Montesquieu

In des­po­tic govern­ments, where, as we have said, a per­son is moti­va­ted to act only by the expec­ta­tion of the ame­ni­ties of life, the prince who rewards has nothing but money to give. In a monar­chy, where honor alone rei­gns, the prince would reward only by dis­tinc­tions, if the dis­tinc­tions which honor ins­ti­tu­tes were not accom­pa­nied by a luxury that neces­sa­rily pro­vo­kes needs : the prince the­re­fore rewards with honors that lead to for­tune. But in a repu­blic, where vir­tue rei­gns, a motive which suf­fi­ces unto itself and exclu­des all others, the state rewards only by bea­ring wit­ness to that vir­tue.

It is a gene­ral rule that great rewards in a monar­chy and in a repu­blic are a sign of their deca­dence, because they prove that their prin­ci­ples are cor­rup­ted : that, first, the idea of honor has lost much of its force, and secondly, that the qua­lity of citi­zen has dete­rio­ra­ted.

The worst Roman empe­rors were those who gave the most, for ins­tance Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Otho, Vitellius, Commodus, Elagabalus, and Caracalla. The best, like Augustus, Vespasian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, and Pertinax, were fru­gal. Under the good empe­rors the state resu­med its prin­ci­ples ; the trea­sury of honor sup­ple­men­ted the other trea­su­ries.