Antium was situated on the sea-coast about thirty miles south of the Tiber. A boldpromontory here projects into the sea, affording from its declivities the mostextended and magnificent views on every side. On the north, looking from thepromontory of Antium, the eye follows the line of the coast away to the mouth ofthe Tiber; while, on the south, the view is terminated, at about the same distance,by the promontory of Circe, which is the second cape, or promontory, that marksthe shore of Italy in going southward from Rome. Toward the interior, from Antium,there extends a broad and beautiful plain, bounded by wooded hills toward theshore, and by ranges of mountains in the distance beyond. On the southern side ofthe cape, and sheltered by it, was a small harbor where vessels from all theneighboring seas had been accustomed to bring in their cargoes, or to seek shelterin storms, from time immemorial. In fact, Antium, in point of antiquity, takesprecedence, probably, even of Rome.The beauty and the salubrity of Antium made it a very attractive place of summerresort for the people of Rome; and in process of time, when the city attained to anadvanced stage of opulence and luxury, the Roman noblemen built villas there,choosing situations, in some instances, upon the natural terraces and esplanades ofthe promontory, which looked off over the sea, and in others cool and secludedretreats in the valleys, on the land. It was in one of these villas that Nero was born.Nero's father belonged to a family which had enjoyed for several generations aconsiderable degree of distinction among the Roman nobility, though known by asomewhat whimsical name. The family name was Brazenbeard, or, to speak moreexactly, it was Ahenobarbus, which is the Latin equivalent for that word. It is aquestion somewhat difficult to decide, whether in speaking of Nero's father at thepresent time, and in the English tongue, we should make use of the actual Latinname, or translate the word and employ the English representative of it; that is,whether we shall call him Ahenobarbus or Brazenbeard. The former seems to bemore in harmony with our ideas of the dignity of Roman history; while the latter,though less elegant, conveys probably to our minds a more exact idea of the importand expression of the name as it sounded in the ears of the Roman community. Thename certainly was not an attractive one, though the family had contrived todignify it some degree by assigning to it a preternatural origin. There was atradition that in ancient times a prophet appeared to one of the ancestors of theline, and after foretelling certain extraordinary events which were to occur at somefuture period, stroked down the beard of his auditor with his hand, and changed itto the color of brass, in miraculous attestation of the divine authority of themessage. The man received the name of Brazenbeard in consequence, and he andhis descendants ever afterward retained it.
|Product dimensions:||5.83(w) x 8.27(h) x 0.41(d)|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
About the Author
Jacob Abbott (1803-79) was a prolific American author, writing juvenile fiction, brief histories, biographies, religious books for the general reader, and a few works in popular science. He wrote 180 books and was a coauthor or editor of 31 more.