Offerings for the Emperor’s Well-Being

Martial, Epigrams 13.4 “Tus” (“Incense”)

Note: “Germanicus” = Domitian (r. 81-96 CE).

So that Germanicus may one day rule
The heavenly palace – but not ‘till many years
Have passed – and may reign long with us on Earth,
Give pious incense-offerings to Jove.

Serus ut aetheriae Germanicus imperet aulae
       utque diu terris da pia tura Iovi.

Jupiter and Juno, Franz Christoph Janneck (1703-1761)

“date a roman” suggestions

date a roman who…

  • upholds the mos maiorum
  • is cool with worshiping your gods, too
  • can tell you everything the Romans have ever done for your province
  • can tell you everything your province has ever done for Rome
  • doesn’t laugh at your accent when you speak Latin
  • makes an equal effort to learn your language
  • is committed to resisting barbarian invasions
  • doesn’t participate in palace coups or civil wars
  • performs his/her civic duties gladly
  • pays his/her taxes
  • has ascended suo anno through the entire cursus honorum
  • will instinctively form a testudo with two dozen other random countrymen if you give them tower shields and start shooting arrows at them
  • favors the same color as you at the chariot races
  • has an education in the trivium and the quadrivium

The Roses of Heliogabalus by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. 1888. Oil on canvas. Private collection.

M. Aurelius Antoninus, known to history as Elagabalus or Heliogabalus, reigned as Roman emperor from 218 to 222 A.D. after the death of the emperor Caracalla, his mother’s cousin. He held the hereditary priesthood of the sun god Elagabalus at Emesa in Syria and stirred resentment when he tried to make the deity the supreme god of the Roman Empire. The emperor also married (and divorced and then took back) the Vestal Virgin Aquilia Severa before being murdered and replaced by his cousin Severus Alexander

This famous painting by the Dutch-born British artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema is based on the story that Elagabalus killed his courtiers at a banquet by covering them in petals, as told in the Historia Augusta:

“In a banqueting-room with a reversible ceiling he once overwhelmed his parasites with violets and other flowers, so that some were actually smothered to death, being unable to crawl out to the top.”