Monday, 10 June 2013

Roma Et Terra

The three stages of Roman history were: kingdom; republic; Empire.
The three stages of Terran history were: Commonwealth; sacked; Empire.
Thus, Roman and Terran pre-Imperial histories differ.

I have been reading some Latin texts from the Republican period. One was of particular interest to anyone living in Britain: Caesar's own account of his first attack on this island. Another is of particular interest to anyone reading Poul Anderson's The Rebel Worlds: Cicero's prosecution of a corrupt governor of Sicily. If only Snelund could have been brought to trial and prosecuted by a successor of Cicero.

"That man so harassed and destroyed Sicily for three years that it is no way possible to restore it to its ancient state. With him as governor, Sicilians were protected neither by their own laws nor by the decrees of our senate nor by common rights. Each man possessed only as much as was left over after the greedy scoundrel had taken his fill.

"No court judgment was made during those three years except at his nod. Countless monies and possessions were extorted from the farmers by his new and wicked practices. The most faithful allies were considered as enemies. Roman citizens were tortured and killed like slaves. Guilty men were free from judgment because of money. Honorable and honest men were condemned and expelled without trial. The most fortified harbors and the safest cities were exposed to pirates and robbers. The best fleets were lost and destroyed to the great discredit of the Roman people.

"In the same way this governor despoiled all of the most ancient monuments that had been either given to or returned to the Sicilians in some cases by the king and in others by our generals. Not only did he do this with public statues and ornaments but he also plundered the holiest shrines consecrated to the gods. In fact, he left no god that seemed to him to be an antique to the Sicilians."

I will find out in the class next week whether I have translated this passage correctly. I am unsure of some of the grammar. Meanwhile, it might remind us of Snelund and make us wish that he had been prosecuted by a Cicero. After Cicero's opening speech, which was backed by overwhelming evidence, the accused governor Verres abandoned his defense and went into exile! Cicero's further speeches were never delivered but were published as a political pamphlet.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Very interesting, this quote from Cicero. And I certainly see the resemblance to Aaron Snelund you found in Vernes. It would have been the ideal solution, I agree, for Snelund to have been arrested and brought back for trial on Terra for his abuse of power as governor of Sector Alpha Crucis.

But, THE REBEL WORLDS made plain there were and could have been lawful means of curtailing or removing Snelund from office without taking recourse to rebellion and usurpation. Recall how, during his confrontation with McCormac, Flandry reproached the rebel for not trying to seek legal means of seeking redress even after he was violently released from Snelund's prison satellite.