Justifying the Assassination of Julius Caesar
This selection from
BOOK III xxi.
Our tyrant deserved his death for
having made an exception of the one thing that was the blackest crime of all.
Why do we gather instances of petty crime - legacies criminally obtained and
fraudulent buying and selling? Behold, here you have a man who was ambitious to
be king of the Roman People and master of the whole world; and he achieved it!
The man who maintains that such an ambition is morally right is a madman; for
he justifies the destruction of law and liberty and thinks their hideous and
detestable suppression glorious. But if anyone agrees that it is not morally
right to be kind in a state that once was free and that ought to be free now,
and yet imagines that it is advantageous for him who can reach that position,
with what remonstrance or rather with what appeal should I try to tear him away
from so strange a delusion? For, oh ye immortal gods! can
the most horrible and hideous of all murders - that of fatherland -bring
advantage to anybody, even though he who has committed such a crime receives
from his enslaved fellow-citizens the title of "Father of his
Country"? Expediency, therefore, must be measured by the standard of moral
rectitude, and in such a way, too, that these two words shall seem in sound
only to be different but in real meaning to be one and the same.
What greater advantage one could have, according to the standard of popular opinion, than to be a king, I do not know; when, however, I begin to bring the question back to the standard of truth, then I find nothing more disadvantageous for one who has risen to that height by injustice. For can occasions for worry anxiety, fear by day and by night, and a life all beset with plots and perils be of advantage to anybody?