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Quote of the day: The infirmities of Augustus increased, a
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Annals by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book XVI Chapter 5: Danger of a performance. Vespasian[AD 65]
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All, however, who were present from remote towns, and still retained the Italy of strict morals and primitive ways; all too who had come on embassies or on private business from distant provinces, where they had been unused to such wantonness, were unable to endure the spectacle or sustain the degrading fatigue, which wearied their unpractised hands, while they disturbed those who knew their part, and were often struck by soldiers, stationed in the seats, to see that not a moment of time passed with less vigorous applause or in the silence of indifference. It was a known fact that several knights, in struggling through the narrow approaches and the pressure of the crowd, were trampled to death, and that others while keeping their seats day and night were seized with some fatal malady. For it was a still worse danger to be absent from the show, as many openly and many more secretly made it their business to scrutinize names and faces, and to note the delight or the disgust of the company. Hence came cruel severities, immediately exercised on the humble, and resentments, concealed for the moment, but subsequently paid off, towards men of distinction. There was a story that Vespasian was insulted by Phoebus, a freedman, for closing his eyes in a doze, and that having with difficulty been screened by the intercessions of the well disposed, he escaped imminent destruction through his grander destiny. Sed qui remotis e municipiis severaque adhuc et antiqui moris retinente Italia, quique per longinquas provincias lascivia inexperti officio legationum aut privata utilitate advenerant, neque aspectum illum tolerare neque labori inhonesto sufficere, cum manibus nesciis fatiscerent, turbarent gnaros ac saepe a militibus verberarentur, qui per cuneos stabant ne quod temporis momentum impari clamore aut silentio segni praeteriret. constitit plerosque equitum, dum per angustias aditus et ingruentem multitudinem enituntur, obtritos, et alios, dum diem noctemque sedilibus continunnt, morbo exitiabili correptos. quippe gravior inerat metus, si spectaculo defuissent, multis palam et pluribus occultis, ut nomina ac vultus, alacritatem tristitiamque coeuntium scrutarentur. unde tenuioribus statim inrogata supplicia, adversum inlustris dissimulatum ad praesens et mox redditum odium. ferebantque Vespasianum, tamquam somno coniveret, a Phoebo liberto increpitum aegreque meliorum precibus obtectum,