Page 237. " as Verres provided him with an ivory sphinx, the consul-elect should find no difficulty solving riddles. "
A Greek Sphinx (from Delphi)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeA Greek Sphinx (from Delphi) - Credit: Tetraktys/Wikimedia Commons

A sphinx is a mythical creature of Egyptian origin with the body of a lion and the head of a woman. The sphinx was brought from Egypt into Greek art and mythology, where she became a monster who guarded the entrance to the city of Thebes. She asked a riddle to travellers before she would allow them to pass; if they answered wrongly, they would be killed. Oedipus solved the riddle, after which the Sphinx either threw herself from a cliff or devoured herself. According to later accounts, the riddle of the Sphinx was:

“Which creature goes on four legs in the morning, on two at mid-day, and three in the evening?”

The answer is man – he crawls on four legs as a baby, walks upright as an adult, and uses a cane as an old man.


An Egyptian Sphinx
GNU Free Documentation LicenseAn Egyptian Sphinx - Credit: Tim Adams/Wikimedia Commons
Page 238. " The aristocratic general had, by his own account, scored a series of crushing victories, entering the kingdom of Tigranes, defeating the king himself in battle "

Empire of Tigranes
GNU Free Documentation LicenseEmpire of Tigranes - Credit: TigranMets/Wikimedia Commons
 Lucullus entered the kingdom of Tigranes after Mithridates (king of Pontus, currently at war with Rome) had fled there. Despite the fact that Tigranes and his army had scored many victories in the expansion of his kingdom into an empire, including against the remains of the Seleucid Empire in the east, Lucullus won a crushing victory. The capital city was taken and the king defeated, though Tigranes and Mithridates eluded capture.

Page 244. " or wished to have their premises put on to the water supply "
Roman Aqueduct Near Tunis
GNU Free Documentation LicenseRoman Aqueduct Near Tunis - Credit: Mathiasrex/Wikimedia Commons

The ancient Romans brought water to their cities via aqueducts, great feats of engineering powered only by gravity – the gradient of an aqueduct’s steady descent had to be calculated just right or the water would overflow or stagnate. These aqueducts supplied the public baths and fountains in the city. Private houses and businesses could also pay to be put on to the water supply.


Aqueduct Water Channel
GNU Free Documentation LicenseAqueduct Water Channel - Credit: Vmenkov/Wikimedia Commons
Aqueduct Arches, Segovia
Public DomainAqueduct Arches, Segovia - Credit: Bluedog423/Wikimedia Commons
Page 244. " foxes were released into the Circus Maximus "

The Circus Maximus today
GNU Free Documentation LicenseThe Circus Maximus today - Credit: kodiak/Wikimedia Commons
The Circus Maximus was a huge stadium used for games, entertainment and chariot racing, situated between the Aventine and Palatine hills.

Page 246. " when he would be old enough to stand for a praetorship "

The age requirements of the various magistracies on the cursus honorum (political career ladder) were:

Quaestor – at least 30 years old

Aedile – at least 36 years old

Praetor – at least 39 years old

Consul – 40 years old for a patrician, 42 for a plebeian

Page 246. " of how the young general had outwitted three Marian armies at Auximum "
Public DomainMarius - Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol
This is a reference to one of Pompey’s commands, early in his career, against the rebel supporters of Marius, the popularist leader and enemy of Sulla. Sulla crushed the populares power in Rome when he returned from campaigns in the east in 83 BC and set himself up as dictator of Rome. After a civil war in Italy, the remainder of the Marian forces fled.

Public DomainSulla - Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol