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cynics:isidorus

Isidorus

Suetonius, Nero 39

To all the disasters and abuses thus caused by the prince there were added certain accidents of fortune; a plague which in a single autumn entered thirty thousand deaths in the accounts of Libitina; a disaster in Britain, where two important towns were sacked and great numbers of citizens and allies were butchered; a shameful defeat in the Orient, in consequence of which the legions in Armenia were •sent under the yoke and Syria was all but lost. It is surprising and of special note that all this time he bore nothing with more patience than the curses and abuse of the people, and was particularly lenient towards those who assailed him with gibes and lampoons. Of these many were posted or circulated both in Greek and Latin, for example the following:

“Nero, Orestes, Alcmeon their mothers slew.”

“A calculation new. Nero his mother slew.”

“Who can deny the descent from Aeneas' great line of our Nero? One his mother took off, the other one took off his sire.”

“While our ruler his lyre does twang and the Parthian his bowstring, Paean-singer our prince shall be, and Far-darter our foe.”

“Rome is becoming one house; off with you to Veii, Quirites! If that house does not soon seize upon Veii as well.”

He made no effort, however, to find the authors; in fact, when some of them were reported to the senate by an informer, he forbade their being very severely punished. As he was passing along a public street, the Cynic Isidorus loudly taunted him, “because he was a good singer of the ills of Nauplius, but made ill use of his own goods.” Datus also, an actor of Atellan farces, in a song beginning:

“Farewell to you, father; farewell to you, mother,”

represented drinking and swimming in pantomime, referring of course to the death of Claudius and Agrippina; and in the final tag,

“Orcus guides your steps,”

he indicated the senate by a gesture. Nero contented himself with banishing the actor and the philosopher from the city, either because he was impervious to all insults, or to avoid sharpening men's wits by showing his vexation.
Translation modified. Source

cynics/isidorus.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/14 23:20 (external edit)