Naturalis Historia

C. Plinius Caecilius

Cometes in uno totius orbis loco colitur in templo Romae, admodum faustus divo Augusto iudicatus ab ipso, qui incipiente eo apparuit ludis quos faciebat Veneri Genetrici non multo post obitum patris Caesaris in collegio ab eo instituto. Namque his verbis id gaudium prodit: ' Iis ipsis ludorum meorum diebus sidus crinitum per septem dies in regione caeli quae sub septentrionibus est conspectum est. Id oriebatur circa undecimam horam diei clarumque et omnibus e terris conspicuum fuit. Eo sidere significari volgus credidit Caesaris animam inter deorum immortalium numina receptam, quo nomine id insigne simulacro capitis eius, quod mox in foro consecravimus, adiectum est.' Haec ille in publicum: interiore gaudio sibi illum natum seque in eo nasci interpretatus est; et, si verum fatemur, salutare id terris fuit.

The only place in the whole world where a comet is the object of worship is a temple at Rome. His late Majesty Augustus had deemed this comet very propitious to himself; as it had appeared at the beginning of his rule, at some games which, not long after the decease of his father Caesar, as a member of the college founded by him he was celebrating in honour of Mother Venus. In fact he made public the joy that it gave him in these words: ' On the very days of my Games a comet was visible for seven days in the northern part of the sky. It was rising about an hour before sunset, and was a bright star, visible from all lands. The common people believed that this star signified the soul of Caesar received among the spirits of the immortal gods, and on this account the emblem of a star was added to the bust of Caesar that we shortly afterwards dedicated in the forum.' This was his public utterance, but privately he rejoiced because he interpreted the comet as having been born for his own sake and as containing his own birth within it; and, to confess the truth, it did have a health-giving influence over the world.

Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of the Loeb Classical Library from C. Plinius Caecilius: Natural History (Volume I. Books 1-2), Loeb Classical Library Vol. 330, translated by H. Rackham, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, © 1938, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. The Loeb Classical Library ® is a registered trademark of the President and Fellows of Harvard College.