A Sort of Prelude
The Tao of the Romans
The judgment of the censor imposed on the condemned scarcely any penalty save the blush.
CICERO, DE REPUBLICA 4.6.61
The implication of Cicero's remark is that the blush was, in itself, penalty enough. “If we can cause the man who murdered Cicero to blush, we will have succeeded, ” declares the Elder Seneca's Porcius Latro (Controversiae 7.2.1).2 As Wilfried Nippel reminds us, like most premodern cities, Rome had no central peacekeeping force.3 The suppression of the vendetta depended above all on the self-mastery (decorum, disciplina, modestia, temperantia) and the sense of honor (pudor, fides) of the inhabitants, quickened by a fear of losing face and a dizzy horror of disgrace.4 Rome was like the Republic described by Cicero in which the citizens____________________