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August 19, 2011     Post-Gazette
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Page2 POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 19, 2011 Stirpe Nostra M by Prof. Edmund Turiello D A weekly column highlighting some of the more interesting aspects of our ancestry.., our lineage.., our roots. VESPASIAN THE CONNIVER It cannot easily be proved that any innocent person was ever punished except in Vespasian's absence or without his knowledge. His only vice was a love for money. He not only revived the taxes that were repealed by Galba, but added new and heavier ones. In some cases he actually doubled the taxes that were to be paid by the provinces. During the ear- lier years of his reign, the city was unsightly because of past fires and failing buildings. Anyone was per- mitted to take possession of vacant sites and build upon them if the rightful owners failed to do so. Vespasian began the restoration of Rome in person and was the first to start clearing the debris; some of it he even carried off on his own back. He made no bones about selling offices to candidates and even acquittals to those being prosecuted, whether innocent or guilty. One of his favorite tricks was to pro- mote the most corrupt of his administrators to higher positions so that they might further enrich themselves. Later he would condemn them and confiscate their ill-gotten gains. It was said that he used these men as sponges, soaking them when dry and squeezing them when wet. His passion for money even caused him to tax the use of public con- veniences. When his son Titus found fault with him for doing such a thing he held one of the coins to his son's nose and asked if the odor was offensive. When Titus 'said "No," he replied, "It comes from urine." While emperor, Vespasian rose very early and read his correspondence, the reports of officials and then admitted visitors while he was dressing. After taking care of the business of the state he would take a drive and then nap with one of his several concubines. He then bathed and dined, and at no other time during the day was he more good na- tured. Friends and members of the household generally waited for this time before making their requests. Vespasian was driven by necessity to raise money for the public treasury because of its desperate financial condition. He gave needy politicians an annual sti- pend, restored many cities that had fallen into disrepair and he encouraged the arts. He accomplished all of this while at the same time his financial management was marked by great economy. He was never ashamed of the social level of his origin and was never annoyed at satire or ridicule. He was most generous to all classes of citizens, given needy ex- consuls an annual stipend and restor-ing or rebuilding many cities throughout the empire which had suffered from fires or earthquakes. He encouraged men of talent and the arts, estab- lished salaries for Latin and Greek teachers of rhetoric and rewarded artists. One day, he was ap- proached by a woman who said that she was dying of love for him, so he saved her from this imagined death by taking her to his bed. Her feelings must have been genuine because he gave her four hundred thousand sesterces (about $20,000) for her favors. When asked how this sum should be recorded on his book of accounts, he replied: "A pas- sion for Vespasian." NEXT WEEK: Vaspasian' s Colosseum SAVETnE DATE North End Reunion 1 Join us on Thursday, September 22, 2011 from 6:00 pm-10:00 pm at Spinelli's, Route One South, Lynnfield, MA for dinner and dancing. Music from the '50s and '60s. Limited to 250 people. Call early, deadline to purchase tickets is September 2, 2011. Contact Lolly Ciampa at 781-938-9254 or Ro-Ro DeMarco at 781-284-5945. Boston Water and Sewer Is Coming to Your Neighborhood A Boston Water and Sewer Commission Community Services Department representative will be in your neighborhood at the place, dates, and times listed here. Our representative will be available to: ' Accept payments. (Check or money order only-no cash, please.) V' Process discount forms for senior citizens and disabled people. =/Resolve billing or service complaints. =/Review water consumption data for your property. =/Arrange payment plans for delinquent accounts. Need more information? Call the Community Services Department at 617-989-7000. Boston Water and Sewer Commission 980 Harrison Avenue Boston, MA 02119 www.bwsc.org Res Publica by Dav =rurnbu/1 Berlin Wall, 1961-1989 Fifty years ago this month East German Communist dictators imprisoned the residents of East Berlin behind a concrete "wall of shame." The Cold War of 1946 to 1991 between Communistic oppression and Western freedom got several degrees chillier. It would stay chilly for many years, and a prolonged stand-off between the free West and enslaved East was accepted by too many American leaders as an established fact to be acknowledge, accepted and managed, but not challenged. All that changed when Ronald Reagan became President. "My idea of American policy toward the Soviet Union is simple, and some would say simplistic," said Mr. Reagan to an advisor back in 1977, "It is this: We win and they lose. What do you think of that?" Mr. Reagan found an ally in the fight against Communism in British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. "Freedom and democracy will leave Marxism and Leninis on the ash heap of history," Mr. Reagan accurately predicted in a June 8, 1982 speech in the the British House of Commons. On June 12, 1987, President Reagan called out Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev when, standing in front of the Berlin Wall and with Berliners on both sides able to hear him, Mr. Reagan said: "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gerbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" The wall did come down starting on November 9, 1989. The rest of Soviet Communism soon followed. Polish-born and reared Pope John Paul II lent the moral weight of his office to Solidarity, the independent, Polish labor union which successfully challenged the regime in that nation. Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev is often cited as having said, "The collapse of the Iron Curtain would have been impossible without John Paul II." For nearly 50 years, from the end of World War II to the beginning of the 1990s, America faced an enemy unlike any we had known before. Victory was not won, as in WWII, by dropping more and bigger bombs, nor, as in WWI, by wear- ing out an enemy with a war of attrition, nor, as in our Revolutionary war, by unconventional fighting techniques combined with assistance from foreign allies to defeat a larger, stronger and better equipped foe. Communist ide- ology and thuggery collapsed under its own weight of lies once leaders such as Thatcher, Reagan and Pope John Paul II stood up to it. Today, we again face an enemy un- like conventional military foes. Defeating the terrorists bent on destroying our way of life will, likewise, require new leaders who can recognize and stand up to a new sort of enemy. A SPECIAL Thank A special thank you to the North End Children's Center. We will never forget you, and we will miss all of you very much. We thank you for all your patience and kindness for all the years you cared for us. Love always, Michael and Sophia Buttiri.