SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

Only Bad Dudes Want Statues in the First Place

Plutarch, Precepts of Statecraft  820b (Full text on the Scaife viewer)

“Cato, since Rome was then already getting full of statues, would not allow one of himself. He said, “I would rather have people ask why there isn’t a statue of me rather than why there is one.” Indeed, these kinds of things do create envy and many believe that they owe gratitude to people who have not received them but that those who have taken them have oppressed them, as when people ask for payment for something they have done.

So, just as a person who has sailed passed the Syrtis and overturned his ship right near the channel has done nothing great nor worthy of awe, so to the man who has served in the treasury and guarded the public coffers but has done a poor job in other offices finds himself wrecked on a cliff near the sea. No, the best person is one who doesn’t want any of these kinds of things, avoiding and refusing them when needed.”

ὁ δὲ Κάτων, ἤδη τότε τῆς Ῥώμης καταπιμπλαμένης ἀνδριάντων, οὐκ ἐῶν αὑτοῦ γενέσθαι “μᾶλλον,”ἔφη, “βούλομαι πυνθάνεσθαί τινας, διὰ τί μου ἀνδριὰς οὐ κεῖται ἢ διὰ τί κεῖται.” καὶ γὰρ φθόνον ἔχει τὰ τοιαῦτα καὶ νομίζουσιν οἱ πολλοὶ τοῖς μὴ λαβοῦσιν αὐτοὶ χάριν ὀφείλειν, τοὺς δὲ λαβόντας αὑτοῖς καὶ βαρεῖς εἶναι, οἷον ἐπὶ μισθῷ τὰς χρείας ἀπαιτοῦντας. ὥσπερ οὖν ὁ παραπλεύσας τὴν Σύρτιν εἶτ᾿ ἀνατραπεὶς περὶ τὸν πορθμὸν οὐδὲν μέγα πεποίηκεν οὐδὲ σεμνόν, οὕτως ὁ τὸ ταμιεῖον φυλαξάμενος καὶ τὸ δημοσιώνιον ἁλοὺς δὲ περὶ τὴν προεδρίαν ἢ τὸ πρυτανεῖον, ὑψηλῷ μὲν προσέπταικεν ἀκρωτηρίῳ βαπτίζεται δ᾿ ὁμοίως. ἄριστος μὲν οὖν ὁ μηδενὸς δεόμενος τῶν τοιούτων ἀλλὰ φεύγων καὶ παραιτούμενος·

Marcus Porcius Cato