Text #1684

Pliny. Natural History. Series: Natural History. Vol. 1
[Plin. Nat. 2.55. Translated by H. Rackham. Harvard University Press. 1938. (10 Vols.) p. 279]

It is certain that when thunder and lightning occur simultaneously, the flash is seen before the thunderclap is heard (this not being surprising, as light travels more swiftly than sound); but that Nature so regulates the stroke of a thunderbolt and the sound of the thunder that they occur together although the sound is caused by the bolt starting, not striking; moreover that the current of air travels faster than the bolt, and that consequently the object always is shaken and feels the blast before it is struck; and that nobody hit has ever seen the lightning or heard the thunder in advance. …

Accordingly it will be a portent of supreme happiness when they come from the first part of the sky and retire to the same part – a sign that history records to have been vouchsafed to the dictator Sulla; but all the others are less fortunate or actually direful, in accordance with the division of the actual firmament where they occur. Some people think it wrong to give or to listen to reports of thunderbolts, except if they are told to a guest or a parent.

The great folly of paying attention to these occurrences was discovered when the Temple of Juno at Rome was struck by a thunderbolt in the consulship of Scaurus, who was afterwards head of the state.

Text #1685

"Marcus Aemilius Scaurus", in Wikipedia.

Marcus Aemilius Scaurus (born ca. 163 BC – died 89 BC) was a Roman consul in 115 BC and considered one of the most talented and influential politicians of the Republic. Scaurus was born in a patrician family, although impoverished. In order to maintain the family lifestyle, his father became a coal-dealer. However, Scaurus himself declined any commercial activities (forbidden for senators) and embarked on a political life.

Scaurus’ cursus honorum started when he became a military tribune in the Hispania provinces. Then he became curule aedile in charge of the public games, and afterwards praetor in 120 BC. In the same year he was nominated princeps senatus and confirmed by the Senate, an office which he held until his death. He was elected consul in 115 BC with Marcus Caecilius Metellus as his junior colleague.

During the run-up to the Jugurthine War the historian Sallust wrote of the extensive bribery of Jugurtha in his attempts to persuade the Senate not to intervene on his brother’s behalf. In describing the profligacy he commented on Scaurus’ character: “A few, on the other hand, to whom right and justice were more precious than riches, recommended that aid be given to Adherbal and that the death of Hiempsal be severely punished. Conspicuous among these was Aemilius Scaurus, a noble full of energy, a partisan, greedy for power, fame, and riches, but clever in concealing his faults. As soon as this man saw the king’s bribery, so notorious and so brazen, fearing the usual result in such cases, namely, that such gross corruption would arouse popular resentment, he curbed his habitual cupidity.” (Bellum Jugurthinum, I. 15)

As leader of the Roman senate he was often sent abroad to settle disputes amongst foreign kings. In 109 BC, he was elected censor in partnership with Marcus Livius Drusus, who died in the next year putting an end to the censorship. As censor, he ordered the construction of the Via Aemilia Scaura and restored several bridges. In 104 BC, he became responsible for Rome’s grain supply. This was a very important office, given only to the most trustworthy persons, because the happiness of the population (and absence of mutinies) depended on it. Scaurus was throughout his political career the leader of the aristocratic conservative faction of the senate.

His second wife was Caecilia Metella Dalmatica who was later the third wife of Lucius Cornelius Sulla. From this marriage, he had two children:

Aemilia Scaura, second wife of Pompey
Marcus Aemilius Scaurus (praetor 56 BC)

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