Cicero et Templum Ruinosum

(Cicero and the Ruined Temple)

For a time, Vergilius was the teacher of Marcus Tullius Cicero [b. 65 BCE], who was the son of the orator and Terentia. After the murder of his father [43 BCE], Cicero had begun to wish he had his father's rhetorical skill, so he eventually made his way to Vergilius, who taught him the poetic arts and then sent him on his way.

One day at dusk he was in a desolate area when he began to look for a place to sleep, but he came upon a ruined temple. However, light flickered from the adytum and he heard voices. When he came inside he found five men and two women reclining around a table and enjoying a wonderful feast, which they invited him to join. They were all dressed in elegant robes and very handsome, but one of the women was the most beautiful Cicero had ever seen. In addition to this golden-haired beauty, there was a distinguished old greybeard and a mature, regal man with a dark beard; there was a young man and a young woman, who looked like brother and sister; the remaining two looked like a soldier and a diplomat.

After the meal and much witty conversation, the beautiful woman asked Cicero his favorite day of the week. He replied that it was Friday, because it was the day dedicated to a most welcome Goddess, Venus. The woman praised his good sense and eloquence, and asked his opinion of the other days. Cicero replied that they were all sacred, since they were all dedicated to Gods and Goddesses, and that if he were ever wealthy enough, he would build a temple to all the Gods and Goodesses who oversee the days of the week. At this, they all were pleased, and the woman said that if Cicero kept his vow, they would all give him gifts, and he would never lack money, for they were the very Deities of which he spoke. Then She promised to place 100 aurei [about 2 lbs. of gold coins] under his pillow every Friday, and that They would hear his prayers whenever he called on Them. As soon as She had said this, Cicero fell into a deep sleep, and when he awoke, it was morning and They were all gone, but there was a bag under his head containing 100 aurei.

Soon Cicero had enough money to build the temple, and he did so, placing in it statues of the seven Gods for whom the days of the week are named: Dies Saturni (Saturday), Dies Apollinis (Sunday), Dies Dianae (Monday), Dies Martis (Tuesday), Dies Mercurii (Wednesday), Dies Jovis (Thursday), Dies Veneris (Friday). In this way he received the gifts of each god, for Saturn brings the highest gift, Wisdom (Sapientia), and Apollo brings the power of the Sun, which is Fortitude (Fortitudo), and Diana the power of the Moon, which is Humility (Humilitas), and Mars gives Purpose (Consilium), and Mercury, Piety (Pietas), and Jupiter's gift is Understanding (Intellectus), and Venus grants Serenity (Serenitas).

Some years later Cicero saw a woman of stunning beauty go out of a house near his own, and he fell completely in love with her. She also turned to stare at him and soon they spoke, confessing their love to one another. Sadly she told him that she would have to leave the city the very next day unless he could do something to prevent it. So, going into the Temple of the Seven, Cicero prayed to Them, reminding Them of Their promise of help, and asked that They win this woman for him. A voice came from the depths of the temple and said that, since he had fulfilled his vows, his request would be granted. It also said that the woman he loved was a divine enchantress and a priestess of Venus, even born of the Divine Loins of the Goddess. And it said that as much as Venus loved her daughter, She had caused Her daughter to love Cicero, and that they should marry, which they did. The two of them later went to Syria, where Cicero was governor and procosul over Asia.

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Last updated: Fri Nov 15 11:24:43 EST 1996