Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

July 4, 2016

Protecting the Republic

By David Reiss

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero

In commemoration of Independence Day, I quote a selection from Cicero’s First Oration Against Mark Antony. Cicero was seeking to protect the Roman Republic from falling into the hands of Mark Antony and Octavian. These two men had imperial ambitions after the death of their patron, Julius Caesar. Caesar himself had been dictator until he was murdered on the Senate floor:

What I am more afraid of is lest, being ignorant of the true path to glory, you should think it glorious for you to have more power by yourself than all the rest of the people put together, and lest you should prefer being feared by your fellow citizens to being loved by them. And if you do think so, you are ignorant of the road to glory. For a citizen to be dear to his fellow citizens, to deserve well of the republic, to be praised, to be respected, to be loved, is glorious; but to be feared, and to be an object of hatred, is odious, detestable; and moreover, pregnant with weakness and decay. And we see that, even in the play, the very man who said,

        “What care I tho all men should hate my name,

So long as fear accompanies their hate?”

found that it was a mischievous principle to act upon.

Cicero, and the Roman Republic along with him,were killed not long after this speech. Octavian then vanquished Marc Antony and became the first Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus.  On this July 4th, recommit to protecting our Republic.


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