On this day in 43 B.C., Roman statesman and lawyer Cicero was assassinated on the orders of Emperor Augustus. Below are some of his many remarks on government, law, and human nature.
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.
On human nature:
Six mistakes mankind keeps making century after century: Believing that personal gain is made by crushing others; Worrying about things that cannot be changed or corrected; Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it; Refusing to set aside trivial preferences; Neglecting development and refinement of the mind; Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.
On human nature:
Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the ‘new, wonderful good society’ which shall now be Rome, interpreted to mean ‘more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.’
What society does to its children, so will its children do to society.
On national character:
Within the character of the citizen, lies the welfare of the nation.
In a republic this rule ought to be observed: that the majority should not have the predominant power.
More is lost by indecision than wrong decision. Indecision is the thief of opportunity. It will steal you blind.