Ancient History Sourcebook:
Immigrants in Rome, (81-96 CE)
[Introduction (based on Davis)]
In the reign of Domitian (81-96 CE) the capital was overrun, in the opinion of some
commentators, by non-Roman immigrants, almost swamping the old Italian element. The
courtly poet Martial seizes the fact to pay a compliment to the Emperor.
Martial (40-103/4 CE): Epigrams, IX.3:
What race is so distant from us, what race is so barbarous, O Caesar, that from it no
spectator is present in your city! The cultivator of Rhodope [in Thrace] is here from
Haemus, sacred to Orpheus. The Scythian who drinks the blood of his horses is here; he,
too, who quaffs the waters of the Nile nearest their springing; and he also whose shore is
laved by the most distant ocean. The Arabian has hastened hither; the Sabaeans have
hastened; and here the Cilicians have anointed themselves with their own native perfume.
Here come the Sicambrians with their hair all twisted into a knot, and here the frizzled
Ethiopians. Yet though their speech is all so different, they all speak together hailing
you, O Emperor, as the true father of your country.
From: William Stearns Davis, ed., Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts
from the Sources, 2 Vols. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-13), Vol. II: Rome and the
West, pp. ??
Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton. Prof. Arkenberg
has modernized the text.
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© Paul Halsall, July 1998