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P.Clodius

A thought on why things deteriorate

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, and even Cato did not deny that bribery under such circumstances was for the good of the commonwealth.

Salve, Amici.

 

The Latin original of this so critical clause (both in Bill Thayer's site and in the Latin Library) is:

 

", ne Catone quidem abnuente eam largitionem e re publica fieri."

 

It's an affirmation of a negative statement; even if it was true, it simply meant Caius Suetonius Tranquillus had no knowledge that Cato Minor ever expressed himself against bribery, specifically referring to Bibulus' election.

 

Gossip in the purest Suetonian way, if you ask me.

 

Indeed, there is a great deal of such language in both Suetonius and Tacitus... "I heard this from soandso and have not verified it"... Taking these particular passages as anything other than hearsay possibilities often is the root of the problem we are discussing.

 

I had a lengthy discussion on whether or not Tiberius murdered Germanicus some time back. My argument was that there was no evidence, but yet history has often implicated the emperor. Reading the source material, one sees clearly that Tacitus and Suetonius only report second hand rumors as possibilities (and admit to it openly), but present no actual evidence.

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OK, so I guess we've ascertained;

 

1) Suetonius and Plutarch are secondary sources and therefore could be mistaken about some things.

 

Certainly, but what are the alternatives. They may have had access to information that no longer exists, but there are times they are wrong just like any other writer/historian.

 

2) Syme is just outright "mistaken".

 

3) Gruen is "mistaken" about one thing but the rest of his work is outstanding.

 

It's all a matter of opinion really, and of course some opinions may have more merit than others based on your own convictions. They believe that the circumstances of the entire era/political environment point to a definitive result, even though the ancient text itself does not provide the detail. They may not be wrong and are actually quite right in pointing out the possibilities, but we can understandably challenge the conclusions based on what the ancient source material does actually tell us. You are not incorrect in using any modern source to support your cause, but MPC is equally correct in challenging them based on the source material.

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