Plutarch and Government


The kids and I are reading Plutarch's Lives and we just finished Numa Pompilius. I've already learned so much and there was one passage that particularly caught my eye.


When Romulus passed, the people of Rome needed to vote for a new king. But the people were still quite divided into two groups, the Romans and the Sabines. Romulus had that whole debacle with the Sabines, you remember? Stealing the Sabine women and what not. The Romans and the Sabines eventually fought, but the women interrupted the fight to plead for the lives of their new husbands and their old fathers and brothers. (I knew this part of the story because of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which is one of the best movies ever.) So then the two groups came together to live in Rome since Rome was underpopulated anyway.

That is the highly condensed and abridged version. So bear with me.

The Sabines and the Romans were living together but were still very distinct from each other. Romulus was the glue that held them together (that and building and defending a city). When he left, the two parties were at odds on who should be voted in as king. So the Senate came up with a brilliant idea.


Each party had to vote for the other party's candidate in the primaries. The Sabines had to pick a Roman to run in the election, and the Romans had to pick a Sabine. This way, no matter who won the election, both sides, both parties would be pleased with the result.

Isn't that amazing!? Instead of dividing further, they were able to come together. The resulting king was a Sabine (Numa Pompilius) that everyone loved and who brought the two parties together into one peaceful nation.

Of course, this made me think of our government. And how divided our two parties are right now. If we could only set up the primaries like this. Where the Democrats choose the Republican candidate and the Republican choose the Democrat. That way we can meet in the middle. The two extremes wouldn't be chosen.

Anyway, that's something I learned and was in awe of. There's so much we've forgotten or lost. I've only thought about Classical education on a small scale so far. Large enough to impact our nation and our world maybe, but not quite large enough to reform our nation. But maybe one day?

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