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Monday, August 23, 2021

The moral of Caesar


Roger Kimball:

“No country was ever saved by good men,” Horace Walpole once observed, “because good men will not go to the length that may be necessary.”...

People are beginning to wonder:

In his Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, Edmund Burke, writing about the court of George III, noted with pointed understatement that “It was soon discovered that the forms of a free, and the ends of an arbitrary Government, were things not altogether incompatible.” It is a phenomenon that we conjure with to this day. We have elections. We have institutions whose prerogatives are supposedly limited by law. But to what extent does the American Republic circa 2015 live up to the ideals of limited government envisioned by the Founders?

Things will definitely not stay the same.  

The events that Barry Strauss chronicles took place more than two thousand years ago. But their significance continues to resonate, if only we have ears to listen. Toward the end of The Death of Caesar, Strauss quotes my favorite line from Lampedusa’s great novel The Leopard: “If we want things to stay the same, a lot of things are going to have to change.” The Roman Republic had to change if it was going to endure. That insight escaped the wit of the conspirators and their allies. A look at the world today suggests that this is a paradox we neglect at our peril.

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