Modern Problems in Ancient Rome

Plutarch’s exposition of Caesar’s life touches on a couple of problems that are near and dear to me in my practice. First, he discusses a method used by Roman judges to avoid the problem of Clodius, a wealthy man, who was on the one hand clearly guilty of serious crimes, but on the other hand a favorite of the masses. The solution was that Clodius escaped punishment, because “most of the judges giving their opinions so written as to be illegible that they might not be in danger from the people by condemning him, nor in disgrace with the nobility by acquitting him.” When I read a judicial opinion that ducks the real issues of the day by appeal to procedural difficiency created by the judges, or worse yet, by the creation of a legal fiction, it seems they are employing a modern version of this technique.

Next is a discussion of Caesar’s practice of paying bribes to get his friends into office, and then having those same friends appropriate large sums of money to Caesar. As Plutarch explained, “It seemed very extravagant to all thinking men that those very persons who had received so much money from Caesar should persuade the senate to grant him more, as if he were in want.”

These two came together when the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United claimed that the lack of coordination between corporations who sponsor ad campaigns and the beneficiary of those campaigns means that it is impossible that at some time in the future the corporation could demand a political favor as repayment for that expenditure. This time delayed quid pro quo is either ignored, or even endorsed, by the justices in the majority in recent campaign finance cases.

I fear that the result of preventing regulators, or in the case of Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett the citizens of a state, from deterring corruption, the Court will doom us to the same extravagances observed prior to the fall of the Roman republic.

8 thoughts on “Modern Problems in Ancient Rome”

  1. Jim! I enjoyed checking out your blog – nice! Hey, I noticed your Sunday school reading; have you ever read Ravi Zacharias? He wrote 'The End of Reason.' I've enjoyed reading his stuff. Anyway, thanks for sharing! Barb

  2. I have not read the End of Reason. The title is pretty scary. I pretty strongly believe that faith and reason are not in conflict. Your endorsement is enough for me to look for it at Bookman's though. Also, I'm psyched that you like the blog.

  3. There are some interesting deadlines in this article but I don抰 know if I see all of them heart to heart. There’s some validity however I’ll take maintain opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish more! Added to FeedBurner as properly

  4. Thanks for your entire efforts on this web page. My mother really likes engaging in research and it’s simple to grasp why. Almost all hear all relating to the lively manner you create precious information via this web site and as well improve participation from other ones about this point and our own child is in fact discovering a lot. Enjoy the rest of the year. You have been performing a glorious job.

  5. I am also commenting to let you be aware of of the perfect encounter my wife’s girl experienced studying yuor web blog. She picked up such a lot of things, with the inclusion of how it is like to have an awesome helping nature to have other individuals with no trouble thoroughly grasp certain advanced matters. You really exceeded people’s expectations. Thank you for supplying these great, trustworthy, revealing and unique tips on that topic to Gloria.

  6. Needed to draft you this tiny observation just to say thanks the moment again for all the exceptional ideas you’ve documented on this page. It has been so shockingly open-handed with people like you to allow extensively precisely what many of us would’ve supplied for an ebook to help with making some money on their own, precisely considering that you might well have tried it in case you considered necessary. These creative ideas also served to provide a great way to understand that other people online have similar interest really like my personal own to grasp more and more with reference to this problem. I am sure there are many more fun opportunities ahead for individuals who discover your website.

  7. I and also my guys came viewing the excellent tactics found on the website and then immediately came up with a horrible feeling I never expressed respect to the web site owner for those strategies. The women had been for that reason stimulated to see them and have absolutely been making the most of these things. Many thanks for simply being simply thoughtful and also for deciding on such notable subject areas millions of individuals are really desperate to be aware of. My very own honest apologies for not saying thanks to you sooner.

  8. I in addition to my friends were actually digesting the nice pointers found on your web page and then the sudden I had a horrible suspicion I never expressed respect to the web blog owner for those tips. Those young men came certainly glad to read all of them and have in effect really been having fun with those things. We appreciate you actually being quite helpful and then for having this form of marvelous themes most people are really desirous to discover. My very own honest regret for not expressing appreciation to you sooner.

Leave a Reply