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The Atlantic / The Exotic Animal Traffickers of Ancient Rome

In what might be the world’s oldest recorded awkward situation, the Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero spent much of his term as Cilicia’s governor trying to ignore a very specific request from his former legal client Marcus Caelius Rufus. In several letters sent over the better part of a year, Caelius repeatedly begged Cicero to capture and send him a group of local leopards. He needed the animals, he explained, because he was trying to launch his political career—and nothing won over voters’ hearts better than live exotic animal hunts in the arena. Caelius’s opponent Curio had no trouble collecting exotic animals from his governor friends—why couldn’t Cicero spare a few of his local beasts?

As Cicero explained in a letter to another friend, Atticus, he simply wasn’t comfortable taking advantage of his position in this way: “I have said that it is inconsistent with my character that the people of Cibyra should hunt at the public expense while I am governor.”…

Lire l’article de Caroline Wazer sur https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/03/exotic-animals-ancient-rome/475704/

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