Saturday, April 19

Berlusconi: Beloved Statesman or Demigod?

Picture from: Jean Gouders' Berlusconi

Here's a long-held secret: To truly understand Italian politics today, all you need to do is have a look at Ancient Rome. It's all there; the intrigue, the switching sides, the Senators-for-life, the plebes, the rowdy titles of the morning's news reports. Heck, you can even find the same fist-fights on the Senate floor, although I don't think they wield knives anymore. About the only thing that's changed are the lack of togas and the advent of cellphones, which, would have made planning for Caesar's demise a heck of a lot more efficient [I could hear them now, Okay, here he comes -- just about to enter the Senate!] But, they had trusty slaves to courier news, about just as efficiently as any broad band today. [What? I can't hear you! Speak louder! Darn! The line fell again!]

And, so, in considering my post-election Blog, I offer you a brief writeup on the outspoken and charismatic leader, Gaius Julius Caesar:

Caesar was Consul and then Dictator briefly. Then, nominally in 49 B.C.
Consul for a 2nd time in 48, Dictator for 2nd time after Pharsalus
Consul for 3rd term
Declared Curator Morem in 46 B.C. - actually, the Councillor for Public Morals (today, one could argue that it's the Media tycoons who are the arbiters of Public morality...)
Dictator for a 3rd time (declared for 10 years)
Counsel and Dictator for the 4th time in 45 B.C. (kind of like appointing oneself head of an important Ministry while running the rest of the Government and the private businesses all at the same time).
He then became Consul again, before simply declaring himself Dictator Perpetuo.

Now, I'm not implying that Berlusconi was self-appointed. After all, he won by an overwhelming majority. The above could apply to any number of his predecessors. But, the reaches of his public office holdings and private business interests and overall realm of influence gives one...pause.

Going back to Caesar, during his rule, (and all this info has been plagiarized directly from Oxford Publishing's, Who's Who in the Classical World...) he considerably increased the numbers of Senators, Priests and Magistrates, he created new patrician families and founded colonies for veterans and plebes. And while he dressed in the ornaments of Roman Kings, he refused the title, Rex. He pretty much went directly for deification instead.

Berlusconi may dress in businessmen's garb, but he has compared himself to Jesus.

In fact, Caesar was a distinguished orator who had the gift of using ordinary words to make his points--one could say he was a natural-born speaker. His praise was often tinged with flattery; a true sign of a charismatic leader, much like the showman Berlusconi. And as for the ladies, let's say it wasn't only Cleopatra/Veronica, kept at bay in her Alexandrian/Milanese fortress, who he had a thing or two for.

And, finally, according to my source, while he had no real plans for social, economic or constitutional reforms, Caesar merely aimed to imprint his Divine and Hereditary Rule wholly onto the Republic.

If you look over on my Amazon widget on the side bar, you'll find one of a terrific series of "light" novels set in Ancient Rome which spells it all out for you--by Colleen Mccullough. Good beach reading once you get past all the names.
Also in the side bar, a good article from the American Magazine on Berlusconi and his third time up to bat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hmm. interesting comparison. actually, i can envision berlusca in a toga...