Marcus Tullius CiceroMarcus Tullius Cicero, (106-43 B.C.) Roman Statesman, Philosopher and Orator

Marcus Tullius Cicero Quote

“The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”

Marcus Tullius CiceroMarcus Tullius Cicero
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

attributed but questionable

Ratings and Comments

Gary, Checotah

Sounds like the perfect answer to today's America. It's painfully obvious that Amerca's decline mirrors Rome's last days. The fools remained perched on couches worried about sports (or spectators watching the gladiators), the ignorant poor and illegal aliens drain society of dollars and commit crimes (as they did in Rome also). Corrupt leaders who have affairs publcly and make excuses for it. Wars against peoples whose only crime was being born in the wrong place. Lies, deceit, money disappearing; America would be so lucky to be so highly regarded.

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

If only we understood that it is not the "ignorant and poor" who are plundering our society, it is the rich and powerful... for they are the ones who enslave the masses and keep them ignorant and poor.

Logan, Memphis, TN

If only we understood that socialism CREATES the "ignorant and poor" -- and just how is it that the ignorant, who have to rely on the "forced charity" of others and the poor, who do the same, are not plundering our society? TANSTAAFL!! This is one of the main reasons immigration is SO important! If we're going to have a mixed socialist/capitalist economy then we cannot allow ANYONE into our country illegally and keep our economy! If we're going to have a mixed economy we need to stand on our borders ready to shoot-to-kill any man, women, or child that seeks to come across illegally! Otherwise, get rid of our Socialist economy and welfare-state, and rid ourselves of the bloody leeches that are bleeding the country dry!

Mose, West Chester PA

Too soon we get old before we get smart!

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

Anonymous in Reston: Which schools did you attend where the rich and powerful were teaching students to be as ignorant as yourself?

E Archer, NYC

It is the same old story -- history repeating itself. It seems every powerful nation eventually reaches this point -- before it falls.

Yogi Bera, Here

History repeating itself all over again.

Brian D. Pickett, Tampa, Fl

I have nothing to say, Cicero has said it all!

Me Again
  • Reply
Me Again    4/5/06


Scott, DC
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Scott, DC    7/20/07

is this quote accurate? What foreign assistance did Rome bestow on her neighbors? Rome was largely a plunder economy surrounded by client states, buffer kingdoms paying tribute. Plunder being somewhat antagonistic to foreign aid, buffering somewhat opposite dependency.

Scott, DC
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    Scott, DC    7/20/07

    also, you can't really have public debt without banking. Any right winger in here know what type of society is founded on the ability to borrow against expected future income? Hint, it involves the word capital and didn't crop up for another many centuries. No way Cicero said this. Sorry fools.

    John Michael Roarke, Chicago

    Scott in DC: Ancient Rome may not have had a Federal Reserve, but laws regulating banking activities go back as far as ancient Babylonia and the Hammurabi Code. At the time of Cato, banking in Rome was rather sophisticated, and comprised interest charges on loans, as well as interest payments on deposits. Furthermore, while Rome certainly brought money INTO the city, there was also a large cash flow out - in terms of grain payments, payments to soldiers deployed over the provinces, etc.

    Kim, Canton, GA

    Regardless of whether or not this quote is accurate, I don't see how anyone - even the most biased liberal - can disagree with a single word of it.

    doctorhugo, Mastic, New York

    As true today as it was in 63BC!

    Bama Fan, Cullman, Alabama

    It looks like we have graduated from individuals relying on government assistance, to corporations relying on government assistance. How much longer can we last. We are just passing on the problem to our children and grandchildren.

    Heywood, Argonne

    Nice sentiment. Too bad Cicero never said it. It has been twisted from an actual quote to match current conditions. The real quote is "The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall."

    David, Reading

    Actual quote was "The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall." They did not have public assistance in ancient Rome. People who handle money, then and now, do not do real work and are as such a bigger drain on the economic activities of others.

    Ciceronianus, Boston

    Cicero never said anything of the sort, since the Romans of the first century BC were busily engaged in exploiting foreign lands, not helping them! He DOES complain about this exploitation in the Verrine orations. He NEVER would say that the Romans would go broke helping foreign lands. The quote is fiction, from Taylor Caldwell's A Pillar of Iron (historical novel, written in 1965). A Cicero Scholar

    bup, Glenview, IL

    This 'quote' is from a movie, not from Cicero.

    emmie, omaha

    Since none of us were there, nobody knows if he actually quoted it or not, but what it says is true.

    Mark, Marsing

    Sounds like the United States of America. Yes, when Rome conquered a land, they had to take care of it, somewhat. And yes they did have public assistance in Rome, it usually came in the form of food. A good read along these lines is Richard Maybury's book "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy"

    L S Oliveira, Lisbon, Portugal

    The quote is apocryphal

    john Woodford, ann arbor

    Look this "quote" up on Snopes, where people who know Cicero expose it as pure bunk. Strange how it's rightwingers who always fall for this sort of baloney. If I were so consistently gullible, I'd begin to question what Limbaughism was doing to my mind.

    Knox, Seattle

    Actual quote that has been expounded on. "The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign hands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall." Also I watched this kind of activity by leftwingers who were not happy in past years. It seems to be human nature to accept what we want to be true left/right/or middle....

    Cynical, Akron

    To those of you, who like me, doubt the veracity of this quote: How do we find an authoritative source to definitely confirm or repudiate it? If in fact it is not true how do we trust anything on this site?

    Anonymous,, Chicago

    let's try to use something other than "snopes" and "" as our end all be all source (fyi, if snopes used to have this quote on there, they took it off as of 4/21 probably because they realized they were the ones reporting bunk!)...congressional record vs snopes, I pick congressional record seeing as snopes probably just employs 16 year old computer junkies.... Congressional Record, April 25, 1968, vol. 114, p. 10635.

    Matt, Pittsburgh

    Funny how the "left-wingers" always resort to name calling rather than citing accurate facts. Must not be any to support their logic. Way to got anonymous in Chicago.

    Al, Washington D.C.

    To good to be thru!

    Laird Popkin, NYC

    This is a fake. If Cicero had really said this, there would be evidence from before 1965. Beyond that, Rome also didn't provide 'assistance to foreign lands' so it all feels like a manufactured quote, invoking Cicero to provide the illusion of historical validity to a modern political position.

    Svatopluk, Olomouc

    It's a well-known fake.

    Hadrian, Twin Cities

    As with all translations, you have to take into consideration the interpratation of the latin words. Most likely the quote is original but adapted through interpretation. Only a true Cicero scholar, that knows his work by heart would be able to shed lights into the veridicity of the quote. Nevertheless, true or fake, belonging to Cicero or to an anonymous guy, the meaning of it is what matters. That, is true to the bone! We have to stop relaying on government, we have to stop overspending, we have to stop sliding on the leftist path wich leads to socialism/communism. I grew up in a country behind the Iron Courtain and I know first hand what socialism/communism can do. Wake up people, why do you think these regimes failed all over the globe?

    FamouslyUnknown, Hackensack NJ

    Hadrian makes the essential points. Who disagrees that our country, within its means, should live and grow and assist others to do likewise, and that we should limit how our servants in government behave and serve, and that as adults we should shed unnecessary dependency?

    SelfGoverend, Happydale, MI

    You need only to pose the question to the poor: Where would you like to live, America or a socialist country of your choosing? We have more, as citizens, than any other country in the world because of the freedom and opportunity that a capitalist economy provides and a constitutional republic protects. The latter is under assault. Don't fear socialism, fear the regulatory state where bills are voted on but those not elected make and enforce the regulations that steal your freedom.

    • Reply
    Anonymous    1/3/10

    Re-written embellishment of Cicero's original.

    Seamoor, St. George, UT

    The real quote is: "budget should exsisto pondera. Publicus debitum should redeo. superbia of persona should exsisto tempero, quod suffragium ut extrarius terra should exsisto velum lest Rome decoctum." - Cicero 55 B.C. Arguing over literal translation is only a diversion from arguing the real points (a well known tact from the liberals in this country). Libs always attack the messenger, and not the message!

    • Reply
      cr    4/1/10

      if everyone questions the net how about picking up a book and looking for the answer

      • Reply
        cr    4/1/10

        thx seamoor that is perfect

        Anonymous, Colorado Springs

        The quote is from a historical novel by Taylor Caldwell, A Pillar of Iron (1965, p. 483). It couldn't be Cicero because Rome had no budget or public debt. The issues are presented from an entirely modern (Goldwater-era Conservative) point of view and in that era's vocabulary. The Roman Republic was undermined, but not by national debt and the lack of frugality of its poor: try military dictatorship and imperialism instead.

        J Wagner, Reading PA

        I love the back and forth here. However, real or fake, the point of this "quote" is inarguable. Anyone who doesn't understand this is part of the problem. Liberal or Conservative alike: If a friend needed a place to stay, you would probably agree to let him stay at your house. If the next week another friend needed a place to stay, you might agree to let him stay and so on. Why, because even if the friend is a total self made loser, it's the right thing to do. The problem is, sooner or later without fail, if all the people who are staying in your home do nothing but consume without contribution, the "good will" has to end. It must... for your own survival. This inarguable analogy represents the path that our country is on. Why is it so hard for most people to see the forrest for the trees? This must end or the USA as we know it will end.

        Anonymous, Sydney

        Arg. My mother happened to have a tattered copy, this quote doesn't exist on p. 483 of the 1965 Doubleday edition.

        Tom, Lincoln

        The quote is a made-up crock. The budget should be balanced, There was no budget. the Treasury should be refilled, There was no treasury. Public debt? In Rome? Read Polybius! Arrogance of officialdom? Cicero WAS officialdom! Foreign aid? Whoever wrote this knows nothing. "People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance" !! It was a slave-holding society. Your slaves worked. I've taught Latin since the 60's and all I can say is What a crock!

        Bill, Memphis

        Sounds like the perfect answer to today's America. It's painfully obvious that Amerca's decline mirrors Rome's last days. The fools remained perched on couches worried about sports (or spectators watching the gladiators), the ignorant poor and illegal aliens drain society of dollars and commit crimes (as they did in Rome also). Corrupt leaders who have affairs publcly and make excuses for it. Wars against peoples whose only crime was being born in the wrong place. Lies, deceit, money disappearing; America would be so lucky to be so highly regarded. -- Gary, Checotah

        K, Dothan AL

        The actual quote was "The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign hands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall." The rest of that is from a book.. So for those who do not believe it because of the assistance to foreign lands part.. well that part is in my opinion according to all the documentation available to me - accurate. Just google this The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered

        henry, waco

        I wish he were alive to run for office

        Anonymous, Rome

        "Antonius heartily agreed with him that the budget should be balanced, that the Treasury should be refilled, that the public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of the generals should be tempered and controlled, that assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt, that the mobs should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence, and that prudence and frugality should be put into practice as soon as possible." - A Pillar of Iron (1965), p. 483, Taylor Caldwell In a letter to The Chicago Tribune (20 April 1971), John H. Collins, Professor of History at Northern Illinois University, reported that the above attribution to Cicero, "is totally without documentation," and that "the great bulk of [Caldwell's] quotations are false." He further observed that "[a] historical novelist has a perfect right to put invented conversations and anecdotes into a novel, but should not represent these inventions as authentic history."

        Guy, Naples, FL

        I have been trying to find the truth in this quote - to see if even "The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign hands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall." is true... I came across this site and have been reading all the translations - with no proof of the quote:

        gf, london
        • Reply
        gf, london    2/1/11

        its not true

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        bk, guilford

        Well made up to please right-wingers.

        J.D., New Haven

        Cicero did not say this. It has been heavily augmented.

        Anonymous, A.M. Altoona

        Looks to me that most can agree "The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled..." is probably accurate. This alone should make everyone pause and reflect. The US government has been chipping away at our freedoms for decades. Our journey to the abyss of socialism is nearly complete. They legislate and legislate and when that doesn't work, regulate. A government that can give you everything can also take it away.

        Gene, CA
        • Reply
        Gene, CA    4/6/11

        Who cares who wrote it. Surely the truth of the words apply today. I would encourage everyone step back and see where our country is heading if we do not look to the past for understanding. Plus we as a country need to do more than observe but put the needed changes in place or we may just be a mark in the history books of future days.

        tadchem, Richmond, VA

        I find no evidence of a Latin word for "budget" in the 1st century BCE, nor do I find concern in Imperial Rome for 'reducing the public debt.' Civilizations are like trees: some live longer than others, but none are immortal. Karma works at the speed of communication.

        Ian, Cork, Ireland

        As a citizen in of a country with a welfare system in need of massive overhaul, I find the quote apt. However that said I studied Lain for six years and know that the above quote has as J.D. from New Haven has said been heavily augmented.

        Mike, Laval

        People who agree with the sentiment seem to believe that if its not Cicero, then it must have been someone else in antiquity who must have have said it or something similar and oh my gosh does it ever apply now. They're not clicking on that its a made-up quote by a contemporary source who shares their own political leaning - so no surprise it will seem apt - but who dressed it up to make it appear to be some sort of ominous prophetic eternal truth by deliberately and misleadingly attributing it to a source from antiquity. "Men who lack conscience will even lie to themselves..." -- Lauryn Hill

        Gulag Intern, Commyfornia

        Anyone having read Platos Republic, which predates Cicero and no doubt Cicero read, would know one of the problems of democracy as argued by Socrates is 'when officials realise thy can buy votes with the public treasury the do it, therby bankrpting the kingdom' this is a paraphrase. Cicero no doubt agreed and even if he didn't there is no example of Demacracy whrethis hasn't. Happened. So what's your point, that a true statement was falsly attributed to Cicero. Btw,the american revolution was spawed by an english play called Cato, which George Washington and others founders were fond of. I guess we should merge back to England since the quotes in 'Cato' the play were made up.

        Marie, Burnsville

        Cicero didn't say this - Taylor Caldwell did in her fictional book, A Pillor of Iron from 1965. Check it out - page 483.

        Caligula, Pretoria

        It doesnt sound like a Cicero quote, for one thing he new that Nero was responsible for a lot of the crimes in town. For Nero went around at night killing and mugging innocent citizens who happened to be on the streets.

        Little Boots, Pretoria

        It was also Nero who bankrupt the Empire by his excessive and lavish spending on games to amuse the masses who had no work. Corruption starts from the top and goes down. Then your society is doomed.

        Luce Weiles, Alabama

        In Spain the Romans built many large beautiful bridges all over the country, with no financial benefit to Rome, the granite sidewalks of Barcelona and Cordoba were built by them and aquaducts also, none of these projects produced any monetary gain.

        DogBert, Sydney

        Cicero would be turning in his grave...

        Bill, Capital Hill

        It is widely discredited and should be removed. Pure misquotation.

        J Carlton, Calgary

        It's an absolutely accurate assessment of what should have been done in Rome and it applies directly to the system of bail-outs, foreign aid, tax and spend, perpetual war, corrupt, fiat currency system of government that is circling the bowl today... I don't care who said it...or how it was said.

        Jackson, Florida

        Why is this quote still on this website when so much documentation has been provided to show that it is FICTIONAL? Doesn't the truth mean anything to conservatives any more?

        Greg, Berkeley

        Who disputes the value of work? What I will point out is that "full employment" is not the objective of the employers in a capitalist economy, but only that level of employment which benefits them. How many millions are desperately seeking work while corporate cash sits idly at record levels? And what of those who are physically and mentally incapable of meeting the demand of an employer, never mind the aged? Not only did Cicero NOT say this, but he did say "Let the welfare of the people be the ultimate law." If you believe this quote has something meaningful to say, better that you examine your motives for searching for meaning where there is none than inflict your unwillingness to see reality on the rest of us.

        Dragon, Uniontown, PA

        It's fake.

        J Carlton, Calgary

        The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people.

        Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us "Please Do Not Feed the Animals." Their stated reason for the policy is because "The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will learn not to take care of themselves."

        Anonymous, fl

        it was revised, but original quote still accurate...US going down same path & will have same result

        Gaby, Naples, FL

        Too bad we even need to manipulate the history and "find" an author of this quote. Too bad the quote itself may have been modified. Too bad that we are not sure about the veracity of the source.
        Look at ourselves! Utilizing inaccurate quotes with improbable resources in order to make people pay attention to our reality.
        Wake up people! We should not need Cicero or any other philosopher to make us taking the stands on this matter.
        I love what just happened, all of us are paying attention, whether it is true, whether it belongs to Cicero, whether we discuss about the sources... It is still current!!!!

        yesica, farmington

        XD haha lol by see u

        Anonymous, Medford, Oregon

        This is quoted from an historical novel by Caldwell Taylor. Does anyone fact check?! He never said this and Rome was know for planting their foot on, not aiding foreign lands. Not to mention the fact that the poor starved in those illustrious days. Sheesh.

        Antonio, Atlanta

        Rome Had Welfare

        Roman social welfare was introduced on a large scale by Gaius Gracchus (158-122 BC). All citizens of Rome were entitled to buy a monthly ration of grain at a fixed price. This subsidized food program (The Gaius Gracchus) immediately became the weapon of choice for the ruler to stay in high favor with the crowd and to maintain control over the political power. Cheap grain was initially sold to individual willing to queue up without any means test. Initially about 50,000 people used this benefit. The food subsidies policy evolved gradually over a long period of time. The number of people living on public social assistance increased and few rulers in power dared to put an end to it. The first ruler to make an attempt was the great commander Lucius Cornelius Sulla (138-78 BC), but it was stopped by severe social riots forcing him to retreat. Then no less than 200,000 Roman citizens received public social assistance and did stand up in defense of their “right to cheap basic food”.
        Sadly, most of our understanding of ancient history comes from fictional Hollywood films.

        As for the quote. I read Latin very poorly and as such can only read what some one else has interpreted.


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