Sunday, 12 August 2012

Suetonius, Nero c.26, The hooligan emperor!

The gossip and saucy details are especially evident in the biographies of those emperors he disliked, like Nero (37-68). Nero came to power at the age of 17 and as a young emperor he liked to roam incognito the streets of Rome after dark and beat up people, as Suetonius tells us.
The Latin is not exactly simple, but here is a link to a translation:

I have given a lot of words, but when you need to know more, load the Latin text on the site obove (upper right), click on the Latin word and you will be connected to some dictionaries.

XXVI. Petulantiam, libidinem, luxuriam, avaritiam, crudelitatem sensim quidem primo et occulte et velut iuvenili errore exercuit, sed ut tunc quoque dubium nemini foret naturae illa vitia, non aetatis esse. Post crepusculum statim adrepto pilleo vel galero popinas inibat circumque vicos vagabatur ludibundus nec sine pernicie tamen, siquidem redeuntes a cena verberare ac repugnantes vulnerare cloacisque demergere assuerat, tabernas etiam effingere et expilare. Quintana domi constituta ubi partae et ad licitationem dividendae praedae pretium absumeretur. Ac saepe in eius modi rixis oculorum et vitae periculum adiit, a quodam latriclavio, cuius uxorem adtrectaverat, necem prope ad caesus. Quare numquam postea publico se illud horae sine tribunis commisit et occulte subsequentibus. Interdiu quoque clam gestoraria sella delatus in theatrum seditionibus pantomimorum e parte proscaeni superiore signifer simul ac spectator aderat. Et cum ad manus ventum esset lapidibusque et subselliorum fragminibus decerneretur, multa et ipse iecit in populum atque etiam praetoris caput consauciavit.

petulantia                   petulance, capricious ill humor
crudelitas, -atis          cruelty
sensim quidem primo et occulte …..exercuit In the beginning (primo) he (Nero) practised indeed (quidem) gradually (sensim) and secretly (occulte)
sed ut tunc but (in such way) that even then
foret = esset
crepusculum               evening twilight
adrepto pilleo vel galero abl.abs. a hat or a wig being grasped (arripio)
popina                        eating-house, low tavern
vicus                           quarter
vagor                          to roam
ludibundus                  playful, frolicsome
pernicies                    mischief
siquidem                     since indeed
redeuntes from red-ire
cena                            dinner (either from the popina or from friends. Inviting each other for                          dinner was a wide-spread custom.)
verbero                      to beat
repugno                      to fight back
vulnero                       to wound
cloaca                         sewer, drain (Rome had a sysrem of artificial canals by which the filth                          was carried from the streets into the Tiber.)
demergo                     plunge
assuesco                    to be used to (assuerat = assueverat )
taberna                       shop
affringo                      to break open
expilo                         plunder
quintana                     market (quintana via: the fifth street in a Roman army camp, where the                                  market place was.)
domi at home. The i denotes the locative case, which in Latin has only survived in a couple of words as `humi `on the ground’. In place-names ending on a it was written ae so Romae `at Rome’.
ubi partae et ad licitationem dividendae praedae pretium absumeretur difficult Latin: where the booty (praeda, pl)  divided (partae!) and being sold (dividendae! from mecantile language `to sell piecemeal’. The gerundive has here hardly the force of `have to, must’) by auction, the money (pretium) was squandered. The difficulty lies in the unusual meaning of some words
in eius modi rixis litt. ìn scuffles of this sort
perculum adiit `he ran into danger
laticlavius                   senator (actually an adiective` having a broad purple stripe’ , the mark                                    on the toga of a senator.)
attracto                       to touch in an indecent manner
necem prope ad caesus almost beaten to death (what would have happened to Roman history if that senator had succeeded in beating Nero to death?)
illud horae…..commisit =  he committed (himself) to that (kind) of hour.  horae is a genitivus qualitatis.
tribunus                      guard
subsequentibus goes with tribunis, from subsequor to follow
interdiu                       during day time
clam                            secretly
gestoraria sella          sedan-chair, litter (abl.!)
delatus                       carried
seditionibus pantomimorum e parte proscaeni superiore signifer simul ac spectator aderat. he was present at the uproars (seditionibus) of the pantomime plays, from the upper part of the proscenium (kind of balcony) giving signs (for the uproars) and  being spectator at the same time..
The pantomime was a form of theatre in which actors danced and enacted a story without speaking. The theme could be anything, but especially love and adultry was popular. Nero himself often acted himself in pantomimes.
cum ad manus ventum esset and when it came to handfights. An impersonal construction
subsellium                  low bench
decerno                      to fight (decernetur: impersonal construction) The first meaning of                               decerno is `to decide’, hence to decide by military means `to fight,                            combat’.
iecit from iacio            to throw
consaucio                   to wound severely

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