Home Introduction Persons Geogr. Sources Events Mijn blog(Nederlands)
Religion Subjects Images Queries Links Contact Do not fly Iberia
This is a non-commercial site. Any revenues from Google ads are used to improve the site.

Custom Search
Quote of the day: Their strength is in infantry. Some trib
Notes
Display Latin text
Display Dutch text


Ovid XV Chapter 16: 745-842 The deification of Julius Caesar
Next chapter
Return to index
Previous chapter
Though Aesculapius came as a stranger to our temples, Caesar is a god in his own city. Outstanding in war or peace, it was not so much his wars that ended in great victories, or his actions at home, or his swiftly won fame, that set him among the stars, a fiery comet, as his descendant. There is no greater achievement among Caesar's actions than that he stood father to our emperor. Is it a greater thing to have conquered the sea-going Britons; to have lead his victorious ships up the seven-mouthed flood of the papyrus-bearing Nile; to have brought the rebellious Numidians, under Juba of Cinyps, and Pontus, swollen with the name of Mithridates, under the people of Quirinus; to have earned many triumphs and celebrated few; than to have sponsored such a man, with whom, as ruler of all, you gods have richly favoured the human race? Therefore, in order for the emperor not to have been born of mortal seed, Caesar needed to be made a god. When Venus, the golden mother of Aeneas, saw this, and also saw that a grim death was being readied for Caesar, her high priest, and an armed conspiracy was under way, she grew pale and said to every god in turn: 'See the nest of tricks being prepared against me, and with what treachery that life is being attacked, all that is left to me of Trojan Iulus. Will I be the only one always to be troubled by well-founded anxiety: now Diomede's Calydonian spear wounds me: now the ill-defended walls of Troy confound me, seeing my son Aeneas driven to endless wandering, storm-tossed, entering the silent house of shadows, waging war against Turnus, or, if we speak the truth, with Juno, rather? Why do I recall, now, the ancient sufferings of my race? This present fear inhibits memory of the past: look at those evil knives being sharpened. Prevent them, I beg you, thwart this attempt, and do not allow Vesta's flames to be quenched by the blood of her priest!' Venus in her anxiety voiced her fears throughout the heavens, but in vain, troubling the gods, who though they could not break the iron rules of the ancient sisters, nevertheless gave no uncertain omens of imminent disaster. They say weapons, clashing among black clouds, and terrifying trumpets and horns, foretelling crime, were heard from the sky: and that the face of the sun, darkened, gave out a lurid light, over the troubled earth. Often, firebrands were seen, burning in the midst of the stars: often drops of blood rained from the clouds: Lucifer, the morning-star, was dulled, with rust-black spots on his disc, and the moon's chariot was spattered with blood. The Stygian owl sounded its sad omens in a thousand places: in a thousand places ivory statues wept: and incantations, and warning words, were said to have been heard in the sacred groves. No sacrifice was favourable, and the livers were found with cleft lobes, among the entrails, warning of great and impending civil conflict. In the forum, and around men's houses, and the temples of the gods, dogs howled at night, and they say the silent dead walked, and earthquakes shook the city. Still the gods' warnings could not prevent the conspiracy, or fate's fulfillment. Drawn swords were carried into the curia, the sacred Senate-house: no place in the city would satisfy them, as scene for the act of evil murder, but this. Then in truth Cytherean Venus struck her breast with both hands, and tried to hide Caesar in a cloud, as Paris was once snatched from the attack of Atrides, and Aeneas escaped Diomede's sword. Then Jupiter, the father, spoke: 'Alone, do you think you will move the immoveable fates, daughter? You are allowed yourself to enter the house of the three: there you will see all things written, a vast labour, in bronze and solid iron, that, eternal and secure, does not fear the clashing of the skies, the lightning's anger, or any forces of destruction. There you will find the fate of your descendants cut in everlasting adamant. I have read them myself, and taken note of them in my mind, and I will tell you, so that you are no longer blind to the future. This descendant of yours you suffer over, Cytherean, has fulfilled his time, and the years he owes to earth are done. You, and Augustus, his 'son', will ensure that he ascends to heaven as a god, and is worshipped in the temples. Augustus, as heir to his name, will carry the burden placed upon him alone, and will have us with him, in battle, as the most courageous avenger of his father's murder. Under his command, the conquered walls of besieged Mutina will sue for peace; Pharsalia will know him; Macedonian Philippi twice flow with blood; and the one who holds Pompey's great name, will be defeated in Sicilian waters; and a Roman general's [Note 1] Egyptian consort [Note 2], trusting, to her cost, in their marriage, will fall, her threat that our Capitol would bow to her city of Canopus, proved vain. Why enumerate foreign countries, for you, or the nations living on either ocean shore? Wherever earth contains habitable land, it will be his: and even the sea will serve him! When the world is at peace, he will turn his mind to the civil code, and, as the most just of legislators, make law. He will direct morality by his own example, and, looking to the future ages and coming generations, he will order a son, Tiberius, born of his virtuous wife [Note 3], to take his name, and his responsibilities. He will not attain his heavenly home, and the stars, his kindred, until he is old, and his years equal his merits. Meanwhile take up Caesar's spirit from his murdered corpse, and change it into a star, so that the deified Julius may always look down from his high temple on our Capitol and forum.'

Note 1: Roman general = Antony
Note 2: consort = Cleopatra
Note 3: wife = Livia

Event: Deification of Julius Caesar