Plebs

HideShow resource information

Introduction

  • What did emperors do for the public?
  • Money Distrubutions, Grain Supply, Entertainment, Buildings/Aqueducts
  • Building works would also supply employment 
  • The Games: Good for the emperor to be seen there taking part in watching but not be over enthusiastic like Nero and Gaius. Tiberius not enthusiastic enough. Augustus is the emperor that really gets it right. 
1 of 9

Augustus

  • Monetary Donations: details about the money he distributes to the people RES GESTAE, SUETONIUS AUG 41
  • In AD2 he accepted superintendence of the corn supply RES GESTAE 
  • In times of food shortage he sold grain at a very cheap rate and occasionally he supplied it free of charge SUETONIUS AUG 41
  • 'His cheap food policy was successful bait for civilians' TACITUS ANNALS 1.2
  • He thought about taking away the grain supply SUETONIUS AUG 42
  • Ballet dancers 'Augustus himself liked this sort of entertainment and thought it looked democratic to join in the people's entertainments' TACITUS ANNALS 1.53
  • 'None of Augustus's predecessors had ever provided so many, so different, or such splendid public shows' SUETONIUS AUG 43
  • Augustus talks about gladiatorial shows he puts on RES GESTAE. also backed up in SUETONIUS
  • Naval battle he puts on RES GESTAE
2 of 9

Tiberius

  • Monetary donations: 'In the name of Germanicus the emperor distributed 300 sesterces a head to the population' TACITUS ANNALS 1.76
  • 'Tiberius showed large scale generosity no more than twice' goes on to describe how Tiberius offered a public loan free of interest for three yrs and how he paid for some houses on the Cyrene hill to be rebuilt after they were destroyed in a fire. SUETONIUS TIB 48
  • Reference to him giving money to rebuilding houses on the Aventine hill TACITUS ANNALS 6.44
  • Gladiator show in the name of Germanicus and Drusus but Tiberius stayed away - reasons given 'dislike of crowds, his natural glumness, or unwillingness to be compared with Augustus, who had cheerfully attended' TACITUS ANNALS 1.76
  • 'He gave no public shows at all, and hardly ever attended those given by others' SUETONIUS TIB 47. possibly afraid plebs would ask him for things (on one occasion he was asked to buy the freedom of a slave.
  • People were angry about the expense of corn. Tiberius fixed the sale price and promised a subsidy of two sesterces a bushel for dealers TACITUS ANNALS 2.86
  • The public suffered from high food prices but it was not the emperor's fault - 'he spared neither money nor labour combatting bad harvests and stormy seas' TACITUS ANNALS 4.7
  • 'high price of corn nearly caused riots'. Tiberius enumerated the provinces he was getting corn from even more extensively than Augustus. TACITUS ANNALS 6.13
3 of 9

Gaius

  • Monetary donations: 'he twice presented every member of the commons with 3 gold pieces' SUETONIUS GAIUS 17
  • Entertainment: 'hardly a day passed when there was not some...performance' DIO 
  • Gaius held lots of gladiatorial contests and theatrical shows - he even scattered vouchers for gifts in front of the plebs SUETONIUS GAIUS 18
  • He also liked to stir up trouble for example during gladiatorial shows he would remove the canopies at the hottest time of day and forbid people to leave SUETONIUS GAIUS 26
  • 'he pleased the rabble' but 'distressed the sensible people'. liked to stir up trouble and cause chaos DIO 
  • 'he often prayed for a great military catastrophe or for famine, plague, fire, or at least an earthquake' SUETONIUS GAIUS 31
4 of 9

Claudius

  • Monetary donations: 'Claudius often distributed largesse to the people' SUETONIUS CLAUDIUS 21
  • put on games for his father's birthday. SUETONIUS CLAUDIUS 11
  • Would not allow the day of Gaius' assassination to be a public festival even though it marked the beginning of his rule. SUETONIUS CLAUDIUS 11
  • staged naval battle TACITUS 
  • 'gave magnificent public shows...including novelties and ancient revivals' SUETONIUS CLAUDIUS 21
  • One time of famine only 15 days supply of food TACITUS ANNALS - Claudius tried to sort situation but not much could be done 
  • After severe famine Claudius considered how to deal with future similar situations DIO 
  • 'Claudius always interested himself in the proper upkeep of the city and the regular arrival of grain supplies' SUETONIUS CLAUDIUS 18
  • Angry mob targeting Claudius about food shortage - in response he 'took all posible steps to import grain' and made sure merchants' ships were insured in case damaged in bad weather
  • finished an aqueduct started by Gaius and built the harbour at Ostia SUETONIUS CLAUDIUS 20
5 of 9

Nero

  • lowered or abolished some of the heavier taxes. gave gifts to the people of 400 sesterces each SUETONIUS NERO 10
  • great variety of entertainments e.g. chariot races, plays, parties. wanted everyone to take part and he took part as well 'raced four-camel chariots' SUETONIUS NERO 11
  • People were not very happy, Nero kept grain prices quite high SUETONIUS NERO 45
  • Great Fire: SUETONIUS says he set the fire himself. also describes how he started a fire relief fund and demanded contributions that the people could barely afford
  • TACTIUS says he 'constructed emergency accomodation for the destitute multitude' and also cut the price of the corn in the aftermath of the fire. 
  • introduced laws limiting public expenditure like Augustus did.
6 of 9

Vespasian

  • Let people build on vacant sites. He also built an amphitheatre in the middle of the city SUETONIUS VESPASIAN 8-9
  • Did not hide his lowly origins - acting like one with the people SUETONIUS VESPASIAN 12 also talk in SUETONIUS about how Vespasian was always cracking jokes and being good natured
  • Paid Latin and Greek teachers a regular annual salary of 100,000 sesterces. Awarded prizes to leading poets and artists. Vesp said he has to 'always ensure that the working classes earn enough money to buy themselves food' SUETONIUS VESPASIAN 18
7 of 9

Titus

  • Parties he kept going through the night SUETONIUS TITUS 7
  • Held dinner parties for friends, put on gladiator shows, staged a sea fight SUETONIUS TITUS 8
  • He opened the colosseum (INSCRIPTION)
  • Volcano eruption - showed more than an emperor's concern, more like that of a father for his children, helped victims 'to the utmost extent of his purse'. took down decorations in his own mansions and distributed them among damaged temples and public buildings SUETONIUS TITUS 8
  • Attempted to control the plague by every means necessary resorting to all sacrifices and medical remedies
8 of 9

Domitian

  • Lots of entertainment in the Colosseum and Circus e.g. chariot races, battle stagings, sea fights etc. 'women as well as men took part'. 'instituted foot races for girls in the stadium' (making sure everyone able to take part) SUETONIUS DOMITIAN 4
  • 'On three occasions Domitian distributed a popular bounty of three gold pieces a head' SUETONIUS DOMITIAN 4
  • He restored many buildings damaged in fire but he allowed no names but his own to be inscribed on them SUETONIUS DOMITIAN 5
  • He cancelled the public grain issue - did what other emperor's only thought of. SUETONIUS DOMITIAN 7 MARTIAL EPIGRAMS backs this up two times in his own writing suggesting the removal of the free grain distributions was major in Rome. 
9 of 9

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Ancient History resources:

See all Ancient History resources »See all Plebs resources »