Quote of the day #52
I usually read history books that I can relate a little bit, but this book is on sale on Audible and you know me–I am like a moth attracted to fire whenever I hear the word “sale”. So I bought this book named “S.P.Q.R”–whatever that means–by Mary Beard about ancient Rome.
Well, I can’t say I am completely ignorant of ancient Rome since I read “Caesar and Cleopatra” by George Bernard Shaw, and “Julius Caesar” and “Antony and Cleopatra” by Shakespeare. However I’ve forgotten almost everything in those plays. Wait, I also watched the TV series called “I, Claudia”, and forgot almost everything in that series, except that figs picked from a tree could be poisonous.
This book “S.P.Q.R” tells you that assassinations in ancient Rome are not as infrequent as we tend to think after watching the play “Julius Caesar”. Well, obviously Shakespeare was ambivalent about democracy, plebeians, or republic and he despised Brutus and Cassius for defending the republic through violent means.
I guess if I know more about the period, I would like this book more. Still it is a very nice book if one doesn’t mind about the violence, murder, battle etc.
It is a culture marked by its reluctance to discard its past practices, tending to preserve all kinds of fossils… even if their ritual significance has been lost. …They are rather like people who acquire all kinds of brand new kitchen equipment, but can’t ever bear to throw away their old gadgets, which continue to clutter up the place even though they are never used.
The demands put into the mouth of the plebeians (Plebeians are commoners in ancient Rome who can vote) offered a systematic program of political reform, based on different aspects of the freedom of the citizen, from freedom to participate in the government of the state, to freedom to share the rewards, to freedom from exploitation, and freedom of information. It is hardly surprising that working class movements in the early 19th and 20th centuries in many countries found memorable precedents and some winning rhetoric in the ancient story of how the concerted actions of the Roman people won the concessions from the aristocracy and secured full political rights for the plebeians.
If the assassination of Julius Caesar became a model for the effective removal of a tyrant, it was also a powerful reminder that getting rid of a tyrant did not necessarily dispose of tyranny.
…what recently nurtured the tyranny was nothing other than our inaction … Weakened by the pleasure of peace we learned to live like slaves.