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In the beginning of his reign, he gave up the study of the liberal sciences, though he took care to restore, at a vast expense, the libraries which had been burnt down; collecting manuscripts from all parts, and sending scribes to Alexandria,1 either to copy or correct them. Yet he never gave himself the trouble of reading history or poetry, or of employing his pen even for his private purposes. He perused nothing but the Commentaries and Acts of Tiberius Caesar. His letters, speeches, and edicts, were all drawn up for him by others; though he could converse with elegance, and sometimes expressed himself in memorable sentiments. "I could wish," said he once, "that I was but as handsome as Metius fancies himself to be." And of the head of some one whose hair was partly reddish, and partly grey, he said "that it was snow sprinkled with mead."
1 The famous library of Alexandria collected by Ptolemy Philadelphus had been burnt by accident in the wars. But we find from this passage in Suetonius that part of it was saved, or fresh collections had been made. Seneca (de Tranquill. c. ix 7) informs us that forty thousand volumes were burnt; and Gellius states that in his time the number of volumes amounted to nearly seventy thousand.
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