If You Think Politics Couldn’t Get Nastier, You’re Wrong. It Was.


Those ancient Romans really knew how to sling the mud

Daily we hear tales of politicians, their subordinates and spokespeople, attacking opponents with a ferocity that seems unprecedented.

It’s not.

When the Greek’s brought democracy to civilization they first ploughed the fields of political vitriol, but the early Roman’s took it to another level.

Dr. Kristina Neumann, who teaches about the Roman Empire at the University of Houston, cites an example of a low point from the times of Julius Caesar.  “The moment where one politician turns to the other and dumped a bucket of human excrement over him.” 

Okay, that’s nasty, and we haven’t seen that from any of our contemporary politicians. Yet.

Romans, most especially the very eloquent Cicero, who accused an opponent of committing incest, with both a brother and sister, were able to get in the mud with the best of them.  “The politicians that were making the accusations were able, at the same time, to write beautiful political speeches and were extremely well-cultivated, which unfortunately I don’t think is the case today,” says U of Houston Poli Sci professor Dr. Alin Fumurescu.

Imagine Cicero with a Twitter account.  If they had the U.S. election of 1800 to do over again, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams would be prolific tweeters, and downright mean, though probably bringing a persuasive expression beyond President Trump’s usual posts.

In Germany, college professor Dr. Martin Jehne in Dresden is offering lectures detailing the significantly worse political discourse of ancient times compared to the inarticulate dribble that passes for politics on the front pages of newspapers today.


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