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Notes
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Annals by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book XIII Chapter 49: Gladiators in Syracuse[AD 58]
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I should not mention a very trivial decree of the Senate which allowed the city of Syracuse to exceed the prescribed number in their gladiatorial shows, had not Paetus Thrasea spoken against it and furnished his traducers with a ground for censuring his motion. "Why," it was asked, "if he thought that the public welfare required freedom of speech in the Senate, did he pursue such trifling abuses? Why should he not speak for or against peace and war, or on the taxes and laws and other matters involving Roman interests? The senators, as often as they received the privilege of stating an opinion, were at liberty to say out what they pleased, and to claim that it should be put to the vote. Was it the only worthy object of reform to provide that the Syracusans should not give shows on a larger scale? Were all other matters in every department of the empire as admirable as if Thrasea and not Nero had the direction of them? But if the highest affairs were passed by and ignored, how much more ought there to be no meddling with things wholly insignificant." Thrasea in reply, when his friends asked an explanation, said "that it was not in ignorance of Rome'sactual condition that he sought to correct such decrees, but that he was giving what was due to the honour of the senators, in making it evident that those who attended even to the merest trifles, would not disguise their responsibility for important affairs." Non referrem vulgarissimum senatus consultum, quo civitati Syracusanorum egredi numerum edendis gladiatoribus finitum permittebatur, nisi Paetus Thrasea contra dixisset praebuissetque materiem obtrectatoribus arguendae sententiae. cur enim, si rem publicam egere libertate senatoria crederet, tam levia consectaretur? quin de bello aut pace, de vectigalibus et legibus, quibusque aliis [res] Romana continetur, suaderet dissuaderetve? licere patribus, quotiens ius dicendae sententiae accepissent, quae vellent expromere relationemque in ea postulare. an solum emendatione dignum, ne Syracusis spectacula largius ederentur: cetera per omnes imperii partes perinde egregia quam si non Nero, sed Thrasea regimen eorum teneret? quod si summa dissimulatione transmitterentur, quanto magis inanibus abstinendum! Thrasea contra, rationem poscentibus amicis, non praesentium ignarum respondebat eius modi consulta corrigere, sed patrum honori dare, ut manifestum fieret magnarum rerum curam non dissimulaturos, qui