The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

(109) XLVI. Having thus regulated the city and its concerns, he
augmented the population of Italy by planting in it no less than twenty-
eight colonies [187], and greatly improved it by public works, and a
beneficial application of the revenues. In rights and privileges, he
rendered it in a measure equal to the city itself, by inventing a new
kind of suffrage, which the principal officers and magistrates of the
colonies might take at home, and forward under seal to the city, against
the time of the elections. To increase the number of persons of
condition, and of children among the lower ranks, he granted the
petitions of all those who requested the honour of doing military service
on horseback as knights, provided their demands were seconded by the
recommendation of the town in which they lived; and when he visited the
several districts of Italy, he distributed a thousand sesterces a head to
such of the lower class as presented him with sons or daughters.

XLVII. The more important provinces, which could not with ease or safety
be entrusted to the government of annual magistrates, he reserved for his
own administration: the rest he distributed by lot amongst the
proconsuls: but sometimes he made exchanges, and frequently visited most
of both kinds in person. Some cities in alliance with Rome, but which by
their great licentiousness were hastening to ruin, he deprived of their
independence. Others, which were much in debt, he relieved, and rebuilt
such as had been destroyed by earthquakes. To those that could produce
any instance of their having deserved well of the Roman people, he
presented the freedom of Latium, or even that of the City. There is not,
I believe, a province, except Africa and Sardinia, which he did not
visit. After forcing Sextus Pompeius to take refuge in those provinces,
he was indeed preparing to cross over from Sicily to them, but was
prevented by continual and violent storms, and afterwards there was no
occasion or call for such a voyage.

XLVIII. Kingdoms, of which he had made himself master by the right of
conquest, a few only excepted, he either restored to their former
possessors [188], or conferred upon aliens. Between (110) kings of
alliance with Rome, he encouraged most intimate union; being always ready
to promote or favour any proposal of marriage or friendship amongst them;
and, indeed, treated them all with the same consideration, as if they
were members and parts of the empire. To such of them as were minors or
lunatics he appointed guardians, until they arrived at age, or recovered
their senses; and the sons of many of them he brought up and educated
with his own.

XLIX. With respect to the army, he distributed the legions and auxiliary
troops throughout the several provinces, he stationed a fleet at Misenum,
and another at Ravenna, for the protection of the Upper and Lower Seas
[189]. A certain number of the forces were selected, to occupy the posts
in the city, and partly for his own body-guard; but he dismissed the
Spanish guard, which he retained about him till the fall of Antony; and
also the Germans, whom he had amongst his guards, until the defeat of
Varus. Yet he never permitted a greater force than three cohorts in the
city, and had no (pretorian) camps [190]. The rest he quartered in the
neighbourhood of the nearest towns, in winter and summer camps. All the
troops throughout the empire he reduced to one fixed model with regard to
their pay and their pensions; determining these according to their rank
in the army, the time they had served, and their private means; so that
after their discharge, they might not be tempted by age or necessities to
join the agitators for a revolution. For the purpose of providing a fund
always ready to meet their pay and pensions, he instituted a military
exchequer, and appropriated new taxes to that object. In order to obtain
the earliest intelligence of what was passing in the provinces, he
established posts, consisting at first of young men stationed at moderate
distances along the military roads, and afterwards of regular couriers
with fast vehicles; which appeared to him the most commodious, because
the persons who were the bearers of dispatches, written on the spot,
might then be questioned about the business, as occasion occurred.

L. In sealing letters-patent, rescripts, or epistles, he at first used
the figure of a sphinx, afterwards the head of Alexander (111) the Great,
and at last his own, engraved by the hand of Dioscorides; which practice
was retained by the succeeding emperors. He was extremely precise in
dating his letters, putting down exactly the time of the day or night at
which they were dispatched.

LI. Of his clemency and moderation there are abundant and signal
instances. For, not to enumerate how many and what persons of the
adverse party he pardoned, received into favour, and suffered to rise to
the highest eminence in the state; he thought it sufficient to punish
Junius Novatus and Cassius Patavinus, who were both plebeians, one of
them with a fine, and the other with an easy banishment; although the
former had published, in the name of young Agrippa, a very scurrilous
letter against him, and the other declared openly, at an entertainment
where there was a great deal of company, “that he neither wanted
inclination nor courage to stab him.” In the trial of Aemilius Aelianus,
of Cordova, when, among other charges exhibited against him, it was
particularly insisted upon, that he used to calumniate Caesar, he turned
round to the accuser, and said, with an air and tone of passion, “I wish
you could make that appear; I shall let Aelianus know that I have a
tongue too, and shall speak sharper of him than he ever did of me.” Nor
did he, either then or afterwards, make any farther inquiry into the
affair. And when Tiberius, in a letter, complained of the affront with
great earnestness, he returned him an answer in the following terms: “Do
not, my dear Tiberius, give way to the ardour of youth in this affair;
nor be so indignant that any person should speak ill of me. It is
enough, for us, if we can prevent any one from really doing us mischief.”

LII. Although he knew that it had been customary to decree temples in
honour of the proconsuls, yet he would not permit them to be erected in
any of the provinces, unless in the joint names of himself and Rome.
Within the limits of the city, he positively refused any honour of that
kind. He melted down all the silver statues which had been erected to
him, and converted the whole into tripods, which he consecrated to the
Palatine Apollo. And when the people importuned him to accept the
dictatorship, he bent down on one knee, with his toga thrown over his
shoulders, and his breast exposed to view, begging to be excused.

(112) LIII. He always abhorred the title of Lord [191], as ill-omened
and offensive. And when, in a play, performed at the theatre, at which
he was present, these words were introduced, “O just and gracious lord,”
and the whole company, with joyful acclamations, testified their
approbation of them, as applied to him, he instantly put a stop to their
indecent flattery, by waving his hand, and frowning sternly, and next day
publicly declared his displeasure, in a proclamation. He never
afterwards would suffer himself to be addressed in that manner, even by
his own children or grand-children, either in jest or earnest and forbad
them the use of all such complimentary expressions to one another. He
rarely entered any city or town, or departed from it, except in the
evening or the night, to avoid giving any person the trouble of
complimenting him. During his consulships, he commonly walked the
streets on foot; but at other times, rode in a close carriage. He
admitted to court even plebeians, in common with people of the higher
ranks; receiving the petitions of those who approached him with so much
affability, that he once jocosely rebuked a man, by telling him, “You
present your memorial with as much hesitation as if you were offering
money to an elephant.” On senate days, he used to pay his respects to
the Conscript Fathers only in the house, addressing them each by name as
they sat, without any prompter; and on his departure, he bade each of
them farewell, while they retained their seats. In the same manner, he
maintained with many of them a constant intercourse of mutual civilities,
giving them his company upon occasions of any particular festivity in
their families; until he became advanced in years, and was incommoded by
the crowd at a wedding. Being informed that Gallus Terrinius, a senator,
with whom he had only a slight acquaintance, had suddenly lost his sight,
and under that privation had resolved to starve himself to death, he paid
him a visit, and by his consolatory admonitions diverted him from his

LIV. On his speaking in the senate, he has been told by (113) one of the
members, “I did not understand you,” and by another, “I would contradict
you, could I do it with safety.” And sometimes, upon his being so much
offended at the heat with which the debates were conducted in the senate,
as to quit the house in anger, some of the members have repeatedly
exclaimed: “Surely, the senators ought to have liberty of speech on
matters of government.” Antistius Labeo, in the election of a new
senate, when each, as he was named, chose another, nominated Marcus
Lepidus, who had formerly been Augustus’s enemy, and was then in
banishment; and being asked by the latter, “Is there no other person more
deserving?” he replied, “Every man has his own opinion.” Nor was any one
ever molested for his freedom of speech, although it was carried to the
extent of insolence.

LV. Even when some infamous libels against him were dispersed in the
senate-house, he was neither disturbed, nor did he give himself much
trouble to refute them. He would not so much as order an enquiry to be
made after the authors; but only proposed, that, for the future, those
who published libels or lampoons, in a borrowed name, against any person,
should be called to account.

LVI. Being provoked by some petulant jests, which were designed to
render him odious, he answered them by a proclamation; and yet he
prevented the senate from passing an act, to restrain the liberties which
were taken with others in people’s wills. Whenever he attended at the
election of magistrates, he went round the tribes, with the candidates of
his nomination, and begged the votes of the people in the usual manner.
He likewise gave his own vote in his tribe, as one of the people. He
suffered himself to be summoned as a witness upon trials, and not only to
be questioned, but to be cross-examined, with the utmost patience. In
building his Forum, he restricted himself in the site, not presuming to
compel the owners of the neighbouring houses to give up their property.
He never recommended his sons to the people, without adding these words,
“If they deserve it.” And upon the audience rising on their entering the
theatre, while they were yet minors, and giving them applause in a
standing position, he made it a matter of serious complaint.

(114) He was desirous that his friends should be great and powerful in
the state, but have no exclusive privileges, or be exempt from the laws
which governed others. When Asprenas Nonius, an intimate friend of his,
was tried upon a charge of administering poison at the instance of
Cassius Severus, he consulted the senate for their opinion what was his
duty under the circumstances: “For,” said he, “I am afraid, lest, if I
should stand by him in the cause, I may be supposed to screen a guilty
man; and if I do not, to desert and prejudge a friend.” With the
unanimous concurrence, therefore, of the senate, he took his seat amongst
his advocates for several hours, but without giving him the benefit of
speaking to character, as was usual. He likewise appeared for his
clients; as on behalf of Scutarius, an old soldier of his, who brought an
action for slander. He never relieved any one from prosecution but in a
single instance, in the case of a man who had given information of the
conspiracy of Muraena; and that he did only by prevailing upon the
accuser, in open court, to drop his prosecution.

LVII. How much he was beloved for his worthy conduct in all these
respects, it is easy to imagine. I say nothing of the decrees of the
senate in his honour, which may seem to have resulted from compulsion or
deference. The Roman knights voluntarily, and with one accord, always
celebrated his birth for two days together; and all ranks of the people,
yearly, in performance of a vow they had made, threw a piece of money
into the Curtian lake [192], as an offering for his welfare. They
likewise, on the calends [first] of January, presented for his acceptance
new-year’s gifts in the Capitol, though he was not present with which
donations he purchased some costly images of the Gods, which he erected
in several streets of the city; as that of Apollo Sandaliarius, Jupiter
Tragoedus [193], and others. When his house on the Palatine hill was
accidentally destroyed by fire, the veteran soldiers, the judges, the
tribes, and even the people, individually, contributed, according to the
ability of each, for rebuilding it; but he would (115) accept only of
some small portion out of the several sums collected, and refused to take
from any one person more than a single denarius [194]. Upon his return
home from any of the provinces, they attended him not only with joyful
acclamations, but with songs. It is also remarked, that as often as he
entered the city, the infliction of punishment was suspended for the

LVIII. The whole body of the people, upon a sudden impulse, and with
unanimous consent, offered him the title of FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY. It
was announced to him first at Antium, by a deputation from the people,
and upon his declining the honour, they repeated their offer on his
return to Rome, in a full theatre, when they were crowned with laurel.
The senate soon afterwards adopted the proposal, not in the way of
acclamation or decree, but by commissioning M. Messala, in an unanimous
vote, to compliment him with it in the following terms: “With hearty
wishes for the happiness and prosperity of yourself and your family,
Caesar Augustus, (for we think we thus most effectually pray for the
lasting welfare of the state), the senate, in agreement with the Roman
people, salute you by the title of FATHER OF YOUR COUNTRY.” To this
compliment Augustus replied, with tears in his eyes, in these words (for
I give them exactly as I have done those of Messala): “Having now arrived
at the summit of my wishes, O Conscript Fathers [195], what else have I
to beg of the Immortal (116) Gods, but the continuance of this your
affection for me to the last moments of my life?”

LIX. To the physician Antonius Musa [196], who had cured him of a
dangerous illness, they erected a statue near that of Aesculapius, by a
general subscription. Some heads of families ordered in their wills,
that their heirs should lead victims to the Capitol, with a tablet
carried before them, and pay their vows, “Because Augustus still
survived.” Some Italian cities appointed the day upon which he first
visited them, to be thenceforth the beginning of their year. And most of
the provinces, besides erecting temples and altars, instituted games, to
be celebrated to his honour, in most towns, every five years.

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