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At supper, and, indeed, at other times, he was extremely free and jocose. For he had humour, but of a low kind, and he would sometimes use indecent language, such as is addressed to ygung girls about to be married. Yet there are some things related of him not void of ingenious pleasantry; amongst which are the following. Being once reminded by Mestrius Florus, that plaustra was a more proper expression than plostra, he the next day saluted him by the name of Flaurus.1 A certain lady pretending to be desperately enamoured of him, he was prevailed upon to admit her to his bed: and after he had gratified her desires, he gave her2 four hundred thousand sesterces. When his steward desired to know how he would have the sum entered in his accounts, he replied, "For Vespasian's being seduced."
1 Probably the emperor had not entirely worn off, or might even affect the rustic dialect of his Sabine countrymen: for among the peasantry the au was still pronounced o, as in plostrum for plaustrum, a waggon; and in orum for aurum, gold, c. The emperor's retort was very happy, Flaurus being derived from a Greek word, which signifies worthless, while the consular critic's proper name, Florus, was connected with much more agreeable associations.
2 Some of the German critics think that the passage bears the sense of the gratuity having been given by the lady, and that so parsimonious a prince as Vespasian was not likely to have paid such a sum as is here stated for a lady's proffered favours.
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