22 February 2008

The Annals of Tacitus

"In the meantime, Nero recollected that Epicharis was in custody on the information of Volusius Proculus; and, assuming that female flesh and blood must be unequal to the pain, he ordered her to be racked. But neither the lash nor fire, not yet the anger of the torturers, who redoubled their efforts rather than be braved by a woman, broke down her denial of the allegations."
Is a "you go girl" inappropriate here?
"Thus the first day of torment had been defied. On the next, as she was being dragged back in a chair to a repetition of the agony- her dislocated limbs were unable to support her- she fastened the breast-band (which she had stripped from her bosom) in a sort of noose to the canopy of the chair, thrust her neck into it, and, throwing the weight of her body into the effort, squeezed out such feeble breath as remained to her."

How unladylike.
"An emancipated slave and a woman, by shielding, under this dire coercion, men unconnected with her and all but unknown, she had set an example which shone the brighter at a time when persons freeborn and male, Roman knights and senators, untouched by the torture, were betraying each his nearest and dearest."

Well shit, if even Roman men were pussies, what hope is there of me finding a real man here at Yale?
"Paulina replied by assuring him that she too had made death her choice, and she demanded her part in the executioner's stroke. Seneca, not wishing to stand in the way of her glory, and influenced also by his affection, that he might not leave the woman who enjoyed his whole-hearted love exposed to outrage, now said: 'I had shown you the mitigations of life, you prefer the distinction of death: I shall not grudge your setting that example. May the courage of this brave ending be divided equally between us both, but may more of fame attend your own departure!'"
Now if that isn't just the most romantic thing I've ever heard. Take note, gentlemen.
"Before long, the evidence of the same group destroyed the tribune Subrius Flavius. At first he sought to make unlikeness of character a ground of defence: a man of the sword, like himself, would never have shared so desperate an enterprise with unarmed effeminates. Then, as he was pressed more closely, he embraced the glory of confession."
So, he disses his fellow conspirators, admits he hangs out with pansies, and still ends up dead. Well done, Flavius.
"Questioned by Nero as to the motives which had led him so far as to forget his military oath: 'I hated you,' he answered, 'and yet there was not a man in the army truer to you, as long as you deserved to be loved. I began to hate you when you turned into the murderer of your mother and wife- a chariot-driver, an actor, a fire-raiser.'"
Woah... who knew the Chairman of the Party of the Right was a Roman soldier in a past life?