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Ovid XV Chapter 16: 745-842 The deification of Julius Caesar
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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.' |
Event: Deification of Julius Caesar
Hic tamen accessit delubris advena nostris: |
Caesar in urbe sua deus est; quem Marte togaque
praecipuum non bella magis finita triumphis
resque domi gestae properataque gloria rerum
in sidus vertere novum stellamque comantem,
quam sua progenies; neque enim de Caesaris actis
ullum maius opus, quam quod pater exstitit huius:
scilicet aequoreos plus est domuisse Britannos
perque papyriferi septemflua flumina Nili
victrices egisse rates Numidasque rebelles
Cinyphiumque Iubam Mithridateisque tumentem
nominibus Pontum populo adiecisse Quirini
et multos meruisse, aliquos egisse triumphos,
quam tantum genuisse virum, quo praeside rerum
humano generi, superi, favistis abunde!
ne foret hic igitur mortali semine cretus,
ille deus faciendus erat; quod ut aurea vidit
Aeneae genetrix, vidit quoque triste parari
pontifici letum et coniurata arma moveri,
palluit et cunctis, ut cuique erat obvia, divis
'adspice,' dicebat 'quanta mihi mole parentur
insidiae, quantaque caput cum fraude petatur,
quod de Dardanio solum mihi restat Iulo.
solane semper ero iustis exercita curis,
quam modo Tydidae Calydonia vulneret hasta,
nunc male defensae confundant moenia Troiae,
quae videam natum longis erroribus actum
iactarique freto sedesque intrare silentum
bellaque cum Turno gerere, aut, si vera fatemur,
cum Iunone magis? quid nunc antiqua recordor
damna mei generis? timor hic meminisse priorum
non sinit; en acui sceleratos cernitis enses.
quos prohibete, precor, facinusque repellite neve
caede sacerdotis flammas exstinguite Vestae!'
Talia nequiquam toto Venus anxia caelo
verba iacit superosque movet, qui rumpere quamquam
ferrea non possunt veterum decreta sororum,
signa tamen luctus dant haut incerta futuri;
arma ferunt inter nigras crepitantia nubes
terribilesque tubas auditaque cornua caelo
praemonuisse nefas; solis quoque tristis imago
lurida sollicitis praebebat lumina terris;
saepe faces visae mediis ardere sub astris,
saepe inter nimbos guttae cecidere cruentae;
caerulus et vultum ferrugine Lucifer atra
sparsus erat, sparsi lunares sanguine currus;
tristia mille locis Stygius dedit omina bubo,
mille locis lacrimavit ebur, cantusque feruntur
auditi sanctis et verba minantia lucis.
victima nulla litat, magnosque instare tumultus
fibra monet, caesumque caput reperitur in extis,
inque foro circumque domos et templa deorum
nocturnos ululasse canes umbrasque silentum
erravisse ferunt motamque tremoribus urbem.
non tamen insidias venturaque vincere fata
praemonitus potuere deum, strictique feruntur
in templum gladii: neque enim locus ullus in urbe
ad facinus diramque placet nisi curia caedem.
tum vero Cytherea manu percussit utraque
pectus et Aeneaden molitur condere nube,
qua prius infesto Paris est ereptus Atridae,
et Diomedeos Aeneas fugerat enses.
talibus hanc genitor: 'sola insuperabile fatum,
nata, movere paras? intres licet ipsa sororum
tecta trium: cernes illic molimine vasto
ex aere et solido rerum tabularia ferro,
quae neque concursum caeli neque fulminis iram
nec metuunt ullas tuta atque aeterna ruinas;
invenies illic incisa adamante perenni
fata tui generis: legi ipse animoque notavi
et referam, ne sis etiamnum ignara futuri.
hic sua conplevit, pro quo, Cytherea, laboras,
tempora, perfectis, quos terrae debuit, annis.
ut deus accedat caelo templisque colatur,
tu facies natusque suus, qui nominis heres
inpositum feret unus onus caesique parentis
nos in bella suos fortissimus ultor habebit.
illius auspiciis obsessae moenia pacem
victa petent Mutinae, Pharsalia sentiet illum,
Emathiique iterum madefient caede Philippi,
et magnum Siculis nomen superabitur undis,
Romanique ducis coniunx Aegyptia taedae
non bene fisa cadet, frustraque erit illa minata,
servitura suo Capitolia nostra Canopo.
quid tibi barbariam gentesque ab utroque iacentes
oceano numerem? quodcunque habitabile tellus
sustinet, huius erit: pontus quoque serviet illi!
'Pace data terris animum ad civilia vertet
iura suum legesque feret iustissimus auctor
exemploque suo mores reget inque futuri
temporis aetatem venturorumque nepotum
prospiciens prolem sancta de coniuge natam
ferre simul nomenque suum curasque iubebit,
nec nisi cum senior meritis aequaverit annos,
aetherias sedes cognataque sidera tanget.
hanc animam interea caeso de corpore raptam
fac iubar, ut semper Capitolia nostra forumque
divus ab excelsa prospectet Iulius aede!'