, in the presence of the 
guests, onto that finger on which the wedding ring is still normally 
worn. The French speak of le doigt annulaire (anularius) with 
no recollection of the reason why this finger was originally 
chosen by the Romans. Aulus Gellius has laboriously explained it: 

When the human body is cut open as the Egyptians do and when dis- 
sections, or avaiO[xat as the Greeks phrase it, are practised on it, a very 
delicate nerve is found which starts from the annular finger and travels 
to the heart. It is, therefore, thought seemly to give to this finger in 
preference to all others the honour of the ring, on account of the close 
connection which links it with the principal organ. 20 

This intimate relation established in the name of imaginary sci- 
ence between the heart and the betrothal ring he cites to em- 
phasise the solemnity of the engagement and above all the depth 
of the reciprocal affection which contemporaries associated with 
it. The voluntary and public acknowledgment of this affection was 
the essential element not only of the ceremony itself but of the 
legal reality of the Roman marriage. 

Numerous literary allusions have preserved for us the most 
minute details of the marriage ceremony. 21 On the day fixed for 
the wedding the bride, whose hair had been imprisoned the night 
before in a crimson net, put on the costume which custom dic- 
tated: a tunic without hem (tunica recta), secured round the waist 
by a girdle of wool with a double knot, the cingulum herculeum. 
Over this she wore a cloak or palla of saffron colour; on her feet 
sandals of the same shade; round her neck a metal collar. Her 
coiffure was protected by six pads of artificial hair (sent crines) 
separated by narrow bands, such as the Vestals wore during the 
whole period of their service; and over it she wore a veil of flam- 
ing orange hence called the ftammeum which modestly cov- 
ered the upper part of her face. On top of the veil was placed a 
wreath, woven simply of verbena and sweet marjoram in the time 
of Caesar and Augustus, and later of myrtle and orange blossom. 
After she was duly dressed she stood amid her own people and 
welcomed her groom, his family, and friends. Everyone then 
adjourned either to a neighbouring sanctuary, or into the atrium 
of the house to offer a sacrifice to the gods. After the animal sacri- 
fice had been consummated sometimes a ewe, rarely an ox, most 


often a pig the auspex and the witnesses played their part. The 
witnesses, probably ten in number, selected from the circles of 
the two contracting parties, played a silent role and simply affixed 
their seal to the marriage contract. The drawing up of a contract 
was not obligatory, however. The auspex, on the other hand, was 
indispensable. His untranslatable title indicated that he fulfilled 
the functions of a personal, family augur without sacerdotal in- 
vestiture and without official appointment. After examining the 
entrails, he gave his guarantee that the auspices were favourable. 
Without this, the marriage would have been disapproved by the 
gods and invalid. As soon as he had solemnly made his pronounce- 
ment amid respectful silence, the couple exchanged their mutual 
vows in his presence, in a formula which seemed to blend into one 
their wills as well as their lives: Ubi tu Gaius, ego Gaia. This con- 
cluded the marriage rite and the guests burst into congratulations 
and good wishes: Feliciterl May happiness wait upon youl 

The subsequent festivities lasted until night fell and the mo- 
ment had come to wrest the bride from her mother's embrace and 
bear her to her husband's home. The flute-players led the pro- 
cession, followed by five torch-bearers. As it marched, the cortege 
indulged in cheerful and licentious singing. As they approached 
the house, nuts were thrown to the children who had flocked 
about. These nuts had been the playthings of the groom in his 
childhood and their rattle on the pavement was a merry prophecy 
of the happiness and fertility which the future promised him. 
Three boys, whose parents must still be alive, accompanied the 
bride. One brandished the nuptial torch composed of tightly- 
twisted hawthorn twigs. The other two held the bride by the hand. 
On reaching her new home, she was lifted across the threshold, 
which was spread with white cloth and strewn with luxuriant 
greenery. Three bridesmaids entered the house behind the nova 
nupta: one of them carried her distaff and a second her spindle, 
obvious emblems of her virtue and domestic diligence. After her 
husband had offered her water and fire, the third and most hon- 
oured bridesmaid, the pronuba, led her to the nuptial couch where 
her husband invited her to recline. He then removed her palla and 
proceeded to untie the nodus herculeus of her girdle, while the 
bridal party hastened to retire with the speed and discretion which 
propriety and custom demanded. 

Except for the bleeding sacrifice and the flaming splendour of 


the bridal veil, might we not well imagine that this Roman cere- 
monial has survived till our own day, and that with trifling modi- 
fications it has formed the model for our modern weddings? As 
Monseigneur Duchesne recently remarked, with an insight all the 
more striking for being rare: "Except for the taking of the 
auspices, Christian ritual has preserved entire the Roman nuptial 
rite. Everything is there down to the bridal wreaths. . . . The 
Church is essentially conservative and in this type of ceremony 
has modified only such details as are incompatible with her teach- 
ing." 22 Reduced to fundamentals, Christian marriage consists in 
the voluntary union of two souls. Apart from the rejoicings which 
follow and even the religious service which accompanies it, the 
sacrament consists in the affirmation of intimate union made by 
the bridal couple in the presence of the priest who attends simply 
to register their vows before God. This definition equally applies 
to the Roman marriage of classic times. The kernel of the rite 
is the moment when, fortified by the approval of the gods as 
guaranteed by the auspex, Gaius and Gaia simultaneously declare 
their solemn intention to bind themselves to one another. The 
essence of the ceremony is this joint declaration; all that precedes 
or follows is a superfluous and adventitious flourish. When toward 
the end of the republic Cato of Utica took Marcia as his second 
wife, they agreed to renounce all such accompanying ceremony. 
They exchanged their vows without empty pomp and circum- 
stance. They summoned no witnesses, they invited no guests. 
They pledged themselves in silence under the auspices which 
Brutus took: 

"Pignora nulla domus; nulli coiere propinqui 
lunguntur taciti contentique auspice Bruto. 23 
(No members of the family and no kinsmen 
assembled. Their hands were joined in silence 
and they were satisfied with the presence of 
Brutus as augur.)" 

There is nobility in this conception that marriage is based on 
a union -of hearts. There is no doubt that the progress of phi- 
losophy, especially of Stoicism, which lighted the path of Cato and 
Marcia, contributed to grafting on Roman law a modern ideal so 
foreign to its primitive development, an ideal which ultimately 
overturned the traditional legal economy. 


The ancient Roman whom Gaius already speaks of as a van- 
ished type condemned woman, in view of her natural frailty to 
live in perpetual tutelage. 24 By the marriage cum manu she es- 
caped the manus of her father and his male relations only to fall 
into the manus of her husband. The marriage sine manu made her 
the ward of a so-called "legitimate guardian" who had to be 
chosen from among her male relations if the direct male line of 
her progenitors had died out. When, however, the marriage sine 
manu had completely supplanted the cum manu marriage, the 
"legitimate guardianship" which had been its inseparable accom- 
paniment began to lose its importance. By the end of the republic, 
a ward who chose to complain of the absence of her guardian 
however short that absence might have been was able to get 
another appointed for her by the praetor. 25 When, at the begin- 
ning of the empire, the marital laws which are associated with the 
name of Augustus were passed, the "legitimate guardians" were 
sacrificed to the emperor's desire to facilitate prolific marriages, 
and mothers of three children were exempted from guardian- 
ship. 26 In Hadrian's day a married woman did not need a guard- 
ian even to draft her will, and a father no more dreamed of 
forcing his daughter to marry against her will than of opposing a 
marriage on which she had set her heart, for, as the great jurist 
Salvius lulianus maintained, a marriage could not be made by 
constraint, but only by consent of the parties thereto, and the free 
consent of the girl was indispensable: "nuptiae consensu contra- 
hentium fiunt; nuptiis filiam jamilias consentire oportet" 2T 


It can be understood that this new definition of marriage revo- 
lutionised its nature. There are certain causes which inevitably 
entail certain consequences. In our own days we have seen the 
French legislator first minimise and finally abolish all obstacles 
to the triumphant wishes of a marrying couple. All remnants of 
parental authority disappeared with the parents' right to oppose 
a match desired by their children. The same phenomenon oc- 
curred in the Roman empire. Having shaken off the authority of 
her husband by adopting the marriage sine manu, the Roman 
matron was freed from the leading strings of guardianship by the 
free choice the times allowed her in contracting a union. She 


entered her husband's home of her own free will and lived in it 
as his equal. 

Contrary to general opinion which colours the conditions 
existing under the empire with memories of the early days of the 
republic and of long-lapsed republican customs it is certain that 
the Roman woman of the epoch we are studying enjoyed a dig- 
nity and an independence at least equal if not superior to those 
claimed by contemporary feminists. More than one ancient cham- 
pion of feminism under the Flavians, Musonius Rufus for one, 
had claimed for women this dignity and independence on the 
ground of the moral and intellectual equality of the two sexes. 28 
The close of the first century and the beginning of the second 
include many women of strong character, who command our 
admiration. Empresses succeeded each other on the throne who 
were not unworthy to bear at their husband's side the proud title 
of Augusta which was granted to Livia only after her husband's 
death. Plotina accompanied Trajan through the Parthian wars 
and shared alike his glories and responsibilities. When the opti- 
mus princeps lay at death's door, having only in secret appointed 
Hadrian to succeed him, it, was Plotina who interpreted and re- 
inforced his last wishes; and it was she who ensured that Hadrian 
enter in peace and without disturbance on the sovereign succession 
of the dead emperor. Sabina's character remains untouched by the 
ill-natured gossip of the Historia Augusta, which is refuted by a 
mass of inscriptions commemorating her kindnesses, and by the 
numerous statues which deified her even in her lifetime. Hadrian, 
who is wrongly supposed to have been on bad terms with her, 
carefully surrounded her with so much deference and gracious 
consideration that the ab epistolis Suetonius forfeited overnight 
his "Ministry of the Pen" for having scanted the respect due to 
her. 29 The great ladies of the aristocracy in their turn were proud 
to recall as immortal models the heroines of past evil reigns who, 
having been the trusted confidantes of their husbands, sharing 
their commands and their politics, refused to be parted from them 
in the hour of danger and chose to perish with them rather than 
leave them to fall uncomforted under the tyrant's blow. 

Under Tiberius, Sextia would not survive Aemilius Scaurus, nor 
Paxaea her Pomponius Labeo. 80 When Nero sent Seneca the fatal 
command, the philosopher's young wife Paulina opened her veins 


together with her husband; that she did not die of haemorrhage 
like him was solely because Nero heard of her attempt to commit 
suicide and sent an order to save her life at any cost; she was 
compelled to let them bandage her wrists and close the wounds. 
The record which the Annales have preserved for us of this mov- 
ing scene, the portrait they paint of the sad and bloodless face of 
the young widow who bore to her dying day the marks of the 
tragedy, express the deep emotion which the memory of this 
drama of conjugal love still inspired in the Romans of Trajan's 
day after the lapse of half a century. 81 Tacitus felt the same ad- 
miration for the loyalty of Paulina that his friend Pliny the 
Yoi^fcger felt for the courage of the elder Arria, to whom he does 
homage in the most beautiful of his letters. 

I must be pardoned for once more borrowing at length from 
Pliny's celebrated pages. 82 Arria the Elder had married the 
senator Caecina Paetus. In tragic circumstances she showed of 
what stoic devotion her love was capable. Both Paetus and his 
son were ill, and it was believed that there was no hope for either. 
The young man died. He was endowed with rare beauty and 
with a moral purity rarer still, and his parents loved him even 
more for his qualities than because he was their son. Arria pre- 
pared her son's obsequies and herself arranged the funeral so 
that her sick husband should be spared the knowledge of it. 
Returning to Paetus' room she acted as if the boy were living 
still and were better, and when the father asked news of him 
again and yet again "she would answer that he had rested well or 
had eaten with appetite." Then feeling the pent-up tears coming 
in spite of her, she slipped away and gave herself to 'her sorrow. 
When she had cried her fill she dried her eyes, repaired the rav- 
ages to her face, nd came in again to her husband, as though 
leaving every pang of bereavement on the threshold. By this 
superhuman effort of self-control Arria saved her husband's life. 

But she could not save him from the imperial vengeance when 
in 42 A.D. he was implicated in the revolt of Scribonianus, and 
was arrested before her eyes in Illyricum where she had accom- 
panied him. She begged the soldiers to take her too. "You cannot 
do less than let a consul have slaves to serve him at table, to dress 
him, and to put on his shoes. All this I will do for him myself." 
When her prayers proved vain she hired a fishing boat and in this 
frail craft followed the ship on which they carried Paetus. It was 


useless. At Rome Claudius proved adamant. Arria announced 
that she would die with her husband. At first her son-in-law 
Thrasea sought to dissuade her. "What," he said, "should you 
agree, if I were one day to die, that your daughter should perish 
with me?" Arria would not allow her stern resolution to be 
weakened. "If my daughter in her turn had lived as long with 
you and in the same happiness as I with Paetus, I should con- 
sent," she said. To cut the argument short she flung herself head- 
long against the wall and fell unconscious to the ground. When 
she came to herself she said: "I warned you that I should find 
some road to death, however difficult, if you refused to let me 
find an easy one." When the fatal hour at last arrived she drew a 
dagger from her robe and plunged it in her breast. Then, pulling 
the weapon out again, she handed it to her husband with the 
immortal words: "It does not hurt, Paetus." 

I have dwelt on these famous episojdes because they show in a 
certain type of woman of Imperial Rome one of the fairest ex- 
amples of human greatness. Thanks to such women, proud and 
free as Arria, ancient Rome, in the very years when she was about 
to receive the bloody baptism of the first Christian martyrs, scaled 
one of the loftiest moral heights humanity has conquered. Not 
only had their memory become a veritable cult in the second 
century of our era, but their example still from time to time found 
imitators. It is true that the justice of the emperors now spared 
matrons the sacrifices which the wrath of Claudius and the 
ferocity of Nero had inflicted on them; but the cruelty of daily 
life still left all too many opportunities for at least the aristocrats 
to prove that Roman woman had not degenerated. 

Pliny the Younger mentions among his own acquaintance some 
whose love for their husbands prompted them to die with them. 88 

I was sailing in a boat [he writes] on the Lake of Como, when an older 
friend called my attention to a villa . . . which projects into the 
lake. "From that room," he said, "a woman of our city once threw her- 
self and her husband." I asked \yhy. Her husband was suffering from 
an ulcer in those parts which modesty conceals. His wife begged him 
to let her see it, for no one could give him a more honest opinion wheth- 
er it was curable. She saw it, gave up hope, and tying herself to her 
husband she plunged with him into the lake. 

.No doubt such cases were exceptional, or if you prefer, these 
are extreme cases where courage was abnormally heightened and 


virtue itself began to suffer from an excess of stoicism. But side 
by side with these, how many cases were there of households 
tenderly united, of wives quite simply pure and noble! Even 
Martial gives us a portrait gallery of accomplished women. "Al- 
though sprung from tattooed Britons, " Claudia Rufina had a 
truly Latin soul. Nigrina, happier than Evadne or Alcestis, "thou 
hast earned by a sure pledge given in life that death was not 
needed to prove thy love." 34 The transparent soul of Sulpicia 
was poured out in her poems : 

She claims not as her theme the frenzy of the Colchian dame; nor does 
she recount Thyestes' dreadful feast . . . she describes pure and honest 
love. No maid was so roguish ... no ma^'d so modest. . . . Neither as 
the Thunderer's spouse, nor as Bacchus' or Apollo's mistress, were 
her Calenus taken from her, would she live. 35 

Similarly, the society which surrounded Pliny the Younger was 
filled with honour, distinction, and devotion. The wife of his old 
friend Macrinus "would have been worthy to set an example, even 
if she had lived in olden times; she has lived with her husband 
thirty-nine years without a quarrel, or a fit of sulks, in unclouded 
happiness and mutual respect." 86 Pliny himself seems to have 
tasted perfect happiness in his marriage with his third wife, 
Calpurnia. He lavishes praise on her, boasting in turn of her tact, 
her reserve, her love, her faithfulness, and the taste for literature 
which had sprung from her sympathy for him. "How full of 
solicitude is she when I am entering upon any cause ! How kindly 
does she rejoice with me when it is over!" She never wearies of 
reading and rereading him and learning him by heart. When he 
gives a public reading she attends behind a curtain, "and greedily 
overhears my praises. She sings my verses and sets them to her 
lyre with no other master but Love, the best instructor." 37 

Thus Calpurnia at her literary husband's side foreshadows the 
modern type of wife who is her husband's partner. Her collabo- 
ration is wholly free from pedantry and enhances instead of im- 
pairs the charm of her youth, the freshness of the love she feels 
for her husband and which he returns. The shortest of separa- 
tions seems to have caused actual pain to both. When Pliny had 
to go away, Calpurnia sought him in his works, caressed them, 
and put them in the places where she was accustomed to see him. 
And Pliny for his part when Calpurnia is absent takes up her 


letters again and again, as if they had but newly arrived. At night 
he sees her beloved image in waking dreams, and "his feet carry 
him of their own accord" to the room where she usually lived, 
"but not finding you there, I return with as much sorrow and dis- 
appointment as an excluded lover." ss 

Reading these affectionate letters, we are tempted to rebel 
against the pessimism of La Rochfoucauld and to deny the 
truth of his maxim that there was no such thing as a delightful 
marriage. On reflection, however, we begin to suspect that a 
trace of convention pervades these somewhat self-conscious and 
literary effusions. In Pliny's world, marriages were contracted 
rather from considerations of their suitability than from strength 
of feeling. He cannot have chosen his wife in a spirit very differ- 
ent from that in which he accepts the commission to look out 
for a suitable husband for the niece of a friend: with an eye not 
only to the physical and moral attributes of the young man, but 
also to his fortune and family connections; "for," he confesses, 
"I admit that these things certainly claim some notice: Ne id 
quidem praetereundum esse videtur" 39 What he seems most to 
have loved in Calpurnia was her admiration for his writings, and 
we soon come to the conclusion that he was readily consoled for 
the absences he complains of by the pleasure of polishing the 
phrases in which he so gracefully deplores them. For, after all, 
even when the couple were living under the same roof they were 
not together. They had, as. we should say, their separate rooms. 
Even amid the peace of his Tuscan villa, Pliny's chief delight was 
in a solitude favourable to his meditations, and it was his secretary 
(notarius), not his wife, whom he was wont to summon to his 
bedside at dawn. 40 His conjugal affection was for him a matter of 
good taste and savoir vivre, and we cannot avoid the conviction 
that, taken all round, it was gravely lacking in warmth and 

Let us revert, for instance, to the embarrassed letters which he 
wrote to Calpurnia's grandfather and aunt to tell them of the 
hopes of paternity with which Calpurnia had rejoiced him and of 
the sad event which hadi so cruelly dashed them. 41 He announces 
to Calpurnius Fabatus: 

Your concern to hear of your granddaughter's miscarriage will be pro- 
portionate, I know, to your earnest desire that we should make you a 
great-grandfather. Calpurnia, in her inexperience, did not realise her 


pregnancy, and left undone those things she should in the circumstances 
have done, and did those things she should have left undone. She has 
received a severe lesson, paying for this mistake by the utmost hazard 
of her life. 

For Calpurnia Hispulla he varies the form but not the matter of 
these strange explanations: 

Calpurnia has been in the utmost danger be it said without ill-omen! 
not through her fault but the fault of her youth. To this must be im- 
puted her miscarriage and the sad result of a pregnancy she had not 
suspected. Pray excuse this accident to your father, whose indulgence 
is always more readily forthcoming when solicited by one of your sex. 

Indeed, it is not the grandfather but we who fail to understand 
or else understand all too well how gravely Pliny was lacking in 
interest in other sides of his young wife's life, while he attended 
so carefully to her intellectual education. These letters reveal a 
coldness which shocks us and a detachment which appears un- 
natural. Such is the price paid for a liberty which merges into 
indifference and an equality which sometimes leads even the best, 
whom it should have drawn more closely together, into a sort of 
selfish torpor, while it tempts others into fads and perversions. 


Alongside the heroines of the imperial aristocracy, the irre- 
proachable wives and excellent mothers who were still found 
within its ranks, it is easy to cite "emancipated," or rather "un- 
bridled," wives, who were the various product of the new condi- 
tions of Roman marriage. Some evaded the duties of maternity 
for fear of losing their good looks; some took a pride in being 
behind their husbands in no sphere of activity, and vied with 
them in tests of strength which their sex would have seemed to 
forbid; some were not content to live their lives by their husband's 
side, but carried on another life without him at the price of 
betrayals and surrenders for which they did not even trouble to 

Whether because of voluntary birth control, or because of the 
impoverishment of the stock, many Roman marriages at the end 
of the first and the beginning of the second century were child- 
less. The example of childlessness began at the top. The bachelor 
emperor Nerva, chosen perhaps for his very celibacy, was sue- 


ceeded by Trajan and then by Hadrian, both of whom were 
married but had no legitimate issue. In spite of three successive 
marriages, a consul like Pliny the Younger produced no heir, and 
his fortune was divided at his death between pious foundations 
and his servants. The petite bourgeoisie was doubtless equally 
unprolific. It has certainly left epitaphs by the thousand where 
the deceased is mourned by his freedmen without mention of 
children. Martial seriously holds Claudia Rufina up to the ad- 
miration of his readers because she had three children; 42 and we 
may consider as an exceptional case the matron of his acquaint- 
ance who had presented her husband with five sons and five 
daughters. 48 

If the Roman women showed reluctance to perform their ma- 
ternal functions, they devoted themselves on the other hand, 
with a zeal that smacked of defiance, to all sorts of pursuits which 
in the days of the republic men had jealously reserved for them- 
selves. In his sixth satire Juvenal sketches for the amusement of 
his readers a series of portraits, not entirely caricatures, which 
show women quitting their embroidery, their reading, their song, 
and their lyre, to put their enthusiasm into an attempt to rival 
men, if not to outclass them in every sphere. There are some who 
plunge passionately into the study of legal suits or current 
politics, eager for news of the entire world, greedy for the gossip 
of the town and for the intrigues of the court, well-informed about 
the latest happening in -Thrace or China, weighing the gravity 
of the dangers threatening the king of Armenia or of Parthia; 
with noisy effrontery they expound their theories and their plans 
to generals clad in field uniform (the paludamentum) while their 
husbands silently look on. 44 There are others who seek literary 
fame in preference to the conspiracies of diplomats or exercises 
in strategy; inexhaustibly voluble, they affect a ridiculous ped- 
antry in Greek and Latin, and even at table confound their 
interlocutors by the accuracy of their memory and the dogmatism 
of their opinions. "Most intolerable of all is the woman who . . . 
pardons the dying Dido and pits the poets against each other, 
putting Virgil in the one scale and Homer in the other." There 
is no appeal against her presumption. "The grammarians make 
way before her; the rhetoricians give in; the whole crowd is 
silenced." 45 Pliny the Younger would certainly have fallen under 
the spell of woman's erudition, if we remember the praise he be- 


stows on Calpurnia and the enthusiasm he expresses for the edu- 
cation and good taste of the wife of Pompeius Saturninus, whose 
letters were so beautifully phrased that they might pass for 
prose versions of Plautus or Terence. 48 Juvenal, on the other hand, 
like Moliere's good Chrysale, could not endure these "learned 
women." He compares their chatter to the clashing of pots and 
bells; he abhors these "prtcieuses" who reel off the Grammar of 
Palaemon, "who observe all the rules and laws of language," and 
adjures his friend: "Let not the wife of your bosom possess a 
style of her own. . . . Let her not know all history; let there be 
some things in her reading which she does not understand." 47 

So much for the intellectuals. But the outdoor types arouse 
even more ridicule than the blue stockings. If Juvenal were alive 
today he would be pretty sure to shower abuse on women drivers 
and pilots. He is unsparing of his sarcasm for the ladies who join 
in men's hunting parties, and like Mevia, "with spear in hand 
and breasts exposed, take to pig-sticking/' and for those who 
attend chariot races in men's clothes, and especially for those 
who devote themselves to fencing and wrestling. 48 He contemptu- 
ously recalls the ceroma which they affect and the complicated 
equipment they put on the cloaks, the armguards, the thigh- 
pieces, the baldrics and plumes.. "Who has not seen one of them 
smiting a stump, piercing it through and through with a foil, 
lunging at it with a shield and going through all the proper mo- 
tions? . . . Unless indeed she is nursing some further ambition in 
her bosom and is practising for the real arena." Some, perhaps, 
who today admire so many gallant female "records" will shrug 
their shoulders and accuse Juvenal of poor sportsmanship and 
narrow-mindedness. We must at least concede that the scandal of 
his times justified the fears which he expressed in this grave 
query: "What modesty can you expect in a woman who wears a 
helmet, abjures her own sex, and delights in feats of strength?" 
The feminism which triumphed in imperial times brought more 
in its train than advantage and superiority. By copying men too 
closely the Roman woman succeeded more rapidly in emulating 
man's vices than in acquiring his strength. 

For three hundred years women had reclined with their hus- 
band at the banquets. After they became his rival in the palaestra, 
they naturally adopted the regimen of an athlete and held their 
own with him at table, as they disputed the palm with him in the 


arena. Thus other women, who had not the excuse of sport, also 
adopted the habit of eating and drinking as if they took daily 
exercise. Petrohius shows us Fortunata, the stout mistress of 
Trimalchio, gorged with food and wine, her tongue furred, her 
memory confused, her eyes bleared with drunkenness. 49 The great 
ladies or the women who posed as such on the strength of their 
money-bags whom Juvenal satirizes, unashamedly displayed a 
disgusting gluttony. One of them prolongs her drinking bouts till 
the middle of the night and "eats giant oysters, pours foaming 
unguents into her unmixed Falernian . . . and drinks out of 
perfume bowls, while the roof spins dizzily round and every light 
shows double." Another, still more degraded, arrives late at the 
cena, her face on fire, 

and with thirst enough to drink off the vessel containing full three gal- 
lons which is laid at her feet and from which she tosses off a couple of 
pints before her dinner to create a raging appetite; then she brings it 
all up again and souses the floor with the washings of her insides. . . . 
She drinks and vomits like a big snake that has tumbled into a vat. 
The sickened husband closes his eyes, and so keeps down his bile. 51 

No doubt such cases were repulsive exceptions. But it is bad 
enough that satire should be able to draw such types and expect 
readers to recognise them. Moreover, it is evident that the inde- 
pendence which women at this time enjoyed frequently degen- 
erated into licence, and that the looseness of their morals tended 
to dissolve family ties. "She lives with him as if she were only a 
neighbour : Vivit tamguam vicina mariti." 52 

Before long women began to betray the troth which they should 
have plighted to their husband, and which many of them in 
marrying had had the cynicism to refuse him. "To live your own 
life" was a formula which women had already brought into 
fashion in the second century. "We agreed long ago," says the 
lady, "that you were to go your way and I mine. You may con- 
found sea and sky with your bellowing, I am a human being after 

Ut faceres tu quod vettes nee non ego possem 
Indulgere mihi. Clames licet et mare caelo 
Conjundas! Homo sum!"** 

Not only the Epigrams of Martial and the Satires of Juvenal 
bear witness to the prevalence of adultery. In the chaste cor- 


respondence of Pliny the Younger a whole letter is dedicated to 
relating the ups and downs of a case which came before Trajan in 
his capacity as supreme commander-in-chief of the army. A 
centurion was convicted of having seduced the wife of one of his 
superior officers, a senatorial tribune in the same legion as him- 
self. What amazes Pliny is certainly not the adultery itself, but 
the unusual set of circumstances which surrounded it: the flagrant 
breach of discipline it involved, which entailed the immediate 
"breaking and banishing" of the centurion; the reluctance of the 
tribune to vindicate his honour by demanding the condemnation 
which his wife deserved and which the emperor was officially 
bound to pronounce. 54 

It is obvious that unhappy marriages must have been innumer- 
able in a city where Juvenal as a matter of course adjures a guest 
whom he has invited to dinner to forget at his table the anxieties 
which have haunted him all day, especially those caused by the 
carryings on of his wife, who "is wont to go forth at dawn and to 
come home at night with crumpled hair and flushed face and 
ears." B5 

A hundred years before, Augustus had in vain tried stern 
measures against adulterers by passing a law which deprived them 
of half their fortune and forbade them marriage with each other 
for all time. 56 From a modern point of view this marked a distinct 
advance on the ancient law. In the time of Cato the Censor, for 
instance, a woman's adultery was recognised as a crime which her 
outraged husband was entitled to punish with death, but the man's 
adultery was considered negligible, and he got off scot free as if 
he were innocent. 57 The imperial legislation was both more hu- 
mane, since it annulled the husband's right to take justice so 
cruelly into his own hand, and more equitable, since it dealt out 
equal punishment to both sexes. But the fact that the new law 
submitted the offence to a special court is an indication of the 
frequency with which adultery was committed, and we may be 
very sure that the law did little to curb it. By the end of the first 
century the Lex lulia de adulteriis had been very nearly for- 
gotten. Before applying it, Domitian was obliged solemnly to 
re-enact its provisions. Martial outdoes himself in sycophantic 
praise of the "Greatest of Censors and Prince of Princes" who had 
passed this edict, which if we are to believe him Rome prized 
above triumphs, temples, spectacles, and cities: "Yet more Rome 


owes thee, in that she is chaste (Plus debet tibi Roma quod pudica 

But it seems that when Domitian was gone his edict mouldered 
along with the Lex lulia under the dust of the archives and the 
indifference of the judges. A few years later Juvenal ventures to 
scoff at Domitian as "the adulterer," who "after lately defiling 
himself by a union of the tragic style, revived the stern laws that 
were to be a terror to all men, ay even to Mars and Venus." 59 
And two generations after Juvenal, Domitian's law had fallen into 
so much discredit that Septimius Severus had to recast Domitian's 
work, as Domitian had endeavoured to recast that of Augustus. 60 
To be frank, if the frequency of adultery had diminished in the 
second century, this was not due to the intermittent severities of 
the law but because facilities for divorce had, as it were, legiti- 
mised adultery by anticipation. 


Classic Rome loved to recur in thought to the legendary days 
of old where she could see an ideal image of herself, an image 
which every day became less and less like the reality. But even 
in those times the Roman marriage had never been indissoluble. 61 
In the marriage cum manu of the first centuries of Rome, the 
woman placed under the man's authority could in no wise repudi- 
ate her husband, while on the other hand the husband's right to 
repudiate his wife was inherent in the absolute power which he 
possessed over her. In the interest, no doubt, of the stability of 
the family, custom had, however, introduced some modifications 
into the application of this principle ; and until the third century 
B.C. as we see by specific examples which tradition has pre- 
served this repudiation was in fact confined to cases in which 
some blame attached to the wife. A council held by the husband's 
family then solemnly condemned her. The Twelve Tables have 
probably handed down a scrap of the formula of this collective 
sentence which permitted a husband to demand from his wife the 
surrender of the keys that had been entrusted to her as mistress of 
the house from which she was now to be ejected without appeal: 
claves ademit, exegit* 2 In 307 B.C. the censors deprived a senator 
of his dignities because he had dismissed his wife without first 
having sought the judgment of his domestic tribunal. 63 A century 
later, about 236 B.C., the senator Sp. Carvilius Ruga was still 


In passing these laws Augustus was prompted by the same 
impulse that had made him withdraw from the husband's admin- 
istration any part of the dowry which was invested in land in 
Italy. In both cases his concern was to safeguard a woman's 
dowry the unfailing bait for a suitor so as to secure for her 
the chance of a second marriage. It turned out, however, as he 
ought to have foreseen, that his measures, comformable though 
they were to his population policy and socially unexceptionable, 
hastened the ruin of family feeling among the Romans. The fear 
of losing a dowry was calculated to make a man cleave to the wife 
whom he had married in the hope of acquiring it, but nothing 
very noble was likely to spring from calculations so contemptible. 
In the long run avarice prolonged the wealthy wife's enslavement 
of her husband. As Horace puts it: 

". . . dotata regit virum 
coniunx" 75 

While progressively lowering the dignity of marriage, this legis- 
lation succeeded in preserving its cohesion only up to the point 
where a husband, weary of his wife, felt sure of capturing, without 
undue delay, another more handsomely endowed. In these circum- 
stances, the vaunted laws of Augustus must bear part of the 
responsibility for the fact, which need surprise no one, that 
throughout the first two centuries of the empire Latin literature 
shows us a great many households either temporarily bound to- 
gether by financial interest or broken up sometimes in spite of, 
sometimes for the sake of, money. 

Thus the Roman matron, mistress of her own property in virtue 
of her sine manu status, was certain, thanks to the Julian laws, of 
recovering the bulk if not the whole of her dowry. Her husband 
was not free to administer it in Italy without her consent, nor to 
mortgage it anywhere even with her acquiescence. 76 Duly primed 
by her steward, who assisted her with advice and surrounded her 
with obsequious attention this "curled spark" of a procurator 
whom we see under Domitian always "clinging to the side" of 
Marianus' wife 7T the wealthy lady dispatched her business, 
made her dispositions, and issued her orders. As Juvenal predicts: 
"No present will you ever make if your wife forbids; nothing will 
you ever sell if she objects; nothing will you buy without her con- 
sent." 78 The satirist contends that there is nothing on earth more 


intolerable than a rich woman: "intolerabilius nihil est quam 
femina dives"; while Martial for his part explains that he could 
not endure to marry a~ wealthy woman and be stifled under a 
bridal veil by taking a husband to him instead of a wife: 

"Uxorem quare locupletem ducere nolim 
quaeritis? Uxori nubere nolo meae" 80 

Prisoner not of his affections but of a dowry, the husband if 
his sovereign lady did not give him his conge herself sooner or 
later escaped from one gilded cage into another. In the city as at 
the court the ephemeral households of Rome were perpetually 
being disrupted, or rather were continually dissolving to recrystal- 
Use and dissolve again till age and death finally overtook them. 
The freedman whom Augustus' law charged with the duty of con- 
veying the written order of divorce had never suffered so little 
from unemployment. Juvenal does not fail to leave us a picture of 
this busybody fussing on his errand: "Let three wrinkles show 
themselves on Bibula's face," and her loving Sartorius will betake 
himself in haste to other loves. "Then will his freedman give her 
the order: Tack up your traps and be off! You've become a 
nuisance ... be off and be quick about it!' " 81 In such a case 
the outraged wife had no redress; there was nothing for her to do 
but to obey the order which the poet slightly paraphrases. Gaius 
has preserved the legal formula for us: "Tuas res tibi agito (take 
your belongings away! )." 82 She took care to take with her noth- 
ing that strictly belonged to her husband, whose right to his own 
goods she recognised in the parting formula she used to him: 
"Keep your belongings to yourself! (tuas res tibi habeto)" 

We must not imagine that it was always the man who took the 
initiative in these matters. Women in their turn discarded their 
husbands and abandoned them without scruple after having ruled 
them with a rod of iron. Juvenal points the finger of scorn at one 
of these: "Thus does she lord it over her husband. But before 
long she vacates her kingdom; she flits from one home to another 
wearing out her bridal veil. . . . Thus does the tale of her hus- 
bands grow; there will be eight of them in the course of five 
autumns a fact worthy of commemoration on her tomb!" 88 
Martial's Telesilla was another such. Thirty days, or perhaps less, 
after Domitipn had revived the Julian laws, "she is now marrying 
her tenth husband ... by a more straightforward prostitute I 


am offended less." 84 In vain the Caesars now tried setting an 
example of monogamy to their subjects. But instead of following 
in the steps of Trajan and Plotina, Hadrian and Sabina, An- 
toninus and Faustina, imperial couples faithful to each other for 
life, the Romans preferred to ape the preceding emperors, all of 
whom, even Augustus, had been several times divorced. 

Divorces were so common that as we learn from the jurists 
of the time a series of them not infrequently led to the fair lady 
and her dowry returning, after many intermediate stages, to her 
original bridal bed. 85 The very reasons which today would doubly 
bind an affectionate woman to her husband's side his age or 
illness, his departure for the front were cynically advanced by 
the Roman matron as reasons for deserting him. 86 It is an even 
graver symptom of the general demoralisation that these things 
had ceased to shock a public opinion grown sophisticated and 
inhuman. Thus in the Rome of the Antonines Seneca's words were 
cruelly just: "No woman need blush to break off her marriage 
since the most illustrious ladies have adopted the practice of 
reckoning the year not by the names of the consuls but by those 
of their husbands. They divorce in order to re-marry. They marry 
in order to divorce: exeunt matrimonii causa, nubunt repudii" 8T 

How far removed from the inspiring picture of the Roman 
family in the heroic days of the republic! The unassailable rock 
has cracked and crumbled away on every side. Then, the woman 
was strictly subjected to the authority of her lord and master; 
now, she is his equal, his rival, if not his imperatrix** Then, hus- 
band and wife had all things in common; now, their property is 
almost entirely separate. Then, she took pride in her own fertility; 
now, she fears it. Then, she was faithful; now, she is capricious 
and depraved. Divorces then were rare; now they follow so close 
on each other's heels that, as Martial says, marriage has become 
merely a form of legalised adultery. "She who marries so often 
does not marry; she is an adultress by form of law: Quae nubit 
Miens, non nubit: adutiera lege est." B9 



PART from legislation, other causes 
contributed to hasten this decad- 
ence or rather to determine this re- 
versal of family values. Some were 
economic, and derived from the 
baleful influence of wealth ill-gotten 
and even worse distributed, about 
which we have already spoken. 
Some were social, and had their 
origin in the poisonous virus which 
slavery injects into a free popula- 
tion. Finally and above all, there were moral causes resulting from 
the spiritual disorders of a cosmopolis where crude indifference 
and gross superstition reigned together, both alike hampering the 
upward flight of new mystic theologies. 

After the first quarter of the second century, rendered illustrious 
by the victories of Trajan, men and women captives in thousands 
from Dacia, Arabia, and the distant shores of Tigris and Eu- 
phrates flooded the markets and the mansions of the Urbs. The 
drawbacks inseparable from overabundance of slaves were forth- 
with intensified. The society of Imperial Rome supplied yet an- 
other proof of the natural law that in every time and clime where 
it has been largely practised, slavery degrades and besmirches 
marriage if it does not wholly stamp it out. Even when he was not 
debauched, the wealthy Roman looked askance at a life in which 
every day he would have to contend or reckon with the wishes of a 
legitimate wife, and he often preferred the cosy concubinage which 
Augustus had recognised as a licit though inferior union, to which 
public opinion attached not the slightest stigma and in which even 
the imperial sage, Marcus Aurelius,"was presently to take refuge 


from the loneliness of widowhood. 1 He would, therefore, expressly 
manumit a favorite slave woman, convinced that the obsequium 
due from a freedman or woman to the patronus would keep her 
faithful and obedient, and knowing, further, that if children should 
bless their relationship he could wipe out all stain of bastardy by 
the simple process of adopting them. Or he might even omit the 
formality of the manumission, lest it weaken his authority. The 
host of epitaphs in which a husband and his liberta wife reserve 
access to their tomb not to their children but to their freedmen 
raises the suspicion that unless the marriage had been without 
issue these inferior wives had preferred for their offspring a 
simple manumission arranged for in their will to a formal act of 
regular adoption. Thus we find many of the best families of the 
city infected with an actual hybridisation, similar to that which 
has more recently contaminated other slave-owning peoples; and 
this strongly accentuated the national and social decomposition 
that had set in everywhere as a consequence of the multitude of 
slave emancipations. 

Where such things occurred, the better Romans at least saved 
their face by preserving a minimum of external decency in their 
conduct. But not a few thought even the light fetters of regular 
concubinage too rigid and too weighty. Preoccupied solely with 
their own ease and pleasure, as indifferent to the duties of their 
position as to the dignity of the honours they enjoyed, they held it 
preferable to rule as pashas over the slave harems which their 
riches permitted them to maintain. When the ex-praetor Larcius 
Macedo, one of the Younger Pliny's colleagues in the Senate, was 
assassinated by a group of discontented slaves, the whole swarm 
of his odalisques was seen rushing up to the body, howling with 
grief: "concubinae cum ululatu et clamore concurrunt" 2 

It was not long before the presence of slaves introduced a seri- 
ously disturbing element into even legitimate households. Martial 
launches many a dart at home-keeping adulterers. He mocks the 
master who buys back the maidservant mistress he cannot bear 
to do without; 8 he makes merry over the great lady who has lost 
her heart to her hairdresser and having set him free pours an 
equestrian fortune into his lap; 4 he attributes Manilla's many off- 
spring not to her husband Cinna but to Cinna's cook, his bailiff, 
his baker, his flutist, even to his wrestler, and to his buffoon. 5 No 
doubt these epigrams are aimed at the most crying scandals of the 


town. But the theme would have been less popular if scandals had 
been rarer, and the literature of the time gives us the impression 
that there must have been many Roman houses where the abusive 
dialogue which Martial's couplet presupposes might have taken 
place: "Your wife calls you an admirer of servant maids, and she 
herself is an admirer of litter bearers. You are a pair, Alauda: 

Ancillariolum tua te vocat uxor et ipse 
Lecticariola est. Estis, Alauda, pares"* 

It is obvious that the abuses of slavery had introduced laxity of 
morals even into the houses where supplementary love affairs were 
taboo. The proximity of concubinage in even the best houses, and 
the atmosphere of licentiousness and irresponsibility created by so 
many slave liaisons on every side, had done more than the prosti- 
tution of the "she-wolves" who stood around the circus and 
haunted the suburban roads at night, lurking behind the tombs, 7 to 
degrade marriage, until husband and wife in their turn considered 
it only a fleeting anodyne. To resist this contagion, the Romans 
would have needed an ideal such as apart from a few powerful 
individual personalities, a few philosophic schools, and a few sects 
of genuine believers their intelligence, weakened by a culture too 
elementary, too superficial, and too purely verbal, was no longer 
capable of conceiving or their feeble faith capable of realising. 


In the austere days of the republic, Cato the Censor claimed 
that he alone had the right to educate his son and boasted that he 
had himself taught the boy to read, write, fence, and swim. 8 This 
accords with Pliny's statement that in the past every parent was 
his child's teacher; 9 and although' the father alone is expressly 
mentioned, we know from other sources of the important part 
played by certain Roman matrons in the education of their chil- 
dren. The outstanding example was, of course, Cornelia, the 
mother of the Gracchi, but in this connection we also hear of 
Aurelia, the mother of Caesar, and Ada, the mother of Augustus. 10 
Under the empire, however, we meet a far different set of circum- 

In the first place, people of wealth and position were very little 
inclined to bother personally with their children's education. 
Women were left to a complete and fatal idleness. The weaker 


ones found their lack of occupation an incitement to or an excuse 
for licentious excesses. The better ones tried to combat their 
boredom by artificial enthusiasms, as we have seen, or passed the 
time in the amusements and gossip of the "clubs." u Some killed 
time at home, like old Ummidia Quadratilla who, till she died at 
eighty, had spent every day when there were no public spectacles 
to go to shifting about the men on a chess-board or watching the 
dumb show of the mimes with whom she had filled her house. 12 

A nurse, often Greek, was assigned to look after the child dur- 
ing its early years. 13 As Quintilian tells us, it was the ideal of 
the philosopher Chrysippus that she should be a philosopher. 14 
Quintilian himself, more practical in his approach, stresseid that 
she should speak correctly, since the child's first words will be 
in imitation of her speech. 15 The alphabet and simple reading 
were usually learned at home. In some cases this instruction 
seems to have been confided to the paedagogus, a slave who served 
as tutor, guardian, and servant of the child put in his care. 
Quintilian demanded that the paedagogus be well educated, or 
failing that, that he recognize his own limitations. 16 Equipped 
with the ability to read, the child was ready for school, although 
we know of families in which the education was continued in the 
home until the preparation for rhetorical studies had been com- 
pleted. 17 

The spoiled son of a wealthy family had a splendid time 
putting his so-called "master" in his place, the place suited to a 
servant, whether he called himself a tutor or not. Already in the 
Bacchides Plautus portrays a precocious adolescent called Pisto- 
clerus who, in order to drag his tutor Lydus with him to his light 
of love, needs only to remind him sharply of his servile state: 
"Look here," he says, "am I your slave or are you mine?" 18 To 
such a question there was only one answer and as Gaston Bois- 
sier points out we need not imagine that Lydus was the only 
tutor in Rome to whom it was frequently addressed. 19 

Instruction in the elementary school, the Indus litter arius, was 
limited to three subjects: reading, writing, and arithmetic. The 
teacher (magister) had to depend entirely on the small fees paid 
him by the parents of his pupils and was often constrained to 
supplement his income as schoolmaster by other activities. 20 
Though the State, in the person of the emperor, became increas- 
ingly interested in the support of distinguished teachers and schol- 


ars in the higher realms of learning, there is no evidence of any 
public contribution to elementary education during the classical 

The Roman schoolmaster does not seem to have spoiled many 
children by sparing the rod. 21 Naturally discipline had to be pre- 
served when boys and girls were crowded together in one incon- 
venient spot without distinction of age or sex. But Quintilian 
noted the hypocrisy and cowardice which an abuse of corporal 
punishment was apt to call forth in the pupil and spoke also of the 
brutal teacher. 

Pain and fear [he sadly testifies] drive children into doing things which 
they cannot confess, and which soon cover them with shame. It is even 
worse where no one has taken the trouble to investigate the morals of 
the teachers and masters. I dare not speak of the abominable infamies 
to which men can be degraded by their right to inflict corporal pun- 
ishment, nor of the assaults, for very fear of which the unfortunate 
children may sometimes provoke further assaults; I will have been 
sufficiently understood: nimium est quod intellegitur. . . .** 

The primary school of Rome might thus debauch the children 
it was supposed to instruct; and on the other hand it rarely awoke 
in them any feeling for the beauty of knowledge. School opened 
at dawn and continued without a break till noon. It was held 
under the awning outside some shop, and invaded by all the 
noises of the street from which only a screen of tent cloth sep- 
arated it. Its scanty furniture consisted of a chair for the master 
and benches or stools for the pupils, a blackboard, some tablets, 
and some calculating boards (abaci). Classes were continued 
every day of the year with exasperating monotony, broken only 
by the eighth-day pause (nundinae), the Quinquatrus, and the 
summer holidays. The master's sole ambition was to teach his 
pupils to read, write, and count; as he had several years at his 
disposal in which to accomplish this, he made no attempt to im- 
prove his wretched teaching methods or to brighten his dismal 
routine. Thus, he taught his hearers the names and the order of 
the letters before showing them their form a method which 
Quintilian strongly condemns and when the pupils had painfully 
learned to recognise the written characters by their appearance, 
they had to make a fresh effort to combine them into words and 
syllables. 28 They progressed as slowly as .they liked, and when 
they passed on to writing they came up against a similar irra- 


tional and backward procedure. Without any preliminary train- 
ing in holding or using a reed pen, they were suddenly faced with 
a pattern to copy. Their fingers had to be held by the master or 
guided by someone else to trace the outline of the letters placed 
before them, so that innumerable lessons were necessary before 
they acquired the necessary skill to make the simple copy for 
themselves. 24 The study of arithmetic required no more mental 
effort on their part and brought them no more pleasure than the 
process of learning to write. They spent hours counting the units, 
one, two, on the fingers of their right hand, and three, jour on the 
fingers of their left, after which they set about calculating- the 
tens, hundreds, and thousands by pushing little counters or cal- 
culi along the corresponding lines of their abacus. 

It is known that the emperors of the second century, Hadrian 
in particular, favoured the extension of primary schools in the 
most distant provinces of the empire, and that by offering tax 
immunity they encouraged willing schoolmasters to set up schools 
in out-of-the-way villages, in a mining district like Vipasca in 
Lusitania, for example. 25 Undoubtedly the complaints of Quin- 
tilian were listened to in some quarters, and the example of cer- 
tain illustrious teachers of good family proved contagious. Hero- 
des Atticus had secured such a tutor for his son, a man who 
tried to make learning easier for his pupil by devising a pro- 
cession of slaves, each of whom carried on his back an immense 
placard bearing in giant size one of the twenty-four letters of the 
Latin alphabet. 26 But for one master who made an effort to get 
out of the rut, how many remained impenitently stuck in it! How 
many of the ludi litterarii which multiplied in the second century 
completely failed in the educative mission which they were sup- 
posed to discharge toward the children of the citizens. On the 
whole we are compelled to admit that at the most glorious period 
of the empire the schools entirely failed to fulfil the duties which 
we expect of our schools today. They undermined instead of 
strengthened the children's morals; they mishandled the children's 
bodies instead of developing them; and. if they succeeded in 
furnishing their minds with a certain amount of information, 
they were not calculated to perform any loftier or nobler task. 
The pupils left school with the heavy luggage of a few practical 
and commonplace notions laboriously acquired and of so little 
value that in the fourth century Vegetius could not take for 


granted that new recruits for the army would be literate enough 
to keep the books of their corps. 27 Instead of happy memories, 
serious and fruitful ideas, any sort of intellectual curiosity vital to 
later life, school children carried away the gloomy recollection of 
years wasted in senseless, stumbling repetitions punctuated by 
savage punishments. Popular education then in Rome was a fail- 
ure; if there was any real Roman education we must not look 
for it among the elementary teachers, but among the grammarians 
and orators who to a certain extent provided the aristocracy and 
the middle classes of Imperial Rome with some equivalent of 
our secondary and higher education. 


To listen to the initiated, swollen with pride in their knowledge 
and eloquence, we might imagine that the formalist teaching of 
the Roman grammarian attained perfection and led straight to 
the sovereign good. One of these fine speakers, Apuleius of 
Madaura, writing at the end of the second century, says: 

At a banquet the first cup is for thirst, the second for joy, the third for 
sensual delight, and the fourth for folly. At the feasts of the Muses on 
the other hand, the more we are given to drink, the more our soul 
gains in wisdom and in reason. The first cup is poured for us by the 
litierator who begins to polish the roughness of our mind. Then comes 
the grammatkus who adorns* us with varied knowledge. Finally it is 
the rhetor's turn who puts in our hands the weapon of eloquence. 28 

No one could be better pleased with himself but, unhappily, there 
was many a slip between the cup and the lip and the reality in no 
wise justifies the lyric enthusiasm of Apuleius. 

First and foremost, grammarians and rhetoricians addressed 
themselves to a very limited public and even in the second cen- 
tury their teaching retained the selective character which a dis- 
trustful oligarchy had imposed on it from the beginning. Early 
in the second century B.C. the Conscript Fathers, whose arms 
and diplomacy were now being turned against the Greeks, began 
to feel the necessity of not allowing their sons to be less culti- 
vated than the subjects and vassals whom they were henceforth 
to govern. They therefore encouraged the foundation in Rome of 
schools of the Hellenistic type to rival those which flourished in 
the East, at Athens, at Pergamum, and at Rhodes, and they 


wished these schools to teach after the Greek manner everything 
known to the most learried Greeks. At the same time they were 
not unmindful of the political power which this superior educa- 
tion would confer; they had no wish to cede an inch of their 
political monopoly; they therefore contrived that these new 
educational advantages should be reserved for their own social 
caste. The first professors of grammar and rhetoric whom they 
permitted to set up in Rome were refugees from Asia and Egypt, 
victims of Aristonicus and of Ptolemy Physkon, to whom Rome 
offered sanctuary. All of them taught in Greek. When later these 
original teachers were superseded by Italians, the new gram- 
marians and rhetoricians conformed to the Greek usage and bor- 
rowed the Greek language. The grammar classes were conducted 
in Greek and Latin, but the rhetoric classes almost exclusively in 
Greek, and in this language all further education was continued. 29 
There were, of course, a few attempts to break through this 
convention which made for isolation. At the time of the demo- 
cratic revolution with which the name of Marius is linked, one of 
his clients, the orator Plotius Gallus, had the hardihood to address 
his pupils in Latin; 30 and a few years later the Rhetorica ad 
Herennium was published. 31 Interlarded with examples taken 
from recent history and crammed with references to the subjects 
debated in the cotpitia, it was evidently inspired by the s^me 
tendency toward the liberal, the concrete, and the popular. But 
the oligarchy was on the watch. It had no intention of letting 
itself be robbed of its hereditary right to govern; since eloquence 
dominated the assemblies which every year renewed the power 
of the oligarchs, these men were determined that none but their 
own sons should possess the secret of rhetoric and they set about 
persecuting these unwelcome innovators. The Ad Herennium had 
no imitators and we are still ignorant of its author's name. As 
for the rhetor es Latini, the censors of 92 B.C. .compelled them to 
stop giving lessons, affirming that their innovations were neither 
pleasing nor proper. 82 To see schools of Latin eloquence re- 
opened, Rome had to wait till the dictatorship of Caesar, which 
was well served by the treatises of Cicero, and till the imperial 
Flavian regime, which generously subsidised Quintilian, most 
famous of professors. 33 But by that time the tradition had taken 
root and could not be eradicated; though 'rhetoric was now taught 
in Latin as well as Greek, it remained the privilege of the few. 


The better to sift out the students, the grammar class, which was 
the first step to rhetoric, remained bilingual till the end of the 

The most important consequence of this was that eloquence, 
the end and aim both of grammar and rhetoric, was emptied of all 
real content. Politics deserted the Forum at the approach of the 
praetorians. Legal controversies, more and more confined to 
groups of specialists, ceased to furnish matter for eloquence once 
the emperors made jurisprudence a monopoly of their councils 
a process which Augustus began and Hadrian completed. Finally 
philosophy and science, both mathematical and natural, which 
had been linked with rhetoric in Greek antiquity, benefited *mly 
in their countries of origin, especially at the Museum of Alex- 
andria and in Athens, from the generosity of Trajan and 'Hadrian. 
Vespasian had banished the philosophers from Rome and excluded 
them everywhere from the privileges reserved for grammarians 
and rhetoricians; 34 and the study of philosophy in Rome had 
never recovered from the ancient interdict pronounced against it 
by the Senate in 161 B.C. and repeated i~ 153 B.C., when in de- 
fiance of the diplomatic immunity which they enjoyed, it ex- 
pelled from the city the academician Carneades, the Stoic Diog- 
enes, and the peripatetic Critolaus. 35 Philosophy had never ceased 
to excite suspicion and sarcasm at Rome^The citizen who wanted 
to might indulge in it in friendly conversations, in casual and 
private conferences, or in solitary meditations in his ivory tower, 
but if he wished to take it up more seriously he had either to be 
rich enough to maintain a master at his own cost in his own 
house, or to expatriate himself in some distant town where 
philosophers were allowed to air their speculations. Physics and 
metaphysics, politics and history were equally taboo in regular 
and public courses of instruction; and eloquence, denied action, 
divorced from pure thought and pure science, gyrated in a weary 
circle of literary exercises and verbal virtuosity. Thus it hap- 
pened that despite their popularity with well-to-do youth, despite 
the protection granted them by the emperors, despite the place of 
honour which they occupied in the city, where Caesar had allotted 
them the tabernae of his Forum and Trajan a hemicycle of his, 86 
the preparatory studies of grammar and rhetoric were sterilised 
by the incurable formalism to which eloquence herself had been 


Young people began to attend the grammarian's at an age 
which naturally varied with their aptitude and family circum- 
stances, but which at times, as we can see from the obituary in- 
scriptions of the first centuries of our era, suggests the alarming 
precocity of infant prodigies. 37 They went to him to be initiated 
into literature, or rather into the two literatures whose professor 
he was. With the grammaticus Greek literature was not less but 
more important than Latin. In a remarkable recent book, M. 
Marrou states his belief that he has detected a weakening of the 
Hellenic influence in Roman culture from the days of Quintilian 
onward; 38 but I am convinced that he has been the victim of a 
preconception arising naturally from overconcentration on his 
subject, and I suspect that he has unduly extended to Italy find- 
ings which are true only for the Africa of Saint Augustine, who 
was born at Tagaste, educated at Madaura and Carthage, and 
who died as bishop of Hippo in 430 A.D. 

A whole series of phenomena from the Rome of the second 
century can easily be cited which refute M. Marrou's thesis: the 
enthusiasm for Greek affected by the "beauties" whom Juvenal 
and Martial turn to ridicule; 39 the successes which during the 
whole course of the second century in Gaul attended the itinerant 
Greek orators, of whom Lucian represents the most original 
type; 40 the publication in Greek of the treatises of the "philoso- 
phers" from Musonius Rufus to Favorinus of Aries; the Greek 
epigrams of the emperor Hadrian and the Meditations of Marcus 
Aurelius; finally and above all the persistence of Greek in the 
liturgy and in the apologetic writings of the Roman Christians. 
The Christian Church did not adopt Latin until the great shock 
which, toward the middle of the third century, rent the empire 
asunder and shook the very foundations of ancient civilisation. 41 
It would indeed be strange if Greek had been in retreat in Rome 
at the moment when Latin literature in Italy was crumbling to 
give place to it in every sphere. The inscriptions bear witness to 
its vital and predominant place in the teaching curriculum f rpm 
the epitaph of young Q. Sulpicius Maximus, which tells us that 
he died at the age of eleven after winning the prize for Greek 
poetry over the heads of fifty-two competitors at the Capitoline 
games of 94 A.D., 42 to that of Delmatius' son who succumbed at 
the age of seven, and had followed the courses in Greek but only 
had time to learn the Latin alphabet. 43 It thus appears that the 


Roman grammarians never ceased to subordinate the study of 
Latin literature to that of Greek literature much in the same 
way as under the ancien regime in France the study of French 
was always subsidiary to Latin. 

What their lessons thus lost in life and reality they may well 
have gained in variety. While all the learning of the magister in 
the ludus litterarius was bound up in one book, a copy of the 
Twelve Tables, the letters of which his luckless little wretches 
had to spell out before trying to copy them, the grammaticus had 
a double library at his disposal. But the use he made of the two 
was unbalanced, showing a marked predominance of foreign 
wrkers and an overwhelming preference for the older ones. While 
Homer, the tragic and comic playwrights above all Menander 
the lyric poets, and Aesop provided him with an abundant choice 
of Greek texts, he soon limited his choice of Latin authors to the 
poets of earlier generations: Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and 
Terence; and he expounded in Greek the meaning of these authors 
whose works were more or less adapted from the Greek. It was 
not until the last quarter of the first century B.C. that a freedman 
of Atticus, Q. Caecilius Epirota, decided to make two revolution- 
ary innovations in the grammar class he was conducting: he dared 
to talk Latin and to admit to the honour of his lessons Latin 
authors either still living or but recently dead Virgil and Cic- 
ero. 44 His bold example was timidly followed, and during the first 
centuries of the empire we see the works of famous authors a 
generation or two after their death gradually added to the list 
of those included in the curriculum. The treatises of Seneca in 
prose, and in verse the Epistles of Horace, the Fasti of Ovid, the 
Pharsalia of Lucan, and the Thebais of Statius were successively 
accorded this honour. These intermittent attempts at being up to 
date were not in themselves sufficient, however, to modify the 
fundamental character of an education all the more justly de- 
scribed as "classic" in that it clung more and more to the tradi- 
tion of works whose success was already consecrated. It is even 
possible that the tendency toward classicism was strengthened 
by the renaissance of Attic art under Hadrian which has given us 
so many statues and bas-reliefs of frigid elegance and which 
was accompanied by a return of literary taste toward the 
archaism preached by an emperor more deeply in love with Cato 
the Elder and with Ennius than with Virgil or Cicero. 45 The school 


of grammar at Rome always fixed its eyes on the past more or 
less, according to the moment and the Latin there taught was 
never at any time a living language in the full sense of the term, 
but, like the Greek from which it was inseparable, a language 
which "the classics" had employed and which had become fixed 
in the moulds they had poured it into once and for all. So much 
so, indeed, that the purely bookish teaching of the grammatici 
already showed symptoms of arterio-sclerosis, a disease which 
their futilely complicated methods of instruction further aggra- 

These methods consisted first in exercises of reading aloud, and 
in reciting passages learned by heart. With an eye on the ultimate 
though far-off evolution of the future orator, the grammar class 
began by a course of elocution which no doubt quickened the taste 
and widened the understanding of the pupils, but at the same time 
developed in them a tendency toward theatrical posing and 
bravura extremely damaging to genuine feeling. Next the profes- 
sor introduced them to exegesis proper. As a preliminary they 
had to reconcile their various manuscript texts, into which the 
caprices of copyists had introduced divergencies from which our 
printed editions are fortunately free. Then the emendatio, or what 
we should nowadays call textual criticism, challenged the atten- 
tion of the scholars. This might have proved a valuable mental 
discipline if it had not been perpetually blended with discussions 
of the qualities and faults of the passages examined, and falsified 
by the resulting aesthetic prejudices. Finally, the lessons usually 
close^ with the commentary proper, the so-called enarratio, which 
aimed at a comprehensive judgment but was so long-drawn-out 
that its faults were later to spoil even the work of a great com- 
mentator like Servius. 

The grammaticus hastily completed the analysis of the work he 
had chosen, then began the explanatio, phrase by phrase or verse 
by verse, dwelling with meticulous pedantry on the meaning of 
each word and defining the figures of speech to which they lent 
themselves and the diversity of the "tropes" into which they 
entered: metaphor, metonymy, catachresis, litotes, syllepsis. The 
matter of the passage was considered wholly secondary to the 
function of the words which conveyed it, and the perception of 
reality to the form of the statements which vaguely allowed the 
meaning to peep out between the lines. Only by the digressions 


which occurred in his teaching did the grammaticus introduce the 
discipline of what the Romans called the liberal arts, the sum of 
which, far from embracing every branch of knowledge which has 
since become science, never included any but the twigs of knowl- 
edge; the Greeks called them the i-ptuxXtog icatSeia, that is to say, 
not encyclopaedic education, but the current, normal education 
such as antiquity bequeathed almost unaltered to the Middle 
Ages. The Roman grammarian had dipped into everything with- 
out studying any subject thoroughly, and his pupils in their turn 
did nothing more than flutter over the surface of the knowledge 
enshrined in Greek literature; mythology where this was neces- 
sary in order to understand poetic legend; music where the metres 
depended on the odes or the choruses; geography enough to fol- 
low Ulysses in the tribulations of his return home; history with- 
out which many passages of the Aeneid wrfuld have been unin- 
telligible; astronomy when a star rose or set to the cadence of a 
verse; mathematics in so far as they bore on music and astron- 
omy. Blinded by an excess of practical common sense, and with 
an eye always fixed on immediate profit, the Romans saw no 
long-term usefulness in disinterested research; they did not 
understand its value; they did not feel its attraction; they made a 
collection of the results research had achieved, and lifted science 
ready-made into their books, without feeling any need to increase 
it or even to verify it. 

For instance, the Mauretanian state of King Juba II who had 
been brought up in the household of Octavia, was infested by 
troops of elephants. He preferred to trust the rubbish he had read 
about them and imaginatively vulgarise it further in his own writ- 
ings, rather than go out and study these monstrous beasts with 
his own eyes. 46 And fifty years earlier, when Caesar appointed 
Sallust governor of the new province of Africa, the historian took 
so little trouble to inform himself about the towns not subject 
to his authority that in his De Bello lurgurthino, wishing to local- 
ise Cirta (the future Constantine), the ancient capital of Numi- 
dia, which had just been raised to the rank of an autonomous 
colony, he calmly placed it "not far from the sea." 47 If such was 
the apathy of the most eminent minds in Rome, we can under- 
stand that the average person did not rebel against a system of 
education which reduced science to the handmaid of literature, 
much as the Middle Ages reduced philosophy to the humble 


auxiliary of theology. Probably nothing contributed more to de- 
vitalise Roman education than this senseless subordination of 
science, unless it was the vanity of the goal the Romans set before 
literature itself, asking only that it should train orators for them 
at a time when the art of oratory had ceased to serve any useful 


Oratory had lost all practical value for, as Tacitus says, great 
eloquence (magna eloquentia), true eloquence which at need can 
dispense with oratory, "is like unto flame; like flame she demands 
fuel to sustain her; like flame she is stimulated by movement and 
gives light only when she burns"; 48 and as flame dies when de- 
prived of air, there can be no healthy eloquence when liberty has 
perished. Now all the history which Tacitus had been able to 
study confirmed this opinion; Roman eloquence could no more 
survive the dissolution of the assemblies than Greek eloquence 
had been able to survive the coming of despotism to the states 
ruled by the Diadochi, Alexander's master, Aristotle, distin- 
guished three types of eloquence: in the first the speaker sought 
to influence a decision yet to be taken; in the second he justified 
a resolution already acted on; and in the third he narrated past 
history or awarded praise which had nothing to do with the march 
of events or the conduct of men. 49 The philosopher had then 
recognised the superiority of the first over the second and of the 
second over the third. In the year 150 B.C. the rhetorician Herma- 
goras reversed this order of values and gave pride of place to the 
style which he called "epideictic," that is to say, to purely formal 
eloquence; this was meritorious in his eyes in proportion as it 
moved on a wholly unreal plane of its own, and its ostentatious 
self-sufficiency implied a theory of ''art for art's sake" in a domain 
where this doctrine is indefensible. 50 Consciously or uncon- 
sciously, Hermagoras was affected by the consequences of the 
revolution which had taken place in the Hellenistic kingdoms; 
and the Romans willingly adopted his paradox when they them- 
selves were saddled with a political regime similar to that of the 
Hellenistic monarchs, a regime in which the sovereignty of the 
imperator had swallowed up the independence of the republic. 
Less than a generation after Cato the Censor had subordinated 
eloquence to action, identifying the orator with "a good man 


skilled in speaking" (vir bonus, dicendi peritus),* 1 they had wel- 
comed the treatises of Greek rhetoric in which eloquence and 
action were divorced; and when Caesar had bowed them to his 
monarchy they accepted naturally a state of affairs which con- 
demned the eloquence they taught in their schools to exert itself 
in the void, fortified with an apparatus of stereotyped prescrip- 
tions and the tinkling of empty words, sonorous but echoless. 

The Roman professors of rhetoric uniformly forced every 
speech into a strait jacket of six parts, from the exordium to the 
peroration. Then they analysed the variety of combinations to 
which these could eventually be adapted. Next they devised a 
course of exercises by which perfection might be attained in each 
part; for example, the narration, the argument, the portrayal of 
character, the maxim, the thesis, the discussion. The most minute 
details were foreseen and provided for, and their development 
followed a series of invariable progressions leading to an almost 
automatic cadence. It seemed as if they took seriously the formula 
for turning out an orator complete from top to toe (fiunt ora- 
tor es) and were convinced that by subjecting their pupils to these 
verbal acrobatics they could convert each and every one of them 
into a speaker deserving the fair name of orator. 

Perhaps nothing is more characteristic of their cramped and 
crabbed method than the chria, this "declension" not of the noun 
but of the thought, or rather of the phrase which expresses the 
thought and adds the weight of some high authority, as if the 
maxim of a wise man could be enriched and given new shades of 
meaning by being indefatigably "declined" in various numbers 
and cases. For instance: "Marcus Porcius Cato has said that the 
roots of science are bitter . . ." "this maxim of M.P.C., which 
says that . . .""it appeared to M.P.C. that . . .""the 
Marcus Porcius Catos have maintained that . . ." and so on 
ad infinitum. In the same way, when Moli&re in the Bourgeois 
Gentilhomnie was initiating M. Jourdain into the art of elegant 
speech, the poor man was invited to embroider his meaning with 
interminable variations, or chriae, which his instructor suggested: 
"Lovely Marquise, your fieautiful eyes cause me to die of love; 
of love, lovely Marquise, your beautiful eyes cause me to die. 
. . ." But whereas Moli&re was making merry over M. Jourdain 
and his teacher of literature, not a single rhetorician in Rome of 
the first and second centuries dreamed of laughing at the chriae 


whose boring variatipns have been solemnly recorded for us by 
Diomedes. 52 Quintilian also recognises the practice in his Institu- 
tio Oratoria 

When at last the professor of rhetoric considered his pupils 
sufficiently versed in these parrot-like repetitions and variations, 
he expected them to prove their accomplishments by delivering 
public harangues. In the time of Cicero these attempts were still 
known as causae a word from which the French chose is derived 
but they lost the title under the empire. The orations now be- 
came either suasoriae, in which more or less thorny questions of 
conscience were discussed, or controversiae, which consisted in 
imaginary indictment or defense; in either case they were never 
anything but declamationes, a term which had not in those days 
the derogatory meaning our "declamation" has since acquired. If 
only the masters of rhetoric could have shaken themselves free 
of their follies, this sort of test might have re-established contact 
between their schools and the concrete realities of life. But on 
the contrary they seemed determined to maintain as wide a gulf 
between the two as possible. The more far-fetched and improbable 
a subject was, the more eager they were to adopt it for discussion. 
The fact was that in origin the grammaticus and the rhetor were 
one. 54 Later, the schools of grammar and the schools of rhetoric 
were separated, but the traces of their original identity were 
never obliterated. The grammarian paved the way for the rhetori- 
cian's lessons, and the rhetorician for his part continued to mark 
time within the same narrow circle of ideas and images that had 
bounded the grammarian's vision. The pupil might change his 
class: the spirit of the teaching, he received remained the same, 
and he was still the slave of an artificial literature and the pris- 
oner of a narrow classicism. 

Instead of directing the young men's thoughts to current prob- 
lems, the subjects which Seneca the Elder set for the suasoriae 
of his pupils were always drawn from the past, and often from a 
foreign and distant past. 65 The most up to date which he has left 
us are borrowed from imaginary episodes of the last weeks of 
Cicero's life: in one, Cicero hesitates as to whether he will or will 
not ask mercy of Anthony; in another he consents, in order to 
obtain it, to burn his works. 56 In all other cases, episodes of Ro- 
man history are neglected in favour of Greek; Alexander the 
Great debates whether he will venture to sail the Indian Ocean, or 


whether he will enter Babylon in defiance of the oracles; 57 the 
Athenians discuss whether they will surrender to the ultimatum 
of Xerxes, or the three hundred Spartans of Leonidas whether 
they will fight to the last man to hold up the Persians at Ther- 
mopylae. 58 Sometimes, however, even these singular and ancient 
subjects seem to the rhetorician too new and commonplace. He 
retraces history into the mists of prehistoric legend and bids his 
pupils write an essay in which Agamemnon ponders whether in 
order to secure a favourable wind for his fleet he will obey the 
prophetic injunctions of Calchas and sacrifice his daughter 
Iphigenia. 59 

It is obvious how artificial these sitasoriae must hav,e been. The 
controversiae, which might well have been made the means of 
preparing the future advocate for his profession, were no less far 
removed from real life. They deliberately turned away from cur- 
rent incidents of the day and went wandering in a dream world 
of weird hypotheses and monstrous events. The unnatural out- 
lines which Suetonius has rescued from ancient manuals betray 
this morbid leaning toward the exceptional and the bizarre. In 
one of these preposterous -cases, for instance, some men were 
strolling along one summer day to enjoy the sea air on the beach 
at Ostia. They met some fisher folk and agreed with one of them 
to buy the whole of his catch for a certain small sum. The bargain 
concluded, they claimed the ownership of an ingot of gold which 
an amazing chance brought up in the fisherman's net. 60 Another 
case deals with a slave merchant who, when unloading at Brindisi, 
wished to evade customs duty on the most valuable slave he had. 
He hit on the expedient of dressing up the handsome boy in the 
toga praetexta, the scarlet-bordered cloak of a young Roman 
citizen. Arrived at Rome the boy refused to lay his disguise aside 
and stoutly averred that it had been given him in token of his 
irrevocable manumission. 61 

Even these two fantastic lawsuits contain a grain of possible 
truth, which is systematically banished from the controversiae 
with which Seneca the Elder has dealt at such length. 62 Instead of 
basing these test pleadings on the substance of contemporary 
cases, the rhetorician labours ingeniously to multiply anachro- 
nisms and improbabilities. He takes the utmost care to devise his 
"controversies" so that they will not fit into the framework of 
Roman civil law. In concocting them, he invents imaginary, dis- 


torted, overrefined and arbitrary facts which then in defiance of 
any logic he co-ordinates with some antiquated and foreign code 
of law, or even with some legislation manufactured solely in his 
own mental laboratory. Among all the subjects recorded by Sen- 
eca the Elder, I have discovered only one which was based with 
negligible alteration on an episode authenticated in the Latin 
annals: the prosecution of L. Quinctius Flamininus, who, when 
commanding in Gaul, had been guilty of giving orders during a 
banquet that the head of a prisoner should then and there be cut 
off to gratify the wishes of his mistress. 88 All the other sketches 
are barefaced outrages against truth. It is known, for instance, 
that during the proscriptions of 43 B.C. Cicero perished at the 
hand of a certain Popilius Laenas whose interests he had defended 
as advocate in some case, probably a civil suit, but certainly one 
of slight importance since none of our authorities has troubled 
to give details of it. The rhetorician seizes on this episode, but as 
the ingratitude revealed in it is not sufficiently black for his 
taste, he darkens it to his liking and unblushingly proposes to his 
pupils the following theme: "Popilius, accused of parricide, was 
defended by Cicero and acquitted. Later, Cicero, proscribed by 
Anthony, was slain by Popilius. Sustain an accusation against 
Popilius on the ground of evil morals." 64 In this specific case an 
actio de moribus would not have lain, so it was invented to suit 
the needs of the rhetorical exercise. 65 No one has ever proved that 
Popilius Laenas committed any crime other than the legal execu- 
tion of Cicero. The rhetorician cared not a whit that he was 
doing violence to history and confusing the legal issue so long as 
his wilful misrepresentations gave substance to the harangue 
which he asked of his pupils. 

In this instance he condescends at least to choose a subject 
with a Roman background. For the most part he prefers one 
tinted with exotic colour and likes to transport his hearers to other 
countries. He goes off to the Greece of long ago to cull anecdotes 
which he spices to his taste. In one of them he starts from the 
hypothesis that in Elis the hands of sacrilegious persons were 
amputated according to law and on this fable bases the following 
controversia. The people of Elis had begged the Athenians to lend 
them Phidias to make a statue for them which they wished to 
dedicate to Olympian Jove. Athens lent the sculptor on condition 
that they should return the artist in due course or pay a fine of 


one hundred talents. When Phidias had finished his work they 
claimed that he had diverted to his own profit some of the gold 
entrusted to him for the divine statue, judged him sacrilegious, 
and cut off his hands before sending him back to Athens. The 
youth representing the Athenian advocate must claim the hun- 
dred talents, the Elidian advocate must refuse to pay them. 66 In a 
second example the rhetorician's harebrained fictions blend the 
life histories of Iphicrates and Cimon, the son of Miltiades; 67 
and the better to arouse terror and pity they defy all chronology 
in order to lodge an incredible indictment against Parrhasius, 
transforming him most unjustly into an infamous butcher. 88 The 
shocking accusation is that the painter, who was painting a pic- 
ture of Prometheus for the temple of Athena, in order to render 
the sufferings of Prometheus with greater fidelity, put to the tor- 
ture a slave prisoner of war from Olynthus who was acting as 
his model. 

When the master of rhetoric refrained from falsifying history, 
he had recourse to little detective stories with too many characters 
and extravagant vicissitudes. His school of rhetoric knew nothing 
but tyrannies and conspiracies, kidnappings, reconnoitrings, ob- 
scenities, and horrors. One could hear plead there a husband who 
accused his wife of adultery because a rich merchant had made 
her his heir as a tribute to her virtue; 60 a father who wished to 
disinherit his son for refusing to be seduced by the prospect of an 
advantageous marriage and insisting on keeping as his wife the 
brigand's daughter who had saved his life and helped him to re- 
gain his liberty; 70 an impious but gallant soldier who, to arm 
himself for victory, had pillaged a tomb near the battlefield and 
robbed it of the arms that formed its trophy; 71 a virgin whom 
her kidnappers had forcibly compelled to practise prostitution, 
but who, loathing her hideous trade, slew a ruffian who ap- 
proached her, succeeded in escaping from the house of ill fame 
and after regaining her liberty sought an honourable post as 
priestess in a sanctuary. 72 

The masters of rhetoric were proud of these imaginings. Ob- 
sessed by a desire for effect, they flattered themselves that their 
success varied with the improbable and complicated nature of the 
situations they invented and the remoteness of the characters 
from ordinary life. They estimated the value of an oration by 
the number and the gravity of the difficulties surmounted, and 


prized above all the eloquence which succeeded in expounding the 
inconceivable (materiae inopinabiles) and evolving as it were 
something out of nothing. Favorinus of Aries, for instance, 
aroused the enthusiasm of his audience one day by a eulogy of 
Thersites, brawler and demagogue, notorious as the ugliest man 
in the Greek camp before Troy, and on another occasion by an 
oration of thanksgiving to Quartan Fever. 78 In short, they system- 
atically confused artifice with art, and originality with the nega- 
tion of nature; the more we reflect on their methods, the more it 
seems clear that they were incapable of turning out anything but 
parrots or third-rate play actors. It cannot be denied that people 
have been found, and even recently among ourselves, to take up 
the cudgels "to a certain extent" in their defense, speciously argu- 
ing that their pedagogy had different aims from ours and that 
since they sought solely to stimulate their pupils' power of inven- 
tion, they had every right to imagine that the more absurd a 
subject was the more credit a pupil deserved for handling it. 74 
The absurdity lay in this conception itself, and such was the 
judgment of the last great writers of antiquity. 

Seneca disapproved of teaching methods which do not prepare 
men for life, but only pupils for school: "non vitae sed scholae 
discimus" 75 On the first page of his romance Petronius pokes fun 
at the sonority of pompous phrases which filled the classrooms of 
his day. 76 Tacitus sadly remarks that "the tyrannicides, the 
plague cures, the incests of mothers which are so grandiloquently 
discussed in the schools bear no relation to the 'forum' and that 
all this bombast hurls defiance at the truth." 77 Juvenal scoffs at 
these would-be orators, these unmitigated asses, this Arcadian 
youth "who feels no flutter in his left breast when he dins his 
'dire Hannibal' into my unfortunate head on every sixth day of 
the week," and these unhappy teachers of rhetoric who perish of 
"the same cabbage served up again and again." 78 We have no 
need to be more Roman than the Romans and to try to whitewash 
a system whose frenzied pedantry the best of them have reviled. 

Reading just a few samples of these conventional extravagan- 
zas, we can dismiss them with a shrug of the shoulders; but if 
we are condemned to read a whole series of them, one after the 
other, in the treatise of the elder Seneca, we fall a prey to uncon- 
querable boredom, not to say nausea. Reflecting that it was on 
these monotonous performances, these far-fetched and wilful ex- 


aggerations, these false and unwholesome data, that the whole 
edifice of higher education in Rome was reared, it is easy to 
understand that toward the middle of the second century Latin 
letters began to perish from such an abuse of literature. The decay 
of a civilisation is heralded by these laborious eccentricities, by 
the mental malnutrition to which the pick of Rome's youth was 
doomed, having no other intellectual sustenance than this thin 
soup. For fear of being accused of ignorance, the ambitious youth 
who wished to dazzle and astonish his audience substituted mem- 
ory for thought, affectation for sincerity, grimaces and contor- 
tions for natural expression, and for a natural voice forced out- 
bursts and calculated roars practised in advance. 

A morbid passion for the unusual and the extraordinary made 
common sense seem a defect, experience of real life seem weak- 
ness, and the sight of real life seem ugly. But Life herself "in- 
evitably took revenge, and the Romans themselves began to weary 
of the fatuities of their schools. The more impetuous among them 
failed to distinguish real learning from the parody of it which 
disgusted them, and like Lucian resolved to doubt and make a 
mock of everything, or like the common people turned their backs 
on every form of culture and limited their thoughts to the satis- 
faction of their needs and their desires. 79 The more inquiring 
and the nobler spirits, deceived but not discouraged, turned aside 
to foreign religions to seek an answer to the questions with which 
the mysteries of life confronted them, to find a satisfaction for 
the aspirations of their souls which neither bogus science nor 
the threadbare literature of grammarians and rhetoricians had 
sufficed to fill. 


One great spiritual fact dominates the history of the empire: 
the advent of personal religion which followed on the conquest of 
Rome by the mysticism of the East. The Roman pantheon still 
persisted, apparently immutable; and the ceremonies which had 
for centuries been performed on the dates prescribed by the 
pontiffs from their sacred calendars continued to be carried out 
in accordance with ancestral custom. But the spirits of men had 
fled from the old religion; it still commanded their service but 
no longer their hearts or their belief. With its indeterminate gods 
and its colourless myths, mere fables concocted from details sug- 


gested by Latin topography or pale reflections of the adventures 
which had overtaken the Olympians of Greek epic; with its pray- 
ers formulated in the style of legal contracts and as dry as the 
procedure of a lawsuit; with its lack of metaphysical curiosity 
and indifference to moral values; with the narrow-minded banal- 
ity of its field of action, limited to the interests of the city and the 
development of practical politics Roman religion froze the im- 
pulses of faith by its coldness and its prosaic utilitarianism. 80 It 
sufficed at most to reassure a soldier against the risks of war or a 
peasant against the rigours of unseasonable weather, but in the 
motley Rome of the second century it had wholly lost its power 
over the human heart. 

The populace, it is true, still showed lively enthusiasm for the 
festivals of the gods which were subsidised from public funds, 
but Gaston Boissier is unduly optimistic when he attributes this 
enthusiasm to piety. Among the celebrations which were most 
eagerly attended there were some which pleased the humbler 
people better because "they were gayer, 'noisier, and seemed to 
belong more particularly to them." 81 We need be under no misap- 
prehension as to the sentiments which underlay their devotion to 
these celebrations. In particular, to conclude from their taste for 
the drinking and dancing on the banks of the Tiber which an- 
nually accompanied the festival of Anna Perenna, 82 that they 
worshipped the ancient Latin goddess of the circling year with 
enlightened sincerity would be as rash as to measure the extent 
and vigour of Roman Catholicism in Paris today by the crowds 
of Parisians who flock to the Reveillon. It may be admitted that 
there is plenty of proof of the constancy with which the bour- 
geoisie of Rome under the empire discharged its duties toward the 
divinities recognised by the State. A "conservative" like Juvenal, 
who professedly execrates all foreign superstitions, might at 
first sight appear to be devoted in every fibre to the national re- 
ligion; and reading the delightful opening of Satire XII, one 
might well imagine that he still loved it profoundly. He paints 
with charming freshness the preparations for one of the sacri- 
fices to the Triad of the Capitol: 

Dearer to me, Corvinus, is this day, when my festal turf is awaiting 
the victims vowed to the gods, than my own birthday. To the Queen of 
Heaven I offer a snowwhite lamb; a fleece as white to Pallas, the god- 
dess armed with the Moorish Gorgon; hard by is the frolicsome victim 


destined for Tarpeian Jove, shaking the tight-stretched rope and brand- 
ishing his brow; for he is .a bold young steer, ripe for temple and for 
altar, and fit to be sprinkled with wine; it already shames him to suck 
his mother's milk and with his budding horn he assails the oaks. Were 
my fortune large, and as ample as my love, I should have been hauling 
along a bull fatter than Hispulla, slow-footed from his very bulk; 
reared on no neighbouring herbage he, but showing in his blood the rich 
pastures of Clitumnus, and marching along to offer his neck to the stroke 
of the stalwart priest, to celebrate the return of my still-trembling friend 
who has lately gone through such terrors, and now marvels to find him- 
self safe and sound . . , 88 

But let us reread these exquisite verses. Their affectionate en- 
thusiasm is not for the gods but for the country scene where the 
offerings are prepared, for the familiar beasts whom Juv'enal has 
chosen from his flocks as worthiest of sacrifice, and whose beauty 
he appreciates both as connoisseur and poet; but above all for the 
friend whose unhoped-for return he celebrates and who in this 
clear description will savour in advance the joyous festival to 
which he is invited. As for the deities who occupy the obscure 
background of the picture, they must content themselves with a 
sketchy paraphrase like Minerva, or with their ritual adjective 
like Juno, Queen of Heaven, or with the purely geographical 
epithet attached to Jupiter, whose temple on the Capitol over- 
hung, as everybody knows, the Tarpeian Rock. Juvenal would 
have been at a loss to throw any greater light on them. Their 
features were indeterminate to his eyes; the gods were to him no 
living personalities. He rejected the whole tissue of their mythol- 
ogy, for "that there are such things as Manes and kingdoms below 
ground, and punt poles, and Stygian pools black with frogs, and 
all those thousands crossing over in a single bark these things 
not even boys believe, except such as are not yet old enough to 
have paid their penny bath . . ." 84 

Juvenal's scepticism, moreover, was general. It had laid hold 
on the humbler classes, the best meaning of whom displayed, while 
they deplored, the indifference felt by almost everyone for these 
Roman gods with "gouty" feet (pedes lanatos).** Great ladies 
(stolatae) no longer climbed the Capitoline Hill to pray to Jupiter 
for rain. 86 The most important and most orthodox contemporaries 
of Juvenal shared the same feelings of scepticism. If great gentle- 
men like Tacitus and Pliny the Younger "practised" their re- 


ligion as much or more than he, they "believed" every whit as 
little. As praetor under Domitian, consul under Nerva and pro- 
consul in Asia under Trajan, Tacitus was compelled to officiate 
at the public ceremonies of polytheism; and his aversion for the 
Jews was at least equal to Juvenal's. So much for proof of his 
orthodoxy. But there are things that make us doubtful of it; much 
as he abhors the Jews, he is not afraid indirectly to praise their 
belief in one eternal and supreme God, whose image must not be 
counterfeited and who cannot pass away. 87 Similarly in his 
Germania he does not conceal his admiration for the barbarous 
tribe who refuse to imprison their gods within walls or to repre- 
sent them in human form lest they do outrage to their majesty; 
who prefer to consecrate to their worship the woods and forests 
of their territory, and for whom the mysterious solitudes where 
they adore their unseen deities seem to become identified with 
the Divine itself. 88 These two passages of obvious though un- 
formulated approval reveal Tacitus as a disaffected pagan. 

Tacitus' friend, Pliny the Younger, shows no less detachment 
toward those religious forms to which he moulds his ways and 
accommodates his acts. He respects their high antiquity and the 
authority of the State which has consecrated them, but at the 
same time he refuses them the intimate homage of his conscience. 
Gaston Boissier quotes, in proof of the piety of Pliny, the letter 
in which he describes to his friend Romanus the charm of the 
springs which form the source of Clitumnus under the cypress 
shade and of the old temple where the River God speaks his 
oracles. 89 It is certainly a charming chapter, but in precisely the 
same vein as the Juvenal verses just quoted. It has the same 
freshness, it also expresses the gentle emotion which a friend of 
nature feels in gazing at a lovely landscape. But it pays equally 
little heed to the devotions of which this beautiful site is the 
theatre and the object, and it ends with a sly thrust at the pious 
folk who come here to perform them: "You will also find food for 
study in the numerous inscriptions by many hands all over the 
pillars and walls, in praise of the spring and its tutelar deity. 
Many of them you will admire, others you will laugh at; but no, 
you are too kind-hearted to laugh at any. Farewell." 

In another* passage in the letters Pliny writes to his architect 
Mustius that in compliance with the advice of the karuspices he is 
intending to repair and rebuild a temple of Ceres which stands 


on his estate. 90 The tone in which he announces this proposal 
indicates less veneration for the goddess than solicitude for the 
faithful. He anticipates that he will require a new Ceres, "for 
ige has maimed parts of the ancient wooden one which stands 
there -at present." His major concern, however, is the erection of 
a colonnade near the sanctuary: "great numbers of people from 
all the country round assemble there, and many cows are paid 
and offered; but there is no shelter hard by against rain or sun." 
Pliny is thus more set on winning the favour of his tenants than 
of Ceres, and the care he was expending on adding to the pleas- 
ures of their pilgrimages gives no tnore clue to his own religious 
convictions than Voltaire's similar activities as seigneur of Ferney. 

There is still more convincing evidence, however, of the funda- 
mental indifference Pliny felt toward the rites while he dutifully 
fulfilled the outward obligations. Let us look up the letter in 
which he announces his recent co-option into the College of 
Augurs. 91 His pleasure at the honour is wholly worldly. He barely 
alludes to the sacred power which this dignity confers (sacerdo- 
tium plane sacrum) ; he does not dwell on the incomparable privi- 
lege which is to be his of interpreting the signs of the Divine 
Will, of instructing the magistrates and the emperor himself in 
the value of their auspices. On the contrary, where a pious man 
would have welcomed the supernatural responsibilities with 
jubilation, what seems to him the most enviable feature of his 
new post is first that it is a life appointment (insigne est quod non 
adimitur viventi) ; secondly, that it has been bestowed on him on 
the recommendation of Trajan; thirdly, that he has succeeded "so 
eminent a man as Julius Frontinus"; finally and above all, that 
the prince of orators, Marcus Tullius Cicero, had held the same 
preferment. There is no shadow of religious emotion in Pliny's 
self-gratulation. It is the pleasure of a courtier, a man of the 
world, a scholar not of a believer. Pliny the Younger rejoiced 
to have been made an augur in much the same way that a modern 
author feels proud to be made a member of the French Academy; 
if we understand him aright the official priesthoods of the Romans 
had become for their dignitaries varying types of "Academy." 

Even the enthusiasm which the imperial cult had awakened at 
the outset had in turn grown cold; it was now nothing more than 
another cog in the great official machine which functioned in Vir- 
tue of its acquired momentum but had long since lost its soul. 92 


The fall of Nero and the extinction with him of the family of 
Augustus had dealt a fatal blow by depriving the worship of the 
emperors of its dynastic sanctity. Vespasian, the upstart who 
had hoped to found a new dynasty, had posed in Egypt as a 
miracle worker, but had not deigned to attempt to increase his in- 
fluence in Rome by such pretence. The courageous jest about his 
coming apotheosis which the dying man cracked on his deathbed 
is well known: "I feel," he said laughing, "that I am beginning to 
become a god." 8 The murder of his son Domitian, who, forgetful 
of his origins, had insisted that even in Italy he should be ad- 
dressed as "Master and Lord" (dominus et deus), suddenly 
showed how well founded was his father's scepticism. 94 The wor- 
ship of the emperors might perhaps have survived the crimes of 
"Nero the Bald-head" if he had always handled enough wealth 
to enrich his Praetorian Guard and to pamper the populace of 
Rome. It was destroyed when people saw that if military revolu- 
tions sufficed to create an emperor, a palace conspiracy was 
enough to fell the master whom they were supposed to worship as 
a god. By the time of the Antonines, emperor worship had become 
no more than a pretext for revelry, a symbol of loyalty, a con- 
stitutional, stylistic phrase. 

On the morrow of his accession Trajan proclaimed the divinity 
of his adoptive father Nerva (divus), but he was at pains to in- 
troduce a note of human probability into the transaction. Not 
only did he reserve the honours of apotheosis for the dead, but 
he saw therein the supreme reward which the State could bestow 
on its benefactors. He left it to his panegyrist to explain exactly 
the secular spirit in which he carried out this formality of general 
good administration; and he allowed Pliny the Younger to declare 
to the Patres that the most conclusive proof of the divinity of a 
dead Caesar lay in the excellence of his successor: "Certissima 
divinitatis fides est bonus successor." In the formula of public 
prayer addressed to the gods for his life and his health he in- 
serted the reservation that the gods should heed these prayers 
only if he governed the republic well and for the benefit of all: 
"Si bene rem publicam et ex utilitate omnium rexerit." 05 

It would be wrong to undervalue the generous inspiration of 
such a policy. But at the same time it would be too ingenuous to 
imagine that it still provoked transports of enthusiasm. The days 
were gone when the conqueror of Actium, who had put an end to 


civil war and brought to Rome both peace and universal empire, 
was able to accept the homage and title of Augustus, at one bound 
place himself outside and above the condition of ordinary men, 
and raise himself, amid the enthusiasm of the masses and the 
song of the poets, to rank among the gods. The days were gone 
when popular credulity followed the march of the god Caesar 
across the firmament like the path of a comet in the Roman sky; 
the days when everyone from the humblest citizen to the princely 
heir attributed to the auspices of his son Tiberius the power to 
inspire the plans of generals and to guarantee their irresistible 
success. In much that way today a Japanese admiral can at- 
tribute to the spirit of his Mikado the victory of Tsushima. But 
in Rome the person and the history of the princeps had descended 
again to earth. If force of habit or the exigencies of ceremonial 
still led humble subjects to invoke the "divine house" and the 
"celestial decisions" of the emperor, the majority were perfectly 
aware that there was no longer an imperial "house" properly so 
called; and in their gratitude the most truthful simply praised 
Caesar's indefatigable solicitude for the interests of humanity. 
In the same way, the emperors themselves, sovereign servants 
of the State, were conscious of ascending the throne as a last and 
final promotion. 

Trajan made no effort to surround his acts with a supernatural 
halo, but boasted all the more of his achievement in overcoming 
the Germani before his accession, at a time when none could yet 
call him the son of a god: "necdum dei filius (era/)!" 06 His 
Panegyric is worth reading: on every page the monarchy he had 
just inaugurated is depicted as the best of republics. While pre- 
serving the terminology of preceding reigns, a new regime had 
come into being in which for the first time, according to Tacitus, 
liberty and imperial rule were in harmony. 97 But by a fatal com- 
pensation it was also a time in which the imperial religion, at 
least in Rome and the neighbourhood of the Senate, was to lose 
its transcendence and to become secularised. In spite of a de- 
liberate return to enlightened despotism, neither the jesting 
familiarity of Hadrian nor the self-effacement of Antoninus Pius 
nor the stoic resignation of Marcus Aurelius to the designs of 
Providence had power to rekindle in men's hearts the emotion 
which the cult of the emperor had ceased to evoke. 



Faith, however, had not entirely disappeared from Rome. Far 
from it. It had not even diminished. In proportion as the empti- 
ness of an education which lacked every element of reason and 
reality had impoverished and disarmed men's intelligence, faith 
had extended its domain and increased in intensity. Roman faith 
had merely changed its object and direction. It had turned away 
from the official polytheism and taken .efuge in the "chapels" 
now formed by philosophic sects and by the brotherhoods thiat 
celebrated the mysteries of Oriental gods. Here believers could 
at last find an answer to their questionings and a truce to their 
anxieties; here were at once an explanation of the world, rules of 
conduct, release from evil and from death. Thus in the second 
century we observe the paradox that Rome has begun to possess 
a religious life, in the sense in which we understand the word to- 
day, at the very moment when her State religion had ceased to 
live in men's consciences. 

This transformation of such infinite consequence had been long 
preparing. It was the product of Hellenistic influences to which 
Rome had been unconsciously subjected for two centuries, under 
which oriental revelation and Greek philosophy had interpene- 
trated each other ajid ended by fusing into one. At the period we 
are studying, the philosophies banished from the chairs had as- 
sumed the semblance and the force of religion for the teachers 
who became directors of men's consciences and for the disciples 
whose actions and ways of life they controlled, dictating even the 
cut of their beard and of their clothes. Even if, like Epicureanism, 
these philosophies denied a future life and banished the immor- 
tals to the inaction of an intermediate world, they nevertheless 
proclaimed themselves saviours from death and its terrors. At 
the pious feasts of their adherents the "founders" were the 
"heroes," and the same hymns and sacrifices were prescribed as 
for the ceremonies of the gods. 98 Whether the preachers were 
Greeks from Athens or Romans speaking and writing Greek, they 
could not conceal the fact that the ultimate foundations of their 
dialectic were oriental speculations. Joseph Bidez has demon- 
strated all that Stoicism owes not only to tie Semites who spread 
it but also to the beliefs of Semitism; 99 and he is convinced that 
the Neo-Pythagoreanism professed by Nigidius Figulus at Rome 


was profoundly modified by Alexandrine thought. 100 On the other 
hand, the resemblances which Franz Cumont has noted between 
cults so diverse in origin as those of Cybele and of Attis, of 
Mithra and the Baalim, of the Dea Syra, of Isis and Serapis, are 
too numerous and too striking not to reveal the effects of a com- 
mon influence. Whether they came from Anatolia or Iran, from 
Syria or from Egypt, whether they were male or female, whether 
they were worshipped with innocent or bloody rites, the "oriental" 
divinities whom we meet in the Roman Empire present identical 
features and conceptions which overlap and seem even to inter- 
change. These are deities who, far from being impassive, suffer, 
die, and rise from the dead; gods whose myths embrace the cos- 
mos and comprehend its secrets; gods whose astral fatherland 
dominates all earthly fatherlands and who assure to their initi- 
ates alone, but to them without distinction of nationality or status, 
a protection proportionate to the purity of each. 

We should seek in vain to find, behind the analogies which 
bind these religions together, an indefinable pre-established har- 
mony between the oriental minds which gave them birth. The 
truth is that none of these "oriental" religions reached Italian 
soil without a long sojourn in Greece or in some Graecicised 
country. Hellenism imported them after the conquests of Alex- 
ander and they crossed the Greek frontiers only after having 
been relieved of their coarser baggage and laden instead with 
Greece's cosmopolitan philosophy. Hence the uniform colour with 
which they all are tinged, the adaptation of their individual 
myths to the idea of a universal divinity by a symbolism whose 
elements scarcely vary. Hence also their common subordination 
to an astrology which triumphs as obviously in the beamed dia- 
dem of Attis at Ostia as in the majority of our mithraea and on 
the ceiling of the sanctuary of Bel at Palmyra, where the eagle of 
Zeus spreads his wings within a circle of zodiacal constellations. 
Hence, above all, the ease with which the Romans were converted 
to the gods of the East, not only because the Orient was rich and 
populous but because the Hellenistic civilisation in which Rome 
was steeped had moulded to one pattern cults derived from every 
quarter of the East moulded them as it were in its own image 
and under the pressure of its own spiritual instincts. 

In the second century of our era these cults were in process 
of submerging the city. The cults of Anatolia had been naturalised 


in Rome by Claudius' decree . which rteformed the* liturgy of 
Cybele and of Attis. 101 The Egyptian cults, banished by Tiberius, 
were publicly welcomed back by Caligula; and the Temple of Isis 
in Rome which was destroyed by fire in So A.D. was rebuilt by 
Domitian with a luxury still testified to by the obelisks that re- 
main standing in the Temple of Minerva or near by in front of 
the Pantheon, and by the colossal statues of the Nile and of the 
Tiber which are now divided between the museums of the Louvre 
and the Vatican. 102 From the middle of the second century, Hadad 
and his consort Atargatis possessed a temple at Rome, which 
Paul Gauckler rediscovered in ipoy. 103 It was situated on the 
right bank of the Tiber on the Janiculum below the Lucus Fur- 
rinae. Atargatis, or the Dea Syra, was the only deity to whom 
Nero, denier of all other gods, deigned to render homage. 104 
Finally, it is certain that in Flavian times sanctuaries of Mithra 
had been established at Rome as at Capua. 105 

The numerous colleges devoted to these heterogeneous gods at 
Rome not only co-existed without friction but collaborated in 
their recruiting campaigns. There was in fact more affinity and 
mutual understanding between these diverse religions than ri- 
valry. One and all were served by priests jealously segregated 
from the crowd of the profane; their doctrine was based on reve- 
lation, and their prestige on the singularity of their costume and 
manner of life. One and all imposed preliminary initiation on 
their followers and periodical recourse to a more or less ascetic 
regimen; each, after its own fashion, indulged in the same astro- 
logical and henotheistic speculations and held out to believers the 
same messages of hope. 106 

Romans who had not been seduced by these exotic cults sus- 
pected and hated them. Juvenal, for instance, who could not 
repress his wrath to see the Orontes pour her muddy floods of 
superstition into the Tiber, 107 hit out with might and main against 
them all, without distinction. While Tiberius seized on the pre- 
text of a case of adultery which had been abetted by some priests 
of Isis to expel the lot, 10 ? the satirist raged indiscriminately 
against all oriental priests, charging them with roguery and 
charlatanism: Chaldean, Commagenian, Phrygian, or priest of 
Isis, 'Who with his linen-clad and shaven crew runs through the 
streets under the mask of Anubis and mocks at the weeping of 
the people." 109 Juvenal never wearies of exposing the shameless 





[fact p. 


exploitation they practice, selling the indulgence of their god to 
frail female sinners "bribed no doubt by a fat goose and a slice 
of sacrificial cake," or promising on the strength of their prophetic 
gifts and powers of divination "a youthful lover or a big bequest 
from some rich and childless man." 110 He declaims against their 
obscenity, attacking "the chorus of the frantic Bejlona and the 
Mother of the Gods, attended by a giant eunuch to whom his 
obscene inferiors must do reverence"; 111 and "the mysteries of 
Bona Dea, the Good Goddess, when the flute stirs the loins and 
the Maenads of Priapus sweep along, frenzied alike by the horn 
blowing and the wine, whirling their locks and howling. What 
foul longings burn within their breasts! What cries they utter as 
the passion beats within!" 112 He holds his sides with laughter at 
sight of the penances and self-mortifications to which the male 
and female devotees submit with sombre fanaticism : the woman 
"who in winter will go down to the river of a morning, break the 
ice, and plunge three times into the Tiber"; then, "naked and 
shivering she will creep on bleeding knees right across the field of 
Tarquin the Proud"; and the other who "at the command of 
White lo will journey to the confines of Egypt and fetch water 
from hot Meroe with which to sprinkle the Temple of Isis." 113 

Juvenal's savage and inexhaustible anger need not surprise us. 
He expresses with all the force of his genius the natural reaction 
of the "ancient Roman," hater alike of novelty and of the for- 
eigner, to whom emotion and enthusiasm were a degradation, 
and who would gladly have disciplined the outpourings of faith 
by such ordinances as governed a civil or military parade. At this 
distance of time his prejudices necessarily appear to us gravely 
unjust, first, because he traced to the oriental religions alone 
superstitions whose origin goes back to prehistoric times long 
before Rome was invaded by the Orient, and in whose develop- 
ment oriental religion had no part; secondly, because he was so 
blinded by his loathing for them that he completely ignored the 
moral progress which despite their excesses and their aberra- 
tions they achieved by the sheer force of their fervour and sin- 

It cannot be denied that their astrolqgy brought renewed 
vitality to divination, but divination had always .been practised 
in Rome. Divination was the natural offspring of a polytheism 
which from the days of Homer on had conceived even Jupiter as 


enslaved by the decrees of Fate; it was inextricably bound up 
with the taking of the auspices and the work of the haruspex 
which was performed in the name of Rome. The best minds of 
the second century, indifferent or hostile to foreign religions, had 
recourse to divination without embarrassment or scepticism, and 
the public authorities attached so much importance to it that 
they prosecuted unauthorised diviners. When Juvenal therefore 
makes mock of the Chaldean adepts who trembled with fear to 
learn of the conjunctions of Saturn, and of the sick woman "who 
if she be ill in bed deems no hour so suitable for taking food as 
that prescribed to her by Petosiris," m he was deliberately turn- 
ing his blind eye to the fact that in every stratum of Roman so- 
ciety the impious and the lukewarm were as much a prey to 
superstition and taboo as the pious whom he despised. 

The upstart f reedman Trimalchio sets his guests to dine round 
a table whose centre-piece represents the zodiac. He boasts to 
them that he was born under "the sign of Cancer, the Crab," a 
sign so favourable that he needs only to stand firm on his two 
feet "to possess property on land and sea." Then he listens open- 
mouthed to tales of vampires and werewolves, and finally when 
he hears the cock crow in the midst of his midnight boozing, he 
trembles at the evil omen. 115 We find examples no less significant 
occurring higher in the social scale. In spite of discreet reserve 
and a few shafts of fugitive irony, Tacitus does not venture 
formally to deny the truth of the "prodigies" which he records as 
scrupulously as did his predecessors, and he confesses that he 
dare not omit or treat as fables "facts established by tradi- 
tion." 116 Most of his peers and contemporaries were harassed 
by the same preoccupations. Suetonius had a dream which upset 
him to such a point that he feared he was already losing a case 
in which he was engaged. 117 Regulus, the odious rival of Pliny the 
Younger at the bar, made use of horoscopes and the haruspex to 
increase his reputation and obtain legacies by undue influence. 118 
As for Pliny himself, he was inclined to reject the puerilities of 
dream interpretation, quoting Homer to hold that: 119 

"Without a sign, his sword the brave man draws, 
And asks no omen but his country's cause." 

At the same time he did not hesitate to write to the consul 
Licinius Sura, who to his fame as a warrior added the reputation 


of being a storehouse of science, asking what he ought to think 
about ghosts and apparitions, and minutely detailing a series of 
experiences which had led him hitherto to incline to believe in 
them. 120 Pliny's letters on this subject ought to put us on our 
guard against Juvenal's passionate attacks. Reading this tissue of 
childish credulity, we are suddenly filled with tolerance toward 
the Stoic attempt at least to legitimatise divination by assuming 
the immanent action of Providence, and toward the occultism 
and magic mongering which the oriental religions at least em- 
ployed for the uplift of souls. 

It is useless to attempt to deny that the oriental religions were 
superior to the more-dead-than-alive theology which they sup- 
planted. Some of their rites no doubt, like the bull sacrifice of the 
Great Mother or the procession of the torn-up pine which accom- 
panied the mutilation of Attis, have something both barbarous 
and indecent in them, "like a whiff from slaughter-house or 
latriae." m Nevertheless, the religions which practised them ex- 
ercised a tonic and beneficent influence on individuals and lifted 
them to a higher plane. To convince ourselves that this was so 
we have only to consult the vigorous analysis made by Franz 
Cumont. 122 These oriental religions dazzled the faithful by the 
splendour of their festivals and the pomp of their processions; 
they charmed them by their languorous singing and their enervat- 
ing music. Whether through the nervous tension induced by their 
prolonged mortifications and rapt contemplation, or through the 
excitement of dancing and the consumption of fermented drinks 
after long abstinence, they succeeded in provoking a state of 
ecstasy in which "the soul delivered from the bondage of the 
body and set free from pain could lose itself in exaltation." 
Cumont justly remarks that in mysticism it is easy to slip "from 
the sublime to the depraved." It is no less true, however, that 
under the combined influence of Greek thought and Roman 
discipline, oriental mysticism had been able to extract an ideal 
from the depravity of these naturalistic cults, and to rise toward 
those spiritual regions where perfect knowledge, flawless virtue, 
and victory over sin and pain and death appeared as the glorious 
fulfilment of divine promises. False as was the science incor- 
porated in the "gnosis" of each cult, it both stimulated and 
quenched the initiates' thirst for knowledge. The physical ablu- 
tions and lustrations which religion prescribed went hand in hand 


with the inward spiritual peace of renunciation and self-denial. 
Above all, by teaching that liturgy was nothing without personal 
piety, these religions acquired the right to prophesy for their 
disciples a future state of eternal happiness such as their ever 
reborn deities enjoyed in the celestial sphere. Before long they 
set in motion a spiritual revival which drew to itself rebellious 

On the one hand the best spirits in the Urbs, including those 
furthest removed from oriental mysticism, were vaguely con- 
scious that divine favours ought to be deserved rather than merely 
snatched. While Juvenal vents his wrath, he cherishes the serene 
conviction that "the gods themselves know what is good for us 
and what will be serviceable for our state; in place of what is 
pleasing, they will give us what is best. Man is dearer to them 
than he is to himself." 128 Persius at the beginning of the second 
century has no doubt but that the gods whom he does not 
further specify ask of him in the first instance nothing save "a 
soul where secular and sacred law reign harmoniously side by 
side, a spirit purified to its inmost recess, a heart filled with up- 
right generosity." 124 And Statius under Domitian implicitly 
formulates a confession of faith in the exclusive value of per- 
sonal religion: 

Poor as I am, how should I acquit myself toward the gods? I could not, 
though Umbria should exhaust for me the richness of her valleys, though 
the meadows of Clitumnus should furnish me with oxen white as snow; 
yet the gods have frequently accepted the offering which I brought a 
handful of salt and flour on a little mound of grass. 125 

The poets, interpreting the minds of their countrymen, thus con- 
ceived the divine favour as the reward of human virtue. 

On the other hand, in the language of the second century the 
Latin word solus, which originally had only the prosaic con- 
notation of physical health, began to take on a moral and 
eschatological meaning implying the liberation of the soul on 
earth and its eternal happiness in heaven; gradually the tran- 
scendental idea of "salvation" spread from the oriental cults to 
all the truly religious foundations of Roman antiquity. It ani- 
mated the religion suddenly founded under Hadrian in honour of 
Antinoiis, the handsome Bithynian slave who had sacrificed his 
life in Egypt to save the emperor's. 126 It gathered round it the 


brotherhoods in which the tree-bearers of Cybele and Attis met 
under Antoninus Pius, notably at Bovillae, and the simple funeral 
colleges which from the reign of Hadrian on united in one family 
the plebeians and the slaves of Lanuvium under the double in- 
vocation of Diana of the Dead and of the saviour Antinoiis. 127 
So much prestige had this idea of salvation acquired that both 
the brotherhoods and the funeral colleges took a name which of 
itself voiced this great hope: "collegium salutare" The emperors 
themselves did not escape the spell. The coins and statues of the 
second century show them eager to be assimilated to the Olym- 
pians Augustus to Mars, progenitor of the founders of the 
Urbs, Augusta to Venus, commen mother of the Caesars and the 
Roman people or, again, to re-immerse their new-found holiness 
in the sacred flood of ancient Latin legend. 128 Nevertheless, they 
no longer believed that the apotheosis officially decreed them 
by the Senate would suffice to ensure them the eternal personal 
salvation which they craved like other men. After Hadrian had 
erected statues, temples, and towns to Antinous, and before 
Commodus had entered the congregation of Mithra, Antoninus 
Pius bore witness by the transparent language of the reverse of 
his coins that Faustina the Elder, the wife he had lost at the 
beginning of his reign and whose temple still rears its symbolic 
form above the Forum, had been able to mount to heaven only 
in the chariot of Cybele, by the favour of the Mother of the 
Gods, the Lady of Salvation (Mater deum salutaris) , 129 

Thus, thanks to the collaboration of oriental mysticism and 
of Roman wisdom, new and fruitful faiths were born and flour- 
ished on the ruins of the traditional pantheon. In the bosom of 
outworn paganism a creed arose, or rather the sketch of a creed, 
which represented a genuine redemption of men by the double 
payment of their merit and of divine assistance. Thus by a co- 
incidence, in which the agnostic sees only a function of historical 
determinism, but in which believers like Bossuet recognise the 
intervention of the Divine Providence they adore, Rome created 
an atmosphere favourable to Christianity at a moment when 
the Christian Church was sufficiently firmly established to ex- 
cavate its first collective cemeteries, to show the example and 
lift up the prayers of its faithful as high even as the steps of the 
imperial throne. 



Although Statius and Martial and Juvenal may perhaps not 
have suspected the fact; and though Pliny the Younger who 
in Bithynia had himself been up against the Christians of his 
province 130 lets hint of its existence in his Letters; 
though Tacitus and Suetonius speak of it only from hearsay, the 
former in abusive language which excludes his having had any 
first-hand knowledge, the second with confusions which prove 
both the lacunae in his information and his own.lack of insight 181 
it is nevertheless beyond all doubt that "Christianity" in Rome 
goes back to the reign of Claudius (41-54), and that under Nero 
it had become so widespread that the emperor was able to throw 
the blame for the great fire of 64 onto the Christians. Using 
this as a pretext, he inflicted on them atrocious refinements of 
torture, the first of the persecutions which assailed yvithout de- 
stroying the Church of Christ. 132 It is evident that its subter- 
ranean growth had progressed with astounding rapidity. This 
was perhaps due less to the importance of the Urbs in the world 
than to the existence in Rome of the Jewish colony which the 
goodwill of Julius Caesar had acclimatised there. 138 From the 
beginning of the empire members of the Jewish colony had proved 
so troublesome that in 19 A.D. Tiberius thought it necessary 
to take severe measures against them, and so numerous that 
he was able to ship off 4,000 Jews at one swoop to Sardinia. 184 
It was through the Jewish colony that the first Christians coming 
from Jerusalem penetrated into Rome, breaking up the unity 
of the colony and ranging against each other the upholders of 
the ancient Mosaic law and the adherents of the new faith. 

The Jewish religion had cast its spell over a number of Romans, 
attracted by itfe monotheism and the beauty of the Decalogue. 
The religion of the Christians, which dispensed the same light 
but offered in addition a splendid message of redemption and 
brotherhood, was not behind in substituting its own proselyting. 
Seen from the outside and from a little distance, the two re- 
ligions were at first easily confused with each other, and it is 
possible, for instance, that the invectives which Juvenal hurls 
at the Jews were really directed at the Christians whom he had 
not at this date learned to distinguish from them. 185 They also 
were obedient to the commandments of their God, and might 


well pass in the eyes of a superficial observer for being simply 
"attached to Jewish customs." 186 But after the destruction of 
the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and under the early An- 
tonines, "the Church" inevitably began to be distinguished from 
"the Synagogue"; and the Church's teaching, which made no 
distinction of race, soon began to supplant that of the Jews. 

We have, naturally, no means of estimating the number of 
conversions which Christianity effected in those days in Rome, 
but it would be wrong to suppose that they were confined to 
the lower strata of the population. The Epistles of Saint Paul, 
saluting those of the brethren who are of the household of Caesar 
(in domo Caesaris), prove directly that the apostle had recruited 
some of his followers from among the retainers of the emperor, 
among those slaves and freedmen who, under a specious appear- 
ance of humility, included the most powerful servants of the 
empire. 137 A few years later a number of mutually corroborative 
indications point to the probability that the Christian Church 
was extending its conquests to the directing classes themselves. 
Tacitus tells us that Pomponia Graecina, wife of the consul Aulus 
Plautius, conqueror of the Britons who lived under Nero and 
died under the Flavians, was suspected of belonging "to a religion 
criminally foreign," because of her austerity, her sadness, and 
her mourning garments. 138 Dio Cassius and Suetonius both 
record that Domitian successively accused of the crime of atheism 
M' Acilius Glabrio, consul in 91, who was put to death; 139 then 
a pair of his own cousins-german, Flavius Clemens, cdnsul in 
95, who was condemned to death, and Flavia Domitilla who was 
banished to the island of Pandataria. 140 Finally Tacitus notes in 
his Histories that Vespasian's own brother, Flavius Sabinus, who 
was prefect of the Urbs when Nero turned the Christians into 
living torches to light his gardens, appeared toward the end of 
his life to be obsessed by the horror of the blood shed then. 141 

It is true that none of these texts formally names as Christians 
the illustrious personages of whom their authors speak, but it is 
permissible to wonder, with M. fimile Male, whether Flavius 
Sabinus in his humanity and his obsession may not have been 
won over to the new religion by the courage of the early Roman 
martyrs; 142 and it is still more probable that we may detect an 
allusion to Christianity both in the forbidden "alien superstition" 
with which Pomponia Graecina was reproached and in the ac- 


cusation of atheism brought against believers whose faith was 
bound to deter them from performing their duties toward the 
false gods of the official polytheism. In the case of Flavius Clem- 
ens and of Flavia Domitilla in particular, this probability is in- 
creased by the fact that their niece, called Flavia Domitilla after 
her aunt, was, according to the testimony of Eusebius, interned 
in the island of Pontia for the crime of being a Christian. 143 

Even if we adopt the calculations of certain radical critics and 
place in the second third of the second century the catacomb of 
Priscilla, where the memory of the Acilii Glabriones was pre- 
served; the crypt of Lucina where a later Greek inscription had 
been discovered celebrating the name of a certain Pomponius 
Graecinus; and the tomb of Domitilla whose name irresistibly 
calls up memories of the victims of Domitian we cannot get 
rid of the strong presumption, created by the convergent evi- 
dences to which De Rossi called attention, that there were 
notorious conversions to Christianity as early as the end of the 
first century. 144 It is proved beyond possibility of doubt that 
the retainers of many of the great men of Hadrian's world (117- 
138) had with the encouragement of their masters answered the 
call of Christ and swollen the ranks of his "Roman Church." 

No doubt the Christians of Rome still formed a small minority 
of the population; a minority always exposed to the prejudice 
of the masses and the hostility of the authorities, not only because 
they abstained from taking part in the traditional practices, but 
even because, entranced by the vision of their celestial homes 
and oblivious of the city of their birth, they answered questions 
about their origin with the word "Christian," and thus acquired 
the reputation of being deserters and public enemies. 145 But the 
penalties to which their refusal to compromise exposed them 
and to which Bishop Telesphorus succumbed under Hadrian 
were too intermittent to exterminate them, on the one hand, and 
on the other were too heroically endured not to command the 
admiration of their enemies. What contributed henceforth to in- 
crease their progress was not so much the series of their Apologiae, 
inaugurated by Quadratus in the reign of Hadrian, nor yet the 
heroism of their martyrs, as the power of their Credo and the 
Christian gentleness in which their life was steeped. Even those 
who dwell most on the analogies between Christianity and the 
pagan mysteries are at one in agreeing that Christianity towered 


above them all. 146 And to what a height! To the polytheism of 
the Graeco-Roman gods, reduced to mere symbols as they were, 
to the vague and diffuse monotheism of the oriental religions, 
the Christian opposed his doctrine of the One God, the Father 
Omnipotent. In contrast to the various idolatries, spiritualized 

though they might be by the divine ether and the eternal stars, 
he offered a worship solely of the spirit, purified of astrological 
aberration, of bleeding sacrifice, of mystery-ridden initiation; 
for all these he substituted a baptism of pure water, prayer, and 
a frugal common meal. Like the pagan religionists he gave an- 
swer in the name of his sacred books to every question about the 
origin of things and the destiny of man; but the Redeemer whose 
"good tidings" he brought, instead of being an elusive and am- 
biguous figure lost in a mythological labyrinth, was revealed in 
miraculous reality in the earthly life of Jesus, the Son of God. 
Like the pagan religionists, the Christian guaranteed salvation 
after death, but instead of engulfing the believer in the silence 

'of a starry eternity, he restored him to life in a personal resur- 
rection foreshadowed by the resurrection of Christ himself. Like 
the pagan, the Christian laid down a rule of life for all believers, 
but while not excluding contemplation or asceticism or ecstasy, 
he did not abuse them and condensed his moral teaching into 
man's love of his neighbour which the gospels inculcated. 

Herein lay beyond question the strongest attraction of the 
new religion. The Christians were brothers and called each other 
so. Their meetings were often called agape, which in Greek means 
"love." They constantly assisted each other "without parade or 
patronage." An unceasing interchange "of counsel, of informa- 
tion, and of practical help" took place between one Christian 
and the other and, as Duchesne has said, "all this was alive and 
active in a fashion wholly different from that of the pagan 
brotherhoods." Many observers in those days were constrained 
to say of the Christians: "How simple and pure is their religion! 
What confidence they have in their God and His promise! How 
they love one another and how happy they are together!" 147 
In the second century this evangelic happiness existed only in 
small isolated groups among the crowds of the overgrown city; 
but it was contagious and it had begun, unknown to the ma- 
jority, to transform thousands of lives. This is a point of view 
which must not be overlooked if we are to understand the life 


of Rome at this epoch. The Church is still almost invisible, but 
she is there; she is at work; and if her beneficent doings are 
not seen in the full light of day, we must nevertheless take heed 
of the salutary influence she was widely and unobtrusively ex- 
erting. In secret she worked out a remedy for the gravest of the 
ills that were undermining the civilisation of Rome. In the name 
of a new ideal she requickened ancient lost or half-forgotten 
virtues: the dignity and courage of the individual, the cohesion 
of the family, the value of moral truths in the conduct of adults 
and in the education of the young; and above all, she imbued 
all relations between man and man with a humanity which the 
stern societies of ancient days had never known before. In this 
Rome whose outward grandeur ill concealed the internal disinte- 
gration which was in the long run to undermine her power and 
dissipate her wealth,, what most strrikes the historian of the time 
of the Antonines is the swarming of her crowds at the feet of 
the imperial majesty, her fever for riches, the mantle of luxury 
which cloaks her wretchedness, the prodigality of those spectacles 
which pander to her sloth and stir up her lowest instincts, the 
inanity of the intellectual gymnastics in which her scholars waste 
their time, and the frenzy of carnal indulgence in which others 
stupefy themselves. But we must not let either the dazzling 
splendour or the sombre shadow hide the little flame pale and 
flickering though it be which trembled in the souls of the elect, 
like a faint dawn. 




N this Rome of the earlier Antonines, 
enormous, cosmopolitan, and hetero- 
geneous, where the contrasts are 
both so numerous and so violent, it 
is nevertheless possible to get a 
fairly clear idea of the ordinary 
daily routine of an "average Ro- 
man." Obviously, in .attempting 
such a reconstruction, a large de- 
gree of imagination and arbitrary 

hypothesis must always come in. 

But making allowance for varieties of profession and for indi- 
vidual idiosyncrasies created by the wealth of the multimillion- 
aires at the top and by the misery of the poor at the bottom of 
the social scale, there remains a minimum of cares, occupations, 
and leisure which with few variations composed the daily life of 
every inhabitant of .the Urbs. It is all the easier to follow the 
development and mark the most important moments of the day 
in that the general conformity of manners was not enforced like 
ours by the rigidity of a fixed time-table. 


After the Julian reform of 46 B.C. the Roman calendar like 
ours, which is its offspring was governed by the length of the 
earth's circuit of the sun. 1 The twelve months of our year retain 
the sequence, the length, the names which were assigned them 
by the genius of Caesar and the prudence of Augustus. From the 
beginning of the empire each of them, including February in both 
ordinary years and leap year, contained the number of days to 
which we are still accustomed. Astrology, moreover, had intro- 
duced, in addition to the old official division of the months by the 


Calends (first of each month), the Nones (the fifth or seventh) 
and the Ides (the thirteenth or fifteenth), 2 the division into weeks 
of seven days subordinate to the seven planets whose movements 
were believed to regulate the universe. 8 By the beginning of the 
third century this usage had become so firmly anchored in the 
popular consciousness that Dio Cassius considered it specifically 
Roman. 4 With only one minoif modification the substitution of 
the day of the Lord, dies Dominica (Dimanche), for the day of 
the Sun, dies solis it has in most countries of Latin speech sur- 
vived both the decadence of the astrologers and the triumph of 
Christianity. Finally, each day of the seven was divided into 
twenty-four hours which were reckoned to begin, not, as with 
the Babylonians, at sunrise, nor, as among the Greeks, at sunset, 
but as is still the case with us, at midnight. 5 This ends the analo- 
gies between time as the ancients counted it and as we do; the 
Latin "hours," late intruders into the Roman day, though they 
bear the same name and were of the same number as ours, were 
in reality very different. 

Both word and thing were an invention of the Greeks deriving 
from the process of mensuration. 6 Toward the end of the fifth 
century B.C. they had learned to observe the stages performed 
by the sun in its march across the sky. The sun-dial of Meton, 
which enabled the Greeks to register these, consisted of a con- 
cave hemisphere of stone (woXo?), having a strictly horizontal 
brim, with a pointed metal stylus (YVCOJXOV) r i s i n g in the centre. 
As soon as the sun entered the hollow of the hemisphere, the 
shadow of the stylus traced in a reverse direction the ul *rnal 
parallel of the sun. Four times a year, at the equinoxes and the 
solstices, the shadow movements thus obtained were marked by a 
line incised in the stone; and as the curve of the spring equinox 
coincided with that of the autumn equinox, three concentric 
circles were finally obtained, each of which was then divided into 
twelve equal parts. All that was further needed was to join the 
corresponding points on the three circles by twelve diverging 
lines to obtain the twelve hours (&pat, horae) which punctuated 
the year's course of the sun as faithfully recorded by the dial. 
Hence the dial derived its name "hour counter" (d>poX6ftov), pre- 
served in the Latin horologium and in the French horloge. Follow- 
ing the example of Athens, the other Hellenic cities coveted the 
honour, of possessing sun-dials, and their astronomers proved 


equal to the task of applying the principle to the position of each. 
The apparent path of the sun varied of course with the latitude 
of each place, and the length of the shadow cast by the. stylus 
was consequently different in one city and another. At Alexandria 
it was only three-fifths of the height of the stylus, at Athens 
three-quarters; it was nearly nine-elevenths at Tarentum and 
reached eight-ninths at Rome. As many different sun-dials had 
to be constructed as there were different cities. The Romans were 
among the last to appreciate the need. And just as they felt no 
need to count the hours till two centuries after the Athenians, 
so they took another hundred years to learn to do it accurately. 7 

At the end of the fourth century B.C. they were still content 
to divide the day into two parts, before midday and after. Natu- 
rally the important thing was then to note the moment when the 
sun crossed the meridian. One of the consul's subordinates was 
told off to keep a lookout for it and to announce it to the people 
busy in the Forum, as well as to the lawyers who, if their plead- 
ings were to be valid, must present themselves before the tribunal 
before midday. The herald's instructions were to make his an- 
nouncement when he saw the sun "between the rostra and the 
graecostasis" which clearly proves that his functions were of 
relatively recent date. For there could be no mention of the rostra 
until the speaker's tribune in the Forum had been adorned with 
the beaks (rostra) of the ships captured from the Antiates by 
Duilius in 338 B.C.; nor could there have been a graecostasis in- 
tended for the reception of Greek envoys until the first Greek 
embassy had been received in Rome, which would appear to have 
been that sent by Demetrius Poliorcetes to the Senate about 306 
B.C. 8 

By the time of the wars against Pyrrhus -some slight progress 
had been made by dividing the two halves of the day into two 
parts: into the early morning and forenoon (mane and ante 
meridiem) on the one hand; and on the other, into afternoon and 
evening (de meridie and suprema).* But it was not until the be- 
ginning of the First Punic War in 264 B.C. that the "hours" and 
the horologium of the Greeks were introduced into the city. 10 One 
of the consuls of that year, M' Valerius Messalla, had brought 
back with other booty from Sicily the sun-dial of Catana and 
set it up as it was on the comitium, where for more than three 
generations the lines engraved on its icoXog for another latitude 


continued to supply the Romans with an artificial time. In spite 
of the assertion- of Pliny the Elder that they blindly obeyed 
it for ninety-nine years, 11 we must be permitted to believe that 
they persisted in ignorance rather than in wilful error. They 
probably took no interest at all in Messalla's sun-dial and con- 
tinued to govern their day in the old happy-go-lucky manner by 
the apparent course of the sun above the monuments of their 
public places, as if the horologium had never existed. 

In the year 164 B.C., however, three years after Pydna, the 
enlightened generosity of the censor Q. Marcius Philippus en- 
dowed the Romans with their first horologium accurately calcu- 
lated for their own latitude and hence reasonably accurate, and 
if we are to believe Pliny the Naturalist they welcomed the gift 
as a coveted treasure. 12 For thirty years their legions had fought 
in Greek territory, almost without ceasing, first against Philip V, 
then against the Aetolians and Antiochus of Syria, finally against 
Perseus; and they had gradually become familiar with the pos- 
sessions of their enemies. At times, perhaps, they had toyed, with- 
out undue success, with a system of hours a trifle less erratic and 
uncertain than the one that had hitherto sufficed them. So they 
were pleased to have a sun-dial brought home and fitted up in 
their own country. Not to be behind Q. Marcius Philippus, the 
censors who succeeded him in office, P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica 
and M. Popilius Laenas, completed the work he had begun by 
flanking his sun-dial with a water-clock to supplement its services 
at night or on days of fog. 18 

It was more than a hundred years since the Alexandrians had 
equipped themselves with a u&pi'ov wpoaxcnreiov which Ctesibius had 
evolved from the ancient y-Xet^pa to remedy the inevitable failure 
of the horologium proper. This became known in Latin as the 
horologium ex aqua. Nothing could well have been simpler than 
the mechanism of the water-clock. Let us imagine the clepsydra 
that is, a transparent vessel of water with a regular intake 
placed near a sun-dial. When the gnomon casts its shadow on a 
curve of the polos, we need only to mark the level of the water 
at that moment by incising a line on the outside of the water- 
container. When the shadow reaches the next curve of the polos, 
we make another mark, and so on until the twelve levels regis- 
tered correspond to the twelve hours of the day chosen for our 
experiment. This being granted, it is clear that if we give our 


clepsydra a cylindrical form we can engrave on it from January to 
December twelve vertical lines corresponding to the twelve 
months of the year. On each of these verticals we then mark the 
twelve hourly levels registered for the same day of each month; 
and finally, by joining with a curved line the hour signs which 
punctuate the monthly verticals, we can read off at once from the 
level of the water above the line of the current month the hour 
which the needle of the sun-dial would have registered at that 
moment if the sun had happened to be shining. 

Once the sun-dial had lent its services for grading the water- 
clock, there was no further need to have recourse to the dial, 
and it was a simple matter to extend the readings to serve for 
the night hours. It is easy to imagine that the use of clepsydrae 
soon became general in Rome. The principle of the sun-dial was 
still sometimes applied on a grandiose scale: in 10 B.C., for in- 
stance, Augustus erected in the Campus Martius the great obelisk 
of Montecitorio to serve as the giant gnomon whose shadow 
would mark the daylight hours on lines of bronze inlaid into the 
marble pavement below. 14 Sometimes, on the other hand, it was 
applied to more and more minute devices which eventually evolved 
into miniature solaria or pocket dials that served the same pur- 
pose as our watches. Pocket sun-dials have been discovered at 
Forbach and Aquileia which scarcely exceed three centimeters in 
diameter. But at the same time the public buildings of the Urbs 
and even the private houses of the wealthy were tending to be 
equipped with more and more highly perfected water-clocks. 
From the time of Augustus, clepsydrarii and organarii rivalled 
each other in ingenuity of construction and elaboration of ac- 
cessories. As our clocks have their striking apparatus and our 
public clocks their peal of bells, the horologia ex aqua which 
Vitruvius describes were fitted with automatic floats which "struck 
the hour" by tossing pebbles or eggs into the air or by emitting 
warning whistles. 15 

The fashion in such things grew and spread during the second 
century of our era. In the time of Trajan a water-clock was as 
much a visible symbol of its owner's distinction and social status 
as a piano is for certain strata of our middle classes today. In 
Petronius' romance, which represents Trimalchio as "a highly 
fashionable person" (lautissimus homo), his confederates frankly 
.justified the admiration they felt for him: "Has he not got a 


clock in his dining-room? And a uniformed trumpeter to keep 
telling him how much of his life is lost and gone?" 16 Trimalchio, 
moreover, has stipulated in his will that his heirs shall build him 
a sumptuous tomb, with a frontage of one hundred feet and a 
depth of two hundred, "and let there be a sun-dial in the middle, 
so that anyone who looks at the time will read my name whether 
he likes it or not." 17 This quaint appeal to posterity would have 
no point if Trimalchio's contemporaries had not been accustomed 
frequently to consult their clocks. It is clear that the hourly di- 
vision of the day had become part and parcel of their everyday 
routine. On the other hand, it would be an error to suppose that 
the Romans lived with their eyes glued to the needles of their 
sun-dials or the floats of their water-clocks as ours are to the 
hands of our watches. They were not yet like us the slaves of time, 
for they still lacked both perseverance and punctuality. 

In the first place, we may be very sure that the agreement be- 
tween the sun-dial and the water-clock was still far from being 
exact. The gnomon of the sun-dial was correct only in the degree 
in which its maker had adapted it to the latitude of the place 
where it stood; and as .for the water-clock, whose measurements 
lumped all the days of one month together though the sun would 
have lighted each differently, its makers could never prevent 
certain inaccuracies in its floats creeping in to falsify the cor- 
rections they had been able to make in the readings of the gnomon. 
If anyone asked the time, he was certain to receive several dif- 
ferent answers at once for, as Seneca asserts, it was impossible 
at Rome to be sure of the exact hour; and it was easier to get 
the philosophers to agree among themselves than the clocks: 
"horam non possum certam tibi dicer e: facilius inter philosophos 
guam inter horologia convenit" 18 Time at Rome was never more 
than approximate. 

Time was perpetually fluid or, if the expression is preferred, 
contradictory. The hours were originally calculated for daytime; 
and even when the water-clock made it possible to calculate the 
night hours by a simple reversal of the data which the sun-dial 
had furnished, it did not succeed in unifying them. The horologia 
ex aqua was built to reset itself, that is, to empty itself afresh for 
night and day. Hence a first discrepancy between the civil day, 
whose twenty-four hours reckoned from midnight to midnight, 
and the twenty-four hours of the natural day which was officially 


divided into two groups of twelve hours each, twelve of the day 
and twelve of the night. 19 

Nor was this all. While our hours each comprise a uniform 
sixty minutes of sixty seconds each, and each hour is definitely 
separated from the succeeding by the fugitive moment at which 
it strikes, the lack of division inside the Roman hour meant that 
each of them stretched over the whole interval of time between 
the preceding hour and the hour which followed; and this hour 
interval instead of being of fixed duration was perpetually elastic, 
now longer, now shorter, from one end of the year to the other, 
and on any given day the duration of the day hours was opposed 
to the length of the night hours. For the twelve hours of the 
day were necessarily divided by the gnomon between the rising 
and the setting of the sun, while the hours of the night were con- 
versely divided between sunset and sunrise; in proportion as the 
day hours were longer at one season, the night hours were, of 
course, shorter, and vice versa. The day hours and night hours 
were equal only twice a year: at the vernal and autumnal equi- 
noxes. They lengthened, and shortened in inverse ratio till the 
summer and winter solstices, when the discrepancy between them 
reached its maximum. At the winter solstice (December 22), when 
the day had only 8 hours, 54 minutes of sunlight against a night 
of 15 hours, 6 minutes, the day hour shrank to 44% minutes while 
in compensation the night hour lengthened to i hour, 15% min- 
utes. At the summer solstice the position was exactly reversed; 
the night hour shrank to its minimum while the day hour reached 
its maximum. 

Thus at the winter solstice the day hours were as follows: 

I. Hora prima from 7.33 to 8.17 A.M. 

II. " secunda " 8.17 " 9.02 " 

III. " tertia " 9.02 " 9.46 ". 

IV. " quarta " 9.46 " 10.31 " 
V. " quinta " 10.31 " 11.15 " 

VI. " sexta " 11.15 " 12.00 noon. 

VII. " septima " 12.00 " 12.44 P.M. 

VIII. " octava " 12.44 " 1.29 " 

IX. " nona " 1.29 " 2.13 " 

X. " decima " 2.13 " 2.58 " 

XI. " undecima " 2.58 " 3.42 " 

XII. " duodecima " 3.42 " 4.27 " 


At the summer solstice the day hours ran thus: 

I. Hora prima from 4.27 to 5.42 A.M. 

II. secunda " 5.42 " 6.58 " 

III. " tertia " 6.58 " 8.13 '" 

IV. " quarta " 8.13 " 9.29 " 
V. " quinta " 9.29 " 10.44 " 

*VI. " sexta " 10.44 " 12.00 noon. 

VII. " septima " 12.00 " 1.15 P.M. 

VIII. " octava . " 1.15 " 2.31 " 

IX. " nona " 2.31 " 3.46 " 

X. " decima 3.46 " 5.02 " 

XI. " undecima " 5.02 6.17 " 

XII. " duodecima " 6.17 " 7.33 " 

The night hours naturally reproduced in rigorous antithesis 
the equivalent fluctuations, with their maximum length at the 
winter solstice and their minimum at the summer solstice. 

These simple facts had a profound influence on Roman life. 
For one thing, as the means of measuring the inconstant hours 
remained inadequate and empirical throughout antiquity, Roman 
life was never regulated with the mathematical precision which 
the above schedule, drawn up according to our methods, might 
suggest, and which tyrannises over the employment of our time. 
Busy as life was in the Urbs, it continued to have an elasticity 
unknown to any modern capital. For another thing, as the length 
of the Roman day was indefinitely modified by the diversity of 
the seasons, life went through phases whose intensity varied with 
the dimensions of the daily hour, weaker in the sombre months, 
stronger when the fine and luminous, days returned; which is 
another way of saying that even in the great swarming city, life 
remained rural in style and in pace. 


To begin with, Imperial Rome woke up as early as any country 
village- at dawn, if not before. Let us revert to an epigram of 
Martial's which I have already quoted, where the poet enumerates 
the causes of insomnia which in his day murdered sleep for the 
luckless city dweller. Before the sun was up, he was a martyr 
to the deafening din of streets and squares where the metal- 
worker's hammer blended with the bawling of the children at 
school: "The laughter of the passing throng wakes me and Rome 


is at my bed's head. . . . Schoolmasters in the morning do not 
let you live; before daybreak, bakers; the hammers of the cop- 
persmiths all day." 20 To protect themselves against the clatter, 
the wealthy retired to the depths of their houses, isolated by the 
thickness of their walls and the garden shrubberies which shut 
them in. But even there they were assailed from within by the 
teams of slaves whose duty it was to clean the house. Day had 
scarcely broken when a crowd of servants, their eyes still swollen 
with sleep, were turned loose by the sound of a bell and flung 
themselves on the rooms, armed with an arsenal of buckets, of 
cloths (ntappae), of ladders (scalae) to reach the ceilings, of 
poles (perticae) with sponges (spongiae) attached to the end, 
feather dusters, and brooms (scopae). The brooms were made 
of green palms or twigs of tamarisk, heather, and myrtle twisted 
together. The cleaners scattered sawdust over the floors; then 
they swept it off again with the accumulated dirt; they dashed 
with their sponges to attack the pillars and cornices; they cleaned, 
they scrubbed, they dusted with noisy fervour. If the master of 
the house was expecting an important guest, he would often rise 
himself to bring them into action and his imperious or fretful 
voice would pierce their hullabaloo, as, whip in hand, he shouted : 
"Sweep the pavement! Polish up the pillars! Down with that 
dusty spider, web and all! One of you clean the flat silver, an- 
other the embossed vessels!" 21 Even if the master depended on 
a steward to carry out this supervision, he was none the less 
awakened by the racket of his servants, unless, like Pliny the 
Younger in his Laurentine villa, he had taken the precaution to 
interpose the silence of a corridor between his bedchamber and 
the commotion of the morning. 22 

In general, however, the Romans .were early risers. In the an- 
cient town the artificial light was so deplorable that the rich 
were as eager as the ppor to profit by the light of day. Each man 
took the maxim of the elder Pliny as his motto "To live is to 
be awake: profecto enim vita vigilia est." 23 Ordinarily no one 
lay in bed of a morning save the young roisterers or the drunkards 
who were forced to sleep off their overnight excesses. 24 Even 
some of these were up and about by noon, for "the fifth hour" at 
which, according to Persius, they made up their minds to go out, 
normally finished about n A.M. 25 The "late morning" when 
Horace betook himself in state to the Forum, 20 and which was a 


luxury Martial could allow himself only in his distant Bilbilis, 27 
meant the third or fourth hour, which in summer ended at about 
8 or 9 A.M. 

The habit of getting up at dawn was so deeply ingrained that 
even if a person lay abed late he still woke before daybreak and 
took up the thread of his normal occupations in his bed by the 
flickering and indifferent light of the wick of tow and wax. From 
this light (lucubrum) came the words "lucubratio" and "lucu- 
brare" which have given us the English "lucubration." 28 From 
Cicero to Horace, from the two Plinys to Marcus Aurelius, dis- 
tinguished Romans vied with each other in "lucubrating" every 
winter; and the year round the Naturalist, having closed his night 
with fiis lucubrations, would wait upon Vespasian before day- 
break, when the emperor likewise chose to transact business, in 
order to submit reports and open his master's correspondence. 29 

There was practically no interval between leaping out of bed 
and leaving the house. Getting up was a simple, speedy, instan- 
taneous process. There is no denying that the bedchamber (cu- 
biculum) had nothing seductive to tempt the occupant to linger. 
Its dimensions were habitually kept down to a minimum ; its solid 
shutters when shut plunged the room into complete darkness, and 
when open flooded it with sun or rain or draughts. It was rarely 
adorned with works of art Tiberius almost created a scandal by 
decorating his. 30 Normally it possessed no furniture but the couch 
(cubile) which gave it its name; possibly a chest (area) in which 
materials and denarii could be stored; the chair on which Pliny 
the Youngfer would invite his friends and his secretaries to sit 
when they came to visit him and on which Martial would throw 
his cloak; and finally the chamber pot (lasanum) or the urinal 
(scaphium)* 1 the different models are minutely described in 
literature, ranging from vessels of common earthenware (matella 
fictilis) to others of silver set with precious stones. 82 

As for the bed however sumptuous we like to picture its 
framework and its fittings the comfort it offered was far from 
equalling its costliness. On a base of interwoven strips of webbing 
were placed a mattress (torus) and a bolster (culcita, cervical) 
whose stuffing (tomentum) was made of straw or reeds among 
the poor and among the rich of wool shorn from the Leuconian 
flocks in the valley of the Meuse, or even of swan's down. 88 But 
there was neither a proper mattress underneath nor sheets above. 


The torus was spread with two coverings (tapetia): on one 
(stragulum) the sleeper lay, the other he pulled over him (operi- 
mentum)* 4 The bed was then spread with a counterpane (lodix) 
or a multicoloured damask quilt (polymitum) Finally, at the 
foot of the bed, ante torum as the Romans put it, there lay a bed* 
side mat (toral) which often rivalled the lodices in luxury. 86 

A toral on the pavement of the bedroom was almost obliga- 
tory. For the Roman, though he sometimes protected his legs by 
a sort of puttees (fasciae), wore nothing corresponding to our 
socks or stockings and went barefoot when he had taken off his 
Nsandals to go to bed. His normal footwear consisted either of 
soleae, a kind of sandal such as Capuchins wear, with the sole 
attached by ribbons over the instep, of crepidae, leather sandals 
held by a strap passing through their eyelets, of calcei, leather 
slippers with crossed leather laces, or of caligae, a type of mili- 
tary boot. On the other hand he was no more accustomed to un- 
dress completely before going to bed than the oriental of today. 
He merely laid aside his cloak, which he either threw on the bed 
as an extra covering or flung on the neighbouring chair. 87 

The ancients in fact distinguished two types of clothing: that 
which they put on first and wore intimately, and that which they 
flung around them afterwards. This is the difference between the 
Greek endumata and epiblemata; and similarly between the Latin 
indumenta, which were worn day and night, and the amictus 
which were assumed for part of the day only. 38 

First among the indumenta came the subligaculum or licium, 
not, as is sometimes supposed, a pair of drawers, but a simple 
loin cloth, usually made of linen and always knotted round the 
waist. In early days it was perhaps the only undergarment worn 
either by nobles or by labourers. Manual workers had no other. 
They flung their toga over it, as die-hard conservatives continued 
to do even in the days of Caesar and Augustus, proclaiming thus 
their attachment to ancient custom. 89 By the second century none 
but the athletes were content to appear thus in public. 40 By this 
date even workmen had acquired the habit of putting on over 
the licium a tunica which became the most important of the in- 
dumenta.* 1 The tunic was a kind of long shirt of linen or wool 
formed of two widths sewed together. It was slipped over the head 
and fastened round the body by a belt. It was draped to fall un- 
equally, reaching only to the knees in front but somewhat below 


them behind. 42 Fashion had introduced some variations into a 
dress which had at first been uniform for both sexes and for every 
social rank. The woman's tunic tended to be longer than the man's 
and might even reach to the heel (tunica talaris). 43 The military 
tunic was shorter than the civilian's, the ordinary citizen's than 
that of the senator which was striped by a broad, vertical band 
of purple (tunica laticlavia). Under the empire the Romans not 
infrequently wore two tunics, one on top of the other; the under- 
tunic was called subucula, and the other, the tunic properly so 
called, was the tunica exterior. People sensitive to cold might 
wear two subuculae instead of one, or even go the length of wear- 
ing (pur tunics, as Augustus is supposed to have done, if we can 
believe the details which Suetonius supplies about the caprices 
of the emperor. 44 In winter as in summer the tunic had short 
sleeves, just covering the top of the arm, and it was not until the 
empire that this length could be exceeded with propriety. 45 This 
explains why even the slaves were allowed to wear warm gloves 
during the great cold, 46 and why it was necessary to have an 
amictus above the indumenta. 

The specifically Roman amictus of the republic and the early 
empire was the cloak known as toga, a word related to the verb 
tegere, to cover. It consisted of a large circle of white woolen 
material 2.7 metres in diameter, which was distinguished by its 
circular shape from all the later varieties derived from the 
himation of the Greeks. 47 In a fine passage Leon Heuzey has re- 
cently pointed out the antagonistic attitudes of mind which found 
expression in these two different forms of dress. 48 With their 
natural love for rectilinear architecture, "the Greeks retained 
the straight edges and the right angles which the cloth had origi- 
nally had in the loom"; and they procured "admirable effects 
from these elementary forms whose simplicity was pleasing to 
their taste and the clear-cut lines of their mind." The Etruscans, 
on the other hand, and after them the Romans, who early adopted 
the arch as the basis of their building and who of choice made 
their temples on a circular plan, similarly rounded off the angles 
of their clothing. They thus achieved "richer and more majestic 
adjustments, but a less straightforward and less really beautiful 
effect." This toga of unalterable character and irreducible am- 
plitude remained the national costume of the Romans throughout 
the heyday of the empire, the ceremonial dress inseparable from 


every manifestation of their civic activity. So unmistakable was 
it, that the Roman residents of Asia took off their togas in order 
to conceal their identity from Mithridates. 49 

The toga was a garment worthy of the masters of the world, 
flowing, solemn, eloquent, but with overmuch complication in its 
arrangement and a little too much emphatic affectation in the 
self-conscious tumult of its folds. It required real skill to drape 
it artfully. Adjusting the toga properly was such a business that 
even a magistrate as free from vanity as Cincinnatus could not 
hope to achieve success without some help, which this frugal 
hero demanded only of his wife Racilia. 50 It required unremitting 
attention if the balance of the toga was to be preserved in walk- 
ing, in the heat of a discourse, or amid the jostlings of a crowd. 
The weight of it was an intolerable burden. 01 Laborious and fre* 
quent washings were necessary to preserve its immaculate white- 
ness, and repeated washing soon wore it threadbare and con- 
demned it to be discarded. 52 

In vain the emperors signed decrees attempting to insist on 
the toga being worn: 53 Claudius decreed it obligatory for the 
tribunal, 54 Domitian for the theatre, 55 Commodus for the amphi- 
theatre. 56 At the beginning of the second century at Rome every- 
one was trying to flee to the country where he could lay aside the 
toga for the paUlum an imitation of the Greek himation, for the 
lacerna, which was a coloured pallium, or for the paenula, which 
was a lacerna completed by a hood (cucullus). Even in the Urbs 
itself the synthesis was substituted for the toga for dining in 
company; this was a garment combining the simplicity of the 
tunic above with the fullness of the toga below. 58 Even in the 
municipia the magistrates would no longer dignify their functions 
by wearing the toga, and ordinary citizens wore it only on their 
last bed on the day of their funeral. 59 

They took good care not to wear the toga when lying on their 
bed alive. Putting on the toga, or the amictus which had suc- 
ceeded it in popular favour, was the sole operation which gave 
trouble on rising in the morning scarcely less trouble then to 
the wearers than now to the archaeologists who try to reconstruct 
the process. If, like some of the provincial aediles, a man re- 
nounced every kind of amictus, or if he postponed till later in the 
day the bother of swathing himself artistically in one, his dress- 
ing could be accomplished in the twinkling of an eye. He needed 


only to slip on his footgear on the toral. The emperor Vespasian 
used to drape himself unaided in half a minute, and the moment 
he had put on his calcei he was ready to give audience and set 
about the performance of his imperial duties. 60 The Romans of 
this period were thus ready to attend to the business of their 
public life within a few minutes of getting out of bed. 

Their breakfast consisted of a glass of water swallowed in all 
haste. 61 They did not waste time in washing for they knew they 
would be going to bathe at the end of the afternoon, either in their 
private balneum if they were rich enough to have had one in- 
stalled in their own house, or else in one of the public thermae. 

Only one single villa, that of Diomedes, has been excavated in 
Pompeii where the master's bedroom included a zotheca or alcove 
equipped with a table and a basin. 62 In the text of Suetonius 
where we are allowed to witness the rising of Vespasian, the sub- 
ject of a morning wash is passed over in silence; 63 and though 
the same Suetonius mentions it in telling of the last hours of 
Domitian, his allusion is too elliptic for us to attach much im- 
portance to it. 64 Terrified by the prophecy that the fifth hour of 
September 18, 96 A.D. the hour at which in fact he died a 
bloody death was to be inexorably fatal to him, the emperor had 
mewed himself in his room and had not quitted his bed the whole 
morning. He remained seated on the bolster beneath which he 
had a sword concealed. Then suddenly, at the false news that 
the sixth hour had come, when actually the fifth had but begun, 
he decided to get up and proceed to the care of his body (ad 
corporis curam) in an adjacent room. But Parthenius, his cham- 
berlain, who was one of the conspirators, kept him back on the 
pretext that a visitor was insisting on making grave revelations 
to him in person. Suetonius unfortunately has not specified what 
were the cares which he was going to give his body when the 
assassins' plot prevented him. The brevity of the allusion, the 
readiness with which Domitian was turned aside from his in- 
tention, indicate that nothing very serious was intended. The 
word sapo in those days was used only for a dye, and the use of 
soap in our sense was still unknown, so that at most he may 
have meant to tfip his face and hands in fresh water. This was 
the limit of the cura corporis of the fourth century which Ausonius 
versified in a charming little ode of his Ephemeris, the Occupa- 
tions of a Day: "Come, slave, up! Give me my slippers and my 


muslin mantle. Bring me the amictus you have got ready for me, 
for I am going forth. And pour out the running water that I may 
wash my hands, my mouth, my eyes 

Da rore fontano abluam 
Manus et os et luminat" 6S 

After which the poet enters his chapel and, having prayed, sets 
out to seek his friends. 


The real toilet of the Roman dandy was performed at the hair- 
dresser^ (tonsor), to whose care he confided the cut of his beard 
and the arrangement of his hair. This was already the essential 
cura corporis for Julius Caesar whose fastidiousness as a dandy 
Suetonius has not failed to record for us in this 'connection. 60 By 
the second century the barber-hairdresser had become a tyrant. 
The man who was rich enough to include tonsores in his house- 
hold retinue put himself in their hands in the morning and again, 
if necessary, in the course of the day. 

Those unable to face the considerable expense of keeping a 
private hairdresser would go at varying hours, as often as seemed 
necessary, to one of the innumerable barbershops in the tabernae 
of the city, or which did business in the open for their humbler 
customers. 67 Idlers went frequently and dawdled there. If we 
consider the time they spent and the anxieties which obsessed 
them, it is perhaps hardly fair to call "idlers" men who were con- 
tinually busy dividing their attention between the comb anrf 
the mirror : "hos tu otiosos vocas inter pectinem speculumque oc- 
cupatos?" 68 The crowd which assembled from dawn to the eighth 
hour 69 was so great that the tonstrina became a rendezvous, a 
club, a gossip shop, an inexhaustible dispensary of information, 
a place for arranging interviews and the like. 70 On the other 
hand, so motley and so composite was the crowd that few sights 
were more picturesque, and from the time of Augustus lovers of 
painting seized on it as a subject for genre pictures such as the 
Alexandrians had loved. The hairdresser's fee was so generous 
that we frequently find in Juvenal's Satires and Martial's Epi- 
grams allusion to the ex-barber who has made his pile and has 
transmogrified himself into an Eques or a wealthy landed pro- 
prietor. 71 


The hairdresser's shop was surrounded with benches on which 
the waiting clients sat. Mirrors hung on the walls so that cus- 
tomers might give themselves a critical glance on leaving the 
chair. 72 In the centre, his clothes sometimes protected by a simple 
napkin, large or small (mappa or sudarium), sometimes by a wrap 
(involucrum) of cambric (linteum) or of muslin (sindon), the 
victim whose turn had come would seat himself on a stool while 
the barber, surrounded by his officious assistants (circitores) , 
would cut his hair or, if it had not grown too much since his last 
visit, would merely dress it for him in the latest mode of the day. 
The fashion of hairdressing was determined by the mode affected 
by the sovereign. With the exception of Nero, who liked to mass 
his hair artistically, 73 the emperors appear from their coins and 
their busts to have conformed, at least down to Trajan, as much 
to the example of Augustus, who never granted more than a few 
hasty moments to his tonsores, 14 as to the aesthetic ideal ex- 
pounded simultaneously by Quintilian and by Martial, both of 
whom were equally hostile to long hair and piled-up curls. 75 At 
the beginning of the second century the majority of Romans were 
therefore content with a simple haircut and a stroke of the comb. 
The comb was all the more necessary since the haircut was per- 
formed with a pair of iron scissors (forfex) whose two blades 
were as innocent of a common pivot as their base was of rings 
for the operator's fingers. Its efficiency, therefore, left much to 
be desired, and it could not avoid the irregularities which we 
call "steps'' and which according to Horace's Epistles exposed the 
victim to public derision: 

"Si curatus inaequali tonsore capillos 
Occurri, rides. . . ." 76 

The dandies presently began to prefer curls to the straight 
haircut. Hadrian, his son Lucius Caesar, and his grandson Lucius 
Verus are all shown in their effigies with artificially-curled hair, 
produced either by appropriate manoeuvres of the comb (ftexo 
ad pectinem capillo) 11 or by the aid of a calamistrum, a curling- 
iron which the ciniflones had heated in its metal sheath under 
burning coals, and round which the tonsor twisted the hair with 
expert hand. At the beginning of the second century this practice 
had become current not only with young men, who could not be 
blamed for indulging in the practice, but also among older folk 


whose scantier hair lent itself badly to a treatment too flattering 
not to be ridiculous: 

From one side and from the other [writes Martial] you gather up 
your scanty locks and you cover, Marinus, the wide expanse of your 
shining bald scalp with the hair from both sides of your head. But 
blown about they come back at the bidding of the wind, and return to 
themselves and gird your bare poll with big curls on this sid* and on 
that. . . . Will you please in simpler fashion confess yourself old, so 
as after all to appear so? Nothing is more unsightly than a bald head 
with dressed hair. 78 

It was part of the tensor's business to complete the youthful 
illusion which his clients sought by pouring dye on the curls so 
laboriously attained, 79 spraying them with perfume, spreading 
make-up cream on the cheeks, and gumming on little circles of 
cloth -either to conceal the flaws of an unattractive skin or to 
enhance the brilliance of a poor complexion. These spots were 
known as splenia lunata or, as we should call them, "patches." 80 
These more obvious refinements never ceased to bring down vigor- 
ous ridicule on their addicts, from the lampoons of Cicero on the 
damp fringes of certain fops among his enemies 81 to the epigrams 
launched by Martial against their later imitators: "Constantly 
smeared darkly with cassia and cinnamon and the perfumes from 
the nest of the lordly phoenix, you reek of the leaden jars of the 
perfumer Niceros, and therefore you laugh at us, Coracinus, who 
smell of nothing. To smelling of scent I prefer to smell of noth- 
ing." 82 Or again: "There is about you always some foreign odour. 
This is suspect to me, your being always well-scented." 83 Or: 
"Rufus, whose greasy hair is smelt all over Marcellus' theatre 
. . . while numerous patches star and plaster his brow." 84 

At the particular period with which we are dealing, however, 
the daily recurrent task of the tonsor was to trim or shave the 
beard. This was' no doubt a custom which had become established 
only comparatively late. The Romans, like the Greeks, had for 
a long time worn beards as a matter of course. The Greeks cut 
theirs, following the example and obeying the command of Alex- 
ander. It was a hundred and fifty years before the Romans began 
to imitate them. At the beginning of the second century B.C. 
Titus Quinctius Flamininus on his proconsular coins and Cato 
the Elder in the literary allusions to his censorship and to his 
person are both represented as bearded. 85 A generation later the 


number of beards had decreased. Scipio Aemilianus liked to be 
shaved every day; and did not give it up even when he ought to 
have renounced it in protest against the unjust accusations which 
were being levelled at him. 80 Forty years later the fashion he had 
set had spread under the dictatorship, as if the spirit of Greek 
civilisation from which in its own despite the dictatorship drew 
its inspiration had extended its ascendancy from the funda- 
mentals of political government to the minutest details of every- 
day life. Sulla was clean-shaven. Caesar, his true successor, at- 
tached the greatest importance to appearing always freshly 
shaved. 87 After he became emperor, Augustus would not have 
dreamed of neglecting to submit daily to the barber's razor. By 
the end of the first century B.C. nothing but the gravest or most 
painful crisis would have induced the great men of the day to 
omit a formality which had become for them a state duty: Caesar, 
after the massacre of his lieutenants by the Eburones; 88 Cato of 
Utica, after the outbreak of the civil war; 80 Anthony after his 
check at Modena; 90 Augustus after the fresh disaster of Varus. 91 
Under the empire, from Tiberius to Trajan, the principes never 
failed to shave; and their subjects would have thought them- 
selves unworthy of their imperial masters if they had not fol- 
lowed suit. 

To tell the truth, shaving was for the Romans a sort of religious 
rite. The first time that a young man's beard fell to the barber's 
razor was made the occasion of a religious ceremony: the de- 
positio barbae. The dates on which the emperors and their rela- 
tions performed it have duly been recorded: Augustus himself, 
September, 39 B.C.; 92 Marcellus while he was taking part in the 
expedition against the Cantabrians, 25 B.C.; 93 Caligula and Nero 
at the time that they assumed the toga virilis* 4 Ordinary citizens 
copied their doings with scrupulous exactitude. Mourning parents 
recorded in an epitaph that their dead son had just "deposited 
his beard," in his twenty-third year, at the same age as Au- 
gustus; 95 and just as Nero had consecrated the hairs of his first 
beard sacrifice in a golden casket offered to Capitoline Jove, so 
Trimalchio exhibited to his guests a golden pyx, in which he had 
similarly deposited his lanugo, in his private chapel between the 
silver statuettes of his lares and a marble statuette of Venus. 96 
Poor men for their part had to get along with a pyx of glass; 
and in Juvenal's day rich and poor made this solemnity a festival 


according to and indeed often beyond their means, with re- 
joicings and feastings to which all the friends of the family were 
invited. 97 

The barber used scissors to cut the beard which was to be 
offered as "first fruits" to the divinity; and adolescents whose 
chins were still covered only with a more or less abundant down 
usually waited till their boyhood was well over before embarking 
on their first shave. 98 But once a certain age was passed, no one 
but a soldier or a philosopher could decently have ventured any 
longer to shrink from the razor. 99 Martial compares unshaven men 
to the African he-goats who feed by the shores of Cyniphs be- 
tween the two Syrtes. 100 The very slaves were sent off to the 
tonsores who operated in the open air on humbler folk, unless 
their master for economy invited his own barber to try his hand 
on their skin. 101 For no one shaved himself. The clumsy instru- 
ments and awkward technique which were all they had at their 
disposal forced the Romans to place themselves in the hands of 

The comment may be made that archaeologists have discovered 
numbers of razors in prehistoric and Etruscan ruins, but that by 
what at first seems a curious paradox they have found few or 
none in their Roman excavations. The explanation is simple. The 
razors of Terra Mare and of the Etruscans were of bronze, while 
the Roman razor, whether the razor properly so called (novacula) 
or the knife which served either for shaving or for cutting the 
nails (culter or cultellus), was of iron and has been eaten by 
rust. 102 These iron instruments, or jerramenta, to use the generic 
name applied to every variety of them, were both fragile and 
perishable tools. This, however, was their least serious demerit. 
In vain the tonsor whetted them on his hone or whetstone a 
laminitana bought in Spain, 103 which he lubricated by spitting on 
it; do what he would, the edge of his razor passed ineffectively 
and dangerously over a skin which had not been softened before- 
hand either by soap-suds or by oil. There is, so far as I know, 
but one text which throws any light on these details, and in my 
opinion it establishes beyond question that the only lotion ever 
applied by the Roman barber to his client's face was water pure 
and simple. Plutarch tells a delightful anecdote of the prodigality 
of M. Antonius Creticus, father of Anthony the Triumvir. 104 One 
day a friend came to beg a loan from him. Now money had a way 


of burning a hole in his pocket, and the unfortunate spendthrift 
had to confess that his wife held the purse-strings tightly drawn 
and had not left him a penny to bless himself with. In this pre- 
dicament he thought of a ruse to defeat his impecuniosity and 
satisfy his friend. He called to a slave to bring him some water in 
a silver bowl, and proceeded to wet his beard as if he were going 
to be shaved. Then, making a pretext to dismiss the slave, he 
handed the silver basin to his friend, who went off well content. 
Obviously the stratagem of Antonius Creticus would have had no 
point unless the barber's sole preliminary was to pass clean water 
over his face. 

In these circumstances it is clear that the barber needed to be 
an expert of no common dexterity. It was not until he had served 
a long apprenticeship to a master and had learned to handle the 
blunt razors of a beginner that he obtained the right to open a 
barbershop on his own account. 105 Even then his trade bristled 
with difficulties and dangers. The virtuosos who excelled in it 
soon acquired a fame which poets did not disdain to commemorate 
in their verse. To the memory of such a one Martial composed the 
following delicate epitaph: 

Within this tomb lies Pantagathus, snatched away in boyhood's years, 
his master's grief and sorrow, skilled to cut with steel that scarcely 
touched the straggling hairs, and to trim the bearded cheeks. Gentle 
and light upon him thou mayst be, O earth, as it behoves thee; lighter 
than the artist's hand thou canst not be. 108 

Pantagathus unfortunately belonged to the cream of his profes- 
sion; most of his colleagues were far from commanding equal 
skill. The tonsores of the cross-roads in particular exposed their 
humble customers to most disagreeable experiences. A moment 
of inattention on their part, an accident in the, street, an un- 
expected push or shove from the crowd, the impact of a missile 
suddenly thrown, and the barber's hand might slip, inflicting a 
wound on his client for which the jurists of Augustus thought it 
well to determine the responsibility and assess the damages in 
advance. 107 At the beginning of the second century no progress 
had been made, and the barber's victims had usually to choose 
between a cautious but interminable treatment and the scars of a 
speedy but dangerous and bloody operation. The most famous 
barbers cultivated an incredible leisureliness. Augustus outwitted 


this by unrolling a manuscript or resorting to his stylus and 
tablets while the tonsor was attending to him. 108 A hundred years 
later the barber's slowness was still the subject of jest: "While 
nimble Eutrapelus goes round Lupercus 7 face and trims his cheeks 
a second beard grows." 109 

A barber, young, but such an artist as was not even Nero's Thalamus to 
whom fell the beards of the Drusi, I lent on his request to Rufus once to 
smooth his cheeks. While at command he was going over the same 
hairs, guiding his hand by the judgment of the mirror, and smoothing 
the skin, and making a second thorough clip of the dose-cut hair, my 
barber became a bearded man himself. 110 

At the hands of the average tonsor the torment did not last so 
long but was proportionately more painful: 

He who desires not yet to go down to Stygian shades, let him, if he be 
wise, avoid barber Antiochus. White arms are mangled with knives less 
cruel when the frenzied throng, the votaries of Cybele, raves to Phry- 
gian strains; with gentler touch the surgeon Alcon cuts the knotted 
hernia and lops away broken bones with a workman's hand. . . . These 
scars, what'er they are thou numberest on my chin, scars such as are 
fixed on some time-worn boxer's face these a wife formidable with 
wrathful talons wrought not 'tis Antiochus 1 steel and hand accursed. 
Alone among all beasts the he-goat has good sense: bearded he lives to 
escape Antiochus. 111 

These gashes were so frequent that Pliny the Elder has pre- 
served for us the receipt for the plaster which was found suitable 
to staunch the bleeding, a receipt unpleasant enough: spider's 
webs soaked in oil and vinegar. 112 

To be honest, it required courage of no* mean order to go to 
the barber's; inconvenience for inconvenience, suffering for suf- 
fering, the Romans often preferred to have recourse to other 
expedients, like Martial's Gargilianus: "With salve you smooth 
your cheeks, and with hair-eradicator your bald pate: surely you 
are not afraid, Gargilianus, of a barber?" 11S Some went daily to 
the dropacista: "You stroll about sleek with curled hair . . . you 
are smoothed with depilatory daily. . . . Cease to call me brother, 
Charmenion, lest I call you sister!" 114 The dropax used for these 
purposes was a depilatory liniment made of a resin and pitch; 
alternatively the face might be rubbed with psilothrum, an in- 
gredient procured from the white vine, or some other of the pastes 


formed with a base of ivy gum, ass's fat, she-goat's gall, bat's 
blood, or powdered viper, all of which Pliny lists for us. 115 Some 
preferred to take the Naturalist's advice and combine these appli- 
cations with direct epilation, and like Julius Caesar before them, 
or like women nowadays, to have their hairs individually plucked 
out with tweezers (volsella) . 11G Some dandies pushed endurance 
to the point of begging their tonsor to use simultaneously on their 
skin scissors, razor, and depilatory-pincers according to con- 
venience, incurring the gibe of Martial as they left the tonstrina: 
'Tart of your jaw is clipped, part is shaved, part is plucked of 
hairs. Who would imagine this' to be a single head?" m 

By the middle of the century the bulk of Romans were begin- 
ning to revolt against their enslavement to the barber. When 
therefore the emperor Hadrian either wishing, as his biographer 
says, to conceal an ugly scar, or simply hoping to shake off an 
intolerable yoke decided to let grow the beard which on coins, 
busts, and statues decorates his chin, his subjects and successors 
hastily vied with each other in following his example. 118 From that 
moment, what had for two-and-a-half centuries been the essential 
cura corporis of men in Rome disappeared from the daily pro- 
grain, leaving no trace and causing jio regret. 


So much for the toilet of the Roman man. This covers, however, 
only half our subject. To tackle the other half and watch the 
Roman woman getting up, we must move over to her quarters and 
for the greater part of the time change the mise en sctne. 

We may recall the amusing chapter of the Physiologic du 
Manage which learnedly weighs the advantages and disadvant- 
ages of the various systems a couple must choose between if 
they are to maintain the harmony of their married life: one bed 
in 'one room, or two beds in the same room, or two beds in two 
separate rooms. Balzac tolerates the first, prefers the last, and 
absolutely bans the compromise of the twin beds. It so happens 
that the great French novelist has thus, without suspecting it, 
codified the customs which prevailed in Imperial Rome. 

Only on the first floor of one house recently excavated at 
Herculaneum have we discovered some cubicula with two beds. 
And in this case it seems more than probable thrt they belonged 
to an inn, so there is nothing to prove that the two beds were de- 


signed for a married couple. Literary texts give no hint of several 
beds together in one room except in the overcrowded cenacula 
(or sub-let) apartments of the insulae. Everywhere they record 
either the community of the lectus genialis or two separate rooms 
for the married pair. The couple made their choice of one or the 
other arrangement according to the space available in their house, 
that is to say, in the last analysis, according to their social stand- 
ing. Humble folk and the modest middle classes had no room to 
spare in their homes and did not expect anything but a shared 
bed. In one of his epigrams Martial poses as being willing to 
accept the hand of a rich old woman, on the condition that they 
need never sleep together: "Communis tecum nee mihi lectus 
erit" 119 But on the other hand he enlarged tenderly on the mutual 
affection which Calenus and Sulpicia preserved during the fifteen 
years of their married life, and dwelt without undue prudery on 
the amorous ecstasies which were witnessed by their nuptial bed 
and by the lamp "copiously sprinkled with the perfumes of 
Niceros." 12 

The great aristocrats, however, organised their life in such a 
way that each of the married pair could enjoy independence in the 
home. Thus we always find Pliny the Younger alone in the room 
when he wakes "round about the first hour, rarely earlier, rarely 
later" ; in the silence and solitude and darkness which reign round 
his bed behind the closed shutters, he feels himself "wonderfully 
free and abstracted from those outward objects that dissipate 
attention and left to my own thoughts." 121 This was his favourite 
time for composition. We must, however, imagine that his beloved 
Calpurnia was sleeping and getting up in another room, where 
he would join her when she was under his roof, and toward which 
his steps would turn of their own accord when she was absent. 122 

It was evidently the right thing in the higher society of those 
days for man and wife to sleep apart, and the upstarts were not 
slow to copy the great in this matter. Petronius notes this eccen- 
tricity in his novel. Trimalchio swaggers in front of his guests, 
boasting the size of the house he has had built for himself. He has 
his own bedroom where he sleeps; his wife's he calls "the nest of 
this she-viper." 12S But Trimalchio is deceiving either himself or 
us. Nature and habit are too strong for him; they reassert them- 
selves at the gallop. In practice, one of the rooms ordered from 
the architect remains unused. Whatever he may pretend, he does 


not sleep by himself in haughty isolation, but shares in another 
room the bed of Fortunata. Like the French husbands who 
punctiliously address their wives as vous in company, but let an 
occasional tu inadvertently escape them of a sudden, he ingenu- 
ously betrays himself in the passage where, while indulging 
liberally in smutty confidences, he blatantly attributes his in- 
somnia to the unseemly noises emitted by the weighty "better 
half" at his side: "Why do you laugh, Fortunata? It is you who 
prevent my closing an eye the whole night." 124 

It matters little either way. Whether she slept in a room of her 
own or shared a room with him, the Roman woman's morning 
toilet closely resembled her husband's. Like him, she kept on her 
undergarments in bed at night: her loin cloth, her brassiere 
(strophium, mamillare) or corset (capitium), her tunic or tunics, 
and sometimes, to the despair of' her husband, a mantle over all. 125 
Consequently she, like him, had nothing to do when she got up, 
but to draw on her slippers on the toral and then drape herself in 
the amictus of her choice; and her preliminary ablutions were as 
sketchy as his. Pending the hour of the bath, the essential cur a 
cor pom for her as for him consisted of attentions which we should 
consider accessory. In matters of toilet the Roman lady of the 
empire resembled the oriental lady of today; she considered the 
superfluous thing the most necessary. 

It is the jurists who, in laying down an inventory of female 
inheritance, best help us to arrange in order the unequal and suc- 
cessive planes on which the Roman woman's coquetry set up its 
batteries. The personal objects which a woman left behind her 
were legally divided into three categories; toilet articles (mundus 
muliebris) 9 adornments (ornamenta), and clothes (vestis). 12 * 
Under the heading vestis the lawyers enumerate the different 
garments which women wore. To the toilet belonged everything 
she used for keeping clean (mundus muliebris est quo mutter 
mundior fit): her wash-basins (matellae), her mirrors (specula) 
of copper, silver, sometimes even of glass backed not with mercury 
but with lead; and also, when she was fortunate enough to be able 
to disdain the hospitality of the public bath, her bathtub 
(lavatio). Her "adornments" included the instruments and 
products which contributed to her beautification, from her combs 
and pins and brooches (fibulae) to the unguents she applied to 


her skin and the jewels with which she adorned herself. At bathing 
time her mundus and her ornamenta were both needed ; but when 
she first got up in the morning it was enough for her to "adorn" 
herself without washing: "ex somno statim ornata non com- 

She began by dressing her hair. At the period which is now 
engaging our attention this was no small affair. Women had long 
since given up the simplicity of the republican coiffure restored 
to honour for a space by Claudius in which a straight, even 
parting divided the hair in front and a simple chignon gathered 
it together at the back. They were no longer content with braids 
raised on pads above the forehead, such as we see in the busts of 
Li via and Octavia. With Messalina there came in those compli- 
cated and high-piled methods of hairdressing which are familiar 
to us from illustrations of women during the Flavian period. In 
later years, though the ladies of the court who set the fashion, 
Marciana, sister of Trajan, Matidia, his niece, gave up these 
styles, they nevertheless preserved the custom of dressing their 
hair in diadems as high as towers. "Behold," says Statius in one 
of his Silvae, "behold the glory of this sublime forehead and the 
stagings of her coiffure." Juvenal makes merry in his turn about 
the contrast between the height of a certain fine lady and the 
pretentiousness of her piled-up hair to which there seemed no 
limit: "So numerous are the tiers and stories piled one upon 
another on her head! In front you would take her for an An- 
dromache; she is not so tall behind; you would not think it was 
the same person." 127 

Roman women were as dependent on their ornatrix as their 
husbands on the tonsor. The skill of the tire-woman was indis- 
pensable for erecting these elaborate scaffoldings, and the epitaphs 
of many ornatriccs tell us the dates of their death and the fami- 
lies by whom they were employed. 128 The wojnan had to devote as 
much time to her stance with the ornatrix as her husband had to 
give to the barber; and she suffered as much on these occasions as 
he did, especially if like the Julia of whom Macrobius tells she 
bade her tire-woman pitilessly tear out the greying hairs. 129 The 
post of ornatrix was far from being a sinecure. Not infrequently 
the torturer became a martyr, if perchance her mistress, worn out 
by holding one pose everlastingly, suddenly decided that the result 


of so much suffering still left much to be desired. Epigrams and 
satires are full of the cries of angry matrons and the groans of 
serving women in distress. 

If Madame has an appointment and wishes to be turned out more nicely 
than usual [writes Juvenal] ... the unhappy Psecas who does her 
hair will have her own hair torn, and the clothes stripped off her 
shoulders and her breasts. "Why is this curl standing up?" she asks, 
and then down comes a thong of bull's hide to inflict chastisement for 
the offending ringlet! 180 

Martial for his part relates: "One curl of the whole round of hair 
had gone astray, badly fixed by an insecure pin. This crime 
Lalage avenged with the mirror in which she had observed it and 
Plecusa, smitten, fell because of those savage locks!" m Happy, 
in these circumstances, was the ornatrix whose mistress was bald! 
With a minimum of risk she could adjust the artificial tresses 
(crines, galerus, corymbium), or at need an entire wig. Sometimes 
the false hair was dyed blond with the sapo of Mainz obtained by 
blending goat's fat with beech ash; 132 sometimes it was an ebony 
black, like the cut hair imported from India in such quantities 
that the imperial government entered capilli Indict among the 
commodities which had to pay customs duty. 133 

The ornatrix 's duties did not end there, however. She had still 
to remove her mistress's superfluous hair, and above all to "paint" 
her: white on brow and arms with chalk and white lead; red on 
cheeks and lips with ochre, fucus, or the lees of wine; black with 
ashes (fuligo) or powdered antimony on the eyebrows and round 
the eyes. 134 The tire-woman's palette was a collection of pots and 
flagons, Greek vases and alabaster jars, of gutti and pyxes from 
which as ordered she extracted liniments, pomades, and make-up. 
The mistress of the house normally kept this arsenal locked in a 
cupboard in the nuptial room (thalamus). In the morning she 
spread out everything on the table beside the powdered horn 
which, following Messalina's example, she used to enamel her 
teeth. 185 Before calling her ornatrices to get to work, she took care 
to secure the door, for she knew from Ovid that art does not 
beautify a woman's face unless it be concealed. 188 When she set 
out for the bath she took all her apparatus with her, each pot and 
jar in its own compartment in a special little box, sometimes made 
of solid silver, which was called by the generic name of capsa or 
alabastrotheca; these various jars contained her daytime face, 


which she made up on rising, made up again after her bath, and 
did not un-make until after nightfall at the last moment before 
going to bed: "You lie stored away in a hundred caskets, and your 
face does not sleep with you!" 137 

Once made up, the fashionable lady, always assisted by her 
ornatrices, chose her jewels, set with precious stones, and put them 
on one by one: a diadem on her hair, and ear-rings in her ears; a 
collar (monile) or trinkets (catettae) round her neck; a pendant 
on her breast; bracelets (armillae) on her wrists; rings on her 
fingers, and circlets on her ankles (periscelides) like those which 
the Arab women of the sheik's tent wear. 138 Next her chamber- 
women (a veste) hastened to the rescue and helped to dress her. 
They slipped over her head her long upper tunic (the stola), 
sign of her exalted rank, round the hem of which was stitched a 
braid (instita) embroidered in gold. They tied her belt (zona), 
and finally enveloped her either in a long shawl which covered her 
shoulders and reached down to her feet (the supparum), or in 
the palla the woman's counterpart of the man's pallium a big 
square cloak with rhythmic folds and of some dazzling colour. 

Woman's dress in Rome was not distinguished from man's by 
the cut, but rather by the richness of the material and the bril- 
liance of the colour. To linen and wool she preferred the cotton 
stuffs that came from India after the Parthian peace, assured by 
Augustus and confirmed by the victories of Trajan, had guaran- 
teed the security of imports; above all she loved the silks which 
the mysterious Seres exported annually to the empire from the 
country which we nowadays call China. Since the reign of Nero 
silk caravans had come by the land routes across Asia, then from 
Issidon Scythica (Kashgar) to the Black Sea, or else through 
Persia and down the Tigris and Euphrates to the Persian Gulf, or 
by boat down the Indus and then by ship to the Egyptian ports of 
the Red Sea. Silk materials were not only more supple, lighter, 
and iridescent, they also lent themselves better than all others to 
skilful manipulation. The affectores with their ingredients rein- 
forced the original colours; the injector es denaturalised them; 
and the various dyers, the purpurarii, flammarii, crocotarii, 
violarii, knew cunning dyes equalling in number the vegetable, 
animal, and mineral resources at their disposal; chalk and soap- 
wort and salt of tartar for white; saffron and reseda for yellow; 
for black, nut-gall; woad for blue; madder, archil, and purple 
for dark and lighter shades of red. Mindful of Ovid's counsels/ 90 


the matrons adapted their complexions to the colours of their 
dresses and harmonised them so skilfully that when they went 
into the city they lit the streets with the bravery of their multi- 
coloured robes and shawls and mantles, whose brilliance was often 
further enhanced by dazzling embroideries like those which 
adorned the splendid palla of black in which Isis appeared to 
Apuleius! 140 

It was the matron's business to complete her costume with 
various accessories foreign in their nature to man's dress, which 
further accentuated the picturesqueness of her appearance. While 
a man normally wore nothing on his head, or at most, if the rays 
of the sun were too severe or the rain beat too fiercely down, threw 
a corner of his toga or pallium over his head or drew down the 
hood (cucullus) of his cloak (paenida), the Roman woman, if not 
wearing a diadem or mitra, passed a simple bandeau (vitta) of 
crimson through her hair, no longer imprisoned in its net, or else a 
tutulus similrr to the bandeau of the fiaminicae, which broadened 
in the centre to rise above the forehead in the shape of a cone. She 
often wore a scarf (jocale) knotted at the neck. The mappa 
dangling from her arm served to wipe dust or perspiration from 
her face (orarium, sudarium). We must, however, beware of 
assuming that the practice of blowing the nose came in early, for 
the only Latin word which can fairly be translated as handker- 
chief (muccinium) is not attested before the end of the third 
century. 141 In one hand she often flourished a fan of peacocks' 
feathers (flabellum), with which she also brushed away the flies 
(muscarium). In fine weather she carried in her other hand, unless 
she entrusted it to a serving woman by her side (pedisequa) or to 
her escort, a sunshade (umbella, umbraculum), usually covered 
in bright green. She had no means of closing it at will, as we can 
ours, so she left it at home when there was a wind. 142 

Thus equipped, "the fair" could face the critical eye of their 
fellow women and challenge the admiration of the passers-by. But 
it is certain that the complexity of their array, combined with a 
coquetry not peculiar to their day, must have drawn out the time 
demanded by their morning toilet far beyond that needed by their 
husbands. This was, hqwever, a matter of no account, for the 
women of Rome were not busy people like their men, and to 
confess the truth they took no part in the public life of Rome 
except in its hours of leisure. 




N Trajan's Rome women spent most 
of their time indoors. If they were 
poor they attended to the work of 
the household, until the hour when 
they could go to the public baths 
which were reserved for them. If 
they were rich and had a large 
household staff to relieve them of 
domestic cares, they had nothing to 
do but go out when the fancy took 
them, pay visits to their women 
friends, take a walk, attend public spectacles, or later go out to 
dinner. The men on the other hand rarely stayed at home. If they 
had to earn their bread, they hurried off to their business, which 
in all trade guilds began at dawn. Even if they were unemployed 
they were no sooner out of bed than they were in the grip of the 
duties inseparable from being a "client." For it was not only the 
freedmen who were dependent on the good graces of a patron. 
From the parasite do-nothing up to the great aristocrat there was 
no man in Rome who did not feel himself bound to someone more 
powerful above him by the same obligations of respect, or, to use 
the technical term, the same obsequium, that bound the ex-slave 
to the master who had manumitted him. 1 

The patronus for his part was in honour bound to welcome his 
client to his house, to invite him from time to time to his table, 
to come to his assistance, and to make him gifts. To clients who 
were in actual want the patron distributed food (s par tula) ; which 
they carried off in a basket or more often, to avoid the trouble this 
entailed, he gave them small presents of money when they called. 
In Trajan's time these customs were so universal that the number 


of clients scarcely varied from one house to another, and a sort of 
sportula tariff had become established in the Urbs: six-and-a- 
quarter sesterces per head per day. 2 How many briefless bar- 
risters, how many professors without pupils, how many artists 
without orders reckoned this meagre dole as their main source of 
revenue! 8 Clients who also practised a trade supplemented their 
earnings by the patron's dole, and in order not to arrive too late 
at their workshop they ran round to their patron to fetch it be- 
fore daybreak. 4 As the importance of a magnate depended on the 
size of his clientele, a man would have tarnished his reputation 
if he had preferred a long morning in bed to the pleasure of the 
mob at his morning receptions. Such relaxation might pass in the 
provinces, in a distant spot like Bilbilis, for instance; but in Rome 
the great man would not dare to be inattentive to the complaints 
of one, the demands of another, the salutations of all. 5 

A severe and meticulous code of etiquette regulated this 
obligatory attendance. First, though a client was free to come on 
foot rather than in a litter, he could not decently appear without 
a toga; and this strict insistence on ceremonial dress weighed so 
heavily on his budget that it would soon have eaten up his 
sportulae if it had not become the fashion for the patron to take 
advantage of some solemn occasion to present him with a new 
toga in addition to the five or six pounds of silverware which he 
reckoned on receiving each December, when the Saturnalian gift 
giving came round. 6 Secondly, clients were bound to wait their 
turn patiently, and this depended not on the order of their arrival 
but on their social status; the praetor came before the tribune, 
the eques before the plain citizen, the freedman before the slave. 7 
Finally, the client had to take great care in addressing his patron 
not to call the great man simply by his name but to give him the 
title of dominus failure to observe this detail might cause him to 
return home empty handed: "This morning I address you, as it 
chanced, by your own name, nor did I add 'My Lord,' Caecilianus. 
Do you ask how much such casual conduct has cost me? It has 
robbed me of a hundred farthings." 8 

Each morning, therefore, Rome awoke to the coming and going 
of clients discharging these customary politenesses. The humblest 
of all multiplied their attendances to collect as many sportulae as 
possible; the richest were not exonerated from paying client calls 
because they had first received some. For however high a man 


might climb in the Roman hierarchy, there was always someone 
above him to claim his homage. There was in fact no one in Rome, 
save the emperor alone, who recognised none greater than himself. 
The women were at least exempt from this merry-go-round of 
salaams. They neither held court nor received it. In the second 
century the only exceptions to this rule were widows anxious to 
carry in person their tale of woe or their requests to the patron of 
their dead husband, and the wives of certain rapacious beggars 
who hbped by ostentatious sycophancy to cadge some supple- 
mentary alms and therefore made their wives accompany them in 
a litter on their round of calls. Juvenal does not stint his scorn 
for these self-interested manoeuvres: "Here is a husband going 
the round followed by a sickly or pregnant wife; another by a 
clever and well-known trick claims alms for a wife who is not 
there, pointing in her stead to a closed and empty chair, 'My 
Galla's in there/ says he; 'let's be off quick' 'Galla, put out 
your head!' 'Don't disturb her, she's asleep!' " 9 The ruse is so 
clumsy that we wonder whether Juvenal has not merely invented 
it. Real or fictitious, however, it gives us an idea that the Roman 
matron may have been reluctant to follow her husband of a morn- 
ing in his round of client visits. 


The role of client played, everyone got busy with the day's 
work. The Imperial Rome where the court resided with the 
senators and the bureaucrats of- a far-flung tentacular adminis- 
tration was assuredly the city of "rentiers'' people of means, 
which Rostovtzeff has called it. 10 Men of means were the large 
landlords whose land wealth in the provinces had gained them 
admission to the 'Curia and entailed their residence in Rome; 11 
men of means, the scribes attached to the offices of the various 
magistrates, whose posts were bought and sold like those of the 
French monarchy under the ancien regime; 12 men of means, no 
less, the administrators and shareholders of the tax-gathering 
societies whose tenders were guaranteed by capital funds and 
whose profits swelled their revenues; men of means, again, the 
innumerable functionaries punctually paid by the Exchequer, who 
impressed on every part of the imperial government the master's 
seal; men of means, the 150,000 paupers whom Annona fed at 
State expense, idlers chronically out of work and well satisfied to 


be so, who limited their toil to claiming once a month the pro- 
visions to which they had once for all established a right until their 

But at the same time there was another aspect of Rome. The 
presence in the capital of these "men of means," officials, bureau- 
crats, or proletarians, did not deprive the city of its character of 
economic metropolis. Rome's political supremacy, her gigantic 
urban development, condemned her to display intense and un- 
remitting activity not only in speculation and trade but in varied 
manufactures and productive work. Let us reflect that all the 
roads of Italy led to Rome, and all the lines of Mediterranean 
navigation, and that Rome, Queen of the World, attracted the 
best of the earth's products. She arrogated to herself the financing 
and direction of the world's activities and claimed the right to 
consume the world's riches. It is obvious that she had to toil 
unceasingly after her fashion to maintain this domination. 

The heart-breaking comprehensiveness of this systematic ex- 
ploitation is attested by the Romans themselves, and breathes 
from the crumbled ruins of some of their monuments. At the very 
beginning of the poem which Petronius has linked to his romance, 
he has described it for us: 18 

The world entire was in the hands of the victorious Romans. They 
possessed the earth and the seas and the double field of stars, and were 
not satisfied. Their keels, weighed down with heavy cargoes, ploughed 
furrows in the waves. If there was afar some hidden gulf, some unknown 
continent, which dared to export gold, it was an enemy and the Fates 
prepared murderous wars for the conquest of new treasures. Vulgarised 
joys had no more charm, nor the pleasures worn threadbare in the re- 
joicings of the plebs. The simple soldier caressed the bronzes of 
Corinth. . . . Here the Numidians, there the Seres, wove for the Roman 
new fleeces, and for him the Arab tribes plundered their steppes. 

Such are the images which float before our eyes as we gaze on 
what remains to us of the Forum of Ostia, the port of Rome. 

The Forum consists of a vast esplanade more than one hundred 
metres long and over eighty metres wide. 14 In the middle rises a 
temple which I was fortunate enough to identify with that of 
Annona Augusta, that is to say, the Divinity of Imperial Sup- 
plies. 1 * Along the side which faces the entrance to the sanctuary 
runs a portico supported on columns of cipollino, which backs on 
to the stage of the town's theatre, and in its shade the spectators 


of long ago were wont to stretch their legs. The three other sides 
were enclosed by a wall fronted by a double colonnade of brick 
faced with stucco, onto which opened a series of sixty-one small 
rooms separated from each other by a wooden partition resting on 
a foundation of masonry. From their uniform appearance and 
identical dimensions (approximately four metres by four) these 
little rooms all served one and the same purpose. What this pur- 
pose was has been revealed by the series of mosaics black cubes 
on a white ground which paved the colonnade in front of each. 
These mosaics with their figures and inscriptions introduce us into 
the corresponding rooms and assign them to one or another of the 
various professional associations which were installed there by 
permission of <the Roman authorities. At the eastern end the 
caulkers and the ropemakers had their statio; in the next room 
the furriers; next came the wood merchants, whose name is en- 
closed in a dovetail cartouche; then the corn measurers (the 
mensores frumentarii), one of whom is shown performing his 
duties, one knee on the ground, diligently trying to divide the 
contents of a modius or regulation bushel exactly with his scraping 
tool or rutellum. At the opposite end was the statio of the weighers 
or sacomarii, whose business was complementary to that of the 
mensores. In 124 B.C. the weighers here dedicated to the genius 
of their office 10 a charming carved altar which is now exhibited in 
the Museo Nazionale delle Terme. This leaves little doubt that 
this statio and the other similar ones were formerly dedicated to 
some cult. All the others belonged to the corporations of fitters 
(navicularii) , who were further distinguished among themselves 
only by their city of origin. There were the fitters of Alexandria, 
for instance, the fitters of Narbonne and Aries in Gaul, those of 
Cagliari and Porto-Torres in Sardinia. There were those, of cele- 
brated or forgotten ports in northern Africa; Carthage, whose 
mercantile fleet the mosaic artist has stylised; Hippo-Diarrhytus, 
the modern Bizerta; Curbis, now Courba to the north of the 
Gulf of Hammamet; Missua, now Sidi Daud, south-west of Cape 
Bon; Gummi, now Bordj Cedria, at the base of the Gulf of 
Carthage. There were the fitters of Musluvium, now Sidi Rekane, 
between Ziama and Bougie, whose somewhat complicated and yet 
highly instructive armorial bearings include fish, a cupid astride 
a dolphin, and two female heads, one of which is almost effaced 
while the other is crowned with ears of corn and has a harvest 


woman's sickle at its side. And finally there were the fitters of 
Sabratha, the port of the desert whence the ivory of Fezzan was 
exported, symbolised by an elephant below the name of its sea- 
men. Incomplete though this enumeration is, it may seem over- 
detailed to the reader. But if, instead of merely reading through a 
list of place-names, you decipher them yourself at Ostia, and 
yourself step on these naive pictures in which each of the corpo- 
rations tried by a sly touch to define its business and evoke the 
memory of its distant home, you cannot fail to be seized with 
admiration before the spacious and impressive reality which these 
modest tokens represent. It is true that they explain to us the 
purpose of the rooms on the threshold of which they lie, little 
chapels of co-operative brotherhoods or, if we prefer so to in- 
terpret them, simple resting-places where the ideal procession of 
guilds continually passed round their goddess Annona and where 
the flame of their civic religion burned. But apart from the 
esplanade which they adorn, their lines embrace all the expanse 
of land and sea between the Isthmus of Suez and the Pillars of 
Hercules. And suddenly you see the throngs of people, strangers 
to each other, born in far distant lands, rowing to meet each other 
here in answer to the needs of Rome, and you feel that there 
gravitates for ever round this unforgettable enclosure not only 
the mass of goods which Rome appropriated for herself in every 
corner of the earth but the cortege of docile nations whom she 
had consecrated to her service. 

Into her three ports of Ostia, Portus, and the emporium be- 
neath the Aventine poured the tiles and bricks, the wines and 
fruits of Italy; the corn of Egypt and Africa; the oil of Spain; 
the venison, the timbers, and the wool of Gaul; the cured meats 
of Baetica; the dates of the oases; the marbles of Tuscany, of 
Greece, and of Numidia; the porphyries of the Arabian Desert; 
the lead, silver, and copper of the Iberian Peninsula; the ivory of 
the Syrtes and the Mauretanias, the gold of Dalmatia and of 
Dacia; the tin of the Cassiterides, now the Scilly Isles, and the 
amber of the Baltic; the papyri of the valley of the Nile; the 
glass of Phoenicia and of Syria; the stuffs of the Orient; the 
incense of Arabia; the spices, the corals, and the gems of India; 
the silks of the Far East. 17 

In the city and its suburbs the sheds of the warehouses 
(horrea) stretched out of sight. Here accumulated the provisions 


that filled Rome's belly, the stores that were the pledge of her 
well-being and of her luxury. The excavations undertaken in 1923 
by the late Prince Giovanni Torlonia have revealed the im- 
portance of the horrea of the Portus of Trajan; though only one- 
third of the area covered in Hadrian's day by the horrea of Ostia 
has so far been excavated, they already cover some ten hectares. 
The discovery of the ancient Roman horrea, the number and 
extent of which are indicated in the literature of the time, has in 
fact only been begun. 18 Some of these specialised in a single type 
of goods: the horrea candelaria stored only torches, candles, and 
tallow; the horrea chart aria on the Esquiline were consecrated to 
rolls of papyrus and quires of parchment; while the horrea 
piperataria near the Forum were piled with the supplies of pepper, 
ginger, and spices convoyed there by the Arabs. 

Most of the horrea, however, were a sort of general store where 
all kinds of wares lay cheek by jowl. They were differentiated by 
the name of the place they occupied or the name they had in- 
herited from their first proprietor and retained even when they 
had passed into the hands of the Caesars the horrea Nervae 
flanked the Via Latina; the horrea Ummidiana lay on the Aven- 
tine; the horrea Agrippiniana between the Clivus Victoriae and 
the Vicus Tuscus on the fringe of the Forum; others were grouped 
between the Aventine and the Tiber. Then there were the horrea 
Seiana, the horrea Lolliana, and the most important of all the 
horrea Galbae, whose foundation went back to the end of the 
second century B.C. The horrea Galbae were enlarged under the 
empire and possessed rows of tabernae ranged round three large 
intermediate courtyards which covered more than three hectares. 
In these tabernae were stocked not only wirie and oil but all sorts 
of materials and provisions, at least if we are to judge by the 
inscriptions deciphered by the epigraphists indicating the mer- 
chants to whom these "granaries" gave shelter: in one place a 
woman fish merchant (piscatrix), in another a merchant of 
marbles (marmorarius) , farther off an outfitter with tunics and 
mantles for sale (sagarius). 

It is clear that with such an immense extent of warehouse room 
to which were added in the first years of the second century 
B.C. the central halls of Trajan's market 19 the Rome of the 
Antonines where antiquity had both its bank and its stock ex- 
change was also the centre of the world's commerce. If Rome did 


not know anything of what we call "Great Industry," she at least 
mobilised alongside her general staff of financiers and large-scale 
merchants a whole army of employees in her offices, of retailers 
in her shops, of artisans in her workshops, of the labourers neces- 
sary for the maintenance of her buildings and monuments, and of 
dockers to unload, store, and handle her colossal imports. Finally 
skilled workmen were needed to submit heavy raw materials as 
well as more delicate merchandise to a final transformation before 
they were handed on to the consumer. For Rome's distant sub- 
ject peoples and those still more distant with whom they traded 
both within and without the imperial frontiers exhausted or en- 
riched themselves to provide the city with what she demanded 
from every corner of the earth. 

Some idea of the extent and variety of Roman trade can be 
gained by merely reading through the list of the corporations of 
Rome, drawn up by Waltzing at the beginning of the fourth 
volume of his masterly work. 20 More than one hundred and fifty 
of them have been traced and accurately defined, and this is in 
itself enough to prove the mighty volume of business in which 
an aristocracy of patrons and a plebs of employees collaborated 
within one group, though it is impossible for us now always to 
distinguish the merchant from the financier, the trader from the 
master of industry, the manufacturer from the retailer. Among the 
wholesalers, the magnarii of corn, of wine, and of oil; among the 
shippers, the domini navium, who built, equipped, and maintained 
whole fleets, the engineers and repairers of boats (fabri navales 
et cur at ores navium), it is impossible to draw a hard and fast line 
between the middleman and the capitalist. 

The organisation of food supplies was split up in the course of 
its natural development into a multitude of different specialist 
lines. Some groups represented retailers who had nothing to do 
but distribute their wares: purveyors of lupines (lupinarii), of 
fruits (fructuarii) , and of melons (peponarii). Others were com- 
posed of people who had taken the trouble to produce or procure 
the goods they sold : the olitores, who were at once greengrocers 
and market gardeners; the piscatores, both fishermen and fish- 
mongers. The greater number of these lines involved the exercise 
of a real trade. The travelling vinarii went from vicus to vicus 
with a. whole battery of barrels and jars (amphorae) piled on their 
carts. The tavern-keepers (thermopolae) offered in their bowls 


cunning blends of wine and water which they then brought to the 
required temperature. A mere glance at the bas-reliefs which 
decorate the famous tomb of Eurysaches shows that in a great 
bakery the baker or pistor was assisted by a miller (moll- 
narius). 21 The pastry-cooks (siliginarii) , the confectioners (pastil- 
larii), and the inn-keepers (caupones) won customers for their 
counters or their tables only by the reputation they established 
for care and skill in carrying out their receipts. 

Passing to the luxury trades, we observe the labour and tech- 
nical skill which they exacted at every turn: the perfumers and 
druggists (pigmentarii) boasted of the mixtures they had pre- 
pared; the mirror sellers had polished the mirrors hung from 
their shop-fronts; the florists (rosarii, violarii) had arranged the 
bouquets on their stalls to please the passers-by and had woven 
the wreaths which were to be found at the coronarii's; the ivory 
vendors (eborarii) knew the art of working the tusks received 
from the African hunter; the sellers of rings (anularii) and pearls 
(margaritarii) , the goldsmiths (brattarii inauratores) , and the 
jewellers (aurifices) had all their several skills. In the prof essions 
which had to do with dress, there was none where sale and manu- 
facture were separate. The lintearii, for instance, stiffened their 
own lawns; the robemakers (vestarii) and the cloakmakers 
(sagarii), the shoemakers (sutores), the makers of men's boots 
(caligarii) and of women's boots (fabri soliarii baxiarii), one and 
all manufactured the goods they sold. Nor must we overlook all 
the humbler, subsidiary industries which hung on the skirts of 
the clothing trade, employing the washermen (fontani), the 
fullers (fullones), the dyers (tinctores, afectores, infectores), 
the more finely-skilled embroiderers (plumarii) and manipu- 
lators of silk (serarii) who introduced threads of cotton into the 
silken tissues which from the reign of Claudius on China regu- 
larly sent with the monsoon. 

There were a peculiarly large number of corporations in Rome 
whose members themselves produced the goods which they offered 
to the public; others had nothing to offer but their manual serv- 
ices (operae). Among the former we may reckon the tanners 
(corarii), the furriers (pelliones), the ropemakers (restiones), 
the caulkers (stuppatores) , the carpenters and cabinet-makers 
(citrarii), the metal workers in bronze and iron (fabri aerarii, 
f errant). In the second category we may include the building 


corporations: the wreckers (subrutor es), the masons (structores) , 
the timber workers (fabri tignarii) ; the workers responsible for 
land transport: muleteers (muliones), those in charge of pack 
animals (iumentarii) , waggoners (catabolenses) , carters (vec- 
tuarii), drovers (cisiarii); those responsible for water transport: 
boatmen (lenuncularii) , oarsmen (lintrarii), coasters (scapharii), 
raftsmen (caudicarii) , towers (helicarii), ballast-loaders (sabur- 
rarii) ; and filially, the corporations on whom depended the ad- 
ministration and policing of the docks: the guardians (custo- 
diarii), the porters (baiuli), the stevedores (geruli), the wharf- 
men (saccarii). By the time you have turned the last page of 
Waltzing's formidable catalogue you will assuredly have come to 
the conclusion that Rome of the Antonines contained far more 
workers than "men of means." The noise of the city, of which the 
satires complain, which deafened the ears from one end of the 
year to the other, was made up of the cadence of their tools, the 
rush and hustle of their toil, their panting, and their swearing. 22 

In two essential characteristics the Roman working man was 
nevertheless different from his fellow-workmen in the great cities 
of today. 

With the possible exception of the principal dock quarter on 
the banks of the Tiber and the slopes of the Aventine, the Roman 
workers did not live congregated in dense, compact, exclusive 
masses. Their living quarters were scattered about in almost every 
corner of the city, but nowhere did they form a town within the 
town. Instead of being concentrated in an immense bazaar or a 
monster factory area, their dwellings formed indefinite series with 
a hundred interruptions, so that in the Urbs warehouses, work- 
shops, and workmen's dwellings alternated oddly with private 
mansions and blocks of flats. 28 

Further, these humming hives of workshops were almost ex- 
clusively male. Feminism under the Antonines was an extraor- 
dinary and aristocratic phenomenon peculiar to the upper classes. 
The great ladies in vain took pride in emulating men in every 
sphere of life; they found no imitators or disciples among their 
humbler sisters, who had no mind at all to fling themselves into 
the struggle for existence. The ladies might devote themselves to 
music, literature, science, law, or philosophy, as they threw them- 
selves into sport as a method of passing the time; they would 


have thought it beneath them to stoop to working at a trade. 
Among the thousands of epitaphs of the Urbs collected by the 
editors of the Cor pis Inscriptionuin Latin irum I have found 
scarcely any women earners: one libraria or woman secretary, 24 
three clerks (amanuenses), 2 * one stenographer (notaria) two 
women teachers 27 against eighteen of the other sex, 28 four women 
doctors 29 against fifty-one medici. For the great bulk of Roman 
women the civil registers would have required the entry less 
and less familiar in ours "no profession." In the urban epigraphy 
of the empire we find women either simply fulfilling the duties for 
which man is by nature unfitted, of seamstress (sarcinatrix) , 31 
woman's hairdresser (tonstrix? 2 ornatrix}?* midwife (obste- 
Jra:), 34 and nurse (nutrix)\ or resigning themselves gradually 
to those occupations for which women have always been better 
qualified or more expert than men. 

I have discovered only one fishwife (piscatrix) * 6 one female 
costermonger (negotiatrix leguminaria)* 1 one dressmaker (vesti- 
fica) 3 * against twenty men tailors or vestifici 39 three woman 
wool distributors (lanipendiae) , 40 and two silk merchants 
(sericariae) . 41 We need fjeel no surprise at the absence of women 
jewellers; for one thing, at Rome there was no clear demarcation 
between the argentarii who sold jewellery and the argentarii who 
took charge of banking and exchange; and for another, all bank- 
ing operations had been forbidden to women by the same prae- 
torian legislation that had deprived them of the right to sue on 
each other's behalf. 42 It is surely noteworthy that women never 
figure in the corporations for which the emperors tried to stim- 
ulate recruitment: naval armament in the time of Claudius 43 
and baking under Trajan. 44 I could find no pistrix amongst the 
pistores of the city; 45 nor has any woman's name crept into the 
lists of shippers which have survived to our times. If any matrons 
yielded to the exhortations of Claudius, who had gone so far as to 
promise the privileges pertaining to the mother of three children 
(ius trium liber orum) to any wealthy woman, whether married or 
childless or single, who would consent to outfit a cargo boat at her 
own expense, 46 they can have done so only indirectly, through the 
intermediary of some man of straw, a procurator, or some other 
business agent. Nothing gives stronger proof that the Roman 
woman, despite all the moral and civil emancipation which had 


fallen to her under the empire, preferred to remain in the sheltered 
security of her own home, far from the hurly-burly of the Forum 
and the noise of trade. 

The Roman woman of those days was so deeply rooted in 
indolence that she apparently was not much oftener seen in shops 
as a purchaser than as an employee. It was beyond a doubt 
the proletarian husband himself, not his wife, who went on the 
stated day to knock at the portico of Minucius and receive the 
card, or rather the little wooden tablet (tessera), which proved 
him entitled to the bounty of Annona. 47 A historical bas-relief in 
the Museo dei Conservator!, which in all probability commemo- 
rates the liberal distributions of Hadrian, shows the emperor 
standing on a dais announcing his largesse to the Roman people, 
who are typified by three figures representing citizens of various 
ages: a child, a youth, and a grown man. The relief suggests no 
female recipient, nor was there probably any in the actual dis- 
tributions of the imperial largesse. 48 Women are equally absent 
from most of the paintings of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and 
from the funerary bas-reliefs where the sculptor has pictured 
scenes in the streets and represented to the life the animation of 
buyers and sellers. We find woman depicted only in scenes where 
her presence was more or less obligatory and inevitable: where 
the fuller brought back the clean clothes to the lady of the 
house; 49 when a widow came to the marble merchant (marmora- 
rius) to order a tomb for her dead husband; 50 when the boot- 
maker tried on shoes one by one; 51 and lastly at the dressmaker's 
and in the novelty shops which the Roman lady of the time of 
Trajan appears to have frequented diligently and eagerly. Some- 
times she is shown making her choice while her husband sits on 
a bench at her side as in the bas-reliefs of the Uffizi Museum at 
Florence 52 sometimes with a chosen companion or a whole train 
of women friends, as in certain frescoes, from the Campagna. 58 

On the other hand, in the Saepta lulia, which the lethargy of 
the Comitia had turned into a promenade where the bronze 
founders, the jewellers, and the antique dealers exhausted their 
ingenuity in fleecing the amateur, the bargainers and the passers- 
by were only men: Eros the collector, the miserly Mamurra, aged 
Auctus. 54 And in the bakery, 55 at the butcher's, 56 in the eating 
shop, 57 we find only men as buyers and sellers. 


In the pictures of public places which the Pompeians have left 
us, the women pass in their finery, sometimes alone, sometimes 
as in the famous painting from the house known as Livia's on the 
Palatine accompanied by a child. 58 But their hands are empty, 
unencumbered by either shopping bag or basket; they are ob- 
viously idle, walking about for pleasure, without care and with- 
out responsibility. We must accept the facts. In Imperial Rome 
women mixed in outdoor affairs as little as the Moslem woman of 
today in the cities of Islam. It was the Roman husband's business, 
as it is today among middle-class Mussulmans, to do the shopping 
and supply the provisions for the house. 59 

But if this idleness of the Roman woman lends the Urbs an 
exotic, oriental air, the conditions under which the Roman man 
worked recall the most advanced Western practices of today. 
The Romans were wide awake and well organised and not over- 
whelmed by their tasks. They were not wholly absorbed in work. 
They had learned to compress it within limits which were strictly 
observed. The system of their corporations, co-ordinated by 
Augustus' legislation and the edicts of his successors, permitted 
each trade body to set up rules valid for all its members. The laws 
of Nature herself and the workings of the Roman solar calendar 
had prevented their extending the working day beyond eight of 
our hours in winter. Not only is it probable that they had con- 
trived so to arrange matters that the eight-hour day would not be 
exceeded even in summer, but in my opinion by the second cen- 
tury of our era they had succeeded in shortening the working day 
even further. It would have been unjust if the transport workers 
whom the law compelled to work their convoys during the night 
had had a heavier nocturnal task than their daytime fellow- 
workers. And in fact dawn was still far off when Trimalchio's 
guests, reeling home after the overgenerous supper which he had 
set before them, and incapable of finding their way in a darkness 
rendered thicker by the fumes of their own intoxication, were 
suddenly set on the right road by their host's carters who were 
returning at the head of their convoy, having evidently finished 
their night's work. 60 We possess further indications that at that 
same period the stalls and booths and shops which opened, it is 
true, before daybreak, used to close long before sundown. When, 
for instance, a starveling parasite came far too soon to Martial's 


house to get an invitation for dinner, the fifth hour was not yet 
gone, but "unwashed slaves" were already off duty and on their 
way to the bath. 61 

The free artisans were certainly not worse off in such matters 
than the slaves. Apart from certain people like the tavern-keepers 
or the "antiquaries" who wished to tempt the strollers in the 
Saepta lulia until the last moment, and who therefore did not 
shut down till the eleventh hour, 02 or the tonsores who had to fit 
their work into their customers 7 leisure and who kept open till the 
eighth hour, 63 by far the greater number of Roman workers 
downed tools either at the sixth or the seventh hour; no doubt the 
sixth in summer and the seventh in winter: 

"In quintam varios extendit Roma labores 
Sexta quies lassis, septima finis erit" 64 

If one bears in mind that the "hour" at the winter solstice 
equalled forty-five minutes according to our reckoning and 
seventy-five minutes at the summer solstice, these data bring the 
Roman working day down to about seven hours in summer and 
less than six in winter. 

Summer and winter alike, Roman workmen enjoyed freedom 
during the whole or the greater part of the afternoon, and very 
probably our forty-hour week with its different arrangement 
would have weighed heavily on them rather than pleased them. 
Their rural habits, in the first place, and in the second their sense 
of their incomparable superiority, guarded them against un- 
remitting labour and harassing tasks. So much so that at the time 
when Martial was writing, the merchants and shopkeepers, the 
artisans and labourers of the imperial race, upheld by their 
vital professional unions, had succeeded in so organising their 
work as to allow themselves seventeen or eighteen of our twenty- 
four hours for the luxury of repose and enjoyed what we may 
call if we care to the leisure of people of means. 


The intellectuals, as far as we can judge, were the people who 
had the worst of it; they were far worse off than either the 
businessmen or the. workers. I am not thinking only of such 
monomaniacs as the elder Pliny, who were at once the heroes and 
the victims of a morbid appetite for work. 65 It is notorious that 


the Naturalist toiled over his writing for sheer love of it twenty 
hours out of the twenty-four, beginning his work by candlelight 
even in the month of August, and sometimes at one o'clock in the 
morning. No sooner had he got back from paying his daily hom- 
age at court than he went at it hammer and tongs with prodigious 
energy, only allowing himself a moment's relaxation as noon 
approached to snatch a little food. Then he stretched himself in 
the sun while a secretary read some author aloud to him as the 
last item of the morning's work. After this, he took a cold and 
hasty bath, followed by a short siesta and a rapid meal. Then 
once more to work again, passionate and indefatigable, putting 
in a second day's obstinate, concentrated, uninterrupted work 
till evening supper. Pliny the Elder was an exception, the unique 
specimen of Roman encyclopaedist, devoured by a lust for knowl- 
edge purchased even at the cost of life itself for he died at the 
age of fifty-six. The researches to which he devoted himself body 
and soul were entirely free and disinterested and were in Latin 
characterised by the fair name of "leisure." Obviously he can not 
be taken as the measure of the normal activity of his con- 

Though they could not be compared even from afar to Pliny, 
yet the learned bourgeois who practised what we should nowadays 
call the liberal professions in Imperial Rome were generally ab- 
sorbed in the duties of public life. We lack information about the 
diligence demanded of the officiates who filled the administrative 
offices and we have no means of precisely assessing the output of 
the imperial ministries. We find, however, enough suggestive 
details scattered through the literature of the time to give some 
idea of the weight of the obligations which rested in particular on 
the judicial world, and the still heavier burden which at certain 
periods of the year lay on the shoulders of a senator who was 
conscientiously bent on fulfilling the duties of his high office. 

A valuable hint of Martial's teaches us that on the dies fasti 
consecrated to civil suits the ordinary tribunals sat without a 
break from dawn to the end of the fourth hour. 60 At first sight 
this would seem to limit the hearings to three of our hours in 
winter and not more than five hours at a stretch in summer. But 
when we look into the question it is clear that the text does not 
exclude the possibility of any adjournment, and other testimony 
compels us to believe that the session was resumed after an inter- 


val. In the Twelve Tables it is already laid down that a case which 
had been taken up before noon might be continued, if both parties 
were present, until sunset. 67 In Martial's day it was not unusual 
for an advocate on one side to claim and obtain from the judges 
"six clepsydrae' 9 for himself alone. 68 We may fairly deduce from 
a passage of Pliny the Younger that these clepsydrae, the reg- 
ularity of whose time-keeping indicates their close relation to 
the equinoctial time-table, took twenty minutes of our time to 
run out; 09 hence the claim was for a period of up to two hours. 
If it was the custom for one advocate to take up in winter almost 
the ( whole of one session, it is reasonable to suppose that at least 
one other session for the reply and the hearing of witnesses must 
have been necessary to complete the case. 

There were advocates, moreover, who protested the time limit 
of six clepsydrae. Martial has pilloried one of these windbags in 
an epigram : 

Seven water-clocks' allowance you asked for in loud tones, Caecilianus, 
and the judge unwillingly granted them. But you speak much and long, 
and with back-tilted head, swill tepid water out of glass flasks. That 
you may once for all sate your oratory and your thirst, we beg you, 
Caecilianus, now to drink out of the water-clock! 70 

If this jesting suggestion had been adopted, twenty minutes would 
have been subtracted from the two hours and a half rashly granted 
by the judge to this insatiable talker. But they were granted only 
in the poet's imagination; on the other hand, if the advocate on 
the other side had demanded the same fine, the case which Martial 
cited or invented would have lasted at least five of our hours, 
whether interrupted or not by an adjournment. 

We may rightly admire the profundity and delicacy of the 
judicial powers possessed by the Romans who have taught the art 
of law to all the world. But let us not disguise the fact that this 
legal genius was saddled with an accompanying evil demon, and 
that the Romans, jurists and pettifoggers, like the Normans of 
France, fell an easy prey to their passion for litigation. This mania 
is already discernible in the astute law speeches of Cicero. It 
was disastrous that it got the Urbs in its grip just at a time when 
the Caesars had prescribed political discussion. From the reign 
of one emperor to another, litigation was a rising tide which noth- 
ing could stem, throwing on the public courts more work than 


men could master. To mitigate the congestion of the courts Au- 
gustus, as early as the year 2 B.C., was obliged to resign to their 
use the forum he had built and which bears his name. 71 Seventy- 
five years later congestion had recurred and Vespasian wondered 
how to struggle with the flood of suits so numerous that "the life 
of the advocates could scarce suffice" to deal with them. 72 In the 
Rome of the opening second century the sound of lawsuits echoed 
throughout the Forum, round the tribunal of the praetor urbanus 
by the Puteal Libonis, 73 and round the tribunal of the praetor 
peregrinus between the Puteal of Curtius and the enclosure of 
Marsyas; 74 in the Basilica lulia where the centumviri assembled; 
and justice thundered simultaneously from the Forum of Augus- 
tus, where the praejectus urbi exercised his jurisdiction, from 
the barracks of the Castra Praetoria where the praejectus prae- 
torio issued his decrees, from the Curia where the senators in- 
dicted those of their peers who had aroused distrust or displeas- 
ure, and from the Palatine where the emperor himself received 
the appeals of the universe in the semicircle of his private basilica, 
which the centuries have spared. 

During the 230 days of the year open for civil cases and the 
365 days open for criminal prosecutions, 76 the Urbs was con- 
sumed by a fever of litigation which attacked not only lawyers, 
plaintiffs, defendants, and accused, but the crowd of the curious 
whose appetite for scandal or taste for legal eloquence held them 
immobile and spellbound hour after hour in the neighbourhood 
of the tribunals. 

The hearings were not easy or proper. They exhausted every- 
body: pleaders and witnesses, judges and advocates, not excepting 
the spectators. Let us attend for a moment a sitting of the cen- 
tumviri who exercise their jurisdiction in the Basilica lulia, their 
chosen domicile. 77 Leaving the Via Sacra, which flanks the build- 
ing planned and erected by Julius Caesar and reconstructed by 
Augustus, we mount the seven steps leading to the marble portico 
which framed it. Then two further steps take us into the huge 
hall, divided into three naves by thirty-six brick columns faced 
with marble. The central nave, which was also the widest, meas- 
ured eighteen metres by eighty-two. The tribunes on the first 
story which dominated the nave and the side-aisles that flanked it 
accommodated the male and female spectators who had not been 
fortunate enough to find places closer to the parties and in the 


more immediate neighbourhood of "the court." The centumviri 
who composed the court were not 100 in number as their name 
might seem to imply, but 180, divided into four distinct "cham- 
bers." 78 They took their seats either in separate sections or all 
four together, according to the nature of the cases which were 
brought before them. In the latter case the praetor hastarius in 
person presided, on an improvised dais, with his ninety assessors 
seated on either side of his curule chair. On benches at their feet 
sat the parties to the suit, their sureties, their defenders, and tljeir 
friends. These formed the corona, or, as we might call it, the 
"dress circle." Farther off stood the general public. When the four 
chambers worked separately each had forty-five assessors with a 
decemvir as president, and the same arrangement was repeated 
four times, each chamber in session divided off from its neighbour 
by screens or curtains. 

In either case, magistrates and the public were closely packed 
and the debates took place in a stifling atmosphere. To complete 
the discomfort, the acoustics of the hall were deplorable, forcing 
the advocates to strain their voices, the judges their attention, and 
the public their patience. It frequently happened that the thun- 
der of one of the defending counsel filled the vast hall arid 
drowned the controversies in the other chambers. In one notorious 
instance Galerius Tracalus (who had been consul in 68 A.D.), 
whose voice was extraordinarily powerful, was greeted with the 
public applause of all four chambers, three of which could not 
see him and ought not to have heard him. 79 Matters were made 
worse and the noise increased by the enthusiasm of "a low rout 
of claqueurs," whom shameless advocates, following the example 
of Larcius Licinus, were in the habit of dragging round after them 
to the hearing of any case they hoped to win, as much to impress 
the jury as to enhance their own reputation. 80 In vain Pliny the 
Younger protested against this practice. One day when Domitius 
Afer was pleading in Quintilian's presence and rejoicing one 
chamber of the centumviri by his impressive speech and calm 
delivery, his ears were deafened by immoderate clamour from 
outside. He stopped speaking in surprise. When silence was re- 
stored he resumed the thread of his discourse. New cries. Re- 
newed silence on his part. The same interruption came a third 
time. Finally he inquired who was pleading next door. "Licinus," 
was the answer. Then he gave up all attempt to continue and 


abandoned the suit. "Centumviri," he said, "it is all over with our 
profession." It was not all over with these bravo criers, these 
<jo<poxAet<;, as they were called in Greek, "signifying that they were 
applauders by profession/' or these "supper praisers" (laudiceni) 
as the Romans called them. 81 Whether it was good or bad, the 
speech they acclaimed at command brought them their bread and 
butter; and they could, without breaking the terms of their con- 
tract, withdraw their attention from the case as soon as some 
counsel who had not hired them took the floor. They remained, 
on 'the chance of being further wanted, but returned to their 
favourite pastimes, such as the games for which crude "boards" 
were scratched on the steps of the Basilica lulia. 82 But the hired 
applauders were the only people in the hall who enjoyed them- 
selves. It is easy to imagine the discomfort and annoyance which 
a case inflicted on an attentive judge and a conscientious counsel 
when it had to be conducted in the middle of this mob, to the 
accompaniment of a continual uproar and periodic outbursts of 
mechanical applause. 

Pliny the Younger flatters himself that he had established his 
reputation by pronouncing before the centumviri the longest and 
best of his speeches. 83 But at what a price in mental and physical 
exhaustion! Recalling at the end of his career his early triumphs 
in the Basilica lulia, he gives the impression that he remembered 
them with horror, 84 and that he would have said of them, as of 
his sojourn at Centumcellae (Civita-Vecchia) in attendance on 
the tribunal which Trajan had set up in his villa there "What 
honorable days! But what exhausting ones! : Vides quam honesti, 
quam severi dies!" 8 * 

When the emperor was obliged to summon before him the cases 
over which he had direct jurisdiction or those which had been 
appealed from the provinces, he was as much a victim of over- 
work as the ordinary judges. We get light on this from the ses- 
sion in which Pliny took part during one of the emporer's coun- 
try visits to his Centumcellae villa. 80 It lasted only three days. 
The three cases on the list were of no great importance. The first 
was an unfounded accusation brought by jealous slanderers 
against a young Ephesian, Claudius Ariston, "a nobleman of great 
munificence and unambitious popularity," who was honourably 
acquitted. The next day Gallitta was tried on a charge of adul- 
tery. Her husband, a military tribune, was on the point of stand- 


ing for office when she disgraced both him and herself by an 
intrigue with a centurion. The third day was devoted to an 
inquiry "concerning the much-discussed will of lulius Tiro, part 
of which was plainly genuine, while the other part was said to be 
forged." Though Trajan would call and hear only one case a day, 
it nevertheless wasted the greater part of his time. The probate 
case in particular gave him a great deal of trouble. The authen- 
ticity of the codicils was challenged by Eurythmus, the emperor's 
freedman and one of his procurators in Dacia. The heirs, mis- 
trusting the local courts, wrote a joint letter to the emperor 
petitioning him to reserve, the case to his own hearing. After this 
request had been granted, however, some of the heirs pretended 
to hesitate out of respect for the fact that Eurythmus was the 
emperor's own freedman, and it was only on Trajan's formal in- 
vitation that two of them appeared at the bar to lodge accusa- 
tions in their turn. Eurythmus asked leave to speak to prove his 
charges. The two heirs who had received permission to state their 
case refused to take the opportunity of doing so, pleading that 
loyalty to their co-heirs debarred them from representing the in- 
terests of all when only two were present. Delighted by these 
manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres, counsel played hide-and- 
seek to their hearts' content amid the jungle of legal procedure. 
Again and again the emperor recalled them to the point at issue, 
which he was determined not to lose sight of. Finally, worn out 
by their chicanery, he turned at last to his own counsel and 
begged him to put an end to their cavilling, after which he de- 
clared the session closed and invited his assessors to the delightful 
distractions (iucundissimae remissiones) which he had prepared 
for them, but which he could not offer them before the dinner 

All the while none of the people concerned had overstepped the 
deference due to the emperor's sovereign majesty. We cannot 
claim that it was always so. Sometimes the accused did not hesi- 
tate to abuse the Caesar, and the imperial judicial session ended 
with what we may rightly call "a scene." One of the Oxyrhynchus 
papyri records that an Egyptian of the name of Appianus, hymn- 
asiarch and priest of Alexandria, had the pride and audacity to 
stage such a scene with Commodus who had just sentenced him 
to death. 87 The emperor had barely pronounced the sentence when 
Appianus rose in scandalous defiance: "Do you realise whom you 


are addressing?" asked Commodus. "Certainly; a tyrant." "Not 
so," retorted Commodus, "you are speaking to the emperor." 
"Certainly not," was the reply. "Your father, the divine Marcus 
Aurelius Antoninus had every right to call himself emperor, be- 
cause he cultivated wisdom, despised money, and loved what was 
good. But you have no such right, for you are the antithesis of 
your father: you love tyranny, vice, and brutality." 

Thus the princeps was liable not only to be deafened and ex- 
hausted by the speechifyings and intrigues of his litigants like 
any simple centumvir, but to be abused by them in the bargain. 
While the court of the emperor recalls the magnificence and splen- 
dour of Louis XIV, his tribunal suggests more the familiarity 
and popular tumult which surround the justice of an Eastern 
pasha seated on his divan in the patio of his seraglio; but it is 
endlessly complicated in addition by the subtleties and sojiorities 
of the long-drawn-out Roman procedure. 

Absorbing and exacting as might be the duties of judges and 
counsel, however, there were times when a senator could even 
less call his soul his own. True, since the days of Augustus the 
number of ordinary sessions of the Senate (dies legitimi) had been 
greatly reduced. The months of September and October were de- 
creed to be a compulsory vacation; during the rest of the year the 
Senate was normally convoked only twice a month on the Calends 
and the Ides; 88 and the legislative activity of the Caesars left 
the law-making functions of the Senate to lie dormant. But from 
time to time the Senate had to reckon with extraordinary sessions, 
all the more overladen with business for being infrequent, espe- 
cially such as compelled or permitted the princeps to perform 
terrible acts of vengeance for political crimes, for which he pre- 
ferred nominally to evade responsibility. At such moments the 
Fathers were condemned, to forced labour, and they had no means 
of escaping the slavery of these sensational convocations unless 
they could find some pretext for absence that would be accepted 
as valid and would not cast doubt on their motives for abstention. 

The Senate assembled in the Curia of Julius Caesar. 89 Its re- 
construction under Diocletian has in all probability preserved the 
original plan and dimensions. It measured 25.5 metres in length 
and 67.6 in width. It could scarcely have provided space for more 
than 300 seats distributed in three rising tiers, as Professor Bar- 
toli has recently discovered by his excavations beneath the floor 


of the ancient church of Sant' Adriano. On great occasions, when 
at least one-third of the total 900 members of the Senate re- 
sponded to the summons, they must have been as tightly packed 
as the English Parliament in the House of Lords when the Com- 
mons attend to hear the Speech from the Throne. After a sacrifice 
and preliminary prayers, the senators entered the Curia at the 
first hour of the day, and did not escape till night was falling. 90 
They sat again next day, and the day after, and the day after 
that again, and for several days more. They could not possibly 
have endured this penitential overcrowding if the rules of the 
assembly, or rather the customary practice which served instead, 
had not implicitly permitted them to come and go, vanish and re- 
appear at will. In the hall there was an endless series of discus- 
sions, a continual deluge of eloquence and knavery. 

Pliny the Younger gives accounts of several sessions of the 
Senate transformed into a High Court: those where Marius 
Priscus, proconsul of Africa, appeared with his rivals in the art of 
prevarication; 91 those which investigated and punished the ex- 
tortions of Caecilius Classicus, ex-governor of Baetica. 92 These 
reports call forth our pity for the senator chained to his curule 
chair. The first of these cases, over which Trajan presided in his 
capacity of consul, lasted from dawn to dusk through three con- 
secutive days. On one of them Pliny the Younger, who had been 
entrusted with the prosecution of one of Priscus' accomplices, 
spoke for five hours without intermission, and toward the close his 
fatigue became so manifest that the emperor sent him more than 
once the advice "to spare his voice and breath." When he had 
finished, Claudius Marcellinus replied for the accused in a speech 
of the same length. When this second orator had reached his pero- 
ration Trajan adjourned the court till next day for fear a third 
harangue "might be cut in two by nightfall." 

In comparison with the impeachment of Priscus the case of 
Classicus, in which Pliny's role was confined to listening and 
offering an opinion, appeared much easier to endure and seemed 
really "short and easy: et circa Classicum quidem brevis et ex- 
peditus labor." Easy it certainly was, for the Spaniards had 
broken the back of the business for the prosecution, and mined 
in advance all the positions of the defense by laying hands on the 
intimate and cynical correspondence of the accused; in particular 
on a letter in which, blending his. love affairs and his extortions, 


he announced his return to Rome to one of his mistresses in terms 
which inculpated him beyond hope of salvation: "Hurrah I Hur- 
rah 1 I am coming back to you a free man, for I have raised four 
million sesterces by selling out the Baetici." But short the Clas- 
sicus case certainly was not, despite the overwhelming nature of 
the facts established by this damning evidence. Like the Priscus 
case it took up three sessions of the Senate, and though Pliny 
the Younger had played a less spectacular part in it, he came 
out exhausted, when it was over, just as after the Priscus affair: 
"You will easily conceive," he writes to his dear friend Cornelius 
Minicianus, ". . . the fatigue we underwent in speaking and de- 
bating so long and so often, and in examining, assisting, and con- 
futing such a number of witnesses; not to mention the difficulties 
and annoyance of the defendants' friends: Concipere animo poles 
quam simus fatigati!" 93 We can indeed conceive it, but what 
seems inconceivable to us is that the Romans should have toler- 
ated this exhausting system with no attempt to modify or lighten 
it. Are we to believe that their heads and nerves were more re- 
sistant to strain than ours? Or that, having been inured by a 
century of public readings, they had become case-hardened 
against exasperation, weariness, and boredom? 


The habit of giving and hearing public readings and recitations, 
which was the absorbing occupation and perpetual distraction 
of cultivated Romans, is so foreign to our manners that it de- 
mands a few words of explanation. 

Scholars and men of letters in Rome knew nothing for two 
centuries of what we mean by "publishing." Down to the end of 
the republic, they made copies of their works in their own houses 
or in the house of some patron, and then distributed the manu- 
scripts to their friends. Atticus, to whom Cicero had entrusted 
his speeches and his treatises, had the inspiration of converting 
the copying studio he had set up for himself into a real industrial 
concern. 04 At the same time Caesar, no less a revolutionary in 
things intellectual than in things material, helped to procure him 
a clientele by founding the first State Library in Rome, on the 
model of the great library which existed in the museum at Alex- 
andria. The completion of the Roman library was due to Asinius 
Pollio, and it soon begot daughter libraries in the provinces. 95 


The multiplication of public and municipal libraries resulted in 
the rise of publishers (bibliopolae, librarii). The new profession 
soon had its celebrities: the Sosii, of whom Horace speaks, who 
had opened a shop for volumina at the exit of the Vicus Tuscus on 
the Forum, near the statue of the god Vertumnus, behind the 
Temple of Castor; 96 Dorus, to whom one went for copies of 
Cicero and Livy; 97 Tryphon, who sold Quintilian's Institutio 
Oratorio, and Martial's Epigrams;** and rivals of Tryphon Q. 
Pollius Valerianus; Secundus, not far from the Forum of Peace; 
and Atrectus in the Argiletum." 

These book merchants, who assembled and trained teams of 
expert slaves, sold their copies dear enough 2 or 3 sesterces for 
a text which would correspond to about 20 pages of our duo- 
decimo; 5 denarii or 20 sesterces for a liber, which would make 
somewhat less than 40 similar pages but had been elaborately 
gotten up. 100 They were often paid by unknown writers for 
carrying out the work to order, but even in the case of famous 
authors they did not even buy the original manuscript which they 
condescended to "publish." 101 They were also exempt from 
making any subsequent payment to the author for the jurists had 
vaguely extended to all writings on papyrus or on parchment the 
old legal principle that solo cedit superficies, that is to say, the 
ownership of every addition follows the ownership of the basis 
to which it is added. 102 Thus the publishers grew rich by dis- 
patching all over the world, "to the confines of Britain and the 
frosts of the Getae," the verses "which the centurion hummed in 
his distant garrison," but the poet's "money-bag knew nothing 
of it" as he starved in his poverty. 108 

In these conditions it was inevitable that literary beginners 
and impecunious authors should seize the opportunity given by a 
public recitation of their prose or of their poems either to escape 
the demands of the librarius or to force his hand. They had no 
hesitation in thus deflowering a subsequent edition which would 
never bring them in a penny. It was also natural that the im- 
perial government, which hoped to control literary production 
but shrank from the scandal caused by the autos-da-fe decreed 
by Tiberius, 104 or the death sentence which Domitian had pro- 
nounced against Hermogenes of Tarsus and his publishers, 105 
preferred to arrive unobtrusively at the same result by under- 
ground methods which had proved effective in the valley of the 


Nile. The prefects and procurators placed in charge of the public 
libraries already possessed the power to effect the slow but certain 
disappearance of dangerous or suspect books to which they had 
closed the doors of their bookcases. 106 They claimed the right to 
sow the good seed of writings favourable to the regime and com- 
positions useful as propaganda. We need, therefore, feel no sur- 
prise if Asinius Pollio, who gave his name to the first library in 
Rome, was the first to recite his works before his friends. 107 This 
practice was too well suited to the condition of writers and the 
desires of government not to become the fashion quickly. Thus 
the conjunction of omnipotent publishers and servile libraries 
gave birth to a monster, the public recitatio, which soon grew to 
be the curse of literature. The calculations of the politicians and 
the vanity of authors set the fashion. After that nothing could 
stop it. 

From the very beginning of his reign, Augustus' enthusiasm for 
recitations helped their progress; he would listen "with as much 
goodwill as endurance to those who read aloud to him not only 
verses or history but also speeches and dialogues." 108 A few 
years later things had gone even further. Claudius, who at Livy's 
instigation had started to write history, delighted to declaim his 
chapters one by one as he finished them. 109 Since he was of the 
blood royal, he had no difficulty in getting a full house. But he 
was shy and a stammerer, and at one of his experimental readings 
a grotesque incident occurred a bench collapsed under the 
weight of a fat member of the audience, provoking volleys of 
laughter that were not on the agenda. After this he gave up read- 
ing aloud himself. But he did not abandon the pleasure of hearing 
his lucubrations declaimed in the cultured, voice of a freedman. 
Later, when he became emperor, he put his palace at the disposal 
of others for their readings, and was only too happy if he could 
find leisure to be present as an ordinary listener. He would sud- 
denly appear among an audience startled at this unexpected 
honour, a trick he played one day on the ex-consul Nonianus. 110 
Domitian in his turn affected a passionate love of poetry and on 
more than one occasion himself read his own verses in public. 111 
It is probable that Hadrian followed suit; at least he set his seal 
on public readings by consecrating a building for this exclusive 
purpose: the Athenaeum, a sort of .jniniature theatre, which he 
had built with his own money on a site which is unknown to us. 112 


His subjects were as grateful to Mm for this as if he had at last 
decided to house the "liberal arts" (ludus ingenuarum artium) 
in a building worthy of them. 113 

The building of the Athenaeum was merely an indication of 
the importance public readings had acquired in the Urbs, which 
was now submerged under a flood of talent. There was nothing 
new about its architecture ; it simply added an official monument 
to the numerous other halls which had long been filled with the 
eloquent murmur of these recitals. Any well-educated man who 
was moderately well off cherished the ambition of having a room 
in his house, the auditorium, especially for readings. More than 
one friend of Pliny the Younger embarked light-heartedly on this 
considerable expense Calpurnius Piso, for instance, and Titinius 
Capito. 114 - The plan of these auditoria varied little from house to 
house: a dais on which the author-reader would take his seat after 
having attended to his toilet, smoothed his hair, put on a new 
toga, and adorned his fingers with all his rings for the occasion. 
He was then prepared to entrance his audience not only with the 
merit of his writing but by the distinction of his presence, the 
caress of his glances, the modesty of his speech, and the gentle- 
ness of his modulations. 115 Behind him hung the curtains which 
hid those of his guests who wished to hear him without being seen, 
his wife for example. 116 In front of the reader the public who had 
been summoned by notes delivered at their homes (codicilli) were 
accommodated, in armchairs (cathedrae) for people of the higher 
ranks and benches for the others. Attendants told off for the pur- 
pose distributed the programs of the seance (libelli). 117 

All this mise en sc&ne was not within the reach of everybody's 
purse. Poor writers depended on the goodwill and generosity of 
the rich. Great gentlemen like Titinius Capito, animated by the 
best spirit of good-fellowship, were very ready to lend their 
auditorium. 118 Rich men, less generous but more practical, hired 
theirs out for cash down. Juvenal pours contempt on these Harpa- 
gons wearing the mask of a Maecenas who exacted large sums for 
the brief enjoyment of a "tumbledown house in some distant 
quarter . . . with tiers of seats resting on hired beams and chairs 
in the front rows which will have to be returned when done 
with." 119 

An auditorium was, however, not indispensable to a public 
recital unless the author was anxious to cut a dash and influence 


opinion. The more fastidious author whose reputation was already 
well established preferred a select audience of connoisseurs like 
himself. Pliny the Younger, for instance, took pride in inviting 
only a handful of friends whom he could accommodate in his 
triclinium, or dining-room, some stretched on the couches which 
were the permanent furniture of the room, and the others in 
chairs carried in for the occasion. 120 As for the poor devils who 
had neither triclinium nor the money to hire a room, they con- 
trived to find an audience all the same. As soon as they spied a 
group of people anywhere whose curiosity at least they might 
pique, they would mingle with them and unblushingly unroll 
their manuscript in the forum, under a portico, or among the 
crowd at the baths. 121 The recitatio had invaded even the cross- 
roads. Examining the contemporary literature, we soon get the 
impression that everyone was reading something, no matter what, 
aloud in public all the time, morning and evening, winter and 

If you were in search of a large audience it was wise to avoid 
the hot months when many Romans had withdrawn to their coun- 
try villas. But if you attached more importance to the quality 
than to the quantity of your hearers, the summer months were 
perhaps the best. Pliny the Younger "read" in July, because he 
hoped that the closing of the courts would allow him more free- 
dom of mind and would permit his rivals at the bar to grace his 
performance with their presence. 122 For the same reason, most 
readings took place in the afternoon when busy men had leisure 
at their disposal. But there were some insatiables who did not 
find an afternoon enough to pour forth their masterpieces and 
flattered themselves that they could keep an audience spellbound 
for a whole day (to turn diem impendere) without prejudice to 
the morrow and the days following. 123 Surely we need not con- 
tinue to wonder at the compulsory overwork the Romans toler- 
ated in their tribunals and in the Senate when we consider the 
docility with which the idlers of Rome submitted to the optional 
overwork of the auditoria. 

It is true that the audience did not stand on ceremony with 
their host, and that their attention was often more or less politely 
casual and intermittent. Pliny the Younger in his letters tells a 
number of anecdotes that give us insight into the liberties in 
which the listening public indulged. In the course of a certain 


April, for instance, "scarce a day has passed wherein we have 
not been entertained with the recital of some poem." 124 The 
public was at its last gasp. People continued mechanically to 
attend the seances from force of habit, but they seat themselves 
in the antechambers; spend the time of the recitation in talk and 
send in every now and then to inquire whether the author has 
come in, whether he has read the preface or whether he has almost 
finished the piece. . . .' Then they just look in and withdraw 
again before the end, some by stealth and others without cere- 
mony. On one occasion Pliny the Younger arrived late and found 
a crowd of younger men. 125 He noted with a mixture of pride and 
embarrassment that his entry recalled those present to a sense 
of courtesy, cut short the jests they had been interchanging and 
re-established silence as if by magic. At other times he came upon 
audiences who, though they strove to maintain the appearance 
of decent manners and refrained from making a noise, neverthe- 
less showed a coolness and lack of interest which bordered on 
insolence, if they did not abandon themselves to the refreshment 
of a well-earned snooze. At one recitatio the celebrated jurist 
Javolenus Priscus, a friend of the reader, was among the audi- 
ence. 126 The host unrolled his volumen and read the first line of 
his poem which^happened to begin. 

"Priscus, thou dost command . . ." 

Javolenus roused himself with a start from the daydream in 
which his thoughts had been wandering leagues away and hastily 
ejaculated: "But I don't command anything!" "Think," says 
Pliny, "what a peal of laughter and what numerous sallies this 
droll accident occasioned." 

In other cases the listeners pretended to devote their attention 
to the proceedings, but their behaviour roused Pliny to "a little 
fit of anger." 127 There were some "men of eloquence in their 
own estimation" among the audience and although "the work 
read to us was a highly finished performance . . . they sat like 
so many deaf-mutes, without so much as moving a lip or a hand 
or once rising to their feet, even by way of relief from a seated 
posture." Pliny unleashed his wrath at "this indolence, this arro- 
gance, this gaucherie, nay idiocy, that will be at the expense of a 
whole day merely to affront and leave as your enemy the man 
you visited as a particular friend." 


But the power of concentration had its limits even for the 
Romans, and nothing is more exhausting in any language than 
continuous eloquence. It was surely unreasonable on the author's 
part to inflict on an audience a whole day's reading of any work, 
however excellent; its beauties were bound to wither under 
fatigue and boredom. A recitation continued without pause and 
without end could produce only nausea; the hearers' one escape 
was inattention. Instead of promoting a love of literature, these 
public readings produced mental indigestion and must more 
often have deadened than stimulated the love of letters. Their cor- 
rupting influence was only increased by the introduction of an 
incoherent variety of items to lessen the monotony. They became 
a chaos of deafening sound. Lawyers re-edited their speeches for 
them, and politicians polished up their harangues. 128 Men of the 
world who had never written in their lives, save in the course of 
their professional duties or to keep up family and social rela- 
tions, did not hesitate to reproduce the eulogy they had pro- 
nounced at the funeral of a relative. 129 

As for professional writers, they foresaw a future for their 
most trifling composition . and proved themselves inexhaustible. 
When pleadings and speeches were used up, they read books of 
history, which were best received when they dealt with a past so 
distant that no one present need feel embarrassment "for men 
are ashamed to hear those actions repeated which yet they do 
not blush to commit!" 13 In verse, the audiences were treated to 
a medley of Pliny's banter, Calpurnius Piso's mythology of the 
constellations, the elegies of Passennus Paulus, the Thebais of 
Statius, and a rigmarole of banal epics compounded of echoes of 
Statius and reminiscences of Virgil, "tales about Hercules or 
Diomedes, or the bellowing in the labyrinth, and the lad Icarus 
who crashed his flying machine into the sea." 131 To these must 
be added tragedies without scenery and comedies without ac- 
tors. 132 One sort of literary composition succeeded another on 
the tribunes of the auditoria, with little of taste or relevance. 

In vain Pliny the Younger seeks to beguile himself by extolling 
the excellence and value of a type of performance in which he 
knew he excelled, and tries to convince himself that a public 
reading stimulates him to revise and perfect his speeches, and that 
its object is to evoke the criticisms which will enable him to 
polish away its flaws. 133 These are only the pretexts, albeit sin- 


cere, and the quibblings, albeit ingenious, of a spoiled child who 
would be inconsolable if his pet toy were lost or forbidden. These 
slender benefits and problematical advantages could not outweigh 
the inconvenience, the danger, and the harm that Horace from 
the outset had foretold. 134 How horrified the poet would have 
been if he could have returned to Rome a hundred years after his 
death when the disastrous practice of recitations had brought a 
rich crop of all the ills he had only dimly foreseen ! By that time 
the recitatio was well on the way to become the last straw among 
the evils of a purely formal education. The habit of writing and 
then of reading from volumina, whose unrolling never permitted 
attention to more than one passage at a time, with as little heed 
to what had gone before as to what was afterwards to come, had 
already induced such fragmentary and scrappy composition that 
even the best of Roman authors, judged by our standards, more 
or less deserve the condemnation Caligula pronounced on Seneca: 
"sand without mortar (arena sine calce)" 1 These public read- 
ings in which the author aimed to dazzle his audience more by the 
brilliance of the detail than by the beauty of the general plan 
aggravated the evil influence of the volumen and hastened the 
disastrous evolution which culminated in a taste so perverted 
that it responded only to tirades aimed at effect and to epigram- 
matic conceits (sententiae). By detaching the works they seized 
on from their natural setting pleadings from the law court, 
political speeches from the Curia, tragedy and comedy from the 
theatre these public recitations completed the severance of 
such links as still existed between literature and life, and drained 
literature of that genuine human content without which no mas- 
terpiece is possible. 186 They were peculiarly noxious in a manner 
of their own, to which the moderns have hitherto been no less 
blind than the ancients, and which helped to kill literature itself. 
For one thing, the opportunity they gave the author of gratifying 
his vanity gradually turned writers aside from ambitions nobler 
than the attainment of immediate intoxicating success before an 
audience stimulated to artificial enthusiasm by the presence of 
complaisant friends and of colleagues hoping to secure reciprocal 
admiration. It may still be a matter of dispute how much harm 
has been or will be caused to literature by the extension of the 
radio, but there is no reason to doubt that when the public-reading 
mania was at its height it did enormous damage to the production 


of volumina. And it is equally undeniable that the disease de- 
voured like a cancer hordes of people who had developed through 
it a false belief in their literary vocation. 

When once the public reading became an established fashion 
in Rome, and yras recognised as the main and almost exclusive 
occupation of people of letters, literature lost all dignity and all 
serious purpose. The fashionable world adopted a currency which 
became more and more alloyed as the circle of amateurs was 
enlarged. Those who were invited wished to be the inviters in 
their turn, and when everybody mounted the dais in rotation, it 
ended by every listener becoming an author. This was in appear- 
ance the triumph of literature. But it was a Pyrrhic victory, an 
insensate inflation which foreshadowed bankruptcy. When there 
were as many writers as listeners, or, as we should say, as many 
authors as readers, and the two roles were indistinguishable, lit- 
erature suffered from an incurable, malignant tumour. 




things bread and circuses. 

VERYBODY knows by heart Ju- 
venal's tirade against his degener- 
ate contemporaries, "the mob of 
Remus," a laconic indictment which 
throbs more with scorn than anger: 
"Now that no one buys our votes, 
the public has long since cast off its 
cares; the people that once be- 
stowed commands, consulships, le- 
gions, and all else, now meddles no 
more and longs eagerly for just two 

. duas tantum res anxius opt at, 

panem et circenses 

99 1 

Famous though they are, it is well to recall these verses at the 
beginning of the chapter which explains them. Their vehement 
invective, which scorches like a branding iron, voices the noblest 
republican protest that was raised under *fc empire. They state 
an incontestable and dominant fact; they note a historic truth 
which Pronto was to record forty years later with the calm ob- 
jectivity of the historian faced by irrefutable evidence: "the 
Roman people is absorbed by two things above all others, its 
food supplies and its shows (populum Romanum duabus prae- 
cipue rebus, annona et spectacidis teneri)"* 

The Caesars had in fact shouldered the dual task of feeding 
and amusing Rome. Their monthly distributions at the Portico 
of Minucius assured the populace its daily bread. By the shows 
and spectacles they provided in various public places, religious 
or secular, in the Forum, at the theatres, in the Stadium, in the 


Amphitheatre, in mock sea fights (naumachiae) , they occupied 
and disciplined its leisure hours. They kept the plebs expectantly 
awaiting the ever-renewed entertainments, and even in lean years, 
when treasury shortages compelled them to ration their expendi- 
ture, they exhausted their ingenuity to provide the public with 
more festivals than any people, in any country, at any time, has 
ever seen. 

Let us examine the calendars deciphered for us by the epi- 
graphists which note the dates of the Roman festivals. 8 In the 
first place we should keep in mind that the Roman year in general 
was divided into two kinds of days, the dies fasti and the dies 
nefasti.* On the former, civil and judicial business might be 
transacted without fear of offending the gods; on the latter such 
business was suspended. Here we need not take into account the 
fourteen days of a mixed nature when civil affairs might proceed 
normally after certain rites had been performed or during a cer- 
tain limited part of the day. 

Among the dies nejasti, we find a certain number character- 
ised as jeriae or public holidays, as well as another group set 
apart for ludi or public games. Such days are usually marked in 
surviving calendars with the letters NP and scholars do not 
agree as to the difference, if any, between the days marked with 
these two letters and those characterised by the single letter N, 
meaning nejas? Yet it is certain that jeriae and days set aside for 
games were public holidays in the present sense of the word, 
when work was relaxed or suspended altogether, and men gave 
themselves over to rest and pleasure. It is with these days that 
we are primarily concerned. 

Let us begin with the days on which performances were held at 
public expense in the circus or the theatre, carrying our compu- 
tations down to the time of Claudius, when the evidence of stone 
calendars breaks off. There were, first of all, the games which the 
republic at grave crises in its history had decreed in honour of the 
gods, and which were destined to minister to the ambition of the 
dictators and the policy of the Caesars: the Ludi Romani, in- 
stituted in 366 B.C. and ultimately lasting from September 4 to 
19; the Ludi Plebei, which made their appearance somewhere 
between 220 and 216 B.C. and were then held from November 4 
to 17; the Ludi Apollinares, which dated from 208 B.C. and went 
on from July 6 to 13; the Ludi Ceriales, consecrated to Ceres in 


202 B.C., which fitted in between April 12 and 19; the Ludi 
Mcgalenses, in honour of the Great Idaean Mother of the Gods, 
Cybele, whose sanctuary was dedicated on the Palatine in 191 
B.C., and whose games had since been held every year from April 
4 to 10; the Ludi Florales, whose homage the goddess Flora 
seems regularly to have enjoyed only after 173 B.C., and whose 
celebration was attended by special ceremonies from April 28 
to May 3. All in all, then, we find 59 days devoted to these tradi- 
tional games of the Roman Republic before the time of Sulla. 6 

The first addition to this group is connected with his name. It 
is the Ludi Victoria^ Suttanae in the title we can detect Sulla's 
pretensions to divinity which for two hundred years after his 
death continued to be held from October 26 to November i. Next, 
we learn of the Ludi Victoriae Caesaris, which from July 20-30 
continued to recall to Roman memory the exploits of the con- 
queror of Gaul; and the Ludi Fortunae Reducis, which Augus- 
tus instituted in n B.C. and which lasted for 10 days from 
October 3 to 12. To these we must add the 3 days of the Ludi 
Palatini instituted by Livia in memory of Augustus; 7 the 2 days 
of the Ludi Martiales celebrated on May 12 and August i in con- 
nection with the dedication of the shrine and temple of Mars 
Ultor; and the day of games celebrating the birthday of the em- 
peror. The sum total for this post-Sullan group is 34 days, which, 
added to the 59 days of pre-Sullan games, gives us 93 public 
holidays when the Roman was entertained at spectacles at the 
expense of the State. 

But this is not all. Our calendars also record the forty-five 
feriae publicae, the origins of which are lost in the mists of early 
Latin history but which were kept up under the empire: among 
others, the Lupercalia in February; the Parilia, Cerialia, and 
Vinalia in April; the Vestalia and Matronalia in June; the Vol- 
canalia in August; and the Saturnalia in December. Ceremonies 
having the nature of games were connected with some of the 
holidays in this ancient group : for instance, the dance of the Salii 
which took place on the festival of the Quinquatrus (March 19) 
and the Armilustrium (October 19), the foot races of the Robi- 
galia (April 25), the races on foot and muleback of the Con- 
sualia (August 21 and December 15). But since these festivals 
were essentially religious and their chief purpose was not the en- 
tertainment of the people, we may conveniently set them aside 


from the days devoted primarily to games. Allowing, then, for 
overlapping, in that six of these ancient festivals were celebrated 
on days when games were being held, we have 39 new holidays to 
add to the previous 93 game days, making a total of 132 days 
in all. 

Finally, in the time of Caesar, we meet a new kind of public 
holiday, decreed by the Senate to commemorate a significant 
event in the life of the emperor. The first of these to appear were 
Caesar's birthday and the anniversaries of five of his most im- 
portant military victories. The precedent was followed under 
Augustus and 18 new holidays were proclaimed commemorating 
secular and religious events of his reign or connected with his 
memory after death. 8 To these we must add 6 more days per- 
taining to events extending into the reign of Claudius. But of these 
30 new holidays, only 18 do not coincide with days otherwise 
celebrated, so that our sum total of all holidays reaches an even 
150. Finally, 8 of the Ides dedicated to Jupiter and i of the 
Calends dedicated to Mars do not fall on other holidays and must 
be added to our list. 9 

In other words, at the time of Claudius the Roman calendar 
contained 159 days expressly marked as holidays, of which 93 
were devoted to games given at public expense. The list does not 
include the many ceremonies for which the State took no respon- 
sibility and supplied no funds, but which were much in favour 
among the people and took place around the sanctuaries of the 
quarters in the chapels of foreign deities whose worship was 
officially sanctioned, and in the scholae or meeting places of the 
guilds and colleges. Even less does it take account of the feriae 
privatae of individuals or family groups. 

After Claudius, we have very little precise information as to 
public holidays. To be sure, a number of jerialia are still extant 
lists giving a selected number of days which were celebrated with 
religious ceremonies by a limited group of people. 10 But in many 
cases it is difficult to conjecture whether these days were desig- 
nated as public holidays in the city of Rome. Naturally the list 
of holidays changed from reign to reign, but the additions seem 
to have outnumbered the subtractions, for we know that Clau- 
dius, 11 Vespasian, 12 and Marcus Aurelius 13 all found it necessary 
to cut down the number of holidays. Marcus Aurelius, his biogra- 
pher tells us, restored the business year to 230 days; and from 


later evidence it has been reasonably conjectured that most of 
the remaining 135 were devoted to public spectacles. For the 
manuscript Calendar of Philocalus, written in 354 A.D. and re- 
flecting conditions of the third century, records 175 days of games 
out of about 200 public holidays, as against 93 out of 159 for the 
early empire, an increase from about 59 per cent to 87 per cent 
in the proportion of game days. 14 

We have, moreover, been speaking of ordinary years during 
which nothing remarkable had happened and the normal program 
was not combined with the recurrence of quadrennial cycles such 
as the earlier Actiaca and the later Agon Capitolinus, and at 
longer intervals with the return of the "renewal of the century" 
prolonged over a series of days, such as took place in 17 B.C. 
and in 88 and 204 A.D., or of the "centenaries" of the Eternal 
City as in 47, 147, and 248. 15 Above all, we must not overlook 
the festivals which defy exact computation because they were 
dependent on imperial caprice and might be suddenly inserted in 
the calendar at any moment. These the Caesars decreed in quan- 
tities. They grew in importance with the prosperity of an em- 
peror's reign, and their unexpectedness greatly intensified the 
interest they aroused. They were the triumphs which an emperor 
made the Senate decree for him; the munera or gladiatorial com- 
bats which he decreed on some arbitrary pretext. These gladia- 
torial displays soon came to equal the ludi in frequency, and in 
the second century they sometimes went on for months. 16 The 
reality, therefore, fir exceeded our statistics; and in attempting 
to analyse it, we are driven to conclude that in the epoch we are 
studying Rome enjoyed at least one day of holiday for every 
working day. 


At first sight the discovery of this proportion is almost stupefy- 
ing. On reflection, however, it is obvious that it was the inevitable 
consequence of the political and social evolution which had led 
the masters of the empire to make use of and extend the old 
religious festivals as a means of consolidating their power over the 
masses who crammed the city and swarmed round their palace on 
every side. 

Religion presided at the birth of every one of these Roman 
"holidays," and was more or less inseparably bound up with 


each. An outcrop of the religious substratum is visible on the 
surface of the ancient ceremonies which the Romans never 
omitted to perforrti though they had long since forgotten their 
significance. Thus the fishing contest of June 7, over which the 
city praetor presided in person, ended on*the Vulcanal rock with 
a fish fry for the prize winners. 17 But a note of Festus which can- 
not be challenged indicates that this offering of fried fish repre- 
sented a sacrifice in which the god Vulcanus accepted the substi- 
tution of fish for human victims: pisciculi pro animis humanist 
Similarly, there was a horse-race in the Forum on October 15, 
the result of which betrays its primitive origin. 19 Woe to the 
winner! The ftamen of Mars sacrificed the luckless race-horse 
immediately after it had won the victory. Its blood was collected 
in two vessels, and the contents of one were straightway poured 
over the hearth of the Regia the traditional palace of Numa 
and home of the Pontifex Maximus while the other was sent to 
the Vestals who kept it in reserve for the year's lustrations. As 
for the horse's head, which had been severed by the knife of the 
sacrificing priest, the dwellers by the Sacred Way and the in- 
habitants of the Subura fought savagely to decide which of their 
respective quarters should have the honour of exhibiting on the 
wall of one of its buildings the trophy of the "October Horse." 
The significance of these strange customs is revealed at once 
when we turn back to the distant past in which they had their 
origin. Each year on their return from the annual military cam- 
paigning, which began in spring and continued until autumn, the 
Latins of ancient Rome offered a horse-race to the gods by way 
of thanksgiving; and they sacrificed the winning Tiorse that the 
city might be purified by the shedding of its blood and protected 
by the fetish of its skeleton. 

These two immemorial usages at once disclose the ancestral 
rituals. But religion is not less present for being less evident in 
the more recent games of the republic. The games designed to 
call Olympus to the rescue in hours of crisis had been instituted 
successively in Jionour of Jupiter, of Apollo, of Ceres, of Cybele, 
and of Flora. When, later, the dictators lengthened the list of 
games in honour of their military victories, they designed to raise 
these victories, and therewith themselves, to a more than human 
plane. In the combats as in the races, in the dramatic representa- 
tion as in the imperial purple, the underlying idea 'was not merely 


to appease the gods but to capture something of their strength, 
momentarily incarnate in the magistrate celebrating his triumph, 
in the actors of the drama, and in the victors of the contests. 
When, in 105 B.C., the State for the first time inaugurated on its 
own behalf gladiatoriaf combats such as private individuals had 
been wont to hold beside the graves of their relations, it gave 
these displays the name of munera, which they retained through 
tlje ages following. 20 This word, implying a favour, gift, or funeral 
honours, connotes the sinister function of these shows : to appease 
the wrath of the gods by the death of men and to assuage the un- 
rest of the dead by fresh slaughter of the living. Festus defined 
them in the time of Augustus as "an oblation dictated by duty." 21 
"An honour we are bound to render to the spirits of the dead," 
declared Tertullian at the end of the second century. 22 "Blood 
poured on the ground to calm the scythe-bearing god in the heav- 
ens," Ausonius was to call it, under the later empire. 23 

It would almost seem that this horrible conception of human 
sacrifice, inherited by the Romans from the sombre Etruscan 
genius, had survived the centuries unaltered and unweakened. 
This is only apparently the case. In imperial times any such 
erudite explanation would have passed over the head of a public 
which in its heart and for its own pleasure had completely secu- 
larised its sacred games. No doubt the public went to the circus 
as to a service and put on its festal toga for the occasion, for an 
edict of Augustus had made the wearing of a toga obligatory. 24 
No doubt, again, the public was bound under pain of expulsion 
to observe the proprieties and to refrain, for instance, from eat- 
ing or drinking during the races. 25 But in these matters the Ro- 
mans had the feeling not of following a liturgy but of complying 
with a rule of etiquette. When, in compliance with the rule, they 
rose to their feet to acclaim the inaugural procession in which the 
statues of the Dim accompanied the official gods, they were dem- 
onstrating not their religious fervour but their fidelity to the 
dynasty, their attachment to their professional group under the 
patronage of this god or that goddess, and thei* admiration for 
the organisation of so magnificent a parade. 20 If there chanced to 
be anyone among the crowd so ingenuously pious* as to imagine 
that the divinity dear to his heart had made a sign of understand- 
ing or a protective movement in his direction, his unwonted 


credulity attracted the curiosity of his neighbours and excited the 
humour of the gossips. 27 

The ancient religion of Rome was still able to lend the hal- 
lowed association of its traditions to the splendour of the imperial 
spectacles and shows. But the public knew little of it and cared 
less; if they respected it at all, it was unconsciously. In this do- 
main as in others, new beliefs had driven the old into the back- 
ground, if they had not entirely eradicated them. If any living 
faith made the spectators' hearts beat faster it was a faith in 
astrology. They would gaze entranced at the accidental patterns 
formed in the sand of the arena; in the moat (euripus) which sur- 
rounded it they would read symbols of the seas; in the obelisk 
or spina they would see an emblem of the sun darting his rays to 
highest heaven; in the twelve stalls (car ceres) from which the 
chariots started the constellations of the Zodiac; in the seven 
tracks of the race courses the circuit of the seven planets in the 
heavens and the succession of the seven days of the week; in the 
circus itself a miniature projection of the universe and, as it were, 
an epitome of its destiny. 28 If any enthusiasm exalted the public 
soul it was that evoked by the passing of the sacred cortege with 
the sculptured images of dead emperors, and the simultaneous 
appearance in his pulvinar or couch of the living emperor, to 
whose benevolence they owed the number and the splendour of 
their entertainments. 

A salutary contact was thus established between the princeps 
and the mob, which prevented him on the one hand from shutting 
himself off in dangerous isolation and prevented them on their 
part from forgetting the august presence of the Caesar. The 
moment he entered the circus or the theatre or the amphitheatre, 
the crowd leapt spontaneously to their feet and greeted him with 
a waving of handkerchiefs, as the faithful today greet the Holy 
Father in the basilica of the Vatican, offering a moving salutation 
that had the modulation of a hymn and the accent of a prayer. 20 
This sort of adoration did not, of course, exclude more human 
sentiments, at once stronger and more intimate. The immense 
concourse had the happiness, as Pliny says in his Panegyric, not 
only "of perceiving the princeps in the midst of his people," 80 
but also of feeling drawn to him by the vicissitudes of the race, 
the fight, or the drama, sharing his emotions, his wishes, his 


pleasure, and his fears. Authority relaxed in the familiarity en- 
gendered by emotions felt in common, and at the same time 
drew new strength from bathing again in the waves of popularity 
which broke .around its feet. At a time when the Comitia were 
silent and the Senate merely repeated the lesson prescribed to it, 
it was only amid the merriment of the ludi and the munera that 
public opinion could take shape and express itself in petitions 
suddenly echoed by thousands of voices demanding from Tiberius 
the Apoxyomenus of Lysippus, 81 and obtaining from Galba the 
death of Tigellinus. 32 The emperors developed skill in canalising 
this mass emotion and directing its currents, and often succeeded 
in transferring to the multitude the responsibility for acts of 
vengeance which they had already planned but preferred to 
execute under an appearance of popular duress. 88 Thus the spec- 
tacles of Rome, though not forming an integral part of the gov- 
ernmental system of the empire, helped to sustain its structure, 
and without becoming incorporated in the imperial religion, 
fanned whatever flame still burned in it. 

Nor was this all: they formed a barrier for autocracy against 
revolution. In the city there were 150,000 complete idlers sup- 
ported by the generosity of the public assistance, and perhaps an 
equal number of workers who from one year's end to the other 
had no occupation after the hour of noon and yet were deprived 
of the right to devote their spare time to politics. The shows 
occupied the time of these people, provided a safety valve for their 
passions, distorted their instincts, and diverted their activity. A 
people that yawns is ripe for revolt. The Caesars saw to it that 
the Roman plebs suffered neither from hunger nor ennui. The 
spectacles were the great anodyne for their subjects' unemploy- 
ment, and the sure instrument of their own. absolutism. They 
shrewdly buttressed their power by surrounding the plebs with 
attentions and expending fabulous sums of money iff the process. 

Dio Cassius records that Augustus one day reproached the 
pantomime actor Pylades for deafening Rome with the noise of 
his quarrels and rivalries. 84 Pylades had the audacity to reply: 
"It is in your interest Caesar, that the people should keep their 
thoughts on us!" The artist's witty retort voiced the unspoken 
thought of Augustus and penetrated one of the secrets of his 
government. Games were the great preoccupation of his reign at 
home. He never failed to take a share in them, with ostentatious 


zeal and deliberate seriousness. He took his seat in the centre of 
his pulvinar between his wife and children. If he had to withdraw 
before the end, he excused himself and designated someone else 
to preside. If he stayed to the end, he was never seen to let his 
attention wander, whether he really enjoyed the performances for 
their own sake as he frankly confessed, or whether he wished to 
avoid the murmurs which his father Caesar had called forth by 
starting to read reports and to reply to them while the spectacle 
was in progress. He wanted to enjoy himself with his people, and 
he spared nothing to give them pleasure, so that the spectacles 
of his reign surpassed in splendour and in variety anything which 
had been admired before. 85 In his own Res Gestae he recalls with 
gratification that he had four times given games in his own name, 
and twenty-three times in the name of magistrates on whom the 
expense should have fallen, but who either were absent at the 
time or were not in a financial position to undertake them. 86 

Consuls and praetors were crushed under the burden of the 
expenditure entailed by their honourable promotion, and Martial 
has invented an amusing anecdote of a young woman, Proculeia, 
who as soon as her husband was appointed to the praetorship an- 
nounced her intention of divorcing him: 

What, I ask, is the matter, Proculeia? What is the reason of this sud- 
den resentment? Do you answer me nothing? I will tell you: your hus- 
band was praetor. The purple robe of the Megalesian festival was like 
to cost a hundred thousand sesterces, even if a man gave a penurious 
show, and the plebeian festival would have run off with twenty thou- 
sand. This is not divorce, Proculeia: it is good business. 87 

The princeps was driven more and more to come to the rescue 
of his magistrates, and as each Caesar succeeded the last he bet- 
tered the example of Augustus, in order that it might not be said 
that the spectacles of his reign were less brilliant than those of 
former emperors. If we except Tiberius this crowned republican 
whose incurable misanthropy extended alike to plebeian and 
patrician all the emperors vied with each other to enlarge the 
program of the traditional games, lengthening them sometimes 
till sunrise, and duplicating them with innumerable extra shows 
not in the calendar. Even the niggardly did not dare to shirk this 
expenditure. Under Claudius, who was economical, the Roman 
games cost 760,000 sesterces; and the Apollinarian games, which 


had cost their founder in his day 3,000 sesterces, ran to 38o,ooo. 88 
Even under the upstart Vespasian, son of a clerk, whose reputa- 
tion for economy is well established, the building of the Flavian 
amphitheatre began. The magnitude of its own dimensions even 
more than its proximity to the colossal statue of the sun earned it 
eventually the name of the "Colosseum." The wiser emperors vied 
with the worst in this debauchery of pleasure and squandering of 
money; and the most ostentatious, the most apparently foolish 4n 
the matter was perhaps Trajan, the model emperor (optimus 
princeps) whose perfection was held to be worthy of Jupiter. In 
reality, as Fronto saw it, "his wisdom never failed to pay atten- 
tion to the stars of the theatre, the circus, or the arena, for he well 
knew that the excellence of a government is shown no less in its 
care for the amusements of the people than in serious matters, 
and that although the distribution of corn and money may satisfy 
the individual, spectacles are necessary for the contentment of 
the masses." 89 

These last words give us the key to the problem. The policy 
of the Caesars was prescribed by the necessity which compels 
those who would govern the masses. We have recently seen the 
same principles being applied, in Germany by the Kraft durch 
Freude, in Italy by the Dopo Lavoro, in France by the Ministry 
of Leisure. But these contemporary attempts to cater to men's 
leisure do not approach the scale of those undertaken by the 
Roman Empire. By means of them the empire preserved its 
existence, guaranteed the good order of an overpopulated capital, 
kept the peace among more than a million men. The zenith of its 
greatness at the beginning of the second century coincides with 
the maximum magnificence of its races and its games, the per- 
formances in its theatre, the real combats of its arena', the artificial 
battles, the literary and musical competitions of its agones. 


The games par excellence at Rome were those of the circus 
(cir censes). 40 They cannot be considered apart from the build- 
ing they took place in and drew their name from. The circuses 
were built expressly for them, and whatever their dimensions 
their plan was uniform, consisting of a long rectangle, rounded 
off at one end into a semicircle. The Circus Flaminius, built in 
221 B.C. by the censor Flaminius Nepos on the site correspond- 


ing to the present Palazzo Caetani, was 400 metres by 26o; 41 
the Circus Gai which Caligula built on the Vatican was 180 
metres by 90; its central obelisk now adorns the Piazza San 
Pietro; 42 the oldest and the largest of all was the Circus Maximus, 
which served as a model for the other two. 48 Nature had almost 
laid it out herself in the depression of the Vallis Murcia lying be- 
tween the Palatine on the north and the Aventine on the south. 
The successive embellishments which it received mark the grow- 
ing passion of the Romans for the cir censes; the site is now used 
for the exhibitions of Mussolini's Rome. 

The track was originally formed by the low ground of the 
valley, and its soft, swampy nature eased the competitors' falls; 
the part containing the spectators' seats (cavea) was at first 
formed simply by the slopes of the adjacent hills, to which groups 
of the onlookers clung. In the centre of the field itself two wooden 
posts (metae) were staked, the more westerly one, the meta 
prima, rising in front of the trench which sheltered the subter- 
ranean altar of the god Consus, which was uncovered only during 
the games. 44 In 329 B.C. stables of car ceres (for a long time 
simply removable stalls) were installed to the west of and facing 
the meta prima** The two metae were joined by a longitudinal 
embankment which indicates that the valley bottom had dried 
out. The Romans considered this embankment the "backbone" 
(spina) of the arena, and broke up its monotony first with statues 
of divinities supposed to look with favour on competitive sports 
such as that of Pollentia, Goddess of Might, which was acci- 
dentally knocked down in 189 B.C. 40 and later, in 174 B.C., 
with the septem ova, seven large wooden eggs which were moved 
so as to indicate to the spectators which of the seven laps of the 
race was now in progress. 47 It was not, however, until the last 
century B.C. and the first century A.D. that the Circus Maximus 
began to be honoured with the magnificent monuments which 
made it famous in the ancient world, and of which archaeology 
has unearthed only the remains. 

For the protection of the public at the games which he cele- 
brated in 55 B.C., Pompey erected iron barriers round the arena 
where twenty elephants were pitted against armed Gaetulians. 
But to the terror of the spectators the iron bars buckled in many 
places under the impact of the terrified monsters. To avoid a 
similar panic in future, Caesar in 46 B.C. enlarged the arena to 


the east and west and surrounded it with a moat filled with 
water. 48 At the same time he built, or rebuilt, the carceres in 
volcanic tufa stone, and carved out the face of the hillsides so as 
comfortably to accommodate in tiers 150,000 spectators, seated 
at their ease. 49 His adopted son was to complete the work. In 
consultation with Octavius, Agrippa in 33 B.C. doubled the sys- 
tem of signals by alternating seven bronze dolphins (delphini) 
with the seven eggs along the spina, and having them reversed at 
each fresh lap. 50 Later Augustus brought from Heliopolis the 
obelisk of Rameses II, which today graces the Piazza del Popolo, 
to occupy the centre of the circus. 51 And above the cavea on the 
Palatine side he set up for himself, his family, and his guests the 
"royal enclosure" (the pulvinar) which he mentions in his Res 
Gestae?* From the beginning of the empire the pulvinar showed 
the Romans, overwhelmed by the sight of so much imperial 
majesty, a sort of first sketch of the future kathisma from which 
the kings would one day command the Hippodrome of Constan- 
tinople. 53 

It seems to have been Claudius who first introduced stone seats 
for the senators, at the same time replacing the wooden metae 
by posts of gilded bronze and the tufa of the carceres by marble. 54 
More stone seats were erected by Nero, this time for the Equites, 
when he rebuilt the circus after the great fire of 64 and took the 
opportunity to enlarge the track by filling in the euripus Later 
Trajan completed the enlargement of the cavea by deepening the 
excavations into the hills, a work- which Pliny the Younger 
claimed in his Panegyric had increased the number of spectators' 
seats by s,ooo. 56 

By this time the Circus Maximus had reached the colossal di- 
mensions of 600 by 200 metres, and had achieved its final im- 
posing form. Its curving exterior displayed three arcades faced 
with marble, superimposed like those of the Colosseum. Under 
these arcades wine merchants, caterers and pastry-cooks, astrolo- 
gers and prostitutes had their place of business. Inside, the track 
was now covered with a bed of sand which sparkled with bright 
mineral grain. The most striking thing, however, was the cavea, 
whose treble tiers faced each other along the Palatine beneath the 
imperial pulvinar and along the Aventine. The lowest tier of seats 
was of marble; the second of wood; while the third seems to have 
offered standing places only. The Regionaries of the fourth cen- 


tury compute 385,000 places in all. 57 We must perhaps allow for 
some exaggeration in their estimate, but it is safe to pin our faith 
to the 255,000 seats which we can deduce from the testimony of 
the elder Pliny for the Flavian period, plus the additional 5,000 
attributed to Trajan by Pliny the Younger. 

Even with these allowances the figure is staggering. Like the 
Olympic Stadium at Berlin, the Circus Maximus when in use 
seemed a city in itself, ephemeral and monstrous, set down in the 
middle of the Eternal City. The most surprising thing about the 
giant structure was the ingenuity of the details which fitted it 
to perform its functions. At the two ends were two corresponding 
arched enclosures. That on the east, toward the Mons Caelius, 
was broken by the three-bayed triumphal arch which the Senate 
and the Roman people consecrated in 81 A.D. to the victory of 
Titus over the Jews, 58 and beneath which filed the procession of 
the Pompa Circensis. That on the west, toward the Velabrum, con- 
tained, on the ground floor, the twelve car ceres where chariots and 
horses waited to begin the race as soon as the rope that was 
stretched between the two marble Hermes outside each of the 
twelve doors should fall; the story above was occupied by the 
. tribune reserved for the curule magistrate who was presiding over 
the games, and for his imposing suite. 

The truth is that the Roman crowd revelled in these spectacles 
where everything combined to quicken their curiosity and arouse 
their excitement: the swarming crowd in which each was carried 
off his feet by all, the almost incredible grandeur of the setting, 
the perfumes and gaily-coloured toilets, the sanctity of the ancient 
religious ceremonies, the presence of the august emperor, the 
obstacles to be overcome, the perils to be avoided, the prowess 
needed to win, the unforeseen vicissitudes of each of the contests 
which brought out the powerful beauty of the stallions, the rich- 
ness of their accoutrements, the perfection of their training, and 
above all the agility and gallantry of drivers and riders. 

As the size of the circus had been increased and its equipment 
perfected, the series of contests had become extended and en- 
riched. Every ludus had enlarged its program; and games lasting 
one day gave place to those of seven or nine or fifteen days. Each 
race consisted of seven laps. But the number of races held in one 
day was increased in the early empire. Under Augustus it was 
customary to have a dozen a day. Under Caligula the number 


was doubled and a day of twenty-four races became the most 
common after that. 59 Let us reckon it up: seven laps or spatia 
for each race (missus) makes seven times 568 metres, or 3,976 
metres per chariot per race. Twenty-four races covered a distance 
of 85 kilometres (about 55 miles)! When we remember the rest 
at noon and the pause which necessarily intervened between the 
missus, we must admit that the circus day was filled to overflow- 

But the Romans could never have too much, and moreover the 
variety of the Indus prevented any feeling of satiety. The interest 
of the horse-races was heightened by all sorts of acrobatic tricks. 
In the desultores the jockeys guided two horses at once and leaped 
from one to the other; again they flourished* weapons and made 
mimic warfare on horseback; now they sat astride, knelt, and lay 
down on their horses at the gallop; now snatched a piece of cloth 
from the track or jumped over a chariot harnessed to four horses. 
As for the chariot races, they were diversified by the teams of 
horses; sometimes two horses (bigae) drew them, sometimes three 
(trigae), most commonly four (quadrigae), occasionally even 
six or eight or ten (decemiuges) . Each race was enhanced by the 
solemnity of its start and its brilliant equipment. The signal for 
the trumpet to sound the start was given by the presiding consul, 
praetor, or aedile, who threw a white napkin from the height of 
his tribune into the arena. The gesture was critical and the great 
personage in himself was a sight worth seeing. Over a tunic, 
scarlet like Jupiter's, he had draped an embroidered Tyrian toga. 
Like a living statue, he held in his hand an ivory baton sur- 
mounted by an eagle on the point of flight, and on his head he 
wore a wreath of golden leaves so heavy that a "slave or player 
at his side had to help him to hold it up." 60 

At the president's feet, the chariots came to take up the place 
which the draw had allotted to them for the start, ranging them- 
selves in perfect order and shining trim. Each upheld the honour 
of the party or jactio to which it belonged. 61 The factiones had 
been founded to defray the enormous co^t entailed by the selec- 
tion and training of the competitors, man and beast, and the mag- 
istrates who gave the games had to contract with them for the 
performers. It may well be questioned whether the dimensions 
of the track could conveniently permit the management of more 
than four quadrigae at a time; it is certain that there were 





normally only four factiones, and that these at any rate after the 
beginning of the second century were usually allied in pairs. 
On the one hand were the Whites (factio albata) and the Greens 
(jactio prasina), and on the other the Blues (factio veneta) and 
the Reds (jactio russata). The stables of all four factions were 
in the ninth region; that of the Greens seems to have been near 
the spot now occupied by the Palazzo Farnese. 62 Each factio 
maintained a numerous staff of stable-boys and trainers (doctores 
et magistri), veterinary surgeons (medici), tailors (sarcinatores) , 
saddlers (sellarii), grooms (succunditores) , stable-guards (con- 
ditores), dressers and waterers (spartores), who accompanied the 
animals into the carceres, and of iubilatores whose duty it was 
to rouse their teams to eagerness by joyous cries. As for the 
chariot-drivers (aurigae, agitator es), the various factiones vied 
with each other to secure the best at whatever cost. 

While the horses pawed the ground, branches on their heads, 
tail held in air by a tight knot, mane starred with pearls, breast- 
plate studded with plaques and amulets, neck bearing a flexible 
collar and a ribbon dyed with the colours of their party, the 
auriga among his servants was the cynosure of all eyes. He stood 
upright in his chariot, helmet on head, whip in hand, leggings 
swathed round calf and thigh, clad in a tunic the colour of his 
factio, his reins bound round his body, and by his side the dagger 
that would sever them in case of accident. 

The public was tense even before the contest began. Each 
scanned with anxious eye the turn-out to which he had pinned his 
faith. In the packed cavea conversation hummed; neighbours of 
both sexes, piled on top of each other, animatedly compared their 
prophecies. This crowded gathering, seated according to the 
chance order of their entry, was not lacking in attraction either 
for women in search of a husband or for a libertine in search of 
adventure. It once happened under the republic that a beautiful 
young divorcee, Valeria, sister of the orator Hortensius, sur- 
reptitiously plucking a thread from the toga of Sulla in the hope 
of participating in his infallible good fortune, attracted the atten- 
tion and won the last affections of the great dictator. 03 And Ovid, 
love poet of the empire, advised his disciples to learn to enjoy 
attendance at the circus, where the pleasant conversions which 
preceded the races and the fever of excitement which they roused 
offered so many opportunities for gallantry. 6 * 


Excitement seized the public the moment dust began to fly be- 
neath the chariot wheels, and until the last lap was ended the 
spectators panted with hope and fear, uncertainty and passion. 
What. anguish at the slightest hitch, and thrills when the posts 
were turned without mishap! As the metae were always on the 
left of the chariots, the success of the turning manoeuvre de- 
pended on the strength and handiness of the two outside horses 
called funales. They were not harnessed to the shaft like the two 
middle ones but more loosely attached by a trace (funis), the off- 
funalis swinging out on the right and the still more vital near- 
junalis acting as pivot on the left. If the chariot hugged the turn- 
ing post too closely, it ran the risk of crashing into it; if, on the 
other hand, it swung out too far, it either lost position or was run 
into by the chariot following and again ran the risk of being 
wrecked. The agitator was subjected to a double strain: looking 
ahead, he must encourage and guide his horses; looking behind, 
avoid the impact of the chariot which was trying to pass him. He 
could breathe freely again only when he had safely reached the 
goal, after having fourteen times steered clear of the turning 
posts, kept or improved his place, escaped the snares of the track, 
and outwitted the stratagems of his competitors. The inscriptions 
which commemorate his victories conceal none of the difficulties 
he had overcome in achieving them he had kept the lead and 
won: occupavit et vie it; he had passed from second to first 
place and won: successit et vicit; he had been the "dark horse" 
whom no one expected to win and who in a supreme moment had 
triumphed: erupit et vicit The winner was greeted with a 
storm of applause and the winning driver and his beasts were 
overwhelmed by the outburst of the crowd's enthusiasm. 

Purchased in the stud farms of Italy, Greece, Africa, and more 
especially of Spain, put into training at the age of three and 
making their first appearance in the races at five, the chariot race- 
horses included mares which were harnessed to the shaft and 
stallions which were usually attached by traces. Each of them 
possessed its pedigree, its list of victories, its individual fame, so 
widespread that its name was heard from one end of the empire to 
the other, so imperishable that the echo of it has come down to 
us. The famous names were incised on the rim of the earthen 
lamps the potters turned 66 and on the mosaic pavements dis- 
covered by moderns in provincial houses, like those in the 


Numidian thermae whose proprietor Pompeianus confessed his 
affection for the horse Polydoxus: "Winner or not, we love you, 
Polydoxusl Vincas, non vincas, te amamus, Polydoxet"* 1 They 
can still be read, carved in stone like the name of the immortal 
Tuscus, who won the prize 386 times, 68 and Victor, 69 who on 429 
occasions justified his surname of good augury; or engraved on 
sheets of bronze which the losing betters loaded with curses and 
consigned to the vengeance of the infernal gods in the bottom of 
the tombs which have yielded them up to us. 70 

The charioteers knew glory too and more. Though they were 
of low-born origin, mainly slaves emancipated only after recurrent 
success, they were lifted out of their humble estate by the fame 
they acquired and the fortunes they rapidly amassed from the 
gifts of magistrates and emperor, and the exorbitant salaries they 
exacted from the domini jactionum as the price of remaining with 
the colours. 71 At the end of the first century and in the first half 
of the second, Rome prided herself on the presence of her star 
charioteers, whom she called miliarii, not because they were 
millionaires, but because they had won the prize at least a thou- 
sand times: Scorpus 2,048 times, Pontius Epaphroditus 1,467, 
Pompeius Musclosus 3,559, and lastly Diocles who, after having 
competed 4,257 times and won 1,462 victories, had the wisdom to 
retire from the arena in 150 A.D. with a fortune of 35 million 
sesterces. 72 Friedlander compares these performances and these 
gains with those of the Epsom jockeys at the end of the nineteenth 
century: 78 for example, Fred Archer, who won 1,172 prizes during 
six years' racing and died at 29 a multimillionaire. But while the 
Roman charioteer equalled the modern jockey in the number of 
his successes and the sums he won, he far excelled him in prestige 
and honour. 

In the city their escapades were admired rather than deplored, 
and if one day, for instance, a charioteer had a mind to trounce or 
rob a passer-by, the police turned a blind eye. 74 On 'the walls of 
the streets, in the flats of the insulae, innumerable copies of their 
portraits were exhibited, and the golden nose of Scorpus twinkled 
everywhere: Aureus ut Scorpi nasus ubique micet Their names 
flew from lip to lip, 76 and if one of the champions happened 
to die, the poets of the court, skilled in grinding out praises of 
the emperor, did not think it beneath their dignity to dedicate a 
pathetic and well-turned farewell to the dead charioteer: 


Let Victory sadly break her Idumaean palms; beat, Favour, with cruel 
hand thy naked breast; let Honour change her garb; and do thou, 
sorrowful Glory, cast on the cruel flames the offering of thy crowned 
locks. Ah, crime of Fate! Robbed, Scorpus, of thy first youth, art thou 
fallen, and so soon dost yoke Death's dusky steeds! That goal whereto 
thy car sped ever in brief course, and swiftly won, why to thy life also 
was it so nigh? 77 

The extraordinary honour which the charioteers enjoyed at 
Rome was evidently due to the physical and moral qualities their 
calling demanded : their strength and imposing presence, their 
agility and coolness; also to the severe and early training to 
which they had been subjected; still more perhaps to the dangers 
implicit in their calling these bloody "shipwrecks" which they 
faced with such light hearts and which so often cut them off in the 
flower of their youth. Fuscus was killed at 24 after 57 victories; 
Crescens at 22 after having earned 1,558,346 sesterces; M. 
Aurelius Mollicius at 20 after 125 victories. 78 But the passionate 
devotion which they inspired in a whole people was fed also from 
more tainted sources. It was related to the passion for gambling 
for which the race course gave the opportunity and of which the 
charioteers were the masters. The shows of which they were the 
heroes and the arbiters were inseparable from the sponsio or 
wager. Martial exhorts his book: "Make for Quirinus' Colonnade 
hard by ... there are two or three who may unroll you . . . 
but only when the bets on Scorpus and Incitatus are disposed 
of." T9 "All Rome today is in the circus," writes Juvenal, "such 
sights are for the young, whom it befits to shout and make bold 
wagers with a smart damsel by their side." 80 

The victory of one chariot enriched some, impoverished others; 
the hope of winning unearned money held the Roman crowd all 
the more tyrannically in its grip in that the larger proportion was 
unemployed. The rich would stake a fortune, the poor the last 
penny of their sportula, on the colours of a stable, the jactio of 
theif choice. Hence these explosions of exuberant joy, the out- 
bursts of rage when the victor was proclaimed. Hence this chorus 
of obtrusive praise and of stifled imprecation round the favorite 
horses and the trusted charioteers. Hence also the banquet, 
epulum, served at the close of the day's show to mitigate too vivid 
disappointments and nip in the bud any inclination toward riot- 
ing; hence also these spar stones and these missilia, the hail of 


eatables, of filled purses, of "raffle tickets" for a ship, a house, a 
farm, which were rained down on the spectators in the circus at 
the bidding of Agrippa, of Nero, and of Domitian, and brought 
the more resourceful some requital and some consolation. 81 Hence 
too that intense partiality for one jactio or another which tne 
abandoned gamblers among the Caesars manifested notably 
that of Vitellius and Caracalla for the "Blues." 82 

At the period we are studying, neither Trajan nor Hadrian had 
succumbed to this criminal mania; and the day was at hand when 
the philosopher Marcus Aurelius would congratulate himself on 
his indifference to "gaming." 8S But the multitude of their sub- 
jects was possessed by the passion for gambling, and even the best 
of the emperors turned it to his own advantage. The excitement 
which people had sought in politics they sought now in the races. 
Their stakes were laid no longer in the Forum but in the circus, 
whose "factions" had become a substitute for the ancient political 
parties. This mania was unquestionably the symbol of a moral 
decline, and we can well understand that it cast a cloud on the 
patriotic pride of a Juvenal and the lofty wisdom of a Marcus 
Aurelius. At the same time we must recognise that it sprang from 
the need of the masses for something to stir their blood, and that 
the imperial regime showed skill in diverting it to the maintenance 
of its own stability and the preservation of the public peace. 


If we are to believe certain scholars, the great cycles of games 
included under the republic more theatrical representations than 
races. 84 It is by no means easy to draw the line between them, 
and even if we accept this relative proportion as having obtained 
at the start, we must admit that it was reversed under the empire. 
By that time the circenses had surpassed in popularity the trage- 
dies, comedies, and other types of drama which succeeded them. 
Pliny the Younger, who says nothing about his contemporaries' 
passion for the theatre, deplores their craze for the circus: "Such 
favour, such weighty influence, hath one worthless (charioteer's) 
tunic I say nothing of the vulgar herd, more worthless than the 
tunic but with certain grave personages. When I observe such 
men thus insatiably fond of so silly, so low, so uninteresting, so 
common an entertainment, I congratulate myself that I am in- 
sensible to these pleasures." 85 


If in his day the races had won such popularity among the 
better educated classes, it is not hard to imagine the attraction 
they had for the man in the street, who aspired only to possession 
of an income sufficient to support "a couple of stout Moesian 
porters on whose hired necks I may be taken comfortably to my 
place in the bawling circus." 86 There is no doubt that Trajan 
understood the wishes of the majority of his subjects when in 112, 
to gratify them with some extra ludi, he paid the expenses of the 
circus for thirty days running, but of the theatre for only a fort- 
night. 87 It is true that the Ostian Fasti, to which we owe this piece 
of information, add that the theatrical performances were given 
on three stages at once. But huge as the Roman theatres were, the 
audiences of all three could have been accommodated five times 
over in the cavea of the Circus Maximus alone. 

To the north-west of the Flaminian Circus, where the curves of 
the Piazza di Grotta Pinta still sketch the ground plan, was the 
semicircle of the theatre of Pompey, dedicated in 55 B.C. It was 
1 60 metres in diameter, and it was reckoned that its hemicycle 
provided 40,000 loca, which probably limits its seating capacity to 
about 27,ooo. 88 The hemicycle of the theatre of B^lbus, laid out 
in 13 B.C. under the present Monte dei Cenci, contained only 
11,510 loca, or perhaps 7,700 seats. 80 Finally, there was the 
theatre of Marcellus, designed by Julius Caesar's architects, and 
finished in n B.C. by those of Augustus, on the site now occupied 
by the Palazzo Sermoneta. The remarkable excavations of the 
Via del Mare have shown that it was an imposing mass of traver- 
tine, harmoniously designed in a semicircle 150 metres in di- 
ameter; yet it had only 20,500 loca, or some 14,000 seats. 90 At 
the very most, therefore, these three theatres together could have 
accommodated about 50,000 spectators, an insignificant number 
as compared with the 255,000 of the Circus Maximus but im- 
pressive when set beside the largest theatres of the modern world: 
the Opera in Paris with 2,156 seats, the San Carlo in Naples with 
2,900, the Scala in Milan with 3,600, or even the 5,000 seats of 
the Colon at Buenos Aires. The smallest theatre of Imperial Rome 
was still twice the size of the largest modern American theatre; 
and these dimensions would bear witness if nothing else did 
to the fact that the Roman's love of the theatre, though less con- 
suming than his passion for the .races, was still manifest. To 
satisfy it, the emperors commissioned or financed the construe- 


tion of stone theatres, a significant undertaking in view of the 
fact that the "season," which fell between the ludi Megalenses 
and the ludi Plebei, lasted only from April to November, and that 
during it performances could take place only on certain days. And 
since, despite its rapid decline, this passion for the theatre sur- 
vived the empire, the Theatre of Pompey, restored under Domi- 
tian, under Diocletian, under Honorius, was once again restored, 
for the last time, by the benevolence of Theodoric the Ostrogoth 
between 507 and 511. 

At first sight we feel tempted to admire this persistence and to 
deduce from it that the Roman people had a natural vocation for 
this art which had been the glory of ancient Greece and which the 
names of Accius and Pacuvius and the works of Plautus and 
Terence had made illustrious in Latin. But in reality the same fate 
which overtook the Athenian drama lay in wait for the Roman. 
Permanent theatres, whose ample dimensions and perfect curves 
still amaze us, were erected throughout the empire not only in 
Italy and Gaul but in Lycia, in Pamphylia, at Sabratha in 
Tripoli. 91 But the art to which they were dedicated was already 
on its deathbed, as if the drama was by nature unsuited to the at- 
tendance of the masses. Competitive performances filled the days, 
but they pitted against each other .only the leaders of the troupe, 
domini gregis. Production had dried up. The last writer of tragedy 
whose plays we know for certain were acted on the stage was P. 
Pomponius Secundus in the principate of Claudius. 92 

From the time of Nero, authors who persisted in writing plays 
wrote them most probably only to be read in an auditorium, to 
an audience of fellow-authors. After the first century B.C. the 
public battened almost exclusively on its old repertoire. In the 
immense open-air theatres, moreover, amid the conf usioiv and 
hubbub of a huge crowd, the spectator could not conceivably 
follow a delicate intrigue in verse unless he knew every detail of 
it in advance he had to have seen it played many times before, 
and his memory of the plot had to be jogged by the hints supplied 
in the prologue and the stereotyped symbols which assisted his 
understanding. The brown or white colour of the tragic and comic 
masks indicated the sex of the actor, while costumes draped in 
Greek or Roman fashion gave an immediate clue to the nationality 
and social status of the dramatis personae: white for an old man, 
multicoloured for a youth, yellow for a courtesan, purple for the 


rich, red for the poor, a short tunic for the slave, a chlamys for 
the soldier, a rolled pallium for the parasite, and a motley one for 
the go-between. 98 Because of these stereotyped fictions, however, 
the play lost most of its interest and the public, who either remem- 
bered or gave up hope of understanding, concentrated their atten- 
tion on the by-play of the actors or some subsidiary detail of the 
mise en seine. The theatre was, in fact, too big for the play. 
Drama perished in the classic form which it had worn for nearly 
three centuries and which circumstances over which it had no con- 
trol rendered no longer tolerable. It persisted, after undergoing a 
radical transformation, in a new form which banished it from 

At the end of the first century, probably under the influence of 
the Hellenistic theatre, 94 tragedy had evolved in a manner leading 
inescapably to ballet forms. From the earliest antiquity, Roman 
tragedy had been divided into dialogues (diverbia) and recita- 
tives or lyrics (cantica), which the Roman public welcomed for 
variety's sake. 05 The producers of republican days placed the 
orchestral choirs on the stage, so that they might take more share 
in the action. The empire producer did not hesitate to incorporate 
the choir completely, thereby running the risk of submerging the 
play under the lyrical chanting and the phantastic scenic decora- 
tion. He mercilessly cut the traditional texts of the plays he pro- 
duced each year and clipped the dialogue, so that after his scis- 
sors had done their worst a tragedy consisted of little but lyrics 
more or less skilfully punctuated by scraps of dialogue. If we 
imagine Corneille's Cid or Racine's Athalie reduced to their poems 
and choruses, we get some idea of the metamorphosis which drama 
had suffered on the stage of Imperial Rome. 

Naturally, the more famous of these cantica were known to 
everyone, from repetition by generation after generation. At 
Caesar's funeral, the crowd sang a verse from a canticum of the 
Armorum Indicium of Pacuvius, which seemed to have been com- 
posed two centuries before expressly to voice their present sorrow: 
"Have I saved them only to perish at their hands? 

Men 9 servasse ut essent qui me perderent?" 9e 

And it was by means of a canticum that Britannicus evaded the 
trap Nero laid for him during the Saturnalia of 55 A.D. 97 The 
emperor had invited the young prince to a banquet with several 


of his riotous companions, and suddenly commanded him to step 
into the centre of the dining-hall and sing a song, hoping in this 
way to discomfit him. Britannicus was unruffled. Instead of keep- 
ing an embarrassed or resentful silence, he countefed with a poem 
in tune with his own tragic position, in that its hero was supposed 
to sing it after the theft of his paternal throne and royal rank. 
Justus Lipsius conjectures that it was a canticum from the An- 
dromache of Ennius, whose most beautiful lines have been pre- 
served for us in Cicero's Tusctdan Disputations: 

"O Pater! O Patrial O Priami domus!" 98 

The effect was irresistible, and even at the emperor's table it 
evoked "an emotion all the more sincere in that night and merry- 
making had banished pretence." 

This was the sort of emotion that was produced by the cantica 
of the plays. By modulating the chants which had so long stirred 
or soothed the hearers, accompanying them with the blended 
music of many instruments, emphasizing their salient features 
with a wonderful setting, and above all by bringing them to life 
through pathetic intonation and passionate gesture, the spectacle 
roused the audience from its apathy. The power of these songs was 
multiplied by the presence of thousands of men and women re- 
membering them together, vibrating to them in unison, hearing a 
universal echo which moved or soothed them and ended by 
awaking in them feelings sad and strong and eternal. Born of the 
incomparable Greek tragedy, the Roman drama lay shattered to 
fragments amid the marble of scenic decoration. But as these 
operatic airs rose above the ruins of great tragedy, the pure 
intoxication which the ancient masterpieces had inspired once 
again touched the listening masses. 

By a disastrous blunder this Roman opera, however, cast off 
every bond which still linked it to true poetry. From of old the 
law of this genre demanded that the actor of the cantica should 
be a soloist." The cantica were more and more trimmed to the 
measure of the star singer on whom fell the burden of the effort 
and the honour of success. More and more he refused to have any 
but supernumeraries round him, the "pyrrhicists" who swayed to 
his cadence and to his command, the symphoniaci who replied to 
him and took up his motifs, the instrumentalists of the orchestra 
who relieved or accompanied him; zither players, trumpeters, 


cymbalists, flutists, and castanet-players (scabettarii) . All were 
but satellites revolving round one sun. It was the soloist alone who 
filled the stage with his movement and the theatre with his voice. 
He alone incarnated the entire action, whether singing, miming, 
or dancing. He prolonged his youth and preserved his slimness by 
a strict diet which banned all acid foods and drinks and which 
called for emetics and purgatives the moment his waistline was 
threatened. Faithful to the most severe training, he exercised un- 
remittingly to preserve the tone of his muscles, the suppleness of 
his joints, and the volume and charm of his voice. Skilled in 
personifying every human type, in representing every human 
situation, he became "the pantomime" par excellence, whose 
imitations embraced the whole of nature, and who created a 
second nature with his phantasy. 100 

Though the law still called him an "actor" and labeled him 
"infamous," 101 the star of the Roman stage inevitably became the 
hero of the day and the darling of the women. In Augustus' time 
the city was full of the fame, pretensions, and squabbles of the 
pantomime Pylades. 102 Under Tiberius the mob came to blows 
over the comparative merits of rival actors and the riot became 
so serious that several soldiers, a centurion, and a tribune were 
left dead on the streets. 108 Dearly as Nero envied their notoriety, 
he had nevertheless to issue a decree of banishment against them, 
to put an end to the bloody affrays caused by their rivalries. 104 
But neither emperor nor public could do without them. Soon after 
exiling them, he recalled them and admitted them to the intimacy 
of his court, 105 thus providing the first example of what Tacitus 
called histrionalis favor, 10 * this incurable idolatry which toward 
the end of the first century drew the empress Domitia into the 
arms of the pantomime Paris. 107 

It cannot be denied that there were some great artists among 
these actor-idols of the Roman populace. Pylades I, for instance, 
certainly ennobled "the pantomime," a genre which he introduced 
into Rome. Several anecdotes illustrate his conscientiousness and 
the thought he gave to his art. 108 One day his pupil and rival, the 
pantomime Hylas, while rehearsing before him the role of 
Oedipus, was displaying a fine self-confidence. Pylades chastened 
him by saying simply: "Don?t forget, Hylas, you are blind." An- 
other day Hylas was playing a pantomime whose last line, "Great 
Agamemnon," was in Greek. Wishing to give full force to his final 


verse, he drew himself up to his full height as he delivered it. 
Pylades, seated among the stalls of the cavea as an ordinary spec- 
tator, could not refrain from calling out: "Ah, but you are making 
him tall, not great!" The audience, catching the comment, in- 
sisted on his mounting the stage to reenact the scene; when 
Pylades came to that passage he merely assumed the attitude of 
a man sunk in meditation for it is the duty of a chief to think 
beyond his fellows and for everyone. 

Pylades' successors were not worthy of him. Most of them 
abandoned all attempt to excel equally in the arts of singing and 
dancing. Livius Andronicus, who played in his own tragedies in 
the early days of Roman drama, gave up delivering the lyrics be- 
cause the strain had cracked his voice, and confined him- 
self thereafter to making the gestures appropriate to his part 
while a singer sung the words to the sound of a flute. 109 And so 
the pantomime-actors of Domitian's and Trajan's day were con- 
tent for the most part to be dancers, leaving it to the choir to chant 
the cantica which their steps, their attitudes, and their gestures 
were intended to interpret. Though song had come to dominate 
tragedy, in pantomime it became subservient to the dance, the 
actors' talent was displayed only in the mute language of their 
movements. Everything about them spoke, except their voice 
head, shoulders, knees, legs, and, above all, hands. Their elo- 
quence commanded the admiration of Quintilian: "Their hands," 
he said, "demand and promise, they summon and dismiss; they 
translate horror, fear, joy, sorrow, hesitation, confession, repent- 
ance, restraint, abandonment, time, and number. They excite and 
they calm. They implore and they approve. They possess a power 
of imitation which replaces words. To suggest illness, they imitate 
the doctor feeling the patient's pulse; to indicate music they 
spread their fingers in the fashion of a lyre." no By the second 
century, a pantomime had reached such a state of perfection that 
he was able without words to represent, amid the applause of a 
public capable of appreciating every point, Atreus and Thyestes 
in turn, or Aegisthus and Aerope, in the same day. 111 

Terpsichore is assuredly one of the Muses. But the breath- 
taking performances of Fregoli were far from inspired by Terpsi- 
chore, and we cannot doubt that the extravagant acrobatics of 
the Roman pantomimes killed the art of dancing. 

In the first place, they unwisely reversed the order of values. 


t first they used their miming as a commentary on the cantica, 
but they went on to subordinate the cantica to their miming. They 
thought not of serving a work of art, but of exploiting it. There- 
after, the leaders of the troupe, musicians, and librettists were 
reduced to the level of artisans. The Roman poet thought himself 
lucky if the dancer give him an order, and he was privileged to 
"sell his virgin A gave to Paris"; 112 but this piece of good fortune 
cost him his creative freedom. The pantomimes laid down the law, 
dictated the mise en sc&ne and the verses, prompted the music, 
and chose the subjects with an eye to exploiting their own talents 
and disguising their defects from a public too numerous to be dis- 
criminating. Finally, and worst of all, they aimed more and more 
at catching the eye and gratifying the senses rather than at touch- 
ing the heart. The plays were either stark tragedies or sensual 
productions guaranteed to titillate an audience quickly responsive 
to their eroticism. Lueian has recorded most of the elements in 
the repertory of both categories. 113 In the first, The Banquet of 
Thyestes; Niobe, distraught with grief for her massacred chil- 
dren; the Wraths of mythology and epic legend the Wrath of 
Ajax and the Wrath of Hercules, in which Pylades already dis- 
played exaggeration. 114 As for the second category, the list is 
inexhaustible : the hapless or guilty loves of Dido and Aeneas, of 
Venus and Adonis, of Jason and Medea; the ambiguous stay of 
Achilles, dressed as a woman, among the daughters of Lycomedes 
at Scyros. There were tales of incest, like Cinyras and Myrrha 9 
a story of father and daughter, which was first produced in Rome, 
Josephus records, the night before Caligula was murdered; 115 or 
like Procne and Tereus. Tereus had ravished his sister-in-law, 
Philomela, and cut out her tongue to ensure her silence. His wife 
Procne avenged her by serving him at table the body of Itys, his 
legitimate son. Nero himself in one of his scandalous exhibitions, 
did not blush to play the role of the sister, Canace, in Macaris and 
Canace 9 although she was confined on the stage and her incestuous 
bastard was flung to the hounds. 116 And last of all the bestial 
Pasiphae, in the play of that name, offered herself to a bull in the 
Cretan labyrinth. 

Such subjects could not but brutalise or corrupt the spectators, 
now shuddering with a terror purely physical, now feeling a 
sterile desire flow through their veins. These shocking dumb shows 
threw women into ecstasy. Lascivious gestures moved them: 


"Tuccia cannot contain herself; your Apulian maiden heaves a 
sudden and longing cry of ecstasy as though she were in a man's 
arms; the rustic Thymele is all attention, she learns her 
lesson." m It is easy to see why Trajan, out of respect for the 
sanctity of his own office, should have forbidden the actors on a 
stage given over to lasciviousness to interrupt their obscene ballets 
in order to dance, after their fashion, the praises of the reigning 
emperor; 118 yet it was rumored that Trajan cherished only too 
much affection for Pylades II, the great pantomime of his time. 119 
Tragedy, by transforming herself first into opera and then into 
ballet, had ended by degrading the Roman theatre to the level of 
a music hall. 

The decadence of comedy, though perhaps somewhat less rapid, 
was no less complete. In the second century people still went to 
see Plautus and Terence played, but rather out of deference to 
tradition than for pleasure. If, as Roberto Paribeni has put it, 
the Romans had turned from tragedy because "to their palates 
accustomed to burning curries" Oedipus Coloneus and Iphigenia 
in Tauris would have "tasted like a draught of camomile tea," 12 
it is obvious that the temperate spicing of the Menaeckmi or the 
Andria would have seemed equally insipid. Bathyllus' attempt to 
rejuvenate comedy in Augustus' day by introducing music and 
dancing 121 did not survive the dramatist himself. Unable to re- 
generate comedy, the theatres replaced it by the mime, which had 
already proved a success in Eastern capitals. The Romans brought 
it home in the first century B.C. and soon discovered how to adapt 
it to the taste of their mass public. 

Mime (Greek ni|*o<;, Latin mimus) is a word used to denote 
both a type of show and the actor in it. It was a farce, modelled 
as closely as possible on reality. It was, properly speaking, a 
"slice of life" which was transported hot and spicy onto the stage, 
and its success depended on its realism, or naturalism, if the term 
is preferred, which grew steadily more and more marked. 

In the mime, conventions were abolished. The actors had no 
masks and wore the contemporary dress of the town. Their 
number varied with the play, and they formed a homogeneous 
troupe. Women's roles were taken by actresses whose reputation 
for light virtue was well established by the time of Cicero. He 
himself was not insensible to the talent of Arbuscula or the charms 
of Cytheris, and was prepared to take up the defence of a citizen 


of Atina guilty of abducting a mimula, in the name of a right 
consecrated by the custom of the municipia 2 The subjects of 
the mimes were taken from the commonplace events of daily life, 
with a distinct leaning toward the coarser happenings and the 
lower human types: "a diurna imitatione vilium rerum et levium 
personarum." 12 * The treatment was usually caricature, which 
was pushed, as we shall see, to the limit of accuracy and impu- 
dence. Politics were permitted. Under the republic the mime was 
often critical of the government, and Cicero expected to gauge 
from its comments the reaction to the murder of Caesar. 124 Under 
the empire, however, the mime had no option but to range itself 
on the side of the princeps, lampooning those who were in bad 
odour at court. The mime-actor Vitalis boasted of being par- 
ticularly successful in this sort of target practice: "The man 
whom I took off and who saw his own image doubled under his 
very eyes was horrified to see that I was more truly he than he 
himself." 125 In my opinion it is no accident that the mime most 
often played from 30 to 200 A.D., the Laureolus of Catullus, 
which was staged under Caligula and well known to Tertullian, 
demonstrated by the fate which overtook the brigand hero that 
under a good government the wicked are punished and the police 
always have the last word. 126 

The whole conception of the mime, with its flaunting of con- 
vention and its aiming at simplicity, certainly contained fertile 
seeds of theatrical reform. Two at least of the authors of mimes 
at the end of the first century B.C., Decimus Laberius and 
Publilius Syrus, lifted their pieces to the dignity of literature. But 
the more popular the mime became, the smaller was the part the 
text played in it. The great mimes I have quoted were those in 
which the authors played their own plays. The imperial mime 
actors brought to their sketchy plot "words and action which they 
had mentally pieced together, and according to the mood of the 
moment and the temper of the public embroidered them with 
improvisations on the theme announced. 

The Urbs delighted in the mimes acted by Latinus and Pan- 
niculus, which were filled with stories of kidnappings, cuckolds, 
and lovers hidden in convenient chests. 127 In these plays the 
actresses were permitted to undress entirely (ut mimae nudaren- 
tur) which had formerly been tolerated only during the midnight 
games of the Floralia. 128 The alternative was roughhouse, where 


loud words resounded and actual blows were exchanged, until 
finally the scrapping became serious and blood was shed copi- 
ously. The fact that the Laureolus remained popular for nearly 
two centuries is explained by the ferocity of its brigand murderer 
and incendiary and by his hideous punishment. Domitian al- 
lowed the play to end with a scene in which a criminal condemned 
under the common law was substituted for the actor and put to 
death with tortures in which there was nothing imaginary. The 
spectators were not revolted by the ignoble spectacle of a pitiable 
Prometheus derided, torn by the nails which pinned his palms 
and ankles to the cross, or seared by the claws of the Caledonian 
bear to which he had been flung as prey; in fact, Martial sings 
the praises of the prince who made these things possible. 129 So 
performed, the mime seemed to the Romans of the time to reach 
the highest perfection attainable by the means and the effects at 
its disposal ; and indeed, this slice of life cut from the living flesh 
leaves far behind the most graphic horrors portrayed today. As 
the mime reached the height of its achievement, it drove human- 
ity as well as art off the Roman stage. It plumbed the depths of 
a perversion which had conquered the masses of the capital. They 
were not sickened by such exhibitions because the ghastly butch- 
eries of the amphitheatre had long since debased their feelings 
and perverted their instincts. 


Revisiting the arenas of Rome after nearly two thousand years 
of Christianity, we feel as if we were descending into the Hades 
of antiquity. The amphitheatre demands more than reproach. 
It is beyond our understanding that the Roman people should 
have made the human sacrifice, the munus, a festival joyously 
celebrated by the whole city, 130 or come to prefer above all other 
entertainment the slaughter of men armed to kill and be killed 
for their amusement. As early as 160 B.C. the public deserted 
the theatre where the Hecyra of Terence was being performed, 
for one of these gladiatorial combats. 131 By the first century B.C. 
the populace had grown so greedy for these sights that candidates 
sought to win votes by inviting the people to witness spectacular 
scenes of carnage. In order to put an end to corrupt practices the 
Senate in 63 B.C. passed a law disqualifying for election any 
magistrate who had financed such shows for the two years pre- 


ceding the voting. 182 It was natural that aspirants for the imperial 
throne should play on the people's passion to promote their own 
ambitious aims. Pompey even sated his fellow-citizens with com- 
bats; 133 Caesar freshened their attraction by the luxury with 
which he surrounded them. 134 Finally the emperors, deliberately 
pandering to the murderous lust of the crowds, found in gladia- 
torial games the most sure, if also the most sinister, of their 
instruments of power. 

Augustus was the first. Outside the city itself, he adhered to 
the posthumous Ikws of Julius Caesar and continued to limit the 
municipal magistrates to offering one annual munus* Within 
the city, he ordered the praetors to give annually two munera 
limited to 120 gladiators. 136 In 27 A.D., Tiberius forbade any 
private person with a fortune less than an "equestrian capital" of 
400,000 sesterces to give a munus. 137 Claudius transferred the 
duty of providing the public gladiatorial shows from the prae- 
tors to the more numerous quaestors, at the same time again 
limiting them to 120 gladiators per spectacle. 138 

This restriction aimed less at curbing the passion of his sub- 
jects than at enhancing the prestige of their sovereign. For while 
thus regulating the giving of the public munera, Augustus rec- 
ognized no limit save his own caprice to the number of "extraor- 
dinary" munera, which he offered the people three times in his 
own name and five times in the names of his sons and grand- 
sons. 189 By the incomparable splendour of these private gladia- 
torial spectacles, he practically monopolized the right to provide 
"extraordinary" munera, which was accomplished later by the 
formal prohibitions of the Flavians. 140 Thus the decrees of Augus- 
tus made the munera the imperial show par excellence, as official 
and obligatory as the ludi of the theatre and the circus. At the 
same time the empire provided grandiose buildings specially 
suited to their purpose. The design of these buildings, improvised 
more or less by chance, and repeated in hundreds of examples, 
seems to us today a new and mighty creation of Roman architec- 
ture the amphitheatre. 

Up to the time of Caesar those providing munera had either 
used the circus or hastily rigged up in the Forum palisades which 
were removed on the morrow. 141 In 53 or 52 B.C. Curio the 
Younger, whose candidature for the office of tribune Caesar sur- 
reptitiously supported with Gaulish money, hit upon a new cam- 


paigning scheme. 142 On the pretext of rendering honour to the 
manes of his lately deceased father, he announced that he would 
give scenic games supplemented by a munus. Ingeniously he or- 
dered not one but two wooden theafres to be constructed, both 
very spacious and identical in shape but set back to back with 
their curves touching, and mounted on a swivel. Up to noon they 
were left in this back -to-back position, so that the noise of the one 
representation should not disturb the other. The munus was 
scheduled to take place in the afternoon an arrangement of the 
program which indicates that people who had been at work in the 
morning would forego their afternoon comedy for a gladiatorial 
show. Suddenly the two theatres turned on their axes and came 
face to face to form an oval, while their respective stages vanished 
to give place to one arena. This ingenious manoeuvre roused the 
curiosity of the public, more thrilled by taking part in such a 
magic transformation than disturbed by any possible incidental 
danger to themselves. A century later Pliny the Elder was still 
exasperated by the imprudence of the proceeding: "Behold this 
people, conquerors of the earth and masters of the universe, poised 
in a machine and applauding the danger they incur." 14S The 
form, however, was not new, for the amphitheatre at Pompeii 
probably goes back to the time of Sulla and may originally have 
come from Capua. 144 

When Caesar offered a munus to the plebs in 46 B.C. to cele- 
brate his quadruple triumph, he adopted the plan of -the wooden 
double theatre. 145 It was reserved to C. * Augustan Age to trans- 
late it into the more durable medium of stone and to coin the 
word which was to denote this new type of monument amphi- 
theatrum. 14 * 

The first permanent amphitheatre was that built in 29 B.C. 
at Rome by a friend of the princeps C. Statilius Taurus. It was 
situated to the south of the Campus Martius and was destroyed 
in the great fire of 64 A.D. 147 The Flavians decided almost at 
once to replace it by a larger one of the same design. 148 It was 
started by Vespasian, completed by Titus, and decorated by 
Diocletian. Since 80 A.D. neither earthquakes nor the Renais- 
sance plunderers who carried off its blocks of stone to build the 
Palazzo Venezia, the Palazzo Barberini, and the Palazzo Capi- 
tolino have seriously damaged it. Though scarred a little, its 
beauty still reigns over the ancient site where it first rose more 


than eighteen-and-a-half centuries ago. It stands between the 
Velia, the Caelius, and the Esquiline, near the colossus of the 
sun within the domain of the Golden House, Domus Aurea, where 
one of the costly fish-ponds of Nero (stagnum Neronis) was ex- 
pressly filled in for the purpose. This is the Flavian amphitheatre, 
better known since the Middle Ages as the Colosseum. By the 
year 2 B.C. Augustus, after much costly labour on the right bank 
of the Tiber, had supplemented the amphitheatre of Taurus, 
which had been built only for land combats, by a naumachia 
intended for the representation of naval battles. 149 Its exterior 
ellipse, with axes of 557 and 536 metres, enclosed not an arena 
of beaten earth covered with sand, but a sheet of water cut by an 
artificial island and curving through thickets and gardens. Though 
the naumachia of Augustus covered an area almost treble that of 
the Colosseum, which itself might have served at first either as an 
arena or a naumachia, the public soon became dissatisfied, and 
Trajan was forced to build first the supplementary Amphithea- 
trum Castrense, not far from the present site of the Church of 
the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, 150 and then the supplementary 
Naumachia Vaticana, to the north-west of the Castle of S. An- 
gelo. 151 Of the two naumachiae and of the Amphitheatrum Cas- 
trense almost nothing but the memory remains. But the ruins of 
the Colosseum suffice to show the typical arrangement of the 
Roman amphitheatre in its most perfect form. 

The Colosseum was built of blocks of hard travertine stone 
extracted from the quarries of Albulae near Tibur (the modern 
Tivoli) and brought to Rome by a wide road specially constructed 
for the purpose. The building forms an oval, 527 metres in cir- 
cumference, with diameters of 188 and 156 metres, and rears its 
four-storied walls to a height of 57 metres. Obviously modelled 
on the rotunda of the theatre of Marcellus, the first three stories 
are formed of three superimposed tiers of arcades, originally 
ornamented with statues. The three stories differ from each other 
only in the style of their columns, which are Doric, Ionic, and 
Corinthian, respectively. The fourth story, which did not exist 
in Marcellus' theatre, consists of a plain wall, divided by half- 
engaged pilasters into compartments alternately pierced by win- 
dows and fitted with shields of bronze whicji Domitian set up 
and which have naturally disappeared. Above each of the win- 
dows were fastened three projecting corbels corresponding to 



[face p. 


three hales in the cornice. These corbels supported the bases of 
the masts to which on days of strong sun a detachment of sailors 
from the fleet of Misenum was detailed to attach the strips of 
giant awning (velaria) which sheltered the fighters in the arena 
and the spectators in the cavea. The seats began four metres 
above the arena with a terrace or podium protected by a bronze 
balustrade. On the podium were ranged the marble seats of the 
privileged, whose names have been handed down to us. Above 
these were the tiers for the ordinary public, divided into three 
zones or maeniana. The lower two were separated from the 
podium and from each other by circular horizontal corridors 
(praecinctiones) running between low walls. Vertically the circle 
of seats was divided by vomitoria or sloping corridors which "dis- 
gorged" the floods of spectators. The first zone of seats contained 
twenty rows, the second sixteen. The second was separated from 
the third by a wall five metres high, pierced by doors and win- 
dows. The women were seated here below the terrace which 
linked it with the outer wall, while on the terrace stood the pere- 
grini and slaves who, excluded from the distribution of entrance 
tokens, or tesserae, had not been able to secure places on the tiers. 
While the Regionaries reckon that the Colosseum contained 
87,000 loca, it is calculated that the number of sitting places was 
45,000 and of standing places 5,000. It is still possible to trace in 
the architecture of the building the ingenious devices by which 
the comings and goings of this multitude were facilitated. There 
were 80 entrance arches in the circuit of the building; of these, 
the four at the extremities of the two axes were forbidden to the 
public and not numbered. The others were numbered I to LXXVI. 
Each guest of the emperor or the magistrates had only to direct 
his steps to the entrance corresponding to the number on his 
tessera, then to the corresponding maenianum, the section and 
row. Between the cavea and the outer wall two concentric walls 
formed a colonnade on the ground floor and on the upper stories 
a gallery. These walls buttressed and supported the cavea, gave 
entrance to the staircases which led to the vomitoria, served as a 
"foyer" where the crowd could walk about before the show and 
between the acts, and gave shelter against sun and shower. The 
best places on the level of the podium were, of course, those which 
faced the two ends of the shorter axis: the pulvinar 6f the em- 
peror and the imperial family on the northern side, and on the 


southern the seats of the praefectus urbi and the magistrates. 
But it is certain that even the puttati, that is to say the poor 
people, clad in brown stuffs, who rubbed elbows in the top gal- 
lery, were able to follow the vicissitudes of the mortal dramas 
which succeeded each other in the arena. 

The arena, 86 by 54. metres in diameter, enclosed an area of 
3,500 square metres. It was surrounded by a metal grating, 4 
metres in front of the base of the podium, which protected the 
public from the wild beasts which were loosed into the arena. 
Before the gladiators entered through one of the arcades of the 
longer axis, the animals were already imprisoned in the under- 
ground chambers of the arena. This basement was originally 
fitted with a water system which in 80 A.D. could flood the arena 
in a twinkling and transform it into a naumachia. Later no 
doubt at the time when Trajan built his Naumachia Vaticana it 
was provided with cages of masonry, in which the animals could 
be confined, and also with a system of ramps and hoists, so that 
they could either be quickly driven up or instantaneously 
launched into the arena. It is impossible not to admire the 
Flavian architects who, after draining the stagnum Neronis, had 
the skill to raise on the site of the old lake a monument so colos- 
sal and so perfect. Every detail of its internal arrangement is a 
triumph of technical ingenuity. Its solidity has defied the cen- 
turies and it still inspires the beholder with the sense of utter 
satisfaction that one feels in gazing on the Church of Saint Peter 
the sense of a power so great as to be overwhelming, an art so 
sure that the infallible proportions blend into perfect harmony. 
But if its charm is to hold us, we must forget the inhuman ends 
for which this monument was raised, the spectacles of unpardon- 
able cruelty for which the imperial architects of old created it. 

At the period which we are studying, the organisation of these 
bloody games left no room for improvement. 152 In the Italian 
municipia and in the provincial towns, the local magistrates whose 
duty it was annually to provide the munera called in the expert 
advice of specialist contractors, the lanistae. These contractors, 
whose trade shares in Roman law and literature the same infamy 
that attaches to that of the pander or procurer (leno), were in 
sober fact Death's middlemen. 153 The lanista would hire out his 
troupe of gladiators (familia gladiatoria) , at the best figure he 
could command, to duumvir or aedile for combats in which about 


half were bound to lose their lives. He maintained his "family" 
at his own expense, under a system of convict discipline which 
made no distinction between the slaves he had purchased, starv- 
ing wretches whom he had recruited, and ruined sons of good 
faftiily. These young ne'er-do-wells were lured by the rewards 
and fortune they would win from the victories he would ensure 
them, and by the certainty of being well and amply fed in his 
"training school," the Indus gladiatorius. They discounted the 
premium which he was to pay them if they survived the term of 
their contract, and hired themselves out to him body and soul, 
abandoning all their human rights (auctorati) and stealing them- 
selves to march at his command to the butchery. 

At Rome on the other hand there were no longer any lanistae. 
Their functions were performed exclusively by the procuratores 
of the princeps. These agents had special official buildings on the 
Via Labicana at their disposal the barracks of the Indus mag- 
nus, probably erected under Claudius, and those of the Indus 
matutinus, constructed by Domitian. 154 They were also in charge 
of the wild and exotic animals which subject provinces and client 
kings, even to the potentates of India, sent to fill the emperor's 
menagerie, or vivarium, just outside the Praenestine Gate. 155 
Their gladiators, constantly recruited from men condemned to 
death and from prisoners taken in war, formed an effective army 
of fighters. 

The body of gladiators was divided into pupils and instructors, 
who were assigned according to their physical aptitudes to the 
different "arms": 166 the Samnites carried the shield (scutum) 
and sword (spat ha) ; the Thracians protected themselves with a 
round buckler (parma) and handled the dagger (sica) ; the mur- 
millones wore a helmet crowned with a sea fish; the retiarii, who 
were usually pitted against the murmillones, carried a net and a 

Like the games, the munera usually lasted from dawn to dusk, 
although sometimes, as under Domitian, they were prolonged 
into the night. It was, therefore, all important to vary the fight- 
ing, and the gladiators were trained to fight on water in a nauma- 
chia as readily as on the firm arena of the amphitheatre. They 
were not, however, pitted against wild animals; such contests 
were reserved for the bestiarii. 

Writers and inscriptions on monuments tell of several types 


of animal contests or hunts (venationes) , 157 There were some 
relatively innocent ones to break the monotony of massacre 
tame animals doing incredible circus turns which surprised and 
amused Pliny the Elder and Martial: 158 teams of panthers obe- 
diently drawing chariots; lions releasing from their jaws a live 
hare they had caught; tigers coming to lick the hand of the 
tamer who had just been lashing them; elephants gravely kneel- 
ing before the imperial box or tracing Latin phrases in the sand 
with their trunks. There were terrible spectacles, in which fero- 
cious beasts fought duels to the death: bear against buffalo, buf- 
falo against elephant, elephant against rhinoceros. There were 
disgusting ones in which the men, from the safe shelter of iron 
bars or from the height of the imperial box like Commodus 
later let fly their arrows at animals roaring with baffled rage, 
and flooded the arena with the blood of butchery. Some were 
given a touch of beauty by living greenery planted in the arena 
which ennobled the courage and the skill of the fighters. They 
risked their lives, it is true, in battle with bulls, panthers and 
lions, leopards and tigers; but they were always armed with 
hunting spears and glowing firebrands, with bows, lances and 
daggers, and often accompanied by a pack of Scotch hounds, so 
that they were exposing themselves no more than the emperor 
himself in the hunts, which were in those days a kind of minor 
war. They made it a point of honour to redouble the danger by 
their daring, stunning the bear with their fists instead of their 
weapons, or blinding the lion by flinging over his head the folds 
of their cloak; or they would quicken the spectators' pleasure by 
waving a red cloth in front of the bull, as the Spanish toreadors 
still do, or by eluding his charge with deft feints and skilful 
ruses. Sometimes to escape the beast's attack they would scale a 
wall or leap onto a pole, slip into one of the partitioned turnstiles 
(cochleae) which had been prepared beforehand in the arena, 
or hastily disappear into a spherical basket fitted with spikes 
which gave it the forbidding appearance of a porcupine (ericius). 
Such venationes, however, usually provided an added attrac- 
tion to the main spectacle of gladiators. 1 * 9 They were but a 
slight exaggeration of the stern reality of ancient hunting, and 
can hardly be held a reproach to the amphitheatre, for the Prae- 
torian cavalry sometimes took part in them as in military 
manoeuvres. 160 What revolts us is the quantity of victims, the 


bath of animal blood: 5,000 beasts were killed in one day of the 
munera with which Titus inaugurated the Colosseum in 80 
A.D.; 161 2,246 and 443 in two munera of Trajan. 162 The extent 
of this carnage nauseates us today, but it served at least one 
practical purpose. Thanks to this large-scale slaughter the Caesars 
purged their states of wild beasts; the hippopotamus was driven 
out of Nubia, the lion out of Mesopotamia, the tiger from Hyr- 
cania, and the elephant from North Africa. By the venationes of 
the amphitheatre the Roman Empire extended to civilisation the 
benefit of the labours of Hercules. 

But the Roman Empire also dishonoured civilisation with all 
the forms of hoplomachia and with a variety of venatio as cow- 
ardly as it was cruel. 

Hoplomachia was the gladiatorial combat proper. Sometimes 
the battle was a mimic one, fought with muffled weapons, as our 
fencing matches are staged with buttons on the foils. In such 
cases it was called prolusio or lusio, according to whether it was 
merely the prelude to a real fight or whether it filled the entire 
program or even several days. These mock battles were only a 
foretaste of the munus, a sequence or simultaneous performance 
of serious duels in which the weapons were not padded nor the 
blows softened, and in which each gladiator could hope to escape 
death only by dealing it to his opponent. The night before, a 
lavish banquet, which was destined to be the last meal of many, 
united the combatants of the morrow. The public was admitted 
to view this cena lib era, and the curious circulated round the 
tables with unwholesome joy. Some, of the guests brutalised or 
fatalistic, abandoned themselves to the pleasures of the moment 
and ate gluttonously. Others, anxious to increase their chances by 
taking thought for their health, resisted the temptations of the 
generous fare and ate with moderation. The most wretched, 
haunted by a presentiment of approaching death, their throats 
and bellies already paralysed by fear, gave way to lamentation, 
commended their families to the passers-by, and made their last 
will and testament. 163 

On the following day the munus began with a parade. The 
gladiators, driven in. carriages from the Indus magnus to the 
Colosseum, alighted in front of the amphitheatre and marched 
round the arena in military array, dressed in chlamys dyed 
purple and embroidered in gold. They walked nonchalantly, their 


hands swinging freely, followed by valets carrying their arms; 
and when they arrived opposite the imperial pulvinar they turned 
toward the emporer, their right hands extended in sign of homage, 
and addressed to him the justifiably melancholy saluation: "Hail, 
Emperor, those who are about to die salute thee! Ave, Imperator, 
morituri te salutantf" 1 * 4 When the parade was over, the arms 
were examined (probatio armorum) and blunt swords weeded out, 
so that the fatal business might be expedited. Then the weapons 
were distributed, and the duellists paired off by lot. Sometimes it 
was decided to pit against each other only gladiators of the same 
category, while at other times gladiators were to oppose each 
other with different arms: a Samnite against a Thracian; a mur- 
millo against a retiarius; or, to add spice to the spectacle, such 
freak combinations as negro against negro, as in the munus with 
which Nero honoured Tiridates, king of Armenia; or dwarf 
against woman, as in Domitian's munus in 90 A.D. 

Then at the order of the president the series of duels opened, 
to the cacophonies of an orchestra, or rather a band, which com- 
bined flutes with strident trumpets, and horns with a hydraulic 
organ. The first pair of gladiators had scarcely come to grips 
before a fever, like that which reigned at the races, seized the 
amphitheatre. As at the Circus Maximus the spectators panted 
with anxiety or hope, some for the Blues, others for the Greens, 
the spectators of the munus divided their prayers between the 
parmularii (men armed with small shields) whom Titus pre- 
ferred, or the scutarii (men armed with large shields) whom 
Domitian favored. Bets or sponsioncs were exchanged as at the 
ludi; and lest the result be somehow prearranged between the 
fighters, an instructor stood beside them ready to order his 
lorarii to excite their homicidal passion by crying "Strike! (ver- 
bera)"\ "Slay! (fcjiifa)"; "Burn him! (ure)"-, and, if neces- 
sary, to stimulate them by thrashing them with leather straps 
(lora} till the blood flowed. .At every wound which the gladiators 
inflicted on each other, the public trembling for its stakes re- 
acted with increasing excitement. If the opponent of their cham- 
pion happened to totter, the gamblers could not restrain their 
delight and savagely counted the blows* "That's got him! 
(habet)"; "Now he's got it! (hoc habet)"\ and they thrilled 
with barbaric joy when he crumpled under a mortal thrust. 

At once the attendants, disguised either as Charon or as Hermes 


Psychopompos, approached the prostrate form, assured them- 
selves that he was dead by striking his forehead with a mallet, 
and waved to their assistants, the libitinarii, to carry him out 
of the arena on a stretcher, while they themselves hastily turned 
over the blood-stained sand. Sometimes it happened that the com- 
batants were so well matched that there was no decisive result; 
either the two duellists, equally skilful, equally robust, fell simul- 
taneously or both remained standing (st antes). The match was 
then declared a draw and the next pair was called. More often 
the loser, stunned or wounded, had not been mortally hit, but 
feeling unequal to continuing the struggle, laid down his arms, 
stretched himself on his back and raised his left arm in a mute 
appeal for quarter. In principle the right of granting this rested 
with the victor, and we can read the epitaph of a gladiator slain 
by an adversary whose life he had once spared in an earlier en- 
counter. It professes to convey from the other world this fiercely 
practical advice to his successors: "Take warning by my fate. 
No quarter for the fallen, be he who he may! Moneo ut quis 
quern vicerit, occidat!" 1G5 But the victor renounced his claim in 
the presence of the emperor, who often consulted the crowd before 
exercising the right thus ceded to him. When the conquered man 
was thought to have defended himself bravely, the spectators 
waved their handkerchiefs, raised their thumbs, and cried: 
"Mitte! Let him go!" If the emperor sympathised with their 
wishes and like them lifted his thumb, the loser was pardoned 
and sent living from the arena (missus). If, on the other hand, 
the witnesses decided that the victim had by his weakness de- 
served defeat, they turned their thumbs down, crying: "lugulat 
Slay him!" And the emperor calmly passed the death sentence 
with inverted thumb (pollice verso).*' 

The victor had, this time, escaped and he was rewarded on the 
spot. He received silver dishes laden with gold pieces and costly 
gifts, and taking these presents in his hands he ran across the 
arena amid the acclamations of the crowd. Of a sudden he tasted 
both wealth and glory. In popularity and riches this slave, this 
decadent citizen, this convicted criminal, now equalled the fash- 
ionable pantomimes and charioteers. At Rome as at Pompeii, 
where the graffiti retail his conquests, the butcher of the arena 
became the breaker of hearts : "decus fiuellarum, suspirium puel- 
larum" ie7 But neither his wealth nor his luck could save him. 


He usually had to risk his own life again and sacrifice other lives 
in new victories before he could win, not the palms which sym- 
bolised success, but the more coveted wooden sword, the rudis, 
which signified his liberation and was granted as a title of honour. 
At the period which we have reached, the emperors inclined 
to cut short the period of service which delayed the liberation of 
the best duellists. Martial praises the magnanimity of the in- 
vincible Domitian: 

"O dulce invicti principis ingenitim" 

because he had cried a halt to a fight between two gladiators who 
had reached a deadlock, and handed to both the rudis of liberty 
along with the palm of victory. 168 Similarly Trajan if I have 
not misinterpreted the Fasti of Ostia displayed his generosity 
by ordering that all the combatants who had not fallen by the 
end of the performance in his naumachiae and munera of 109 
A.D. should be released. 169 

There are therefore occasional gleams of humanity in this 
business of wholesale butchery. At first the gladiator often begged 
leave to decline the emperor's clemency; he had fallen so low 
morally that he preferred to resume his trade of slayer rather 
than renounce the luxurious life of his barracks, the thrill of 
danger, and the intoxication of victory. We possess the epitaph of 
such a one, Flamma by name, who, after bearing off the palm 
twenty-one times, had four times received the rudis and each 
time "signed on again." 170 Later the munera developed to as- 
tounding proportions. I shall quote only the figures in the recently 
discovered fragment of the Fasti Ostienses which covers the 
period extending from the end of March, 108 A.D., through April, 
113 A.D. There we find mention of two minor shows, one of 350 
pairs of gladiators, the other of 202, while the major event was a 
munus lasting 117 days in which 4,941 pairs of gladiators took 
part. 171 Even the assumption that Trajan granted the survivors 
their liberty en bloc does little to assuage the memory of a field 
strewn with corpses. Cicero indeed assures us that although there 
may be other methods of teaching contempt for pain and death, 
there is assuredly none which speaks more eloquently to the eye 
than a munus; 1 ' 12 and later Pliny the Younger contended that 
these massacres were essentially calculated to engender courage 
by showing how the love of glory and the desire to conquer could 


lodge even in the "breast of criminals and slaves. 178 These are 
specious excuses. The thousands of Romans who day after day, 
from morning until night, could take pleasure in this slaughter 
and not spare a tear for those whose sacrifice multiplied their 
stakes, were learning nothing but contempt for human life and 

These feigned combats, moreover, were often made the cloak 
of sordid murders and ruthless executions. Rome and even the 
municipia retained until the end of the third century the practice 
of proclaiming munera sine missione, that is to say, gladiatorial 
combats from which none might escape alive. No sooner had one 
of the duellists fallen than a substitute, tertiarius or suppositicius, 
was produced to fight the conqueror, until the entire body of 
combatants was exterminated. Then, too, there were moments in 
the normal full-day program at Rome when exceptional atrocities 
were committed. The gladiatores meridiani, whose account was 
squared at the noon pause, were recruited exclusively from rob- 
bers, murderers, and incendiaries, whose crimes had earned them 
the death of the amphitheatre: noxii ad gladium ludi damnati. 
Seneca has described this shameful procedure for us. 174 The 
pitiable contingent of the doomed was driven into the arena. The 
first pair were brought forth, one man armed and one dressed 
simply in a tunic. The business of the first was to kill the second, 
which he never failed to do. After this feat he was disarmed and 
led out to confront a newcomer armed to the teeth, and so the 
inexorable butchery continued until the last head had rolled in 
the dust. 

The morning massacre was even more hideous. Perhaps it was 
Augustus who unintentionally invented this spectacular punish- 
ment when he erected in the Forum a pillory which collapsed and 
dropped the victim, the bandit Selurus, into a cage of wild 
beasts. 175 Later the idea was taken up and made general. Crimi- 
nals of both sexes and all ages, who by reason of their villainy 
real or supposed and their humble status had been condemned 
ad bestias, were dragged at dawn into the arena to be mauled by 
the wild animals loosed from the basement below. This spectacle 
in which the victims were thrown defenseless to savage animals is 
graphically represented in a Tripolitan mosaic. 176 

This was the kind of torture heroically undergone by the virgin 
Blandina in the amphitheatre at Lyons, by Perpetua and Felicita 


in Carthage, and in the Eternal City itself by so many Christians, 
anonymous or canonised, of the Roman Church. In memory of 
these martyrs a cross now rises in the Colosseum in silent protest 
against the barbarism which cost so many of them their lives 
before the spirit of Christianity succeeded in abolishing it. Today 
we cannot see this emblem without a shudder. 

In vain we seek to find some shadow of extenuation in the fact 
that the amphitheatre had scarcely begun to fill in time for the 
dawn venatio, and that the hour assigned to the gladiatores 
meridiani was the moment when the theatre was three parts 
empty (dum vacabat arena) because the workers had not yet 
come to take their seats and the idlers had already gone to snatch 
a bite at home. If this arrangement of the program shows on the 
part of the Romans a sort of shamed apology for these night- 
mare scenes, there were among them all too many connoisseurs 
of horror who would not for the world have missed them. Rather 
than lose a moment of either they preferred, like Claudius, to 
make a rule of arriving before dawn and going without midday 
lunch. 177 Despite all the extenuations we may urge, the Roman 
people remain guilty of deriving a public joy from their capital 
executions by turning the Colosseum into a torture-chamber and 
a human-slaughter house. 


We must, however, credit the flower of Rome with terror at 
the progress of this dread disease and more than one attempt to 
reduce its virulence. 

Augustus, for example, following the distant precedents of the 
great-hearted Philhellenes of the second century B.C., and re- 
suming the spasmodic attempts of Sulla, of Pompey, and of 
Caesar, tried to acclimatise Greek games at Rome. These con- 
tests strengthened the body instead of destroying it, and included 
artistic as well as physical competitions. Both to commemorate 
his victory over Anthony and Cleopatra and to give thanks for 
it to Apollo, Augustus founded the Actiaca, which were to be cele- 
brated every fourth year both at Actium and Rome. 178 But by 16 
A.D. the Actiaca are no longer recorded. Nero wished to revive 
them in his Neronia, which were to be periodic festivals com- 
prising tests of physical endurance and competitions of poetry 
and song. 179 The senators deigned to take part in the former; but 


in the latter none dared to dispute the crown with the emperor, 
who believed himself an unrivalled artist. Despite their august 
patronage, however, the Neronia fell quickly into abeyance, and 
it was Domitian who at length succeeded in endowing Rome with 
a lasting cycle of games in the Greek style. In 86 A.D. he in- 
stituted the Agon Capitolinus, whose prizes the emperor awarded 
alternately for foot races and for eloquence, for boxing and 
Latin poetry, for discus-throwing and Greek poetry, for javelin- 
casting and for music. 180 He built the Circus Agonalis, on the site 
of the Piazza Navona, especially for his sports ; and for the more 
"spiritual" contests erected the Odeum, whose ruins are now 
hidden beneath the Palazzo Taverna on Monte Giordano. 181 In 
his reign the Greek games which his bounty maintained enjoyed 
an ephemeral popularity, and Martial sang the praises of the 
prize winners. 182 The games survived their founder, but though 
we have proof that they were celebrated in the fourth century 
and that the jurists never ceased to emphasise the high honour 
they deserved, they never seriously rivalled the muncra in fa- 
vour. 183 For one thing the Agon Capitolinus recurred only once in 
four years. Furthermore, Domitian designed them to appeal to a 
select and limited public, for his Odeum provided only 10,600 
loca and his Circus Agonalis only 30,088 say 5,000 and 15,000 
seats respectively so that the two together were less than half 
the size of the Amphitheatrum Flavium alone. 

There is no denying the fact that the Greek games were never 
very popular. The crowd, addicted to the thrills of the Colosseum, 
looked on them as colourless and tame; and they enjoyed no 
greater favour among the upper classes, who professed to detect 
an exotic degeneracy and immorality in their nudism. 

Pliny the Younger applauds the Senate's decision under Trajan 
to forbid the scandal of the gymnastic games at Vienne in Gallia 
Narbonensis and complacently quotes his colleague Junius Mauri- 
cus, "who in resolution and integrity has no superior," as saying, 
"and I would that they could be abolished in Rome, too!" for 
"these games have greatly infected the manners of the people of 
Vienne, as they have universally had the same effect among 
us." 184 The incompatibility between the eurhythmy of Greek 
games and the brutality of gladiatorial combats was bound to be 
irreconcilable. It is significant that while the majority of provin- 
cial towns imitated Rome by building amphitheatres, whose ruins 


have been found in South Algeria and on the. banks of the 
Euphrates, 185 Greece herself fought tootfc and nail against the 
contagion, and in Attica, at least, apparently succeeded. This one 
exception is a poor make-weight to the general infatuation. In 
Italy the Greek games took refuge in Naples and Pozzuoli, 186 but 
were crushed to death by the munera in Rome. 

It seemed indeed that the munus was not to be eradicated. Good 
emperors, therefore, sought to humanise it. While Hadrian for- 
bade impressment of slaves into gladiatorial troupes, 187 Trajan 
and Marcus Aurelius exerted themselves to the utmost to extend 
the part played in their festivals by the mimic combats (lusiones), 
at the expense of the munus proper. On March 30, 108, Trajan 
finished a lusio which had lasted thirty days and involved 350 
pairs of gladiators. 188 Marcus Aurelius, obeying the dictates of 
his Stoic philosophy, exhausted his ingenuity in reducing the 
regulations and budgets of the munera and in this way lessening 
their importance, and whenever it fell to him to offer entertain- 
ment to the Roman plebs he substituted simple lusiones. 189 But 
philosophy lost the round in this struggle against spectacles 
where, as Seneca phrased it, man drank the blood of man: "iuvat 
humano sanguine jrui" 19 

After Marcus Aurelius, whose son Commodus himself aspired 
to gladiatorial fame, 191 the Romans, not contented with the dis- 
continuation of lusiones, inclined to desert the theatre for the am- 
phitheatre. From the second century on we find the theatre archi- 
tects in the provinces, notably in Gaul and Macedonia, modifying 
their building plans to accommodate gladiatorial duels and vena- 
tiones. At Rome the representation of sinister drama was trans- 
ferred to the arena, and it became usual to play the most terrifying 
mimes at the Colosseum Laureolus, who was crucified alive for 
the amusement of the public, 192 Mucius Scaevola, who plunged his 
right hand into the burning coals of a brazier, 193 and the Death 
of Hercules, whose hero in the last act writhed in the flames of his 
pyre. 194 As the amphitheatre henceforth sufficed for the more lurid 
dramatic representations, no attempt was made to repair the 
ruined theatres, and in the reign of Alexander Severus (235 A.D.) 
the theatre of Marcellus was abandoned. 195 

It might have been predicted that the munera would be ever- 
lasting and that nothing henceforward could stop their invading 
growth. But where Stoicism had failed the new religion was to 


succeed. The conquering Gospel taught the Romans no longer to 
tolerate the inveterate shame. Racing continued as long as the 
races of the circus were maintained, but the butcheries of the 
arena were stopped at the command of Christian emperors. On 
October i, 326, Constantine decreed that condemnation ad bestias 
must be commuted to forced labour ad metalla, and dried up at 
one blow the principal source of recruitment for the gladiatorial 
schools. 196 By the end of the fourth century gladiatorial shows 
had disappeared from the East. In 404 an edict of Honorius sup- 
pressed gladiatorial combats in the West. 107 Roman Christianity 
thus blotted out the crime against humanity which under the 
pagan Caesars had disgraced the amphitheatre of the empire. 



N DAYS when no spectacles or 
shows were provided, the Roman 
filled up the time until supper with 
strolling or gambling, exercise, or 
a bath at the thermae. 


At first sight the crowded streets 
of Imperial Rome might seem ill 
suited for walking. The pedestrian 
was hampered by the outspread stalls of "audacious hucksters," * 
jostled by passers-by, spattered by riders on horseback; harassed 
by "hoarse-throated beggars" who stationed themselves along 
the slopes, under the arcades, and on the bridges; 2 trampled by 
the military who held the middle of the road and advanced as if 
marching in conquered territory, planting the hobnails of their 
boots on the foot of any civilian rash enough not to have made 
way for them. 3 But this never-ending and motley crowd was in- 
teresting in itself. The flow of traffic which bore the Roman along 
bore with him all the nations of the habitable globe: "the farmer 
of Rhodope ... the Sarmatian fed on draughts of horse's blood, 
the Egyptian who quaffs at its spring the stream of first-found 
Nile ... the Arab, the Sabaean, the Cilician, drenched in his 
own saffron dew . . . the Sygambrian with knotted hair, the 
Ethiopian with locks twined otherwise"; 4 and even if he had no 
use for their cheap-Jack wares, the "tramping hawker's" readi- 
ness of tongue delighted him, and so did the conjurors and snake 
charmers with their uncanny skill. 3 The general prohibition 
against carriages held good by day, but if he had the good luck to 


be mounted he could enjoy this welter of activity without being 
inconvenienced by it. He might prance along on his own mule or 
one lent him by the kindness of a friend or hired from a Numidian 
muleteer, part of whose duty was to lead it by the bridle. 6 Or he 
might prefer to loll in the depths of an immense litter (lectica), 
panelled with "transparent stone" through which he could see 
without being seen as his six or eight Syrian porters cut their way 
through the crowd. He might be borne in a carrying chair (sella), 
such as matrons were wont to use for paying calls ; in this he could 
read or write as he went along. 7 Or again he might be content 
with a sort of wheelbarrow (chiromaxium) like the one Trimal- 
chio had presented to his favourite. 8 

But if his aim was to escape the hurly-burly of the streets, the 
Roman had only to seek the quiet regions which were the "prom- 
enades" of the city: the fora and the basilicas, when once the 
judicial hearings were over; the gardens belonging to the em- 
perors, which were left open to the public, even though they were 
not all, like Caesar's, bequeathed to the people. These he sought 
out "when on the threshold of the city so rich was the beauty of 
spring and the charm of fragrant Flora, so rich the glory of Paes- 
tan fields; so ruddy, where'er he turned his footsteps, or his eyes, 
was every path with twining roses." 9 And the Campus Martius 
with its marble enclosures (the Saepta lulia), its sacred halls and 
porticos, provided a shelter from the sun, a refuge from the 
rain, and in all weathers, as Seneca puts it, "a place where the 
most wretched could take his ease: cum vilissimus quisque in 
campo otium suum oblcctet" 10 

We still possess the entrance to one of these porticos which 
Augustus dedicated in the name of his sister Octavia and which 
enclosed within its marble columns a space 118 by 135 metres 
containing the twin temples of Jupiter and Juno. 11 But there were 
many other porticos to the north, and Martial mentions some of 
them in describing the route taken by the parasite Selius in quest 
of a friend who might be induced to ask him to dinner: the Por- 
tico of Europa, the Portico of the Argonauts, the Portico of a 
Hundred Pillars with its alley of plantains, the Portico of Pompey 
with its two groves. 12 These saepta were not only set amid re- 
freshing shade and grass, but filled with works of art: frescos 
covered their inner walls, statues adorned the spaces between their 
columns and their interior courts. In the Portico of Octavia alone 


Pliny the Elder enumerates, apart from a certain number of com- 
mand pieces executed by Pasiteles and his pupfil Dionysius, the 
group of Alexander and his generals at the battle of the Granicus 
by Lysippus, a Venus of Phidias, a Venus of Praxiteles, and the 
Cupid which Praxiteles had destined for the town of Thespiae. 18 

The walks of the imperial people were indeed set amid prodi- 
gious collections of booty. But among the Romans who stopped 
to contemplate these masterpieces, there were some who sought 
only to draw amusement from the familiar rarities. Martial tells 
an illuminating little anecdote. 14 Among other statues of wild 
beasts in the Portico of a Hundred Pillars stood a bronze bear, 
which one day attracted the attention of the idlers: "While Hylas 
was in play challenging its yawning mouth he plunged his youth- 
ful hand into its throat. But an accursed viper lay hid in the 
dark cavern of the bronze, alive with a life more deadly than that 
of the beast itself. The boy perceived not the guile, until he felt 
the pang and died." This was the folly of a mischievous lad, but 
we shall see that it was not only boys who played under the 
porticos, in the gardens, the fora, and the basilicas. 

In the shadow of their colonnades the idle Romans loafed or 
gathered to gossip. They ogled the passers-by, both men and 
women. When a sale was being held in the saepta, they leisurely 
attended, assessed the value of the objects offered, and haggled 
over the price. Everywhere they eagerly inquired the latest news, 
and everywhere they found some boastful busybody ready to 
satisfy their curiosity. Martial vividly describes such a braggart 
who invents as he goes along the "secrets' 7 with which he regales 
his auditors: 

By such arts as these, Philomusus, you always earn your dinner; you 
invent much and retail it as truth. You know what counsel Pacorus, 
king of Parthia, takes in his Arsacian palace; you estimate the Rhenish 
and Sarmatian armies . . . you know how many ships set sail from 
Libya's Shores ... for whom Capitoline Jupiter designs his chaplets. 18 

But the best of conversations palls at last; and at this point they 
turned to gaming. 

The Romans frankly confessed to their passion for gambling, 
They had always been possessed by it; but never before had the 
mania held them in so tyrannical a grip. In the second century 
Juvenal writes: "When was gambling so reckless? Men come 


not now with purses to the hazard of the gaming table, but 
with a treasure chest beside them. What battles will you there see 
waged with a steward for armour bearer!" ltt And he sadly con- 
tinues: "Is it a simple form of madness to lose 100,000 sesterces 
and not have a shirt to give a shivering slave?" In the attempt to 
put a brake on this suicidal passion, the Caesars had kept up 
the prohibitions of republican days. Except during the Saturnalia, 
which Martial expressly mentions, and which Juvenal implies in 
the above-quoted passage (for "shivering slave" suggests the 
cold of Bruma or the winter solstice at the end of December, 
which was the season of the Saturnalia), games of chance were 
forbidden under penalty of a fine fixed at four times the value 
of the stakes; and a senatus consultant, of uncertain date con- 
firming the Lex Titia, the Lex Publicia, and the Lex Cornelia 
renewed the prohibition of betting (sponsiones), except in the 
case of wagers laid on physical exercises. 17 We saw in the last 
chapter the popularity which this curious privilege won for the 
chariot races of the circus and the gladiatorial combats. It left 
a breach in apparently repressive legislation, through which many 
games of chance and sponsiones managed to slip. 

Playing dice games with tali or tesserae which were thrown 
from the dice-box (jritittus) onto the ground or gaming table 
(alveus) would certainly have been an imprudent thing to do in 
public. 18 Neither would it, probably, have been acceptable for 
two friends to play navia aut capita (heads or tails) or par intpar 
(odd or even) under the porticos. Yet Augustus used to invite 
his family to play par impar in the palace, alloting them 250 
denarii apiece so that they might throw themselves into the fun, 
of the game without anxiety or bitter afterthoughts. 19 As played 
by the imperial family, the game consisted only of a monotonous 
series of bets on the odd or even number of pebbles, nuts, or 
knuckle-bones hidden in the other player's hand. 

There was another variety of game derived from "Odd or 
Even" in which the element of mere chance was somewhat cor- 
rected, limited by the quickness of sight and speed of the player, a 
calculation of probabilities, and a certain psychological flair. 
This was micatio the still popular morra of southern Italy to- 
day. The two players "each raise the fingers of the right hand, 
varying each time the number raised and the number kept down 
and call aloud the total of the fingers raised by both," until one 


or other wins the round by guessing right. 20 Micatio could cer- 
tainly be played openly in the Rome of the Antonines. From 
Cicero through the times of Petronius and Frontinus down to 
Saint Augustine, Latin tradition unanimously used to indicate a 
man of integrity by the phrase, "You could play micatio with 
him in the dark." 21 Not until the fourth century did the prae- 
jectus urbi feel compelled to banish micatio from the Forum. 22 

While the Roman game of backgammon (duodecim scripta), 
in which the moves of the men (calculi} were determined by 
numbers thrown with dice or bonesas in our game, may have fallen 
under the ban of the law, chess (latrunculi) was exempt, since 
the moves depended only on the foresight and skill of the play- 
ers. 23 This game of calculated combinations, which in the first 
century delighted both the Stoic Julius Canus and the consul 
Piso, 24 and in which in Martial's day intellectuals took pride in 
competing for the championship, 25 never lost honour with the 
public; it absorbed both those who played and the idlers who 
stood around commenting on their moves. When the players felt 
chess to be too complicated or the necessary apparatus for it too 
cumbersome a chess-board of sixty squares and men of different 
colour and shape they would fall back on an elementary game 
of draughts, whose tabulae lusoriae could be improvised any- 
where with lines scratched in the ground or cut into the pave- 
ment. 26 Many graffiti of such draught-boards have been ex- 
cavated under the arcades of the Basilica lulia and the forum. 

Nor were these the sum of the games : a number of bas-reliefs 
show children apparently playing "nuts," the ancient equivalent 
of our marbles. 27 This would explain the Saturnalian custom of 
presenting grown-ups with bags of nuts for the festival ; and it is 
tempting to suppose that adults often amused themselves in the 
squares and porticos with trying either to split a nut without 
crushing it, to throw one onto a heap without knocking the rest 
down, or as in our game of marbles to hit the opponent's men, or 
shoot the nut into a hole. 

Such harmless relaxations brought a whiff of fresh air into 
the feverish atmosphere of the Imperial City. Yet in the course 
of time these pastimes must have lost much of their innocence, 
and often been made the pretext for clandestine bets. In any case 
there is no doubt that the idler had but to make a slight detour in 
his daily walk to find an opportunity of secretly indulging the 


vice to which the emperor thought he had given sufficient rein in 
the circus and the amphitheatre. Not infrequently the inns (cau- 
ponae) and taverns (popinae and tkermopolia) , whose front 
counters served cooling draughts or hot wine, concealed in their 
back premises gambling dens where year in and year out, not 
only during the Saturnalia, bets could be exchanged and dice and 
knuckle-bones rattled. The imperial laws which bore as hard on 
gamblers (aleatores) as on thieves could not reach out an arm 
long enough to catch the susceptor, the keeper of the den who 
sheltered them; the most the law could do was to deny him the 
right to sue for any violence done him or the furnishings of his 
tavern by clients in the excitement of their gaming or despair at 
their losses. 28 With this relative impunity, the keeper was all the 
more tempted to equip his shop for seductive, forbidden parties, 
and by installing prostitutes as barmaids, to convert his gambling 
den into a bawdy-house. 29 

A frequently quoted inscription from Aesernia tells of a passing 
traveller who, settling with the hostess of the local inn, acquiesces 
in an item of eight asses (about twelve cents) charged for the 
favours accorded him by the maid-servant during his one-night 
stay. 30 We might also cite the popina, recently unearthed in the 
Via delP Abbondanza at Pompeii, which bears a suggestive poster 
notifying the passer-by that the establishment boasts three young 
ladies (asellae) on its staff. 31 It would be an illusion to imagine 
that Rome itself was in any way behind the Italian muncipia in 
such conveniences. 32 There, as elsewhere, the cauponae, the 
popinae, and the thermopolia were currently equated with "dives" 
(ganeae}\ and while the authorities out of consideration for the 
young Roman's morning exercise decreed that brothels should 
remain closed until the ninth hour, 33 the Roman tavern offered 
its attractions to every comer both morning and afternoon. The 
shady bar was perhaps not quite so omnipresent in Rome as in 
modern capitals, but it was common, winked at by the aedile 
police, and freely open to passers-by. Seneca records how many 
wastrels turned into these dens instead of finding their way to 
the palaestra to spend their leisure: "Cum illo tempore vilissimus 
quisque . . . in popina lateat" 34 



Happily for the Roman people, there was a more wholesome 
way for a man to enjoy his liberty, and the Caesars, in building 
thermae for the citizens, had provided them with "recreation" in 
the full and best sense of the word. The word for baths is Greek; 
but it represented a specifically Roman reality the association 
for the first time of the sports of the palaestra which exercised the 
body and the thermae which cleansed it. The baths are one of the 
fairest creations of the Roman Empire. They not only benefited 
civilisation, after their fashion, but also served art, which has 
been permanently enriched by monuments whose spaciousness, 
proportions, and .technical perfection command our profound ad- 
miration even in their decay. In building the thermae the em- 
perors put personal hygiene on the daily agenda of Rome and 
within reach of the humblest; and the fabulous decoration lav- 
ished on the baths made the exercise and care of the body a 
pleasure for all, a refreshment accessible even to the very poor. 

Since the middle of the third century B,C. wealthy Romans 
had built bathing halls in their town houses and country villas. 35 
But this luxury was for the very rich and the republican austerity 
which forbade Cato the Censor to take a bath in the presence of 
his son 86 prevented the building of baths outside the family do- 
main. In the long run, however, the love of cleanliness triumphed 
over false pruderies. In the course of the second century B.C. 
public baths the men's and women's separate, of course, unlike 
later times made their appearance in Rome; the feminine 
plural balneae denoting the public, as opposed to the neuter bal- 
neum, or private, bath. 87 Philanthropists endowed baths in their 
quarter of the city. Contractors built others as a speculation and 
charged entrance fees. In 33 B.C. Agrippa had a census of baths 
taken; there were 170 and the number grew steadily as time 
went on. 88 Pliny the Elder gave up trying to count those of his 
time, 39 and later they approached a thousand. 40 The fee charged 
by the owner or by the operator to whom he had leased the 
place was microscopic: a quadrant, quarter of an as, or roughly 
half a cent and children entered free. 41 In 33 B.C. Agrippa was 
aedile and one of his duties was to supervise the public baths, 
test their heating apparatus, and see to their cleaning and polic- 
ing. In order to mark his term of office by a sensational act of 


generosity he undertook to pay all entrance fees for the year of 
his aedileship. 42 Not long after, he founded the thermae which 
bear his name, and these were to be free in perpetuity. 43 This was 
a revolutionary principle in keeping with the paternal role which 
the empire had assumed toward the masses. It brought with it a 
revolution both in architecture and in manners; and buildings 
modelled on Agrippa's grew ever larger with succeeding reigns. 

After the baths of Agrippa, the thermae of Nero were erected 
on the Campus Martius. 44 Then Titus built his beside the ancient 
Domus Aurea, with an external portico facing the Colosseum. 45 
The brick cores of several columns of this portico are standing to 
this day. Next Trajan built on the Aventine the thermae which 
he dedicated to the memory of his friend Licinius Sura; and to 
the north-west of those of Titus, on the site of part of the Golden 
House which had been destroyed by fire in 104, he erected others 
to which he gave his own name and which he was able to inaugu- 
rate on the same day as his aqueduct, June 22, xog. 46 Later there 
came the thermae which we call the baths of Caracalla, but which 
ought to be known by their official designation of "Thermae of 
Antoninus," for while Septimius Severus laid the foundations in 
206, and they were prematurely inaugurated by his son Antoninus 
Caracalla, they were completed by the last Antonine of the dy- 
nasty, Severus Alexander, between 222 and 235. 47 The ruins of 
the baths of Diocletian today house the National Roman Mu- 
seum, the Church of Saint Mary of the Angels, and the Oratory 
of Saint Bernard; 48 and the plan of their giant exedra can be 
traced by the curves of the piazza, which preserves the name. 
Last of all, in the fourth century the thermae of Constantine 
were built on the Quirinal. 49 The best preserved of these great 
baths are those of Diocletian, covering an area of thirteen hec- 
tares, and those of Caracalla, spreading over eleven hectares, 
both of which belong to the wonders of ancient Rome. These 
grandiose, bare ruins impress even the most insensitive tourist. 
Both, however, lie outside the limits of the chronological frame- 
work within which we are striving to keep our attention. -But 
the ruins of the baths of Trajan have within the last few years 
been sufficiently excavated to allow us to follow the master lines 
of their plan and establish the fact that it corresponds to the plan 
of the baths of Caracalla. 50 There is only a difference of scale 
between the two. It is comparatively simple, therefore, to divine 


the typical arrangement of these monumental buildings in the 
day when Martial grew enthusiastic over them, and take stock of 
the innovations they had introduced. 51 

The primary feature of these thermae was every type of bath 
that ingenuity could devise: hot, cold, and hot-air baths, the 
swimming bath, and the tub bath. Externally the enormous quad- 
rilateral was flanked by porticos full of shops and crowded with 
shopkeepers and their customers; inside it enclosed gardens and 
promenades, stadia and rest rooms, gymnasiums and rooms for 
massage, even libraries and museums. The baths in fact offered 
the Romans a microcosm of many of the things that make life 

In the centre of the thermae rose the buildings of the baths 
proper. None of the balneae could rival them, either in the volume 
of water led from aqueducts into their reservoirs, which in the 
baths of Caracalla occupied two-thirds of the south side with 
their sixty-four vaulted chambers; or in the complex precision 
of their system of furnaces, of hypocauses and hypocausta, which 
conveyed, distributed, and tempered the warmth of the halls. 
Near the entrance were the dressing-rooms where the bathers 
came to undress (the apodyteria). Next came the tepidarium, a 
large vaulted hall that was -only gently warmed, which inter- 
vened between the frigidarium on the north and the caldarium 
on the south. The jrigidarium, which was probably too big to be 
completely roofed in, contained the pool into which the bathers 
plunged. The caldarium was a rotunda lit by the sun at noon and 
in the afternoon, and heated by vapour circulating between the 
suspensurae laid beneath its pavement. It was surrounded by 
little bathing boxes where people could bathe in private; and a 
giant bronze basin of water in the centre was kept at the required 
temperature by the furnace immediately below in the middle of 
the hypocausis that underlay the entire hall. To the south of 
the caldarium lay the sudatoria, or laconica, whose high tem- 
perature induced a perspiration like the hot room of a Turkish 
bath. Finally the whole gigantic layout was flanked by palaestrae, 
themselves backing on recreation rooms, where the naked bathers 
could indulge in their favorite forms of exercise. 

This was not all: this imposing group of buildings was sur- 
rounded by an esplanade, cooled by shade and playing fountains, 
which gave space for playing grounds and was enclosed by a con- 


tinuous covered promenade (the xystus). Behind the xystus 
curved the exedrae of the gymnasiums and the sitting-rooms, the 
libraries, and the exhibition halls. This was the truly original 
feature of the thermae. Here the alliance between physical cul- 
ture and intellectual curiosity became thoroughly Romanised. 
Here it overcame the prejudice which the importation of sports 
in the Greek style had aroused. 52 No doubt conservative opinion 
continued to look askance at athletics, as encouraging immoral- 
ity by exhibitionism and diverting its devotees from the virile 
and serious apprenticeship required by the art of war, teaching 
them to think more of exciting admiration for their beauty than 
of developing the qualities of a good foot soldier. 53 But opinion 
presently ceased to be offended at nudism in the baths, where it 
was obligatory, and admitted almost all athletic games to equal 
honour, as long as they were not practiced as a spectacle, but 
for their own sake and served the same salutary purpose as the 
baths themselves. Games prefaced and reinforced the tonic effect 
of the baths on bodily health and fitness. 

In the last chapter we had to record the partial failure of the 
Agon Capitolinus. In vain Augustus, Nero, and Domitian had 
tried to effect a revolution in manners by transplanting to Rome 
a copy of the Olympic games. It was reserved to the thermae to 
succeed where the emperors had failed, for at the period of 
which we are writing the Roman people had contracted the habit 
of attending the baths daily and spending the greater part of 
their leisure there. 

Our authorities unanimously state or imply that the thermae 
normally closed at sunset; 54 but the only indications we have as 
to when they opened seem at first sight "to contradict each other. 
A line of Juvenal's suggests before noon, as early as the fifth 
hour; 55 and this is confirmed by an epigram of Martial's in 
which the poet, choosing the most opportune moment for his 
bath, decides on the eighth hour which "tempers the warm baths; 
the hour before breathes heat too great, and the sixth is hot with 
excessive heat." 56 On the other hand, the Historia Augusta in the 
Life of Hadrian records that a decree of the emperor forbade 
anyone, except in case of illness, to bathe in the public baths be- 
fore the eighth hour; 57 while the Life of Severus Alexander re- 
calls that in the preceding century bathing was not permitted 
before the ninth hour. 58 Finally, several of Martial's Epigrams 


seem to imply that many people took their bath at the tenth 
hour or later, 59 and that whatever might be the hour formally 
fixed for the opening of the baths and announced by the tintinna- 
bulum of the bell, people were allowed to enter the exercise 
grounds before it sounded. 60 One thing only can in my opinion 
help to clear up this confusion and reduce or even reconcile the 
discrepancies in our data: the consideration of the plan of the 
thermae and the administrative regulations which governed the 
segregation of the sexes. 

In the days of Martial and Juvenal, under Domitian, and still 
under Trajan, there was no formal prohibition of mixed bathing. 
Women who objected to this promiscuity could avoid the thermae 
and bathe in balneae provided for their exclusive use. But many 
women were attracted by the sports which preceded the bath in 
the thermae, and rather than renounce this pleasure preferred to 
compromise their reputation and bathe at the same time as the 
men. 61 As the thermae grew in popularity, this custom produced 
an outcropping of scandals which could not leave the authorities 
undisturbed. To put an end to them, sometime between the years 
117 and 138 Hadrian passed the decree mentioned in the Historia 
Augusta which separated the sexes in the baths: "lavacra pro 
sexibus separavit." 62 But since the plan of the thermae included 
only one jrigidarium, one tepidarium, and one caldarium, it is 
clear that this separation could not be achieved in space, but only 
in time, by assigning different hours for the men's and women's 
baths. This was the solution enforced, at a great distance from 
Rome, it is true, but also under the reign of Hadrian, by the 
regulations of the procurators of the imperial mines at Vipasca 
in Lusitania. 68 The instructions issued to the conductor or lessee 
of the balnea in this mining district included the duty of heating 
the furnaces for the women's baths from the beginning of the 
first to the end of the seventh hour, and for the men's from the 
beginning of the eighth hour of day to the end of the second 
hour of night. The dimensions of the Roman thermae made im- 
possible the lighting which an exactly similar division of times 
would have required. But there is in my opinion not the slightest 
doubt that Rome adopted the same principle, modifying the de- 
tail to suit the conditions imposed by the size of her thermae. We 
need only take account of the plan of the Roman thermae, with 
the baths proper in the centre and the huge annexes surrounding 


them, and co-ordinate this with the scattered indications found in 
the writers of the time, to be able to reconstruct a likely picture of 
the procedure. 

From the statements of Juvenal we know that the doors of the 
annexes were opened to the public, irrespective of sex, from the 
fifth hour of the morning. At the sixth hour the central building 
was opened, but to women only after Hadrian's decree. 64 At the 
eighth or ninth hour, according to whether it was winter or sum- 
mer, the bell sounded again. It was now the men's turn to have 
access to the baths, where they were allowed to stay till the 
eleventh or twelfth hour. From this division of the time, it is per- 
missible to assume that women and men undressed successively 
inside the central baths, and that the palaestrae within their con- 
fines were the only places where nude athletics were permitted. 
This conclusion need not surprise us; and it tallies with the de- 
ductions we draw from texts describing the games in which the 
Romans indulged in their thermae. 

We may, for instance, recall Trimalchio's encounter with the 
shady characters whom he was presently to invite to dine. It 
took place at bath time in the thermae the thermae of a Cam- 
panian village it is true, but copied from those of the capital. 
Encolpius and his companions begin by mingling with the groups 
which had gathered here and there in the palaestra. Suddenly they 
spy "a bald old man in a reddish shirt playing at ball with some 
long-haired boys. . . . The old gentleman, who was in his house 
shoes, was busily engaged with a green ball. He never picked it 
up if it touched the ground. A slave stood by with a bagful and 
supplied them to the players." 65 This was a ball game for three, 
called a trigon, in which the players, each posted at the corner of 
a triangle, flung the balls to and fro without warning, catching 
with one hand and throwing with the other. 66 The Romans had 
many other kinds of ball games, including "tennis" played with 
the palm of the hand for a racquet (as in the Basque game of 
pelote) ; 67 harpastum, in which the players had to seize the ball, or 
harpastum, in the middle of the opponents, despite the shoving, 
bursts of speed, and feints 68 a game which was very exhausting 
and raised clouds of dust; and many others such as "hop-ball," 
"ball against the wall," etc. 69 The harpastum was stuffed with 
sand, the paganica with feathers; the folKs was blown full of air 
and the players fought for it as in basket ball, but with more ele- 


gance. 70 Sometimes the ball was enormous and filled with earth 
or flour, and the players pommelled it with their fists like a 
punching bag, 71 in much the same way that they sometimes 
lunged with their rapiers against a fencing post. 72 These were 
some of the games which formed a prelude to the bath. Martial 
alludes to them in an epigram addressed to a philosopher friend 
who professed to disdain them: "No hand-ball, no bladder-ball, 
no feather-stuffed ball makes you ready for the warm bath, nor 
the blunted stroke upon the unarmed stump; nor do you stretch 
forth squared arms besmeared with sticky ointment, nor, dart- 
ing to and fro, snatch the dusty scrimmage-ball." 73 

This enumeration is far from complete and we must add simple 
running, or rolling a metal hoop (trochus) , 74 Steering the capri- 
cious hoop with a little hooked stick which they called a "key" 
was a favorite sport of women; and so was swinging what Martial 
called "the silly dumb-bell" (haltera), though they tired at this 
more quickly than the men. 75 When playing these games both 
men and women wore either a tunic like Trimalchio's, or tights 
like those of the manly Philaenis when she played with the har- 
pastum or a plain warm cloak of sports cut like the endromis 
which Martial sent to one of his friends with the gracious mes- 
sage : "We send you as a gift the shaggy nursling of a weaver on 
the Seine, a barbarian garb that has a Spartan name, a thing 
uncouth but not to be despised in cold December, . . whether 
you catch the warming hand-ball, or snatch the scrimmage-ball 
amid the dust, or bandy to and fro the featherweight of the flac- 
cid bladder-ball." 77 

For the wrestling match, on the other hand, the wrestlers had 
to strip completely, smear themselves with ceroma (an unguent of 
oil and wax which made the skin more supple), and cover this 
with a layer of dust to prevent their slipping from the opponent's 
hands. Wrestling took place in the palaestrae of the central build- 
ing near some rooms which in the baths of Caracalla archaeolo- 
gists have identified with the oleoteria and the conisteria. 78 Here 
not only wrestler but wrestleress whose perverse complaisance 
under the masseur's attentions roused the wrath of Juvenal 79 
came to submit to the prescribed anointings and massage. 

The bath which followed the games or the wrestling match 
was thus closely linked with sport. The bath itself usually con- 
sisted of three parts. First, the bather, drenched in sweat, went off 


to undress if he had not already done so in one of the dressing- 
rooms or apodyteria of the baths. Then he entered one of the 
sudatoria which flanked the caldarium, and encouraged the sweat- 
ing process in this hothouse atmosphere: this was "the dry bath." 
Next he proceeded to the caldarium, where the temperature was 
almost as warm and where he could sprinkle hot water from the 
large tub known as the labrum on his sweating body and scrape 
it with the strigil. Cleansed and dried, he retraced his steps to 
the tepidarium to cool off gradually, and finally he ran to take a 
plunge in the cold pool of the jrigidarium. These were the three 
phases of the hygienic bath as recommended by Pliny the Elder, 80 
as experienced by the bathers in Petronius' novel, 81 and as sug- 
gested in the Epigrams of Martial. 82 Martial, however, allows his 
imaginary interlocutors the option of cutting out one of the bath- 
ing processes: "If Lacedaemonian methods please you, you can 
content yourself with dry warmth and then plunge in the natural 
stream." 83 

It was in practice impossible for the bather to rub himself 
down properly with the strigil. An assistant of some sort was in- 
dispensable, and if he had not taken the precaution of bringing 
some slaves of his own with him, he discovered that such as- 
sistance was by no means furnished gratis. An anecdote recorded 
in the Historia Augusta proves that people thought twice before 
they embarked on this expense. 84 

Hadrian^s biographer relates that the emperor often bathed in 
the public baths with everyone else. One day he saw there an 
old soldier whom he had known in the army, busily rubbing him- 
self against the marble with which the brick walls of the caldarium 
were faced, and asked why he was doing this. The old man re- 
plied that you had to have money to keep slaves, whereupon the 
princeps provided him with both slaves and money. Not unnatu- 
rally, the next day when the emperor's presence was announced 
a number of old men set to rubbing against the marble. Hadrian 
merely advised them to rub each other down. 

We are safe in assuming that only the poor took the emperor's 
advice. Rich people could afford to have themselves served, 
rubbed, massaged, and perfumed as they would. When Trimal- 
chio's future guests left the jrigidarium, they found their acci- 
dental host inundated, with perfumes and being rubbed down not 
with an ordinary cloth but with napkins of the finest wool, by 


three masseurs who, after quarrelling for the honour of grooming 
him, "rolled him up in a scarlet woollen coat and put him in his 
litter." 85 Trimalchio, duly dried by these specialists, was hoisted 
on the shoulders of his retainers and carried straight home where 
his dinner was awaiting him. 

The majority of the bathers, however, especially those whose 
houstf was less luxurious and whose table was less well set than 
Trimalchio's, lingered in the thermae and enjoyed their amenities 
until closing time. Groups of friends gathered in the public halls 
and nymphaea for conversation, or perhaps went to read in the 
libraries. The sites of the two libraries of the baths of Caracalla 
have been rediscovered at the two extremities of the line of cis- 
terns. They are at once recognisable from the rectangular niches 
hollowed in the walls for the plutei, or wooden chests, which con- 
tained the precious volumina.** Others walked quietly to and fro 
in the ambulatories of the xystus among the masterpieces of 
sculpture with which the emperors had systematically peopled 
the thermae. We must not forget that modern excavation has res- 
cued from the baths of Caracalla the Farnese Bull, Flora, and 
Hercules; the Belvedere Torso, and the two basins into which 
Roman fountains play in the square of the Palazzo Farnese. All 
of these stood of old on the mosaic pavements beneath the cof- 
fered vaults, between the marble-covered walls and the colon- 
nades with capitals decorated with heroic figures which graced 
.the baths. 87 The thermae of Trajan were not less richly endowed, 
and from them was retrieved, among other treasures, the famous 
group of the Laocoon, now in the Vatican. 88 It is impossible 
not to believe that the Romans, in the physical well-being and 
pleasant lassitude induced by exercise and bath, felt the beauty 
which surrounded them sink quietly into their souls. 

It is true that the Romans themselves found evil to say about 
their thermae, and that many abuses flourished there. It is all too 
well established that there lurked under the stately porticoes 
vendors of food and drink and procurers of both sexes; 80 that 
many congregated there to overeat and drink and indulge other 
disreputable tastes; 90 that many heated themselves merely in 
order "to raise a thirst," 91 and found bathing a stimulant for 
other excesses: "You will soon pay for it, my friend,' if you take 
off your clothes, and with distended stomach carry your peacock 
into the bath undigested! This leads to death and an intestate 


old age!" 92 Such overindulgence in bathing as Commodus prac- 
ticed who took up to eight baths a day, could only soften the 
muscles and exasperate the nerves. 98 We may fairly condemn 
abuses which the victims cynically acknowledged: "baths, wine, 
and women corrupt our bodies but these things make life itself 
(balnea, vina, Venus corrumpunt corpora nostra sed vitam 
faciunt)."* 4 

Nevertheless I am convinced that the imperial baths brought 
immense benefit to the people. In their dazzling marble grandeur 
the thermae were not only the splendid "Palace of Roman 
Water," 95 but above all the palace of the Roman people, such as 
our democracies dream of today. In them the Romans learned to 
admire physical cleanliness, useful sports, and culture; and thus 
for many generations they kept decadence at bay by returning 
to the ancient ideal 'which had inspired their past greatness and 
which Juvenal still held before them as a boon to pray for: "a 
healthy mind in a healthy body (orandum est ut sit mens sana in 
cor pore sano)" 9 * 

. 3. DINNER 

After the fatigue of the sports and tonic of the bath came 
dinner. The sun is sloping toward its setting and still we have 
not seen the Romans eat. Yet we know that some among them 
demanded four ample meals a day, 97 and our texts frequently 
mention three daily meals, whose names vary with the centuries. 
Just as our own names for meals lunch, dinner, supper have 
tended to shift, so the Roman jentaculum, cena, and vesperna 
became and remained throughout the classic period the jentacu- 
lum, prandium, and cena, while the vesperna disappeared. 98 In 
the period which concerns us, some Romans had kept the habit 
of all three Pliny the Elder, for instance, among them, though 
he was anything but a great eater. 99 Old men tended also to keep 
up the three, as contemporary doctors prescribed. 100 But some 
people took a drink of water on rising, 101 and omitted one or other 
of the first two meals on the advice of their "hygienists." Galen 
notably took a jentaculum only about the fourth hour, 102 while 
the Roman plebs enjoyed its prandium at noon. 108 In any case, 
neither the jentaculum nor the prandium was a very nourishing 
or formidable meal. Martial's jentaculum consisted of bread and 
cheese; 104 prandium was often nothing more than a piece of 


bread, 105 but was more usually accompanied by cold meat, vege- 
tables, and fruits washed down with a little wine. 106 Pliny the 
Elder's jentaculum was a very slight affair: "cibum levem et 
facilem." 107 His prandium was merely a snack (deinde gustabat). 
Both jentaculum and prandium were so quickly disposed of that 
there was no need to set a table beforehand (sine mensa) or to 
wash the hands afterwards: "post quod non sunt lavandae 
manus" 108 They were both evidently cold meals unceremoni- 
ously taken; the only serious meal, worthy of the name, was for 
everyone the evening dinner, the cena. In reading the lives of 
Vitellius and his like, it would be easy to imagine that the Romans 
passed their whole life at table. When we look more closely at 
the facts, however, we see that for the most part they did not 
sit down to table till their day was done, anticipating the prac- 
tice of that connoisseur, the Prince of Beneventum, at the French 
Embassy in London a century ago. 109 They have been misrepre- 
sented as insatiable gourmands, when in fact they ate rather 
lightly until evening. 

It is true that they then made up for lost time by doing full 
justice to their victuals. But here again it is prudent to avoid 
hasty generalisations and distrust superficial judgments. To pic- 
ture the cenae of the Romans as so many eating orgies would be 
like imagining an Arab's feast the measure of his usual fare, or 
supposing that the long, lavish, hospitable meal offered at a 
country wedding represented the peasant's normal standard of 
living. The truth is that in similar settings and with identical cus- 
toms and etiquette, there was a great difference between one cena 
and another according to the circumstances, personal tastes, and 
moral standards of individuals. The Romans might make their 
one and only proper dinner a vulgar eating contest or a dignified 
meal of delicacy and distinction. 

Apart from such historic monsters as Vitellius and Nero who 
sat down to table at noon, 110 the hour of dinner was approxi- 
mately the same for all; after the bath, that is to say, at the end 
of the eighth hour in winter and of the ninth in summer. This was 
the usual time in Pliny the Younger's circle for their "elegant 
and frugal repast." nl It is the time suggested by Martial to his 
friend lulius Cerialis whom he invites to meet him at the eighth 
hour at the baths of Stephanus, the nearest to his house, pro- 
posing to take him home for dinner afterwards. 112 On the other 


hand the time the cena ended depended on whether it was an 
ordinary meal or banquet, on whether the host was temperate 
or a glutton. When Pliny the Elder rose from table it was still 
light in summer and in winter the first hour of the night was not 
yet past. 113 Nero's cena lasted until midnight, 114 and Trimalchio's 
till the small hours; 115 the revellers to whom Juvenal addresses 
his reproaches "began their sleep' with the rise of Lucifer, the 
morning star, at an hour when our generals of old would be mov- 
ing their standards and their camps." nc 

Whatever the length of the dinner, well-to-do people always 
served it in a special room of their house or flat, the triclinium, 
whose length was twice its breadth. 117 The dining-room took its 
name from the couches with three reclining places each (triclinia) 
on which the guests reposed. This is an important detail of pro- 
cedure to which we should have difficulty in adapting ourselves, 
and one nearer to the oriental custom of using cushions and di- 
vans, than to our practice. Nothing would have induced the 
Romans of the empire to eat otherwise. They considered the re- 
clining position indispensable to their physical comfort, but also 
a mark of elegance and of social distinction. In the old days it 
was good enough for a woman to eat, seated at her husband's 
feet. 118 But now that the Roman matron took her place beside the 
men on the triclinia, to eat sitting was suitable only for children, 
who sat on stools in front of their parents' couch, 319 6r for slaves, 
who received permission to recline like their masters only on 
holidays; 120 for village rustics or provincials from distant Gaul, 121 
or the passing customers of inns or taverns. 1 - 2 Whether or not 
they had donned for dinner the correct loose synthesis of light 
muslin which was suited to the warmth engendered by a cere- 
monial meal and was sometimes changed between the courses, 123 
the Romans would have thought it unseemly not to dine reclining, 
men and women side by side. Opinion approved the austerity of 
Cato of Utica who, in mourning the rout of the senatorial army, 
made on the eve of Pharsalus a vow which he kept to the day 
of his suicide : to eat seated as long as the tyranny of Julius Caesar 
should be triumphant. 124 

Three sloping couches were ranged around a square table, one 
side of which was left free for the service. 125 The slope of the 
couches was so contrived that the edges came slightly above the 
level of the table. Each couch, more or less luxurious in its equip- 


ment, was spread with a mattress and with coverings, while 
cushions divided the central place from the other two. The ill- 
bred host who was not minded to put himself out for his guests 
sometimes occupied the central couch alone, or tolerated only 
one companion beside or rather "below" him. For the places had 
a sort of hierarchic precedence, and their allotment was dictated 
by punctilious etiquette. The couch of honour was that opposite the 
empty side of the table (lectus medius) ; and on it the most hon- 
ourable position was the right hand one, "the consular" (locus 
consularis). Next in honour came the couch to the left of the 
central one (lectus summus), and last that on the right (lectus 
imus) . On each of these couches the most privileged position was 
that to the left nearest the fulcrum or head of the couch. The other 
places were filled later. The guests reclined crosswise on the 
couches, their left elbow resting on a cushion, their feet, which 
they had freed from shoes or slippers and washed on entering, 126 
at the foot o* the couch. Not infrequently a round table was 
preferred to a square one, and the three couches replaced by one 
(stibadium) forming an arc of a circle or, as the phrase was, in 
the form of a "lunar sigma" The most important personages oc- 
cupied the two ends of the stibadium, on which nine people could 
recline at a pinch, but which normally accommodated only seven 
or eight. 127 If more than nine persons were to dine, other stibadia 
or triclinia had to be brought (triclinia sterner e) into the dining- 
room, usually planned for thirty-six guests around four tables or 
for twenty-seven around three. 128 

An usher (nomenclator) announced the guests and showed 
them to their couch and place. Several waiters (ministratores) 
brought in the dishes and the bowls and placed them on the 
tables. Since the time of Domitian it had been the fashion to 
cover the table with a cloth (mappa or mantile); 12 * before this 
it had been the custom merely to wipe the marble or wooden 
table top after each course. 180 The guests were provided with 
knives and toothpicks and spoons of various shapes: 181 the ladle 
or trulla; the Iigula 9 holding rather more than a centilitre (quarter 
of a cyathus) ; and a little pointed spoon or cocleare with which 
eggs and shell-fish were eaten. 182 The Romans knew no more of 
forks than the Arabs of today or the Europeans at the beginning 
of modern times. They ate with their fingers and this entailed 
frequent hand washings before the meal began, and after each 


course. Slaves went round the couches with ewers and poured 
fresh perfumed water over the diners' hands, wiping them with 
the towel they carried over their arm. 133 .Each guest was provided 
with a napkin for his personal use, which he spread in front of 
him so as not to stain the covering of the couch. A man had no 
hesitation in bringing his own napkin with him, for good man- 
ners permitted him to carry it away filled with titbits (apopho- 
re fa) 134 which he had not had time to consume. - 

It would certainly have required a Gargantuan appetite to 
polish off some of the menus recorded in literature. The full dress 
cena consisted of at least seven courses or fercula "which of 
our grandfathers dined by himself off seven courses?" asks Juve- 
nal, "quis fercula septem secreto cenavit avus?" 135 the hors 
d'oeuvres, or gustatio, three entrees, two roasts, and the dessert or 
secundae mensae. We see the procession of courses pass, with a 
supplementary roast thrown in, at Trimalchio's feast a "ridicu- 
lous meal," not because of the excess of food, which is scarcely 
more horrifying than the menu of certain official banquets 
Macrobius records for us three centuries later, 136 but for the com- 
placent folly of the master, his childish excitement over his in- 
ventions, and the pretentious eccentricities of his dishes. 

A donkey in Corinthian bronze stood on the sideboard with panniers 
holding olives, white in one side, black in the other. Two dishes hid 
the donkey; Trimalchio's name and their weight in silver was engraved 
on their edges. There were also dormice rolled in honey and poppy 
seed, and supported on little bridges soldered to the plate. Then there 
were hot sausages laid on a silver grill, and under the grill damsons and 
seeds of pomegranate. 187 

The guests were still busy with the hors d'oeuvres "when a 
tray was brought in with a basket on it, in which there was a 
hen made of wood, spreading out her wings as they do when 
they are setting. . . . Two slaves came up and began to hunt in 
the straw. Peahen's eggs were pulled out and handed to % the 
guests." Each egg was found to contain a "fat becafico rolled up 
in spiced yolk of egg." 188 The second entree arrived on a dish 
of monumental and puerile design. 

Its novelty drew every eye to it. There was a round plate with the 
twelve signs of the Zodiac set in order, and on each one the artist had 
laid some food fit and proper to the symbol ; over the Ram, ram's head 


pease, a piece of beef on the Bull, kidneys over the Twins, over the 
Crab a crown, an African fig over the Lion, a barren sow's paunch over 
Virgo, over Libra a pair of scales with a muffin on one side and a cake 
on the other, over Scorpio a small sea fish, over Sagittarius a bull's eye, 
over Capricorn a lobster, over Aqdarius a goose, over Pisces two mul- 
lets. 189 

Underneath the top part of the dish "we saw in the well of it fat 
fowls and sowg' bellies and in the middle a hare got up with 
wings to look like Pegasus," while at the corners of the dish 
"four figures of Marsyas also caught the eye; they let a spiced 
sauce run from their wine skins over the fishes which swam 
about in a mkiiature Euripus." 14 After this the roasts came in, 
in corresponding style: 

A tray was brought in with a wild pig of the largest size upon it 
wearing a cap of freedom, with two little baskets woven of palm twigs 
hanging from its tusks, one full of dry dates, the other of fresh. 
Round it lay sucking pigs made of simnel cake with their mouths 
to the teats, thereby showing that we had a sow before us. 

A bearded man came who drew a hunting knife which he plunged 
into the pig's side, whereupon "a number of thrushes flew out." 141 
Presently the slaves who were dressed up as Homeric heroes 
stood back 

to let a boiled calf on a presentation dish be brought in. There was 
a helmet on its head. Ajax followed and attacked it with his sword 
drawn as if he were mad; and after making passes with the edge and 
the flat he collected slices on the point, and divided the calf among 
the astonished company. 142 

Finally came the dessert: "A Priapus made by the confectioner 
standing in the middle, holding up every kind of fruit and grapes 
in his wide apron." 148 Between the cena proper and the secundae 
mensae or dessert, the tables were taken away and replaced by 
others, and while the dining-room attendants were engaged on 
this task, others "sprinkled about sawdust coloured with saffron 
and vermilion and what I had never seen before powdered 
talc." 144 

It might have seemed that at this point the satiated guests 
would think of nothing but taking their leave and going home 
to bed. But just as the banquet seemed about to close, it began 


afresh. Trimalchio made his guests take a red-hot bath, and led 
them into a second dining-room where wine flowed in rivers, and 
where those weary of eating could at least continue to drink 
according to the rites of the commissatio, the popular conclusion 
of such dinners. 145 

A first libation inaugurated the meal. After the hors d'oeuvre 
a honey wine (mulsum) was served. Between the other courses 
the ministratores, while replenishing the guests' supply of little 
hot rolls, solicitously filled their drinking cups with every sort of 
wine, from those of Marseilles and the Vatican not highly 
esteemed up to the "immortal Falernian." 14 Wine blent with 
resin and pine pitch was preserved in amphorae whose necks were 
sealed with stoppers of cork or clay and provided with a label 
(pittacium) stating the vintage. 147 The amphorae were uncorked 
at the feast, and the contents poured through a funnel strainer 
into the mixing-bowl (crater a) from which the drinking-bowls 
were filled. Anyone who drank these heavy wines neat was con- 
sidered abnormal and vicious, a mark for contumely. 148 It was in 
the cratera that the wine was mixed with water and either cooled 
with snow or in certain circumstances warmed. The proportion 
of water was rarely less than a third and might be as high as 
four-fifths. 149 The commissatio that followed dinner was a sort 
of ceremonial drinking match in which the cups were emptied 
at one draught. It was the exclusive right of the master of cere- 
monies to prescribe the number of cups, imposed equally on all, 
and the number of cyathi that should be poured into each, 
which might vary from one to eleven. 150 He also determined the 
style in which the ceremony should be performed: whether a 
round should be drunk beginning with the most distinguished 
person present (a summo}, whether each in turn should empty his 
cup and pass it to his neighbour with wishes for good luck, or 
whether each should drink the health of a selected guest in a 
number of cups corresponding to the number of letters in his 
tria nomina of Roman citizen. 151 

We may well wonder how the sturdiest stomachs could stand 
such orgies of eating, how the steadiest heads could weather the * 
abuses of the commissationes ! 

Perhaps the number of victims was sometimes smaller than 
the number of invited guests. There were often, in fact, many 
called but few chosen at these ostentatious and riotous feasts. 


Out of vanity, the master of the house would invite as many as 
possible to dine; then from selfishness or miserliness he would 
treat his guests inhospitably. Pliny the Elder criticises some of 
his contemporaries who "serve their guests with other wines than 
those they drink themselves, or substitute inferior wine for better 
in the course of the repast." 152 Pliny the Younger condemns 
severely a host at whose table "very elegant dishes were served 
up to himself and a few more of the company; while those placed 
before the rest were cheap and paltry. He had apportioned in 
small flagons three different sorts of wine," graduated according 
to the social status of his friends. 158 Martial reproaches Lupus 
because his mistress "fattens, the adultress, on lewdly shaped 
loaves, while black meal feeds your guest. Wines of Setia are 
strained to inflame your lady's snow; we drink the black poison 
of aCorsicanjar." 154 

Finally Juvenal devotes more than a hundred lines to the kind 
of dinner Virro would offer a poor client 155 This low-born upstart 
"himself drinks wine bottled from the hills of Alba or Setia whose 
date and name have been effaced by the soot which time has gath- 
ered on the aged jar"; for him "a delicate loaf is reserved, white 
as snow and kneaded of the finest flour," for him 

the huge lobster, garnished with asparagus ... a mullet from Cor- 
sica ... the finest lamprey the Straits of Sicily can purvey ... a 
goose's liver, a capon as big as a house, a boar piping hot, worthy of 
Meleager's steel . . . truffles and delicious mushrooms . . . apples 
whose scent would be a feast, which might have been filched from the 
African Hesperides. 

Round him the while his humble guests must be content with the 
coarse wine of this year's vintage, "bits of hard bread that have 
turned mouldy," some "sickly greens cooked in oil that smells of 
the lamp," "an eel, first cousin to a water-snake ... a crab 
hemmed in by half an egg . . . toadstools of doubtful quality 
. . . and a rotten apple like those munched on the ramparts by a 
monkey trained by terror of the whip." In vain Pliny the Younger 
protested against "this modern conjunction of self-indulgence and 
meanness . . . qualities each alone superlatively odious, but still 
more odious when they meet in the same person." 156 Evidence 
from many sources places it beyond doubt that these practices 


were widespread. They had at least the advantage of limiting the 
damage wrought by gluttony at dinner parties. 

The evils of gluttony were somewhat lessened also by the very 
leisurcjliness which characterised the long-drawn program of the 
elaborate cena. Many banquets lasted eight or ten hours, like 
Trimalchio's dinner. They were divided into acts, as it were: in 
the interval after the entrees a concert was accompanied by the 
gesticulations of a silver skeleton; after one roast there was an 
acrobatic turn and Fortunata danced the cordex; before dessert 
there were riddles, a lottery, and a surprise when the ceiling 
opened to let down an immense hoop to which little flasks of per- 
fume were attached for immediate distribution. 157 It was very 
generally felt that no dinner party was complete without the 
buffooneries of clowns, antic tricks of wantons around the 
tables, 158 or lascivious dances to the clatter of castanets, for 
which Spanish maidens were as renowned in Rome as are the 
Aulad Nail among the Arabs of Algeria today. 159 Pliny the 
Younger found nothing amusing in such entertainments: "I con- 
fess I admit nothing of this kind at my own house, however I 
bear with it in others." 16 The Pantagruelian feast which such 
interruptions helped the diners to digest often ended in an orgy 
whose indecency was aggravated by the incredible lack of embar- 
rassment displayed. 

As among the Arabs still, belching was considered a politeness, 
justified by philosophers who thought the highest wisdom was to 
follow the dictates of nature. 161 Pushing this doctrine even 
further, Claudius had considered an edict authorising other emis- 
sions of wind from which even Arabs refrain, 162 and the doctors of 
Martial's day recommended that people take advantage of the 
liberties championed by a well-meaning but ridiculous emperor. 163 
Music of this kind was not wanting at Trimalchio's table. After 
explaining his own state of health "I have such rumblings inside 
me you would think there was a bull there" he adjured his 
guests not to risk injury to their health by self-restraint: "As far 
as I am concerned anyone may relieve himself in the dining- 
room." lfl4 Even Trimalchio had the good taste to quit his couch 
and leave the triclinium when pressed by more urgent need. But 
not all Roman parvenus were so scrupulous. Martial tells of more 
than one who simply clicked his fingers for a slave to bring him 


"a necessary vase" into which he "remeasured with accuracy the 
wine he had drunk from it," while the slave "guides his boozy 
master's drunken person." 165 Finally it was not infrequent dur- 
ing the cena to see priceless marble mosaics of the floor defiled 
with spitting. 160 The best way, in fact, to make sure of being able 
to eat throughout the incredible carousal was to make use of the 
small room next door: "vomunt ut edant, edunt ut vomant." 1 * 1 
It is impossible to repress disgust on reading these descriptions, 
or to deny that wealthy Rome which drained the resources of her 
empire was saddled with all too many gluttons and topers, even 
in the circles in which Pliny the Younger moved. 

To appreciate the consummate skill of the Roman chef, past 
master in the art of so disguising dishes that none could guess 
their ingredients (ut nemo agnoscet quid manduces) , 168 we need 
only hear Petronius vaunt the exploits of his chef: "If you want 
it, he will make you a fish out of a sow's belly, a wood pigeon out 
of bacon, a turtledove out of a ham, and a chicken out of a 
knuckle of pork. There could not be a more valuable fellow." 169 
To realise the progress of gastronomy in his day and the excel- 
lence and variety of the food supplies which were at the gourmet's 
disposal for varied combinations, we may read the Thirteenth 
Book of Martial's Epigrams. 170 Fish were caught in the gulfs 
and bays adjacent to the city; shell-fish, large and small, in the 
Mediterranean. Game abounded in the Laurentine and Ciminian 
forests. The open country near at hand supplied from its flocks 
and herds meat and milk in every form, the cheeses of Trebula 
and Vestini, and also vegetables of every sort: cabbages and 
lentils, beans and lettuce, radishes and turnips, gourds and pump- 
kins, melons and asparagus. Picenum and the Sabine country 
were renowned for the quality of their oils. The pickles with which 
eggs were seasoned came from Spain. Pork came from Gaul, 
spices from the East; wines and fruits from all the sections of 
Italy and the world; apples, pears, and figs from Chios, lemons 
and pomegranates from Africa, dates from the oases, plums from 
Damascus. Every kind of food had its amateurs and connoisseurs. 
From Juvenal alone a collection could be made of gourmands 
whose mouths watered to see the abundance of the market: "the 
dirty ditch digger who remembers the savour of tripe in the reek- 
ing cookshop"; 371 "the youth who has learned from the hoary 
gluttony of a spendthrift father to peel truffles, to preserve mush- 


rooms, and to souse becaficos in their own juice"; 172 the prodigal 
who for 6,000 sesterces bought a mullet that he coveted; 178 the 
gourmet Montanus, who "could tell at the first bite whether an 
oyster had been bred at Circeii or on the Lucrine rocks." 174 

It would be a mistake, however, to believe that every senator 
was a Montanus; and just as false to imagine that every Roman 
dinner was like the orgies we have cited. While these grotesque 
scenes were taking place, many other Romans were partaking of 
a discreet and charming meal at which the mind had as much 
play as the appetite, and the disciplined service excluded neither 
moderation nor simplicity. Thanks to a letter of Pliny the 
Younger we know the kind of cena Trajan presided over in his 
villa at Centumcellae (Civitk Vecchia): 175 "We were every day 
invited to Caesar's supper, which for a prince was a modest 
(modica) repast; there we were either entertained with interludes 
(acroamata) , or passed the night in the most pleasing conversa- 
tion." Pliny himself accepts as a rare and welcome gift the "very 
fine thrushes" sent him by Calpurnius 170 and the pullet which 
reached him from Cornutus: "Weak as my eyes still are, they are 
strong enough to discern that it is extremely fat." 177 He accepted 
an invitation to dinner from Catilius Severus (consul in 115), 
"but I must make this condition beforehand, that you dismiss 
me soon and treat me frugally. Let our table abound only in 
philosophical conversation, and let us enjoy even that within 
limits." 178 A letter of his preserves the menu he had prepared 
for Septicius Clarus in which he jestingly boasts of 

the expense I was at to treat you which let me tell yoi' was no 
small sum. I had prepared, you must know, a lettuce and three snails 
apiece; with two eggs, barley water, some sweet wine and snow . . . 
Besides all these curious dishes, there were olives, beets, gourds, sha- 
lots, and a hundred other dainties equally sumptuous. You should 
likewise have been entertained either with an interlude, the rehearsal 
of a poem or a piece of music, as you like best; or (such was my 
liberality) with all three. But the oysters, chitterlings, sea-urchins, 
and Spanish dancers of a certain were, it seems, more to your 
taste! 179 

The same good taste reigned among the humbler middle classes. 
Let us inspect, for instance, the cena which Martial arranged for 
seven guests: 


My bailiff's wife has brought me mallows that will ease the stomach, 
and the various wealth the garden bears; among which are squat let- 
tuce and clipped leek, and flatulent mint is not wanting nor the 
salacious herb (eruca); sliced eggs shall garnish lizard-fish served 
with rue and there shall be a paunch dripping with the tunny's brine. 
So much for your hors d'oeuvre. The modest dinner shall be served 
in a single course a kid rescued from the jaws of a savage wolf, 
and meat balls to require no carver's knife, and beans, the food of 
artisans, and tender young sprouts; to these a chicken, and a ham 
that has already survived three dinners, shall be added. When you 
have had your fill I will give you ripe apples, wine without lees from 
a Nomentan flagon which was three years old in Frontinus* second 
consulship [98 A.D.]. To crown these there shall be jests without gall, 
and a freedom not dreaded next morning, and no word you would 
wish unsaid. 180 

Even simpler and more amusing is the dinner which Juvenal 
proposes to his friend Persicus: 

And now hear my feast, which no meat market shall provide. From 
my Tiburtine farm there will come a plump kid, tenderest of the flock, 
innocent of grass, that has never yet dared to nibble the twigs of the 
dwarf willow, and has more of milk in him than blood; some wild 
asparagus, gathered by the bailiff's wife when done with her spindle, 
and some lordly eggs warm in their wisps of hay together with the 
hens that laid them. There will be grapes too, kept half the year, as 
fresh as when they hung upon the vine; pears from Signia and Syria, 
and in the same baskets fresh-smelling apples that rival those of 
Picenum. 181 

It is pleasing to think it was menus like these that were enjoyed 
during his holidays at Pompeii by the townsman who had painted 
on the walls of his triclinium the wise mottoes which we still read 
there, breathing decency and dignity: 182 

Let the slave wash and dry the feet of the guests, and let him be 
mindful to spread a linen cloth on the cushions of the couches. 

Abluat unda pedes puer et deter geat udos; 
Mappa torum velet tinted nostra cave! 

Spare thy neighbour's wife lascivious glances and ogling flatteries, 
and let modesty dwell in thy mouth. 

Lascivos voltus et blandos aufer ocellos 

Coniuge ab alterius; sit tibi in ore pudor. 


Be amiable and abstain from odious brawlings if thou canst. If not, 
let thy steps bear thee back again to thine own home. 

Utere blandiis odiosaque iurgia differ 

Si potes, aut gressus ad tua tecta refer. 

We may be very sure that similar restraint was generally 
observed by the plebeians in their Guild banquets. Let us call to 
witness the regulations of the Funeral College founded at Lanu- 
vium in 133 A.D. 183 The college organised six feasts a year: two 
on the respective anniversaries of the sanctuaries of Antinoiis 
and Diana, the hero and the goddess under whose protection this 
"College of Salvation" was placed; four on the anniversaries of 
the deaths of its benefactors, the three Caesennii and Cornelia 
Procula. The rule was that the president of the banquet (the 
magister cenae) should see to it that each guest received as his 
share a loaf costing two asses, four sardines, and an amphora of 
heated wine. The magister decided the order in which his col- 
leagues should take their seats in accordance with the list of 
precedence or album. Finally it was his duty to prescribe penalties 
for any who misbehaved: "If anyone leaves his seat and takes 
another in order to create a disturbance, he shall pay a fine of 
four sesterces; if anyone insults another or makes a noise he shall 
pay twelve sesterces; if it is the master of the ceremonies who is 
insulted the offender shall be fined twenty sesterces." The virtues 
of ancient Rome seem to revive in this association of the humble 
folk of a Roman suburb in the time of Hadrian. We seem to see a 
new feeling come to birth, which is all to the honour of the 
"Brothers" of Lanuvium: a sense of brotherhood which unites 
them in life as it will afterwards reunite them in death, while in 
anticipation of their death they meet together to subscribe jointly 
for the cost of their respective obsequies and to win salvation in 
another world. x 

This same feeling of brotherhood, even stronger because nour- 
ished by a higher ideal and enlightened by the truths of the 
Gospel, drew together the Christians of Rome at the end of their 
day's work, in those cenae to which their communities had given 
the Greek name of "love" (?**)). Since the first century they 
had been wont to sup together, "praising God and eating'their 
meat with gladness and in singleness of heart." 184 At the end of 
the second century they displayed among each other the charity 


of brothers, for "the poor shared in the provisions of the rich, 
but they suffered nothing vile and nothing immodest therein." 
Thus, as Tertullian writes, they do not recline to eat till they 
have offered a prayer to God. They eat according to the measure 
only of their hunger. They drink only as is seemly for chaste 
people. They satisfy their hunger as people mindful that they 
must adore God in the night. They converse as knowing that God 
is listening. 185 

The pictures of Petronius, the Epigrams of Martial, the Satires 
of Juvenal only too clearly impress upon us all the sordid and 
depraved side of Roman life. But now, alongside this, we see a 
certain nobility in the everyday conduct of the best people in 
Rome that commands our admiration: in the daily life of the 
humble citizen and the plebeian, in the modesty of Trajan's 
court, in the frugality of the meals to which Pliny the Younger 
andthe poets invited their friends, in the good-humoured cenae 
where the faithful of Antinoiis and Diana crowded fraternally 
round their tables; and above all in those serene "agapes" where 
the Christians lifted up their hearts in the joy of knowing the 
divine presence in their midst. 




A/A American Journal of Archaeology 

Ann. epigr. Annee 6pigraphique 

Atti-CNSR Atti delCongresso nazionale di studi Roman* 

BC Bullettino della Commissione archeologica comunale di Roma 

CIL Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 

Class. Phil. Classical Philology 

CRAI Comptes Rendus de I'Acadtmie des Inscriptions et Belles 

DS Daremberg-Saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquites grecques et 

JQA Jahreshefte des osterreichischen archdologischen Instituts in 


JRS Journal of Roman Studies 

MA G. Lugli, / Monumenti Antichi di Roma e Suburbio, Vols. II 

and III. Rome, 1934-1938 

MAAR Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 

MAI Memoires de VAcademie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres 

Mel. Melanges d'archtologie et d'histoire de I'ficole franfaise de 


ML Memorie della reale Accademia nazionale dei Lincei 

NS Notizie degli Scavi di Antichitd 

PA S. B. Platner and T. Ashby, A Topographical Dictionary of 

Ancient Rome. Oxford, 1929 

RAP Rendiconti dell 9 Accademia Pontificia 

RE Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll, Real-Encydopddie der classischen Al- 

ter tumswissenscha ft 

RhM Rheinisches Museum fur Phttologie 

RL Rendiconti della reale Accademia dei Lincei 

SG L. Friedlaender, Darstellungen aus der Sittengeschichte Roms 

(reference is made to the loth edition edited by Georg 

Wissowa, Leipzig, 1922) 

Skrifter Skrifter utgivna av svenska institutet i Rom 

TAP A Transactions of the American Philological Association 

ZA G. Lugli, / Monumenti Antichi di Roma e Suburbio, Vol. I, 

"La Zona Archeologica." Rome, 1930 


[WORD may be appropriate explain- 

ing the method which I have adopted 

f:ri |in editing this book before the im- 
mediate subject of sources is ap- 
proached. First of all, M. Carcopino 
^5|l granted me generous permission to 
settle all matters pertaining to the 
present English edition without fur- 
ther consultation. I take this occa- 
sion to express publicly my apprecia- 
tion of his confidence, and accept, at 
the same time, full responsibility for the form in which the book 
now appears. 

Comparison with the original French edition will show the 
changes which have been made. They consist chiefly in additions. 
The notes have been greatly augmented, illustrations, which were 
entirely lacking in the original, have been added, and M. Car- 
copino's short bibliographical introduction has been expanded into 
the present chapter. In carrying out the work which these addi- 
tions entailed, I have kept one purpose uppermost in mind: to 
make the book as a whole more useful to lay reader and classical 
scholar alike, while respecting the author's views and interpreta- 
tions of the evidence. Hence, the alterations in the text have been 
made chiefly to present more complete and precise descriptions of 
the matters discussed, and the conclusions drawn from the data 
by M. Carcopino have remained virtually untouched. In some 
cases, I should have preferred to consult M. Carcopino with re- 
gard to a few of the changes before undertaking them, but the 
circumstances under which the revision was made did not allow 
lengthy or swift correspondence. 

With regard to the notes, they consist of references to the an- 
cient sources and to modern books and articles dealing in a com- 
prehensive way with matters discussed in the text. Wherever in 


the text direct reference is made to an ancient source, the docu- 
ment is cited. On the other hand, where a problem is involved 
depending on a large mass of scattered evidence which must be 
carefully analysed and combined in order to reach valid conclu- 
sions of a general nature, it seemed best to cite a book or article 
in which the complete evidence had been so handled by a compe- 
tent scholar. Needless to say, I have attempted to cite the most 
recent studies of the subjects in question, especially those which 
contain a bibliography of earlier works and an evaluation of the 
conclusions reached therein. It will seem in some cases that the 
point of view expressed in the works which I have cited differs 
from that of M. Carcopino, but this, of course, is the unavoidable 
result of evidence which is often fragmentary or contradictory 
and which must be interpreted necessarily with a certain amount 
of hypothesis. 

To begin with the information given us by the ancient authors, 
classical literature, both Greek and Roman, has long been thor- 
oughly examined for references to all the different aspects of 
Roman daily life, from such purely material objects as clothes and 
furniture to the customs and institutions which governed the 
Roman in his relation with his fellow individuals and with society 
as a whole. From the time of Trajan we have the Satires of Juve- 
nal, the Epigrams of Martial, and the Letters of Pliny the 
Younger as our most important sources of information. But earlier 
and later authors supply us with many details from their own 
times which we may apply safely to the period with which this 
book is primarily concerned. Of these, Petronius and Seneca, 
both of whom wrote in the reign of Nero, deserve particular men- 
tion, the former for the realistic picture which he paints of the 
lower strata of Roman society, the latter for his many allusions 
to the life led in the circle in which he moved the circle of the 
court and the nobility. Furthermore, the distinctly biographical 
character of the history written by the Roman historians of the 
empire especially Suetonius and the later writers known collec- 
tively as the Script ores Historiae August ae makes their works a 
far richer source with regard to daily life and manners than we 
might expect from historians inspired by a more profound and 
philosophical concept of their task. All in all, then, although they 
often fail us, our literary documents must be the starting point 
for any serious study of daily life in ancient Rome. 


With the authors, moreover, we must also consider the informa- 
tion conveyed by documents incised or engraved on stone or metal. 
The information afforded by inscriptions is particularly valuable 
in the field covered by this book. Many of its aspects could not 
have been discussed in more than a cursory manner had not 
inscriptions furnished the details. Whether in treating the racial 
composition of the population of Rome, the constitution of a 
guild or religious sect, or the regulations governing the use of 
vehicles within city limits, the most reliable information will be 
found preserved on stone or bronze and in many cases it will be 
the only information available. 

Furthermore, we cannot even afford to neglect the simple epi- 
taph of a few lines. Whereas the literary text is apt to give us 
general information about social customs and the behaviour of 
the individual, the epigraphical document almost always fur- 
nishes a fact or facts, even if it is no more than the name given 
a man who exercises a certain trade, the age at which a girl 
married, or the street in which a certain product was sold. It can 
readily be seen that when thousands of these inscriptions have 
been divided into categories and compared, even the shortest and 
least informative, when viewed by itself, has contributed to a 
statistical piece of information which could not have been ob- 
tained through any other source. 

Finally, our epigraphical material is continually increasing as 
excavations bring new inscriptions to light, while it is only 
through new interpretations or combinations of well-known liter- 
ary passages that the authors can be made to throw new light on 
the field. 

Like the epigraphical material, the archaeological is constantly 
growing and for the same reason. The monuments uncovered in 
all parts of the Roman Empire, from the Rhine to the Euphrates 
and the Sahara to the Black Sea, both illuminate and are illu- 
minated by literary texts and inscriptions. For our immediate 
subject, the life lived by the Roman in Rome, the remains and 
excavations of the city proper, together with those of the Italian 
towns of Pompeii, Ostia, and Herculaneum, are natujally of the 
greatest importance. Much of ancient imperial Rome has sur- 
vived in the Rome of the new Italian Empire and we can see 
today with our own eyes many of the buildings which were fa- 
miliar to the ancient citizen. In other words, the remains of Rome 


give us an adequate conception of the public background against 
which the Roman moved. 

But Rome, which since the days of the old republic has been 
of such vital importance, for spiritual or material reasons, to the 
development of Western civilization, tells us less archaeologically 
about the private life of her citizens under the empire. When 
many of the most splendid and impressive public monuments of 
the ancient city perished utterly, it could hardly be expected that 
dwelling houses would survive the building and rebuilding of some 
two thousand years. Thus, although we have remains of dwelling 
houses, either buried under later construction or unearthed by 
excavation, these remains are scanty in comparison with those of 
ancient Ostia. 

As a suburb of Rome whose history ended with classical an- 
tiquity, Ostia gives us a clear conception of how people were 
housed in the Rome of the empire. As M. Carcopino has pointed 
out in the text, a serious mistake prevailed among classical schol- 
ars for many years, in that the Pompeian private house or domus 
was assumed to have been as typical of Rome as it was of Pom- 
peii. The unearthing of Ostia has shown up the mistake and the 
apartment house or instda which is barely mentioned in the manu- 
als of twenty years ago is receiving by now the attention it de- 
serves as the most important type of dwelling in the city. 

This does not mean, however, that we can dispense with Pom- 
peii and Herculaneum in reconstructing daily life in Rome. The 
most abundant and illuminating supply of the household objects 
used in Italy under the early empire has come from the ruins of 
Pompeii, and now that excavations have been resumed at Her- 
culaneum, we may expect a substantial increase in our knowledge 
of instrumenta domestica. Moreover, we need not assume that the 
same wide divergence existed between the household objects of 
Pompeii and those of Rome as existed between housing condi- 
tions in the two cities. The problem of sheltering masses of peo- 
ple varying in size within given localities is vitally affected in its 
solution by a number of factors, economic, geographic, and clim- 
atic, which do not apply with the same force to the cultural 
implements used within different groups of a society which enjoys 
fundamentally the same cultural patterns throughout. This was 
as true of antiquity as it is of modern times and as the same 
basic forms of household implements prevail among us, whether 


in the metropolis or the country town, so may we use the furnish- 
ings of the Pompeian house to reconstruct the private background 
of the Roman of Rome. 

To summarize, then, no complete or relatively complete picture 
of Roman life in the city of Rome under the empire can be pieced 
together without combining the information provided by the three 
fields of literature, epigraphy, and archaeology. Preference must 
be given, wherever possible, to material which is directly con- 
nected with the city: inscriptions and monuments from Rome and 
literary references which mention life in the city specifically. 
Where these fail us, we must have recourse to the smaller Italian 
towns. But we must here remember to exercise discrimination and 
to select the kind of material which appears applicable to the 
larger city not only on the basis of its intrinsic character but also 
with regard to the local peculiarities of its place of origin. 

It is not the purpose of this chapter to give a comprehensive 
list of modern works dealing with the various aspects of Rome 
and Roman life treated in this book. Pertinent discussions are 
cited in the notes at the appropriate place where the nature of 
their connection with the subject under discussion is easily under- 
stood something which cannot always be deduced from the mere 
citation of a book or article in a bibliographical list. 

There are certain books, however, of a general nature to which 
the author and editor are particularly indebted and wish to 
acknowledge their debt. They are works which deserve to be 
recommended to all those who may care to undertake further 
study or reading in the field. Although frequently cited and well 
known to the classical scholar, a few words about them may be 
of interest from the point of view from which the present book 
was written. 

The two great classical encyclopaedias 

PAULY-WISSOWA-KROLL: Real-Encyclopadie der classischen Alter- 

DAREMBERG-SAGLIO: Dictionnaire des antiquitls grecques et romaines 

will be found as indispensable for work in the field of Roman 
daily life as in any other aspect of Classical Antiquity. M. Car- 
copino in his bibliographical note to the French edition, freely 
admits his great indebtedness to the Dictionnaire and for that 


reason, I have seen fit to cite it more often in the notes than the 
Real-Encyclopadie. In all cases I have compared the correspond- 
ing articles in both publications, and where they "have seemed 
equally reliable and complete I have not burdened the notes with 
a double reference. On the other hand, in cases where the German 
work seemed superior, either in the material collected or its inter- 
pretation, I have not hesitated to refer to both works, or in cases 
where the French work was plainly incorrect or antiquated, to 
the German work alone. In this connection, it will be noted that 
most of the articles cited from the Real-Encyclopadie are of fairly 
recent date. 

Among genetal works on Roman daily life, there are two man- 
uals which are outstanding as compilations of factual informa- 

J. MARQUANDT: Das Privatleben der Romer (2nd ed. by A. Mau, 

Leipzig, 1886). 
H. BLUMNER: Die romischen Privat-Altertiimer (Munich, 1911). 

Both authors have made a thorough examination of classical liter- 
ature for information pertaining to their subject, and their docu- 
mentation, so far as written evidence is concerned, leaves little 
or nothing to be desired. From our present point of view, archae- 
ology and epigraphy are somewhat slighted, but it must be remem- 
bered that material in both these fields has increased vastly within 
recent years and that with the increase has come both a keener 
realization of the importance of such material and a greater knowl- 
edge of , how to use it. Both authors confine themselves strictly to 
facts and ignore the social and philosophical implications of the 
customs and institutions which they describe; but as source-books 
their works remain invaluable. 
Of a somewhat different nature is 

L. Friedlaender, Darstellungen aus der Sittengeschichte Roms (loth 
edition by Georg Wissowa, Leipzig, 1922; English translation 
from the yth German edition by J. H. Freese and L. A. Magnus, 
London, 1908-13). 

Friedlaender, whose enormous learning in the field is also pre- 
served in a series of brilliant commentaries to Juvenal, Martial, 


and Petronius, presents a number of comprehensive monographs 
in book form on different manifestations of Roman life under the 
empire. The documentation is complete and many subjects are 
treated which are fascinating in themselves and exceptional 
enough not to have found a place in the general manuals which 
deal with customs and institutions common to the average Roman 
sight-seeing and tourist travel, for instance, or the ways in 
which the very wealthy managed to spend their money. What is 
more, Friedlaender does not hesitate to draw instructive com- 
parisons between Roman and later times, which in many cases has 
a salutory effect on traditional judgments, which were first made, 
as it would seem, in vacuo, and thence kept inviolate from any 
healthy light which comparison might have cast upon them. 
Finally, we must turn to 

SAMUEL DILL: Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius (Lon- 
don, 1925) 

for a general exposition and estimate of what was thought and 
felt in Rome during this period. While admitting the unadulter- 
ated materialism which strikes us forcibly in our chief literary 
sources, we must recognize at the same time that religious and 
philosophic trends were in motion which were not only of over- 
whelming importance for the future history of Western civiliza- 
tion, but part also of the "mentality" of anyone who lived among 
them, whether he was conscious of them or not. For the influence 
on the Roman mind of religion, both traditional and Oriental, 
superstition, and philosophy in the period with which this book 
deals, the book of Dill is to be highly recommended. 

These general books, however, fail us in one regard: they tell 
very little about the city of Rome as the physical milieu of its 
inhabitants, and we must turn to a different type of work for this 

The archaeological remains of ancient Rome are bewildering 
in their magnitude and complexity. Innumerable articles and 
monographs have been published dealing with individual monu- 
ments or the problems which they present and this material is 
widely scattered in the many journals devoted to the study of 
classical antiquity. Fortunately the greater part of this material 
was gathered together and summarized within recent years by 


Samuel Ball Plainer, whose unfinished manuscript was completed, 
revised, and published by Thomas Ashby in 

A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (Oxford, 1929). 

The work is arranged alphabetically. Under each heading the 
description and history of the monument in question are given, 
based upon the complete ancient evidence, existing remains, and 
scholarly reconstruction. With regard to modern works, reference 
is made not only to specialized articles, but also to the books and 
manuals in which the monument is discussed. The bibliography 
is remarkably complete and as one eminent topographer has 
stated, the book constitutes a new foundation for all discussion 
of ancient Rome. 

Of a somewhat different character are the three volumes of 
Giuseppe Lugli, 

/ Monumenti Antichi di Roma e Suburbio (Rome, 1930, 1934, and 

The first volume represents a second, revised edition of Professor 
Lugli's La zona archeologica di Roma which appeared in 1925. 
The work is written for the general reader by an expert, whose 
more specialized investigations in the field are well known to the 
student of Roman archaeology. The first volume deals with the 
section of Rome which contains the most important remains of 
the ancient city which lie on or about the Capitoline and Palatine 
hills and extend to the Tiber at the jorum Holitorium and the 
jorum Boarium and to the southern outskirts of the city along 
the Appian Way. The second volume takes up the monuments 
which can be treated as types better than topographically. A 
prefatory chapter gives a history of Roman building activities 
from the period of the kings to the first barbarian invasions. This 
is followed by chapters on the city walls, fountains, bridges, aque- 
ducts, etc. The topographical method is adopted again in the 
third volume which covers the parts of Rome not described in the 
first. These are chiefly the campus Martius, the remaining hills, 
and the region across the Tiber. 

On the whole the documentation is thin and the work must be 
used with some caution. But the opinions of a scholar of Lugli's 
experience and eminence deserve careful consideration and his 


work should be used 'in connection with the more factual and 
conservative dictionary of Platner-Ashby. 

In the text of this book, mention is found of two important 
sources of information which need a separate word of explanation. 
One is the 

Forma Urbis Romae. 

At the beginning of the third century A.D., a marble plan of 
the city of Rome was affixed to the north wall of the templum 
sacrae urbis which faced the Forum of Vespasian. The temple 
had burned down in 191 A.D. and been restored by the Emperor 
Septimius Severus. It is probable, although direct evidence is 
lacking, that an earlier plan was set up in the same place by Ves- 
pasian when he built the original temple. This plan may have 
served as a model for the one erected by Severus and his son 
Caracalla, but contemporary allusions in the later plan prove 
that it was more than a servile copy of its predecessor. 

Since the middle of the sixteenth century, many fragments have 
been found. All those which had come to light by 1874 were col- 
lected and published with an exhaustive commentary by 

H. JORDAN: Forma Urbis Romae (Berlin, 1874). 

New fragments, however, have since been discovered and a much 
needed new edition has been promised. At present all extant frag- 
ments are being studied and pieced together in the Antiquarium 
Comunale at Rome. On the Forma, beside Jordan's work cited 
above, see 

O. RICHTER: Topographic von Rom (2nd ed., Berlin, 1901) 1-8. 
G. LUGLI: RAP XIII (1937) 86, n. 27. 

The Regionaries 

The Regionaries are two descriptions of the city of Rome 
according to the fourteen administrative regions into which it was 
divided by Augustus. One is called the Curio sum, a name found 
in the oldest manuscripts, the other the Notitia, a name given it 
in the Renaissance. They both derive from a common original, 


now lost, which appears to have been cotnpiled in the reign of 
Constantine between the years 312 and 315 A.D. It is likely that 
the compiler of the original drew upon an earlier description of 
the city written under Diocletian. The view is generally accepted 
that the Notitia, as it has come down to us, was written after 
334 A.D. and before 357 A.D. while the Curiosum falls within the 
period extending from 357 A.D. to the reign of Hbnorius. The 
failure of both documents to mention any Christian monument is 
striking and makes a date later than the fourth century rather 

Both Regionaries are divided into three parts. The first con- 
tains a list of the most important monuments by regions, begin- 
ning with the first and continuing through the fourteenth. At the 
end of each regionary section, the number of private houses, 
apartment houses, public fountains, etc., within the pertinent re- 
gion is given. 

The second section contain^ a list of monuments by categories. 
It gives the number of libraries and the height and location of the 
obelisks in Rome. These are followed by the number and names 
of the bridges, hills, campi, fora, basilicae, public baths, aque- 
ducts, and roads. 

The last part is a breviarium or summary in which the sum 
total is given for the monuments already enumerated region by 
region, in the first part, with the notable addition of certain groups 
previously omitted. 

The Regionaries were used as a source by the author of an 
ecclesiastical history from Constantine to Justinian. The work, 
written in Syrian, is commonly attributed to Zacharias of Myte- 
lene and one of the books now lost contained a description of 
Rome which has survived as an excerpt. 

On the Regionaries, see 

L. PRELLER: Die Regionen der Stadt Rom (Jena, 1846). 

H. JORDAN: Topographic der Stadt Rom II (Berlin, 1871) 1-236; 


O. RICHTER: Topographic von. Rom, 6-9; 371-389. 

The text is also printed in 
L. URLICHS: Codex Urbis Romae Topograpkicus, 1-27. 


On Zacharias, see 
JORDAN: op. cit. 149-152; 174-178. 
Translations of the Syrian text are given in 

H. JORDAN: op. cit. 575-577 (Latin). 

F. G. HAMILTON, E. W. BRADY: The Syriac Chronkle Known as 
That of Zachariah of Mytelene (London, 1899) 317-319 (Eng- 

Ostia and Roman Housing 

I have mentioned above the importance of Ostia for our knowl- 
edge of housing conditions in ancient Rome. For a selected 
bibliography on Ostia in general, we have 

A. W. VAN BUREN: A Bibliographical Guide to Latium and Southern 
Etruria (4th ed., Rome, 1938) 31. 

Of the more recent discussions of Roman housing, the follow- 
ing is a selected list of those which have seemed most pertinent. 

A. MAIURI: Atti I CNSR VII (1929) 161-172 

A. BOETHIUS: Skrifter II (1932) 84-97 

R. C. CARRINGTON: Antiquity VII (1933) I 33~ I 5 2 

A. BOETHIUS: AJA XXVIII (1934) 158-170 

P. HARSH: MAAR XII (1935) 7-66 

A. BOETHIUS: Skrifter IV (1935) 164-195 

A. BOETHIUS: Scritti in onore di B. Nogara 21-31 (1937) 

G. LUGLI: RAP XIII (1937) 73-98 

Pompeii and Herculaneum 

With regard to the antiquities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, 
we are fortunate in having a recent edition of 

A. W. VAN BUREN: A Companion to the Study of Pompeii and Her- 
culaneum (2nd ed., Rome, 1938). 

In dealing with Pompeii, the author has divided his work into 
sections covering the various aspects of the city and its life. The 
ancient evidence, literary or epigraphical, is cited and reference 


is made to the latest books or articles devoted to the subject under 
discussion. To the general bibliography on page 13, I would add 

HELEN H. TANZER, The Common People of Pompeii (Baltimore, 

This book, by presenting a well-documented picture of daily life 
in Pompeii, invites a comparison between the business and social 
activities of a relatively small Italian town and those of the city 
of Rome as described by M. Carcopino. It also contains an excel- 
lent bibliography. 

To Professor Van Buren's bibliography of Herculaneum on 
page 36, we may add two articles. 

H. MARROU: Annales de l'cole des Hautes Etudes de Gand I (1937) 

R. HORN: Die Antike XIV (1938) 355-366. 

Both of these works pretend to be no more than general surveys, 
but they are particularly welcome in view of the dearth of detailed 
technical reports on the discoveries of recent years. 

Finally, the latest archaeological publications on Rome, Ostia, 
Pompeii, and Herculaneum can be found most conveniently in the 

Bibliographic zum Jahrbuch des deutschen archdologischen Instituts. 

This is an annual publication, the second section of which is 
organized topographically so that the books and articles pertain- 
ing to a given locality are gathered together under the appropri- 
ate place name. 




i. Juvenal, u, 78-79. 



1. On the Forum of Trajan, see PA 237-245; ZA 58-85; Paribeni, Optimus 
Princeps II 65-100; and Ricci-Colini-Mariani, Via dett' impero (No. 24 of the 
Itinerari dei musei e monwncnti d' Italia} 122-130. The plan is given opposite p. 4. 

2. This information is contained in a recently found fragment of the "Fasti 
Ostienses," Ann. epigr. 1933, No. 30, 11. 54-56. It covers events from 108 to 113 A.D. 
The more important commentaries are those of Calza, NS 1932, 188-202; Car- 
copino, CRA1 1932, 363-381; Huelsen, RhM. LXXXII (1933) 362-380; and Groag, 
JO A XXIX (1935), Beiblatt 177-204. On the gladiatorial games mentioned in this 
fragment, see Degrassi, RAP XII (1936) 183-184. 

3. The most recent publication of the column is that of K. Lehmann-Hartleben, 
Die Trajansaulc (1926), with 73 photographic plates. The author is primarily inter- 
ested in the monument as a work of art. For its value as an historical document, 
see the earlier publications of C. Cichorius, Die Reliefs der Traiansdvle (volumes II 
and III of the text refer to volumes I and II of the plates, respectively), and E. 
Petersen, Trajan's dakischc Kriege nock dem Saulenrelief endklt. 

4. On Trajan's burial within the pomerium reported by Eutropius, VIII 5, 2, 
see the views of Labrousse (Mel. LIV [1937] 191-192) which reaffirm the validity 
of the ancient source. 

5. CIL V 960; cf. 959. The many interpretations of this text in connection with 
Dio's notice, LXVIII 16, 3, are summarized by Lehmann-Hartleben, op. cit. 4-7. 

6. The final official publication of the market has not yet appeared. A monograph 
by Ricci, // Mercato di Traiano (Rome, 1929), is summarized in Capitottum V 
(1929) 541-555. See also Ricci-Colini-Mariani, Via dett' impero 1x5-120. For other 
discussions, mostly of a popular nature, see the Bibliography in BC LXI (1933) 

7. See Boethius, Roma IX (1931) 446-454- 

8. Amm. XVI 10, 15. 

9. The wealth furnished the empire by the conquest of Datia has been discussed 
in detail by Carcopino, Dacia I (1924) 28-34. Some of his views have been attacked 
by Syme, JRS XX (1930) 53~7o, and accepted by Degrassi, RAP XII (1936) 182. 

10. Marrou, Mel. XLIX (1932) 93-110. 

zi. This interpretation was first advanced in detail by Theodor Birt, Die Buck- ' 
rotte in der Kunst 269-282; cf. RhM LXIII (1908) 39-57. But see Lehmann- 
Hartleben, op. tit. 3. 

12. Lehmann-Hartleben, op. cit. pi. XXXVH. 


13. On Trajan's public works apart from the Forum, see Paribeni, op. tit. II 

14. Lipsius, De Magnitudine Romana III 3. 

15. Bureau de la Malic, conomie poUtique des Remains I 340-408. 

16. Lot, La fin du monde antique 80. 

17. On the pomerium and its extension, there are two detailed discussions of 
recent date: J. Oliver, MAAR X (1932) 145-182 and M. Labrousse, Mil. LIV 
d937) 165-199; cf. PA 392-396. 

18. G. Saefiund's masterful work on the Servian Wall, Le mura di Roma reppub- 
Ucana (Lund, 1932), supersedes all previous discussions. 

19. Orosius, V 18, 27. This notice probably has nothing to do with Sulla's exten- 
sion of the pomerium attested by Gellius, XIII 14, 4; Seneca, Brev. Vit. 13, 8; and 
Tacitus, Ann. XII 23. 

20. CIL I 206, 11. 20; 24; 50. 

21. See F. Clemuti, Roma imperiale nette XIV regioni Augustee; PA 444-447; 
and under Regionaries in chapter on Sources. 

22. Res Gestae, 13. 

23. The latest comprehensive discussion of the Aurelian Wall is I. Richmond, 
The City Watt of Imperial Rome (Oxford, 1930). 

24. A. Blanchet, Les enceintes de la Gaule romaine. 

25. For the extent of the city beyond the Aurelian Wall, see the figure in PA 
394 and the discussion of the several regions, ibid. 445-447. 

26. Paulus, Digest L 16, 2: " t Urbis t appelatio muris f 'Romae' autem continentibus 
aedtficus finitur, quod latins patet"; cf. ibid. 87; 147. Also Macer, ibid. 154: "Mtile 
passus non a miUario urbis t sed a continentibus aedificus numerandi sunt." 

27. On the religious significance of this institution, see L. R. Taylor, The Divinity 
of the Roman Emperor 184-190. 

28. Pliny, NH III 66. 

29. For the Regionaries, see chapter on Sources. The number 307 for the vici is 
the sum total of the vici given region by region, a figure more reliable than the 324 
given by the breviarium of the Curio sum and Zacharias. Even so, our manuscript 
tradition does not allow exact numbers. Cf. Calza's table, RL XVI (1917) 67, where 
the total is given as 305. 

30. The numbers varied from time to time, but it is dear that Caesar, at the 
end of his reign, reduced the number of those on the corn-dole to 150,000 (Sue- 
tonius, Julius 41; cf. Dio, XLIII ax, 4. Plutarch, Caesar 55, 3 and Livy, Epit. 115, 
confuse this dole list with the complete population) . The distributions of Augustus, 
usually affecting over 250,000 citizens, went as high as 320,000 in 5 B.C. (Res Gestae 
15), but the one provided by his will sank to 150,000 (Suetonius, Augustus 101; 
Tacitus, Ann. I 8; Dio, LVII 14, 2). In general, see Kahrstedt, SG IV 10-21, who 
discusses Beloch's conclusions, Die Bevottverung der griechisch-romischen Welt 
39^-4x2. On the class of citizens who received Augustus' donations, see Ensslin, 
RhM LXXXI (1932) 345-350. 

31. Dio, LXXVI i, x, speaks of 200,000 men including the troops in Rome. These 
last may be estimated at 25,000 and must be subtracted from the whole as not 
belonging to the civil population. 

32. Carcopino, Roma XVI (1938) 493-498. 

33- Eusebius, Ckron. II p. 133 ed. Schoene. 

34- The scholiast on Lucan (PharsaUa I 319 = IH P- 53 ed. Weber) says that 
Rome needed 80,000 modn of grain per day (29,200,000 m. per year). Assuming a 
consumption of 5 mod* per month per person or 60 modu per year, we arrive at a 
figure (486,666) slightly higher than the one given in the text. 

35- Cicero, Verr. II 3, 72. He speaks of 33,000 medimni (198,000 modn) as a 

NOTES 291 

month's supply for the plebs Roman*. At 5 modn per month per individual, we 
get a little under 40,000 people. 

36. See n. 30 above. 

37. Suetonius, Julius 41. * 

38. Aurelius Victor, Epitome I 5-6; Josephus, BeUum ludaeicum H 383-386. On 
the relation of grain consumption to the population, see Gates, Class. Phil. XXIX 
(1934) 101-116. 

39. Res Gestae 15. 

40. Cuq, MAI XI (1915) 2797335- 

41. Lot, La fin du monde antique 80; 85. 

42. Suetonius, Julius 41. 

43. Tacitus, Ann. XV, 41. 

44. SHA Pius 9, i. 

45. Dates, op. cit. (see n. 38 above) reaches the figure 1,250,000 for the Augustan 

46. Martial, XII 8, 1-2. 


z. On Roman housing in general, see chapter on Sources. 

2. Carcopino, Mel. XXX (1910) 397-446. 

3. On Ostia in general, see chapter on Sources. 

4. See pp. 6-7 above. 

5. Munoz, CampidogUo (1930) 45-52; MAAR XII (1935) 61. 

6. AJA XXXI (1927) 406-410; ZA 402. 

7. NS 1917, 9-20. 

8. PA 156-158; Z<A 260-279. - 

9. MAAR XII (1935) 29-30. 

10. On the Forma Urbis Romae, see chapter on Sources, 
xi. Livy, XXI 62. 

12. Cicero, De Leg. Agr. II 96. 

13. Vitruvius, II 8, 17. 

14. Strabo, V 3, 7. 

15. Ibid. XVI 2, 23. 

16. Juvenal, 3, 190-196. 

17. Gellius, XV i, 2. 

18. Aristides, Or XIV p. 324 ed. Dindorf. 

19. Aurelius Victor, Ep. 13, 13; cf. Digest XXXIX i, i, 17. 

20. Tertullian, Adv. Vol. 7. 

21. Martial lived on the Quirinal ad pirum (I 117, 6) near the temple of Flora 
(V 22, 4; VI 27, 1-2) in a rented apartment (I 108, 3). Later, he acquired a 
house (IX 97, 8), also on the Quirinal (X 58, xo). 

22. Juvenal, 3, 108-202. 

23. In CIL IV, 138, the following parts of the insula Arriana Polliana at Pompeii 
are offered for rent: "tabernae cum pergulis suis et cenacula equestria et domus"; 
cf. ibid. 1136. 

24. Cicero, Pro Marco Caetio 7. 

25. For a unit composed of shop and living apartment, see Digest XXXIII 7, 7 ; 
cf. L 16, 183. 

26. Digest XII 2, 9; XIII 7, n, 5. On the renting of houses and apartments, see 
Herdlitczka, RE, Suppl. VI 385-3*7; Genco and Massano, Atti III CNSR 1 (1935) 


27. Cicero, Ear. Resp. 49; Vefldus, II 77 (cf. Dio, XLVHI 38); Suetonius, 
T. 15. 

28. Suetonius, Julius 46. 

29. On the korti Maecenatis, see 'PA 269. 

30. Pofflo: Frontinus, De Aquaeductibus 21; Sura: Martial, VI 64, 13; cf. Merlin, 
L'Aventin dans I'antiqvM 327 ; 332 ; 341-342. 

31. Flavius Sabinus, CIL VI 29788; Martial, see n. 21 above. 

32. SHA Commodus 16, 3; Pertinax 5, 7; cf. Dio, LXXII 22, 2. 

33. On the Nova Urbs which was built after the fire of 64 A.D., see Boethius, 
Skrifter II (1932) 84-97; Lugli, RAP XIII (1937) 83-93. 

34. Martial, I 108; IV 64; cf. VII 17. 

35* Boethius in Scritti m onore di B. No gar a 21-32; cf. Calza, "Le origin! latine 
dell' abitarione moderna," Architettura e arti decorative III (1923). 

36. Pliny, NH XIX 59; cf. Martial, XI 18. 

37. Augustine, Confessiones IX 23. 

38. Petronius, 60. 

39. Pliny, Nff XXXIII 57- 

40. Calza, RL XXV (1917) 75, followed by Lugli, RAP XIII (1937) 97, assumes 
an average area of 200 square meters per insula. 

41. Vitruvius, II 8, 17. 

42. Juvenal, 3, 190-196. 

43. Digest XIX 2, 3; cf. n. 26 above. 

44. Plutarch, Crassus 2, 5. 

45. On the vigilcs, see P. K. B. Reynolds, The Vigil* s of Imperial Rome. 
, 46. Juvenal, 14, 305-308. 

' 47- Ibid. 3, 199-207. 

48. Ibid. 197-198. 

49. Digest I 15, 2. 

50. Juvenal, 3, 198-199; cf. Martial, XII 32. 

51. N. 46 above. 

5^. Cf. Caroline L. Ransom, Couches and Beds of the Greeks, Etruscans and 
Romans, and Gisela M. A. Richter, Ancient Furniture 130-135. 

53. Richter, op. cit. 137-142. 

54. Ibid. 119-124; 127-129. 
55- Juvenal,. 6, 91. 

56. Seneca, De Clementia I 9, 7. 

57. Pliny, Ep. H 17, ax; cf. VII 21, 2. 

58. Juvenal, 7, 203; Martial, I 76, 14; Seneca, Dial. X xo, x. 

59. Henzen, Ada Fratrum Arvalium p. 14. 

60. Richter, op. cit. 125-127. 
6x. Martial, Vn 53; cf. II 44. 

62. On the silver vessels with gold rims (ckrysendeta) t see Martial, II 43, n; 
VI 94, x; XI 29, 7; XIV 97. 

63. Mau-Kelsey, Pompeii 202 ; 204. In general, see Chipiez in DS II 1035-1040. 
Window-panes, which were comparatively rare in Italy, were quite common in 
the villae of Gaul; Cumont, Comment la Belgique fut romanisSe 44, n. 3. 

64. Pliny, Ep. DC 36, x; cf. VI 21, 2. 

65. On heating arrangements, see Thldenat, DS III 345-350. 

66. Via deW impero 40. 

67. On stoves and braziers, see Gachon, DS II 1194-1197. 

68. Frontinus, De Aquaeductibus 65-73; cf. the table in Ashby, Aqueducts of 
Ancient Rome 30. The Tepula, then fed from other aqueducts, and the Traiana, 
not opened until 109 AJD. f are not included in the estimate. 

NOTES 293 

69. The date is given in the "Fasti Ostienses," Ann. ipigr. IQ33, No. 30, 11. 11-12. 
On the aqueduct, Ashby, op. til. 298-307. 

70. Frontinus, op. cit. 103; 105. 

71. Ibid. 108-109. 

72. Martial, IX 17, 5-6. 

73. Juvenal, 6, 332. 

74. Paulus, Sententiae III 6, 58; cf. Digest XXXIII 7, 12, 42. 
7$. Digest I 15, 3, 5- 

76. Pliny, NH XXXVI 104-108. 

77. On the Cloaca Maxima, PA 126-127. 

78. MAAR XII (1935) 25. 

79. DS III 988. 

80. Suetonius, Vespasian 23. 

81. On public latrines in general, see SG IV 310-311. 

82. See n. 66 above. 

83. Martial, XI 77, 1-3. 

84. In this connection, we may recall the amusing frescoes recently discovered 
in Ostia (Calza, Die Antike XV [1939] 99-"5)- On the goddess Fortuna, see Car- 
copino, Journal des savants (1911) 456-457. 

85. A. Ballu, Lcs ruines de Timgad I 112-114. 

86. See the description in DS III 988. 

87. Suetonius, Vespasian 23. 

88. Attested for the Insula Sertoriana; CIL VI 29791. 

89. Livy, XXXIX 44 5. 

90. Lucretius, IV 1026. 

91. Juvenal, 6, 602, On abandoning babies there, see Carcopino, Memoires de la 
Societe des Antiquaires LXXVII (1928) 58-86, esp. 76-85; cf. Cumont, gyptc des 
astrologues 187, n. i. 

92. Juvenal, 3, 269-272. 

93. Digest IX 3, 5, x-a. 

94. Ibid. 3, 5, 7. 

95. Diodorus, XXXI 18, 2. 

96. Juvenal, 3, 223-225. 

97. Petronius, 95. 

98. Ibid. 98. 

99- Pliny, NH III 66. 

100. Ibid. 67. 

101. Tacitus, Ann. XV 38; 43. 

102. See n. 33 above. 

103. On the terminology, see Chapot, DS V 781-783. 

104. On vici within the city, see Grenier, DS V 861-863. On the balconies, Codex 
Just. VIII 10, 12, sb. 

105. CIL r 593, 1. 54- 

106. Ibid. 11. 32-49. 

107. Varro, De Lingua Latina V 158. 

108. Martial, VII 61; Juvenal, 3, 247. 

109. Martial, VII 61. 

no. On the perils of the night at Rome, see Juvenal, 3, 268-314. 
in. Digest 1 15. 

112. Petronius, 79. 

113. On the congestion and noise of Rome, Juvenal, 3, 232-267; Martial, I 
41; XII 57; Seneca, De dementia 1 6, i. 

114. CIL r 593, 11. 56-67; cf. SG IV 22-25. 


1x5. See Cuq, DS U 1390. 

116. Suetonius, Claudius 25, 2. 

117. SHA Marcus 23, 8. 

1 1 8. Ibid. Hadrian, 22, 6. 

119. Juvenal, 3, 236-259; cf. Martial, Xn 57. 


x. On the honestiorcs and hum&ores, see Mommsea, Romisckes Strafrccht 1031- 


2. On the composition and the social and economic position of the equestrian 
order under the empire, see Arthur Stein, Der rom. Ritterstand (1927). especially 
chap. II, in, and VI. 

3. On the political career open to knights, see Hirschfeld, Die kaiscrlicken Vcr- 
waltungsbeamtcn* 4 x 1-465 . 

4. On the order and its qualifications, see O'Brien-Moore, J? Suppl. VI 760-766. 

5. Offices open to senatorial alone are summarized by O'Brien-Moore, ibid. 777- 

6. On such titles, see Hirschfeld, Kleine Sckriftcn 647-655; cf. SG IV 77-81. 

7. Suetonius, Domitian 13 ; cf. Aurelius Victor, Caesares xi, 2 ; Pliny, Panegyricus 
45J 55 J Martial, X 72, 3-4. 

8. Tacitus, Hist. I 4- 

9. On the propagation of Roman citizenship, under the empire, see the recent 
book of A. N. Sherwin-White, The Roman Citizenship 167-227. 

xo. Juvenal, 3, 62-65; cf." Seneca, Ad Helviam 6. 

xi. See the recent discussion of his life by G. Highet, TAJPA LXVIII (1937) 

12. Martial, IV 45; I 49; 61; X 103; 104. On Martial's home in Rome, see 
chap. H, n. 21. 

13. On Pliny and Como, see Mommsen, &tude sur Pline le Jeune 74-77. 

14. On the origin of senators under Trajan, see P. Lambrechts, L'AntiqviU clas- 
sique V (1936) 105-1x4; under later emperors, the same author's La composition 
du senat romain de V accession au trdne d'Hadrien a la mort de Commode. 

15. SHA Severus 19. 

16. See the analysis of the evidence by Jotham Johnson, Excavations at Min- 
turnae; II Inscriptions: part I 49-113. 

17. CIL XIV 21x2. 

18. Digest XLVIII 8, xx. 

19. Suetonius, Claudius 27; Digest XL 8, 2. 

20. Digest I i2, x. On Seneca's attitude toward slaves, see Ep. 47; Clem. 1 18; Ira 
III 35 ; Benef. HI x8. 

21. Suetonius, Domitian 7; cf. Digest XLVIII 8, 4, 6. 

22. SHA Hadrian 18, 7-8. 

23. Gaius, 1 53. 

24. Juvenal, 14, 126; x, 92; 6, 475-^4*4- 

25. Ibid, x, 92. 

26. Ibid. 6, 475-484. 

27. Ibid. 14, 15-22. 

28. Martial, VIII 23; I xox. 

29. Pliny, Ep. I 21, 2. 

30. Ibid. V 19, 6-4. 

31. Ibid. VIII x6. 

32. Ibid. I 4, 4- 

NOTES 295 

33. Ibid. 1 12, 7. 
34- Ibid. IX 36, 4- 

35. Ibid. Ill 14. 

36. Appian, B.C. II 120. 

37. On freedmen in general, see the comprehensive study of A. M. Duff, Freed- 
men in the Early Roman Empire. 

38. Suetonius, Augustus, 40; Dio, LV 13. The laws were the Fufia Caninia and 
the Aelia Sentia; cf. Duff, op. cit. 31-35. 

39. Gaius, I 29-320; cf. Duff, op. cit. 74-85. 

40. Frank, American Historical Review XXI (1916) 689-708. 

41. The evidence has been compiled by Stech, Klio Beiheft X (1912) 127-130. 

42. See chap. I, n. 9. 

43. On imperial slaves and freedmen, SG I 35-74. 

44. On the "cabinet/ 1 Hirschfeld, Verwaltungsbeamten 318-342. 

45. Suetonius, Domitian 14; Dio, LXXVII 15. 

46. On Hadrian's equestrian "cabinet," Hirschfeld, op. cit. 476-479. 

47. Juvenal, 3, 131-132. 

48. CIL VIII 10570; 14464. 

49. Martial, XIII 12, speaks of 300 modii of grain, presumably per annum. 
At 5 modii per month per person, we get a family of five people. 

50. Galen, De Affectuum Dignotione 20, 13 = V 49 Kuhn. 

51. Juvenal, 9, 140-141. 

52. Ibid. 14, 322-328. 

53. G. Billeter, Geschichte des Zinsfusses im griechisch-rotnischen Altertum 170- 

54. Martial, VII 73. 

55. Ibid. IV 37. 

56. Ibid. XII 10. 

57. Pliny, Ep. II 4, 3- 

58. Petronius, 71. 

59. See chap. I, n. 9. 

60. Juvenal, 3, 166-167; cf. 14, 126. 

61. Ibid. 9, 142-144. 

62. Martial, VII 53. 

63. Juvenal, 7, 141. 

64. Petronius, 47; cf. 37. 

65. See n. 38 above. 

66. Gaius, I 43. 

67. Pliny, NH XXXIII 135. 

68. Athenaeus, VI 272 e. 

69. PA 161-162. 

70. On the pay of these civil and military officials, see V. Domaszewski, Banner 
Jahrbucker CXVII (1908) HI; 1x8; 139; 141-169. 

71. Martial, V 56. 

72. Ibid. VI 8. 

73. Ibid. X 47. 


x. Gaius, III 17. On the patria potestas, see W. W. Buckland, A Text-Book of 
Roman Law 3 100-141, and the recent studies of Kaser, Zcitschrijt der Savigny 
Stiftung Rom. Abt. LVIII (1938) 62-87; 88-135. 

a. Buckland, op. dt. 372-374. 


3. Cicero, De Offices I 54. 

4. Dionysius, Ant. Rom. II 26-27; Gellius, V 19; Digest XXVIII 2, u. 

5. Digest XXV 3, 4- 

6. See chap. II, n. 91. 

7. Musonius, 158; cf. Powell, Archiv fur Papyrus] or schung XII (1937) 175-178. 

8. CIL XI 1147. See F. G. de Pachtere, La table hypotktcaire de Veleia; cf. 
Carcopino, Revue des etudes anciennes XXIII (1921) 287-303. 

9. Sallust, Catiline 39; Dio, XXXVII 36; Val. Max. V 8, 5. 

zo. Codex Justinianus 9, 17, i. But cf. Ulpian, Digest XLVIII 8, 2. 
u. Digest XLVIII 9, 5. 

12. Ibid. XXXVII 12, 5. 

13. Ibid. XLVIII 9, 5 (from the middle of the third century). 

14. Pliny, Ep. DC 12. 

15. Martial, III 10. 

16. Pliny, Ep. IV 2. 

17. On the different forms of marriage, see E. P. Corbett, The Roman Law of 
Marriage 68-106. 

1 8. Pliny, Ep. I 9. 

19. Pliny, NH XXXIII 28; Juvenal, 6, 25; Digest XXIV i, 36; cf. Corbett, 
op. cit. 1-23. 

20. Gellius, X 10. 

21. For detailed descriptions, see Bliimner, Romische Privat-Altertumer 349-361 ; 
or Leer wain, DS III 1655-58. On marriage and the gens, see Rose, The Roman 
Questions oj Plutarch, XX 101-108. 

22. Duchesne, Origines du culte Chretien 445. 

23. Lucan, Pkarsalia II 370-371. 

24. Gaius, I 144; cf. Cicero, Pro Murena 27. 

25. Gaius, I 173; Ulpian, Reg. XI 22. 

26. Gaius, I 145. 

27. Digest XXIII i, ii ; cf. L 17, 30. 

28. Cf. Favez, Butt. Soc. t. des Lettres de Lausanne (Oct. 1933) 1-9. 

29. SHA Hadrian n, 3. 

30. Tacitus, Ann. VI 29. 

31. Ibid. XV 62-64; cf. Carcopino, Points de vue sur I'impirialism r amain 

32. Pliny, Ep. HI 16. 

33. Ibid. VI 24. 

34. Martial, XI 53 (Rufina) ; IV 75 (Nigrina). 

35. Ibid. X 3 S; cf.38. 

36. Pliny, Ep. VIII 5. 

37. Ibid. IV 19. 

38. Ibid. VI 4; L 

39. Ibid. I 14. 

40. Ibid. IX 36. 

41. Ibid. VIII 10; u. 

42. Martial, XI 53. 

43. Ibid. X 63. 

44- Juvenal, 6, 39^-412. 

45. Ibid. 434-456. 

46. Pliny, Ep. I 16, 6. 

47. Juvenal, 6, 44&-45I- 

48. Ibid, i, 22-23 1 61-62 ; 6, 246-264. 

49. Petronius, 67; 70-76. 

NOTES 297 

50. Juvenal, 6, 300-305. 

51. Ibid. 42S~433. 

52. Ibid. 509. 

53. Ibid. 282-284. 

54. Pliny, Ep. VI 31. 

55. Juvenal, n, 185-189. 

56. On the Lex luUa de Adulteriis, see Corbett, The Roman Law of Marriage 
133-146, esp. 146. 

57. Cato in Gellius, X 23. 

58. Martial, VI 4. 

59. Juvenal, 2, 29-33. 

60. Dio, LXXVI 16, 4. 

61. On divorce in early Rome, see Corbett, op. cit. 218-228. 

62. Cicero, Philippics II 69 

63. Val. Max. II 9, 2. 

64. Ibid, i, 4; Gellius, X 15. 

65. Val. Max. V 3, 10-12. Of the names cited by Valerius, one is completely 
unknown (Antistius Vetus). The two others could belong to people of the second 
half of the third century B.C., if Valerius' source was the second decade of Livy, 
now lost. 

66. By the second century A.D., women had acquired the same privilege even in 
a marriage cum manu; Gaius, I 137 A. 

67. On the fifth marriage of Sulla, see Carcopino, Sylla ou la monarchic manquec 

6*8. Plutarch, Pompey 4; 10; cf Carcopino, op. cit. 190-191. 

69. Cf. Plutarch, Caesar 10, 6. 

70. Ibid., Cato Minor 36; 52. 

71. Ibid., Cictro 41; cf. Dio, XL VI 18, 3. 

72. Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum I 48; Pliny, NH VII 158. 

73. Dio, LIV 16; Suetonius, Augustus 34. 

74. The general conclusions are those of . Cuq, Les institutions juridiques des 
Romains 172. On the dowry, see Corbett, op. cit. 182-198. 

75. Horace, Odes III 24, 19. 

76. Paulus, Sent. II 2iB, 2; Justinian, Inst. II 8. 

77. Martial, V 61. 

78. Juvenal, 6, 212-213. 

79. Ibid. 460. 

80. Martial, VIII 12. 

81. Juvenal, 6, 142-148. 

82. Digest XXIV 2, 2, i. 

83. Juvenal, 6, 224-230. 

84. Martial, VI 7. 

85. Digest XXIV 3, 64. 

86. Ibid. I 61. 

87. Seneca, De BeneficUs III 16, 2. 

88. Juvenal, 6, 224. 

89. Martial, VI 7, 5. 


z. On concubinage in general, see J. Plassard, Le concubinat remain sous le ffaut 
Empire. For Marcus Aurelius, SHA Marcus 29, 10. Vespasian had already set a 
precedent for such behavior; Suetonius, Vespasian 3. 


2. Pliny, Ep. Ill 14, 3. 

3. Martial VI 71. 

4. Ibid. VII 64. 

5. Ibid. VI 39- 

6. Ibid. XII 58. 

7. Juvenal, 3, 65-66; Martial, I 34. 

8. Plutarch, Cato Motor 20. Cf. the example of Aemilius Paulus who was always 
present at the studies and exercises of his sons unless prevented by public business ; 
Plutarch, Aemilius 6. 

9. Pliny, Ep. VIII 14, 6. 

10. The three are mentioned together by Tacitus, Dialogus 28. On Cornelia, see 
also Plutarch, Gracchi i; Cicero, Brutus 104; 211; Quintilian, I i, 6. 

11. Such clubs are attested from the first to the fourth century; Suetonius, Galba 
5, i; Jerome, Ep. 43, 3; cf. CIL VI 997; XIV 2120. 

12. Pliny, Ep. VII 24. 

13. Tacitus, Dialogus 29. 

14. Quintilian, I i, 4. 

15. Ibid. 

16. Ibid. I x, 8. 

17. Pliny, Ep. Ill 3. 

z8. Plautus, B ace hides 162. 

19. Boissier, Fin du paganism I 149. 

20. On the fees collected by such teachers, see Horace, Satires I 6, 75 ; Ovid, Fasti 
III 829; Macrobius, 12, 7. A magister ludi of Capua eked out his fees by writing 
wills; CIL X 3969. 

21. Although, plagosus Orbilius was properly a grammaticus, we may cite him 
here as the best-known example; Horace, Ep. II i, 70; cf. Suetonius, DC Grammati- 
cis 9. On his successors, Juvenal, i, 15; Martial, X 62, 10; XIV 80. In general, 
Plutarch, Caesar 61, i. 

2?. Quintilian, I 3, 16-17. 

23. Ibid. I i, 24-26. 

24. Seneca, Ep. 94, 51. 

25. On education and the State under the empire, see Barbagallo, Lo Stato e 
I'educazione pubbtica. On Vipasca, CIL II 5181, 1. 57: "ludi magistros a procura- 
tore metallorum immu-es eslse placet].'' It should be noted that the schoolmaster 
follows the shoemaker, barber, and fuller in the list of regulations governing their 

26. Philostratus, Vitae II i, 10. Quintilian, I i, 25, suggests alphabets of ivory 
or of pastry. 

27. Vegetius, DC Re M Hit art II 19. 

28. Apuleius, Florida 20. 

29. On the first Greek teachers in Rome, see Gwynn, Roman Education from 
Cicero to Quintilian 34-58. For Greek influence on the intellectual life in general 
and the reaction to it, see F. Leo's masterful chapter, Gesckichte d. romischen 
Literatur, 259-368. 

30. Suetonius, Rhct. 2. , 

31. See Marx's ed., 153. 

32. Suetonius, Rhct. i ; Gellius, XV xi; cf. Cicero, De Or. Ill 93. For the under- 
lying political motives, see Gwynn, op. cit. 65-66. 

33* On Caesar, Carcopino, Cesar 974. On Quintilian, Eusebius, Chron. a. Abr. 
2104, II p. 161 ed. Schoene. 

34* Dio, LXV 12-13; Suetonius, Vespasian x8. On the intellectual policy of 
Vespasian, see Hertzog's commentary to Ann. epigr. 1936 nr. 128 in Sitzungsberichte 

NOTES 299 

d. Preussichcn Akademit, phil.-hist. Klasse XXXII (1935) 968-1019; cf. Levi, 
Romano. 1937, 361-367. 

35. Suetonius, Rhet x; Plutarch, Cato motor 22. 

36. Car-copino, Ctsar 974-975 ; cf. chap. I, n. 10. 

37. On child prodigies under the empire, sec Marrou, Mo/urucds d^p (Paris, 
1937) 196-207. 

38. Marrou, Saint-Augustin et la fin de la culture classique (Paris, 1937). Sec 
esp. chap. II. 

39. Juvenal, 6, 184-199; Martial, X 68. 

40. On Lucian and his lecture tours, see Croiset, 5501 sur la vie et les oeuvres 
de Lucien. 

41. On the substitution of Latin for Greek in the Roman Church, see P. Mon- 
ceaux, Histoire de la literature chretienne 42 ; A. Puech, Histoire de la UtUrature 
grecque chretienne II 8. In contradistinction to Rome proper, Roman Africa hatf 
been very superficially Hellenized; see W. Thieling, Der Hellenism us in Kleinafrica. 

42. IG XIV 2012. 

43. C/Z, VI 33929 jcf. XI 6435. 

44. Suetonius, Gram. 16. 

45. SHA Hadrian 16. 

46. On Juba as writer and scholar, see S. Gsell, Histoire ancienne de I'Afrique 
VIII 251-276. 

47. Sallust, De Bell. lug. 21, 2. 

48. Tacitus, Dialogus 36, i. 

49. Aristotle, Rhet. I 3. 

50. On Hermagorus, see RE VIII 693-695. 

51. Cato, fr. 14. 

52. Diomedes, De Declinatione Exercitationis Chriarum, I 310 Keil. 

53. Quintilian, I 9, 3. v 

54. Suetonius, Gram. 5. 

55. For an annotated edition of the Suasoriae, see William A. Edward, The 
Suasoriae of Seneca the Elder. 

56. Seneca, Suasoriae 6; 7. 

57. Ibid, i ; 4. 

58. Ibid. 5; 2. 

59. Ibid. 3. 

60. Suetonius, Rhet. i. 
6x. Ibid. 

62. See the edition of H. Borneque, Senece le rheteur Contravenes et Suasoires. 

63. Seneca, Controversiae IX 2. 

64. Ibid. VII 2. 

65. On the part played by mores in Roman law, see Steinwenter, RE XV 290- 

66. Seneca, Controversiae VIII 2. 

67. Ibid. DC i. 

68. Ibid. X 5. 

69. Ibid. II 7. 

70. Ibid. I 6. 

71. Ibid. IV 4. 

72. Ibid. I 2. 

73. Gellius, XVII 12. 

74. Marrou, Saint Augustin 53-54. 

75. Seneca, Ep. 106, 22. 

76. Petronius, 1-4. 


77. Tacitus, Dialogus 33. 

78. Juvenal, 7, 150-170. 

79. On the base materialism attested by dozens of epitaphs, see Brelich, Aspetti 
delta morte nelle iscrizioni sepolcrali dell' impero romano (Budapest, 1937) 50. 

80. Cf. F. Cumont's admirable analysis of the official and traditional religion, 
Les religions orientates dans le paganism remain* (Paris, 1929) 25-27. 

8 1. Boissier, La religion romaine d* August c aux Antonins, II 141-142. 

82. See Ovid's lively description; Fasti III 523-542. 

83. Juvenal, 12, 1-16. 

84. Ibid. 2, 149-152. 

85. Petronius, 44. 

86. Ibid. 

87. Tacitus, Hist. V 5. 

88. Tacitus, Gennania 9. 

89. Pliny, Ep. VIII 8; Boissier, Religion II 171. 

90. Ibid. IX 39. 

91. Ibid. IV 8. 

92. On the beginnings of the imperial cult, see L. R. Taylor, The Divinity of the 
Roman Emperor; on its development under the Flavians, K. Scott, The Imperial 
Cult under the Flavians. 

93. Suetonius, Vespasian 23. Cf. the cynical words of Caracalla about his 
brother Geta whom he had had assassinated: "Geta sit divus dum non sit vivus"; 
SHA Geta 2. 

94. Suetonius, Domitian 13 ; cf . Martial, V 8 ; VII 34 ; IX 66. 

95. Pliny, Panegyricus n, 3; 68, i; cf. 67, 4. 

96. Ibid. 14, i. 

97. Tacitus, Hist. I i. 

98. See Boyance*, Le culte des Muses, for this "religious" aspect of the philo- 
sophical schools. 

99. J. Bidez, La cite du monde et du soleil chez les stoiciens. 

100. On Figulus, see Carcopino, La basilique pythagoricienne de la Porte Majeure 

101. Lydus, De Mensibus IV 59 (p. 113 Wtinsch). 

102. PA 283-286. 

103. Gauckler, Le sanctuaire syrien du Janicule (Paris, 1912): 

104. Suetonius, Nero 56. 

105. On the cult of Mithra at Capua, NS 1924, 353-375; at Rome, OIL VI 732. 

106. See Cumont's brilliant conclusions in Le s religious orientates 181-194; also, 
Alda Levi, La patera d'argento di Parabiago (Rome, 1936) . 

107. Juvenal 3, 62. 

108. Josephus, Antiquities XVIII 3, 4-5; cf. Tacitus, Ann. II 85. 

109. Juvenal, 6, 532-534J cf. 550; 553 J 585. 

1 10. Ibid. 540-541; S48-SSO. 
in. Ibid. 512-516. 

112. Ibid. 313-317. 

113. Ibid. 522-529. 

114. Ibid. 580-581. 

115. Petronius, 39; 62; 74. 

116. Tacitus, Hist. II 50; Boissier, Tacite 146. 

117. Pliny, Ep. I 18. 

1 1 8. Ibid. II 20. 

119. Ibid. I 18. 

120. Ibid. VII 27. 

NOTES 301 

121. Lagrange, Revue biblique XXXI (1919) 480. 

122. Cumont, op, cit. 23-41. 

123. Juvenal, 10, 346-350. 

124. Persius, 2, 71-75. 

125. Statius, Silvae I 4, 128-131. The profoundly inspired prayer of the Stoic 
Demetrius recorded by Seneca, De Providentia 5, 5, has been compared to the 
suscipe which ends the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius; cf. Father Delehaye, 
Legendes hagiographiques 170, n. i. 

126. On the religion of salvation of Antinous, see Dietrichson, Antinoos (Oslo, 
1884). I prefer his conclusions to those of Pirro Marconi, ML XXIX (1923) 297- 

127. On the collegium salutare of Bovillae, see Carcopino, RAP IV (1925-26) 
232-246. For the one at Lanuvium, CIL XIV 2112. 

128. On this imperial policy which continues throughout the second century, see 
Aymard, Mil. LI (1934) 178-196. 

129. See Graillot, Le culte de Cybele (Paris, 1913) 151. 

130. Pliny, Ep. X 96. 

131. Tacitus, Ann. XV 44; Suetonius, Claudius 25; Nero 16. 

132. On the famous passage of Suetonius, Claudius 25, 4: ludaeos, impulsore 
Chresto, assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit (Claudius), see Duchesne, Hist. anc. 
de V&glise I 55, and Janne, Melanges Bidez (Brussels, 1934) I 531-532. Christians 
did not have their own quarter; Abbe" Vielliard, Bull. Soc. Antiq. (1937) 104. 

133. Josephus, Ant. XIV, 8-10; cf. Suetonius, Caesar 84. 

134. Tacitus, Ann. II 85; cf. Suetonius, Tiberius 36. The details are given by 
Josephus, Ant. XVIII 3, 5. 

135. Juvenal, 14, 96-106. 

136. Dio, LXVII 14, speaks thus of Flavius Clemens. 

137. St. Paul, Phil. 4, 22. 

138. Tacitus, Ann. XIII 32. 

139. Suetonius, Domitian 10; Dio, LXVII 12. 

140. Suetonius, Domitian 15 ; Dio, LXVII 14. 

141. Tacitus, Hist. Ill 65; 75. 

142. Male, Revue des deux mondes XLIII (1938) 347. 

143. Eusebius, Chron. a. Abr. 2110, II p. 143 ed. Schoene; Hist. eccl. Ill 18; 
cf. Duchesne, op. cit. 217 N. 2. 

144. But on this early dating, see P. Styger, Die rom. Katakomben (Berlin, 
1933) esp. o-io. 

145. On the initial illegality of Christianity, see Carcopino, Rev. etudes Latines 
(1936) 230-231. 

146. Cf. Loisy, Les mysteres patens et le mystere Chretien (Paris, 1922) 363. 

147. Duchesne, op. cit. 198. 



z. On the Julian calendar, see Kubitschek, Grundriss d. antiken Zeitrechnung 
90-109; Bickerraann, in Gercke-Norclen, Einleitung in d. Altertumswissenschaft 
III 5, pp. 19-21. 

2. The Ides fell on the fifteenth in March, May, July, and October; on the 
thirteenth in the remaining months ; the Nones fell on the fifth in the months when 
the Ides were the thirteenth, and on the seventh in the other four months. 


3. E. Maass, Die Tagesgotter in Rom. und den Provinzen 265-283. For dating 
by market days (nundinae), see W. F. Snyder, JRS XXVI (1936) 13-18. 

4. Dio, XXXVH 18, 2. 

5. On the civil day of the Romans, Greeks, and Babylonians, Macrobius, I 3,*2; 
Gellius, HI 2, 2. In general see Sontheimer, RE 8A, 2011-2023, esp. 2020-2033. 

6. On ancient ways of measuring time, see Ardaillon, DS III 256-264 ; Rehm, RE 
VIII 2416-2433. 

7. On the late introduction of the "hours" into Rome, Censorinus, XXIII 6. On 
the primitive division of the day into two, Pliny, NH VII 212 ; Gellius, XVII 2, 10. 

8. On the Graecostasis, Varro, L.L. V 135. Apart from an embassy of Alexander 
the Great, which is probably a fiction of the annalists, the Greeks sent no deputa- 
tion to Rome before the victories of Demetrius Poliorcetes (Strabo, V 2, $). 

9. On the division of the day into four, cf. Censorinus, XXIV 3. 

10. On the first solar sun-dial which dates not from 293 but from 263 B.C., 
Pliny, NH VII 213-214. 

11. Cf. ibid. 214: "nee congruabant ad koras tins lineae . . . paruerunt tamcn ei 
annis undecentum." 

12. Ibid.: ". . . donee Q. Marcius Philip pus, qui cum L. Paulo fuit censor, dili- 
gentius ordinamentum iuxta posuit, idque munus inter censoria opera gratissima 
acceptum est." 

13. On the first water-clock introduced into Rome, cf. Ibid. 215. 

14. On the great solarium situated between the Ara Pacts and the Aurelian Col- 
umn, CIL VI 702 ; Pliny, NH XXXVI 73 J PA 366-367. 

15. Vitruvius, IX 9, 5. 

16. Petronius, 26. 

17. Ibid. 71. 

18. Seneca, Apocolocyntosis 2. 

19. On the discrepancies between the Roman civil day and the natural day, 
Ccnsorinus, XXIII 2. 

20. Martial, XII 57. 

21. Juvenal, 14, 59-63; cf. Horace, Sat. II 4, 81-82. On the various kinds of 
brooms, Pliny, NH XVI 108; XXIII 166; Martial, XIV 82. On the ladders, Digest 
XXXIII 7, 16. 

22. Pliny, Ep. II 17, 9. 

23. Pliny, NH Praef. 18. 

24. On men who turned night into day, Seneca, Ep. 122. 

25. Persius, 3, 1-7. 

26. Horace, Sat. I 6, 122. 

27. Martial, XII 18, 13. 

28. Isidor, Origines XX 10, 8. 

29. Pliny, Ep. Ill 5, 8; cf. Suetonius, Vespasian 21. 

30. On the Apoxyomenus of Lysippus and the Bride of Parrhasius which adorned 
the cubiculum of Tiberius, Carcopino, Mel. XL (1923) 267-307. 

31. Aero on Horace, Sat. I 6, 109; Juvenal, 6, 264. 

32. Martial, XIV 119; XI n, 5; Digest XXXIV 2, 27, 5. 

33. On the stuffing used for cushions, Martial, XIV 159, 160, 161; cf. Juvenal, 6, 
88. On cushions, Petronius, 32; 78.. 

34. On the stragula and operimenta (or opertoria), Varro, L.L. V 167; Seneca, 
Ep. 87, 2. 

35. For the tapetia, Martial, XIV, 147; Digest XXXIII 10, 5. For lodices and 
polymita, Martial, XIV 148; 150. 

36. Varro, L.L. V 167; Digest XXXIII 10, 5. 

37. Martial, XII 18, 17-18; cf. Arnobius, Adv. Nat. II 68. 

NOTES , 303 

38. On Roman clothing in general, see the recent book of L, M. Wilson, The 
Clothing of the Ancient Romans (Baltimore, 1938). 

39. Like Cato of Utica (Asconius on Cicero, Pro Scauro p. 29 ed. StanRl) and 
the Cethegi (Horace, A. P. 50 and Porphyrio ad loc.). Varro, in Nonius XIV p. 867- 
868 Lindsay, states that when Roman dress consisted solely of a licium and a toga, 
it was customary to wear the toga to bed. 

40. Martial, VII 67, who, however, is referring to a woman athlete. 

41. With the exception, perhaps, of agricultural laborers, whence the name 
cam pe stria commonly given to the subligaria of workers; Pliny, NH XII 59. 

42. Quintilian, XI 3, 138. * 

43. The tunica talaris when worn by a man was considered a sign of effeminacy; 
Cicero, Verr. II 5, 31; 86; Cat. II 22. 

44. Suetonius, Augustus 82. 

45- Gellius, VI 12; cf. Nonius, XIV p. 860 ed. Lindsay. 

46. Pliny, Ep. Ill 5, 15. 

47. On the toga, see L. M. Wilson, The Roman Toga, and the observations of 
V. Chapot, Mtmoires de la socitti des Antiquaires de France, LXXX (193?) 37-66. 

48. L. Heuzey, Histoire du costume antique, 232. On the final triumph of Roman 
costumes over Greek and its cultural significance, see M. Biebcr, Entwickelungs- 
geschichte der griechischen Tracht 44. 

49. Athenaeus, V 2138. 

50. Livy, III 26. 

51. Tertullian, De Poll. 5; ita kominem sarcina vestiat. 

52. Juvenal, 3, 147; Martial, I 103, 5; VII 33, i; X n, 6; X 96, n. 

53. Augustus always kept a toga in readiness in his bedroom in case of being 
summoned out hastily on public business; Suetonius, Augustus 73. 

54. Suetonius, Claudius 15, but only in cases where Roman citizens were in- 

55. Martial, XIV 124. 

56. SHA Commodus 16. 

57. Martial, X 51, 6; cf. Juvenal, 3, 171-172. 

58. On the appearance of the synthesis, see McDaniel, Class. Phil. XX 
(1925) 268-270. As a festive garment, it was also worn insead of the toga during 
the Saturnalia; Martial, VI 24, XIV i; XIV 141. 

59. Juvenal, 3, 171-172. 

60. Suetonius, Vespasian 21. 

61. Martial, XI 104, 3-4. 

62. Mau-Kelsey, Pompeii 358. 

63. Suetonius, Vespasian 21. 

64. Suetonius, Domitian 16. 

65. Ausonius, Ep. 2. 

66. Suetonius, Caesar 45. On the barber in antiquity, see F. W. Nicolson, Harvattf 
Studies in Classical Philology II (1891) 41-56. 

67. On the disadvantages of open-air barber shops, Digest IX 2, u. On the bar- 
bers of the Subura, Martial, II 17; on those of the Carenae, Horace, Ep. I 7, 45-51. 
They also congregated near the temple of Flora: ad Florae templum ad tons ores. 

68. Seneca, De Brev. Vit. XII 3. 

69. Horace, Ep. I 7, 46-51. 

70. This is implied in Horace, Sat: I 7, 3. 

71. Martial, VII 64, 1-2; Juvenal, 10, 225-226. In the price-fixing edict of Dio- 
cletian, a visit to the barber cost two denarn (32 cents). 

72. Plutarch, De Audiendis Poetis 8. 

73. Suetonius, Nero 51. 


74. Suetonius, Augustus 79. 

75. Quintfflan, XII 10, 47; Martial, II 36, z. 

76. Horace, Ep. I i, 94-95. 

77. SHA Hadrian, 26, i. 

78. Martial, X 83. 

79. Ibid. Ill 43. 

80. Ibid. II 29, 9-10. 

81. Cicero, Pro Sestio 18. 

82. Martial, VI 55- 

83. Ibid. II 12. 

84. Ibid. 29. 

8$. Horace, Odes II 15, 10. 

86. Gellius, III 4. 

87. Suetonius, Caesar 45. 

88. Ibid. 67. 

89. Plutarch, Cato Minor 53. 

90. Plutarch, Antonius z8. 

91. Suetonius, Augustus 23. 

92. Dio, XLVIII 34, 3; cf. Carcopino, Revue kistorique CLXI (1929) 228-229. 

93. Crinagoras in the Palatine Anthology VI 161. 

94. Suetonius, Caligula 10; Nero 12; cf. Dio, LXI 19, z. 

95. NS Z900, p. 578. 

96. Suetonius, Nero 12; Petronius, 29. 

97. Juvenal, 3, 186; 8, 166. 

98. Ovid, Ars Amatoria I 517. 

99. Many bearded soldiers are depicted on Trajan's Column. A long beard was 
part of the unkempt appearance affected by many professional philosophers under 
the empire; Seneca, Ep. 5, 2; Persius i, 133; Musonius, p. 88 ed. Heuse. It was 
worn also by charlatans and beggars who posed as philosophers; Gellius, IX 2. 

100. Martial, VII 95, 9-Z3. 
zoz. Digest IX 2, zz. 

zo2. On the straight razor of the empire, see M. Delia Corte, Ausonia IX (1914) 
Z03. Pliny, NH XXXVI z6s. 

104. Plutarch, Antonius z. It is significant that the shaving-brush never appears 
among the equipment of tonsores depicted on funeral bas-reliefs. 

105. Petronius, 94. 
zo6. Martial, VI 52. 
zo7. Digest IX 2, zz. 

zo8. Suetonius, Augustus 79. 
109. Martial, VII 83. 
_zzo. Ibid. VIII 52. 
zzz. Ibid. XI 84. 
zz2. Pliny, NH XXIX zz4. 
113. Martial, III 74. 
ZZ4. Ibid. X 65, 8. 

zzs. Juvenal, zs, sz and schol. ad. loc.; Pliny, NH XXVIII 250; 255 ; XXX Z32 ; 
133 ; XXXII 136. 

xz6. Suetonius, Caesar 45; cf. Pliny NH XXXII Z36. 
zz7. Martial, VIII 47. 
zz8. SHA Hadrian 26; cf. Dio, LXVIII 45- 

119. Martial, XI 23,6. 

120, Ibid. X38;cf.35. 

NOTES 305 

121. Pliny, Ep. DC 36. 

122. Ibid. VII 5- 

123. Petronius, 77. 

124. Ibid. 47. 

125. Martial, XI 104, 7-8. 

126. Digest XXXIV 2, 25. 

127. Juvenal, 6, 501-504. 

128. CIL VI 5S39J 7297; 8959; 937o; 33784. 

129. Macrobius, II 5, 7. 

130. Juvenal, 6, 487-493- 

131. Martial, II 66. 

132. Pliny, NH XXVIII 191; Martial, XIV 27; cf. 26. 
133- Digest XXXIX 4, 16, 7. 

134. Ovid, Ars Amatoria III 211; Juvenal, 2, 93; Martial, DC 37, 6. 

135. Ovid, Ars HI 216; 197; I 515; Martial, XIV 56; Scribonius Largus, 59-60. 

136. Ovid, Ars III 229. 

137. Martial, DC 37. 

138. Petronius, 66. 

139. Ovid, Ars III 187-192. 

140. Apuleius, Met. XI 3. 

141. Arnobius, Adv. Nat. II 23. 

142. On sunshades, Juvenal, 9, 50; Martial, XI 73, 6; XIV 28. 


1. On clients in general, SG I 225-235. 

2. Martial, VI 88; cf. I 59; Juvenal, i, 121. 

3. Juvenal, i, 95-126. 

4. Pliny, Ep. Ill 12, 2. 

5. Martial, I 49, 35-36. 

6. Ibid. IX 49; X ii ; 73; 96. On Saturnalias gifts, ibid. V 19; 84; VII 53. 

7. Juvenal, i, 101 ; cf. 3, 126-130. 

8. Martial, VI 88. 

9. Juvenal, i, 120-126. 

10. Rostovtzeff, Storia economics, 40; 238-239. 

11. See pp. 56, 66 above. 

12. See Carcopino, La lot de Hieron 188-189. 

13. Petronius, 119. 

14. Calza, Gidda; Carcopino, Ostie 13-18. For th$ inscriptions, CIL XIV 4549. 

15. Carcopino, op. cit. 18. The identification is accepted by Wickert, CIL XIV, 
Suppl. p. 844. 

1 6. CIL XIV 51, revised and restored ibid. p. 844. On the altar, Paribeni, Guida 
del museo dette Terme* 264. 

17. On imports, see the recent book of Helen J. Loane, Industry and Commerce 
of the City of Rome (so B.C. -200 A.D.) 11-59. 

18. On the horrea, PA 260-263. 

19. See p. 6 above. It is clear that the building of this market dealt a mortal 
blow to all the special markets, forum otttorium, cvppedinis, piscatorium, mentioned 
almost exclusively in texts relating to the republican period. 

20. Waltzing, Corporations professionnettes IV 1-49. 

21. PA 479- The bas-reliefs are reproduced and described in Rostovtzefif, Storia 
economica pi. IV. 

22. See p. 48 above. 


23. Sec p. 27 above. 

24. C1L VI 9525. 

25. Ibid. 9540-9542. 

26. Ibid. 33892. 

27. Ibid. 9758; 9759- 

28. Ibid. 9739-9757- 

29. 7W<f. 9614-9617. The last three, being freedwomen, were perhaps domestic 

30. Ibid. 9562-9613. In the imperial household, we find two medicae (6851, 7581) 
as against fifteen medici (8895-8910). 

31. Ibid. 9875-9884; 33907. 

32. Ibid. 9493 ; 9941 (as against six tonsores, 9937~994 2 ) 

33. Ibid. 9726-9736 (eleven in all). 

34. Ibid. 9720-9724 (five in all). 

35. Ibid. 9901 b. 

36. Ibid. 9801. 

37. Ibid. 9683. 

38. Ibid. 9980. 

39. Ibid. 9961-9979 (vestifici or vesticarii). 

40. Ibid. 9496-9498. 

41. Ibid. 9891-9892. 

42. Gide, Etude sur la condition privte de la femme 152 ; cf. Buckland, A Text- 
Book of Roman Law 9 167. 

43. Suetonius, Claudius 18-19; Gaius, I 32. 

44. Gaius, I 34. 

45. The word pistrix is even missing from Dessau's indices, ILS IV p. 739. Legis- 
lation concerning adultery classed saleswomen with prostitutes; Paulus, Sent. II 26, 
ii : "cum his quae publice mercibus vel tabernis exercendis procurant adulterium 
fieri non placuit" 

46. See n. 43 above. 

47. On the porticus Minucia as the place where grain tesserae were distributed, 
see B. Wall, Skrifter II (1932) 31-54- 

48. Reinach, Repertoire de reliefs grecs et romains I p. 375. 

49. W. Helbig, Wandgemdlde No. 1502. 

50. Reinach, op. cit. Ill p. 405. 

51. Helbig, op. cit. No. 1496. 

52. Reinach, op. cit. HI p. 44. 

53. Helbig, op. cit. Nos. 1496, 1497, 1498. 

54. Martial, X 80; IX 59; VIII 6. 

55. Helbig, op. cit. No. 1501 ; Reinach, op. cit. Ill p. 403. 

56. Helbig, Fuhrer* II No. 1837. 

57. Helbig, Wandgemalde No. 1500. 

58. Ibid. Nos. 1493, 1495. 

59. In Apuleius, Metamorphoses I 24-25, Lucius does his own shopping. 

60. Petronius, 79. 

61. Martial, VIII 67. 

62. Ibid. IX 59, 21. 

63. See above p. 157. This was also the hour for relieving the guard; Martial, 
X 48, 1-2. 

64! Martial, IV 8, 3-4. The same conclusions may be drawn about the miners of 
Vipasca from CIL II 5181, 1. 19. 

65. Pliny, Ep. Ill 5. 

66. Martial, VIII 67, 3. 

NOTES 307 

67. Gellius, XVII 2, 10 = XII Tables I 6. 

68. This can be inferred from Martial, VI 35, where seven water-clocks are men- 
tioned as an exception. 

69. Pliny, Ep. II n, 14, states that in a case in January he was granted sixteen 
water-clocks, which allowed him to speak almost five hours, 

70. Martial, VI 35. 

71. Suetonius, Augustus 29. 

72. Suetonius, Vespasian 10. 

73. On the location of this tribunal, see Mommsen, Ges. Schr. Ill 319-326. 
74- See Seston, Mel. XLIV (1927) 154-183. 

75. See Vigneaux, Essai sur I'histoire de la Praefectura Urbis (Paris, 1896) 125. 

76. SHA Antoninus 10. 

77. On the Basilica lulia, PA 78-80; C. Huelsen, The Forum and the Palatine 
(trans, by H. H. Tanzer) 15-18. 

78. Pliny, Ep. VI 33, 3J cf. I 18, 3; IV 24, i; II 14 and V 9. 

79. Quintilian, XII 5, 6. 

80. Pliny, Ep. II 14, 9. 

81. Ibid. 14, 5. 

82. See p. 252. 

83. Pliny, Ep. VI 33, x; 7-8- 

84. Ibid, II 14, i. 

85. Ibid. VI 31, 13- 

86. Ibid. 

87. P. Oxy. 33. The document together with a newly discovered fragment is 
discussed by C. B. Welles, TAPA LXVII (1936) 7-23. 

88. Suetonius, Augustus 35; cf. O'Brien-Moore. RE Suppl. VI 766-767. 

89. PA 143-146, Huelsen, op. cit. 30-31. 

90. Seneca, De Provid. V 4,* contrasts the idleness of the street loafers with the 
industry of the Senate which per totum diem sac PC consulitur. 

91. Pliny, Ep. II ix. 

92. Ibid. Ill 4; 9. 

93. Ibid. 9, 23. 

94. Nepos, Atticus 13; Pronto p. 20 ed. Naber. 

95. On the libraries in Rome, see C. . Boyd, Public Libraries and Literary Cul- 
ture in Ancient Rome; on provincial libraries, R. Cagnat, Lcs bibliotheques munic- 
ipales dans V Empire romain. 

96. Horace, Ep. I 20, 1-2. 

97. Seneca, De Beneficns VII 6, i. 

98. Martial, IV 72 ; XIII 3, cf. Quintilian, Praej. 

99. Martial, I 2; 113; 117. 

100. Ibid. I 117, 13-17; XIII 3, 3; cf. I 66, 4. 

xoz. This can be inferred from Juvenal, VII 86, where he says that Statius 
win starve unless he sells his virgin Agave to the mime Paris. 
xo2. Gaius, II 73 77- 

103. Martial, XI 3 ; cf. XI 108; XIV 219. 

104. Suetonius, Tiberius 61, 3. 

105. Suetonius, Domitian xo, x. 

106. Suetonius, Caesar 56, 7; Caligula 34, 2. See also Carcopino, Journal dcs 
savants CXXI (1936) 115. 

107. Isidor, Origines VI 52; Seneca, 'Controvtrsiac, IV Preface 2. 

1 08. Suetonius, Augustus 89, 3. 

109. Suetonius, Claudius 41. 
no. Pliny, Ep. I 13, 3. ( 


zzz. Suetonius, Domitian 2, 2. 

ix 2. On the Athenaeum in general, PA 56. 

113. Aurelius Victor, Caesares 14, 3. 

114. Pliny, Ep. V 17; VIII 12. 

115. Persius, i, 15-21; Pliny, Ep. V 17; DC 34. 

116. Pliny, Ep. IV 19, 3. 

117. Juvenal, 7, 39-47J Pliny. Ep. Ill 18, 4; Tacitus, Dialogus 9. 

118. Pliny, Ep. V 17. 

119. Juvenal, 7, 40-47- 

120. Pliny, Ep. VIII 21; cf. Ill 18, 4. 

121. Petronius, 90; Horace, Sat. I 4, 74-75- 

122. Pliny, Ep. VHI 21. 

123. Ibid. VI 17, 3; cf. VIH 21, 4; in 18, 4. 

124. Ibid. I 13. 

125. Ibid. 18, 2. 

126. Ibid. VI 15. 

127. Ibid. 17. 

128. Ibid. VII 17, i; III 18; V 5, 2-4. 

129. Ibid. Ill 10; IV 7. 

130. Ibid. IX 27. 

131. Ibid. VIII 21 ; V 17; VI 15; Juvenal, 7, 82-87; i. 52-54- 

132. Pliny, Ep. VII 17. 
133- Ibid. V3J VII 17. 

134. Horace, Sat. I 4, 76-78. 

135. Suetonius, Caligula 53, 2. On this point, see E. Albertini, La composition 
dans les ouvrages philosophiqucs de Stnlqut, esp. 298-325. 

136. Cf. the opinion of Petronius, 1-5. 


1. Juvenal, 10, 77-81. 

2. Pronto, Princip. Hist. p. 210 ed. Naber. 

3. The fundamental work on the Roman calendar is by Mommsen, CIL P pp. 
205-339. It is based on the complete evidence known up to 1893. For later evidence, 
see Leuze's report in Bursian's Jahresbericht 227 (1930) 97-139, which covers the 
new discoveries through 1928. The most convenient survey, indicating day by 
day when games and holidays were celebrated both in the early and the later 
empire, is contained in Wissowa's Religion und Kultus der Rdmer 568-593. For 
the religious festivals, see Warde Fowler, Roman Festivals, under the appropriate 
date, as well as Frazer's commentary to the Fasti of Ovid when the festival falls 
within the months of January- June inclusive. Finally, we must mention the 
comprehensive study of the Feriale Duranum which has just been published by 
Fink, Hoey, and Snyder in Volume VII of the Yale Classical Studies. It is the 
latest and most comprehensive work dealing with parts of the imperial calendar 
and contains much useful general information in the introductory sections. 

4. On the kinds of days and their designations, see Mommsen, op. cit. pp. 289- 
290; Wissowa, op. cit. 434-439 J Fowler, op. cit. 8-10. 

5. Since the discovery of the pre-Julian calendar of Antium published by Man- 
tini, NS 1921, 73-126, the designation NP which appears there can no longer be 
considered an innovation connected with Caesar's reform of the Roman year. 
Mandni's suggestion, op. cit. 81, that it served to distinguish the joyous holidays 
from those commemorating sad events is as reasonable as any. 

6. The computations in this section are chiefly based on the calendar as given 

NOTES 309 

in Wissowa, op. cit. 568-593, and arc adjusted to later evidence where necessary. 

7. They probably began on January 17 instead of January 21 as held by 
Mommsen and Wissowa; see Carcopino, CRAI 1923, 71. 

8. For the holidays commemorating the events of Caesar and Augustus, see the 
convenient list in J. Gagl's edition of the Res Gestae Divi August* 163-185. 

9. In making this computation, no day was included which was not expressly 
designated as feriae in an official calendar except the forty-five traditional religious 
holidays and the days devoted to public games. 

10. For a list of extant feriatta, see Yale Classical Studies VII (1940). The most 
important is the feriale Duranum, there published for the first time, which con- 
tains a list of the days celebrated by the Roman army under Severus Alexander 
with religious rites. 

11. Dio, LX 17, i. 

12. Tacitus, Hist. IV 40. 

13. SHA Marcus Aurelius 10, 10. 

14. Mommsen, op. cit. p. 300. 

15. On these games, see Gag6, Recherches sur les jeux stculaires. 

16. 4,941 pairs of gladiators fought in the games lasting 117 days which Trajan 
gave to celebrate his conquest of Dacia (Ann. ipigr. 1933, No. 30, 11. 13-14; cf. 
Dio, LXVIII 15, i and De Grassi, RPA XII [1936] 182-184). 

17. These ludi piscatorii are not mentioned in the ancient calendars. It was ap- 
parently a holiday for the fishermen alone; cf. Ovid, Fasti VI 239: "festa dies ittis 
qui Una madentia ducunt." 

18. Festus, s.v. Piscatori ludi pp. 274; 276 ed. Lindsay. On the meaning of the 
passage, see Carcopino, Virgtte et les origines d'Ostie 119-120, and Frazer on Ovid's 
Fasti IV 169-171. 

19. On the October Horse, see Fowler, op. cit. 241-250; on its place in the his- 
tory of horse sacrifice in antiquity, see Hubbell, Yale Classical Studies I (1927) 

20. On gladiatorial games in general, see. Schneider, RE Suppl. Ill 760-784; SG 
II 50-76; on their religious origin, Piganiol, Recherches sur les jeux remains 126- 
136; on the role of the state in the munera, Carcopino, Cesar 515. 

'21. Festus s.v. munus p. 125 ed. Lindsay. 

22. Tertullian, De Sped. 12. 

23. Ausonius, Eel. 23, 35-36. 

24. Suetonius, Augustus 40. 

25. Quintilian, VI 3, 63, relates that Augustus rebuked a Roman knight for 
drinking during the games, saying: "If I want refreshment, I go home." The 
knight is said to have retorted not without wit: "But if you go home, Caesar, 
you are sure to find your place again when you come back." On the division of 
spectators according to social categories, see D. Van Berchem, Distributions de 
bit et fargcnt sous l f empire 61-62. 

26. On the drcus pompa, see Piganiol, op. cit. 15-31. 

27. Ovid, Amores III 2, 43-62. 

28. On these superstitions, see the extremely curious texts collected by P. Wuil- 
leumier in his article on "Le cirque et 1'astrologie," Mil. XLIV (1927) 184-209, 
and notably Cassiodorus, Var. Ill 51; Isidor of Seville, XVIII 36; Anthol. Lat. I 

29. Pliny, Ep. VI 5: propitium Caesar em ut in ludicro precebantur; cf. Dio 
LXXVIII 2, 3; on the handkerchiefs, SHA Aurelian 48, 5. 

30. Pliny, Pan. 51. 

31. Pliny, NH XXXIV 62 ; cf. Suetonius, Tiberius 47. 
3*. Plutarch, Galba 17, 5. 


33. Titus thus got rid of Vespasian's enemies; Suetonius, Titus 6. 

34. Dio, LIV 17, 4-5; cf. Suetonius, Augustus 45> 5- 

35. Suetonius, Augustus 43-45. 

36. Res Gestae 22. 

37. Martial, X 41. 

38. The figures are given in the Fasti Antiates, C1L I 1 p. 248. 

39. Fronto, Princip. Hist. p. 210 ed. Naber. 

40. On these games in general, see SG II 21-50. 

41. PA 111-113. 

42. Ibid. 113-114; 370-371. 

43. Ibid. 114-120. 

44. On Consus, God of the Circus, see Piganiol, op. cit. 1-14. 

45. Livy, VIII 20, 21 ; cf. Ennius, fr. 47 Vahlen. 

46. Livy, XXXIX 7, 8. 

47. Livy, XLI 27, 6. 

48. Pliny, NH VIII 20-21; Suetonius, Caesar 39. 

49. Pliny, NH XXXVI 102, says 250,000, but this figure undoubtedly refers to 
the circus of his own time after the enlargements of Nero. Dionysius of Halicar- 
nassus, III 68, who wrote under Augustus, reckons 150,000 places. Modern esti- 
mates of the seating capacity vary from 140,000 to 385,000 spectators; cf. PA 119. 

50. Dio, XLIX 43, 2. 

51. Pliny, XXXVI 71; PA 367. 

52. Res Gestae 19. It is mentioned by Augustus in a letter to Livia, Suetonius, 
Claudius 4. 

53. Cassiodorus, Var. Ill 51, 4. 

54. Suetonius, Claudius 21, 3. 

55. Pliny, NH VIII 21. 

56. Pliny, Pan. 51; cf. Dio, LXVIII 7, 2; Pausanias V 12, 6; CIL VI 955. 

57. Jordan, Topographic II 558. 

58. CIL VI 944- 

59. Dio, LIX 7, 2-3 ; LX 2?, 2. It was an exceptional occasion, the ludi saeculares, 
on which Domitian gave 100 races in a day. To fit them all in, he had to reduce 
the laps obligatory for each race from 7 to 5; Suetonius, Domitian 4, 3. 

60. Juvenal 10, 36-40. 

61. On the factions, see SG II 32-40. 

62. Jordan, op. cit. 551; 595; cf. Le Blant, Mel VI (1886) 327-328. 

63. Plutarch, Sulla 35, 3-5. 

64. Ovid, Ars Am. I 135-164. 

65. See the detailed analysis of these inscriptions by Drexel in SG IV 179-196. 

66. CIL XV 6250 on the horse Corax; cf. Pliny, NH VIII 160. 

67. Cf. Recueil de Constantine 1880 and the figure in DS I 1198. 

68. CIL VI 10048. 

69. CIL VII 10047- 

70. Audollent, Tabettae Defixionum Nos. 15; 159. 

71. Juvenal, 7, 112-114; Martial, IV 67; X 74. 

72. CIL VI 10048; see the analysis in SG IV 179-196. 
73- SG II 28-29. 

74. Suetonius, Nero 16. 

75. Martial, V 25, 10. 

76. Ibid., XI i. 

77. Ibid., X 50. 

78. CIL VI 33950; 10050; 10049. 

79. Martial, XI i, 9-16. 


80. Juvenal, 11, 193-202. 

81. See Statius' description o! a day at the circus under Domitian (Silvac I 6; 
cf. Suetonius, Domitian 4, 5)> 

82. Suetonius, ViteUius 7, x; Dio, LXV 5, i. For Caracalla, see Dio, LXXVU 
10 ; cf. LXXVIII 8, 2. 

83. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations I 5. 

84. On the number of dramatic performances under the Republic, see L. R. 
Taylor, TAPA LXVIII (1937) 284-304. 

85. Pliny, Ep. IX 6, 3. 

86. Juvenal 9, 142-144. 

87. Ann. epigr. 1933, No. 30, 11. 35-37- 

88. PA 515-517; Liigli (ZA 346; cf. 390-391) assumes with Ashby that each 
of the loco, reckoned in the Regionaries represents only one square foot, whereas 
the minimum space necessary for a seated spectator is a foot and a half (44 cm.) . 

89. PA 513. 

90. Ibid. 513-515. 

91. On Roman theatres in Italy and the provinces during the empire, see M. 
Bieber, The History of the Greek and Roman Theater, 356-390. 

92. Tacitus, Ann. XI, 13; XII 28, cf. Quintilian, X i, 98. 

93. On masks and costumes, see M. Bieber, Die Denkmaler zum Theaterwesen im 
Altertum 155-174; for masks alone, Bieber, RE XIV 2093-2105; 2076-2083; for 
costumes/ C. Saunders, Costume in Roman Comedy. 

94. On the Hellenistic, probably Alexandrine, origin of the pantomime, see L. 
Robert, Hermes LXV (1930) 106-122. 

95. On Roman tragedy, see the recent article of Ziegler, RE 12 A 1981-2008, 
esp. 1994-1998; 2001-2004. On plays under the empire, Bieber, History 391-428. 

96. Suetonius, Caesar 84, 2-frg. XV Ribbeck. 

97. Tacitus, Ann. XIII 15. 

98. Cicero, Tusc. Disp. Ill 44-frg. V Vahlen. 

99. Diomedes, p. 491 Keil. 

100. See Bieber, History 315-325. 

101. On the civil status of actors, see Warnecke, Neue Jahrbb. f. d. klassische 
Altertum XXXIII (1914) 95-109. 

102. Dio, LIV 17, 4-5; Suetonius, Augustus 45, 5; Marcobius, Sat. II 7, 12-19. 

103. Tacitus, Ann. I 77; cf. Suetonius, Tiberius 37. 

104. Tacitus, Ann. XIII 25; 28; Suetonius, Nero 16, 2. 

105. Tacitus, Ann. XIV 21. 

106. Tacitus, Dialogus 29. 

107. Suetonius, Domitian 3 ; Dio, LXVII 3, i. 

108. Macrobius, Sat. II 7, 12-19. 

109. Livy VII 2 ; Val. Max., II 4, 4. 
no. Quintilian, XI 3, 86-88. 

in. Lucian, De Saltatione 67. 

112. Juvenal, 7, 86-87. 

113. Lucian, op. cit. 37-61. 

114. Macrobius, Sat. II 7, 16. 

115. Josephus, Ant. XIX i, 13. 

1 1 6. Suetonius, Nero 21, 3. 

117. Juvenal 6, 64-66. 

118. Pliny, Pan. 54. 

119. Dio, LXVIII 10. 

120. Paribeni, Dioniso VI (1938) 210. 

X2i. Plutarch, Qwest. Convivalcs VII 8, 3. 


122. Cicero, Ad. Fam. IX 26; Ad Attic. IV 15; Pro Planch 30. 

123. Euanthius, IV i p. 21 ed. Wessncr. On the Roman mime in general, see SG 

II 113-118; Wiist, RE XV 1 749-1761; Boissicr, DS III 1903-1907. A scene from 
a mime is reproduced in a relief from the theatre at Sabratha (Guidi, Africa Italiana 

III [1930] 38-39-Bieber, History, 421). 

124. Cicero, Ad Attic. XIV 3, 3; cf. Macrobius, Sat. II 7, 4. 

125. Poetae Latini Minores III p. 245. 

126. Suetonius, Caligula 57; Juvenal 8, 187-188; TertuUian, Adv. Vol. 14. 

127. On the plots, see SG II 113-114. 

128. Val. Max., II 10, 8; Martial, III 86; cf. SG 115-116. 

129. Martial, Spect. 7. 

130. On the munus as a human sacrifice, see Piganiol, Recherckes swr Us jeux 
remains 126-136. 

131. Terence, Hccyra, Prologue II 31-34. 

132. Cicero, In Vatinium 37. 

133. Cicero, Ad Fam. II 3, x. 

134. Pliny, NH XXXIII 53 ; cf . Plutarch, Caesar 5, 4 and Suetonius, Caesar xo. 

135. C1L I* 594 (Lex col. Genetivae luliae) LXX; LXXI. 

136. Dio, LIV 2, 4 ( B.C.). 

137. Tacitus, Ann. IV 63. 

138. Suetonius, Claudius 24; cf. Tacitus, Ann. XI 22. 

139. Res Gestae 22. 

140. The last of the magistrates' extraordinary munera which our sources record 
are those offered in 70 A.D. for the natalis of Vitellius by the consuls of that 
year; Tacitus, Hist. II 95. 

141. This method of presentation continued in small towns into the age of the 
Antonines; cf. C1L V 7637. 

142. Pliny, NH XXXVI 116-120. 

143. Ibid. 118. 

144. SG IV 208. 

145. Dio, XLIII 22, 3. 

146. The word amphitheatrum first appears in Vitruvius, I 7, i; then in Res 
Gestae 22; cf. SG IV 209. 

147. PA ii. 

148. On the Amphitheatrum Flavium '(Colosseum), see PA 6-xx. 

149. Ibid. 357- 

150. Ibid. 5-6; Lugli, MA III 490. 

151- PA 358- 

152. On gladiatorial games in general, see SG II 54-76; Schneider, RE Suppl. 
Ill 760-784; Lafaye DS II 1563-1599. The best illustration of imperial munera 
is the superb mosaic from Zliten published by Aurigemma, / mosaici di Zliten 

153. CIL I* 593, 1. 123; SHA Hadrian 18, 8; Seneca, Ep. 87, 15; Juvenal, 6, 

154. On the gladiatorial training schools, see PA 319-320. 

155. Ibid. 582. 

156. See the detailed discussion in SG IV 258-267. 

157. On these contests, see SG II 77-92; IV 268-275. 

158. See Martial, Liber Spettaculorum, where the venationes given at the dedica- 
tion of the Colosseum are described. 

159. This is indicated by Pompeian inscriptions where the venatio is classed with 
such extra attractions as athletae, vela, and sparsiones; cf. CIL IV p. 71. 

160. Suetonius, Claudius 21, 3; Dio, LXI 9, x. 

NOTES 313 

. 161. Suetonius, Titus 7. 

162. C1L XIV 4546. 

163. Plutarch, Non Posse Suav. XVII 6; Tertullian, Apol. 42. 

164. Suetonius, Claudius 2Z, 6. 

165. C1L V 5933- 

166. Juvenal, 3, 36. 

167. CIL IV 4280. 

168. Martial, Spect. 20. 

169. Carcopino, CRAI 1932 pp. 375~377- 

170. CIL X 7297. 

171. Ann. epigr. 1933, No. 30, 11. 1-2; 13-14; 54 J cf. n. 16 above. 

172. Cicero, Tusc. II 41. 

173. Pliny, Pan. 33. 

174. The disgust felt by Seneca in describing one of these contests is obvious; 

EP- 7. 

175. Strabo, VI 2, 6. 

176. Aurigemma, Mo said 182; 184; 192; cf. CRAI 1913 pp. 444-447. 

177. Suetonius, Claudius 34. 

178. On the Actiaca, see Gagt, Mel. LIU (1936) 37-100. 

179. Hartke, RE XVII 42-48. 

180. SG IV 276-280. 
z8z. PA 495-496; 37i. 

182. Martial, IV 54; XI 9; cf. DC 35, 9-10. 

183. Digest III 2, 4, i. 

184. Pliny, Ep. IV 22. 

185. For a list of amphitheatres in Italy and the Provinces, see SG IV 205-240. 

186. Cf. L. Robert, Revue de phUologie LVI (1930) 36-38. 

187. SHA Hadrian 18; cf. Digest XLVIII 8, n. 

188. Ann. Ipigr. 1933, No. 30, 11. 1-2. 

189. CIL II 6278 and Mommsen's commentary, Ges. Schr. VIII 499ff.; SHA 
Marcus u, 4. 

190. Seneca, De TranquiUtate Animi II 13. 

191. Dio, LXXII 22, 2; SHA Commodus 12. 

192. Martial, Spect. 7; cf. n. 126 above. 

193. Martial, VIII 30. 

194. Tertullian, Apol. 15. 

195. SHA Sev. Alex. 44; cf. Lugli, ZA 346. 

196. Cod. Tkeodos. XV za, z. 

197. Theodoretus, Hist. Eccl. V 26. 


z. Martial, VII 6z. 

2. Ibid. X 5. 

3. Juvenal, z6, 7-34- 

4. Martial, Spect. 3, z-zo; Juvenal, 3, 60-72. 

5. Martial, I 41, 7- 

6. Ibid. VIII 61; XI 79; IX 22, 14 (the last a reference to horseback). 

7. The elder Pliny was carried about Rome in a setta so that his literary studies 
might not be interrupted. He rebukes his nephew for wasting time in walking; 
Pliny, Ep. Ill 5, 16. On the lectica and setta (gestatoria) in general, see Girard, 
DS III 1004-1006; the history of the lectica in Rome is given in detail by Lamer, 
RE XII zo76~zo83. Particularly pertinent to this period are Juvenal, 3, 240-242 ; 6, 
349-3Si; Martial, EC zz. 


8. Petronius, 28. 

9. Martial, VI 80. 

10. Seneca, De Provid. V 4. 
xi. PA 427; ZA 1334- 

12. Martial, II 14, i-io; cf. Ill 19. 

13. Pliny, NH XXXIV 31 ; XXXV 114, I39J XXXVI 15, 22, 24, 28, 34, 35- 

14. Martial, III 19. 

15. Ibid. IX 35- 

16. Juvenal, i, 87-93. 

17. The laws are given in the Digest XI 5, 2 and 3; cf. Cicero, Phil. II 56, 
Horace, Odes III 24, 58; Ovid, Tristia II 472. For the exception made during the 
Saturnalia, see Martial, XI 9. On gaming in general, see Humbert, DS I 180. 

18. Tali had only four marked faces, tesserae six as in our modern dice. For 
methods of playing, see the two articles of Lafaye, DS V 28-31; 125-128. 

19. On capita aut Navia, see Saglio, DS I 897; on par impar, Lafaye, DS IV 
322. For Augustus, Suetonius, Augustus 71. 

20. Described by Lafaye, DS III 1889-1890. 

21. Cicero, De Off. Ill 77, cf. De Fin. II 52; Petronius, 44; Fronto, Ep. I 5 p. 
13 ed. Naber; St. Augustine, De Trin. VIII 5, 8. 

22. C1L VI 1770. 

23. There is an excellent description of these games in Owen's commentary to 
Ovid's second book of the Tristia, pp. 250-259. For the latruncuU see also Lafaye, 
DS HI 992-995; for duodecim scripta, Saglio, DS II 414-415. 

24. On Canus, see Seneca, De Tranq. An. 14, 7; on Piso, Laus Pisonis, 190-208; 
cf. schol. to Juvenal (Valla) V 109. 

25. Martial, VII 71, 7; C1L XIII 444- 

26. Over one hundred of these impromptu playing boards have been found in 
the city of Rome; cf. Lamer, RE XIII 2003. 

27. See Lafaye, DS IV 115-116. The most complete source is Ovid, Nux 73-86. 

28. Digest XI 5, i. 

29. Ibid. XXIII 2, 43, i. 

30. CIL IX 2689. 

31. NS 1911, 431; 457. If we recall that the ass was famous in antiquity for its 
sexual appetite, the cognomen of these young women (asettae) is not unintel- 
ligible; cf. Mallardo, Rivista di Studi Pomp. (1934) 121-125; (i935) 224-228. 

32. The emperor Nero had similar inns set up along the Tiber when he sailed 
down to Ostia; Suetonius, Nero 27. 

33. Schol. to Persius, I 133. 

34. Seneca, De Provid. V 4. The ttlo tempore as shown by the context is the 
equivalent of the entire day, totum diem. 

35. On baths, public and private, see the articles of Saglio, DS I 648-664 and 
Benoit, DS V 214-219, and Bliimner, Privat-AJtertutner, 420-435. 

36. Plutarch, Cato Motor 20, 5. This attitude was still prevalent in the time of 
Cicero, De Off. I 129. 

37. Varro, LJ,. IX 68; cf. Blumner, op. cit. 421. 

38. Pliny, NH XXXVI 121. 

39. Loc. cit. 

40. The Regionaries give 856; Jordan, Topographic II 573. 

41. Seneca, Ep. 86, 9; Martial, III, 30, 4; VIII 42 ; Horace, Sat. I 3, 137. Juvenal, 
2, 152 with schol., informs us that children were admitted free, but that women 
had to pay more than men (6, 447). This is confirmed by the fees' charged at 
Vipasca in Lusitania, where women paid an as as against half an as for men, 
while children were free of charge; cf. CIL II 5181, 1. 19. 

NOTES 315 

42. Pliny, NH XXXVI 121; cf. Dio, XLIX 43 and Blumner, op dt. 421, n. 8. 

43. On the thermae in general, see PA 518-5*0. On free access, Dio, LIV 29. 
With reference to Martial, III 36, 6, Mau doubts that free access was granted in 
perpetuity, RE II 2749; but Pronto states expressly that the public thermae were 
free to all, Epistulae Graecae V p. 247 ed. Naber. 

44- PA 531-532. 

45. Ibid. 533-534- 

46. Ibid. 534-536. The date of dedication is given by the "Fasti Ostienses," Ann. 
epigr. 1933, No. 30 1. zo. 

47- PA 520-524- 

48. Ibid. 527-530. 

49. Ibid. 525-526. 

50. ZA I 4x9. 

51. Of the tripUces thermae (the baths of Agrippa, Nero, and Titus) frequented 
by Martial, X 51, 21, he had the greatest admiration for those of Nero, VII 34, 
5;cf. II 48, 8. 

52. It was the gymnasium and the palaestra as places of moral corruption that 
the Romans censured particularly; Cicero, Tusc. IV 70, De Rep. IV 4; cf. Plutarch, 
Quaest. Rom. 40. Roman youths had always exercised on the Campus Martius to 
prepare themselves for the hardships of military service. 

53. For condemnation of Greek methods of exercise under the empire, cf. Pliny, 
NH XXDC 26, XXXV 168; Seneca, Ep. 88, 18; Tacitus, Ann. XIV 20. 

54. SHA Sev. Alex. 24; Tacitus 10. But at Vipasca in Lusitania the bath was 
kept open until the second hour of the night; CIL II 5181, 1. 19. 

55. Juvenal, n, 205. 

56. Martial, X 48, 3. 

57. SHA Hadrian 22. 

58. SHA Sev. Alex. 24. 

59. Martial, III 36, 6. 

60. Ibid. XIV 163. 

61. Pliny, NH XXXIII 153; Quintilian, V 9, 14; Martial, III 51 and 72; VII 
35; XI 47; Juvenal, 6, 419 (but here we may be dealing with a private bath; cf. 
Friedlaender's commentary ad loc.). 

62. SHA Hadrian 18; cf. Dio, LXIX 8. Another part of Hadrian's general 
regulations for bathing is contained in 22 of the Life. CIL VI 57-9, which warns 
women against entering the men's pools, does not seem to have come from a 
public bath. 

63. CIL II 5181, 1. i9ff: "omnibus diebus calefacere et praestare debeto (sell. 
conductor) a prima luce in horam septimam did mulieribus et ab hora octavo, 
in horam secundam noctis viris" 

64. This assumes that Hadrian's decree prohibiting public bathing before the 
eighth hour applied to men alone. 

65. Petronius, 27. 

66. On ball games in general, see Lafaye, DS IV 475-478. Section 9 of the 
article, p. 477, deals with the trigon. 

67. Op. cit. section 7. 

68. Op. cU. section 3. 

69. Op. cit. section 4. 

70. Op cit. 476. According to Martial, XIV 47, the fottis is the ball for young 
boys and old men, not for young men. 

71. On the punching-bag (Corycus), see Saglio, DS I 1541. 

72. Fencing against a dummy or stake (ad palum) was an important part of 
the training of new recruits and gladiators; Vcgctius, I zi and 12. But it was 


also practiced by those who fenced for sport alone; Juvenal, 6, 274 (in this 
case, a woman) ; Martial, VII 32. 

73. Martial, VII 32. 

74. On the trockus, see Lafaye, DS V 492-493. 

75. Juvenal, 6, 421 ; Martial, VII 67; XIV 49- 

76. Martial, VH 67, 4-5. 

77. Ibid. IV 19; cf. XIV 126 and Pettier, DS II 6x6. 

78. ZA I 425. 

79. Juvenal, VI 422-423. 

80. Pliny, NH XXVIII 55- 
8z. Petronius, 28. 

82. Martial, V 42. 

83. Ibid. 

84. SHA Hadrian 17. 

85. Petronius, 28. 

86. On these libraries, see IA I 420. For libraries in the baths of Diocletian, cf. 
SHA Probus 2. 

87. ZA I 417-418. 

88. Ibid. 207. 

89. Seneca, Ep. 56, 2; Martial, XII 19; Digest III 2, 4. 

90. Martial, XII 70; Quintilian, I 6, 44; Seneca, Ep. 122, 6. 

91. Columella, I 16; Juvenal, 6, 419-429; Seneca, Ep. 15, 3; Pliny, NH XIV 139. 

92. Juvenal, i, 143-144. 
93 SHA Commodus xx, 5. 

94. CIL VI 15258; cf. Palatine Anthology X 112. 

95. Octave Homberg, L'Eau romaine (Paris, 1935)- 

96. Juvenal, 10, 356. t 

97. The emperor Vitellius, for example; cf. Suetonius, Vitellius 13; Dio, LXV 

4, 3- 

98. Festus, s.v. cena p. 49 ed. Lindsay. 

99. Pliny, Ep. Ill 5, xo-ii. 

ico. Galen, DC Sanitate Tuenda V 332, p. 143 ed. Koch in the Corpus Medi- 
corum Graecorwn; cf. Paulus Aegineta, I 23. 

101. Martial, XI 104, 4. 

102. Galen, op. cit. VI 412, p. 181 ed. Koch. It consisted of bread alone. 

103. Suetonius, Claudius 34. 

104. Martial, XIII 31. For Martial's breakfast hour, cf. VIII 67. 

105. Seneca, Ep. 83, 6. 

106. Fronto, Ep. IV 6 p. 69 ed. Naber; Galen, op. cit. V 332-334; Martial, I 49, 
14; XIII 13. 

107. Pliny, Ep. Ill 5, 10. 

108. Seneca, Ep. 83, 6. 

109. See Revue de Paris (June i, 1938), 8858. 

no. Suetonius, Nero 27; for Vitellius, see n. 97 above. 

in. Pliny, Ep. HI i, 8-9. 

112. Martial, XI 52; cf. X 48- 

1x3. Pliny, Ep. HI 5, 13- 

1x4. Suetonius, Nero 27. 

115. Petronius, 79, where some of the guests leave at midnight. 

xx6. Juvenal, 8, 9-12. 

117. Vitruvius, VI 3, 8. 

xx8. Val. Max., n x, 2. 

1x9. Suetonius, Claudius 32; cf. Tacitus, Ann. XHI 16. This custom was pre- 


served in a conservative ceremony such as the banquet of the Arval Brotherhood 
as late as the third century, CIL VI 2104, 1. 12; but Plutarch already knew of 
children reclining at table, Quaest. Convivales VII 8, 4. 
xao. Columella, XI 19. 

121. In Gaul there does not seem to have been any fixed custom, since we find 
both men and women seated and reclining at the banquets depicted on the funeral 
reliefs p see Esp6randieu ? Recueil des bas-reliefs de la Gaule romaine VI, Nos. 5154; 
5155; Vm 6449; 6489. 

122. Martial, V 70. See the painting from Pompeii depicting a tavern scene re- 
produced in DS I 973. 

123. Martial, V 79. 

124. Plutarch, Cato Minor 56. 

125. On the triclinium in general, see the recent article of Hug, RE XIIIA 

126. Petronius, 31. 

127. Martial mentions stibadia seating seven and eight persons, X 48, 5-6, XIV 
87; cf. SHA Elagabalus 29. A couch for twelve was an exception; Suetonius, 
Augustus 70, SHA Verus 5. 

128. Vitruvius, VI 7,3; Athanaeus, II 47f. 

129. Martial, XII 29, 12; XIV 138. 

130. Horace, Satires II 8, 10. 

131. Juvenal, iz, 133, mentions knives with ivory and bone handles. According 
to Martial, XIV 22, cf. Ill 82, 9, the best toothpicks (dentiscalpia) were made of 
mastic wood, but a feather might be used. Trimalchio had one of silver; Petronius, 

132. Both these types are mentioned by Martial, XIV 120 and 121; cf. VIII 
71, 9-10 ; 33, 23-24. 

133. Petronius, 31. 

134. Ibid. 60; Martial, II 37, 7; VH 20, 13. 

135. Juvenal, i, 94~9$. 

136. Macrobius, Sat. Ill 13, loff. He describes a banquet of the pontifices on the 
occasion of the inauguration of Lentulus as flamen MartiaKs. It is analysed in DS 
I 1282. 

137. Petronius, 31. 

138. Ibid. 33. 

139. /W. 35- 

140. Ibid. 36. 

141. Ibid. 40. 

142. Ibid. 59. 

X43> Ibid. 60; there seem to have been two desserts, cf. 68. 

144. Ibid. 68. 

145- /Wrf. 72-73. 

146. On ancient wines in general, see the excellent article of Jferde* DS V 912-924. 
Martial had a particularly low opinion of wine from Marseilles; X 36, XIII 
123, XIV 1x8. He classes Vatican wine with vinegar, X 45. Falemum, however, 
he twice characterises as immortal* ; DC 93; XI 36, 5. 

, 147. The label of one of Trimalchio's wines read: "Falemum Opimianum an- 
norum centum"; Petronius, 34. 

148. Martial,! n; VI 89. 

149. See Jardt, op. dt. 921. 

150. On the eomissatio, see DS I 1373. 

151. Martial, I 71; VIII 51, 21; XI 36, 7; XIV 170. 

152. Pliny, NH XIV 91. 


153. Pliny, Ep. II 6. 

154. Martial, IX a. 

155. Juvenal, 5, 24^55. 

156. Pliny, Ep. 11 6. 

157- Petronius, 34-35; 5*-53; 5** o. 

158. Pliny, Ep. DC 17. 

159. On these dancing girls from Cadiz, see Juvenal, zz, 162-164; Martial, V 
78, 26-28. 

160. Pliny, Ep. DC 17, 2. 

161. Cicero, Ad Fam. X 22, 5; Juvenal, 3, 107; Martial, X 481 ">; Pliny, 
Panegyricus 49. 

162. Suetonius, Claudius 32. 

163. Martial, VH 18, 9-10. 

164. Petronius, 47. 

165. Martial, III 82, 15-18; cf. VI 89, 1-2; XVI 119; Petronius, 27. 

166. Juvenal, iz, 175; cf. Pliny, NH XIV 146; Vitruvius VII 4, 5. 

167. Seneca, Cons, ad Helviam X 3; cf. Juvenal 6, 425-433; Martial, VII 67, 

z68. Apicius, IV 2^32). 

169. Petronius, 70. 

170. On Roman food in general, see Fournier, DS I 1141-1169; Orth, RE XI, 
944-982. See also Bilabel's discussion of Roman cook-books, ibid. 941-943. 

Z7z. Juvenal, zx, 7$-8z. 
172. Ibid. 14, 6-10. 
Z73. Ibid. 4, Z5~z6. 
174. Ibid. 140-142. 
Z7S. Pliny, Ep. VI 31, Z3. 
Z76. Ibid. V 2. 
Z77. Ibid. V 2Z, 4. 
178. Ibid. Ill 12, z. 

z8o. Martial, X 48. 

181. Juvenal, xz, 66-74. 

182. NS 1927, 93-94; cf. Delia Corte, Case e abUanti a Pompei, pp. 120-121. 

183. CIL XIV 2112; cf. G. Boissier, La religion romaine II 283. 

184. Acts of the Apostles II 46. 

185. Tertullian, Apologeticus 39, 17-18. 


ACCIUS, 223 
Achilles, 228 

Arilii Glabiiones, 137, 138 

Acquatacclo (River Almo), 15. 

Actiaca, games founded by Augustus, 
206, 244 

Actio rei uxoriae, 97 

Actium, 126, 244 

Adultery, 93-95, 189; Lex lutia de 
adult criis, 94, 95; re-enactment by 
Domitian, 94, 95 ; recast by Septimius 
Severus, 95 

Aedis Martis, 15 

Aegisthus, 227 

AeUa Sentia, 295, n. 38 

Aelius Aristides, 25 

Aemilia, wife of Pompey, 96 

Aemilius Paulus, 298, n. 8 

Aemilius Scaurus, 85 

Aeneas, 228 

Aerope, the wife of Atreus, 227 

Aesop, in 

Aetolians, Roman campaign against the, 

Afer, 67, 68 

Africa, province of, grain, 18, 176; Saint 
Augustine, no; governed by Sallust, 
113; elephants, 239 

Africanus, fortune-hunter, 67 

Agamemnon, 117, 226 

Agape (Aydm,), 139, 275, 276 

Agave, 228 

Ager Romanus, 12 

Agnatio, 76 

Agon Capitolinus, 206, 245, 257 

Agrippa, improvements in Roman sew- 
ers, 39; innovations at chariot races, 
214, 221; founding of the baths of 
Agrippa, 254-255 

Albulae, quarries of, 234 

Album, census list, 17; list of preced- 
ence, 275 

Alcestis, 88 

Alexander the Great, 1x4, 116, 129; 
command regarding beards, 159; 
statue and group by Lysippus, 250 

Alexander Severus, 246, 255; Life of, 

Alexandria, 145, 175; water-dock, 146; 
Museum of, 109, 193; Library of, 

Alexandrine thought, and neo-Pytha- 
goreanism, 128 

Alphabet, method of teaching, 104, 105, 

Alps, province of the, 53 

Ammianus Marcellinus, record of Con- 
stantine's admiration of the Forum of 
Trajan, 7 

Amphitheatre, punishnfent of criminals, 
53; imperial shows and spectacles, 
203, 231-244, 245; Pompeii, 233; of 
Taurus, 234; Amphitheatrum Cas- 
trense, 234; Flavian Amphitheatre, 
see the Colosseum 

Anatolia, cults of, 129 

Avarotial, dissections 

Andromache, 167 

Animals, sacrifice as part of marriage 
ceremony, 81; sacrifice of the "Oc- 
tober hbrse," 207; wild beasts used 
in the arena, 236; emperor's menag- 
erie, 237 ; tame animals used in circus 
acts, 238; numbers slaughtered in the 
arena, 239; punishment of criminals, 
ad bcstias, 243 

Anna Perenna, festival of, 122 

Annona, mythical personification of the 
year's food supplies, 16; numbers fed, 
16, 17, 65, 173; amount of grain 
needed each year, 18; temple of An- 
nona Augusta, 174; worship by the 
guilds, 176; tessera entitling one to 
her bounty, 182 

Anthony, Marc, 116, 160, z6x, 244 

Antiates, ships captured from the, 145 



AntinoUs, Bithynian slave in whose 
honor Hadrian founded a religion, 
134; obelisk of, 15; college of sal- 
vation, 57 134, 135, 275-276 

Antiochus of Syria, 146 

Antiquaries, 184 

Antiquarium Comvnale, 285 

Antistia, divorced wife of Pompey, 96 

Antoninus Pius, 19, 59, 62, 127, 135; 
originated in Nemausus (Nimes), 56; 
decree condemning slaying of slave 
as homicide, 58; example of monog- 
amy, 100 ; tribute to wife, 135 

Antonius Creticus, 161, 162 

Anubis, 130 

Apollo, 244 

Apollodorus of Damascus, architect of 
the Trajan group, 7, 8 

Apoxyomenus,- the, of Lysippus, 210 

Appian of Alexandria, on the position 
of the Roman slave, 59 

Appianus, defiance of Commodus, 190 

Apuleius, owner of House of Gamala, 

Apuleius, 107; to whom Isis appeared, 

Aqua Trauma, 39, 255 

Aqueducts, connected with market fish- 
ponds, 7; built by Trajan, 9, 38; as 
part of the fortification, 15 ; overflow 
used to flush sewers, 39; listed in 
Rcgionarits, 286 

Aquileia, discovery of pocket sun-dials 
at, 147 

Aquinum, birthplace of Juvenal, 55 

Ara Coeli, discovery of ruins under the, 


Arabia, conquest of 109, ix, 101; por- 
phyry and incense, 176 

Aragon, home of Martial, 55 

Arbuscula, mimic-actress, 229 

Ardeatine Gate, 15 

Argiletum, district devoted to handi- 
craftsmen and booksellers, 194 

Aristonicus, 108 

Aristotle, the three types of eloquence, 

Arithmetic, method of teaching, 104, 

Aries, no, 120, 175 

Armenia, 240 

Armilustrium, festival of the consecra- 
tion of arms, 204 

Arria the Elder, wife of Caecina Paetus, 

Arriana Polliana, msida rentals, 291, n. 


Artisans, condition of, 178, 184 
Arx, the Citadel, 13 
Asia, senators from, 56 
.Asinarian Gate, 15 
Asinius Pollio, 27-28; completion of 

Roman library, 193, 195 
Astrology, Roman faith in, 129, 131, 

209; introduction of seven-day week, 


Astronomy, 1x3 
Atargatis (Dea Syra), temple of, 129, 


Athena, temple of, 119 
Athenaeum, built by Hadrian hi Rome, 

iQS, 196 

Athenaeus, estimate of slaves in house- 
hold, 70 

Athens, educational model for Rome, 
107, 109; sun-dials, 144* MS 

Atia, mother of Augustus, 103 

Atina, Cicero's defence of a citizen of, 

Atrectus, bookseller, 194 

Atreus, 227 

Atrium, entrance hall, 24, 36; house- 
hold place of sacrifice, 81 

Attic art, renaissance under Hadrian, 

Atticus, copying studio, 193 

Attis, liturgy of, 129, 130, 133, 135 

Auctus, 182 

Auditoria, 196, 197 

Augurs, participation in dedication of 
City of Rome, 12; Pliny's election to 
College of Augurs, 125 

Augusta, feminine imperial title granted 
Livia, 85, 135 

"Augustus," imperial title of divinity, 54 

Augustus (Octavius), 9, 3i, 34, S3, 54, 
81, 100, 127, 157, 169, 191, 226, 229; 
Forum of, 3; organizes fourteen di- 
visions of Urbs, 13-14, is, 285; old 
fortifications dismantled, 14; spedal 
administration of the vicus, 16; ad- 
vance in population, 18; Res Gcstae, 
18, 211, 214; generosity, 18, 20; re- 
strictions on height of houses, 2$, 26; 
incorporation of outside districts, 28; 
fire-fighting night watchmen, 33; on 



manumission of slaves, 60; marriage 
by "usus," 80; marital laws and 
guardianship, 84; laws against adul- 
tery, 94, 95; on divorce, 97, 98, 99; 
concubinage, 101; education, 103; 
jurisprudence, 109, 162, 187; extinc- 
tion of his family line, 126; divinity 
of emperor, 135; establishing the 
twelve months, 143; obelisk of 
Montecitorio a sun-dial, 147; cloth- 
ing, 153, 154; hairdressing and shav- 
ing, 158, 1 60; legislation on corpora- 
tions, 183; enthusiasm for public 
readings, 195; Ludi Fortunae Re- 
ducts f 204; holidays, 205; on wearing 
the toga, 208; buttressing power by 
use of games and spectacles, 210, 211, 
232; obelisk of Rameses II, 214; 
races, 215; Theatre of Marcellus, 222; 
naumachia, 234; criminals ad bcstias, 
243; Greek games, 244, 257; Portico 
of Octavia, 249; gambling games, 251 

Aulus Gellius, 25, 81 

Aulus Fulvius, 77 

Aulus Plautius, 137 

Aurelia, mother o r Caesar, 103 

Aurelian Wall, 10, n, 14; fortification, 
14, 15 

Aurelius Victor, Egyptian grain supplied 
Rome, 18 

Ausonius, Ephemeris, occupations of a 
day, 156; appeasement by gladiatorial 
slaughter, 208 

Auspcx, 54, 82, 83 

Authors, condition under Roman sys- 
tem of publishing, 194 

Aventine Hill, 13; residence of Asinius 
Pollio, and meeting place of Roman 
plebs, 28; within the Roman sewer- 
age system, 39, 42; system of ware- 
houses, 176, 177; Circus Maximus, 
213; 214; thermae dedicated by Tra- 
jan, 255 

BABYLON, 117, 144 
Baetica, birthplace of Trajan and 
Hadrian, 56; meats to Rome, 176; 
extortions of tlassicus, and his trial, 

i9* 193 
Bakeries, at Pompeii, 37; inducements 

to set up Roman shops, 60, 181 
Baltic, amber from the, 176 
Balzac, Physiologic du Manage, 164 

Banishment, punishment of honestiores, 

53; of early Christians, 137, 138 
Banking, 177; banking operation for- 
bidden to women, 181 
Banquet of Tkyestes, 88, 228 
Barbers and barbershops, 48, 157; ap- 
prenticeship, 162 

Bartoli, Professor, excavations beneath 
the Church of Sant' Andriano, 191- 

Basilica lulia, description, 187; assem- 
bly of the centumviri, 187; draught 
boards scratched on the steps, 189, 

Basilica Ulpia (Trajan), 4, 8, 9 
Basilicae, 249; enumerated in Region- 

arics, 286 

Baths, public, x, 254-263; baths of 
Caracalla (thermae of Antoninus), 8, 
255, 256, 260, 262; largest public 
baths built by Trajan, 9, 255, 262; 
Herculaneum and Pompeii, 35-36; 
thermae, 156, 248; women's attend- 
ance, 171, 258, 259; built by the 
Caesars, endowed by philanthropists, 
254; census of baths, 254; baths built 
by Agrippa, 254-255 ; thermae erected 
by Nero, 255; baths of Titus, 255; 
thermae built by Trajan in memory 
of Licinus Sura, 255 ; thermae of Con- 
stantine, 255; baths of Diocletian, 
255; description and types of baths, 
255-257; hours for bathing, 257, 258; 
mixed bathing, 258; restrictions, 258; 
games at the bath, 257, 259, 260; evils 
of the bath, 262; "Palace of Roman 
Water," 263; baths of Stephanus, 
264; enumerated in the Regionaries, 
258, 286 

BathroomSf 37 
See also Balneum 

Bathyllus, Mime, 229 

Beds and furnishings, 34, 152-153, 164- 

Bel, 129 

Bellona, 48, 131 

Belvedere Torso, 262 

Betrothal, 80-81; decree by Augustus 
against breach of, 97 

BibUopolae, 193, 194 

Bibliothecae Ulpiae, libraries of Tra- 
jan, 5, 9 

Bidez, Joseph, demonstration of the 


debt of Stoicism to the Semites, 128 

Bilbilis, Aragon home of Martial, 55, 
152, 172 

Billeter, researches of, 66 

Birth rate, falling, in upper classes, 97 

Bithynia, 136 

Bizerta ( Hippo -Diarchy t us ), 175 

Blanchet, Adrien, study of walled towns 
in Gaul, 14 

Blandina, torture of, 243 

Boethius, A., 29 

Boileau, Embarras de Paris, 49 

Boissier, Gaston, story of the tutor- 
slave, 104; piety of the pagan Ro- 
mans, 122, 124 

Bona Dea, 131 

Bossuet, 135 

Bovillae, 12, 135 

Bridges, enumerated in Regionaries, 286 

Brindisi, 117 

Britannicus, 71, 224, 225 

Britons, 137 

Brothels, 253 

Brutus, 83 

Bruma, 251 

Building, regulation of, under Trajan, 
9; incentive to building, under Nero, 

Buildings, frequent collapse of, 25, 31, 
32, 49; restrictions on height, 25 

Burial forbidden within pomerium, 6, 

Businessmen, 173; hours of business, 

CABINET, Imperial, slaves and 

^jt freedmen, 62-63; Hadrian's reser- 
vation for members of the Equestrian 
Order, 63 

Caecina Paetus, 86-87 

Caelian Hill (Caelius), 28; (Mons 
Caelius), 215; (Caelius), 234 

Caelius Rufus, annual rent, 26 

Caere, 13 

Caesar, Julius, 42, 81, 108; congestion 
of Forum, 9; enlargement of Urbs, 
13; population, 16; triumph 45 B.C., 
17; Censor Morum, 17; residence in 
Rome, 27; gold stool, 35; decree on 
care of streets, 46; decree regarding 
night traffic, 49, 50, 51; loyalty of 
Legions, 54 ; patrician families, 61 ; 
marriages, 96; mother's interest in his 

education, 103; interest in grammar 
and rhetoric, 109, 115; appoints Sal- 
lust governor of province of Africa, 
113; the god Caesar, 127; Jewish 
colony in Rome, 136; twelve months 
of the year, calendar reform, 143 ; the 
toga, 153; fastidiousness, 157; clean 
shaven, 160, 164; Curia, 191; first 
State Library in Rome, 193; Ludi 
Victoriae Cacsaris, 204; holidays to 
commemorate significant events in his 
life, 205; inattention at spectacles, 
21 1 ; improvements in Circus Maxi- 
mus, 213, 214, 232; Theatre of Mar- 
cellus, 222; canticum from Pacuvius' 
Armorum Indicium sung at his fu- 
neral, 223; assassination, 230; Greek 
games, 244; gardens bequeathed to 
the people, 249 
See also Lex Julia 

Caesennii, benefactors of "College of 
Salvation, 1 ' 275 

Calchas, 117 

Calendar, days and hours, 143-150; 
Julian reform, 143; solar calendar, 
183; stone calendars, 203; calendars 
of festivals, jeriatia, 203-206 
See also Fasti 

Calendar of Philocalus, record of games 
and public holidays, 206 

Calends, the, 144, 191, 205 

Calenus, 165 

Caligula, 230; claims to dynastic divin- 
ity , 54~55; Egyptian cults welcomed 
back, 130; shaving as a religious rite, 
160; pronouncement on Seneca, 200; 
building of the Circus Gai, 213; races 
under, 215; assassination of, 228 

Calpurnia, wife of Pliny the Younger, 
88, 89, 92, 165 

Calpurnia Hispulla, 90 

Calpurnius Fabatus, 89 

Calpurnius Piso, 196; mythology of the 
constellations, 199 

Calvina, 67 

Calza, Guido, research on houses, 23; 
reconstruction of Casa dei Dipinti, 

Campagna, the, suburban villas, 28; 

frescoes, 182 
Campij enumerated in Regionaries, 286 

Campus Jftartius, 233, 284; plain dedi- 
cated to military exercises, 13 ; a por- 



tion released for dwelling-houses, 13; 
temples, tombs, etc., 22; obelisk of 
Montetitorio, a sun-dial, 147; Saepta 
lulia, 249 ; thermae of Nero, 255 

Cantabrians, campaign against, 160 

Cantica, recitatives or lyrics, 224, 225, 
227, 228; canticum from Pacuvius' 
Armorum Indicium sung at Caesar's 
funeral, 224 

CapiUi Indict, 168 

Capitol, the, 13 ; Temple of Jupiter, 67, 
123, (Capitoline Jove), 160, 249 
See also Capitoline Hill; Citadel 

Capitoline games, no 

Capitoline Hill, 6, 13, 284 

Ccpua, 13, 130, 233 

Caracalla, 221; baths (thermae of An- 
toninus), 255, 256, 260, 262; plan of 
Rome, 285 

Carinae, the, 27 

Carneades, academician, 109 

Carthage, no, 175; Christian martyrs, 

Casa del Dipinti (House of Paintings), 
Ostia, reconstruction, 30 

Cassiterides (Scilly Isles), tin from the, 

Castle of S. Angelo, 234 

Castra Praetoria, 187 

Catachresis, in grammar, 112 

Catiline, insurrectionist, 77; destroyed 
by Cicero, 47 

Catilius Severus, 273 

Cato the Elder (the Censor): sanita- 
tion, 42; treatment of his plough 
oxen, 56; rigorous family discipline, 
78. 103; penalty for adultery, 94; 
admired by Hadrian, in; influence 
on oratory, 114; represented as 
bearded, 159; attitude to the public 
baths, 254 

Cato the Younger (of Utica), marriage 
to Marcia, 83; divorce and re-mar- 
riage to Marcia, 96; shaven daily, 
1 60; vow on defeat of the senatorial 
army, 265 

Catullus, Laureolus, 230, 231, 246 

Cavea, spectators' seats, 213; descrip- 
tion, 214, 217, 227, 235; Circus 
Maximus, 222 

Ccna, 263, 264 

Cenae, religious, 275 

Cenacula, dwelling apartments, used as 

a basis for computing Roman popu- 
lation, 19, 20; description, 24, 29; 
confined to upper stories of buildings. 
26; danger in case of fire 26, 33; 
lack of heating arrangements, 36; 
lack of water, 39 ; sanitation, 40 ; sub- 
letting, 43, 44, 165 

Census, Rome, January, 1939, n; cen- 
sus of vici, 16; census of 86 B.C. 
abandoned, 17; catalogue of different 
categories of population substituted 
and made standard, 17, 18, 19 
See also Regionaries 
"Centenaries" of the Eternal City, 206 
Centumcellae (Civita-Vecchia), Tra- 
jan's country house, 189, 273 
Centumviri, 187-189, 191 
Centurion, annual salary, 72 
Ceres, temple of, rebuilt by Pliny, 124- 


Cerialia, public holidays, 204 

Cess trenches, 40, 42 

Chaldean cult, 130, 132 

Chariot races, 212-221, 247, 251 

Charon, 240 

Children, parental authority over, 77- 
78, 79; emancipation, 78 

China, silk from, 169, 179 

Chios, fruit from, 272 

Christian Church, martyrs, 87, 136, 137, 
138, 244; Latin adopted by the, 
no; converts in the directing classes, 
137; requickening of virtue, 140; 
Christian emperors stop arena butch- 
eries, 247; ccnae, 275; failure to men- 
tion Christian monuments in Region- 
ones, 286 

Christianity, advent of, 135, 136-140; 
analogies between Christianity and 
the pagan mysteries, 138-139 

Chrysippus, Stoic philosopher, 104 

Church of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, 
234; of Saint Mary of the Angels, 
255; of Saint Peter, 236; of Sant* 
Adriano, excavations beneath, 192 

Cicero, 25, 42, 73, "6, 193, 229, 252; 
In V err em, free grain, 17; and Cati- 
line, 47; De Officus, the Roman fam- 
ily, 77; divorce, 96-97; treatises, 108; 
study of his works in classes, xxx; 
murdered by Popilius Laenas, 118; 
College of Augurs, 125; lucubration, 
152; mania for litigation, z86; pub- 



lished works, 194; Tusculan Dispute* 
lions, 225; defence of a citizen of 
Atina, 230; popular reaction to the 
murder of Caesar, 230; opinion on 
gladiatorial combat, 242 

Cimber, Martial's miser, 69 

Ciminian forests, 272 

Cimon, son of Miltiades, 119 

Cincinnatus, 155 

Cinna, 13, 96 

Cinyras and Afyrrka, 228 

Circuses, 212-221; Agonalis, 245; Fla- 
minius, 14, 28, 212-213,^222; Gai, 
213; Maximus, 213-215, 222, 240 

Cirta (Constantine), capital of Nu- 
midia, 113 

Citadel, the, 13 
See also The Capitol 

Citizens, classifications of, 52, 55; 
manumission of slaves and rights of 
citizenship, 59 

City-State. See Urbs 

Civita-Vecchia (Centumcellae) , 1 79, 

273 * 

Civil cases, 185, 187, 203 

Claqueurs, 188 

Classicus, Caecilius, trial and punish- 
ment for extortion, 192-193 

Claudia Rufina, 88, 91 

Claudius, ix, 179, 223, 271; Caesar's 
decree regarding night traffic, 50; 
emperor by his dynasty's divinity, 
54; decree regarding sick or infirm 
slaves, 57; outfitting merchant ships, 
60, 181 ; cabinet recruited from freed- 
men, 62; murder, 71; treatment of 
wife of Senator Caecina Paetus, 87; 
reformation of religious cults, 130; 
Christianity, 136; decree regarding 
toga, 155; women's hairdress, 167; 
writer of history, 195; holidays, 203, 
205; cost and equipment of games, 
2xi, 2x4; gladiatorial shows, 232, 237, 

Claudius Ariston, 189 

Claudius Marcellinus, 192 

Cleopatra, 244 

Clepsydra, 146, 147, 186 

"Client," 171-173 

Clitumnus, river of, and adjacent pas- 
tures, 123, 124, 134 

Clivus Argcntarius, 46 ; Capitolinus, 46 ; 
Publidus, 47; Victoriae, 177 

Cloaca Maxima, 39 

Cloacae, 39, 42 

Clodius Albinus, of Hadrumetum, 56 

Clothing, 265, 278; men's, 153-156; 
women's, 154, 166 

Coemptio. See Marriage 

Cognatio, 76 

Colleges devoted to the gods, 57, 130, 
135; collegium salutare, 135, 275 

Colonnade of Quirinus, 220 

Colosseum (Amphitheatrum Flavium), 
8, 212, 214, 234-239, 245; cross, in 
memory of the. Christian martyrs, 244 

Colossus of the Sun, 234 

Column of Marcus Aurelius, 8, 25 

Column of Trajan, 4, 5, 7, 8-9; Trajan's 
ashes deposited in the base, 6 

Columns of Theodosius and Arcadius, 
Constantinople, 8 

Comitia, 12, 108, 182, 210 

Commagenian priests, 130 

Commentary, as taught in grammar 
class, 112 

Commissatio, drinking match, 269 

Commodus, attends gladiatorial school, 
28, 246; flogging of colonist volun- 
teers, 64; congregation of Mithra, 
135; decree on use of toga, 155; 
abused by a condemned man, 190- 
191; slaughter of arena animals, 
238; overuse of the bath, 263 

Como, 56; Lake Como, 87 

Concubinage, 101-103 
'Condemnation ad bfstias, 247; ad 
metatta, 53, 247 

Confarreatio. See Marriage 

Confiscation, as a punishment, 53; im- 
perial enrichment by, 68 

Congjaria, 7, 16, 18, 65, 77 
See also Annona 

Coniunctio sanguinis, 77 

Conscript Fathers. See Patres Con- 

Constantine, city of (Cirta), 113 

Constantine, Emperor, admiration of 
Trajan's Forum, 7; decree on the 
murder of a son by his father, 77; 
supply of victims for arena stopped, 
247; compilation of the Rcgionaries, 

Consualia, 204 

Consus, altar to, 2x3 

Cooking arrangements, 37, 48 



Copyists, vagaries of, 19, 112; copying 
studio of Atticus, 193 

Corellius Rufus, 58 

Corinth, bronzes of, 174 

Corneille, 34; Cid, 224 

Cornelius Minicianus, 193 

Cornelia Procula, 275 

Cornutus, 273 

Corporations, 1 75-201 

Cotton stuffs from India, 169 

Country villas, 197 

Courts, congestion of, 186; description 
of a hearing, 187-189 

Crassus, 32, 33 

Cretan Labyrinth, 119, 228 

Creticus, M. Antonius, 161-162 

Criminal prosecutions, 187 

Crito, physician to Trajan, 61 

Critolaus, 109 

Crucifixion of humiliores, 53 

Ctesibius, inventor of water-clock, 146 

Cumont, Franz, analysis of Roman 
cults, 129, 133 

Cuq, fidouard, research into the popu- 
lation of Rome, 19, 20 

Cura corporis, men, 156, 157; women, 

Curia of Julius Caesar, 63, 173, 191, 
192, 200 

Curio the Younger, 232 

Curtius, Putcal of, 187 

Curio sum. See Regionaries 

Curius Dentatus, ix 

Curule chair, 35, 188, 192 

Curule magistrate, 215 

Cybele (Great Idaean Mother of the 
Gods; Lady of Salvation; Mater 
deum salutaris), cult of, 129, 130, 131, 
133, J35 163, 204, 207 

Cyniphs, 161 

Cytheris, 229 

DACIA, 190; conquest of, ix; 
plunder used to build Trajan's 
Basilica, 4-5; episodes pictured on 
Column of Trajan, 5; second cam- 
paign, 61; captives, 62, 101; gold, 176 
See also Decebalus 

Dalmatia, gold from, 176 

Damascus, fruit from, 272 

Dancing, 227 

Day, division of the, 144-145 
See also Calendar 

Dea Syra. See Atargatis 

Death of Hercules, 246 

Decalogue, the, 136 

Decebalus, 5, 68 

Decimus Laberius, 230 

Delmatius, no 

Demetrius Poliorcetes, 145 

Depilatories, 163 

Depositio barbae, 160 

De Rossi, G.-B., on conversions to 
Christianity, 138 

Diadochi, the, 114 

Diana, double invocation with An- 
tinoiis, 57, 135, 275, 276 

Diana, Hill of, 67 

Dice games, 251 

Dido, 91, 228 

Dies Dominica, 144; fasti, 185, 203; 
legitimi, 191; nefasti, 203; softs, 144 

Digest, on refund of rent in case of 
tearing down an insula, 32; on dam- 
ages in case of slops thrown from 
windows, 42; prosecution of crim- 
inals, 48 

Dinner, 263-276 

Dio Cassius, congiarium, 16; Christian 
martyrs, 137; seven-day week, 144; 
shows and spectacles a barrier against 
revolution, 210 

Diocles, 219 

Diocletian, reconstruction of the Curia, 
191; of Theatre of Pompey, 223; 
decoration of Campus Martius, 233; 
baths, 255; early description of Rome, 

Diogenes, 109 

Diomedes, 116, 156 

Dionysius, 250 

Divi, 54, 126, 208 

Divination, 131-133 

Divorce, 95-100 

Doles, x, 65 

See also Annona; Congiaria; Sportu- 

Dominus et deus, 54, 126 

Domitia, Empress, 226 

Domitian, 44, 57, 98, 124, 134, 227, 237, 
258, 266; edict against street display 
of merchandise, 47; assassination, 63, 
126, 156; law against adultery, 94, 
95 > 99; Temple of Isis, 130; persecu- 
tion of Christians, 137, 138; decree 
regaiding use of toga, 155; action 



against literary production, 194; as a 
poet, 195; munificence at the races, 
221; Theatre of Pompey, 223; Lau- 
rcolus, 231; Colosseum, 234; gladia- 
torial combat, 240, 242; Greek 
games, 245, 257 

Domitilla, sister of Domitian, 63 

Domitius Afer, 188 

Domus, enumeration in Regionaries, 18, 
19, 20; etymology, 19; description of 
house, 24, 31, 280; ground floor 
apartment, 26, 29, 38, 44; sanitation, 

Domus Aurea, 234, 255 

Domus divina of the Caesars, 70 

Dorus, publisher of Cicero and Livy, 

Dowry, action of a divorced wife to 
reclaim it, 97 ; propter liber os t impen- 
sas, res amotas, mores, 97 ; legal safe- 
guard, 98; hold on the husband, 99 

Drama, death of the Roman, 223, 224 

Duchesne, Monseigneur, 83; compari- 
son of Christian ritual with Roman 
nuptial rite, 83; Christian and pagan 
brotherhoods, 139 

Duilius, 145 

Dureau de la Malle, distribution of 
population of ancient times, 10, n 

MANUBIIS, legend on Trajan's 
Basilica, 4 

Eburones, the, massacre of Caesar's 
lieutenants, 160 

Economic liberalism of the first An- 
tonines, 72 

Economic system and condition of the 
masses, 74 

Education, 101-121; primary, 103-107; 
popular education a failure, 107, 114; 
Greek influence, 107, 108, no, in, 
113, 245; schools of Hellenistic type 
in Rome, 107; political power of 
superior education, 108 

Egypt* 53, 248; grain supplied Rome, 
18, 176; imperial revenues, 68; reli- 
gious cults, 129, 130; Far East cara- 
van ports, 169 

Elephants, 113, 213 

Elis, a fable of the people of, 118 

Eloquence, 245 ; a threat to government, 
1 08; emptied of all real content, 109; 
three types, 114; condemnation of 

eloquence, 115; prizes at the Agon 
Capitolinus, 245 ' 

Encolpius, 259 

Ennius, in; Andromache, 225 

Epicureanism, 128 

Epirota, Q. Caecilius, in 

Epitaphs and obituary inscriptions, 57, 
70, 72, 91, 102, no, 279 

Equestrian Order (Equitcs}, amount of 
fortune necessary, 53, 66, 68, 73, 
232; symbol, a gold ring, 60; place 
in imperial cabinet, 63; etiquette of 
a "client," 172; seats at the Circus 
Maximus, 214 

Esquiline, fifth region of Rome, 14; 
gardens of Maecenas, 27 

Esquiline Hill, 13, 67, 234; warehouses, 

Etruscans, experience in drainage of 

marshes, 40; clothing, 154; bronze 

razors, 161 ; human sacrifice, 208 
Euphrates, 169; captives from, 101; 

amphitheatres, 246 
Eurysaches, tomb of, 179 
Eurythmus, 190 
Eusebius, 138 
Evadne, 88 
Exegesis, 112 

ir*ACTIONES, 216, 217, 221 
JL Familia gladiatoria, 236 
Familiae servile s, 70 
Family instability through divorce, 95- 

Far East, riches to Rome, ix; pepper 

and spices, 7; routes to the, 72; 

silks, 176 
Farnese Bull, 262 

Farnese Palace. See Palazzo Farnese 
Fasti of Ovid, in 
Fasti Osticnscs, 222, 42 
Faustina the Elder, wife of Antoninus 

Pius, loo, 135 

Favorinus of Aries, no, 120 
Felicita, Christian martyr, 243 
Feminism, 85, 90-95; confined to upper 

classes, 180 

Feriae, 203 ; publicac, 204 ; privatae, 205 
Ferialia, 205 
Festus, 207, 208 
Fez, 41 

Fezzan, ivory, 176 
Ficulea, 12 



Fidenae, 12 

Fire, danger from, 28, 32, 33; Juvenal, 
26; precautions against, 39; fire of 
64 A.D., 19, 45, 136, 214, 233; 80 
A.D., 130; 104 AX)., 255; 191 A.D., 
285; in the reign of Antoninus 
Pius, 19 

Fishing contest, 207 

Fishponds, market, 7; Nero's, 234 

Flamen Dialis, So 

Flamines, the, 49 

Flamininus, L. Quinctius, 118 

Flaminius Nepos, 212 

Flamma, the gladiator, 242 

Flavia Domitilla, aunt, 137, 138 

Flavia Domitilla, niece, 138 

Flavian Amphitheatre. See the Colos- 

Flavian period, 9, 51, 62, 70, 8$, 108, 
130, 137, 167, 215 

Flavius Clemens, 137, 138 

Flavius Sabinus, 137 

Flora, games in honor of (Floralia), 
204, 207, 230; statue, 262 

Food supply, organization of, 178, 202 
See also Annona 

Foot races, 204, 245 

Footwear, 153, 156 

Foreigners in Rome, 52, 248 
See also Peregrini 

Forma Vrbis Romae, 285 

Fortifications dismantled by Augustus, 

Fortunata, wife of Petronius' Trimal- 

chio, 93, 1 66 
Fortunes, 66, 67 
Forum, Roman, 37, 39, 41, 45, 109, 151, 

194, 202; for a enumerated in Re- 

gionarics, 286 
Forum of Augustus, 3 
Forum Boarium, 284 
Forum of Caesar (Forum luUum), 37, 

41, 109 

Forum HoUtorium, 284 
Forum of Ostia, 174-17$ 
Forum of Peace (Vespasian), 194, 285; 

sur/ey register of the Urbs, 23-24 
Forum of Trajan, x, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9* 

Frank, Tenney, on tne emancipated 

population of Rome, 6z 
Fregenae, 12 
Frejus, in the Provencal plain, 58 

Friedlaendcr, L., 219; documentation 

on Roman life, 282-283 
Frontinus, 38, 252 
Fronto, 202, 212 
Frusino, estates at, 44 
Fufia Cantata, 70, 295, n. 38 
Funeral college, Lanuvium, 57, 135, 275 

See also Colleges 
Funeral processions, 49-50 
Furniture, 33-35, 152-153, 196, 278 
Fuscus, charioteer, 220 

GABII, 12 
Gaetulians, 213 

Gaius, jurist, 84; on manumission of 
slaves, 70; on divorce, 99 

Galba, 210 

Galen, 263 

Galerius Tracalus, 188 

Gallia Narbonensis, 56, 245 

Gallinaria, forest of, 48 

Gallitta, tried on charge of adultery, 

Gambling, 220-221, 250-253 

Games, 49, 202-221; attempt to ac- 
climatise Greek games in Rome, 244- 
245, 251-252; in baths, 259-260 
See also Ludi 

Garrison, Rome, 18, 65, 290, n. 31 

Gauckler, Paul, 130 

Gaul, defence against Germanic hordes, 
13, 14; senators from, 56; wool, 176; 
Caesar, the conqueror, 204; theatres, 
223, 246; pork from, 272 

Gismondi, I., reconstruction of Casa del 
Dipinti, 30 

Gladiatorial combats (koplomachia) t 
206, 208, 231-232, 236, 239, 245, 246, 
251; restrictions on, 232; gladiatorial 
troupes, 236, 246; training schools, 


See also Muncra 
Gladiators, 237-244 
Glass, trinkets, 48; from Phoenicia, 

176; none for windows, 35, 36 
Gnomon, 146, 147, 148 
Golden House. See Domus Aurea 
Gracchi, the, 103 
Grain, distribution of free, 16, 17, 65 

See also Annona 
Grammar of Palaemon, 92 
Grammarian, routine teaching, 107-114, 

xx6; bilingual, 109 



Granicus, battle of, 250 

Greece, influence on Roman education, 
107, 108, no, in, 113, 245; on 
Roman culture, no; Greek revolu- 
tion, 114; influence on religion, 128, 
129; divisions of day and year, 144; 
clothing, 154; marble, 176; influence 
of the Hellenic theatre, 223-224 

Greek, use of, in the Christian liturgy 
and writings, no 

Guilds, 171; banquets, 275 

HADAD and Atargatis, temple of, 

Hadrian, ix, 62, 84, 91, 127, 135, 158 
177, 221; erection of commercial city 
of Ostia, x ; command of army against 
the Parthians, 6; burial of Trajan's 
ashes in the Column, 6; remission of 
taxes, 8; insulae of Ostia, 31; Roman 
traffic decree, 50; titles of nobility, 
53; born in Spanish Italica, 56; re- 
strictions on abuse of slaves^ 57, 246; 
cabinet, 63 ; Far East, 72 ; inheritance 
of a son's estate by his mother, 76; 
murder of a son by his father, 77-78 ; 
affection for his wife, Sabina, 85, 
100 ; schools, 106; jurisprudence, 109; 
Greek epigrams, no; renaissance of 
Attic art, in; cult of Antinous, 134, 
13;; Christianity, 138; bearded, 164; 
generosity, 182; public readings, 195; 
Life of Hadrian, 257; conduct of the 
baths, 258, 259, 261 

Hadrumetum (Tunis), 56 

Haghrab, 41 

Hairdressing, 158-159; women, 167, 168 

Hammamet, Gulf of, 175 

Hannibal, invasion of, 13, 24, 120 

Heating, 36-37 

Heliopolis, 214 

Heraclea. See Table of Heraclea 

Herculaneum, ruins of, -archaeological 
evidence, x, 279, 280,^287; country 
houses, 23; baths, 35-36; cooking ar- 
rangements, 37; sanitation, 40; bed- 
rooms, 164, absence of women in 
paintings, 182 

Hercules, 199, 239; Death of Hercules, 
246; statue of, 262 

Hermagoras, the rhetorician, 114 

Hermes, 215 

Hermes Psychopompos, 240-241 

Hermogenes, of Tarsus, 194 

Herodius Atticus, 106 

Heuzey, L6on, on the Roman style of 

dress, 154 
Hills of Rome, 13, 286 

See also each by name 
Hippo, 1 10 

Hippo-Diarrhytus, 175 
Hippodrome of Constantinople, 214 
Historia Augusta, 19, 85, 257, 258, 261, 


Holidays, 203, 204-205, 206 
Homer, 91, in, 131, 132 
Honestiores, a class of the citizen body, 

52-53; senators and knights, 53 

See also Senators; Equestrian Order 
Honorius, 223, 247, 286 
Hoplomachia. See Gladiatorial combats 
Horace, 98, 151, 152, 194, 200; Epistles, 

in, 158 

Horologium, "counter of hours," sun- 
dial or water-clock, 144, 145, 146; 

korologium ex aqua, water-clock 

(clepsydra), 146, 148 
Horoscopes, 132 
Horrea, 176, 177 
Hortensius, the orator, 96, 217 
Hour, variations in the Roman, 144, 

145, 148, 149, 184 
House of Livia, 23; of Gamala, Ostia, 


Household objects, 151, 266, 269, 280 

Houses, 22-51; release of land for 
dwelling purposes, 13; modern as- 
pects, 23-30; archaic aspects, 31-51 

Human sacrifice, 208, 231 

HumiUores, 52 

Hylas, pantomime-actor, 226 

Hypocausis, 36-37* 4*i 256 

IBERIAN Peninsula, 176 
Ibn Khaldun, Berber sociologist, 10 
Icarus, 199 

Ides, the, 144, 191, 205 
Incitatus, charioteer, 220 
Income, 66, 68, 72, 73 
India, riches to Rome, ix, 176 
Indus River, 169 
Infant prodigies, no 
Infants, abandonment of, 42, 77 
Ingenui, 52, 56, 57, 59 
Inheritance laws, 76 
Insula of Felicula, 20, 25, 26, 28 



Insulae, apartment houses, 45, 47, 280; 
enumerated in Regionaries, 18-19, 
23, 28, 286; confusion in interpreta- 
tion of the Latin words, 19, 20; com- 
parison with the domus, 24; height, 
24; description, 29; Ostia, 31; heat- 
ing, 37; Roman ground plans, 31; 
sub-letting, 32, 33, 43, 165; sanita- 
tion, 40 . 

See also Building regulations; Build- 

Io, 131 

Iphicrates, 119 

Iphigenia, 117 

Iphigenia in Tauris, Euripides, 229 

Iran, 129 

Isidorus, C. Caelius, 70 

Isis, cult of, 129, 130; Temple of, 130, 

Itys, 228 

lulius Cerialis, 264 

lulius Tiro, 190 

lus civile, 55 

lus gentium, 55 

lus Latii, 60 

lus trium liberorwn, 76, 181 

lus naturale, 55 

JANICULUM, 28, 130 
Janus, Temple of, 14 

Jason, 228 

Javolenus Priscus, 198 

Jerusalem, Temple of, destroyed, 137 

Jews, 124, colony in Rome, 136; Tibe- 
rius' shipment of 4,000 Jews to Sar- 
dinia, 136; victory of Titus, 215 

Josephus, record of grain, 18 ; first pro- 
duction of Cinyras and Myrrha, 228 

Juba II, Mauretania, 113 

Julia, wife of Pompey, 96 

Julian family extinct on death of Nero, 


Julius Canus, the Stoic, 252 

Julius Frontinus, 125 

Junius Mauricus, 245 

Juno, 123; Temple of Juno, 249 

Jupiter, 118, 132, 212; Temple of Jupi- 
ter, 67, 123, 160, 249; games, 207 

Jurisprudence, 109 

Justice and politics, 184-193 

Justinian, 286 

Juvenal, Satires, x, 122, 278; fire in 
Rome, 26, 33; collapse of houses, 32; 

indolence of great ladies, 34; water- 
carriers, the scum of the slaves, 38; 
injury from missiles from windows, 
42; muddy streets of Rome, 47; 
night-time perils, 48; traffic jams, 49; 
night traffic, 50; on provincial im- 
migrants, 55, 130; born at Aquinum, 
55; treatment of slaves, 58, 251; deg- 
radation of paying court to slaves, 
64; an adequate income, 66; a law- 
yer's standing judged by his slave 
retinue, 69; himself an ex-officer of 
limited means, 73 ; on learned women, 
91-92 ; women as gluttons, 93 ; adul- 
tery, 93-95; to the husband of a 
wealthy wife, 98; divorce, 99; en- 
thusiasm for Greek, no; on would-be 
orators, 120; religion, 122, 123, 124, 
134; scepticism, 123; aversion for 
the Jews, 124, 136; on exotic cults, 
130, 131, 132, 133; Christianity in 
Rome, 136; hairdressers and barbers, 
157, 1 60; ladies' hairdressing, 167, 
168; etiquette of the "client," 173; on 
the renting of private auditoria, 196; 
bread and circuses, 202 ; at the circus, 
220; gambling, 221, 250, 251; baths, 
257, 258, 259; women athletes, 260; 
mens sana in corpore sano, 263 ; self- 
indulgence, 271; gourmands, 272; 
idea of a pleasing dinner, 274; sordid 
side of Roman life, 276; commentary 
by Friedlaender, 282 

KASHGAR (Issidon Scythica), 169 
Knights, 53 
See also Equestrian Order 

LABOURERS, 175, 178, 179; hours 
of labour and recreation, 184 

Labour, forced, at the mines, 53, 247 

Lady of Salvation, 135 
See also Cybefe 

Laenas, M. Popilius, 146 

Lanuvium, funeral college, 57, 135, 275 

Laocoon group, 262 

Larcius Licinus, retinue of claqueurs, 

Larcius Macedo, assassinated by house- 
hold slaves, 59, 102 

Latin language and literature, 56; 
superseded by Greek under gram- 
marians and rhetoricians, 108, no, 



izz, i 12; adopted by Christian 
Church toward middle of third cen- 
tury, no; training of orators, 114; 
trained in an artificial literature, 116; 
decay of Latin letters, 121; prizes for 
Latin poetry, 245; literature as a 
source of information, 281, 287 

Latin* luniani, 60 

Latinus, pantomimist, 230 

Latrines, 37, 40-41, 42 

Laurentine forest, 272 

Laurentine villa of Pliny the Younger, 
56, 151 

Laureolus. See Catullus 

Lavinium, 12 

Lectus, 33, 266; beds made of gleaming 
exotic woods, 34; single beds, 34; a 
double bed, 34, 165 

Leges Juliae, on adultery, 94, 95; on 
divorce, 97; on dowry, 98, 99 

Legionaries, power to proclaim em- 
perors, 54, 55 

Leisure, employment of, 206-212 

Leonidas, 117 

Leptis Magna (Tripoli), 56 

Leuconian flocks, 152 

Lex Cornelia, against gambling, 251 

Lex Petronia, forbidding a master to 
deliver his slaves to the beasts with- 
out a judgment, 57 

Lex Publicia, against gambling, 251 

Lex Titia, against gambling, 251 

Liberal arts, 113, 196 

Libcrtas Restituta, 63 

Liberti, 60, 64, 67 

Libraries, public and municipal, 194; 
librarians as propagandists, 195; 
gathering places, 262; enumerated in 
the Regionaries, 286 

Libraries built by Trajan. See Bib- 
liothccae Ulpiae 

Library of the Museum of Alexandria, 

Library of Rome, State, 68 

Lirinius Sura, 28, 132 

Lighting arrangements, 35, 151-152, 258 

Ligurian marble, 50 

Lipsius, Justus, 10, 225 

Litigation, 186, 187, 191 

Livia, wife of Augustus, 167; granted 
title of "Augusta/ 1 85; house of on 
the Palatine, 183; Ludi Palatini in 
memory of Augustus, 204 

Livius Andronicus, in, 227 

Livy, 195; incident of the ox which 

climbed to the third story, 24-25; 

works published, 194 
Loans, 67 
Lot, Ferdinand, estimate of Roman 

population, n, 19, 20 
Lucan, 17; Pharsalia, in 
Lucian, no, 121, 228 
Lucifer, 265 
Lucina, crypt of, 138 
Lucius Caesar, 158 
Lucius Verus, 158 
Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 42 
Lucus Furrinae, 130 
Ludi, 203-204, 206, 207, 210, 211, 215, 

216, 222, 223, 232, 240; Apollinares, 

203, 207, 211 ; Ccrialcs, 203, 207; 

Florales, 204; Fortunae Reducis, 204; 

Martiaks, 204 ; Megalenses, 204 (Meg- 

alesian festival), 211, 223; Palatini, 

204; Plcbci, 203, 223; Romani, 203; 

Victoriac Cat saris, 204; Victoria^ Sul- 

lanae, 204 

Ludus gladiatorius, 237 
Ludus ingenuarum artium, 196 
Ludus litter arius, 104, 106, in 
Lupercalia, 240 

Lupus, character by Martial, 73, 270 
Lusitania, 106 
Lustrum, 16, 59 
Lycia, 223 

Lycomedes, daughters of, 228 
Lydus, slave-tutor, 104 
Lyons, amphitheatre, 243 
Lysippus, the Apoxyomenus of, 210; 

group, Alexander and his generals, 


Jl/TACARlS and Canace, 228 

J.VJL Macedonia, 246 

Macrinus, 88 

Macrobius, 167, 267 

Maecenas, 27, 196 

Maenads of Priapus, 131 

Madaura, 107, no 

Magistcr, head of each of fourteen re- 
gions of Rome, 16; serving at the 
sanctuary of a god, 57; teacher in a 
school, 104, ii i ; trainer in a gladia- 
torial ludus t 217; magister cenae, 
president of a banquet, 275 

Mate, Smile, 137 


Manes, 57, 123, 233 

Manumission, various methods, 59; re- 
strictions regarding testamentary 
manumission, 60, 70; manumission of 
a slave concubine and her children, 
102; toga praetexta, a symbol of 
manumission , 117 

Marcellus, 159, 160; theatre of Mar- 
ceflus, 2-22, 234, 246 

Marcia, wife of Cato of Utica, 83, 96 

Martiana, sister of Trajan, 167 

Marcus Aurclius, wealth given into pub- 
lic treasury, 8; decrees on night traf- 
fic extended, 50; semivictories, 62; 
inheritance by children from their 
mother, 76 ; concubinage, 101 ; Medi- 
tations, no; stoicism, 127, 246; lucu- 
bration, 152; wisdom and goodness as 
an emperor, 191; deduction in num- 
ber of holidays, 205; personal indif- 
ference to gambling, 221; effort to 
humanize gladiatorial combat, 246 

Marianus, 98 

Marius, 108 

Marius Priscus, 192, 193 

Market of Trajan, 4, 8, 29, 35, 177; 
excavations, 23 

Marriage, 76-100; three types: con- 
farreatio, coemptio, usus, 80 ; the cere- 
mony, 81; cum manu, 84, 95; sine 
manu, 84, 96, 98 
See also Betrothal 

Mars, 95, 135; sacrifice of the race- ' 
horse, 207 

Mars Ultor, temple of, 204 

Marsyas, enclosure of, 187 

Martial, Epigrams, x; home in an m- 
svla on the Quirinal, 26, 28, 55, 291, 
n. 21 ; Saturnalian gifts, 35, 69; lack 
of household water, 38; muddy 
streets, 47; Bilbilis, home in Aragon, 
55> 152; flogging of slaves, 58; esti- 
mate of size of a family, 65 ; epigram 
on one man's many houses, 67; for- 
tune-hunting mortgagers, 67, 68; lost 
confidence in the value of work, 73- 
74; wastrel sons, 79; gallery of ac- 
complished women, 88, 91; adultery, 
93) 94* 102, 103; comment on mar- 
riage to a wealthy woman, 99, 165; 
on divorce and re-marriage, 100; 
ridicule of Greek enthusiasm, no; 
Christianity, 136; insomnia and night 

traffic, 150; a visit to Pliny, 152 ; hour 
of rising, 152 ; the ex-barber who be- 
came a wealthy landowner, 157; 
opinion regarding hairdressing, 158, 
159; on the perfumes used by a man, 
159; on shaving, 161, 163, 164; 
epitaph to a barber, 162; woman's 
hairdressing, 168; hours of labour, 
183-184; the judicial world, 185, 186; 
publication of the Epigrams, 194; 
expenditures by consuls and praetors, 
21 1 ; gambling, 220; use of con- 
demned criminals in plays ending in 
their deaths, 231; tame animal acts, 
238; on the liberation of best of the 
duellists, 242; Greek games, 245; 
porticos and their works of artj 249, 
250; gambling allowed during the 
Saturnalia, 251 ; chess, 252 ; monu- 
ments and buildings, 256; hour for 
bathing, 257-258; mixed bathing, 
258; games at the bath, 260; gift of 
a cloak, 260; three phases of the hy- 
gienic bath, 261 ; hour of dinner, 264; 
on practice of grading quality of food 
to standing of guest, 270; unpleasant 
manners, 271; on the excellence of 
food, 272; a dinner he served, 273- 
274; Epigrams show a sordid and 
depraved side of Roman life, 276; 
source of information, 278 

Manilla, 102 

Mathematics, 109, 113 

Matidia, niece of Trajan, 167 

Matron, Roman, 84-90 

Matronalia, the, 204 

Mauretania, 53, 113, 176 

Maximus, Martial's epigram against a 
certain, 67 

Maximus, Q. Sulpicius, infant prodigy, 

Mainz, dyes from, 168 

Meals, 263-276 

Medea, 228 

Medici, doctors, 181; veterinary sur- 
geons, 217 

Menander, in 

Menus, 267-271 

Merchant ships, outfitting of, 60, 

* 181 

Meroe, 131 

Messalina, 167, 168 

Messalla, M. Valerius, 145, 146 



Metaphysics, taboo in the curriculum, 


Melon, sun-dial of, 144 
Metrovian Gate, 15 
Mevia, 92 

Middle class, condition of, 65, 66, 72, 74 
Miltiades, 119 
Mimes, 229-230, 246 
Minerva, 123; festival of Quinquatrus, 

105, 204; Temple of Minerva, 130 
Minturnae, 57 

Minucius, Portico of, 182, 202 
Misenum, fleet of, 235 
Mithra, cult of, 129, 130, 135 
Mithridates, 155 
Modena, 160 
Moliere, 92; Bourgeois Gentilkomme, 


Mollicius, M. Aurelius, 220 

Montanus, 273 

Monte dei Cenci, 222 

Monte Giordano, 245 

Monteritorio, obelisk of, 147 

Months, naming of the, 143 

Mucza, wife of Pompey, 96 

Mucius Scaevola, 246 

Munidpia, 155, 230, 236, 243 

Muncra, gladiatorial combats decreed 
for an emperor, 206, 208 ; a method of 
directing mass emotion, 210; human 
sacrifice, 231; restrictions on number, 
232 ; contractors of gladiator troupes, 
236; dawn to dusk, 237; venationcs, 
238; numbers of animals slaughtered, 
239; description, 239-^42; a means 
of revenge and murder, 243; munera 
sine missione, combats from which 
none escaped alive, 243; the morning 
massacre, 243-244; opposition, 244; 
efforts to humanize, 246-247 

Museo Nazionale delle Tenne, 175, 255 

Museum of Alexandria, 109, 193 

Music, 113, 245 

Musonius Rufus, 77, 85, no 

Mustius, Pliny's architect, 124 

Mysticism, Oriental. See Religion 

J^ythology, taught by the grammarian, 

NAPLES, 246 
Narbonne, 175 

Narcissus, slave of Caesar, 62 
Nasica, P. Cornelius Sdpio, 146 

Natatium restitutio, in the manumission 
of slaves, 60 

Nautnackia, 9, 203, 234, 236, 237, 242 

Naumachia Vaticana, 234, 236 

Neo-Pythagoreanism, 128 

Nero, ix, 278; attempt at re-planning 
city, 45; Julian family extinct at his 
death, 54, 126; imperial claim by vir- 
tue of dynasty's divinity, 55; on 
treatment of slaves, 57; inducement 
to capital for building purposes, 60; 
treatment of Seneca's wife, 85, 86, 
87; goddess Atargatis, 130; Chris- 
tianity and Christian martyrs, 136, 
137; hairdressing, 158; shaving, 160; 
consecration of first beard, 160; silk 
caravans, 169; rebuilding of the cir- 
cus, 2 14 ; generosity at the charioteers' 
banquet, 221; public readings, 223; 
.trap for Britannic us, 224; banish- 
ment of actors, 226; himself an actor, 
228; gladiatorial combat of opposing 
categories, 240; Neronia, 244, 245, 
257; public baths, 255; length of din- 
ners, 264, 265 

Neronia, Nero's revival of Greek games, 
244, 245, 257 

Nerva, 124; congestion of Forum, 9; 
adoption and succession of Trajan, 
55, 90; survivors of senatorial fam- 
ilies, 61; successor of Domitian, 63; 
proclaimed divine by his son Trajan, 

Niceros, perfumes of, 159, 165 

Nigidius Figulus, 128 

Nigrina, 88 

Nile, statue of, 130; papyri from, 176 

Nimes (Nemausus), 56 

Niobe, 228 

Non-citizen. See Peregrin* 

Nonianus, 195 

Notaria, 181 ; Notarius, 89 

Notitia. See Regionaries 

Nubia, hippopotami of, 239 

Numa, palace of, 207 

Numidia, 113, exploitation by Romans, 
174; marble, 176 

OBELISKS, Temple of Minerva, and 
the Pantheon, 130; enumerated 
in Regionaries, 286; of Antinoiis, 15; 
of Montecitorio, 147; of Rameses II, 




Obsequium, 59, 102, 171 

Occupations, 171-201 

Octavia, sister of Augustus, 113, 167, 
249; Portico of Octavia, 249 

Octavius, 214. 
'See also Augustus 

"October Horse," sacrifice of the, 207 

Odeum, the, 245 

Oedipus, 226; Oedipus Coloneus, 229 

Officiates, 185 

Oil, storehouses, 7; from Picenum, 272 

Olympians, the Roman pantheon's like- 
ness to the Greek, 122 

Olympic games, 257 

Oratory in popular education, 107, 112, 
114, 115, "6 

Oratory of Saint Bernard, 255 

Or dines, 53 

Ormisda, Persian ambassador, 7 

Ornamcnta, 166-170 

Ornatores, ornatrices, 71, 167-169, 181 

Ostia, 117; recent excavations, x, 23, 
279, 280, 287; sea water to the Ro- 
man market fishponds, 7; municipal 
individuality, 12; docks, 23; House 
of Gamala, 23; tabemae, 26; like- 
ness of buildings to modern ones, 29 ; 
an inn surrounded by green trees, 30; 
insulae, 31; Casa dei Dipinti, 35; 
heating arrangement of houses, 37; 
lack of running household water, 38; 
sanitation, 40, 41 ; public latrines, .41 ; 
Hellenistic influence on religion, 129; 
Forum of Ostia, 174; port of Rome, 
174, 176; warehouses, 177; Fasti 
Ostienses, 22, 242 

Ovid, Fasti, in; suggestions on wom- 
en's makeup, 168, 170; the circus, 

Oxyrhynchus papyri, 190 

PACUVIUS, 223; Armorum Indi- 
cium, 224 

Paestan fields, 249 

"Palace of Roman Water," 263 

Palaemon, Grammar, 92 

Palaestra, x, 19, 32, 92, 253, 254, 256, 
259, 260 

Palatine Hill, reserved for emperor, 22; 
excavations, 23, 284; House of Livia, 
23, 183; decorated forica, 41; im- 
perial slaves, 70; hearings in the em- 
peror's basilica, 187; sanctuary of 

Cybele, 204; adjoined by the Circus 
Maximus, 213, 214 

Palazzo Barberini, 233; Caetani, 213; 
Capitolino, 233; Colonna, 13; Far- 
nese, 8, 27, 217,* 262; Sermoneta, 222; 
Taverna, 245; Venezia, 233 

Pallas, imperial slave, 62 

Palmyra, 129 

Pamphylia, 223 

Pandataria, island of, a place of banish- 
ment for condemned Christians, 137 

Panniculus, pantomime-actor, 230 

Pantagathus, Martial's epitaph to his 
barber, 162 

Pantheon, the building, 25, 130; Ro- 
man pantheon, the cult, 121 , 

Pantomime-actors. See Mimes 

Pantomime plays, 226, 227, 228 

Paribeni, Robert, Column of Trajan, 8 ; 
Roman tragedy, 229 

Parilia, the, 204 

Paris, markets, 9; population density, 
ii ; area, 13; transport, 22; maisons, 
24; Opera, 222 

Paris, pantomime-actor, 226, 228 

Parrhasius, 119 

Parthenius, Greek chamberlain to Do- 
mi tian, 63, 156 ^ 

Parthians, Roman campaign against, ix, 
6, 85, 169 

Pasiphae, 228 

Pasiteles, 250 

Passennus Paulus, elegies of, 199 

Pastillarii, 179 
'Pater familias, authority of the, 76-80 

Paternus, cousin of Pliny, 58 

Patres conscripti, 63, 107, 126 

P atria potestas, 77, 78, 80 

Pair onus, 59, 102, 171 

Paulina, wife of Seneca, 85, 86 

Paulus, praetorian prefect, 39 

Paxaea, wife of Pomponius Labeo, 85 

Pax Romana, 16, 17 

Peregrini, 18, 52, 55, 63, 65, 23$ 

Pergamum, 65, 107 

Peristyle, 24 

Perpetua, Christian martyr, 243 

Perseus, 146 

Persia, silk caravans, 169 

Persicus, 274 

Persius, 134, 151 

Petosiris, 132 

Petronius, 252; satirical romance, x; the 



touvla, 44; Satyricon, 44; ridicule of 
the schoolroom's pompous phrases, 
120; Roman exploitation of con- 
quered territory, 174; skill of Roman 
chef, 272; pictures sordid side of Ro- 
man life, 276, 278; Friedlaender's 
commentary, 282-283 
See also Trimalchio 

Pharsalus, eve of, 265 

Phidias, 118-119; statue of Venus, 250 

Philaenis, 260 

Philhellenes, 244 

Philippus, Q. Marcius, 146 

Philomela, 228 

Philomusus, Martial's wastrel, 79, 250 

Philosophy, banished from Rome, 109, 
128; publication in Greek of the 
philosophers, no; treatment during 
the Middle Ages, 113 
See also Stoicism 

Phoenicia, glass from, 176 

Phrygian cult, 130 

Phrygian marbles, 33 

Physics, taboo in the curriculum, 109 

Piazza Colonna, 23; del Cinqueccnto, 
13; del Popolo, 214; di Grotta Pinta, 
222; Navona, 245; San Pietro, 213 

Picenum, oil from, 272 

Pinrian Hill, 15, 22, 28 

Piso, consul, 252 

Pistoclerus, 104 

Plantin, 74 

Plautus, 92, 223; Menaechmi, 229 

Plebs, the, Sulla's release of dwelling, 
space for, 13; public assistance, 16; 
Augustus' gift of 60 denarii each, 18 ; 
plebeii (the humitiores), 52; need for 
the dole and spectacles, 65, 203, 210; 
prosperity after the campaigns of 
Trajan, 72; rise of great magnates 
from the ranks, 73; funeral colleges, 
135; the munus, 233; lusiones, 246; 
noon prandium, 263; guild banquets, 

Pliny the Elder (the Naturalist), vici 
in the lustrum of 73 A.D., 16; 
flowered balconies, 30; admiration of 
Roman houses and streets, 45 ; quoted 
on familiae servile s, 70; the sun-dial 
of Catana, and the first horologium 
in Rome, 146; profccto enim vita 
vigitia est, 151; lucubration, 152, 
185; on shaving, 163-164; hours spent 

in writing, 184-185 ; Circus Maadmus, 
215; exasperation at Caesar's trick 
theatre, 233; amusement at trained 
animals, 238 ; sculpture in the Portico 
of Octavia, 249-250; number of pub- 
lic baths, 254; three phases of hy- 
gienic bath, 261 ; daily meals, 263, 264, 
265; on gluttony and selfishness in a 
host, 270 

Pliny the Younger, ^6, 102; Letters, x; 
room furnishings, 34 ; Cisalpine birth- 
place, 56; Laurentine villa, 56, 151; 
estates in Tuscany, 56; treatment of 
slaves, 58; friendship with his slaves, 
5fr; amount of his estate, 67-68, 70; 
manumission of slaves, 69-70 ; liberal- 
ism with regard to friends' children, 
78-80; encumbrance of betrothals, 
80; letter regarding the elder Arria, 
86; love of wife and husband, 87-88; 
his wife, Calpurnia, 88-90, 92, 165; 
division of his wealth, 91; education 
and good taste in women, 91-92; 
letter regarding a centurion in Tra- 
jan's army, 94; every parent his 
child's teacher, 103; "piety" and 
scepticism, 123-125; the divinity of 
a Caesar, 126; superstition, 132-133; 
Christianity, 136; lucubration, 152; 
independence of -each of the married 
pair in their home, 165; clepsydrae, 
1 86; feeling against the "low rout of 
claqueurs," 188; speeches before the 
centumviri, 189; on the Senate trans- 
formed into a High Court, 192, 193; 
public readings, 196-199; Panegyric, 
209, 214; appearance of the emperor 
at the .games, 209 ; Circus Maximus, 
214, 215; deplores craze for circus, 
221 ; opinion on human sacrifice at 
the combats, 242; feeling against 
Greek games, 245; time for dinner, 
264 ; gluttony and selfishness in a host, 
270; disgust at dinner entertainments, 
271; charming and frugal meals, 273, 
276; Letters a source of information 
on Roman life, 278 

Plotina, wife of Trajan, 85, 100 

Plotius Callus, 108 

Plutarch, 161 

Plutocracy, and living standards, 65- 

Policing arrangements, 48 



Politics, political power of good edu- 
cation! 108; taboo as a course of 
public instruction, 109; justice and 
politics, 184-193; discussion pro- 
scribed, 186; excitement of races a 
substitute for politics, 221; per- 
mitted in a pantomime, 230 

Pollentia, goddess of might, 213 

Polydoxus, race-horse, 219 

Polytheism, 128, 131 

Pomerium, Trajan's burial within the 
boundaries, 6; burial of ordinary 
mortals forbidden, 6; not the defi- 
nite limits of Imperial Rome, n, 12, 
13; the sacred orbit, 12; religious 
character, 12; overflow of popula- 
tion, 13; Aurelian Wall, 14 

Pompa Circensis, 215 

Pompeia, wife of Caesar, 96 

Pompeii, archaeological evidence, x, 23, 
279, 280, 287; country houses, 23; 
frescoes, 30; area of domus, 31; 
baths, 36; heating arrangements, 37; 
bakeries, 37 ; sanitation, 40, 41 ; street 
paving, 47; washroom, 156; absence 
of women in the paintings, 182; wall 
mottoes, 274 

Pompeius Musclosus, 219 

Pompeius Saturnius, wife of, 92 

Pompey, feeding of 486,000 people in 
57 B.C., 17; residence in the Carinae, 
27; several wives, 96; Circus Maxi- 
mus, 213; plethora of combats, 232; 
Greek games, 244 

Pomponia Graecina, suspected of being 
a Christian, 137 

Pomponius Graecinus, 138 

Pomponius Labeo, 85 

Pone mwros. See Pomerium 

Ponte Rotto, 39 

Pontia, island of, internment of Chris- 
tians, 138 

Pontifex Maximus, 80, 207 

Pontine marshes, 48 

Pontius Epaphroditus, charioteer, 219 

Popilius Laenas, 118 

Population of Rome, 9-11, 65; growth, 
1 6-2 1 ; racial composition, 279 
See also Census 

Porta Capena, first region of Rome, 
*4 IS 

Portico of the Argonauts, 249; of 
Europa, 249; of a Hundred Pillars, 

249, 250; of Minudus, 202; of Oc- 

tavia, 249; of Pompey, 249 
Portrayal of character, in rhetoric, 115 
Portus, port of Rome, 176 
Praefectus praetorio, 187; urbi, 53, 57, 

187, 236, 252; vigUum, 48, 57 
Praeficae, 49 
Praeneste, 13, 32 
Praenestine Gate, 15, 237 
Praetor kastarius, 188; peregrinus, 187; 

urbanus, 187 

Praetorian Guard, 109, 126, 238 
Praxiteles, statues of Cupid and Venus, 

Precincts of Rome, 10-15 

See also Regions 
Priapus, 131 

Priesthood, highest posts held by Sen- 
atorial Order, 53 
Princeps, the, First of the Senate and 

the People, incarnation of gods, 

guardian of the auspices, 54; descent 

to earth, 127 

Priscilla, catacomb of, 138 
Prisoners of 'war, 61-62 
Probate case, 190 
Procne and Tcreus, 228 
Proculeia, Martial's anecdote about, 21 z 
Procurators, 64, 237; salary, 72 
Professions, liberal, 185 
Prometheus, 119, 231 
Proscriptions of 43 B.C., 118 
Provincials, effect of immigration on the 

social plane, 55, 130 
Ptolemy Physkon, 108 
Public assistance. See Congiaria; Doles; 

Sportulae; Annona 
Public funds, subsidy for festivals of 

the gods, 122 

Publilia, wife of Cicero, 97 
Pubtilius Syrus, 230 
Publishers, the rise of, 193, 194 
Pulvinar, 209, 211, 214, 235, 240 
Punic War, First, 145 
Punishment, graded to type of citizen, 

52-53; in the schoolroom, 105, 107 
Puteal of Curtius, 187 
Puteal Libonis, 187 
Pydna, battle of, 146 
Pylades I, pantomime-actor, 210, 226, 

227, 228 
Pylades II, 229 
Pyrrhus," Roman* wars against, 145 



QUADRATUS, Apologia, 138 
Quartan Fever, an oration by 
Favorinus of Aries in honor of, 

Quinquatrus, festival in honor of 
Minerva, 105, 204 

Quintilian, on the qualifications of a 
child's nurse, 104; the tutor, 104; on 
schoolroom punishment, 105; teach- 
ing the alphabet, 105; improvement 
in teachers, 106; most famous of pro- 
fessors, subsidized by the imperial 
regime, 108; weakening of Hellenic 
influence, no; Institutio Oratoria, 
1 1 6, 194; feeling towards elaborate 
hairdressing, 158; crowding of law 
courts, -i 88; on the pantomime-actor, 

Quirinal Hill, 6, 7, 9; Martial's quarters, 

26, 28, 55 ; Vespasian, 28 ; thermae of 
Const an tine, 255 

RACES. See Chariot races; Foot 

Racilia, wife of Cincinnatus, 155 
Racine, AtkaUe, 224 
Rameses II, obelisk of, 214 
Reading, the teaching of, 104, 112 

See also Recitationes 
RecitationeSf 193-201; the curse of 
literature, 195, 200, 201; building of 
the Athenaeum in Rome, 195-196 
Red Sea, the route from the Far East, 


Refugees from Asia and Egypt, first 
professors of grammar and rhetoric, 
1 08 

Regia, the, residence of Julius Caesar, 
27; sacrifice of the "October Horse," 

Regio Transtiberina. See Transtiberina 
Rcgionarics, 285, 286 ; record of vici, 16 ; 
population, 16, 17, 20; jorica, 41; 
loca at the Circus Maximus, 214-215; 
at the amphitheatre, 235; source ma- 
terial, 286; used by Zacharias of 
Mytelene, 18, 19, 286, 287 
Notitia, begun 334 A.D., 16, 285; 
dwelling-houses, domus and in- 
sulae, 18, 19, 20, 23, 28; vagaries 
of the copyist, 19 
Cwriosum, 357 A.D., 16, 285 
Regions (administrative) of the Urbs, 

285; position and extent, 14, 15; 
census of the vici, 16; other streets, 
45; described in Regionaries, 285 

Regulus, advocate, 79, 132 

Relationship, agnatio and cognatie, 76 

Religion, of slaves, 57; decay of tra- 
ditional religion, 121-127; Oriental 
mysticism, 121, 128-136; festivals, 
122, 206-209; respect for religious 
forms, but personal scepticism, 123- 
125; imperial divinity, 126, 208; 
Greek influence, 128, 129 

Rentals of houses and apartments, 43, 


Republican Wall, 12-13, 28, 45 

Research, Roman attitude towards dis- 
interested, 113 

Rex sacrorum, chariot of the, 49 

Rhetores Latini, compelled to stop 
teaching, 108 

Rhetoric, study of, 104, 107-109; use 
of Latin interdicted, 108; impractical 
rhetoric, 114-121; Greek rhetoric, 
115; forced into a strait jacket of six 
parts, 115; falsification of history, 

Rhetorica ad Herennium, 108 

Rhodes, 107 

Ricci, Corrado, excavations, 3, 6 

Roads, enumerated in Regionaries f 286 

Robigalia, festival of the, 204 

Romanus, Pliny's letter to his friend, 

Roscius of Ameria, 48 

Rostovtzeff, M, x, 173 

Royal Laws. See Twelve Tables 

Ruga, Sp. Carvilius, 95 

Rutilus, 58 

SABINA, wife of Hadrian, 85, 100 
Sabine country, 272 
Sabratha, Tripoli, 176, 223 
Saepta lulia, 182, 184; in the Campus 

Martius, 249 

Saint Augustine, 30, no, 252 
Saint Jerome, Chronicle, census of 

Rome, 17 
Saint Monica, 30 
Saint Paul, Epistles, greetings in domo 

Caesaris, 137 
Saint Peter, statue on the Column of 

Trajan, 5, 7; "Chair of St. Peter," 35 
Salarian Gate, 15 



Salii, dance of the, 204 

Sallust, married to Terentia, Cicero's 
divorced wife, 97; governor of the 
province of Africa, 113; De BeUo 
lurgurthino, 113 

Saltus Burunitanus, 64 

Salvation, idea of, spread to religious 
foundations, 134, 135, 139 
See also Collegium Salutare 

Salvius lulianus, 84 

Samnites, 237, 240 

San Pietro, excavation of a cess trench, 

Sardinia, shipment of 4,000 Jews by 
Tiberius to, 136; ship outfitters, 175 

Saturn, conjunctions of, 132 

Saturnalia, 204, 224, 251 ; gifts, 35, 69, 
172; gambling allowed, 253 

Scepticism of .Juvenal and his con- 
temporaries, 123 

Schola, use of chairs, 35; meeting place 
of a guild or college, 35 

Scholars and teachers supported by the 
State, 104 

Scipio Aemilianus, 160 

Scorpus, a charioteer, 219; on his death, 

Scribonianus, revolt of, 86 

Sculpture, .Roman, use of brilliant 
colors, 6; renaissance of Attic art 
under Hadrian, in 

Scyros, 228 

Secundus, book publisher, 194 

Secundus, P. Pomponius, 223 

Selius, 249 

Sclla curulis, 35 
See also Curule 

Selurus, the bandit, 243 

Semitism, Stoic debt to, 128 

Senatorial Order, armies mobilized 
against the democratic government of 
Rome, 17; one of the orders of the 
honestiores, 53; vir clarissimus, 53; , 
headed by the emperor, 54; compels 
Nerva to adopt Trajan, 55 ; made up 
of Romans and provincials, 56, 66; 
senatorial families, 61; subserviency 
to "slave" cabinet, 62; assassination 
of Domitian, 63; decree of imperial 
divinity, 135; heavy duties of a sen- 
ator, 185, 191, 192; seats at the 
circus, 214; arch consecrated by the 
Senate to Titus' victory, 215; votes 

won by spectacular scenes at the 
amphitheatre, and law passed dis- 
qualifying any magistrate so elected, 
231; Senate participation in the 
Neronia, 244 

Senatus-consttlta, on the treatment of 
slaves, 57; confirming laws against 
gambling, 251 

Senatus consultum Orpkitianum, right 
of children to inherit from the 
mother, 76 

Scnatus consultum Tcrtullianum, ad- 
mits a mother's right under certain 
conditions to inherit from her son, 

Seneca, champion of human rights of 
slaves, 57; Nero's fatal command, 85- 
86 ; on divorce, 100 ; treatises included 
in the curriculum, HI; Roman 
"time," 148; condemnation of his 
writings by Caligula, 200; munera 
sine missione, 243, 246; Campus 
Martius, 249; on the temptation of 
dives, 253; source of information on 
the court and nobility, 278 

Seneca the Elder, teacher of rhetoric, 
116; suasoriac, 116, 117, 118, 120 

Septicius Clarus, 273 

Septimius Severus, recipients of the 
congiarium, 16; survey register of 
the Urbs, 23-24; Insula of Felicula, 
25; cadastral survey, 31; born in 
Tripoli, 56; recasts law against 
adultery, 95; thermae of Antoninus, 
255; restoration of tempium sacrae 
urbis, 285 

Serapis, 129 

Seres,- 169, 174 

Servi, 56; conspirators against Domi- 
tian, 63; servi atrienses, indoor serv- 
ants, 69 
See also Slaves 

Servian Walls, 24 

Servius, commentator, 112 

Servius Tullius, 11, 12 

Seven Hills of Rome, 46 

Sewers and sewage, 39 
See 'also Cloacae 

Sextia, wife of Aemilius Scaums, 85 

Shaving, a religious right, 160, 161 

Ship outfitting, 60, 181 

Shows and spectacles, x, 202-247 

Silk caravans from China, 169 


Silverware, usual Saturnalian gift, 35, 

Slaves, considered in estimating popu- 
lation of Rome, z8, 65; water-car- 
riers, 38; night attendants, 47; res 
mancipi, 52; humanity displayed to- 
wards slaves, 56; slavery and manu- 
mission, 56-61; epitaphs, 57, 70, 72; 
replenishment through the wars, 61- 
62, 101; Roman reverses and in- 
vasions, and drying up of slave 
sources, 62; ineligible for grain dis- 
tribution, 65; suffix -Por added to 
owner's name, designation of a slave, 
68 ; growth in number per household, 
68-69 5 testamentary manumission, 
70; categories of slaves by name of 
specialty, 70-71; concubinage, 101- 
102; tutors, guardians, and servants 
of children, 104; tale of a slave boy 
and the toga praetexta, 117; col- 
legium salvtare, 135; cura cor ports, 
161, 184; duties to the pair onus, 172; 
place at the circus, 235; impressment 
into gladiatorial troupes forbidden, 

Slums, 43, 44 

Social discipline, 51 

Social values, confusion of, 61-65 

Social War, 91 B.C., 17 

Social classes, 52-75 

Solaria, 147 

Solstice, 149-150 

Sosii, the, book publishers, 194 

Spain, senators from, 56; oil exports to 
Rome, 176; pickles, 272 

Spanish Italica, birthplace of Trajan 
and Hadrian, 56 

Spes, goddess of hope, 57 

Spice market, 7 

Spina, 209, 213 

Sponsion* s, 220, 240; repressive legis- 
lation, 251 

Sportulae, 171, 172, 220 
See also Doles; Congiaria 

Stadium, the, 202 

Stationes arcariorum Caesarianorum, 7 

Statius, Silvae t x, 167; Tkebais, in, 
199; a confession of faith in the value 
of personal religion, 134 ; Christianity, 

Stephanus, participant in murder of 
Domitian, 62 ; baths of, 264 

Stock exchange, 73, 177 

Stoicism, influence on Roman law, 83; 
debt to Semitism, 128; divination, 
133; Marcus Aurelius' effort to re- 
duce importance of the munus, 246 

Stolata, 123 

Strabo, on the height of the houses of 
Tyre, 25 

Streets and traffic, 44-51; fire hazard, 
45; categories of, 45-46; Caesar's 
order regarding clean streets, 46 ; pav- 
ing, 46-47 ; hucksters, and Domitian's 
edict, 47, 48; lighting, 47; dangers of 
night travel, 47-48; Caesar's decree 
regarding night traffic, 49-50 

Strigil, 261 

Suasoriae, 116; Seneca the Elder, 116; 
artificiality, 1x7 

Sub-letting, practice of, 43, 44, 165 

Subura, the, 6, 27, 207 

Suetonius, Caesar's order regarding 
census forms, 19; forfeits "Ministry 
of the Pen" for his disrespect for 
Hadrian's wife, 85; fuasoriac, 117; 
belief in dreams, 132; Christianity, 
136, 137; details of Augustus' ca- 
prices, 154; the morning rising of 
Vespasian, 156; last hours of Domi- 
tian, 156; fastidiousness of Julius 
Caesar, 157 ; biographical character of 
histories as source material, 278 

Sulla, 233; release of portion of Cam- 
pus Martius for dwelling purposes, 
13; growth of population, 16; dark 
streets, 48; marries Valeria, sister of 
Hortensius, 96, 217; clean shaven, 
1 60; pretensions to divinity, 204; 
Greek games, 244 

Sulpicia, poems of, 88; wife of Calenus, 

Sun-dial of Catena, captured in Sicily, 
145; set up in Rome, 145-146 

Sun-dial of Meton, 144 

Sun-dials, 145-150; used in setting up 
the water-clock, 146-147; obelisk of 
Montecitorio, gnomon of a giant dial, 
147; Trimalchio's fantastic idea of a 
tomb, 148; pocket dials (solaria), 
See also Horologium; Clepsydra 

Synthesis, 155, 265 

Syria, legionaries, ix; haste of Syrians 
to assume citizenship, 55; religious 



influence, 129; Roman campaign 
against, 146; glass from, 176 
Syrtes, the, 161; ivory from, 176 

rABERNAE, market booths, Tra- 
jan's market, 6; ground floor of 
humbler insidae, 26, 44; description, 
26; entrance to upper floors, 27, 29; 
single room used to house tenant's 
family as well as his wares, 27; 
crowds, 48; allotted by Caesar to 
studies, 109; horrea Galboc, 177; type 
of merchant, 177; barbershops, 157 

Taboos for protection of pomerium, 12 

Tacitus, fire of 64 A.D., 19, 45 ; on the 
choice of emperors, 54 ; the tragedy of 
Seneca's wife, 85-86; loss of practical 
value of rhetoric, 114, 120; scepticism, 
with respect for religious rites, 123; 
praetor, consul, and proconsul, 124; 
Jews, 124; Germania, 124; under 
Trajan, liberty and harmonious rule, 
127; superstitions, 132; Christianity, 
136, 137; Histories, Christian martyrs, 
137; histriondUs favor, 226 

Tagaste, birthplace of Saint Augustine, 

Tali, 251 

Tarentum, 145 

Tarpeian Rock, 123 

Tarquin the Proud, 131 

Taurus, C. Statilius, 233 

Taxes, replenishment of imperial purse 
from the maintenance of, 68; im- 
munity for primary school, 106 

Teachers, State subsidy of, 104, 108; 
refugee-teachers, 108; women, 181 

Telesilla, 99 

Teksphorus, Bishop, 138 

Temple of Annona Augusta, 174; 
Atargatis (Dea Syra) and Hadad, 
129, 130; Athena, 119; Castor, 194; 
IMS* 130, 131; Janus, 14; Jerusalem, 
destroyed 70 A.D., 137; Jupiter 
(Jove), 67, 123, 160, 249; Juno, 249; 
Mars Ultor, 204; Minerva, 130; 
Vesta, 67 

Templum sacrae urbis, 12, 285 

Terence, 92; works used in the school- 
room, ixx; the theatre, 223, 229; 
Andria, 229; Hecyra, 231 

Terentia, wife of Cicero, 97 

Textullian, 230; absurdity of the Val- 

entinians, 25; on human sacrifice in 
gladiatorial combat, 208; the Chris- 
tians, 276 

Terpsichore, 227 

Terra Mare, 161 

Testamento, manumission by, 59 

Tesserae, 182, 235, 251 

Textual criticism, 112 

Thalamus, Nero's barber, 163 

Theatre of Balbus, 222; Marcellus, 223, 
234, 246; Pompey, 222, 223 

Theatres, 202, 221-231; expenses paid 
by the State, 203, 222 ; description of 
Roman theatres, 222; too big for the 
play, 223, 224; degradation of the 
Roman theatre, 229; Caesar's double 
theatre changeable into an arena, 233 

The'denat, Abb, on cloacae and in- 
sidae, 40 

Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, 223 

Thermae. See Baths 

Thermopylae, 117 

Thersites, 120 

Thespiae, 250 

Thracian gladiators, 237, 240 

Thrasea, son-in-law of Caetina Paetus, 


Thyestes' feast, 88, 227, 228 

Tiber, the, 22, 55, 130; canalised by 
Trajan, 9; Campus Martius, 13; 
regio Transtiberina, 14, 15; deposi- 
tary of dty sewage, 39; dancing on 
the banks, festival of Anna Perenna, 
122; temple to Atargatis excavated, 

Tiberius, decrees regarding second-class 
citizenship, 60; accompanied to wars 
by his wife, 85; ebbing belief in im- 
perial divinity, 127; banishes Egyp- 
tian cults, 130 ; measures against Jews, 
136; decoration of his bedchamber, 
152; clean shaven, 160; decree con- 
cerning literary works, 194; manipu- 
lation of petitions by mass emotion, 
210; misanthropy, 211; riots over 
rival actors, 226; restrictions on giv- 
ing a munus, 232 

Tibur (Tivoli), 12, 234 

Tiburtine farm, Juvenal's, 274 

Tigellinus, death of, 210 

Tigris, the, xox, 169 

Timgad, 41 

Tlridates, King of Armenia, 240 



Titinius Capito, 196 

Titles of nobility, 53 

Titus, censor, 16, 45; imperial victory 
over the Jews, 215; completion of 
amphitheatre, 233; Colosseum in- 
augurated, 239; combats at Cir- 
cus Maximus, 240; public baths, 


Tivoli (Tibur), 12, 234 

Toga, the, 153; description and varia- 
tions, 154-155; essential in a client's 
attendance on his patron, 172; Au- 
gustus' decree for the wearing of the 
toga, 208; toga praetexta, 59, 117; 
toga virilis, 160 

Tonsores, barbers, 71; hairdressers, 157, 
158, 159, 181; perils of attending the 
wayside barber, 162 ; hours of labour, 

Torlonia, Prince Giovanni, 177 

Trade, extent and variety, 178 
See also Corporations 

Traffic congestion, 2, 48-49; decree con- 
cerning night traffic, 49-51 

Tragedy, transformed to opera and to 
the ballet forms, 224, 229; born of 
Greek tragedy, 225; decline, 225 

Trajan, x, 21, 28, 38, 42, 44, 64, 65, 
67, 77, 91, 124, 147, 167, 171, 221, 227, 
245, 278; group of buildings, 4; 
equestrian statue in Forum, 4, 7; 
death, 5, 6; Trajan's inscription on 
the Column, 6; description of the 
group, 7; renovation of the Urbs, 9; 
restriction on height of buildings, 25- 
26; policy of the Urbs, 33; night 
traffic, 51; feeling with regard to im- 
perial divinity, 54; loyalty of the 
Legion, 54; adopted by Nerva, 55; 
born in. Spanish Italica, 56; induce- 
ment to set up bakeries, 61, 181 ; cam- 
paigns, 61, 72; cabinet recruited from 
freedmen and slaves, 62; confiscates 
treasure of Decebalus, 68; simple 
tastes, 71 ; punishment of a father for 
treatment of his son, 78; Trajan's 
wife's loyalty, 85, 100; decree punish- 

ing adultery, 94; victories, 101, 169; 
generosity to education, 109; recom- 
mends Pliny to the College of Augurs, 
125 ; proclaims divinity of his adopted 
father Nerva, 126; no especial claims 
to personal divinity, 127; Panegyric, 

127; hairdressing, 158; dean shaven, 
160; Portus of Trajan, 177; tribunal 
at Centumcellae, 189, 190; presides at 
Senate High Court in trial of Clas- 
sicus, 192; interest in the Colosseum, 
212 ; Circus Maximus, 214, 215 ; caters 
to circus tastes of his subjects, 222; 
restrictions on actors, 229; Amphi- 
theatre Castrense, 234; Naumachia 
Vaticana, 236; slaughter of animals, 
239; release of surviving gladiators, 
242; mimic combats, 246; thermae as 
memorial to Licinius Sura, 255; 
modesty of his court, 276 
See also Aqua Traiana; Basilica Ul- 
pia; Bibliothecae Ulpiae; Column of 
Trajan ; Forum of Trajan ; Market of 

Transtiberina (Trastevere), fourteenth 
region of Rome, 14; street hawkers, 

Trastevere (Transtiberina), 14 

Transylvanian mines, ix 

Trebula, cheeses of, 272 

Tribunicia potestas, 18 

Trimalchio, wealthy freedman, hero of 
Petronius' satirical romance, elaborate 
dining-room, 30; bed of solid silver, 
34; guests who lost their way home, 
48, 183; estimate of his estate, 68; 
vast number of slaves, 69; gluttony 
of his mistress Fortunata, 93; super- 
stitions, 132; dining-room clock, 147- 
148 ; instructions as to tomb and sun- 
dial, 148; golden pyx, 160; sleeping 
arrangements, 165; present of a 
Mromaxium to his favorite, 249 ; at 
the bath, 259, 260, 261, 262; dinners, 
265, 267-268, 269, 271; table man- 
ners, 271 

Tripoli (Leptis Magna), 56, 223; mo- 
saic, 243 

Tropes, 112 

Tryphon, 194 

Tunica, clothing, 8z, 153-154 

Tuscany, Pliny's estates in, 56; marbles 
of, 176 

Tuscus, race-horse, 219 

Twelve Tables, width of streets, 45; a 
mother's inability to inherit from her 
intestate son, 76; father's right of life 
and death over his children, 77 ; right 
to divorce a wife without appeal, 95 ; 



part of school curriculum, HI; on 
the conduct of civil suits, 186 
Tyre, height of houses, 25 

T TCALEGON, Juvenal's, 33 
\J Ulpian, on fires in Rome, 33 ; mis- 
siles dropped from chamber windows, 

Ulysses, 113 

Ummidia Quadratilla, 104 

Urine, industrial use of, 42 

Usus. See Marriage. 

Valeria, wife of Sulla, 96, 217 
Valerianus, Q. Pollius, book publisher, 

Vallis Murcia, site of Circus Maximus, 


Varus, defeat of, 160 

Vatican Hill, Circus Gai, 213 

Vegetius, on literacy among new re- 
cruits, 106 

Vehicles, regulations governing use of, 
within Urbs 49-5 1 279 

Veii, 12 

Velabrum, the, 13, 215 

Velia, the, 234 

Venationes, 238, 239, 244, 246 

Venus, 95, 135* 228 

Vertumnus, statue of the god, 194 

Vespasian, 28; censor, 16; licensed 
rights to sewage, 40, 42; aggregate 
length of streets, 45; loyalty of the 
Legion, 54, 55; exile of philosophers, 
109; jest about his divinity as em- 
peror, 126; Christianity* *37; early 
waking hours, 152, 156; congestion of 
the courts, 187; reduces number of 
holidays, 205; Flavian amphitheatre, 
212, 233; an original forma urbis 
Romae, 285 

Vestals, the, 49, 81, 207 

Vestalia, festival. of, 204 

Vestini, cheese of, 272 

Vestis. See Clothing 

Vesuvius, eruption of 79 A.D., x, 23 

Via Appia, 45, 46, 284; Biberatica, 7, 
23, 26, 35; dei Cappellari, 29; dei 
Cerchi 23; dei Tribunali, 29; dell' 
Abbondanza, 253; delle Finanze, 12; 
del Mare, 222; Labicana, 45, 237; 

Lata, .seventh region of Rome, 14 ; 
Latina, 45, 177; Nova, 45; Ostiensis, 
45; Sacra, 45, 187, 207 

Victor, race-horse, 219 

Vicus, separate administration, 16; 
census, 16; enumerated in Region- 
aries, 16; insulae per vicus, 28; con- 
gestion, and decree of Caesar, 49 

Vicus Tuscus, 177, 194 

Vienne in Gallia Narbonensis, 245 

Villa Ludovisi, 27 

Vinalia, festival of the, 204 

Vipasca, imperial mines, 106, 258 

Virgil, the Acntid, 33, 113; poems of, 73, 
91; in the schoolroom, HI; reminis- 
cences of, 199 

Virro, Juvenal's, 270 

Vitalis, pantomime-actor, 230 

Vitellius, interest in factioncs of chariot 
races, 221; hour of dinner, 264 

Vitruvius, on height of Roman houses, 
25 ; law on thickness of walls, 31 ; de- 
scription of water-clock, 147 

Vivarium, 237 

Volcanalia, festival of Vulcan, 204 

Volsinii, 32 

Volumen, 9; at th_ booksellers, 194; 
harmed by public readings, 200-201; 
chests for the protection of, 262 

Vulcanus, fish sacrifice to, 207 

WALTZING, catalogue of corpo- 
rations, 178, 180 

Water-clock, 146, 147, 148 
See Clepsydra; Horologium ex aqua 

Water system, aqueducts, municipal 
channels and private conduits, 38; 
lack of household system, 32, 39 

Weapons, of gladiators, 237, 240 

Wells, 38 

Wills, under Hadrian, women permitted 
to draft, 84 

Windows, lack of glass, 35, 36 

Wine, storehouses, 7; wine from Italy, 
176; used at commissatio, 269 

Women, right to make wills under 
Hadrian, 84 ; guardianship, 84 ; stand- 
ing during empire, 85; loyalty as 
confidantes of their husbands, 85-88; 
gallery of accomplished women, 88- 
90; feminism and demoralization, 90 
95; and marriage, 164-166; clothing, 
164; toilet of, 166-170; daytime 


hours, 171, 182; in professions and "yERXES, 1x7 

occupations, 180-183 * -A. 

See also Betrothal; Marriage; Matron 
Workmen's living quarters, 180 

Writing, in the school curriculum, 104, /7 ACHARIAS of Mytclene, Region- 

105-106 M-J arics used by, 18, 19, 286, 287