Saturday, April 14, 2018

Hooray for evil!

Robert Harris' "Imperium" describes Cicero's prosecution of Gaius Verres for what the latter did during his reign as Governor of Sicily: theft, extortion, collusion with pirates, and the judicial murders of many including two Roman citizens.

Verres is confident of beating the rap, since he has powerful friends and bribees among the jury; but against the odds, Cicero damns him so overwhelmingly that Verres' aristocrats are forced to abandon their support for him.

Is Verres summarily beheaded, like one of his Roman victims? Or is he flogged, branded and crucified, like the other? Not a bit of it: he is exiled to Marseilles and fined less than a tenth of what he stole.

I had to look up what happened next. Was Verres' life cut short, in misery? No. He lived on for another 27 years, as a multi-millionaire in the South of France.

It would never do for a powerful man to face justice like an ordinary citizen. Where should we be then?

Give in, whispers a voice. Give up hope. You will be so relieved when you stop struggling.

Blair will get away with it forever. So will the supposedly stupid George W Bush, who played the needy Brit like a fish - pretending to accept Blair's am-dram advice on how to walk like a bigger man, jollying him along in a phone call ("cojones!").

Nothing changes. The war between good and evil is endless, and most of the battles seem lost.

And yet.


Sackerson said...

JD replies:

Seeing that clip of John Cleese triggered an instant response in my synapses. I read that somewhere last week!! It was in this book -
... but whereas Cleese is crushed by his clinging to hope the message in the book was liberation comes from giving up hope. That is counterintuitive and rather difficult to explain but it is exactly in line with Christian teaching - trust in God: by giving up everything you will gain everything (somewhere in Matthew's gospel. I need to go and look it up)

As for Verres and Blair 'getting away with it', they do but only for a while. It will come back to haunt them in their post mortem state.

Anyway in the light of last night's madness -
“I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one.” -President Theodore Roosevelt
= Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p.297

John Lennon speaking on 6th June 1968 - 50 years ago!

Paddington said...

Sadly, there are still many conservatives here who argue that there were WMD in Iraq, simply because they cannot accept that they were lied to.

Many of those people are the ardent Trump supporters. The more he lies, the deeper down the rabbit hole they go.

James Higham said...

"It would never do for a powerful man to face justice like an ordinary citizen. Where should we be then?"

Yes indeed.

Paddington said...

@James - my eldest son and I have discussed this, and consider the solution to be robotic police and blinded juries, who can't see the defendant. Let's actually have blind justice, which treats all people as equally as possible, ignoring race, gender, and wealth.