20 February 2008

Life of Vitellius - Suetonius

"He was a man of integrity and industry but quite notorious for his love of a freedwoman. He would even mix her saliva with honey and rub this into his throat and jaws as a remedy, not secretly or occasionally but quite publicly and every day."
Lucius Vitellius, you old rascal you. No wonder your son was such a classy guy.
"His boyhood and earliest youth he spent on Capri among the favourites of Tiberius- ever after he was branded with the nickname 'tight-bum' and it was thought that it was his physical charms which were the basis and reason for his father's rise."
And in what way could a Roman son better honor his father? You go, Aulus Vitellius.
"And when he arrived at the fields in which the fighting had taken place and some of those with him expressed their horror at the stench of the corpses, he made so bold as to offer them reassurance with the following repulsive comment: 'The smell of a dead enemy is excellent- and even better in civil war.'"
Weren't you just made emperor like five minutes ago? Rejoicing at the sight of dead Romans might not be the best way to stabilize your support, amice.
"Above all, however, he was addicted to luxury and to cruelty, always having at least three feasts, sometimes four in a day- breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a drinking party- and easily finding capacity for it all through regular vomiting.
Clearly a cry for help! If only he'd been able to write in to PostSecret.
"As for the money lenders... he spared scarcely any... It was one of these whom he committed to punishment, just as the man had come to pay his respects, then called him back. Everyone was praising this act of mercy, when he gave orders that the execution should take place in his presence, for he 'wanted his eyes to have a feast'."
Bitch with a capital B.
"When he found that it was quite deserted and those who were with him were slipping away, he put on a belt full of gold coins and took refuge in the porter's lodge, having chained up a dog at the entrance and blocked the door with a bed and mattress."
At least he went out with dignity... oh, wait...

"...with his hands tied behind his back, a noose around his neck, and his clothes torn, he was dragged half-naked into the Forum and, amid gross abuse, physical and verbal, along the whole length of the Sacred Way, his head pulled back by the hair, in the way of condemned criminals, and even his chin held up with the point of a sword, so that he should let his face be seen and not lower it. Some people threw dung and filth, calling him an arsonist and a glutton. Some of the common people even criticized his bodily defects, for he was unusually tall, his face was generally very red because of his drinking, and his belly distended. ... Finally, he was butchered on the Gemonian steps with the smallest incisions and, when he was dead, he was dragged from there with a hook to the Tiber."
A noble end to a noble reign. By the way, this is a whole eight months after he was first declared Emperor.