Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hedging in Roman times.

Augustus Caesar, was returning back to Rome, triumphantly, after having defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium. No one in Rome was sure, which side would win the battle, but the victory of Augustus ended the Roman civil war. On is journey home, Augustus was greeted by a man with a Raven which had been taught to say "Greetings to Caesar, our victorious commander" Augustus was impressed by the bird and moved by the mans loyalty, as it would have taken many a months to train the raven, and the outcome of the civil war had been by no means certain. As a reward the man was given 20,000 sesterces for the bird.
The man had a business partner and he did not share any of this good fortune with him. The angry partner approached Augustus and told him that the bird trainer had a second Raven, which Augustus must also inspect. Augustus summoned the bird, which repeated a phrase of its own; in this case "Greetings to Antony, our victorious commander" Looked like the trainer was after all not that loyal and had cleverly hedged his bets. Augustus was amused, rather than angry (the trainer was truly fortunate I must say) by the duplicitous scheme and punished the man only by ordering him to share the money with his partner.

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