Friday, March 05, 2010

Who is Cicero?

Various circulating e-mails contain a quote that purports to be from Cicero:
"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance." — Cicero, 55 BC
It is said, however, that this quote is actually from a novel (a work of fiction) called A Pillar of Iron by Taylor Caldwell (1965, page 483) and has no basis in history. According to research by TruthOrFiction, the only similar quote actually from the historical Cicero is:
"The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign hands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall."
It was partly due to Cicero's misjudgments (he, for example, saw Anthony as the threat when he should have been more wary of Augustus) that the Roman Republic fell and Cicero himself lost his head.

PREVIOUSLY on the ancient world and how it relates to ours:
Poison: the choice of emperors
How Pericles and Columbus used Eclipses: lessons for managers

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