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Gift and GainHow Money Transformed Ancient Rome$
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Neil Coffee

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190496432

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190496432.001.0001

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Caesar’s Wicked Gifts

Caesar’s Wicked Gifts

(p.115) 10 Caesar’s Wicked Gifts
Gift and Gain

Neil Coffee

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how Julius Caesar fully exploited the socioeconomic climate of late Republican Rome for his political advancement and so helped accelerate the pressures on gift giving and the shift to commodity culture. Caesar was renowned for his beneficence, because his generosity to friends and the people, as well as his clemency, surpassed those of his peers. In fact, Caesar refers to his generosity as part of a well-considered political strategy to win favor. And his critics saw him as in fact a “money-maker,” who took whatever resources he could from others to give out as gifts and build a following. With his actions, Caesar therefore contributed to a hollowing-out of the values of Roman gift culture.

Keywords:   Julius Caesar, clemency, generosity, money, Sulla

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