Saturday, October 02, 2021


A Blessed Death

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.53.184 (tr. H. Rackham):
Cornelius Gallus, ex-praetor, and Titus Hetereius Knight of Rome died while with women.

Cornelius Gallus praetorius et T. Hetereius Eques Romanus in venere obiere.
Rackham's translation verges on euphemism. What were the men doing with the women? There is a more accurate rendering in The Elder Pliny on the Human Animal: Natural History, Book 7. Translated with Introduction and Historical Commentary by Mary Beagon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005), p. 99:
The ex-praetor Cornelius Gallus died while making love, as did T. Hetereius, a Roman knight.
Beagon's note on p. 409:
Ovid's ideal end, according to Am. 2.10.29–36. Montaigne added to Pliny's list at this point 'Tigillinus, Captaine of the Romans Watch, Lodowicke, sonne of Guido Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua. . . . And of a farre worse example, Speusippus the Platonian philosopher and one of our Popes . . .' (Essays 1.xix, trans. J. Florio). Tigellinus' death was in fact a forced suicide rather than a sudden collapse (Tac. Hist. 1.72), but committed 'in the midst of his concubines' embraces and kisses'. Montaigne's version of Speusippus' death seems to go back no further than a polemical passage of Tertullian attacking pagan philosophers (Apol. 46).
M.A. Screech says that the lecherous Pope was Clement V, but Pierre Michel in the Gallimard edition of Montaigne says it was John XXII (a mistake for John XII?).

Cf. Philodemus, On Death, column 4, lines 10-11 (tr. W. Benjamin Henry): dying with pleasure those expiring during sexual intercourse...

...ὡς μεθ' ἡδονῆς τελευτῶντας τοὺς ἐν τῷ συνουσιάζειν...
Related post: Planting Cabbages.

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