I gazed in every direction and all appeared wonderfully beautiful. There were stars which we never see from Earth, and they were all larger than we have ever imagined. The starry spheres were much greater than the earth; indeed the earth itself seemed to me so small that I was scornful of our empire, which covers only a single point, as it were, upon its surface.‘
From Scipio’s dream in On the Republic.
Cicero said ‘laws are silent in times of war.’ The pure genius of Robert Harris’s book on this great Roman is melting his reputation with the reality of the man, his star stained by the filth of an empire that saw any other human race as beneath them.
Wisdom though is here. The closing quote, used twice in the book, is pretty soul defining. No matter what we think we are, the lofty heights we have positioned ourself in, they are but part of something much greater. This lesson can yield humility and in a world desperately short of this quality I say amen to that.