Liber de Prodigiis

Iulius Obsequens

Sequitur hanc miseram luem miserioremque eius expiationem proximo anno satis triste prodigium: repente siquidem medio Urbis terra dissiluit, vastoque praeruptu hiantia subito inferna patuerunt. Manebat diu ad spectaculum terroremque cunctorum patenti voragine inpudens specus nefariamque uiui hominis sepulturam diis interpretibus expetebat. Satisfecit inprobis faucibus praecipitio sui M. Curtius, vir eques armatus, iniecitque crudeli terrae inopimam satietatem, cui parum esset quod ex tanta pestilentia mortuos per sepulchra susciperet, nisi etiam vivos scissa sorberet.

In the next year a quite somber omen followed this wretched plague and its more wretched expiation: suddenly, in the middle of the city the ground broke up, and immediately the gaping depths of the earth were exposed by the immense break. The shameless cavern with its open abyss remained for a long time in the sight of all and for their terror, and according to the gods' interpreters, it demanded the abominable burial of a living man. M. Curtius, an armed man of the equestrian class, satisfied the wicked jaws by his headlong fall, and he sated the cruel earth, for which it was not enough that it received those who had died from such a great plague for burial, but the cleft had to swallow the living as well.

Translation by Jane W. Crawford, © 2001.