And some words from Sulla..Submitted by donvino on Sat, 01/22/2011 - 12:13
Here is post one of the most powerful conservations I have ever read and is very prophetic. It is a bit lengthy yet be patient. It is an outake from the book 'A Pillar of Iron' by Taylor Caldwell printed in 1965. (pages 325-330)
The following is a discussion between Cicero and Sulla at a dinner meeting. Julius Caesar, Crassus, Piso, and Curius are also in attendance.
Sulla, "Let us consider this Rome of ours, Cicero, this Rome of today and not of your grandfather's yesterday. Let us consider the Senators, the red sandaled Senators in their stately togas, the Senators of privilege and power and money, of rich estates within the walls of Rome, farms in the countryside, villas at Caprae and in Sicily, vast foreign and domestic investments- these Senators who lie in warm, perfumed baths or sleep under the oiled fingers of those who massage their corrupt bodies, and who bejewel themselves and their mistresses before repairing to orgies and banquets, to the theatre, to private exhibitions of shameless dancers, songsters, gladiators, wrestlers, actors-let us consdier them!"
"Once their forebears, from most inherited their seats, repaired to a rude wooden Senate Chamber on their bare feet, to indicate their humility before the power of their people and above all, before the power of the gods and eternal law. They sat, not in embroidered togas, on cusioned marble seats, but on benches of wood, homely fashioned, and their tunic were still stained by the innocent earth and simple labor. The Consul of the people was more than they. When they spoke, those old Senators, they spoke in the accents of the country; they spoke with manliness, learning, truth, justice, and pride. They were prudent, they distrusted all law that did not rise from natural law, from the heart of the nation."
"Look upon their inheritors! Would our present Senators give up one yoke of their power, half their fortunes to replenish our bankrupt treasury, their vile and extravagant mistresses, the ambitions of their wives, their fawning clients, their idleness and lascivious pleasures, their multitudes of slaves and their rich houses, a measure of their investments, to save Rome and restore to the stature of their fathers?"
Marcus (Cicero) had paled. He could not look away from Sulla.
"No," he said. "It is true. No."...
"Let us consider the Censors, the tribunes of the people, the politicians! Is there any man as vain, brutal, or criminal as a man who has a purse filled with a little authority and who can strut haughtily before those who elected him? Is there anyone who can boast of being a more desperate thief than these representatives of the people, one who not sell his votes for the honor of sitting with patricians at their table, or of kissing the hand of a strumpet of a powerful lord? Who is more of a betrayer of the people thatn a man that swears that he serves them?"
"Look upon them! Will they turn from the busyness of filling their coffers if you cry to them to save Rome? Will they yield their petty staffs in the name of the people, and serve the citizens who elected them without fear or favor? Will they denounce the Senate, and demand of them that they must respect the Constitution and pass no self-serving law? Will they cry 'freedom!' rather than privilege? Will they exhort the electorate to practice virtue and thrift and husbandry again, and ask nothing of tribunes but what is only just? Will they face the mobs of Rome and say, 'Be men and not idle cattle'? Will you find one of these among the representatives of the people?"
Sulla spoke. "You Cicero, consider the middle-class, of whom you are a representative. The lawyers, the physicians, the bankers, the merchants, the owners of merchant fleets, the investors, the stock-sellers, the businessmen, the shopkeepers, the manufacturers of goods, the importers of, the purveyors. Will they, of their own will serve Rome but a month each year, yielding their profits above taxes, so that we may be solvent again? Will they besiege Senator, patrician, tribune, or Consul with demands that Rome be restored to her ancient grandeur and nobility, and above all, her peace? Will they relinquish the profits of war and take such a profit? Will one of your lawyers challenge the lawmakers and cry to them, 'This is un-Constitutional, an affront to a free people, and it must not pass?' Will one of these, your own, lift his eyes from his ledgers long enough to scan the Twelve Tables of Roman law, and then expose those who violate them and help remove them from power, even if it costs their lives? These fat men! Will six of them in this city, disregarding personal safety, rise up from their offices and stand in the Forum, and the the people the inevitable fate of Rome unless they return to virtue and thrift and drive from the Senate the evil men who have corrupted them for the power they have to bestow?"
"Before God, lord, no," said Marcus.
Sulla.."Cicero , let us consider the sweltering polyglot mobs of Rome, the men who smothered her face with their own dung. The mobs of Rome, the cat-mouthed, jackal-voiced mobs! The wall-scrawling villains of the sewers and the alleys! The bold and insolent people, the enthusiastic and uncontrolled and uncontrollable swill of our towns and many nations! If one honest man implored them to work industriously, and practice austerity, and return to simple faiths-would they let him live? If a man cried to them that no longer they must depend upon government for their food, their shelter, the tunics that cover them, their amusements-would they harken to him? If a hero admonished them for their idleness and their greed, what would they do?"
Marcus..."Lord, they would murder him, or scream him to silence with their howlings."
"True," said Sulla, with sombreness. "Now let us consider the old Romans, men like yourself, who still live in this city and on the countryside. They are the true inheritors of that for which our fathers died...
"Can you gather one dozen of the old Romans and ask them to stand on the bridge of Horatius with you, and will they say to the mobs, 'Silence!' To the Senators, 'Honor and law and justice!' To the voracious in the counting houses, 'For a certain time would you give up your profits for the sake of Rome!? Will they say to the tribunes, 'Represent us or yield your staff of office'? Will they say to me and my generals, 'Depart from us, so old Romans who will cry theses things, and pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to recreate Rome in her old image?" (Patrick Henry quoted these actual words of Sulla whom he admired)
..."Let us consider the farmers beyone our gates, cultivating the land. For many years thay have sold their grain to the government granaries and have received large sums for it, and it has been fed to the slothful at their demand. The farmers are happy. It is nothing to them that our treasury is bankrupt."
"If I should say to them, 'Roman farmers, the nation is bankrupt and in danger, and, therefore, I pray you to decline the bounties heretofore poured in your hands, of your own will, for the sake of Rome,' would they lift their arms in an affirmative vow, for the love of Rome?" (Roman farmers were receiving government subsidies)
Marcus.."No, lord they would not say that."...
"Look upon me, Cicero, a soldier, the dictator of Rome! Remember that I am here, in this house, in Rome, with this power, not because I willed it for myself in some dream of fantasy in a lonely night."
"If one hundred men whom I could honor had met me at the gates and had said to me. 'Lay down your arms, Sulla, and enter the city only on foot and only as a Roman citizen,' I should have obeyed in thankfulness. Above all, I am an old soldier, and an old soldier repsects the power of established law and courage. Yet, there were not a hundred men to challenge me at the gates, of to offer their lives to our swords in the name of their country! There were not even fifty, nor twenty, nor ten, nor five. There was not even one!"
"I would, even now, said Sulla, at the cost of my life, try to restore Rome as she was once, and Roman law, and Roman virtues, and Roman faith, honesty, justice, charity, manliness, labor, and simplicity, if it would avail. But you know I should die in vain! A nation which has reached the abyss which now confronts Rome, by her own willing, her own fatness and ambition and greed, never retreats from that abyss. The leper cannot remove the marks of his disease; the blind man cannot restore his sight; the dead man cannot rise again. You have thought me evil, the image of dictatorship. But I am what the people deserve. Tomorrow, I shall die as all men die. But i tell you that worse men than myself will follow me! There is more inexorable law that any law ever made by man. It is the law of death for corrupt nations, and the minions of that law are already stirring in the wombs of history. These are many who are alive today, young and lustful and without faith. They will not fail. So passes Rome."
"I drink to the corpse of Rome."
He stared at the faces about him, the faces of the vital young men in their narrow silence, the empty faces of their women. "Look upon these, Cicero, he said, They are Rome's tomorrow. They are her executioners. Well, lads, will you not drink a toast to your gilded, terrible tomorrow?"
Julius Caesar, "Lord," he said, "you do us an injustice. We love Rome as you love her.'
Sulla...laughed long and loud, and it was frightful sound in that room...
Marcus..., he said in a quiet voice: "Lord, I stand indicted before you. I was not at the gates to challenge your entry. I was a prudent and careful man, a lawyer. I was the writer of briefs; I was the saver of money; I was the cherisher of my family. In short, I was a coward."...
...he walked from the room..Sulla, "There departs a Roman, marked for death, if not tomorrow, then in the future. It is his fate."
"A traitor," said Curius, with hatred and contempt.
"A fool,'"said Piso. "A base born fool."
"A man of emotion, and hasty judgements," said Julius.
"A man of irrelvant passions,'"said Crassus.
Sulla's mouth opened in smile.
"A man," he said."