Friday, July 29, 2022

Not a Lord, But a Lady: Elegabalus / Bassiana, Cassius Dio, Roman History 80.16.3-5

Quem ut ille conspexit, exiliit gestu modulato: quumque ab eo salutaretur, ut par erat, "Domine Imperator salve," ipse mirum & mulibrem in modum cervice inflexa, oculisque intortis, nil cunctatus respondit: "Ne me Dominum voces, Domina enim ego sum."

καὶ ὃς ἰδὼν αὐτὸν ἀνέθορέ τε ἐρρυθμισμένως, καὶ προσειπόντα, οἷα εἰκὸς ἦν, ‘κύριε αὐτοκράτορ χαῖρε,’ θαυμαστῶς τόν τε αὐχένα γυναικίσας καὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἐπεγκλάσας ἠμείψατο, καὶ ἔφη οὐδὲν διστάσας  ‘μή με λέγε κύριον: ἐγὼ γὰρ κυρία εἰμί.’

--Cassius Dio, Roman History, 80.16.3-5; Translated into Latin by Hermann Samuel Reimarus, 1753

When Elagabalus / Bassiana saw Zoticus, she leapt up gracefully, and when he greeted her, saying “Greetings, Emperor,” she shook her head and flashed him a smile, replying, “Don’t call me ‘lord,’ for I am a lady.”



Name:  Lucius Cassius Dio

Date:  155 – 235 CE

Works:  Roman History*



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 Cassius Dio was a Roman statesman born in Nicaea, Bithynia who wrote an 80 volume work on Roman history that spanned from Aeneas’ flight from Troy to the rise of the emperor Severus Alexander. Although much of his history is lost, the fragments that we do have show rare insight into the Roman world.


ARCHAIC: (through 6th c. BCE); GOLDEN AGE: (5th - 4th c. BCE); HELLENISTIC: (4th c. BCE - 1st c. BCE); ROMAN: (1st c. BCE - 4th c. CE); POST CONSTANTINOPLE: (4th c. CE - 8th c. CE); BYZANTINE: (post 8th c CE)

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