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Claudius, Chapter 16: Claudius as a censor.
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He [Note 1] likewise assumed the censorship, which had been discontinued since the time that Paulus and Plancus had jointly held it. But this also he administered very unequally, and with a strange variety of humour and conduct. In his review of the knights, he passed over, without any mark of disgrace, a profligate young man, only because his father spoke of him in the highest terms; "for," said he, " his father is his proper censor. Another, who was infamous for debauching youths and for adultery, he only admonished "to indulge his youthful inclinations more sparingly, or at least more cautiously ;'' adding, "why must I know what mistress you keep?" When, at the request of his friends, he had taken off a mark of infamy which he had set upon one knight's name he said, Let the blot, however, remain." He not only struck out of the list of judges, but likewise deprived of Roman citizenship, an illustrious man of the highest provincial rank in Greece, because he was ignorant of the Latin language. Nor in this review did he suffer any one to give an account of his conduct by an advocate, but obliged each man to speak for himself in the best way he could. He disgraced many, and some that little expected it, and for a reason entirely new, namely, for going out of Italy without his license; and one likewise, for having in his province, been the familiar companion of a king; observing, that, in former times, Rabirius Postumus had been prosecuted for treason, although he only went after Ptolemy to Alexandria for the purpose of securing payment of a debt. Having tried to brand with disgrace several others, he, to his own greater shame, found them generally innocent, through the negligence of the persons employed to inquire into their characters; those whom he charged with living in celibacy, with want of children, or estate, proving themselves to be husbands, parents, and in affluent circumstances. One of the knights who was charged with stabbing himself, laid his bosom bare, to show that there was not the least mark of violence upon his body. The following incidents were remarkable in his censorship. He ordered a chariot, plated with silver, and of very sumptuous workmanship, which was exposed for sale in the Sigillaria, to be purchased, and broken in pieces before his eyes. He published twenty proclamations in one day, in one of which he advised the people, "Since the vintage was very plentiful, to have their casks well secured at the bung with pitch :" and in another, he told them, that nothing would sooner cure the bite of a viper, than the sap of the yew-tree." |
Note 1: he = Claudius