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Showing posts from August 17, 2014


Who will guard us from the guardians? “ Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? ” – this is a philosophical question posed by a satirist, Juvenal. It is funny, really: you would imagine that the question would first turn up in Plato or Aristotle, reach its canonical form there – that great rounded form of the thing finally said, as though the whole ocean of discourse had washed over it and worn away every unnecessary edge. But it does not crop up there, nor in Cicero, but in a poem directed against women. “I know the advice my old friends would give/Lock her up and bar the doors. But who is to keep guard over the guards themselves?” (Peter Green’s translation). Surely there is something of interest here – that an eminently political counsel, something that has been absorbed into the works of the great modern political thinkers, should have first appeared as a question aimed at scoring points against the sucker who thinks he can control his wife’s sexuality, when, as the poem makes clear, she