That man has the horse of Seius

From Aulus Gellius’ Attic Nights 3.9. Also reported in Erasmus’ Adagia 997 (citing Gellius).

The characteristics of the horse of Seius, which is mentioned in the proverb…

Gavius Bassus in his Commentaries, and Julius Modestus in the second book of his Miscellaneous Questions, tell the history of the horse of Seius, a tale wonderful and worthy of record. They say that there was a clerk called Gnaeus Seius, and that he had a horse foaled at Argos, in the land of Greece, about which there was a persistent tradition that it was sprung from the breed of horses that had belonged to the Thracian Diomedes, those which Hercules, after slaying Diomedes, had taken from Thrace to Argos. They say that this horse was of extraordinary size, with a lofty neck, bay in colour, with a thick, glossy mane, and that it was far superior to all horses in other points of excellence; but that same horse, they go on to say, was of such a fate or fortune, that whoever owned and possessed it came to utter ruin, as well as his whole house, his family and all his possessions. Thus, to begin with, that Gnaeus Seius who owned him was condemned and suffered a cruel death at the hands of Marcus Antonius, afterwards one of the triumvirs for setting the State in order. 1 At that same time Cornelius Dolabella, the consul, on his way to Syria, attracted by the renown of this horse, turned aside to Argos, was fired with a desire to own the animal, and bought it for a hundred thousand sesterces; but Dolabella in his turn was besieged in Syria during the civil war, and slain. And soon afterwards Gaius Cassius, who had besieged Dolabella, carried off this same horse, which had been Dolabella’s. It is notorious too that this Cassius, after his party had been vanquished and his army routed, met a wretched end. Then later, after the death of Cassius, Antonius, who had defeated him, sought for this famous horse of Cassius, and after getting possession of it was himself afterwards defeated and deserted in his turn, and died an ignominious death. Hence the proverb, applied to unfortunate men, arose and is current: “That man has the horse of Seius.”


Quis et cuiusmodi fuerit qui in proverbio fertur equus Seianus …

Gavius Bassus in commentariis suis, item Iulius Modestus in secundo Quaestionum Confusarum, historiam de equo Seiano tradunt dignam memoria atque admiratione: Gnaeum Seium quempiam scribam fuisse eumque habuisse equum natum Argis in terra Graecia, de quo fama constans esset tamquam de genere equorum progenitus foret qui Diomedis Thracis fuissent, quos Hercules, Diomede occiso, e Thracia Argos perduxisset. Eum equum fuisse dicunt magnitudine invisitata, cervice ardua, colore poeniceo, flora et comanti iuba, omnibusque aliis equorum laudibus quoque longe praestitisse; sed eundem equum tali fuisse fato sive fortuna ferunt, ut quisquis haberet eum possideretque, ut is cum omni domo, familia fortunisque omnibus suis ad internecionem deperiret. Itaque primum illum Gnaeum Seium, dominum eius, a M. Antonio, qui postea triumvirum reipublicae constituendae fuit, capitis damnatum, miserando supplicio affectum esse; eodem tempore Cornelium Dolabellam consulem, im Syriam proficiscentem, fama istius equi adductum Argos devertisse cupidineque habendi eius exarsisse emisseque eum sestertiis centum milibus; sed ipsum quoque Dolabellam in Syria bello civili obsessum atque interfectum esse; mox eundem equum, qui Dolabellae fuerat, C. Cassium, qui Dolabellam obsederat, abduxisse. Eum Cassium postea satis notum est victis partibus fusoque exercitu suo miseram mortem oppetisse, deinde post Antonium, post interitum Cassii parta victoria, equum illum nobilem Cassi requisisse et, cum eo potitus esset, ipsum quoque postea victum atque desertum, detestabili exitio interisse. Hinc proverbium de hominibus calamitosis ortum dicique solitum: “Ille homo habet equum Seianum.”

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