Geographical sites:

  • Etna (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #462077)
    Pleiades_icon Aetna M. mountain Geocontext: Mt. Etna
    Description: An active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily (known today as Mount Etna).


Text #3285

Obsequens. "A Book of Prodigies After the 505th year of Rome"


26. Ser. Flacco Q. Calpurnio coss. AUC 619/135 BC

Mount Etna blazed with greater fires than normal. At Rome a boy was born without an opening in his anus. At Bononia corn grew on trees. The cry of an owl was heard firstly on the Capitol, then around the city. After a reward was placed on this bird it was captured by a fowler and incinerated. Its ashes were scattered in the Tiber. A bull spoke. In Numantia things went badly, since the Roman army was defeated.

Text #3284

Orosius. Seven Books of History Against the Pagans. Series: Translated Texts for Historians. Vol. 54
[Oros. 5.6.2. Translated by A. T. Fear. Liverpool University Press. 2010 p. 218]

In Sicily Mount Etna spewed out and poured forth vast amounts of lava which flowed headlong like a torrent over the nearby lowlands, burning them up with its flames. More distant regions too were scorched by hot cinders that flew far and wide in a cloud of thick smoke. This sort of horror, which is native to Sicily, normally does not portend troubles, but rather brings them.

In the fields of Bononia wheat grew on trees1

  1. Orosius is careful to give a naturalistic explanation for what the eruption presages. He has taken the prodigy of the child with too many organs from Obsequens’ list of prodigies for the previous year (618 AUC/136 BC). Obsequens connects this with Lepidus’s defeat by the Vaccaei. Oddly, Pliny says the only instance of ‘tree-wheat’ he knows of occurred in 202 BC; see Pliny, Natural History, 18.46.166, and Varro, On Country Matters (De Re Rustica), 1.9.4. [OF]

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