Why did Emperor Augustus always carry a sealskin?
Lightning was of grave concern to Romans. Seals were the only marine mammal believed to have been exempt from lightning strikes (Pliny, Natural History, 2.56). After narrowly escaping a lightning bolt, Augustus erected a statue to Jupiter, Roman God of light and sky, on the exact place where it struck. He also built a special underground safe-room where he took refuge during thunderstorms. According to Suetonius, Augustus always carried around a sealskin for protection (Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 90). Sealskins were also attached to the mast-heads of ships carrying royalty and dignitaries.