Valerius Maximus

-   Book 4 , chapters 1-3

Adapted from the translation by S. Speed (1678). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section.   

Contents:   I. Of Moderation
II. Of Reconciliation
III. Of Abstinence and Continence
IV. Of Poverty
V. Of Modesty
VI. Of Conjugal Love
VII. Of the Bond of Friendship
VIII. Of Liberality

Book 3

I.   Of Moderation

I shall pass on to a most wholesome aspect of the mind: moderation, which will not suffer our minds to be diverted from the right way by the asaults of rashness. And this happens to be not only without blame, but most abounding in the treasures of praise; therefore let us show the effects of it in famous men.

[1.1] L   And that I may begin from the cradle of the greatest honour, P. Valerius, who for the respect he bore for the majesty of the people was called Publicola, when the kings were driven out of Rome, seeing the whole strength of their power and the emblems of their authority transferred to himself under the title of consul, reduced the invidious loftiness of his magistracy to a custom easily to be endured. He removed the axes from the fasces, and lowered them in all public assemblies of the people. He brought the number of the fasces to be less by one half, and of his own accord took Sp. Lucretius to be his colleague in authority; before whom he caused the fasces to be carried first, because he was the elder,. He also enacted a law in the centuriate assembly, that no magistrate should flog or kill a Roman citizen; so that the more liberty the city obtained, the more he by little and little lessened his own authority. He also pulled down his own house because, being situated in a higher part of the city, it seemed to have the resemblance of a castle. Thus though lower in his house, did he not appear higher in his glory?

[1.2] L   I can no sooner forsake Publicola, than I gladly come to Furius Camillus. His change of fortune from great ignominy to the highest command, was so moderate, that when his fellow-citizens, after Rome was taken by the Gauls, required his assistance, although he was then an exile in Ardea, he did not begin his journey to Veii, there to take charge of the army, until he learnt  that all things had been confirmed in most solemn manner in relation to his being made dictator. Magnificent was the triumph of Camillus over Veii, famous was his victory over the Gauls, but much more admirable was this delay. For it was a harder labour for him to overcome himself than the enemy; neither to escape from adversity with too much haste, nor to meet prosperity with too much joy.

[1.3] L   Equal to Furius in moderation was Marcius Rutilus Censorinus. For being a second time created censor, he called the people together to an assembly, and in a speech most sharply upbraided them, because they had twice conferred that office upon him; seeing that their ancestors thought more fitting to abridge and confine the duration of the magistracy, as being too great for one man. Both did well, both Censorinus and the people: for the one instructed them to bestow their high honour with moderation, the other entrusted themselves to the hands of a moderate person.

[1.4] L   Come, what a consul was L. Quinctius Cincinnatus! When the conscript fathers would have prolonged his office, not only for his exceptional acts, but because the people intended to continue the same tribunes again the next year, neither of which could be legally done; he hindered the endeavours of both, not only restraining the endeavours of the senate, but forcing the tribunes to follow the example of his own modesty. He alone was the reason that both the senate and the people were kept free from the reproach of acting illegally.

[1.5] L   But Fabius Maximus, observing that he himself had been consul five times, and also often his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, at the assembly of the people, where his son was created consul, pleaded very firmly with the people, that they would permit the family of the Fabii to have a respite from honours.  He did not mistrust the virtues of his son, who was a very honourable man, but he was unwilling that the supreme honour of the commonwealth should remain within one family. What could be more powerful than this moderation, that overcame even his fatherly affections, which are generally so strong in parents?

[1.6] L   Gratitude was not lacking among our ancestors to give due rewards to the elder Africanus; seeing that they endeavoured to adorn his greatest enterprises with equal honours. Willing they were to place his statues in the comitium, on the rostra, in the senate-house, and even in the temple of Jupiter the Best and Greatest; they wanted to adorn his statue with triumphal regalia, and place it next to the couches of the gods on the Capitol. They would have given him the consulship as long as he lived, or a perpetual dictatorship. But he would not permit any act of the people, or edict of the senate to be passed in his favour, and carried himself with more glory in refusing those honours, than he had got in obtaining them.

With the same strength of mind he defended the cause of Hannibal in the senate, when Hannibal's own citizens through their ambassadors accused him of causing a sedition among them. He added that it did not become the conscript fathers to meddle in the affairs of the Carthaginians. With great moderation he ensured the safety of the one, and the dignity of the other; he was content to have acted as the enemy of both, only until victory was achieved.

[1.7] L   But M. Marcellus, who was the first that taught that the Carthaginians could be defeated, and Syracuse captured, when in the time of his consulship the Syracusans came into the city to make complaints against him, would not permit the senate to hear the case, because his colleague Valerius Laevinus was by chance absent, lest the Sicilians should grow fearful or remiss in their accusation. But as soon as his colleague returned, he himself was the first that reminded the senate to call in the Syracusans; and he patiently listened to them while they made their complaints. And though they were commanded by Laevinus to depart, yet he caused them to stay, so that they might be present at his defence. Afterwards when both parties had been heard, he followed them going out of the senate-house, so that the senate might be the more free in passing their sentence. And when their accusations were rejected, he courteously embraced them, as they humbly entreated him to receive them as his clients. Moreover, having drawn Sicily by lot, he yielded that province to his colleague. And indeed it is difficult to vary the praise of Marcellus, as often as he made use of various degrees of moderation toward the allies.

[1.8] L   How admirably did Ti. Gracchus conduct himself! For being tribune of the plebs, though he bore a professed hatred towards the two Scipios, Africanus and Asiaticus; yet when Scipio Asiaticus, not being able to pay the fine which had been imposed on him, was therefore commanded by the consul to be taken to prison, upon his appeal to the college of tribunes, when no-one would intercede for him, he dissented. He went away from the college and composed a decree, in writing which everyone thought that he would use the words and expressions of an angry enemy. In the first place he swore that he was not friends with Scipio, and then recited this decree in his own words: that whereas L. Cornelius Scipio had cast into prison the generals of the enemy, whom he had led before his  chariot on the day of his triumph; it was unworthy and unbecoming of the majesty of the Roman people, that he should be led to prison himself. And therefore he would not suffer it to be done. Then gladly the Roman people saw how Gracchus had deceived them in their opinion, and extolled his moderation with fitting praise.

[1.9] L   C. Claudius Nero is also to be numbered among the best examples of outstanding moderation. He shared with Livius Salinator the glory of defeating Hasdrubal. Yet he chose rather to follow his triumphing colleague on horseback, than himself to accept of the honour of a triumph, which the senate had equally voted for him; because the battle was fought in Salinator's province. Therefore he triumphed without a chariot, so much the more gloriously, because only the victory of the one, but the moderation of the other was thereby commended.

[1.10] L   Nor does the younger Africanus permit us to pass him by in silence. When he was censor, he was concluding the lustrum, and at the customary sacrifice, the scribe was singing a solemn hymn of praise as set down in the public records, in which the gods were supplicated to prosper and advance the affairs of the Roman people. "They are," said Africanus, "in a condition good and great enough, and therefore I desire the gods to preserve them safe as they are." And therefore he ordered the song to be amended accordingly in the public records. This modest form  of prayer was used by the censors when they concluded the lustrum for ever after. Prudently he believed, that the increase of the Roman empire was to be sought, in the days when they fought for triumphs just seven miles from the City. But when they now possessed the greater part of the world, that it was a greediness to desire more. They should be happy if they lost nothing of what they had already won.

Nor did his moderation appear less on his tribunal as censor. For when he was mustering the centuries of the knights, he saw C. Licinius Sacerdos appear according to his summons. "I know," said he, "that he has perjured himself explicitly. And therefore if anyone would accuse him, I will be a witness." But when no man came forward to accuse him, "Lead your horse across," said he, "Sacerdos, and escape the censor's mark, lest I be forced to act all the parts of an accuser, witness and judge against you."

[1.11] L   This attitude of mind is also noteworthy in Q. Scaevola, a most excellent person. For when he was produced as a witness against a defendant, he had given answers that seemed to be highly damaging to the accused man, but he added as he went away, that they ought not to give credence to him only, unless many others stated the same thing; for to believe the testimony of a single person, seemed to be a very bad precedent. By this he fulfilled the obligation of his oath, and at the same time gave wholesome advice for the common good.

[1.12] L   I am conscious what citizens, and what deeds and sayings of theirs I am forced to describe within a narrow compass of speech; but when many and great things are to be spoken concerning the renown of great men, there is no narrative concerning an infinite number of persons and deeds that can perform both functions. And therefore our purpose is not to praise, but to record them all; and therefore the two Metelli, Macedonicus and Numidicus, two of the greatest ornaments of their country, ask permission to be briefly remembered. Metellus Macedonicus had most forcefully quarrelled with Scipio Africanus; and this contention, arising out of an emulation of each other's virtue, grew into most grievous and terrible dislike of each other. But when he heard it reported that Scipio was slain, he ran into the public street with a sad countenance and disordered voice, crying out, "Come together, citizens come, the walls of our city are defaced and ruined. For Scipio has been violently slain at home in his sleep." Oh unhappy commonwealth on the death of Africanus, but happy in the generous and kind lamentation of Macedonicus. For at the same time he made known how brave a leader Rome had lost, and how brave a one it still enjoyed. He ordered his sons also to be the supporters of Scipio's bier, adding this words of honour to his funeral, that it would never be their fortune to perform that office for a greater man. Where now were those many quarrels in the senate-house, those many dissentions on the rostra? Where those almost 'battles in togas' of such great leaders and statesmen? All these his most praiseworthy moderation utterly abolished.

[1.13] L   Metellus Numidicus, expelled from his country by a populist faction, withdrew into Asia. There he received letters, as he was at Tralles beholding certain games, reporting that with the universal consent of senate and people, he was freely permitted to return to his own country; but he would not stir out of the theatre till the play was ended. He did not show any change of gladness to those that sat next him on any side, but contained his great joy within himself, carrying the same countenance in his exile, as at his restoration. So indistinguishably did he conduct himself between adversity and prosperity, by reason of his moderation.

[1.14] L   When so many families are being listed as famous for this kind of virtue, is it right that we leave out the Porcian name, as lacking its share in this part of glory? The younger Cato will not so permit it, trusting in a conspicuous example of his own moderation. He had brought the money of Cyprus with great diligence and integrity back to the city; for this achievement the senate ordained, that he should be allowed to stand as a candidate at the next elections for praetors, outside the regular time; but he would not allow it to be done, affirming it to be unjust, that what was never decreed to any other, should be decreed to him. And lest any new custom should arise on his account, he rather chose the hazards of an open election, than to accept the kindness of the senate.

[1.15] L   While I am endeavouring to pass on from here to foreign examples, Marcus Bibulus, a person of great dignity, and venerable for his high honours, lays hands upon me. When he was in Syria, he received news that two of his sons, of high hopes, had both been slain by the soldiers of Gabinius. Their murderers were afterwards sent to him in chains by Cleopatra, so that he could take revenge as he pleased for such a great calamity. He, notwithstanding as great an opportunity was offered him, as could be desired by any person who had suffered wrong, yet caused his grief to give way to his moderation. He  immediately sent back to Cleopatra these murderers of his own flesh and blood, informing her that the power of revenge did not belong to him, but to the senate.


[1e.1] L   Archytas of Tarentum immersed himself at Metapontum in the precepts of Pythagoras, and after long labour and study, having absorbed the whole body of learning, returned into his own country. When he came to inspect his estate, he found that, through the negligence of his steward, it were very much decayed and ruined. Then, looking at his ill-deserving servant, "I would most certainly," said he, " have punished you according to your desert, if I were not angry with you." And therefore he preferred to let him go unpunished, rather than in his anger punish him more severely than was just.

[1e.2] L   The moderation of Archytas was over-liberal, that of Plato more reasonable. For being vehemently annoyed by a slave who had done wrong, fearing that he himself would be excessive in his punishment, he committed it to his friend Speusippus; deeming it unbecoming, if he had over-reacted, that the fault of his slave and the punishment by Plato should both deserve the same reproof. 

This makes me less surprised that he was so constantly moderate toward Xenocrates his pupil. Plato was informed that he had spoken ill of him many times. He without hesitation ignored the accusation. The informer very intently asked him why he did not believe him. He replied that it was not credible that he whom he loved so well should not love him as well again. At length when the malice of the mischief-maker sought to confirm his story with oaths, Plato did not say that he he was lying; but that if Xenocrates did say such things of him, he would not have said them, if he did not think it helpful to speak so. One would have thought his soul was not residing in a mortal body, but in a celestial tower, and as it were armed, so that it could so invincibly ward off the incursions of human vices, keeping the whole range of virtues in the fortress of his breast.

[1e.3] L   Dion of Syracuse does not deserve a commendation equal with Plato for literary studies, but of his moderation he gave a greater proof. He was expelled his country by the tyrant Dionysius, and went to  Megara. There he went to visit Theodorus, the leader of that city, but when he had still not been admitted after a long and tedious wait, he said to his friend, "This is patiently to be endured, for perhaps when we were in authority, we ourselves did something like this." By this placidity of mind he made his own exile more bearable for himself.

[1e.4] L   Thrasybulus is next to be recorded. When the people of Athens were forced to leave their homes through the cruelty of the thirty tyrants, and to live miserably scattered and wandering, he brought them back to their own country. However, he made the victorious restoration of their liberty more renowned by his most praiseworthy moderation. For he made a law, that no mention should be made of past actions. This act of forgetting, which the Athenians call amnesty, restored the shaken and decaying state of the city to its former condition of glory.

[1e.5] L   No less admirable is what follows. Stasippus of Tegea, when his friends advised him by any means to kill or remove a person, who was his rival in the administration of the commonwealth though otherwise he was a just and upright person, refused to do any such act, fearing lest the place in government, which was now held by a good man, would be taken over by someone of a perverse and evil disposition. He preferred that he should be vigorously challenged by his opponent, rather than that his country should lack such an outstanding advocate.

[1e.6] L   The breast of Pittacus was well endued with moderation. He became an absolute tyrant over his country, but when Alcaeus the poet abused him not only with an inveterate hatred, but with the strength of his sharp wit, he merely put his hand upon his lips, to made him understand what was in his power to do.

[1e.7] L   The mention which I have made of this man, brings to our consideration the moderation of the seven sages. A certain person had bought a catch from some fishermen in the territory of Miletus; but when they brought up a golden Delphic tripod of exceedingly great weight, a dispute arose; these affirmed that the sale was only of fish, while the person affirmed he bought the catch in general. By reason of the unusualness of the occurrence, and the value of the treasure, the dispute was referred to the judgment of all the city. The city thought it appropriate to consult Apollo at Delphi: the god answered, that it was to be given to whoever excelled in wisdom, in these words:  "Who first in wisdom all excels, to him the tripod give." Thereupon the Milesians by general consent gave the tripod to Thales: he yielded it to Bias, Bias to Pittacus, and so from one to another, until at length it came to Solon, who gave the title of greatest wisdom, as also the reward, to Apollo himself.

[1e.8] L   And let us bear witness to the moderation of Theopompus, king of the Lacedaemonians. He caused the creation of the ephors, which were to be a curb to the kingly power in Lacedaemon, as the tribunes were a curb to the consular authority in Rome. When his wife remarked that he had done something which would leave less power for his children. "I shall leave it less," said he, "but more lasting." That was rightly said; for that power is most lasting which gives limits to itself. Therefore Theopompus, by binding his kingship in legal fetters, the more he moved it away from unbridled power, the more he fixed it in the goodwill of his subjects.

[1e.9] L   But Antiochus, when the boundaries of his kingdom were driven back by L. Scipio beyond Mount Taurus, so that he lost Asia and all the adjacent kingdoms, thought himself bound, without dissimulation, to return thanks to the Romans, because they had freed him from great cares, by compelling him to govern a moderate extent of territory. And indeed there is nothing so illustrious or magnificent, that it may not be tempered by moderation.

II.   Of Reconciliation

Now that we have demonstrated this by many and most renowned examples, let us pass to a most admirable transformation of the mind, the change from hatred to friendship; and let us pursue it in a cheerful style. For if the boisterous sea turning calm, and the stormy sky appearing with a serene aspect, and war making a change for peace, are no small cause of comfort, the softening of the bitterness of hatred is to be celebrated with a sincere description.

[2.1] L   Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, twice consul, and pontifex maximus, equal in the splendour of his honours to the rectitude of his life, bore an inveterate and continual hatred to Fulvius Flaccus, a person of the same dignity. As soon as they were both declared censors together, he laid the hatred aside in the Campus. He believed it inappropriate for those to be privately at odds, who were coupled together in the supreme public authority. That judgment of his mind was approved by his contemporaries, and the old writers of annals have recorded to us as a thing most worthy of praise.

[2.2] L   Nor would they let the illustrious decision of Livius Salinator to end a quarrel remain unknown to posterity. For though he went into exile with a burning hatred against Claudius Nero, angered at the evidence which he gave against him; yet when the people had recalled him, and made him colleague with Nero in the consulship, he commanded himself to forget his own disposition, which was most fiery, and the heavy injury which he had received - lest by denying to take a partnership in government, through the inward disaffection of his mind, he should have acted the part of an evil consul, by showing his hatred towards his opponent. This inclination of his mind to a better disposition, in an dangerous and difficult state of affairs, produced no small advantage to the city and all Italy; for the consuls, supported by their equal strength of virtue, were the first that broke the force and turned the fortune of the Carthaginians.

[2.3] L   A good example  of enmity laid aside we find also in the elder Africanus and Ti. Gracchus. For they came to the rites of a sacred table with a boiling hatred towards each other, and from the same table they departed entire friends. For Scipio at the urging of the senate entered into friendship with Gracchus on the Capitol at the feast of Jupiter; but not content with that, he there also espoused his daughter Cornelia to him.

[2.4] L   This gentle affection appeared chiefly in M. Cicero. For he vigorously defended A. Gabinius, who had expelled him from the city during his consulship. And the same person preserved P. Vatinius in two public trials, though Vatinius was always an enemy to his authority - without any imputation of levity, and so also with some praise. For it is more splendid to overcome injuries with benefits, than to retaliate with obstinate animosity.

[2.5] L   This act of Cicero's seemed so laudable, that P. Pulcher, his deadly enemy, did not disdain to follow it. Although he had been accused of incest by the three Lentuli, he received one of them into his protection, when he was accused of bribery; although he could see the judge, the praetor, and the temple of Vesta, where Lentulus in a hostile speech had endeavoured to ruin his reputation with a foul accusation.

[2.6] L   Caninius Gallus also acted remarkably both as defendant and prosecutor. For he married the daughter of C. Antonius, whom he had convicted; and he made M. Colonius, by whom he had been prosecuted, the steward of his estate.

[2.7] L   As for Caelius Rufus, though his life was infamous, yet the pity that he showed to Q. Pompeius was laudable.  Pompeius had been crushed by him in a public trial, but when his mother Cornelia would not restore to him the estates, which had been conveyed to her in trust, and he earnestly sought his help in a letter, Caelius strenuously assisted him in his absence.  He read out the letter in court, which testified to the  desperate need of Pompeius; and by this he overcame the impious avarice of Cornelia - an act to be praised for its compassionate humanity, even though it was done by Caelius.

III.   Of Abstinence and Continence

With great care and especial zeal are we now to relate, how those impetuous desires of lust and avarice have been banished from the spirit of great persons by means of reason and counsel. For that city, that family, that kingdom easily remains in a lasting state of firmness, where lust and avarice have the smallest influence. For where those plagues of humankind have got a footing, there injury prevails, infamy rages, violence dwells and wars arise. But with due approval, let us call to mind behaviour that was contrary to those most pestilent vices.

[3.1] L   Scipio in the twenty-fourth year of his age, having captured New Carthage in Spain, and conceiving in his mind good hopes of taking the greater Carthage, had brought into his power many hostages, which the Carthaginians kept confined in that city, and among the rest an adult maiden of most surpassing beauty. Although he was young, unmarried and a conqueror, yet understanding that she was of a noble family among the Celtiberians, and engaged to Indibilis, one of the leading men of that country, he sent for her parents and her fiancé, and returned her untouched to her own family, adding to her dowry the gold that was brought for her ransom. This restraint and generosity of his so moved Indibilis, that he persuaded the Celtiberians to side with the Romans, thereby proving himself truly grateful for so great a favour.

[3.2] L   As Spain was a witness of Scipio's abstinence, so did Epirus, Achaia, the Cyclades islands, the coast of Asia, and the province of Cyprus, all give testimony to the continence of Cato. When he had the task of sending great sums of money from this region, he showed himself as free from wantonness, as from desire of gain, though he had opportunity enough to have been intemperate in both. For the royal treasury was all at his disposal, and he was forced everywhere to take up his lodgings in Greek cities which were most abundant in all pleasures. And this is testified in writing by Munatius Rufus, his faithful companion in the Cyprian expedition. Though I rely not altogether upon his testimony; the subject itself is a sufficient proof, seeing that Cato and Continence were both born from the same womb of Nature.

[3.3] L   Most certain it is that Drusus Germanicus, the glory of the Claudian family, an outstanding ornament of his country, and above all, for the greatness of his actions relative to his age, near approaching the grandeur of his imperial stepfather and brother, the two divine eyes of the commonwealth, was eminently known to have confined his love of women to his particular and single affection for his own wife. Antonia also, a woman who surpassed in merits the renown of the men in her family, requited the love of her husband with a similar fidelity. And after his death, in the flower of her age and beauty, she attached herself to the house of her mother-in-law instead of remarrying, so that in the same bed the vigorous youth of the one was extinguished, and the experienced widowhood of the other grew old. And so let their bedchamber form the end of these examples.

[3.4] L   Let us now spend some time upon examples of those who never craved for money. Cn. Marcius was a young man of a patrician family, a renowned descendant of king Ancus. He took his surname from Corioli, a town of the Volsci which had been captured.When for his noble acts of bravery, he was praised in a speech in front of the army by Postumius Cominius the consul, and rewarded with military awards, besides a hundred iugera of land, his choice of ten prisoners , as many horses with their trappings, a herd of a hundred oxen, and a great weight of silver. Yet he refused all, accepting of nothing but the liberty of one captive who had been his host, and one horse for service in war. Through this restrained moderation of mind, it is hard to judge whether he merited most in deserving or refusing those rewards.

[3.5] L   M'. Curius, a most upright specimen of Roman frugality, as well as a perfect example of courage, was not ashamed to show himself sitting upon a rustic stool before the fire eating from a wooden platter - you may guess at his how simple the food was. He despised the riches of the Samnites, and the Samnites wondered at his poverty. For when they brought him a great weight of gold, sent to him by their countrymen as a present, and politely asked him to accept it, he fell into laughter, and presently said, "You have come here upon a needless, if I may not call it foolish embassy. Go tell the Samnites that Curius had rather command rich men than be rich himself; and carry back that precious gift invented for the evil of mankind; and remember that I can neither be overcome in battle, nor be corrupted with money."

The same person when he had driven Pyrrhus out of Italy, nevertheless would not touch the least part of all those royal spoils with which he had so enriched the army and the city. Moreover, he would not exceed the usual measure of public allotment, though the senate gave him fifty iugera of land, while the rest of the people had but seven iugera; he esteemed him no good citizen, who could not be content with what was given to others.

[3.6] L   Of the same opinion was Fabricius Luscinus, who was greater than any person of his time in honour and authority; but in estate not above the poorest. When the Samnites, who were under his protection, sent him a present of ten thousand bronze coins and five pounds of gold, and the same number of slaves, he sent them back to Samnium; with the benefit of his continence he was rich without money, and well attended without a large household; so much did he abound in honour earned by the contempt of those things. Therefore his house lacked any bronze or silver or slaves given by the Samnites, but it was full of the glory that they brought him.

The prayers of Fabricius were in agreement with those spurned gifts. For when he went as ambassador to Pyrrhus, and heard Cineas the Thessalian telling the king of a certain Athenian famous for his wisdom, who was of opinion that men should do nothing except for pleasure's sake, he regarded it as a monstrous saying, and immediately made a prayer that such wisdom might grip Pyrrhus and the Samnites. Though the Athenians might glory in their learning, yet there is no prudent person who would not rather choose to follow the self-denial of Fabricius, than the precepts of Epicurus.  This was proved true by the outcome. For that city which indulged so much in pleasure, lost a very large empire, but  the hard-working country took its own; and the latter city could bestow that liberty, which the former could not defend.

[3.7] L   One might easily conjecture that Q. Tubero, surnamed Catus, was  the disciple of Curius and Fabricius. When he was consul, the Aetolians sent him a large gift of silver plate, not only of a very great weight, but also most exquisitely made; because their ambassadors, whom they had formerly sent to congratulate him, upon their return had related how they saw him eating only on earthenware dishes. He immediately told them to take their things away, warning them that they should not think that continence needed the same help as poverty. How well did he prefer his own domestic poverty rather than the Aetolian splendour; if only the succeeding ages would have followed his example! But now to such a height of luxury have we grown, that slaves refuse to make use of that houseware, which previously a consul did not blush to use.

[3.8] L   After the overthrow of Perseus, Paullus had so glutted the old traditional poverty of our city with wealth, that at that time the Roman people first freed itself from the burden of paying taxes. Yet he in no way enriched his own family, accounting it enough that by his victories he got the glory, while others got the money.

[3.9] L   To this sound judgment of his, Q. Fabius Gurges, N. Fabius Pictor, and Q. Ogulnius subscribed, who were sent as ambassadors to king Ptolemy. They conveyed those gifts, which they had personally received from the king, into the public treasury, before they would give an account of their embassy to the senate; because they judged that there was nothing due for faithful public service, but the reward of praise. But the senate showed their gratitude, and the righteous behaviour of our ancestors. For what they had laid up in the treasury was restored to the ambassadors not only by the decree of the senate, but by the consent of the people; and the quaestors willingly paid out what was awarded by that law. Thus the liberality of Ptolemy, the abstinence of the ambassadors, the fairness of the senate and people, had in all an equal share of a praiseworthy action.

[3.10] L   That Calpurnius Piso was an imitator of the Fabii and Ogulnii, this story makes manifest. When in his consulship he had freed Sicily from the bloody war against the runaway slaves, as the commander he rewarded those with gifts, whose had given him exceptional service; among the rest he gave to his son, who had conducted himself valiantly, a crown of gold weighing three pounds. He said also, that the chief magistrate should not take money out of the public treasury to spend upon his own family; and therefore he would leave so much gold in addition to the young man in his will, as to pay for it; so that though he received his honour publicly, he should receive the money privately from his father.

[3.11] L   Let us see if we can find any great person in this age that makes use of goatskins for his coverlet, and while he governs all Spain, has but three slaves to attend him; that spends no more than five hundred asses and somewhat over in his preparation for his journey; that drinks the same drink, and eats the same food which the sailors feed upon; would that person not be thought pitiable? Yet all this did the elder Cato patiently endure, confining himself with an extraordinary delight to a pleasing habit of frugality.

[3.12] L   The younger Cato was born long after the abstinence of ancient times, coming into the world at a time, when the city abounded in riches and all manner of luxury. Yet when he was a commander in the civil wars, having his son along with him, nevertheless he had only twelve slaves with him; in number more than the former Cato used, but if the alteration of the times is considered, fewer.

[3.13] L   I take much delight in recording the deeds of illustrious heroes. Scipio Aemilianus, after he had held two consulships, and had celebrated two triumphs for his own conquests, yet went upon a great embassy accompanied by no more than seven slaves. And I think that he might have purchased more with the spoils of Carthage and Numantia, if he had not preferred that the praise of his great deeds should accrue to himself, and the spoils to his country. And therefore when he travelled through the countries of our allies and other foreign nations, they took account not of his slaves, but of his victories. Nor did men consider how much gold and silver, but how much weight of worth he carried with him.

[3.14] L   This self-restraint appeared in the very breasts of the common people, but it shall suffice to relate two examples of widely different times. Pyrrhus ,when he saw the violence of his onslaught at a standstill, and the hearts of his Epirotes beginning to fail, hoped to buy the goodwill of the Roman people, whose virtue he could not overcome. He transported almost all the wealth of his treasury into our city. But when his ambassadors went from house to house with large gifts fit for the use of men and women, they could not find a door open to them. Thus Pyrrhus, more bold than prosperous in defence of the arrogance of Tarentum, was repelled and defeated as well by the morals as by the arms of the city; nor can I determine which of these was the greatest victory. 

In that storm also, with which Marius and Cinna infested the commonwealth, the people displayed remarkable abstinence. For when they gave the people liberty to ransack the houses of those whom they had proscribed, there was no man to be found that would lay hands upon the spoils of other citizens' grief. For everyone abstained from seizing them, as from things consecrated to the gods. This compassionate abstinence of the common people was a tacit reproach to the cruelty of the victors.


[3e.1] L   And lest we should be thought to begrudge the same praise for foreigners: Pericles, the leader of the Athenians, when he observed that Sophocles the tragedian, who was his colleague as general, was over-lavish in his words of praise for a beautiful boy that passed by, reprehended him in these words: "A magistrate ought to keep his eyes free from lustful desires, as well as his hands free from unlawful gain."

[3e.2] L   Sophocles himself, being now advanced in years, and being asked by someone whether he still indulged in amorous dalliances, replied, "The gods have taught me better, for I gladly fled from it, as from some furious tyranny."

[3e.3] L   Of equal abstinence was Xenocrates in his old age; of whose opinion the following account is sufficient proof. Phryne, a famous courtesan of Athens, while he was in drink, laid herself upon the couch by him, having received a sum of money from some young men to try if she could tempt him. But though he neither refused to hear her flattering allurements, nor to let her stroke and handle him, but let her lie dallying in his bosom, yet he at length he sent her away without any success in her scheme. That was the abstemious act of a mind endued with wisdom. But the saying of the courtesan was very witty: when the young men derided her because although she was so beautiful and charming, she could not win the affection of an old man, and refused to give her what they had promised, she replied that the bargain was to deal with a man, and not with a statue. Could this abstinence of Xenocrates be more truly or aptly be demonstrated by anyone, than by this expression of the courtesan herself? For Phryne with all her beauty could not weaken nor sway the most persistent abstinence of the philosopher.

What of king Alexander - could he tempt the same man with his riches? You would have thought that he too was assailing a statue, just like the courtesan. The king sent ambassadors to him with a gift of several talents; they were brought into the Academy, and entertained according to his habits, in a sparse and humble fashion. The next day the ambassadors asked him whether he would like to have his money counted out. "I thought," said he, "that by your meal yesterday, you would understand that my condition does not require money." Thus while the king desired to buy the friendship of the philosopher, the philosopher refused to sell it to him.

[3e.4] L   The same Alexander, who had obtained the name of Invincible, could not defeat the continence of Diogenes the Cynic. As he was sitting in the sun, Alexander came to him and asked how he might do him a favour.  Diogenes, who was sitting on a step, a man of poor title, but of robust steadfastness, replied, "As to the rest, later on; but in the meantime, do not stand between me and the sun." These words carried a deeper sense within them: that Alexander might sooner overcome Darius by his arms, than move Diogenes by his riches. 

The same Diogenes, when Aristippus, seeing him washing vegetables in Syracuse, told him that if only he could flatter Dionysius he need not eat such trash, made this reply, "No - if you could eat this simple food, you would not need to flatter Dionysius."

Following chapters (4-8)

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