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Annals by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book XIII Chapter 26: Misconduct of the freedmen[AD 56]
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During the same time there was a discussion in the Senate on the misconduct of the freedmen class, and a strong demand was made that, as a check on the undeserving, patrons should have the right of revoking freedom. There were several who supported this. But the consuls [Note 1] did not venture to put the motion without the emperor's [Note 2] knowledge, though they recorded the Senate's general opinion, to see whether he would sanction the arrangement, considering that only a few were opposed to it, while some loudly complained that the irreverent spirit which freedom had fostered, had broken into such excess, that freedmen would ask their patrons' advice as to whether they should treat them with violence, or, as legally, their equals, and would actually threaten them with blows, at the same time recommending them not to punish. "What right," it was asked, "was conceded to an injured patron but that of temporarily banishing the freedman a hundred miles off to the shores of Campania. In everything else, legal proceedings were equal and the same for both. Some weapon ought to be given to the patrons which could not be despised. It would be no grievance for the enfranchised to have to keep their freedom by the same respectful behaviour which had procured it for them. But, as for notorious offenders, they deserved to be dragged back into slavery, that fear might be a restraint where kindness had had no effect."

Note 1: the consuls = Publius Scipio and Quintus Volusius Saturninus
Note 2: emperor = Nero

Per idem tempus actum in senatu de fraudibus libertorum, efflagitatumque ut adversus male meritos revocandae libertatis patronis daretur. nec deerant qui censerent, sed consules, relationem incipere non ausi ignaro principe, perscripsere tamen consensum senatus. ille an auctor constitutionis fieret, . . . ut inter paucos et sententiae diversos, quibusdam coalitam libertate inreverentiam eo prorupisse frementibus, [ut] vine an aequo cum patronis iure agerent [sententiam eorum] consultarent ac verberibus manus ultro intenderent, impudenter vel poenam suam ipsi suadentes. quid enim aliud laeso patrono concessum, quam ut c[ent]esimum ultra lapidem in oram Campaniae libertum releget? ceteras actiones promiscas et pares esse: tribuendum aliquod telum, quod sperni nequeat. nec grave manu missis per idem obsequium retinendi libertatem, per quod adsecuti sint: at criminum manifestos merito ad servitutem