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Gaming among the ancient Roman emperors , chapter 4, page 1

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Volume I Volume II

The Gaming Table by Andrew Steinmetz

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Casino Gambling in history

CHAPTER IV. page 2

But although a satirist by profession, the sleek courtier Horace
spared the emperor's vice, contenting himself with only declaring
that play was forbidden.[27] The two following verses of his,
usually applied to the effects of gaming, really refer only to

[27] Carm. lib. III. Od. xxiv.

Ludus enim genuit trepidum certamen et iram;
Ira truces inimicitias et funebre bellum.[28]

[28] Epist. lib. I. xix.

He, however, has recorded the curious fact of an old Roman
gambler, who was always attended by a slave, to pick up his
dice for him and put them in the box.[29] Doubtless, Horace
would have lashed the vice of gambling had it not been the
`habitual sin' of his courtly patrons.

[29] Lib. II. Sat. vii. v. 15.

It seems that Augustus not only gambled to excess, but that he
gloried in the character of a gamester. Of himself he says,
`Between meals we played like old crones both yesterday and

[30] Inter coenam lusimus et heri et hodie.

When he had no regular players near him, he would play with
children at dice, at nuts, or bones. It has been suggested that
this emperor gave in to the indulgence of gambling in order to
stifle his remorse. If his object in encouraging this vice was
to make people forget his proscriptions and to create a diversion
in his favour, the artifice may be considered equal to any of the
political ruses of this astute ruler, whose false virtues were
for a long time vaunted only through ignorance, or in order to
flatter his imitators.

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