The Essays of Montaigne/Book I/Chapter LII

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The Essays of Montaigne by Michel de Montaigne, translated by Charles Cotton
Chapter LII. Of the parsimony of the Ancients.

Chapter LII. Of the parsimony of the Ancients.[edit]


Attilius Regulus, general of the Roman army in Africa, in the height of
all his glory and victories over the Carthaginians, wrote to the Republic
to acquaint them that a certain hind he had left in trust with his
estate, which was in all but seven acres of land, had run away with all
his instruments of husbandry, and entreating therefore, that they would
please to call him home that he might take order in his own affairs, lest
his wife and children should suffer by this disaster. Whereupon the
Senate appointed another to manage his business, caused his losses to be
made good, and ordered his family to be maintained at the public expense.

The elder Cato, returning consul from Spain, sold his warhorse to save
the money it would have cost in bringing it back by sea into Italy; and
being Governor of Sardinia, he made all his visits on foot, without other
train than one officer of the Republic who carried his robe and a censer
for sacrifices, and for the most part carried his trunk himself. He
bragged that he had never worn a gown that cost above ten crowns, nor had
ever sent above tenpence to the market for one day's provision; and that
as to his country houses, he had not one that was rough-cast on the
outside.

Scipio AEmilianus, after two triumphs and two consulships, went an
embassy with no more than seven servants in his train. 'Tis said that
Homer had never more than one, Plato three, and Zeno, founder of the sect
of Stoics, none at all. Tiberius Gracchus was allowed but fivepence
halfpenny a day when employed as public minister about the public
affairs, and being at that time the greatest man of Rome.