Dominum

Augustus cameo
The emperor Augustus

Domini appellationem ut maledictum et opprobrium semper exhorruit. cum spectante eo ludos pronuntiatum esset in mimo: “o dominum aequum et bonum!” et universi quasi de ipso dictum exsultantes comprobassent, et statim manu vultuque indecoras adulationes repressit et insequenti die gravissimo corripuit edicto; dominumque se posthac appellari ne a liberis quidem aut nepotibus suis vel serio vel ioco passus est atque eius modi blanditias etiam inter ipsos prohibuit. non temere urbe oppidove ullo egressus aut quoquam ingressus est nisi vespera aut noctu, ne quem officii causa inquietaret. in consulatu pedibus fere, extra consulatum saepe adoperta sella per publicum incessit. promiscuis salutationibus admittebat et plebem, tanta comitate adeuntium desideria excipiens, ut quendam ioco corripuerit, quod sic sibi libellum porrigere dubitaret, “quasi elephanto stipem.” die senatus numquam patres nisi in curia salutavit et quidem sedentes ac nominatim singulos nullo submonente; etiam discedens eodem modo sedentibus valere dicebat. officia cum multis mutuo exercuit, nec prius dies cuiusque sollemnes frequentare desiit, quam grandior iam natu et in turba quondam sponsaliorum die vexatus. Gallum Cerrinium senatorem minus sibi familiarem, sed captum repente oculis et ob id inedia mori destinantem praesens consolando revocavit ad vitam.
(Suetonius, Div. Aug. 53)

He always shrank from the title ‘Master’ as an insult and a reproach. On one occasion at the games when he was watching a farce, the line was spoken: ‘O good and just master!’ and the whole audience indicated their enthusiastic agreement, as if the words were addressed to the emperor. He immediately called a halt to their unbecoming adulation with his gesture and expression and, on the next day, reproached them most severely in an edict. Thereafter he would not even allow his children and grandchildren to call him ‘master’, whether jokingly or in earnest, and forbade them to use such obsequious titles even among themselves. Almost always his arrival at or departure from Rome or any other town was in the evening or at night so that people would not be troubled by the need to pay him respect. When consul, he went about in public places on foot and at other times in a sedan chair. All and sundry were permitted to attend his receptions, including the common people, and he acknowledged the wishes of his petitioners with such good humour that once he teased a man that he was as nervous of handing over his petition as if he were giving a present to an elephant. On days when the senate met, he always greeted the senators in the senate house, addressing each by name with no one prompting him, while they remained in their seats. Even as he left, he would pay his respects in the same manner, while they stayed seated. In the case of many, he discharged the mutual obligations of friendship, and did not fail to attend all their feast days until he was advanced in years and had once been made uncomfortable by the crowd at a betrothal ceremony. When the senator Gallus Cerrinius had suddenly lost his sight and decided to end his life by starvation, Augustus went in person to console him, though he was not a close friend, and persuaded him to live. (tr. Catharine Edwards)

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