Gesta Romanorum Vol. I (1871)/Of Extortion

Gesta Romanorum Vol. I  (1871) 
Anonymous, translated by Charles Swan
Of Extortion



Josephus mentions, that Tiberius Cæsar, inquiring why the governors of provinces remained so long in office, was answered by an example. "I have seen," said the respondent, "an infirm man covered with ulcers, grievously tormented by a swarm of flies. When asked why he did not use a flap and drive off his tormentors, he answered, 'The very circumstance which you think would relieve me, would, in effect, promote tenfold suffering. For by driving away the flies now saturated with my blood, I should afford an opportunity to those that were empty and hungry to supply their place. And who doubts that the biting of a hungry insect is not ten thousand times more painful than that of one completely gorged,—unless the person attacked, be stone, and not flesh.'" (52)


My beloved, governors who are already enriched by plunder, are less likely to continue their oppression than they who are poor and needy.

Note 52.Page 172.

I have met with a similar story in a modern book of fables under the following form.

"One hot day in summer, a boar, covered with wounds, threw himself beneath the shadow of a large tree, where he was grievously tormented by innumerable swarms of flies. A fox, who was passing by, drew near; and good-naturedly offered to drive away the obnoxious insects. 'Let them alone, my friend,' said the boar; 'these flies are glutted, and unable to do me much further injury. But if they are driven off, others will supply their places, and at this rate, I shall not have a drop of blood left in my body.'"