Let’s take a final look at Quintus’ Commentariolum Petitionis for this election cycle. While the usual “the more things change…” review of election tactics old & new has (spero) been interesting, I don’t want to be accused of promoting too much cynicism in our political process.
Nobody, it seems, likes the attack ads that have become so commonplace in modern election campaigns. But there’s a simple reason why such advertising exists: It works, a fact even the Romans knew 2000 years ago.
In elections both ancient and modern, campaign promises are commmonplace and Quintus reminds his brother of the reason they are so effective:
Thus begins a series of excepts from Q. Cicero’s Commentariolum Petitionis as a reflection on current US electoral events.
I mentioned Quintus Cicero’s Commentariolum Petitionis in a post earlier this month. With the US election approaching, I thought I’d post a few choice paragraphs over the days leading up to November 4th. First though, a little background.
The Commentariolum Petitionis was ostensibly written by Quintus Cicero as a letter/pamphlet to advise his brother’s successful run for the consulship in 64 BCE. I say “ostensibly” because there are reasons to doubt the full authorship. Some of the passages are echoed in other speeches of Cicero; either Cicero plagiarized his brother or the orator is the actual author of at least some passages in the Commentariolum. Also the pamphlet seems to over-emphasize the danger of Catiline as an election opponent (Catiline ended up losing badly). Assuming the pamphlet was written after the Catilinarian conspiracy would explain this, as memories of the personal threat to Cicero might make Catiline loom larger in the author’s mind. But regardless of who wrote it, most scholars agree the pamphlet comes from the 1st century BCE and accurately reflects the political climate of its time.
Look for a few choice excerpts in the coming days. I’ll also add a blog category to help with filtering on this topic.
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