Jeeps and Hummers in Antiquity?
Crossover Vehicles and Conspicuous Consumption
Elizabeth Tylawsky, Norwich Free Academy, CT
Note1: I gave a version of this paper at the CANE Annual Meeting held in April 2005 at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine. For their advice and recommendations I would like to thank Nina Barclay, Cynthia Damon, John Dugan, Josiah Osgood, Alan Ward, Gordon Williams and several of the members of the audience at CANE.
Note2: Caesar bellum gallicum 1. 51: tum demum necessario Germani suas copias castris eduxerunt generatimque constituerunt paribus intervallis, Harudes, Marcomanos, Triboces, Vangiones, Nemetes, Sedusios, Suebos, omnemque aciem suam raedis et carris circumdederunt, ne qua spes in fuga relinqueretur.
Note3: In a general section detailing Caesar’s amazing efficiency, Suetonius (Jul. 57) describes Caesar using a hired raeda: longissimas vias incredibili celeritate confecit, expeditus, meritoria raeda, centena passuum milia in singulos dies.
Note4: Cicero ad Atticum 5.16: hanc epistulam dictavi sedens in raeda, cum in castra proficiscerer, a quibus aberam bidui.
Note5: Syme, 1961 23.
Note6: Cicero ad Atticum 6. 1: haec ego ex P. Vedio, magno nebulone, sed Pompei tamen familiari, audivi. hic Vedius mihi obviam venit cum duobus essedis et raeda equis iuncta et lectica et familia magna, pro qua, si Curio legem pertulerit, HS centenos pendat necesse est. erat praeterea cynocephalus in essedo, nec deerant onagri. numquam vidi hominem nequiorem. Curio’s law evidently concerned taxing large entourages or extra staff.
Note7: Horace sermones 1.5.86: “quattuor hinc rapimur viginti et milia raedis.”
Note8: Varro res rusticae 2. 7. 15: neque idem qui vectorios facere vult ad ephippuum aut ad raedam, quod qui ad rem militarem, quod ut ibi ad castra habere volunt acres, sic contra in viis habere malunt placidos.
Note9: For example, Juvenal’s casual reference to an entire household being loaded into a single raeda (3. 10): sed dum tota domus raeda componitur una.
Note10: Caesar bellum gallicum 4 33: genus hoc est ex essedis pugnae. primo per omnis partes perequitant et tela coniciunt atque ipso terrore equorum et strepitu rotarum ordines plerumque perturbant et, cum se inter equitum turmas insinuaverunt, ex essedis desiliunt et pedibus proeliantur.
Note11: Caesar bellum gallicum 5.9: illi equitatu atque essedis ad flumen progressi ex loco superiore nostros prohibere et proelium committere coeperunt.
Note12: In Augustan literature the essedum retains its military and Northern barbarian origins. Vergil (Georgics 3.204) refers to the horse drawing a chariot: Belgica vel molli melius feret esseda collo. Likewise Horace, describing a procession in Epistles 2. 1.191-193, places esseda among the other spoils and symbols of war: mox trahitur manibus regum fortuna retortis,/ esseda festinant, pilenta, petorrita, naves,/ captivum portatur ebur, captiva Corinthus. Livy seems to have borrowed something from Caesar (4.33, footnote 9 above) in his description of Decius facing the Gallic cavalry (10. 28. 9): essedis carrisque superstans armatus hostis ingenti sonitu equorum rotarumque advenit et insolitos eius tumultus Romanorum conterruit equos. In Greek inscriptions from Miletus and Smyrna “essedarius” means a gladiator who fights from a chariot (L&S “essedarius”). Games are precisely the intersection of the civilian and the military.
Note13: Suet. Caligula 26.2: nihilo reverentior leniorve erga senatum, quosdam summis honoribus functos ad essedum sibi currere togatos per aliquot passuum milia … passus est.
Note14:Suetonius Claudius 16.4: fuerunt et illa in censura eius notabilia, quod essedum argenteum sumptuose fabricata ac venale ad Sigillaria redimi concidique coram imperavit. With somewhat different motivation (since the environment was not his concern), is Claudius here playing the role of ELF vandalizing new Hummers at California dealerships?
Note15: Cicero philippicae 2. 57-58: In eodem vero tribunatu, cum Caesar in Hispaniam proficiscens huic conculcandam Italiam tradidisset, quae fuit eius peragratio itinerum, lustratio municipiorum! Scio me in rebus celebratissimis omnium sermone versari eaque, quae dico dicturusque sum, notiora esse omnibus, qui in Italia tum fuerunt, quam mihi, qui non fui; notabo tamen singulas res, etsi nullo modo poterit oratio mea satis facere vestrae scientiae. Etenim quod umquam in terris tantum flagitium exstitisse auditum est, tantam turpitudinem, tantum dedecus? 58 Vehebatur in essedo tribunus plebis; lictores laureati antecedebant, inter quos aperta lectica mima portabatur, quam ex oppidis municipales homines honesti ob viam necessario prodeuntes non noto illo et mimico nomine, sed Volumniam consalutabant. Sequebatur raeda cum lenonibus, comites nequissimi; reiecta mater amicam impuri filii tamquam nurum sequebatur. O miserae mulieris fecunditatem calamitosam! Horum flagitiorum iste vestigiis omnia municipia, praefecturas, colonias, totam denique Italiam impressit.
Note16: For fuller discussion, see Ramsay, J.T. 2003 246.
Note17: Ramsay, J.T. 2003 246 citing, in particular, two passages, Philippics 6. 4: semper eum duo dissimilia genera tenuerunt, lenonum et latronum; 8. 26: cavet mimis, aleatoribus, lenonibus.
Note18: ad Atticum 10. 10. 5: Hic tamen Cytherida secum lectica aperta portat, alteram uxorem. septem praeterea coniunctae lecticae amicarum sunt an amicorum.
Note19: ad Atticum 10. 13: scribes igitur, ac, si quid ad spem poteris, ne dimiseris. Tu Antoni leones pertimescas cave. nihil est illo homine iucundius.
Note20: Pliny NH 8. 55: iugo subdidit eos primusque Romae ad currum iunxit M. Antonius, et quidem civili bello, cum dimicatum esset in Pharsalis campis, non sine ostento quodam temporum, generosos spiritus iugum subire illo prodigio significante. nam quod ita vectus est cum mima Cytheride, super monstra etiam illarum calamitatum fuit. primus autem hominum leonem manu tractare ausus et ostendere mansuefactum Hanno e clarissimis Poenorum traditur damnatusque illo argumento, quoniam nihil non persuasurus vir tam artificis ingenii videbatur et male credi libertas ei, cum in tantum cessisset etiam feritas.
Note21: Pelling, C.B.R. 1979 89.
Note22: Pelling, C.B.R. 1988 139. Pelling notes also that the later Sibylline books refer to Antony as a lion; and Antony’s coins bear lion types in 43-42 and in 38.
Note23: Plutarch Antony 60. 3: “Antony likened himself to Heracles in lineage and to Dionysus in the manner of his life, as has been said, being called the new Dionysus.” Octavian, as cited by Cassius Dio (50. 25. 4), when addressing his forces before Actium, charged Antony with styling himself Osiris or Dionysus.
Note24: Antony was also characterized as Dionysus Eater of Raw Flesh and Savage One, as Plutarch explains in the following section (24.4-25), because of his relentless extraction of money and property. Plutarch carefully juxtaposed this section devoted to Antony’s procession through Ephesus with his assessment of Antony’s character, its strengths and defects. There then follows (25) what Plutarch presents as the crowning disaster of Antony’s career, the affair with Cleopatra. With his heart went his head. Pelling (1979, n.101 and 1988 185) suggests Dellius “the historian” the turncoat commander and associate of Antony and of Octavian as the possible source of these “splendid chapters.” Gowing (1992 95) also sees Dellius as a source for this material. For further investigation of how Plutarch used Dionysus to characterize his subjects, see Pelling (2002).
Note25: The propaganda value of this tableau is striking and recalls the floats carried in processions and parades. It is easy to imagine the tableau designed by Cleopatra featuring herself flanked by luscious Nereids and Graces, posed as sailors, serving similarly as crowd pleasers, combining a political as well as a popular message. Visual displays were important and deliberate. In his enumeration of the actions of Antony that aroused the outrage of the Romans, Cassius Dio (50.5.3) points out that Antony and Cleopatra posed for paintings; he was represented as Dionysus or Osiris, she as Selene or Isis. Moreover, it was taken as a bad omen, Cassius Dio says (50.15.2) that the statues of themselves, having the forms of gods which the Athenians had placed on the Acropolis, were knocked down into the theater by lightning.
Note26: In the Tunisian museums of Sousse and El Djem there is a series of magnificent mosaics depicting Dionysus in triumphal procession in a chariot drawn by tigers and Dionysus as a plump baby or as a child riding lions and tigers. See K. Dunbabin 1978 plates # 174-178, 181-182.
Note27: So did Cleopatra. The two went about everywhere together and had a terrific time sneaking around at night disguised as slave woman and slave. The Alexandrians loved it, so Plutarch Ant. 29.
Note28: Plutarch Ant. 5; 10; 12; 18 Antony assumed a bedraggled appearance to persuade soldiery; 29.
Note29: Frederick E. Brenk, 1992 160, 163-164.
Note30: Before Actium Cassius Dio (50. 25. 2-4) has Octavian accuse Antony of “respecting neither the laws or gods of his fathers, but prostrating himself before that female impersonating Isis or Semele, calling her children Helios or Selene, and the final outrage, giving himself the title Osiris or Dionysus.” Zanker 1988 57-58, 62-64 notes how Octavian skillfully contrasted the drunk and disorderly Dionysus with his own model, the cool, cerebral and order-loving Apollo.