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[79] Cassius Severus baffled an opponent who reproached him with the fact that Proculeius had forbidden him to enter his house by replying, “Do I ever go there?” But one jest may also be defeated by another: for example, Augustus of blessed memory, when the Gauls gave him a golden necklet weighing a hundred pounds, and Dolabella, speaking in jest but with an [p. 483] eye to the success of his jest, said, “General, give me your necklet,” replied, “I had rather give you the crown of oak leaves.”1

1 The civic crown of oak leaves was given as a reward for saving the life of a fellow-citizen in war. The torquis was often given as a reward for valour, and Augustus pretends to believe that Dolabella had asked for a military decoration. The point lies in the contrast between the intrinsic value and weight of the two decorations. Further, Augustus was very parsimonious in bestowing military decorations and had himself received the crown of oak leaves from the senate as the saviour of Rome, a fact which must have rendered its bestowal on others rare, if not non-existent.

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