The Life of Augustus, 70

Suetonius  translated by J. C. Rolfe

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70There was besides a private dinner of his, commonly called that of the “twelve gods,” which was the subject of gossip. At this the guests appeared in the guise of gods and goddesses, while he himself was made up to represent Apollo, as was charged not merely in letters of Antony, who spitefully gives the names of all the guests, but also in these anonymous lines, which everyone knows:

“As soon as that table of rascals had secured a choragus and Mallia saw six gods and six goddesses, while Caesar impiously plays the false rôle of Apollo and feasts amid novel debaucheries of the gods; then all the deities turned their faces from the earth and Jupiter himself fled from his golden throne.”

2The scandal of this banquet was the greater because of dearth and famine in the land at the time, and on the following day there was an outcry that the gods had eaten all the grain and that Caesar was in truth Apollo, but Apollo the Tormentor, a surname under which the god was worshipped in one part of the city. He was criticized too as over fond of costly furniture and Corinthian bronzes and as given to gaming. Indeed, as early as the time of the proscriptions there was written on his statue—

“In silver once my father dealt, now in Corinthians I,”

since it was believed that he caused some men to be entered in the list of the proscribed because of their Corinthian vases. Later, during the Sicilian war, this epigram was current:

“After he has twice been beaten at sea and lost his ships, he plays at dice all the time, in the hope of winning one victory.”

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