Thursday, October 30, 2008

High Offices

Surely this is not the strength of administrative offices, that they plant virtues in the minds of those who occupy them, and drive vices out? In fact, they are more likely to reveal gross wickedness than to put it to flight. And so it is that we take it as dishonorable that these positions so often fall to grossly wicked men; and it is for this reason that Catullus called Nonius a wart, even though he sat in a curule chair. So do you see what disgrace high offices award to evil men? And yet the lack of honor in such men would be less obvious, if they did not gain recognition by their political honors. And in your own experience--ultimately, you could not be compelled by all those threats, now could you, to be willing to undertake administrative duties alongside of Decoratus, since you saw in him the sensibilities of a grossly wicked man, an insolent idler, an informer? Why? Because we cannot judge people to be worthy of preeminence because of their political honors if we judge them to be unworthy of the honors themselves.

Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, Relihan, tr. Hackett (Indianapolis: 2001) pp. 57-58.

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