and Apartments": Tacitus Annales 3.55
February 17-19, 24, 2004
When they had heard the emperor's letter, the ædiles were excused from so anxious a task, and that luxury of the table which from the close of the war ended at Actium to the armed revolution in which Servius Galba rose to empire, had been practised with profuse expenditure, gradually went out of fashion. It is as well that I should trace the causes of this change. Formerly rich or highly distinguished noble families often sank into ruin from a passion for splendour. Even then men were still at liberty to court and be courted by the city populace, by our allies and by foreign princes, and every one who from his wealth, his mansion and his establishment was conspicuously grand, gained too proportionate lustre by his name and his numerous clientèle. After the savage massacres in which greatness of renown was fatal, the survivors turned to wiser ways. The new men who were often admitted into the Senate from the towns, colonies and even the provinces, introduced their household thrift, and though many of them by good luck or energy attained an old age of wealth, still their former tastes remained. But the chief encourager of strict manners was Vespasian, himself old-fashioned both in his dress and diet. Henceforth a respectful feeling towards the prince and a love of emulation proved more efficacious than legal penalties or terrors. Or possibly there is in all things a kind of cycle, and there may be moral revolutions just as there are changes of seasons. Nor was everything better in the past, but our own age too has produced many specimens of excellence and culture for posterity to imitate. May we still keep up with our ancestors a rivalry in all that is honourable!