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Political Bookworm
Posted at 03:29 PM ET, 01/13/2012

Ancient advice (literally!) on how to win an election

Just in time for the primaries and the big showdown in November
comes the wisdom of the ancients, in this case from Quintus Tullius Cicero, younger brother of Marcus, the greatest ancient Roman orator — perhaps the greatest of all time — who, more than two thousand years ago, ran for the highest office in the Roman Republic.

Marcus faced a grueling battle in 64 BC for one of two consul seats — two consuls were elected every year to serve as the chief civil and military officers of the republic. Quintus, a fiery supporter of his brother, thought Marcus could use some wise words on how to ensure his victory. Although Marcus was brilliant and had a tremendous way with words, he had a steep disadvantage in the campaign: he was not of noble birth.

So he’d have to make his case all the more forcefully.

To point the way, Quintus wrote a pamphlet outlining the necessary tactics — at least a good number of experts believe it was the work of Quintus, though that opinion is not unanimous. Whoever is responsible, the pamphlet is “timeless and no-nonsense counsel to those who aspire to power,” according to Philip Freeman, who translated the work and wrote the introduction for “How to Win an Election: An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians,” ($9.95) due out from Princeton University Press in March.

Comparing the work to Machiavelli’s “Prince,” Freeman says, “idealism and naivete are left by the wayside as Quintus tells his brother — and all of us — how the down-and-dirty business of successful campaigning really works.”

Among the tactics Quintus laid out:

*Call in favors.

*Promise everything to everybody.

*Know the weakness of your opponents and exploit them.

*Flatter voters shamelessly.

*Give people hope.

My, how the earth turns yet changes so little.

Marcus won, by the way, tallying more votes than any other candidate

By  |  03:29 PM ET, 01/13/2012

 
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