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From The Lives of the Popes from the Time of our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Accession of Gregory VII. Written Originally in Latin by B. Platina, Native of Cremona, and translated into English (from an anonymous translation, first printed in 1685 by Sir Paul Rycaut), Edited by William Benham, Volume I, London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh, [1888, undated in text]; pp. 10-12.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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Circa A.D. 68-78.

LINUS, by nation a Tuscan, his father’s name Herculeanus, was in the chair from the last year of Nero to the times of Vespasian, and from the consulship of Saturninus and Scipio, to that of Capito and Rufus.

In this space of time there were no less than three emperors, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, each of them reigning but a very little while.

Galba, a person descended of the most ancient nobility, being created emperor by the soldiers in Spain, as soon as he heard of the death of Nero, came immediately to Rome. But rendering himself obnoxious to all men by his avarice and sloth, through the treachery of Otho, he was slain at Rome near Curtius’s lake in the seventh month of his reign; together with Piso, a noble youth whom he had adopted for his son. He was doubtless a man, who before he came to the empire, was very eminent in the management both of military and civil affairs; being often consul, often proconsul, and several times general in the most important wars. That which makes me speak this in his praise, is the learning of M. Fabius Quintilianus, whom Galba brought with him out of Spain to Rome.

Otho, a man of better extraction by his mother’s than by his father’s side, who while he led a private life was very loose and effeminate, as being a great and intimate friend of Nero’s, in the midst of tumults and slaughters, as I hinted before, invaded the empire. But being engaged in a civil war against Vitellius, who had been created emperor in Germany, though he got the better in three small skirmishes, one at the Alps, another at Placentia, the third at Castor, yet losing the day in the last and most considerable, which was at Bebriacum, he thereupon fell into so deep a melancholy, that, in the third month of his empire he stabbed himself.

Vitellius, concerning whose extraction there are different opinions, coming to Rome, and obtaining the empire, soon degenerated into all manner of lewdness, cruelty and gluttony, being used to make several meals in a day, and some of them to such an height of luxury, that there have been at one supper no less than two thousand fishes, and seven thousand fowl 11 served up to his table. But having intelligence that Vespasian, who had been created emperor by the army in Judæa, was advancing with his legions, he at first determined to quit the empire; yet being afterwards encouraged by those about him, he took up arms, and forced Sabinus, Vespasian’s brother, with his Flavian soldiers into the Capitol; which being set on fire, they were all burnt. Hereupon being surprised by Vespasian, and having no hope of pardon left him, he hid himself in a private chamber in the palace, from whence he was most ignominiously dragged and carried naked through the Via Sacra to the Scalæ Gemoniæ, where being quartered he was thrown into the river Tiber.

During this time Linus was successor to St Peter, though there are some who place Clemens here, and wholly leave out Linus and Cletus, who yet are sufficiently confuted not only by history, but also by the authority of St Hierom, who tells us, that Clemens was the fourth bishop of Rome after Peter, for Linus was accounted the second, and Cletus the third, notwithstanding that most of the Romans immediately after Peter reckon Clemens. To whom, though St Peter had as it were by will bequeathed the right of succession, yet his modesty was so great that he compelled Linus and Cletus to take upon them the pontifical dignity before him, lest any ambition of pre-eminence might be of ill example to after ages. This Linus by commission from St Peter, ordained that no woman should enter the church but with her head veiled. Moreover, at two ordinations which he held in the city, he made eighteen presbyters and eleven bishops. In his time lived Philo, a Jew of Alexandria, in whose writings there is so much wit and judgment, that, from the likeness there appears between them, he deserved to have it proverbially said, either Plato does Philonize, or Philo does Platonize. By his learning and eloquence he corrected the rashness of Apion, who had been sent ambassador from the Alexandrians with complaints against the Jews. While he was at Rome, in the time of Claudius, he contracted an acquaintance with St Peter, and thereupon wrote several things in praise of the Christians.1 Josephus also the son of Mattathias, a priest at Jerusalem, being taken prisoner by Vespasian, and committed to the custody of his son Titus, till that city was taken, coming to Rome during the pontificate of Linus, presented to the father and the son seven 12 books of the Jewish war, which were laid up in the public library, and the author himself, as a reward for that performance, had most deservedly a statue erected to him. He wrote likewise twenty-four other books of antiquities, from the beginning of the world to the fourteenth year of the emperor Domitian. As for Linus himself, though he had gained a mighty reputation for the sanctity of his life, by his power of casting out devils and raising the dead, yet was he put to death by Saturninus, the consul, whose very daughter he had dispossessed, and was buried in the Vatican near the body of St Peter, on the twenty-first day of September, when had sat in the Pontifical See eleven years, three months, and twelve days. There are some who affirm that Gregory Bishop of Ostia, did, according to a vow which he had made, remove the body of this holy bishop to that place, and solemnly inter it in the Church of St Laurence.


 1  This is mere fable. Philo died soon after A.D. 40. — ED.

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Previous Pope:  1. St. Peter the Apostle. 2. St. Linus. Next Pope: 3. St Cletus.

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