The way we were: Extravagance

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The way we were: Extravagance

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Extracts from memoirs and diaries

Nero thought a “fortune could only be enjoyed by squandering it”


Suetonius describes the extravagance of Nero (Roman Emperor from 54 to 68AD):

“He thought a magnificent fortune could only be enjoyed by squandering it, claiming that only miserly people kept a close account of their spending, while gentlemen scattered their wealth extravagantly. Nothing so stirred his admiration and envy of Caligula, his uncle, as the way he had run through Tiberius’s vast legacy in such a short space of time. So he showered gifts on people and poured money away.

He spent eight thousand gold pieces a day on King Tiridates though it seems barely believable, and made him a gift on parting of more than a million. He presented Menecrates the lyre-player and Spiculus the gladiator with mansions and property worthy of those who had celebrated triumphs, and gifted the monkey-faced moneylender Paneros town-houses and country estates, burying

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