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Augustus, Chapter 42: On gifts.
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But to show that he [Note 1] was a prince who regarded more the good of his people than their applause, he reprimanded them very severely, upon their complaining of the scarcity and dearness of wine. My son-in-law, Agrippa, he said, has sufficiently provided for quenching your thirst, by the great plenty of water with which he has supplied the town. Upon their demanding a gift which he had promised them, he said, I am a man of my word. But upon their importuning him for one which he had not promised, he issued a proclamation upbraiding them for their scandalous impudence; at the same time telling them, I shall now give you nothing, whatever I may have intended to do. With the same strict firmness, when, upon a promise he had made of a donative, he found many slaves had been emancipated and enrolled amongst the citizens, he declared that no one should receive anything who was not included in the promise, and he gave the rest less than he had promised them in order that the amount he had set apart might hold out. On one occasion, in a season of great scarcity, which it was difficult to remedy, he ordered out of the city the troops of slaves brought for sale, the gladiators belonging to the masters of defence, and all foreigners, excepting physicians and the teachers of the liberal sciences. Part of the domestic slaves were likewise ordered to be dismissed. When, at last, plenty was restored, he writes thus: I was much inclined to abolish for ever the practice of allowing the people grain at the public expense, because they trust so much to it, that they are too lazy to till their lands; but I did not persevere in my design, as I felt sure that the practice would some time or other be revived by some one ambitious of popular favour. However, he so managed the affair ever afterwards, that as much account was taken of husbandmen and traders, as of the idle populace. |
Note 1: he = Augustus