Commentariolum pt. I

10/14/08

Permalink 09:55:45 am, by Chris Jones Email , 289 words, 4381 views   English (US)
Categories: News, Q. Cicero's Commentariolum

Commentariolum pt. I

Thus begins a series of excepts from Q. Cicero’s Commentariolum Petitionis as a reflection on current US electoral events.

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Quintus’ essay can be roughly divided into two parts, quarum altera in amicorum studiis, altera in populari voluntate ponenda est–how to cultivate both friendships and the general will of the people. Let’s look at one factor from the first category in amicorum studiis.

Although contemporary politics must deal to some extent with the “old boy network", it’s safe to say political amicitia was far more important to a candidate in 1st century BCE Rome. A highly-organized system of patronage and the close relational/marriage ties between the nobiles meant that a huge number of votes could be won by securing the political friendship of leading men (to be clear, this amicitia is not general “frendliness” but a kind of political support).

In Cicero’s case, Quintus suggests a strategy of targeting the business class–the equites. Cicero himself was a member of this class (the only eques running for the consulship), and their members included a number of young men nominally shut out from the reigning political class of nobiles. Quintus says connections here pay election dividends in a number of ways:

Primum oportet cognosci equites (pauci enim sunt), deinde appeti (multo enim facilius illa adulescentulorum ad amicitiam aetas adiungitur). Deinde habes tecum ex iuventute optimum quemque et studiosissimum humanitatis…Nam studia adulescentulorum in suffragando, in obeundo, in nuntiando, in adsectando mirifice et magna et honesta sunt. (VIII)

(ex iuvente optimum quemque - “the best one of the young” is singular where in English we prefer a plural like “the best of the youth")

Comparison with the current Presidential election shows studia adulecentulorum will likely be key factor in the race…

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