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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book X Chapter 23: Affairs in the City.[295 BC]
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Several portents occurred this year and, with the view of averting them, the senate passed a decree that special intercessions should be offered for two days. The wine and incense were provided at the public cost, and both men and women attended the religious functions in great numbers. This time of special observance was rendered memorable by a quarrel which broke out amongst the matrons in the chapel of the patrician Pudicitia, which is in the Forum Boarium, against the round temple of Hercules. |
Verginia, the daughter of Aulus Verginius, a patrician, had married the plebeian consul Lucius Volumnius, and the matrons excluded her from their sacred rites because she had married outside the patriciate. This led to a brief altercation, which, as the women became excited, soon blazed up into a storm of passion. Verginia protested with perfect truth that she entered the temple of Pudicitia as a patrician and a pure woman, the wife of one man to whom she had been betrothed as a virgin, and she had nothing to be ashamed of in her husband or in his honourable career and the offices which he had held. The effect of her high-spirited language was considerably enhanced by her subsequent action. In the Vicus Longus, where she lived, she shut off a portion of her house, sufficient to form a moderately sized chapel, and set up an altar there. She then called the plebeian matrons together and told them how unjustly she had been treated by the patrician ladies. "I am dedicating," she said, "this altar to the Plebeian Pudicitia, and I earnestly exhort you as matrons to show the same spirit of emulation on the score of chastity that the men of this City display with regard to courage, so that this altar may, if possible, have the reputation of being honoured with a holier observance and by purer worshippers than that of the patricians." The ritual and ceremonial practised at this altar was almost identical with that at the older one; no matron was allowed to sacrifice there whose moral character was not well attested, and who had had more than one husband. Afterwards it was polluted by the presence of women of every kind, not matrons only, and finally passed into oblivion.
The curule aediles Gnaeus and Quintus Ogulnius, brought up several money-lenders for trial this year. The proportion of their fines which was paid into the treasury was devoted to various public objects; the wooden thresholds of the Capitol were replaced by bronze, silver vessels were made for the three tables in the shrine of Jupiter, and a statue of the god himself, seated in a four-horse chariot, was set up on the roof. They also placed near the Ficus Ruminalis a group representing the Founders [Note 1] of the City as infants being suckled by the she-wolf. The street leading from the Porta Capena to the temple of Mars was paved, under their instructions, with stone slabs.
Some graziers were also prosecuted for exceeding the number of cattle allowed them on the public land, and the plebeian aediles, Lucius Aelius Paetus and Gnaeus Fulvius Curvus, spent the money derived from their fines on public games and a set of golden bowls to be placed in the temple of Ceres.
|Eo anno prodigia multa fuerunt, quorum auerruncandorum causa supplicationes in biduum senatus decreuit; publice uinum ac tus praebitum; supplicatum iere frequentes uiri feminaeque. Insignem supplicationem fecit certamen in sacello Pudicitiae Patriciae, quae in foro bouario est ad aedem rotundam Herculis, inter matronas ortum. Verginiam Auli filiam, patriciam plebeio nuptam, L. Volumnio consuli, matronae quod e patribus enupsisset sacris arcuerant. Breuis altercatio inde ex iracundia muliebri in contentionem animorum exarsit, cum se Verginia et patriciam et pudicam in Patriciae Pudicitiae templum ingressam, ut uni nuptam ad quem uirgo deducta sit, nec se uiri honorumue eius ac rerum gestarum paenitere uero gloriaretur. Facto deinde egregio magnifica uerba adauxit. In uico Longo ubi habitabat, ex parte aedium quod satis esset loci modico sacello exclusit aramque ibi posuit et conuocatis plebeiis matronis conquesta iniuriam patriciarum, "hanc ego aram" inquit "Pudicitiae Plebeiae dedico; uosque hortor ut, quod certamen uirtutis uiros in hac ciuitate tenet, hoc pudicitiae inter matronas sit detisque operam ut haec ara quam illa, si quid potest, sanctius et a castioribus coli dicatur." eodem ferme ritu et haec ara quo illa antiquior culta est, ut nulla nisi spectatae pudicitiae matrona et quae uni uiro nupta fuisset ius sacrificandi haberet; uolgata dein religio a pollutis, nec matronis solum sed omnis ordinis feminis, postremo in obliuionem uenit. Eodem anno Cn. Et Q. Ogulnii aediles curules aliquot feneratoribus diem dixerunt; quorum bonis multatis ex eo quod in publicum redactum est aenea in Capitolio limina et trium mensarum argentea uasa in cella Iouis Iouemque in culmine cum quadrigis et ad ficum Ruminalem simulacra infantium conditorum urbis sub uberibus lupae posuerunt semitamque saxo quadrato a Capena porta ad Martis strauerunt. Et ab aedilibus plebeiis L. Aelio Paeto et C. Fuluio Curuo ex multaticia item pecunia, quam exegerunt pecuariis damnatis, ludi facti pateraeque aureae ad Cereris positae.|