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Comparative Incorruptibility of Romans

If I had been speaking of an earlier period, and expressing what was generally true, I should have had
The disinterestedness of the Romans generally as to money.
no hesitation in asserting of the Romans as a nation that they would not be likely to do such a thing,—I mean in the period before they engaged in wars beyond the sea, and while they retained their own habits and principles uncontaminated.1 But in the present times I should not venture to say this of them all; still, as individuals, I should be bold to say of the majority of the men of Rome that they are capable of preserving their honesty in this particular: and as evidence that I am making no impossible assertion, I would quote two names which will command general assent,—I mean first, Lucius Aemilius who conquered Perseus, and won the kingdom of Macedonia.
Lucius Aemilius Paulus.
In that kingdom, besides all the other splendour and wealth, there was found in the treasury more than six thousand talents of gold and silver: yet he was so far from coveting any of this, that he even refused to see it, and administered it by the hands of others; though he was far from being superfluously wealthy himself, but, on the contrary, was very badly off. At least, I know that on his death, which occurred shortly after the war, when his own sons Publius Scipio and Quintus Maximus wished to pay his wife her dowry, amounting to twenty-five talents, they were reduced to such straits that they would have been quite unable to do so if they had not sold the household furniture and slaves, and some of the landed property besides. And if what I say shall appear incredible to any one, he may easily convince himself on the subject: for though there are many controversies at Rome, and especially on this particular point, arising from the antagonistic parties among them, yet he will find that what I have just said about Aemilius is acknowledged by every one.
Publius Cornelius, Scipio Africanus Minor.
Again, Publius Scipio, son by blood of this Aemilius, and son by adoption of Publius called the Great, when he got possession of Carthage, reckoned the wealthiest city in the world, took absolutely nothing from it for his own private use, either by purchase or by any other manner of acquisition whatever, although he was by no means a very rich man, but very moderately so for a Roman. But he not only abstained from the wealth of Carthage itself, but refused to allow anything from Africa at all to be mixed up with his private property. Therefore, in regard to this man once more, any one who chooses to inquire will find that his reputation in this particular is absolutely undisputed at Rome. I shall, however, take a more suitable opportunity of treating this subject at greater length.

1 See 6, 56; 32, 11.

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