|Do not fly Iberia
Translated by Wilmer Cave Wright
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Once upon a time the citizens of Tarentum paid to the Romans the penalty for this sort of jesting, seeing that, when drunk at the festival of Dionysus, they insulted the Roman ambassadors. But you are in all respects more fortunate than the citizens of Tarentum, for you give yourselves up to pleasure throughout the whole year, instead of for a few days; and instead of foreign ambassadors you insult your own Sovereign, yes even the very hairs on his chin and the devices engraved on his coins. Well done, O wise citizens, both ye who make such jests and ye who welcome and find profit in the jesters! For it is evident that uttering them gives pleasure to the former, while the latter rejoice to hear jests of this sort. I [Note 1] share your pleasure in this unanimity, and you do well to be a city of one mind in such matters, since it is not at all dignified or an enviable task to restrain and chastise the licentiousness of the young. For if one were to rob human beings of the power to do and say what they please, that would be to take away, and to curtail the first principle of independence. Therefore, since you knew that men ought to be independent in all respects, you acted quite rightly, in the first place when you permitted the women to govern themselves, so that you might profit by their being independent and licentious to excess; secondly, when you entrusted to them the bringing up of the children, for fear that if they had to experience any harsher authority they might later turn out to be slaves; and as they grew up to be boys might be taught first of all to respect their elders, and then under the influence of this bad habit might show too much reverence for the magistrates, and finally might have to be classed not as men but as slaves; and becoming temperate and well-behaved and orderly might be, before they knew it, altogether corrupted. Then what effect have the women on the children? They induce them to reverence the same things as they do by means of pleasure, which is, it seems, the most blessed thing and the most highly honoured, not only by men but by beasts also. It is for this reason, I think, that you are so very happy, because you refuse every form of slavery; first you begin by refusing slavery to the gods, secondly to the laws, and thirdly to me who am the guardian of the laws. And I should indeed be eccentric if, when the gods suffer the city to be so independent and do not chastise her, I should be resentful and angry. For be assured that the gods have shared with me in the disrespect that has been shown to me in your city.
Note 1: I = Julian