" as a young magistrate, he had located in the overgrown municipal cemetery the one-hundred-and-thirty-year-old lost tomb of the mathematician Archimedes "
Cicero Discovers the Tomb of Archimedes, by Martin Knoller - Credit: Wikimedia Commons
was a 3rd
century BC Greek mathematician, inventor and astronomer from Syracuse. He was (and still is) considered one of the greatest mathematicians, and the Syracusans were very proud of their association with him. Cicero describes finding his tomb marked by a sphere inscribed within a cylinder; Archimedes had proven that the sphere has two thirds the volume and surface area of its circumscribing cylinder.
" just before dawn on a major public holiday, Terminalia. "
Terminus was sometimes pictured as a bust on a boundary stone - Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Terminalia was the festival in honour of Terminus, god of boundaries. The festival included garlanding a local boundary stone and making offerings to the god at an altar; these might include crops, honeycombs, and wine. The blood of a sacrificed lamb or pig would be poured over the boundary marker itself.
" From everywhere, senator. Asia. Syria. Tyre. Alexandria. "
These are all important places on the Roman trade routes. Among the most important commodities bought by the Romans were olive oil, wine, and grain. Africa and Egypt were two main sources of grain. More exotic goods such as spices and incense came in from the east.
" This vast dungeon, the work of Dionysius the Tyrant, was already more than three centuries old. "
was a tyrant of Syracuse in the late 5th
centuries BC. He conquered several cities in Sicily and fought a war against Carthage. Stories and accounts of Dionysius tell of his cruel, vindictive and paranoid nature. He was considered an example of the worst kind of ruler.
" truly this was a descent into Hades. "
Hades was one of the names for the underworld (the land of the dead), named after the Greek god of the dead, Hades
. The Roman name for the ruler of the underworld was Pluto.
" seated in his curule chair "
Aureus Macrinus Coin: Reverse (right) shows magistrate sitting on curule chair - Credit: CNG Coins
The curule chair was a seat that marked the status of a magistrate with imperium
. It was usually made of ivory, with no back and curved legs forming an X. It was foldable, designed to be easily transportable.
" But fortune, as the noble Terence has it, favours the brave "
Terence (Publius Terentius Afer) was a playwright of the second century BC, famous for his comedies.