Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 5.68

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[68.1] He said that those who thought it proper to pity the poverty of the citizens and who advised relieving such of them as were unable to pay their debts ought to inquire what it was that had made them poor, when they had inherited the lands their fathers had left them and had gained much booty from their campaigns, and, last of all, when each of them had received his share of the confiscated property of the tyrants; and after that they ought to look upon such of them as they found had lived for their bellies and the most shameful pleasures, and by such means had lost their fortunes, as a disgrace and injury to the city, and to regard it as a great benefit to the common weal if they would voluntarily get to the devil out of the city. But in the case of such as they found to have lost their fortunes through an unkind fate, he advised them to relieve these with their private means.

2 Their creditors, he said, not only understood this best, but would attend to it best, and would themselves relieve their misfortunes, not under compulsion from others, but voluntarily, to the end that gratitude, instead of their money, might accrue to them as a noble debt. But to extend the relief to all alike, when the worthless would share it equally with the deserving, and to confer benefits on certain persons, not at their own expense, but at that of others, and not to leave to those whose money they took away even the gratitude owed for these services, was in no wise consistent with the virtue of Romans.

3 But above all these and the other considerations, it was a grievous and intolerable thing for the Romans, who were laying claim to the leadership — a leadership which their ancestors had acquired through many hardships and left to their posterity — if they could not do what was best and most advantageous for the commonwealth also, by their own choice, or when convinced by argument, or at the proper time, but, just as if the city had been captured or were expecting to suffer that fate, must do things contrary to their own judgment from which they would receive very little benefit, if any, but would run the risk of suffering the very worst of ills.

4 For it was far better for them to submit to the commands of the Latins, as being more moderate, and not even to try the fortune of war, than by yielding to the pleas of those who were of no use upon any occasion, to abolish from the south the public faith, which their ancestors had appointed to be honoured by the erection of a temple and by sacrifices performed throughout the year — and this when they were merely going to add a body of slingers to their forces for the war.

5 The sum and substance of his advice was this: to take for the business in hand such citizens as were willing to share the fortune of the war upon the same terms as every other Roman, and to let those who insisted upon any special terms whatever for taking up arms for their country go hang, since they would be of no use even if they did arm. For if they knew this, he said, they would yield and show themselves prompt to obey those who took the wisest counsel for the commonwealth; since all the unintelligent are generally wont, when flattered, to be arrogant, and when terrified, to show restraint.


בפסוק 5 מסופר על אדישותו של אפיוס קלאודיוס לפרישת הפלבס בשנת 493 לפנה"ס, בטענה שתרומתם של הפלבאים לכוח הלחימה הרומי היא שולית , וניתן לפצות על חסרונה דרך גיוס הקליינטים של הפטריקים.

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