The bite that saves the hair

Way back, Roman women would tear out their hair for their city,

The Romans, being besieged by the Gauls, made engines for throwing weapons of the hair of women; and on this account they erected an altar and temple to Venus Calva.

Calva. Bald. Bald Venus got a temple. Or maybe not, but something. Servius in his Commentary on Virgil says all she got was a statue.

And still in the third century, in other places, there were women who would sacrifice to defend their city …

Nor can we fail to mention the extraordinary loyalty displayed by the Aquileians in defending the senate against Maximinus. For, lacking bow-strings with which to shoot their arrows, they made cords of the women’s hair. It is said that this once happened at Rome as well, whence it was that the senate, in honour of the matrons, dedicated the temple of Venus Calva.

But women in Rome …

Last of all, they have arrived at such a depth of unworthiness, that when, no very long time ago, on account of an apprehended scarcity of food, the foreigners were driven in haste from the city; those who practised liberal accomplishments, the number of whom was exceedingly small, were expelled without a moment’s breathing-time; yet the followers of actresses, and all who at that time pretended to be of such a class, were allowed to remain; and three thousand dancing-girls had not even a question put to them, but stayed unmolested with the members of their choruses, and a corresponding number of dancing masters.

And wherever you turn your eyes, you may see a multitude of women with their hair curled, who, as far as their age goes, might, if they had married, been by this time the mothers of three children, sweeping the pavements with their feet till they are weary, whirling round in rapid gyrations, while representing innumerable groups and figures which the theatrical plays contain.

That sense of sacrifice has long left. Blame wealth?

We live after those times. Luxury is our ruin. Revenge of the world we subdued.

Or an evil eye? The Romans took their literature from the Greeks with one exception …

Satire is entirely Roman

It’s all Rome reads …

Some of them, hating learning as they hate poison, read Juvenal and Marius Maximus with tolerably careful study; though, in their profound laziness, they never touch any other volumes; why, it does not belong to my poor judgment to decide.

Under its glare, how could sacrifice survive?

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