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Quotes of Tiberius

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)


Tiberius (Tiberius Claudius Nero ) who lived in the years 42 BCE – 37 CE. Roman emperor in the years 14 – 37 CE.

  • “It is of a good shepherd to shear his flock, not to flay them”
    • latin: [Boni pastoris est tondere pecus, non deglubere]
    • source: Suetonius, Tiberius, 32
  • “If So-and-so challenges me, I shall lay before you a careful account of what I have said and done; if he should continue, I shall reciprocate his dislike of me”
    • latin: [Siquidem locutus aliter fuerit, dabo operam ut rationem factorum meorum dictorumque reddam; si perseveraverit, in vicem eum odero]
    • source: Suetonius, Tiberius, 28
  • “What to write to you, Conscript Fathers, or how to write, or what not to write at this time, may all the gods and goddesses pour upon my head a more terrible vengeance than that under which I feel myself daily sinking, if I can tell”
    • latin: [Quid scribam vobis, p[atres]. c[onscripti]., aut quo modo scribam, aut quid omnino non scribam hoc tempore, dii me deaeque peius perdant quam cotidie perire sentio, si scio]
    • source: Suetonius, Tiberius, 67
  • “A great number of flies came about the sore places of a man that had been wounded; upon which one of the standers-by pitied the man’s misfortune, and thinking he was not able to drive those flies away himself, was going to drive them away for him; but he prayed him to let them alone: the other, by way of reply, asked him the reason of such a preposterous proceeding, in preventing relief from his present misery; to which he answered, “If thou drivest these flies away, thou wilt hurt me worse; for as these are already full of my blood, they do not crowd about me, nor pain me so much as before, but are somewhat more remiss, while the fresh ones that come almost famished, and find me quite tired down already, will be my destruction. For this cause, therefore, it is that I am myself careful not to send such new governors perpetually to those my subjects, who are already sufficiently harassed by many oppressions, as may, like these flies, further distress them; and so, besides their natural desire of gain, may have this additional incitement to it, that they expect to be suddenly deprived of that pleasure which they take in it”
    • description: in response to the accusation that the same provincial governors have been held for too long.
    • source: Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, VI, 5
  • “I say now and have often said before, Fathers of the Senate, that a well-disposed and helpful prince, to whom you have given such great and unrestrained power, ought to be the servant of the senate, often of the citizens as a whole, and sometimes even of individuals. I do not regret my words, but I have looked upon you as kind, just, and indulgent masters, and still so regard you”
    • latin: [Dixi et nunc et saepe alias, p[atres]. c[onscripti]., bonum et salutarem principem, quem vos tanta et tam libera potestate instruxistis, senatui servire debere et universis civibus saepe et plerumque etiam singulis; neque id dixisse me paenitet, et bono et aequos et faventes vos habui dominos et adhuc habeo]
    • source: Suetonius, Tiberius, 29
  • “In a free country there should be free speech and free thought.”
    • latin: [In civitate libera linguam mentemque liberas esse debere (jactabat)]
    • source: Suetonius, Tiberius, 28

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