Emperors & their relations with plebians

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  • Relations with plebs
    • Augustus 27BC - 14AD
      • Gave out money and grain to plebs in times of shortage (Suetonius)
      • Gave handouts of money at his own expense (Res Gestae)
      • On election day he would go out and vote with his tribe to show he was a man of the people
    • Tiberius 14AD - 37AD
      • "Crushes riots without mercy" (Suetonius)
      • Hardly ever attended public shows (Suetonius)
      • Showed large generosity no more than twice (Tacitus and Suetonius)
    • Caligula 37AD -41AD
      • Initially popular with the crowds (Suetonius)
      • Twice presented every pleb with 3 gold pieces (Suetonius)
      • Complained there was no great disaster to win popularity through "political expediency" (Suetonius)
    • Claudius 41AD - 54AD
      • Would rise and clap with an audience at shows
      • Provided employment for 30,000 men for 11 years - the draining of the Fucine lake (Suetonius)
      • Gave magnificent public shows (Suetonius)
    • Nero 54AD - 68AD
      • Gave jobs to those of lower social backgrounds (Suetonius)
      • Disliked by the people as he used their tax money to indulge his interests for personal gain (Suetonius)
      • Keen to show his lavish generosity (Suetonius)
    • Vespasian 69AD - 79AD
      • After fires of 68/69AD - allowed anyone who pleases to take over vacant sites (Suetonius)
      • Built the Flavian Amphitheatre (Suetonius)
      • Wanted to ensure that the working classes had enough money to pay for their food (Suetonius)
      • Attempted to cast himself as a man of the people (Suetonius)
    • Titus 79AD - 81AD
      • Displayed huge generosity (Suetonius)
      • Never let a petitioner leave without some hope that his request would be considered - great political skills (Suetonius)
      • Set up relief operations after the eruption of Vesuvius 79AD (Suetonius)
        • Operation was aborted as it proved too huge an ordeal (from archaeological evidence)
    • Domitian 81AD - 96AD
      • Gave people a choice in what they saw in games (Suetonius)
      • Feast of the Seven Hills - large hampers of food for senators and knights but smaller ones for plebs (Suetonius)
      • Built a number of significant public buildings e.g. a new Forum (Suetonius)
      • Cancels grain distribution (Suetonius)


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