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He was a great encourager of learning and the liberal arts. He first granted to the Latin and Greek professors of rhetoric the yearly stipend of a hundred thousand sesterces 1 each out of the exchequer. He also bought the freedom of superior poets and artists,2 and gave a noble gratuity to the restorer of the Coan Venus, 3 and to another artist who repaired the Colossus. 4 Some one offering to convey some immense columns into the Capitol at a small expense by a mechanical contrivance, he rewarded him very handsomely for his invention, but would not accept his service, saying, "Suffer me to find maintenance for the poor people." 5
1 See AUGUSTUS, c. xliii. The proscenium of the ancient theatres was a solid erection of an architectural design, not shifted and varied as our stage-scenes.
2 Many eminent writers among the Romans were originally slaves, such as Terence and Phaedrus; and, still more, artists, physicians and artificers. Their talents procuring their manumission, they became the freedmen of their former masters. Vespasian, it appears from Suetonius, purchased the freedom of some persons of ability belonging to these classes.
3 The Coan Venus was the chef d'oeuvre of Apelles, a native of the island of Cos, in the Archipelago, who flourished in the time of Alexander the Great. If it was the original painting which was now restored, it must have been well preserved.
4 Probably the colossal statue of Nero (see his Life, c. xxxi.), afterwards placed in Vespasian's amphitheatre, which derived its name from it.
5 The usual argument in all times against the introduction of machinery. See AUGUSTUS, c. xxix.
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