Elections, Present and Past

July 8, 2009 / Local Interest
Sant'Agata dei Goti
elections1“Under every stone lurks a politician,” wrote Aristophanes is 410 B.C.

This was certainly the case in the recent administrative elections in our town.

This year three candidates were running for the office of mayor in Sant’Agata, each with a roster of eligible officers which meant that practically everybody in town was running for something or other. Candidates could be seen everywhere, huddled in small groups or talking to prospective supporters.

Marco, a bright, young and capable farmer, was elected to office for the first time. He ran with the unknown Alternativa Democratica party whose underdog candidate Carmine Valentino ultimately won the election. Two weeks before the election Carmine’s good friend Vito (who was running for office under an opposing list) died of a heart attack. He stopped his campaign for two days out of respect for the family. No one else did.

elections2All this activity brings to the political campaigns in ancient Pompeii. Candidates were promoted by friends, family and the corporazioni. These associations of local merchants and professionals would urge citizens to vote for a candidate, writing on walls slogans such as:

NERUM AED(ILEM) OVF. UNGUENTARI FACITE ROG(ANT)
I urge you to vote for Nero as surveyor. He is packed by the perfumers.

C LOLLIUM FUSCUM IIVIR(UM)…ASELLINAS ROGANT NEC SINE ZMYRINA
Asellina’s chambermaids – including Smirina – request the election of Gaio Lollio Fusco as duumvirate.

Or (nothing new under the sun) even this slightly offensive, 2,000 year old example of mud slinging:

CEIUM SECUNDUM IIVIR(UM) OVF. SUTORIA PRIMIGENIA CUM SUIS ROG(ANT) ASTYLE DORMIS
Choose Ceio Secondo for duumvirate. It is Sutoria Primigenia and her family who ask for your vote. Astilo sleeps!

Oooh! That must have hurt!

Barbara Goldfield

by Barbara Goldfield

Owner of “Savour The Sannio”, www.savourthesannio.com, a travel consultancy for central and southern Italy.

3 Responses to “Elections, Present and Past”

  1. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Fascinating note, Barbara. And Signora B’s recent remark about ‘the Emperor’ underscores other parallels between Rome ancient and modern!

    Reply
  2. Lezly

    Some things never change and hopefully never will. “Imperium” by Robert Harris paints a pretty vivid picture of the politics of Rome during Cicero’s time and it appears little has changed the landscape of high drama, corruption, scandal and political posturing for over a millennium (closer to 2) – Politics in Italy remains the best show in town. Gotta love it!

    Reply

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