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From The Silvae of Statius translated with Introduction and Notes, by D. A. Slater; Oxford: The Clarendon Press; 1908; pp. 142-144.



I     Laeta bis octonis

Statius celebrates Domitian’s seventeenth consulship.

WITH happy omens doth our Emperor, the conqueror of Germany, add yet again the purple unto his eight consulships twice told and inaugurates once again a glorious year. With the new sun he rises and with the great lights, more radiant still than they and mightier than the Morning Star in the East. Joy to the laws of Latium, joy to the chairs of state! Let Rome more proudly lift her seven hills heavenwards, and beyond the rest let Evander’s mount exult. Again the rods,1 again the twelve axes have scaled the Palatine and broken Caesar’s rest. The Senate rejoice that their prayer has been heard and that they have overcome their Ruler’s modesty. Even Janus himself, the almighty renewer of the dateless years, lifts up his head and from both his thresholds gives thanks; Janus, whom thou hast fastened in bonds of peace (Peace his neighbour) and bidden him lull all wars to rest and swear allegiance to the statutes of the new forum. From both his gates he uplifts hands of entreaty and with two fold voice he cries: ‘All hail, great father of the world, who makest ready with me to renew the ages; fain would thy city ever 143 behold thee thus in my month; thus it is meet that the years should begin their march, and fresh aeons make their entry. Grant to our records this bliss continually. Let thy shoulders many a time be robed in the purple folds and the trappings wrought in haste for thee by thine own Minerva’s hands. Seest thou, how the temples break into a new and strange radiance; how the fire leaps higher on the altars; how even my mid-winter stars grow warm in honour of thee and thy haviour?2 Knights and commons and purple senators rejoice, and every office draws a lustre from the sunshine of thy consulate. Tell me, was there a magic such as this in the year just past? Speak, royal Rome, and do thou, age-long Time, review our records with me. Rehearse not petty histories, but theirs only whom our Caesar may deign to surpass. Thrice and ten times in the gliding years did Augustus wield the axes, but he entered late on his career of service: thou in early manhood hast outstripped thy forefathers. And how oft thou dost refuse, how oft forbid the proffer! Yet wilt thou yield, and to the suppliant senate promise many a return of the day. The long tale is still to tell. Thrice, yea, and four times as oft shall Rome be blessed in granting thee this office. Thou and I will inaugurate yet another Aeon; thou shalt reconsecrate the altar of the aged sire. Only accept the triumph, and a thousand trophies shall be thine. Still is Bactra, still is Babylon to be yoked with fresh tribute: no laurels are yet won from India to lay in the lap of Jove: not yet are the Seres, and not yet 144 the Arabs thy suppliants: not yet hath the whole year its guerdon: ten months still yearn for a title from thee.’

Thus Janus, and willingly closed his gates and was gone. Then all the gods opened their portals and gave signs and tokens in the glad sky: and royal Jupiter confirmed to thee, sire, enduring youth and years as many as his own.


1  Lines 8, 9.  ‘fasces Et r. b. s. honos,’ &c. (edd. vett.).

2  Lines 24, 25.  The lines are punctuated thus by Dr. Postgate.

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