Cicero's words still hit the spot: Hungary 2012
A few years ago, I spent some innocent hours checking out how often Cicero's words, at the beginning of his first speech against Catiline, had been re-used in modern political debate. Cicero, as you'll remember, is trying to drum Catiline, the internal terrorist, out of Rome in 63 BC .. he gets up in the senate, where Catiline himself is sitting, and off he goes...
How long will you abuse our patience, O Catiline...?
Quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?
There turned out to be literally hundreds of re-applications of this neat little slogan, from the Congo to Brazil, in protests public and private and intellectual (Camille Paglia claimed to have based her campaign against Foucault on Cicero's campaign against Catiline).
I hadn't picked up too many of them recently. But then I saw this picture (at the top) in the latest issue of THE.
So there is life in the old dog yet (though maybe I'm doing them an injustice, but I wasnt sure that the caption writers on THE had a clue what the banner meant . . . I suspect they thought it was Hungarian).
But the odd thing about Cicero's slogan is the way here (as almost always in recent years) its political "direction" has changed. When Cicero first spoke this, he was the voice of authority, attacking the revolutionary counter culture in the shape of Catiline. In Hungary, his words are being used by the opposition in their struggle against authority . . . I wonder whose side Cicero would have been on.