Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Article excerpt

Macavity-like, Brown was never there when he was Chancellor, and rarely seems to be there now he is Prime Minister. When he is, he is always blaming someone else or avoiding the question. This is highly reminiscent of the second Roman emperor Tiberius who, like Brown, was following someone, Augustus, who had revolutionised the whole system. But there is a significant difference between them. Emperor was the last thing Tiberius wanted to be. Brown has been dreaming of nothing else.

The Roman historian Tacitus could not believe that at Augustus' death in AD 14 Tiberius was so antipathetic to the idea of assuming power. He therefore considered him duplicitous, cloaking ambition under the image of diffidence. But in AD 27, after 13 years of tortuous rule, Tacitus retired to Campania, and then Capri, never to return to Rome again. He hated every minute of it.

He died on 16 March AD 37.

But Tiberius had to survive, and to do that he adopted tactics remarkably similar to Brown's. First, he took the view that he must not weaken his power by referring everything to the Senate ('the accounts will not come right unless the ruler is their only auditor').

Second, while he deplored misconduct, because it could cause public scandal, he did not search out people of exceptional merit 'because it would be a threat to himself' (cf. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.