By Bruce Buchan, Lisa Hill (auth.)
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225 In fact, tipping was carried on in all respectable Roman homes as well as in public, ensuring that the line between generosity and bribery was continually blurred. 3. Bribes or gifts? Despite all the legal strictures and high-minded moralising about bribery, the distinction between a gift and a bribe seems to have been very unstable in the classical period. In this murky atmosphere, even men of honour could make an honest mistake: take the case of Julius Bassus, a former governor charged by the Senate with having ‘naively and unguardedly accepted things from the provincials as a friend of theirs’.
Oute pante, outa pantote, oute para panton [not all, nor always, nor from all]’. After all, ‘it is too uncivil to accept from nobody, but contemptible to take from every quarter, and grasping, to accept everything’. 256 7. Conclusion Rome – and to a lesser extent, Athens – may have been a pioneer of modern bureaucracy and governance, but they could not lay claim to the kind of ethic of public administration we are familiar with in industrialised democracies today, one that emphasises a ﬁrm distinction between public and private interests.
Prior to Rome’s greatness, waxes Sallust with unabashed nostalgia, ‘good morals were cultivated at home and in the ﬁeld’ and ‘justice and probity prevailed’. 105 However, when Rome ‘had grown great’ through its own efforts as well as through the ‘forced’ subjugation of ‘mighty people’, the population grew spoiled and no longer able to ‘bear hardship and dangers, anxiety and adversity’. Now, ‘leisure and wealth’ became the people’s ‘burden and . . curse’ as ‘lust for money’ and power ‘grew upon them’.