Suetonius, Nero 1-8

1.1 From the Domitian gens arose to prominence two families, the Calvini and the Ahenobarbi. The Ahenobarbi have as the founder of their name and of their clan L. Domitius, to whom, returning from the firld, twin youths with more-than-mortal appearance are said to have shown themselves on the path, that he might return message to the senate and people of a victory, of which it was yet unknown. And as proof of their divinity, they stroked his cheeks, that they might turn his hair from black to red similar to rust. This sign remains in his progeny, and a great part of them have red beards. 2 After they achieved seven consulships, a triumph, two censorships, and were placed among the patricians, they persisted in that one cognomen. And neither did they use any praenomen other than Gnaeus and Lucius; and these they used with noteworthy variation: first, they used each for three successive persons, then alternating among the individuals. For the first, second, and third of the Ahenobarbi were called Lucius, those three following in the order were called Gnaeus, and the remainder were then called in turn first Lucius and then Gnaeus. Of the rest of the family, I deem it necessary to give account, that more readily Nero might make it shown that he had degenerated from their virtues, that he retained only their faults, and bore them from birth.

2.1 I’m not fond of this paragraph; it will be translated later. Watch out for it–it has elephants. Pretty awesome stuff.

3.1 He left a son, undoubtedly better-off than the rest of the family. He was sentenced to death among those implicated in Caesar’s death, and bore himself to Cassius and Brutus who were near to his family. After the death of both, he retained his given fleet, augmented it, and not before the fleet was overcome all about did he freely give it over to M. Antony, for which he merited greatly. 2 He alone, of all those who were found guilty under that same law, was restored to his homeland and pursued highest offices; and whence civil strife again broke out, he was made legate to Antony, declined for himself highest office, offered by those who were shamed of Cleopatra, having neither dared to accept nor refuse it because of a sudden onset of illness, but went to Augustus’ side and in a few days died, though not without unblemished reputation, for Antony declared that he had fled for desire of his mistress, Servilia Naidis.

4.1 From him Domitius is born, who was presently known by the people to be the buyer of the familial estate in the will of Augustus nor was he less known in his youth for his skill in chariot racing than he was later for his triumphant spoils from the Germanic war. Truly, he was arrogant, excessive, cruel: as an aedile he compelled the censor L. Plancus to make way for him in the street; as praetor and consule, he brought forth the Roman equites and matrons to put on a mime on stage. He gave hunts in the circus and in all parts of the city, shows of gladiators, but so savage that it was necessary for Augustus to restrain him with an edict, his private warning having gone unheeded.

5.1 From the elder Antonia he fathered the father of Nero, detestable in all part of life, for when as a compatriot of the young C. Caesar to the east, he had killed his freedman, because he had refused to drink such an amount as he was ordered, and, dismissed from his group of friends, did not live any the more modestly; but, in a street along the Via Appia he, not unknowing, unexpectedly ran over a youth, with his horses having been spurred on, and he gouged out the eyes of a Roman equite in the midst of the Roman forum who was too free in his criticisms. 5.2 Such was his treachery that not only did he defraud bankers of funds for purchased goods, but also victorious charioteers of their reward in money, and because this was known and because of his sister’s joking, and the complaints of the leaders of the race teams, he decreed that rewards be given up-front. Also, before the death of Tiberius, he was accused of adultery and of incest with his sister Lepida, and with the change of regime he evaded this, and died in Pyrgi of dropsy, with Nero having been acknowledged the son of Agrippina, daughter of Germanicus.

6.1 Nero was born at Antium nine months after Tiberius dies, eighteen days before the Kalends of January with the sun’s rising, that he was almost touched by the earth before the rays of the sun. […] Among the congratulations of friends, he said that nothing which is not detestable and an I’ll to the public could be born of Agrippina and himself. 6.2 Another sign of future unhappiness occurred on his day of lustrification, for C. Caesar, having been asked by his sister that he might give to the infant what name he would, looking to his uncle, Claudus, by whom—soon to be emperor—Nero had been adopted, said to give the child Claudius’ name, nor seriously, but in joke, with Agrippina giving rebuke, for then Claudius was an ass among the courts.

6.3 At three he lost his father, to one third of whose estate he was heir, nor did he take this in whole, for through his fellow heir Gaius all the land was taken. And thereafter, too, with his mother banished, almost poor and needing, he was raised at the house of his aunt Lepida under two tutors: a dancer and a barber. Then, with Claudius haven taken the position of emperor, he recovered not only his father’s wealth, but also was enriched by the inheritance of his stepfather, Crispus Passienus. 6.4 He flourished so through the grace and influence of his recalled and reinstated mother that it was known to the people that individuals had been sent from Messalina, wife of Claudius, that they might strangle him, napping midday, a possible rival of Britannicus. Additional to this story is that they, frightened, fled with snake having darted our from his pillow. As the story goes, in his bed was found the skin of a serpent, which, from the urging of his mother, was enclosed in a gold bracelet which he wore on his right arm for a long time. But, in weariness of the memory of his mother, he cast it away, and later, at the end of his reign, he sought it again in vain.

7.1 When not yet a mature youth, he played a Trojan in the games at the circus successfully and most self-assuredly. In the eleventh year of his youth, he was adopted by Claudius and given to Annaeus Seneca, already then a senator, for tutoring. They say Seneca on the next night dreamed that he was teaching Caligula, and Nero, as soon as he was able, showed the truth of the dream by the cruelty of his nature. For he tried to convince his father that his brother Brittanicus, because he, as he was familiar to do, addressed Nero as Ahenobarbus even after Nero was adopted, was not a blood heir. Also, his aunt Lepida accused, he, gratifying his mother, by whom she was accused, furnished testimony against her. 7.2 Led into the forum, a newcomer to public life, he proposed a gift to the soldiers and, a drill of praetorians decreed, carried his shield in his own hand. Thence he returned thanks to his father in the senate. In his consulship he gave a Latin speech to the Bononians and one Greek to the Rhodians and the Ilians.

8.1 As the death of Claudius had been made public, Nero, seventeen years old, went forth to the guards between the sixth and seventh hour, for no other time seemed accommodating because of bad omen throughout the whole of the day. Hailed emperor upon the steps of the Palatine, he was taken to their camp in a litter, and, with brief address to the soldiers, was carried to the curia and left in the evening, of the immense honors, with which he was heaped, having refused only the title pater patriae because of his age.


Horace, Odes 1.21

Horace, Odes 1.21

Delicate maidens, call Diana,
Boys, call untamed Apollo
     And Latona, greatly loved
          By almighty Jove.

I exult in your rivers and shade of your groves,
Or whatever flows from gelid Algidus,
     Or in the shades of Erymanthus,
          Or in the green woods of Cragus;

You, raise Tempe with as many praises,
And the Delian birthplace of Apollo,
     Marked by quiver
          and Brother’s lyre at his shoulder.

Hence teary war, hence miserable hunger
And pestilence he, moved by ancient prayer,
     Drives from the people and Caesar, leader,
          To the Persians and Britons.

Propertius 2.7

Cynthia, surely you are glad for rescinded law,
For which edict we both did long lament,
Lest it should divide us, as Jupiter himself
Should not ask two lovers to part.
‘Yet great Caesar!’ But Caesar is great only in wars:
Conquered kinds do not prevail in love.
For the more swiftly would I endure this head fall from shoulder
Than would I be able to betray torches of marriage by her will,
Or would I pass by your closed doors of marriage,
Looking at your betrayals with wet eyes.
Ah! Then my flute would sing you such sleeps,
That flute, sadder than the funeral trumpet!
Whence is it to me to provide sons for victorious countries?
No soldier shall come from my blood.
But if I should follow the true camps of my mistress,
The great horse of Castor should not journey far enough for me.
Hence indeed my glory is become such a name,
Glory borne to the wintry Borysthenians.
You alone please me: let me alone please you, Cynthia;
This love will be of more than my ancestral stock!

Propertius 1.3

As with Thessalian ship fleeing, languid
Ariadne lay on deserted shores;
And as Cepheid Andromeda succumbed to
First sleep, nor freed from harsh rocks;
No less than as, tired from endless dance,
A Bacchant falls asleep in Apidanan grass,
Even so Cynthia seemed to me to breathe gentle,
Quiet, head rested on shaking hands
When I would drag my feet, drunk with much
Wine and slaves shake torches in the late night.
I, moreover, not yet robbed of all sense, am urged
To go softly to her on laid-on couch.
And they command me–Amor here, Liber here–
Each a hard god–seized with duplicitous lust
To softly disturb her, arm raised,
And to take kisses and arms with moved hand.
Nor at length did I dare disturb the quiet of my mistress,
Fearing the rebukes of her expert savagery;
But thus clung, stuck with intent eyes,
As Argus saw Io with her unnatural horns.
And now I loose garland from my forehead,
And place it upon your temples, Cynthia;
Now secretly I give apples to empty hands;
I give all gifts to ungrateful sleep,
Gifts often fallen from sidelong pocket;
And as often as you have sighed with rare movement,
I have stood struck, believing in a false sign,
Lest any things seen brought you unwanted fear,
Or lest someone compelled her, unwilling, to be with him:
All the while the moon runs past many windows,
The moon busy with tarrying lights,
Opens closed eyes with gentle rays.
Thus she speaks, propped with elbow on soft bed:
‘At last, bearing yourself to my bed, have the
Insults of another expelled you from closed doors?
For where have you taken up such time of my night,–
Ah, me!–tired from rotating heavens?
O would that you would, wicked one, lead such
Nights as those which you always force me to have!
For First I deceived sleep with purple thread,
And then, tired, with song of Orphean lyre;
All the while I, alone, lamented to myself
Your oft-long delays in other love:
Then sleep overcame me, fallen into its soft wings.
That was the last care for my tears!’

Catullus 64.1-204

Pines, once sprung from Peliacan mount,
Are said to have swum through flowing Phasian
Waves to the waters and borders of Aeetes,
When chosen youths, strongest of Argive men,
Seeking to snatch the golden fleece from Colchis,
Dared to quickly run through the salty waves with their
Prow, sweeping the azure waters with firewood oars.
The goddess, retaining for them citadels in loftiest cities,
Herself made the craft, flying with light flame,
Joining woven pines to the curved prow.
She, firstly, introduced the sea, untried, to sailing;
As soon as it ploughed the windy sea with prow
And the rough water became white with froths of the oar,
The Nereids, admiring the sight of the sea, raised
Their heads from the froth of the shining ocean.
They, as mortal mariners, and not others, saw in the light
With their own eyes nymphs, with bare body, as far as
The breasts, raising their heads from the hoary sea.
Then Peleus was carried, incensed with love of Thetis;
Then Thetis did not scorn the mortal hymn;
Then the father himself perceived Peleus joining to Thetis.
O, heroes born in the much-chosen time of ages,
Hello, kind of the gods! O progeny of great
Mothers, hello!
Often you–you I will seek in my song.
I go to you, having especially prospered in felicitous marriage,
Prominence of Thessalian Peleus, to whom Jupiter himself,
Himself father of the gods, has granted your loves.
Did Thetis, most beautiful Nereid, hold you?
Did Tethys, and Oceanus, who encloses the whole
World in sea, allow you to marry their daughter?
As that hoped-for day came in certain time,
All Thessalia frequented the house for meeting:
The palace was filled by a band of those celebrating:
They bear gifts before themselves; they show joys in their face.
Cieros is abandoned, they flow from Thessalian vale
And Crannonian houses and Larissan bulwarks.
They come together at Pharsalus, frequent Pharsalian houses.
None looks after the fields; youths’ shoulders soften;
No humble vine is cleared out with curved hoe;
No bull tugs the plough with slanted ploughshare;
No knife trims the shade of the fronds of a tree;
A rough rust is born to the deserted fields.
And the seats of that one, wherever the opulent palace
Extended, are resplendent with shining gold and silver.
Ivory gleams on the high seats; goblets on the table glimmer;
The entire house rejoices in the splendid kingly treasure.
Indeed, a couch to the marriage goddess is placed
In the middle of the seats, which, gleaming with Indian
Ivory, which a rosey coverlet, dyed with the purple of an oyster
Covers. This cloth, embroidered with ancient figures of men
Spoke the virtues of heroes in wondrous art.
For, looking to the sea-battered shore of Dia,
Ariadne, bearing indomitable angers in heart,
Watches fleeing Theseus with his swift fleet, nor truly
While she sees these things does she believe herself to see them:
No wonder, as she, first roused from deceptive sleep, discerned
Herself, miserable, to be forsaken on the lone beach.
The unmindful and fleing youth struck the waves with oars,
Loosing his empty promises to the windy gale.
Whom, from the seaweed-lined shore, miserable Ariadne–
Alas!–saw, herself as a stony statue of a Bacchant.
She saw, and she rages with great waves of worry,
Not retaining her delicate veil on her head,
Her chest not covered by light sheltering cloak,
Her milk-white breasts not supported with round strap.
All about, all things had fallen from her whole body,
And before her feet, the waved of salt did play.
But then, Theseus, caring not in your whole heart
For her plight, nor her floating veil or cloak,
She did hang with her whole mind, her whole ruined mind.
From this misery, Erycina, sowing thorny worries in her
Breast, maddened her with unremitting griefs,
Since that time, that time when iron Theseus,
Having stepped from the sloped shores of Piraeus,
Touched the Cretan temples of the unjust king.
For they say of old, driven by cruel pestilence
To pay retributions for the death of Androgeos,
Chosen youths Athens was wont to give, and
The gift of unwed women as a sacrificial meal to the Minotaur.
When the narrow walls were threatened by such evils,
Theseus himself chose to put forth his own body
For the care of Athens, the better than should yet-alive
Athenians be borne to Crete for such deaths.
And indeed, speeding with a light ship and gentle breezes,
Great-hearted Theseus came to Minos and his haughty kingdom.
As soon as the princess saw him with cupidinous eyes,
Whom chaste couch, breathing out sweet odours,
Nourished still in the soft embrace of her mother,
Just as myrtles which gird Spartan rivers,
Or the spring breeze which brings forth distinct colours.
Not before she has lowered her flowering eyes from him
Than has she caught a fire wholly within her entire body,
And she blazed entire from her deepest marrows.
Alas, Cupid, exciting pitiless furies in an ill-fated heart,
You mix the delights of men with worries,
And you, who rules Golgos and frondy Idalium,
You have thrown the girl, incensed in her mind, into such
Waves, often sighing over the fair-haired guest!
She has carried such fears in her weary heart!
often, by how much the more than the gleam of gold did she pale,
When desiring to contend against the savage monster,
Or when Theseus sought laudations for either death or reward!
Nevertheless, not promising unpleasing gifts to the gods,
She did take up prayers with silent mouth,
For just as a a gale ruins with a gust shaking oak
in the highest branches of Taurian mount or coniferous
Pine with dripping bark, twisting indomitable trunk
(Those torn of the root fall prone afar
Fracturing widely all things that are in its way),
So did Theseus lie low the monster with its body subdued,
In vain throwing its horns to the empty winds.
Thence, with much praise, he turned back on safe foot,
Commanding the wandering paths with thin string,
Lest unseen error confound him from leaving winding maze.
But why should I recall more, having departed from the
First song: such as the girl, fleeing from the face of her father,
The embrace of her sister, and at last, that of her mother,
Who, ruined, celebrated her miserable daughter–
From all these things she chose the sweet love of Theseus–
Or how she came, dragged by ship to the frothy shores
Of Dia, or how her spouse, departing with heedless mind,
Left her, conquered in her eyes by sleep?
Often they say that she, raging with fiery heart,
Uttered resonating cries from her bottommost breast,
And then climbed, distraught, the steep mountains,
That thence she might extend her gaze to the sea’s vast swell,
Then running to opposing waves of shaking salt,
Lifting the soft coverings of her bared calf,
And spoke sad things in final protests,
Raising feeble sobs with moistened face:

“Thus, faithless, have you deserted me in deserted
Land, dragged from my fathers altars, perfidious Theseus?
Thus departing, with neglect to the will of the gods–
Heedless, alas!–do you carry ruinous wishes to your house?
No work is able to sway the plan of your cruel
Mind? Is no kindness available to you
That you might wish your heart have compassion for me?
But these are not the promises you have given me with your
Sweet voice: you did not bid me, miserable, to hope these,
But for happy marriage, but for chosen vows,
Which the lofty winds have torn asunder, all in vain.
Now let no woman believe that a man swears;
Let none trust that mens’ speeches be faithful,
Who, while their minds, desiring, are eager to obtain anything,
Fear to promise nothing, spare to promise nothing.
But as soon as the desire of their cupidinous mind is sated,
They fear not their words, care not for their slights.
Certainly, I have snatched you, turning in the turbulent midst of death,
And I decided more aptly to leave my own brother
Than I might fail you–false–in your most dire time.
I am given for tearing as prize to beasts and birds,
Nor shall I, dead, be buried under thrown earth.
Who then has birthed you? A lioness under a lone rock?
What sea spewed you, conceived, from frothy waves?
What Sytris, what rapacious Scylla, what gaping Charybdis?
To whom do you give gifts for such sweet life?
If it did not please your heart for us to be we,

<The entire epyllion is translated; I’ve just been too lazy to yet type it up.>

De Rerum Natura 5.110-145

Before which I step to speak holier oracles about this matter
And with much reasoning certain by more than the Pythian
Oracle prophesied from the tripod and laurel of Phoebus,
I will reason many solaces for you with learned words;
Lest you, bridled by religion, believe by chance
that lands and sun and sky, sea, heavens, moon
Withstand by divine body to remain to eternity,
And after you think it to be by manner of the giants,
that they weigh out punishments for all great wickedness,
Who, by their reasoning, drove asunder the bulwarks of the world
And the gods wished to quench the sun,
Marking things immortal with mortal talk;
After which, these things are thus distant from godly power
And seem to be unworthy thus far for rank of the gods,
That they may be thought to be able to better provide an idea
Which might by removed from life, motion, and sense.
Of course, it is not, as when it is thought that the nature of the mind
And judgement are able to be within the same body.
Just as a tree can not be in the sky, nor are clouds able to be
In water, nor are fish able to live in fields,
Nor can blood be in wood, nor sap in stones: this is
Certain and laid out where everything may grow and be present,
Thus the nature of the mind is unable to rise without a body
Nor can it be far alone from nerves and blood.
Because, if it were able to be so, that strength of the mind
Would be able to be in the head or the shoulder, or the heels
And it would be wont to spring up in any part of the body,
At length to remain in the same person and the same vessel.
Because also it is consistent within our body, and
Seems fixed where it is, the mind and spirit
Otherwise are able to grow, by such the more denying
That it is able to be totally without the body and that it
Can remain without animal form in rotting clods of earth
Or in the fire of the sun, or in the water or high heavenly shores.
By no means then do these things furnished by heavenly sense agree,
Since they are unable to be vital with life.

De Rerum Natura 5.91-109

What is next, lest we delay you longer with promises,
Firstly, look at the seas and land and skies;
Of whose triple nature, whose three bodies, Memmius,
So dissimilar in three appearances, three great webs,
A single day shall give to ruin, and the great fabric and mechanism
Of the world, sustained through many years, shall fall.
Nor does it deceive my mind how strange and marvelous
A thought the future destruction of earth and sky,
And which is difficult to me to surmount with words;
That it is made where you bring novel news before ears
Lest you are nevertheless able to substitute this for seeing,
Nor to put it into hand, where the paved road of faith
Bears close to the human heart and the temple of the mind.
But nevertheless I will speak. Perhaps this work will give
Faith through words and you will discern that all
Of the world will be shaken with risen motions in little time.
Let governing fortune govern this afar from us,
And let reason, more able than the fact itself, persuade
That all things are able to fall, conquered with horrid din.