free lunch observance of the law and example


Observance I
Pietro Aretino, son of a lowly shoemaker, had catapulted hirnself into farne
as a writer of biting satires. But like every Renaissance artist, he needed to
find a patron who would give hirn a comfortable lifestyle while not inter-
fering with his work. In 1528 Aretino decided to attempt a new strategy in
the patronage game. Leaving Rome, he established hirnself in Venice,
where few had heard of hirn. He had a fair amount of money he had managed to save, but little else. Soon after he moved into his new horne, however, he threw open its doors to rich and poor, regaling them with
banquets and amusements. He befriended each and every gondolier, tipping them royally. In the streets, he spread his money liberally, giving it
away to beggars, orphans, washerwomen. Among the city's commoners,
word quickly spread that Aretino was more than just a great writer, he was
a man of power-a kind of lord.

 Artists and men of influence so on began to frequent Aretino's house.
Within a few years he made hirnself a celebrity; no visiting dignitary would
think of leaving Venice without paying hirn a call. His generosity had cost
hirn most of his savings, but had bought hirn influence and a good namea cornerstone in the foundation of power. Since in Renaissance Italy as
elsewhere the ability to spend freely was the privilege of the rich, the aristocracy thought Aretino had to be a man of influence, since he spent
money like one. And since the influence of a man of influence is worth
buying, Aretino became the recipient of all sorts of gifts and moneys.
Dukes and duchesses, wealthy merchants, and popes and princes competed to gain his favor, and showered hirn with all kinds of presents.
Aretino's spending habits, of course, were strategie, and the strategy
worked like a charm. But for real money and comfort he needed a great
patron's bottomless pockets.

 Having surveyed the possibilities, he eventually set his sights on the extremely wealthy Marquis of Mantua, and wrote
an epic poem that he dedicated to the marquis. This was a common practice of writers looking for patronage: In exchange for a dedication they
would get a small stipend, enough to write yet another poem, so that they
spent their lives in a kind of constant servility. Aretino, however, wanted
power, not a measly wage. He might dedicate a poem to the marquis, but
he would offer it to hirn as a gift, implying by doing so that he was not a
hired hack looking for a stipend but that he and the marquis were equals.
Aretino's gift-giving did not stop there: As a elose friend of two of
Venice's greatest artists, the sculptor Jacopo Sansovino and the painter
Titian, he convinced these men to participate in his gift-giving scheme.
Aretino had studied the marquis before going to work on hirn, and knew
his taste inside and out; he was able to advise Sansovino and Titian what
subject matter would please the marquis most. When he then sent a Sansovino sculpture and a Titian painting to the marquis as gifts from all three of
them, the man was beside hirnself with joy.
Over the next few months, Aretino sent other gifts-swords, saddles,
the glass that was a Venetian specialty, things he knew the marquis prized.
Soon he, Titian, and Sansovino began to receive gifts from the marquis in
return. And the strategy went further: When the son-in-Iaw of a friend of
Aretino's found hirnself in jail in Mantua, Aretino was able to get the marquis to arrange his release. Aretino's friend, a wealthy merchant, was a
man of great influence in Venice; by turning the goodwill he had built up
years passed hy after
this promise, and
Pharaoh, doomed to
ruin, continued to live
in all his magnificence.
Moses was impatient
for God to destroy
Pharaoh quickly, and
he could not endure to
wait any langer. So he
fasted for forty days
and went to Mount
Sinai, and in his
communing with god
he said, "0 Lord, Thou
didst promise that
Thou wouldst destroy
Pharaoh, and still he
has forsaken none of
his blasphemies and
pretensions. So when
wilt Thou destroy

A voice came from The
Truth saying, "0
Moses, you want Me to
destroy Pharaoh as
quickly as possihle, but
a thousand times a
thousand of My
servants want Me never
to do so, because they
partake of his bounty
and enjoy tranquillity
under his rule. Sy My
power I swear that as
lang as he provides
abundant food and
comfort for My ereatu res, I shall not
destroy hirn. "
Moses said, " Then
when will Thy promise
be fulfilled?" God said,
"My promise will be
fulfilled when he withholds his provision
from My creatures. If
ever he begins to lessen
his bounty, know that
his hour is drawing
It chanced that one day
Pharaoh said to
Haman, "Moses has
gathered the Sons of
Israel about hirn and is
causing us disquiet. We
know not what will he
LAW 40 339
the issue of his affair
with uso We must keep
our stores full iest at
any time we be without
resources. So we must
halve our daily rations
and keep the saving in
reserve. " He deducted
2,000 sheep, 200 co ws,
and a 100 camels, and
similarly every two or
three days reduced the

 Moses then
knew that the promise
ofThe Truth was near
to fulfillment, for excessive economy is a sign
of decline and a bad
omen. The masters of
tradition say that on
the day when Pharaoh
was drowned only two
ewes had been killed in
his küchen.
Nothing is better than
generosity .... 1f a man
is rich and desires,
without a royal charter,
to act like a lord; if he
wants men to humble
themselves before him,
to revere him and call
him lord and prince,
then tell him every day
to spread a table with
victuals. All those who
have acquired renown
in the world, have
gained it mainly
through hospitality,
while the miserly and
avaricious are despised
in both worlds.
340 LAW 40
with the marquis to use, Aretino had now bought this man's indebtedness,
too, and he in turn would help Aretino when he could. The circle of influence was growing wider. 

Time and again, Aretino was able to cash in on
the immense political power of the marquis, who also helped him in his
many court romances.
Eventually, however, the relationship became strained, as Aretino
came to feel that the marquis should have requited his generosity better.
But he would not lower hirnself to begging or whining: Since the exchange
of gifts between the two men had made them equals, it would not seem
right to bring up money. He simply withdrew from the marquis's circle and
hunted for other wealthy prey, settling first on the French king Francis,
then the Medicis, the Duke of Urbino, Emperor Charles V, and more. In
the end, having many patrons meant he did not have to bow to any of
them, and his power seemed comparable to that of a great lord.
Aretino understood two fundamental properties of money: First, that it has
to circulate to bring power. What money should buy is not lifeless objects
but power over people. 

By keeping money in constant circulation, Aretino
bought an ever-expanding circle of influence that in the end more than
compensated hirn for his expenses.
Second, Aretino understood the key property of the gift. To give a gift
is to imply that you and the recipient are equals at the very least, or that
you are the recipient's superior. A gift also involves an indebtedness or
obligation; when friends, for instance, offer you something for free, you
can be sure they expect something in return, and that to get it they are
making you feel indebted. (The mechanism may or may not be entirely
conscious on their part, but this is how it works.)
Aretino avoided such encumbrances on his freedom. Instead of acting
like a menial who expects the powerful to pay his way in life, he turned the
whole dynamic around; instead of being indebted to the powerful, he
made the powerful indebted to hirn. This was the point of his gift-giving, a
ladder that carried hirn to the highest social levels. By the end of his life he
had become the most famous writer in Europe.
Understand: Money may determine power relationships, but those relationships need not depend on the amount of money you have; they also
depend on the way you use it. Powerful people give freely, buying influence rather than things. If you accept the inferior position because you
have no fortune yet, you may find yourself in it forever. Play the trick that
Aretino played on Italy's aristocracy: Imagine yourself an equal. Play the
lord, give freely, open your doors, circulate your money, and create the facade of power through an alchemy that transforms money into influence.

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