" On the seventeenth day of December, the Festival of Saturn began and lasted for a week. "
was held in honour of Saturn, a Roman god of agriculture and harvest. The festival, celebrated in memory of the mythological Golden Age when Saturn once ruled over man, involved public rites and private customs, eating, drinking and giving presents, and general merriment. Slaves were supposed to enjoy a certain level of equality with their masters during the holiday and were allowed to sit at a banquet (often prepared by the slaves themselves – religious good spirit only went so far!)
" But you would do well to remember the fate of Romulus, who was murdered in his turn by his own senators, who cut up his body and carried the mangled pieces back to their homes! "
was the legendary founder of the city of Rome. Once a good king, who expanded Rome’s territory and listened to the senate’s advice, he began to display more and more features of an autocratic ruler. According to the Roman historian Cassius Dio, he was torn apart by the senators in the senate-house itself. A storm hid this act from his soldiers and the people.
" You will be our Cincinnatus, fetched from his plough to save the country from disaster. "
Cincinnatus gives up his position as dictator, painting by Juan Antonio Ribera - Credit: Wikimedia Commons
was a legendary Roman aristocrat who was called from his farm to hold the position of dictator, in order to save the city from the threat of attacking tribes. As soon as the threat had been dealt with, Cincinnatus resigned the dictatorship and returned peacefully to the land. He was later called once more to be dictator in order to put down a plebeian rebellion; again, he gave up the position as soon as the danger had passed. Cincinnatus represented the Roman ideal of humility and patriotism, of a leader who would give up supreme power for the sake of Rome rather than seek to further his own personal ambitions. As such, the image of Cincinnatus was an incredibly powerful one to evoke in Roman politics.
" When I was twenty-three I raised a force of fifteen thousand, defeated the combined rebel armies of Brutus, Caelius and Carrinas… "
A recap of Pompey’s career to this date:
* Loyal to the aristocratic, anti-popularist leader Sulla. Raised Picenean troops to support him.
* Sent by Sulla (now dictator) to pursue the last Marian supporters who fled Rome.
* Africa – fought the Marian rebels and the Numidian king. Was hailed imperator by his men.
* Sulla gave him the title ‘the Great’ but refused him a triumph, as he had as yet held no magistracies. Pompey refused to disband his legions and waited at the gates of Rome. Sulla gave in and Pompey got his triumph.
* Given proconsular imperium to deal with rebels in Spain, and was successful.
* Senate recalled him after his victory to help crush the slave revolt. Pompey came in at the last minute and stole Crassus’ glory.
* Granted another triumph, this time for Spain. Again, it was not strictly legal.
* Held consulship with Crassus.