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Augustus, Chapter 25: Military affairs. Cont.
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After the conclusion of the civil wars he [Note 1] never, in any of his military harangues, or proclamations, addressed them by the title of fellow-soldiers, but as soldiers only. Nor would he suffer them to be otherwise called by his sons or step-sons, when they were in command; judging the former epithet to convey the idea of a degree of condescension inconsistent with military discipline, the maintenance of order, and his own majesty, and that of his house. Unless at Rome, in case of incendiary fires, or under the apprehension of public disturbances during a scarcity of provisions, he never employed in his army slaves who had been made freedmen, except upon two occasions; on one, for the security of the colonies bordering upon Illyricum, and on the other, to guard the banks of the river Rhine. Although he obliged persons of fortune, both male and female, to give up their slaves, and they received their manumission at once, yet he kept them together under their own standard, unmixed with soldiers who were better born, and armed likewise after different fashion. Military rewards, such as trappings, collars, and other decorations of gold and silver, he distributed more readily than vallarian crowns or mural crowns, which were reckoned more honourable than the former. These he bestowed sparingly, without partiality, and frequently even on common soldiers. He presented Marcus Agrippa, after the naval engagement in the Sicilian war with a sea-green banner. Those who shared in the honours of a triumph, although they had attended him in his expeditions, and taken part in his victories, he judged it improper to distinguish by the usual rewards for service, because they had a right themselves to grant such rewards to whom they pleased. He thought nothing more derogatory to the character of an accomplished general than precipitancy and rashness; on which account he had frequently in his mouth those proverbs: Make haste slowly, And The cautious captain's better than the bold. And That is done fast enough, which is done well enough. He was wont to say also, that a battle or a war ought never to be undertaken, unless the prospect of gain overbalanced the fear of loss. For, said he, men who pursue small advantages with no small hazard, resemble those who fish with a golden hook, the loss of which, if the line should happen to break, could never be compensated by all the fish they might take. |
Note 1: he = Augustus