Rutilus’ Victory Column? Victory Arch?

Elkins 2015: 24-5 writes:

“The coins may well represent the victory arch at Ostia of…


Very plausible.  But this ‘near Ostia’ business had me worried.  A little Livy (7.17) cheered me up:

This led to a rising of the whole of Etruria, and under the leadership of the Tarquinians and Faliscans they marched to the salt-works (salinas). In this emergency C. Marcius Rutilus was nominated Dictator—the first Dictator nominated from the plebs—and he appointed as Master of the Horse C. Plautius, also a plebeian. The patricians were indignant at even the dictatorship becoming common property, and they offered all the resistance in their power to any decree being passed or any preparations made to help the Dictator in prosecuting that war. This only made the people more ready to adopt every proposal which the Dictator made. On leaving the City he marched along both banks of the Tiber, ferrying the troops across in whichever direction the enemy were reported to be; in this way he surprised many of the raiders scattered about the fields. Finally he surprised and captured their camp; 8ooo prisoners were taken, the rest were either killed or hunted out of the Roman territory. By an order of the people which was not confirmed by the senate a triumph was awarded him.

Here’s a handy map to help visualize the geography.


This is all in relationship to these asses (RRC 346/3 and 4) on which I’ve written a bit before.


Family Lore and False Triumphs

For it was customary in most families of note to preserve their images, their trophies of honour, and their memoirs, either to adorn a funeral when any of the family deceased, or to perpetuate the fame of their ancestors, or prove their own nobility. But the truth of history has been much corrupted by these laudatory essays; for many circumstances were recorded in them which never existed; such as false triumphs, a pretended succession of consulships, and false alliances and elevations, when men of inferior rank were confounded with a noble family of the same name: as if I myself should pretend that I am descended from M’. Tullius, who was a patrician, and shared the consulship with Servius Sulpicius, about ten years after the expulsion of the kings

Cic. Brut . 62.  Cf. the now lost inscription from the Fabian Fornix and RRC 415/1

Discussed (if I remember rightly) in Wiseman, ‘Resplendent Aemilii’

Cicero on the Sabine Character

I always find myself looking for this quote and having to hunt it up elsewhere.  It seemed prudent just to stick it on my own blog.

My Orator—for that is the title I have given it—I have handed to your Sabinus. His nationality made me think that he was a proper person to whom to give it: unless he too has availed himself of the licence of candidates and has suddenly adopted this surname. However, the modesty of his look and the gravity of his conversation seemed to me to smack somewhat of Cures. But enough about Sabinus.

Cic. Fam. 15.20 written in April(?) 44BC to Trebonius, a good friend with whom Cicero often jokes. Latin here.

Sabinus is probably a slave, perhaps a freedman.  The name will have been given to him to indicate indigenous Italic stock.  The joke is that aspiring politicians might claim this cognomen for the same sort of associations which made it appealing to slave owners.  Cicero pushes the joke further by legitimating the ethic connotation of the man’s name by crediting him with the moral characteristics usually associated with that ethnicity.

The letter continues with another geographical ‘joke’ of sorts.  Cicero observes:

that in old days those remaining at Rome were accustomed to write on public affairs to their friends in the provinces; whereas you are now bound to write to us: for the Republic is there

Just as Sabini might not really be Sabines, so too the res publica can be separated from Rome itself.  Both allude to the anxieties of the day.


“They Made Me Do It.”

The oldest excuse in the book.  This example of it comes from Cic. Rab. Post. 29:

Therefore, I say, that he was compelled by force to act as he did,—by force which, as our great poet says “Breaks and subdues the loftiest dignity.” He should have died, you will say; for that is the alternative. And so he would have done, if, while his affairs were in such a state of embarrassment, he could have died without the greatest disgrace.  Do not then, impute his hard fortune to him as a fault; do not think the injury done to him by the king his crime; do not judge of his intentions by the compulsion under which he was, nor of his inclination by the force to which he submitted. Unless, indeed, you think those men deserving of reproach who have fallen among enemies or among thieves, and who then act differently under compulsion from what they would if they were free. No one of us is ignorant, even if we have had no personal experience of it, of the mode of proceeding adopted by a king. These are the orders given by kings,—“Take notice,” “Obey orders,” “Do not complain when you are not asked.” These are their threats,—“If I catch you here tomorrow, you shall die.” Expressions which we ought to read and consider, not only for the purpose of being amused by them, but in order to learn to beware of their authors and to avoid them.

It reminded me of a fragment from Pacuvius’ Atalanta:

Omnes, qui tamquam nos serviunt               

Sub regno, callent domini imperia metuere (Pac. 72-73).

All, who are enslaved, like us,

Under a king, are callous to any fear of orders, in a word—they are tame.

The translation is my own.  This may mean I am in agreement of a sort with Wiseman via Leigh:

In late-republican Rome, tragedy was par excellence the exemplary genre for revealing the ways of kings and tyrants.

From p. 32 of Roman Drama and Roman History.  Corresponding footnote:


 [Leigh 1996 is on ILL order.]