Saturday, January 07, 2012

Fun in the 2nd Century

After inspecting the wall at Carlisle, as Severus returned to the nearest guest house not only as victor over die Caledonians but also having established a permanent peace treaty, he wondered what omen would present itself. Just then, a black soldier, who was a well-known buffoon and regarded himself as a bit of a joker, came up to him with a wreath of cypress. When Severus, thoroughly disturbed at being presented with a funeral garland and by someone of the colour associated with death, angrily ordered him to be removed from his sight, the man jocularly remarked, "You have been everything. You have conquered everything, now may the conqueror be a god." When Severus subsequently reached town, and wanted to perform a sacrifice, owing to a mistake on the part of a local soothsayer, he was first taken to the temple of the goddess of war, and then supplied with sacrificial animals that were black. He abandoned the sacrifice in disgust and retired to the local imperial residence, only to find himself, through the negligence of the temple attendants, pursued right to the door by the herd of black cows.

Historia Augusta Severus XXII. 4-7

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