In early Roman times, campaigns used public debate and canvassing to win elections. The debates were “semi-formal meetings,” at which loud “political passion” was so involved that once a crow “which had the bad luck to be flying past” (I believe that’s a Mary Beard joke) “fell to the ground, stunned.”
In the second century BCE, a candidate named Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica (You can forget the name now; he’s not important. In fact, self doesn’t know why she bothered to type out the entire name rather than identifying him as PCSN) “was out canvassing one day in a bid to be elected to the office of” blah blah “and was busy shaking the hands of voters . . . when he came across one whose hands were hardened by work in the fields. ‘My goodness,’ PCSN joked, do you walk on them?’ He was overheard and the common people concluded that he had been taunting their poverty and their labour. The upshot, needless to say, was that he lost the election.”
SPQR p. 192: only the rich could afford to run for public office (Campaigns, then as now, are expensive) but “success . . . was a gift bestowed by the poor.”
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.