Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 5.67

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[67.1] But, above all, he advised them, in instituting a new form of government, to take care that no bad custom should gain admittance there. For he declared that of whatever nature the public principles of states were, such of necessity would be the lives of the individual citizens. And there was no worse practice, he said, either for states or for families, than for everyone to live always according to his own pleasure and for everything to be granted to inferiors by their superiors, whether out of favour or from necessity. For the desires of the unintelligent are not satisfied when they obtain what they demand, but they immediately covet other and greater things, and so on without end; and this is the case particularly with the masses. For the lawless deeds which each one by himself is either ashamed or afraid to commit, being restrained by the more powerful, they are more ready to engage in when they have got together and gained strength for their own inclinations from those who are like minded.

2 And since the desires of the unintelligent mob are insatiable and boundless, it is necessary, he said, to check them at the very outset, while they are weak, instead of trying to destroy them after they have become great and powerful. For all men feel more violent anger when deprived of what has already been granted to them than when disappointed of what they merely hope for.

3 He cited many examples to prove this, relating the experiences of various Greek cities which, having become weakened because of certain critical situations and having given admittance to the beginnings of evil practices, had no longer had the power to put an end to them and abolish them, in consequence of which they had been compelled to go on into shameful and irreparable calamities. He said the commonwealth resembled each particular man, the senate bearing some resemblance to the soul of a man and the people to his body.

4 If, therefore, they permitted the unintelligent populace to govern the senate, they would fare the same as those who subject the soul to the body and live under the influence, not of their reason, but of their passions; whereas, if they accustomed the populace to be governed and led by the senate, they would be doing the same as those who subject the body to the soul and lead lives directed toward what is best, not most pleasant.

5 He showed them that no great mischief would befall the state if the poor, dissatisfied with them for not granting an abolition of debts, should refuse to take up arms in its defence, declaring that there were few indeed who had nothing left but their persons, and these would neither offer any remarkable advantage to the state when present on its expeditions, nor, by their absence to do any great harm. For those who had the lowest rating in the census, he reminded them, were posted in the rear in battle and counted as a mere appendage to the forces that were arrayed in the battle-line, being present merely to strike the enemy with terror, since they had no other arms but slings, which are of the least use in action.


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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