13 December, 2012

Civis Romanus Sum

Over the preceding centuries, the Constitution of ancient Rome had developed an intricate series of checks and balances intended to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of a single individual. The consulship, elected annually, was jointly held by two men. Military commands were of limited duration and subject to regular renewal. Ordinary citizens were accustomed to a remarkable degree of liberty: the cry of “Civis Romanus sum” — “I am a Roman citizen” — was a guarantee of safety throughout the world.
But such was the panic that ensued after Ostia that the people were willing to compromise these rights. The greatest soldier in Rome, the 38-year-old Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (better known to posterity as Pompey the Great) arranged for a lieutenant of his, the tribune Aulus Gabinius, to rise in the Roman Forum and propose an astonishing new law. "

The preceding is from an Op Ed in the New York Times by Robert Harris entitled Pirates of the Mediterranean.
It appeared in 2006  but I think it raises some interesting points to think about.
Terrorism was one step along the way to the death of the Roman Constitution.
Should America be worried? It too has seen erosion of liberty since 9 11.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither"... Ben Franklin
But it is more accurate to say that they will have neither in the end.

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