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Headword: Λίβερνος
Adler number: lambda,491
Translated headword: Libernos, Libernus
Vetting Status: high
Name of a place; from a certain history.[1] For in Rome when Quintus Servilius was consul[2] a chasm developed in the midst of the forum, as the earth split open. The Romans knew from a Sibylline oracle that the earth would seal itself back together if the most valuable thing among humankind was pitched into the chasm, so some of them brought gold, and others silver, others their crops, and others whatever the most valuable thing was, and they supposed they understood the oracle. But as the chasm remained no smaller, Curtius, a man both finest to be seen and noblest of soul, said he understood the Sibylline oracle better than the others: for the most highly valued thing in the city was a man's excellence, and the words disclosed by the oracle really asked for this. So saying, he donned his armor and mounted his war horse. As everyone gawked at what he was doing, he drove headlong into the chasm. After the earth sealed itself back together, the Romans vowed to offer this man heroic rites annually in the midst of the forum, and they named the spot Libernus, and erected an altar there; from this Vergil too made his beginning.[3]
Greek Original:
Λίβερνος: ὄνομα τόπου: ἀπό τινος ἱστορίας. ἐν γὰρ τῇ Ῥώμῃ ὑπατεύοντος Κοί̈ντου τοῦ Σερβιλίου χάσμα κατὰ μέσην ἀγορὰν δια- στάσης τῆς γῆς γέγονε. γνόντες δὲ οἱ Ῥωμαῖοι ἐκ τῶν Σιβύλλης λογίων, ὅτι συνελεύσεται ἡ γῆ, ἢν τὸ τιμιώτατον ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἐμβληθείη τῷ χάσματι, ἐπέφερον οἱ μὲν χρυσόν, οἱ δὲ ἄργυρον, οἱ δὲ καρπούς, οἱ δὲ ὅτι μάλιστα τιμιώτατον εἶναι, καὶ συμβαίνειν τῶν ὑπὸ τῶν λεγομένων ἱερῶν ὑπελάμβανον. μένοντος δ' οὐδέν τι μεῖον τοῦ χάσματος, Κούρτιος ἀνὴρ ὀφθῆναί τε κάλλιστος καὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ἄριστος, ἔφη συνιέναι βέλτιον τῶν ἄλλων τοῦ Σιβυλλείου: τιμιώτατον γὰρ εἶναι χρῆμα πόλει ἀνδρὸς ἀρετὴν καὶ ταύτην ἐπιζητεῖν τὰ ἐκ τῶν λογίων δηλούμενα. καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν τά τε ὅπλα περιέθετο καὶ τὸν πολεμικὸν ἵππον ἀνέβη. πάντων δὲ θαυμαζόντων τὸ δρώμενον, ἀτρέπτως ἐλαύνει κατὰ τοῦ χάσματος. συνελθούσης δὲ τῆς γῆς, ἡρωϊκὰς τιμὰς τῷ ἀνδρὶ κατὰ μέσην ἀγορὰν Ῥωμαῖοι ἀνὰ πᾶν ἔτος ἐπιτελεῖν διέγνωσαν τόν τε τόπον Λίβερνον ἐπεκάλεσαν, βωμὸν οἰκοδομήσαντες: ἐξ οὗ δὴ καὶ Βεργίλλιος τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐποιήσατο.
For a brief summary of the issues surrounding the Lacus Curtius (Curtian Lake) in the Roman Forum ,and images of the relevant monuments, see web address 1.
[1] Perhaps from John of Antioch, Adler suggested; now his fr.94 Roberto. See also Livy 7.6.1-6: Eodem anno, seu motu terrae seu qua ui alia, forum medium ferme specu uasto conlapsum in immensam altitudinem dicitur; neque eam uoraginem coniectu terrae, cum pro se quisque gereret, expleri potuisse, priusquam deum monitu quaeri coeptum quo plurimum populus Romanus posset; id enim illi loco dicandum uates canebant, si rem publicam Romanam perpetuam esse uellent. Tum M. Curtium, iuuenem bello egregium, castigasse ferunt dubitantes an ullum magis Romanum bonum quam arma uirtusque esset, et silentio facto templa deorum immortalium, quae foro imminent, Capitoliumque intuentem et manus nunc in caelum, nunc in patentes terrae hiatus ad deos manes porrigentem, se deuouisse; equo deinde quam poterat maxime exornato insidentem, armatum se in specum immisisse; donaque ac fruges super eum a multitudine uirorum ac mulierum congestas lacumque Curtium non ab antiquo illo T. Tati milite Curtio Mettio sed ab hoc appellatum. See also 1.12.10, 1.13.5.
[2] 362 BCE.
[3] The Roman poet Vergil appears, with his name differently transliterated, at omicron 832.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: aetiology; agriculture; biography; botany; chronology; clothing; definition; economics; ethics; geography; historiography; history; military affairs; poetry; religion; zoology
Translated by: Ross Scaife ✝ on 7 February 2004@16:06:10.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (added cross-reference) on 7 February 2004@16:15:35.
Ross Scaife ✝ (minor change to translation) on 7 February 2004@17:58:21.
David Whitehead (minor additions to notes; more keywords; cosmetics) on 8 February 2004@04:39:43.
David Whitehead (augmented n.1; more keywords) on 27 March 2011@09:21:08.
David Whitehead on 18 April 2013@07:19:43.
David Whitehead on 29 January 2015@10:44:27.


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