Oderint dum metuant Re: State Department veteran's letter of resignation

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Fri Feb 28 12:18:17 MST 2003

>New York Times - February 27, 2003
>February 27, 2003
>U.S. Diplomat's Letter of Resignation
>The following is the text of John Brady Kiesling's letter of
>resignation to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Mr. Kiesling is a
>career diplomat who has served in United States embassies from Tel
>Aviv to Casablanca to Yerevan.
>Dear Mr. Secretary:
>Has "oderint dum metuant" really become our motto?

*****   M. Tullius Cicero, Orations: The fourteen orations against
Marcus Antonius (Philippics) (ed. C. D. Yonge)


Editions and translations: Latin (ed. Albert Clark) | English (ed. C. D. Yonge)

XIV. What I am more afraid of is lest, being ignorant of the true
path to glory, you, should think it glorious for you to have more
power by yourself than all the rest of the people put together, and
lest you should prefer being feared by your fellow-citizens to being
loved by them. And if you do think so, you are ignorant of the road
to glory. For a citizen to be dear to his fellow-citizens, to deserve
well of the republic, to be praised, to be respected, to be loved, is
glorious; but to be feared, and to be an object of hatred, is odious,
detestable; and [p. 17] moreover, pregnant with weakness and decay.
[34]  And we see that, even in the play [about Atreus, by Lucius
Accius (170 BCE - c. 86 BCE), a son of former slaves, the last and
greatest tragic poet of Republican Rome in the eyes of his
contemporaries], the very man who said,

"What care I though all men should hate my name,
So long as fear accompanies their hate?"
["Oderint dum metuant"]

found that it was a mischievous principle to act upon.

I wish, O Antonius, that you could recollect your grandfather, of
whom, however, you have repeatedly heard me speak. Do you think that
he would have been willing to deserve even immortality, at the price
of being feared in consequence of his licentious use of arms? What he
considered life, what he considered prosperity, was the being equal
to the rest of the citizens in freedom, and chief of them all in
worth. Therefore, to say no more of the prosperity of your
grandfather, I should prefer that most bitter day of his death to the
domination of Lucius Cinna, by whom he was most barbarously slain.

[35] But why should I seek to make an impression on you by my speech?
For, if the end of Caius Caesar cannot influence you to prefer being
loved to being feared, no speech of any one will do any good or have
any influence with you; and those who think him happy are themselves
miserable. No one is happy who lives on such terms that he may be put
to death not merely with impunity, but even to the great glory of his
slayer. Wherefore, change your mind, I entreat you, and look back
upon your ancestors, and govern the republic in such a way that your
fellow-citizens may rejoice that you were born without which no one
can be happy nor illustrious.

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[Cf.  "Marcus Tullius Cicero was the eldest son of an equestrian,
though not noble, family. He was born 105 B.C. and was beheaded by
Antony's soldiers in 43 B.C....When Caesar was assassinated four
years later, Cicero saw visions of the old republican government
revived once more, and delivered his fierce philippics against
Antony; but upon the coalition of Octavius and Antony, was proscribed
by Antony and killed by the latter's soldiers."

*****   Suetonius (c.69-after 122 CE):
De Vita Caesarum: Caius Caligula
(The Lives of the Caesars: Caius Caligula),
written c. 110 CE

... XXX. He seldom had anyone put to death except by numerous slight
wounds, his constant order, which soon became well-known, being:
"Strike so that he may feel that he is dying." When a different man
than he had intended had been killed, through a mistake in the names,
he said that the victim too had deserved the same fate. He often
uttered the familiar line of the tragic poet [Accius, Trag., 203]:
--- "Let them hate me, so they but fear me." He often inveighed
against all the senators alike, as adherents of Seianus and informers
against his mother and brothers, producing the documents which he
pretended to have burned, and upholding the cruelty of Tiberius as
forced upon him, since he could not but believe so many
accusers....Angered at the rabble for applauding a faction which he
opposed, he cried: "I wish the Roman people had but a single neck...".

<http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/suetonius-caligula.html>   *****

*****   THE PRINCE
by Nicolo Machiavelli
Written c. 1505
Translated by W. K. Marriott

Concerning Cruelty And Clemency, And Whether It Is Better To Be Loved
Than Feared

...And of all princes, it is impossible for the new prince to avoid
the imputation of cruelty, owing to new states being full of dangers.
Hence Virgil, through the mouth of Dido, excuses the inhumanity of
her reign owing to its being new, saying:

Res dura, et regni novitas me talia cogunt
Moliri, et late fines custode tueri.

[Against my will, my fate
A throne unsettled, an infant state,
Bid me defend my realms with all my pow'rs,
And guard with these severities my shores.]

Nevertheless he ought to be slow to believe and to act, nor should he
himself show fear, but proceed in a temperate manner with prudence
and humanity, so that too much confidence may not make him incautious
and too much distrust render him intolerable.

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than
feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish
to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person,
is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must
be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men,
that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as
long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you
their blood, property, life and children, as is said above, when the
need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you.
And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has
neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are
obtained by payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may
indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need
cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who
is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link
of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every
opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of
punishment which never fails.

Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he
does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well
being feared whilst he is not hated, which will always be as long as
he abstains from the property of his citizens and subjects and from
their women. But when it is necessary for him to proceed against the
life of someone, he must do it on proper justification and for
manifest cause, but above all things he must keep his hands off the
property of others, because men more quickly forget the death of
their father than the loss of their patrimony. Besides, pretexts for
taking away the property are never wanting; for he who has once begun
to live by robbery will always find pretexts for seizing what belongs
to others; but reasons for taking life, on the contrary, are more
difficult to find and sooner lapse....


* Calendar of Events in Columbus:
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* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osudivest.org/>
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* Solidarity: <http://solidarity.igc.org/>

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