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SOCIAL CHANGES IN VALUES BETWEEN THE SECOND AND THE FIRST CENTURY B.C.

Riches changed the way of living and they allowed the greed for money to became very common in Roman society. Bad habits spread more quickly than the good values and according to Sallustius'  words people didn't try to oppose to bad habits which became very similar to a pestilence (…haec primo paulatim crescere, interdum vindicari; post …contagio quasi pestilentia invasit… Sall. B. Cat.,10) . People started to became greedy, not only for virtue, but also for money and then for social power. Money and social power fed the other bad habits. Love for money taught to think God was not important, to think a thing and to tell another, to judge a friend or an enemy according to the personal advantage (…igitur primo pecuniae, deinde imperi cupido crevit. […]…ea quasi materies omnium malorum fuere…[…] …deos neglegere, omnia venalia habere edocuit. […] …multos mortalis falsos fieri subegit, aliud clausum in pectore, alius in linguam promtum habere, amicitia inimicitiasque non ex re, sed ex commodo aestumare. Sall. B. Cat.,10). People got more money than they needed, and so they started to use it without a reason, to dissipate it for feasts, jewels and things they didn't need. They tried to level lands and to cover the sea, because they longed to build their houses with a panoramic view. Sallustius wrote:"Nam quid ea memorem, quae nisi iis quae videre nemini credibilia sunt, a privati compluribus subvorsos montis, maria contrastata esse?" (Why do I have to remember facts that anyone could believe, except for the people who saw them, about levelling lands and covering seas?). And when the wealth of a family was not enough to satisfy these "needs", people started to steal and rob, because they had to provide their caprices (… ubi familiares opes defecerant, ad facinora incedebant … Sall. B. Cat.,13).

mosaico
Sirmione, Catullus' villa : Museum
Mosaic.

 

Marco Bodini e Francesco Magalini