Can anybody verify this Caesar quote?

Hey, I found this quote attributed to Caesar in an email, and being currently enrolled in Latin classes, I tried to find a source for it to no avail. If anyone can do so or debunk it entirely it would be appreciated:

“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.”

Oh yeah, this is my first post to the SDMB. <Dr. Nick voice> Hey everybody! </Dr. Nick voice> is the BOMB.

I just used the first few words of the quote…

Most of the sites that showed up attribute it to Julius Caesar.

LolaBaby: I googled and saw those entries too. Unfortunately they don’t really answer the question :slight_smile: . The second, if you follow the thread, gets into some potential criticisms that cast some doubt, but it didn’t seem definitive.

I’m a bit curious about the answer, myself.

  • Tamerlane

That’s why I said “most.” :smiley:

I don’t think anyone can say “100% sure” unless they were there to hear him say it. :stuck_out_tongue:

Its authenticity seems dubious. I found several discussions about it on other sites, including these portions of these two:

I’m not having any luck with my online Latin resources on this one… perhaps a genuine classicist with a thorough knowledge of the Divine Julius’ writings will spot this thread. So far, I haven’t turned up anything that definitely confirms it, and I remain sceptical, not only on the textual grounds Libertarian quotes, but also because it doesn’t really seem to fit Caesar’s career. I can’t think of any incidents off the top of my head where he used scaremongering tactics to infringe on civil liberties. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, it’s been a while since my last Latin class, but still… I’m dubious.

This sounds like a job for!

Let’s see if they say anything about it in the coming days.

I’m sceptical too. Why would Caesar say this? He’s revealing a very cynical view of how he got to power, thereby handing a nice little weapon directly to his political opponents, confirming their worst fears.

It’s not like Julius kept a secret diary or anything, found three centuries after his death. His writings are very well known, so if it can’t easily be sourced, it’s dubious.

To me, the quote sounds less like Caesar than like a latter-day liberal or libertarian, eager to “prove” that nationalism and patriotism are evils.

Even IF Caesar were cycnical enough to use patriotic fervor as an excuse for seizing power for himself, I find it absurd to think he’d ever say so, in print.

Look, even if you firmly believe that Dan Quayle was an idiot, or that Bill Clinton was a slimeball, you wouldn’t expect to read “I’m such a moron” in QUayle’s diary, and you’d never expect to read, “I can’t believe the American people were dumb enough to fall for my b.s.” in Clinton’s. Our enemies rarely do us the favor of publicly confirming our worst impressions of them.

So, to the OP: if you want to assail George W. Bush for (supposedly) eroding our civil rights in the name of the war on terror, go ahead and do it directly. Don’t look to Caesar to bolster your case.

Why would the English have survived but not the original Latin? Unless someone can come up with the untranslated quote, I would not even considering it worth citing.

Every place I see cites Caeser, however it sounds to me like one of the many anti-tyranny plays that made the rounds in England following the Revolutions in the 17th and 18th centuries. I’m sure Bernard Bailyn would recognize it.


I guessed Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic and Civil Wars as a source. Here’s a translation of Books I to III dealing with the civil war. Not looking good. Augustus anyone?