>Fwd: Cicero

>Earlier I was reading Cicero’s Second Philippic Against Antony and one of the crimes he charges Antony with is that Antony had a letter from Cicero and read it out in public. Cicero doesn’t deny authorship, although he does get in some good jibes about Antony’s prior forgeries and the use of scribes, but crime aside, this accusation is particularly damning as it describes a strike against the gentlemanly code. As Cicero writes:

He read out a letter, this creature, which he said I had sent him. But he has absolutely no idea how to behave – how other people behave. Who, with the slightest knowledge of decent people’s habits, could conceivably produce letters sent him by a friend, and read them in public, merely because some quarrel has arisen between him and the other? Such conduct strikes at the roots of human relations; it means that absent friends are excluded from communicating with each other. For men fill their letters with flippancies which appear tasteless if they are published – and with serious matters which are quite unsuitable for wide circulation. Antony’s action proves he is totally uncivilized.

I found it fascinating (though easy to believe, upon reflection) that this breech of privacy was so condemned two thousand years ago. Today, with easily-exchanged email and easily-posted pictures the trust that we put in others is even greater. So too, must be the social punishment for betrayal.

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