Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
593. TIBERIUS CAESAR AND HIS ATTENDANT
Perry 489 (Phaedrus
There is a whole population of busybodies at Rome running all over
the place excitedly, occupied without any true occupation, huffing and
puffing at frivolous pursuits, and making much out of nothing. They are
an annoyance to each other and utterly despised by everyone else. Yet
I would like to try to correct this crowd, if possible, by means of a
true story: it is one worth listening to.
Tiberius Caesar was on his way to Naples and had arrived at his estate
in Misenum which had been built by Lucullus on a high hill overlooking
the Sicilian sea on one side and the Tuscan sea on the other. When Caesar
was walking about in the cheerful greenery, one of his household stewards
turned up, dressed in a fancy fringed tunic of Egyptian cotton hanging
down from his shoulders. The man began to sprinkle the sizzling hot ground
with water from a wooden basin, making a great show of his diligence as
Caesar's attendant, but everyone just laughed at him. The man then ran
ahead to the next walkway, using some shortcuts known only to himself,
and he started settling the dust in that spot as well. When Caesar recognized
the man and realized what he was doing, he said, 'Hey you!' The man scampered
up to Caesar, excited at the joyful prospect of what seemed a sure reward.
Then Caesar's majestic person made the following joke: 'You have not accomplished
much and your efforts have come to naught; if you want me to give you
the slap that makes you a freedman, it will cost you much more than that!'
was a prominent Roman of the first century B.C.E., notorious for his
luxurious way of life. Tiberius
Caesar, successor to Augustus, reigned from 14 C.E. until his death
in 37 C.E. The alapa was a ritual slap which formed part of the legal
procedure for a slave's manumission in Rome.
Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura
Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.