By Smriti Irani! The Roman in Parliament

THE CYNICFeb 25, 2016 | 19:26

By Smriti Irani! The Roman in Parliament

The HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday Feb 24, 2016 quoted from a speech made more than two thousand years ago. The speech is said to have been made by Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Madam Minister quoted "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear."


I used the term - is said to have been made by Cicero because this particular quote is usually taken from Cicero's Prognosis by THE HONOURABLE MILLARD F CALDWELL, Justice - Supreme Court, and Presented at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc. on October 7-9, 1965, Columbus, Ohio. Cicero as quoted by Justice Caldwell was pleading his own case in the Senate the outcome of which was that he was exiled from Rome - his crime being having sentenced to death a Roman citizen without fair trial.

Sticking to the same probable source as from where the HRD Minister might have picked out her quotation I list below a few more of the quotes attributed to Cicero by Justice Caldwell.

Justice Caldwell writes: - Cicero, in his Second Oration before the Senate, had this to say: "Too long have we said to ourselves 'intolerance of another's politics is barbarous and not to be countenanced in a civilised country. Are we not free? Shall a man be denied his right to speak under the law which established that right?' I tell you that freedom does not mean the freedom to exploit law in order to destroy it! It is not freedom which permits the Trojan Horse to be wheeled within the gates * * *. He who is not for Rome and Roman Law and Roman liberty is against Rome. He who espouses tyranny and oppression and the old dead despotisms is against Rome. He who plots against established authority and incites the populace to violence is against Rome. He cannot ride two horses at the same time. We cannot be for lawful ordinances and for an alien conspiracy at one and the same moment."


Justice Caldwell continues quoting Cicero: "Though liberty is established by law, we must be vigilant, for liberty to enslave us is always present under that very liberty. Our Constitution speaks of the 'general welfare of the people.' Under that phrase all sorts of excesses can be employed by lusting tyrants to make us bondsmen."

For those who may think that I too may have used only certain quotes (to serve whatever devious purpose I too might have) and without context may feel free to check out Justice Caldwell's prognosis.

And for those who may be interested in knowing and learning about a man who from more than two millennia was to impact the proceedings of the world's largest democracy ever, can take a look at these sites.

Oh! By the way Marcus Tullius Cicero himself was not only once exiled as a traitor but much later the 64 year old orator was murdered as he was fleeing the wrath of Mark Antony. His head and hands were cut off and taken to Rome where Antony placed them on the Rostra.

Plutarch in Vol VII of Parallel Lives writes at the end of The Life of Cicero: I learn that Caesar, a long time after this, paid a visit to one of his daughter's sons; and the boy, since he had in his hands a book of Cicero's, was terrified and sought to hide it in his gown; but Caesar saw it, and took the book, and read a great part of it as he stood, and then gave it back to the youth, saying: "A learned man, my child, a learned man and a lover of his country."

Last updated: February 25, 2016 | 19:35
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