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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.


  • [Caius Cæsar Augustus, third Roman emperor, son of Germanicus and Agrippina, born A.D. 12; succeeded Tiberius 37; after the promise of a beneficent reign, gave way to the caprice and cruelty of a madman; exhausted Italy by his extortions, and plundered the provinces, until murdered Jan. 24, 41.]
  • Would that the Roman people had but one neck! (Utinam populus Romanus unam cervicem haberet!)

  • When incensed at the people’s applauding a party at the Circensian games in opposition to him.—SUETONIUS: Life. These words have been attributed to Nero; but Dion Cassius and Seneca agree with Suetonius in ascribing them to Caligula. “Anger,” says Jean Paul, “wishes all mankind had only one neck; love, that it had only one heart; grief, two tear-glands; pride, two bent knees.”—Flower, Fruit, and Thorn Pieces, IV. While caressing his wife Cæsonia’s neck, Caligula would say, “So beautiful a neck must be cut whenever I please” (Tam bona cervix simul ac jussero demetur); or, as it is sometimes translated, “Fair as it is, how easily I could sever it!” Now and then, says Suetonius, he would threaten to put his dear Cæsonia to the torture, that he might discover why he loved her so passionately. At a sumptuous entertainment he fell suddenly into a violent fit of laughter; and upon the consuls, who reclined next to him, respectfully asking the occasion, “Nothing,” replied he, “but that, upon a single nod of mine, you might both have your throats cut.”—Ibid.
  • Strike so that he may feel himself die! (Ita feri ut se mori sentiat!)

  • His well-known and constant order, prolonging the sufferings of his victims by causing slight and frequently repeated strokes to be inflicted upon them.—Ibid. When about to murder his brother, whom he suspected of taking antidotes against poison, he said, “Find, then, an antidote against Cæsar!”