Magazine article The Spectator

Philanthropic Pride

Magazine article The Spectator

Philanthropic Pride

Article excerpt

Sir Paul Ruddock has revealed that he received his knighthood for none but philanthropic reasons. Every ancient would have cheered him to the roof and wondered why bankers like Sir Paul do not front up more about their beneficence.

Those who go round a classical site or museum will find themselves regularly bumping into inscriptions on statue bases, with or without statue, publicly proclaiming the benefits which the person so celebrated has bestowed on the town. Such a mark of honour was, as Aristotle said, 'what we assign to the gods as their due and is desired by the eminent and awarded as their prize'.

Greeks and Romans alike were quite open in admitting that 'honour' was their motive for giving. Some even stated the precise conditions: 'My gift is to be inscribed on three marble stones, one by my house, one in the temple, and one in the gymnasium, ' said a Greek from Gytheion. More generous donors, like the Libyan Flavius Lappianus, would even pay for the monument to be set up themselves, 'being content with the honour alone', as he said. …

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