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CAESAR AUGUSTUS

CAESAR AUGUSTUS. Caesar, who was the first surnamed Augustus, being yet young, demanded of Antony the twenty-five millions of money1 which he had taken out of the house of Julius Caesar when he was slain, that he might pay the Romans the legacies he had left them, every man seventy-five drachms. But when Antony detained the money, and bade him, if he were wise, let fall his demand, he sent the crier to offer his own paternal estate for sale, and therewith discharged the legacies; by which means he procured a general respect to himself, and to Antony the hatred of the Romans. Rymetalces, king of Thrace, forsook Antony and went over to Caesar; but bragging immoderately in his drink, and nauseously reproaching his new confederates, Caesar drank to one of the other kings, and told him, I love treason but do not commend [p. 249] traitors. The Alexandrians, when he had taken their city, expected great severity from him; but when he came upon the judgment-seat, he placed Arius the Alexandrian by him and told them: I spare this city, first because it is great and beautiful, secondly for the sake of its founder, Alexander, and thirdly for the sake of Arius my friend. When it was told him that Eros, his steward in Egypt, having bought a quail that beat all he came near and was never worsted by any, had roasted and eaten it, he sent for him; and when upon examination he confessed the fact, he ordered him to be nailed on the mast of the ship. He removed Theodorus, and in his stead made Arius his factor in Sicily, whereupon a petition was presented to him, in which was written, Theodorus of Tarsus is either a baldpate or a thief, what is your opinion? Caesar read it, and subscribed, I think so. Mecaenas, his intimate companion, presented him yearly on his birthday with a piece of plate. Athenodorus the philosopher, by reason of his old age, begged leave that he might retire from court, which Caesar granted; and as Athenodorus was taking his leave of him, Remember, said he, Caesar, whenever you are angry, to say or do nothing before you have repeated the four-and-twenty letters to yourself. Whereupon Caesar caught him by the hand and said, I have need of your presence still; and he kept him a year longer, saying, The reward of silence is a secure reward. He heard Alexander at the age of thirty-two years had subdued the greatest part of the world and was at a loss what he should do with the rest of his time. But he wondered Alexander should not think it a lesser labor to gain a great empire than to set in order what he had gotten. He made a law concerning adulterers, wherein was determined how the accused were to be tried and how the guilty were to be punished. Afterwards, meeting with a young man that was reported to have been familiar with his daughter Julia, being enraged [p. 250] he struck him with his hands; but when the young man cried out, O Caesar! you have made a law, he was so troubled at it that he refrained from supper that day. When he sent Caius his daughter's son into Armenia, he begged of the Gods that the favor of Pompey, the valor of Alexander, and his own fortune might attend him. He told the Romans he would leave them one to succeed him in the government that never consulted twice in the same affair, meaning Tiberius. He endeavored to pacify some young men that were imperious in their offices; and when they gave little heed to him, but still kept a stir, Young men, said he, hear an old man to whom old men hearkened when he was young. Once, when the Athenians had offended him, he wrote to them from Aegina: I suppose you know I am angry with you, otherwise I had not wintered at Aegina. Besides this, he neither said nor did any thing to them. One of the accusers of Eurycles prated lavishly and unreasonably, proceeding so far as to say, If these crimes, O Caesar, do not seem great to you, command him to repeat to me the seventh book of Thucydides; wherefore Caesar being enraged commanded him to prison. But afterwards, when he heard he was descended from Brasidas, he sent for him again, and dismissed him with a moderate rebuke. When Piso built his house from top to bottom with great exactness, You cheer my heart, said he, who build as if Rome would be eternal.

1 It is doubtful what amount is here intended by Plutarch. If sesterces are understood, the amount is much less than it is commonly stated; and even if we understand drachmas (or denarii), we shall still fall below the amount commonly given, which is 700,000,000 sesterces (or about $28,000,000). See, for example, Veil Paterc. II. 60, 4: Sestertium septiens miliens. (G.)

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