Tuesday, 16 August 2005
Tiberius and Freedom of Speech
The Emperor Tiberius is not known for his support of democratic values. However, Suetonius has an interesting, if not amusing account of his attitude to people who said bad things about him or his family.
He was, moreover, quite unperturbed by abuse, slander, or lampoons on himself and his family and would often say that liberty to speak and think as one pleases is the test of a free country. When the Senate asked that those who had offended in this way should be brought to book, he replied: 'We cannot spare the time to undertake any such new enterprise. Open that window and you will let in such a rush of denunciations as to waste your whole working day; everyone will take this opportunity of airing some private feud.' A remarkably modest statement of his is recorded in the 'Proceedings of the Senate': 'If So-and-so challenges me, I shall lay before you a careful account of what I have said and done; if that does not satisfy him, I shall reciprocate his dislike of me.'
Posted by Anna at Tuesday, August 16, 2005