On Clemency, Book I, X

Your great-great-grandfather spared the vanquished: for whom could he have ruled over, had he not spared them?

He recruited Sallustins, the Cocceii, the Deillii, and the whole inner circle of his court from the camp of his opponents. Soon afterwards his clemency gave him a Domitius, a Messala, an Asinius, a Cicero, and all the flower of the State.

For what a long time he waited for Lepidus to die: for years he allowed him to retain all the insignia of royalty, and did not allow the office of Pontifex Maximus to be conferred upon himself until after Lepidus’s death; for he wished it to be called a honourable office rather than a spoil stripped from a vanquished foe.

It was this clemency which made him end his days in safety and security: this it was which rendered him popular and beloved, although he had laid his hands on the neck of the Romans when they were still unused to bearing the yoke: this gives him even at the present day a reputation such as hardly any prince has enjoyed during his own lifetime.

“We believe him to be a god, and not merely because we are bidden to do so.

We declare that Augustus was a good emperor, and that he was well worthy to bear his parent’s name, for no other reason than because he did not even show cruelty in avenging personal insults, which most princes feel more keenly than actual injuries; because he smiled at scandalous jests against himself, because it was evident that he himself suffered when he punished others, because he was so far from putting to death even those whom he had convicted of intriguing with his daughter, that when they were banished he gave them passports to enable them to travel more safely.

When you know that there will be many who will take your quarrel upon themselves, and will try to gain your favour by the murder of your enemies, you do indeed pardon them if you not only grant them their lives but ensure that they shall not lose them.