Tuesday, March 21, 2023


No Curb or Limit

Ronald Syme, "Bastards in the Roman Aristocracy," in his Roman Papers, II (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), pp. 510-517 (at 512):
One of the criteria of a liberal society is the quality of its wit and humour. That was high indeed in the last epoch of the Republic, with notable practitioners, sophisticated as well as coarse. There was no law of libel. Language knew no curb or limit: electoral contests, prosecutions in the courts, altercation or invective in the Senate. In personal abuse of opponents, an orator would bring up all types of crime and depravity.

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