Here is the quote I was looking for on restoring a republic, from “Discourses on Livy” by Niccolo Machiavelli, Book III, Chapter 1:
“A republic may, likewise, be brought back to its original form, without recourse to ordinances for enforcing justice, by the mere virtues of a single citizen, by reason that these virtues are of such influence and authority that good men love to imitate them, and bad men are ashamed to depart from them.”
Machiavelli goes on to list some illustrious Romans of great virtue, who changed the course of the republic by virtue of their upstanding characters, so it’s not like he’s spouting idealistic theories.
For more inspiring Romans, I always turn to “The Meditations” by Marcus Aurelis, which begins:
“From my grandfather Verus I learned good morals and the government of my temper.
From the reputation and remembrance of my father, modesty and a manly character.
From my mother, piety and beneficence, and abstinence, not only from evil deeds, but even from evil thoughts; and further, simplicity in my way of living, far removed from the habits of the rich.”
Now if that doesn’t demonstrate the timelessness of family values coming from the second century (161 AD or I guess CE is the preferred method now), I don’t know what does.
Now just when you think you’ve heard as much about the Romans as you might wish to know, here’s the Roman connection of my hero, George Washington to Cincinnatus, the Roman general called from his retirement as a simple farmer to once more lead the Romans to defeat the Aequians. Right from the Mount Vernon website (here), “For Romans and Americans alike, Cincinnatus represented the ideal republican simplicity, an enlightened poverty that spurned luxury and cultivated a simple nobility of spirit.” This comparison of George Washington to Cincinnatus led to the formation of the Society of the Cincinnati, composed of former Revolutionary War officers, with naturally, Washington being the first elected president of the society. The Mount Vernon website states the society adopted the Latin motto, Omnia reliquit servare rem publicam (“He gave up everything to serve the republic”) alluding to the story of Cincinnatus.
If all these Roman names are a mystery to you, spend a few minutes googling, but as most of my readers seem to read more history than me, that probably won’t be necessary. I have mentioned this book before, but since here’s another opportunity to wax on about a book that makes learning about the Romans fun. Yes, really this book is written tongue-in-cheek and it will bring a smile to your face and you’ll be anxiously wanting to sign up to be a legionary too. The book is called, “Legionary; the Roman Soldier’s (Unofficial) Manual”.