Caesar and the Slave

105. CAESAR AND THE SLAVE. As Tiberius Caesar was upon a progress to Naples once, he put in at a house he had upon the mountain Misenus, which was built there by Lucullus, and commanded a near view of the Tuscan Sea, having a distant prospect even of that of Sicily. Here, as he was walking in the gardens and wildernesses of a most delightful verdure, one of his domestic slaves, which belonged to that house, putting himself in a most alert posture and dress, appeared in one of the walks where the Emperor happened to be, sprinkling the ground with a watering-pot, in order to lay the dust; and this he did so officiously that he was taken notice of, and even laughed at, for he ran through the private alleys and turnings, from one walk to another; so that, wherever the emperor went, he still found this fellow mighty busy with his watering-pot.
But at last his design being discovered, which was, that he fancied Caesar would be so touched with this diligence of his, as to make him free (part of which ceremony consisted in giving the slave a gentle stroke on one side of his face), his imperial majesty, being disposed to be merry, called him to him; and when the man came up, full of joyful expectations of his liberty—“Hark you, friend,” said he, “I have observed that you have been very busy in officiously meddling where you had nothing to do, while you might have employed your time better elsewhere; and therefore I must be so free as to tell you, that you have mistaken your man: I cannot afford a box on the ear at so low a price as you bid for it.” * [more info]

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