Could He Really Destroy Our Republic?

According to Plutarch, Cicero learned to distrust Caesar early, but occasionally questioned Caesar’s willingness or ability to destroy the Roman constitution; yet, though Caesar did not live to reap its fruits, he did lay a solid foundation for autocracy in Rome.

Plutarch, Life of Caesar  Cap. IV:

“Cicero seemed to be the first to see beneath Caesar’s exterior and to have feared his mode of government (as though fearing the pleasant laughter of the sea), and when he first learned about the horror that lay hidden beneath this apparently benevolent and pleasant man, he said that he could see tyrannical intentions lurking in all of this man’s political projects. ‘But,’ he said, ‘when I see his hair so carefully adjusted, and when I see him scratching it with one finger, I can’t believe that he is capable of forming such a wicked plan as the destruction of our republic.’”

 ὁ γοῦν πρῶτος ὑπιδέσθαι δοκῶν αὐτοῦ καὶ φοβηθῆναι τῆς πολιτείας ὥσπερ θαλάττης τὰ διαγελῶντα καὶ τὴν ἐν τῷ φιλανθρώπῳ καὶ ἱλαρῷ κεκρυμμένην δεινότητα τοῦ ἤθους καταμαθὼν Κικέρων ἔλεγε τοῖς ἄλλοις ἅπασιν ἐπιβουλεύμασιν αὐτοῦ καὶ πολιτεύμασι τυραννικὴν ἐνορᾶν διάνοιαν· „ἀλλ’ ὅταν” ἔφη „τὴν κόμην οὕτω διακειμένην περιττῶς ἴδω, κἀκεῖνον ἑνὶ δακτύλῳ κνώμενον, οὔ μοι δοκεῖ πάλιν οὗτος ἅνθρωπος εἰς νοῦν ἂν ἐμβαλέσθαι τηλικοῦτον κακόν, ἀναίρεσιν τῆς ῾Ρωμαίων πολιτείας.” ταῦτα μὲν οὖν ὕστερον.



2 thoughts on “Could He Really Destroy Our Republic?

  1. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, even after a careful study of Trump’s biography, whether he is closer to Hitler or Caesar. But maybe Genghis Khan is a better comparison? Or Stalin? Sure, all of these other people has vast quantities of blood on their hands, but can anyone really say that Trump isn’t just as bad as Hitler in every possible way? Or worse?

    Thank God that it looks like Hillary still has a 45% chance of beating Trump. If only she continues her commitment to avoiding unnecessary wars, and her sterling avoidance of political corruption, that she has displayed so far in her career. What I find so impressive about her is that she has become a millionaire many times over all through a life of public service! Sure, Trump made some money too, but that was his main goal. He was trying to make money, and said so! That’s far less impressive to me. Hillary did it without ever having a paying job. People just gave her money for some reason. Talk about leadership quality!

    Also φοβηθῆναι τῆς πολιτείας — I’m not sure that “to fear his government” is right so much. πολιτεία is a complicated sort of word, that can mean government. Here, given who Caesar was and where his support came from, it could mean something more like “the people as polity.” Cicero would have been afraid of Caesar’s democratic support against the elite patrician class (the mob always a dangerous beast, you have to admit).

Leave a Reply