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Accordingly, having marched his army over the river, he shewed them the tribunes of the people, who, upon their being driven from the city, had come to meet him; and, in the presence of that assembly, called upon the troops to pledge him their fidelity, with tears in his eyes, and his garment rent from his bosom. It has been supposed, that upon this occasion he promised to every soldier a knight's estate; but that opinion is founded on a mistake. For when, in his harangue to them, he frequently held out a finger of his left hand, 1 and declared, that to recompense those who should support him in the defence of his honor, he would willingly part even with his ring; the soldiers at a distance, who could more easily see than hear him while he spoke, formed their conception of what he said, by the eye, not by the ear; and accordingly gave out, that he had promised to each of them the privilege of wearing the gold ring, and an estate of four hundred thousand sesterces. 2
1 The ring was worn on the finger next to the little finger of the left hand.
2 Suetonius here accounts for the mistake of the soldiers with great probability. The class to which they imagined they were to be promoted, was that of the equites, or knights, who wore a gold ring, and were possessed of property to the amount stated in the text. Great as was the liberality of Caesar to his legions, the performance of this imaginary promise was beyond all reasonable expectation.
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