Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Twelve Caesars - page 296, Titus

Titus' reign was marked by a series of dreadful catastrophes - an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Campania (The eruption that destroyed Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, and Oplontis.), a fire at Rome which burned for three days and nights, and one of the worst outbreaks of plague that had ever been known. Throughout this assortment of disasters, he showed far more than an Emperor's concern ... . He ... devoted the property of those who had died in the eruption and left no heirs to a fund for rebuilding the stricken cities. ... He stripped his own country mansions of their decorations, distributed these among the public buildings and temples [stricken by the fire], and appointed a body of knights to see that his orders were promptly carried out. Titus attempted to cure the plague and limit its ravages by every imaginable means, human as well as divine - resorting to all sorts of sacrifices and medical remedies.

This passage portrays Titus as having a genuine affinity for his people and a concern for their welfare. If it is to be believed, this account demonstrates the emperor's eagerness to give of his own personal belongings to help relieve the sufferings of his subjects. This could be the best example of a benevolent dictator that we have from ancient history.

Well, benevolent toward his own people. There is that whole destruction of the Jewish Temple thing, too.

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