The Folly of Preemptive Forgiveness

Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.13-15:

“I have, in my lack of discretion, incurred the pleasing censure which was once leveled by Marcus Cato against Aulus Albinus, who was consul with Lucius Lucullus. This Albinus once wrote a book of Roman history in Greek. In the first part of his History it is written that no one should be made at him if anything in that book were to be found ill composed or sloppily written. ‘For,’ he said, ‘I am a Roman man, born in Latium, and Greek is most foreign to me.’ With that, he asked pardon and release from bad opinion in the event that he had made any errors. When Marcus Cato read this, he said, ‘Aulus, you’re a goddamn fool for preferring to ask pardon for an offense rather than not commit it altogether; for, we usually ask for pardon when we either make a mistake unaware or have committed some crime under compulsion. I ask you, who forced you to commit that for which, before you have even done it, you have asked to be pardoned?’”

Sed ne ego incautus sum, qui venustatem reprehensionis incurri a M. quondam Catone profectae in A. Albinum qui cum L. Lucullo consul fuit.  Is Albinus res Romanas oratione Graeca scriptitavit. In eius historiae primo scriptum est ad hanc sententiam neminem succensere sibi convenire, si quid in illis libris parum composite aut minus eleganter scriptum foret. Nam sum, inquit, homo Romanus, natus in Latio; et eloquium Graecum a nobis alienissimum est. Ideoque veniam gratiamque malae existimationis, si quid esset erratum, postulavit. Ea cum legisset M. Cato: Ne tu, inquit, Aule, nimium nugator es, cum maluisti culpam deprecari quam culpa vacare: nam petere veniam solemus aut cum inprudentes erravimus aut cum noxam imperio conpellentis admisimus. Te, inquit, oro, quis perpulit ut id committeres quod, priusquam faceres, peteres ut ignosceretur?

One thought on “The Folly of Preemptive Forgiveness

  1. Pingback: A Lover of Pleasure, A Hater of Toil | SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

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