The Danger of the Concentration of Power

Some thoughts from what I read recently.

Quintus Catalus (Consul of 78 BC) once said, in front of a popular gathering in 67 BC, “I admit that Gnaeus Pompeius rightfully deserves all the honors you have bestowed or intend to bestow upon him. However, with all the powers rested in one man, what would you do if that man is no longer to serve you?”

His warning was not heeded. Unprecedented power was granted to Pompey, and soon popular favor was bestowed instead upon Caesar. It was not long before the Republic came to a disastrous halt.

Some one hundred and fifty years had since passed, when the historian Cornelius Tacitus (Consul of 97 AD) wrote, “When all the powers had rested with Caesar Octavianus, when he had become Augustus, peace was finally restored to the Roman world. But it was not for long. Imperial succession became a source of gravest danger and one man’s life weighed heavier than the whole of the Empire”.

Stability at the cost of liberty was destined not to last for long.


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