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How to Win an Election: An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians
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How to Win an Election: An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  599 ratings  ·  88 reviews

"How to Win an Election" is an ancient Roman guide for campaigning that is as up-to-date as tomorrow's headlines. In 64 BC when idealist Marcus Cicero, Rome's greatest orator, ran for consul (the highest office in the Republic), his practical brother Quintus decided he needed some no-nonsense advice on running a successful campaign. What follows in his short letter are tim

Hardcover, 128 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Princeton University Press (first published -64)
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This book is a new translation of the Commentariolum Petitionis, a letter supposedly written by Quintus Tullius Cicero to his older brother, Marcus Tullius Cicero, on how to win the elections for consul. The introduction notes some doubts about the authenticity of the work (other possible origins include a carefully-written propaganda piece or even an elaborate composition exercise), but he still concedes that this work is a clear-eyed view of the complex nature of Roman politics in the late Rep ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Politics is full of deceit, treachery, and betrayal."

In his letter Quintus Cicero gives advice to his brother Marcus Cicero on how to win an election. The advice that Quintus gives Marcus rings true even in 21st Century American politics. The letter is mostly serious but at times is even funny. As I was reading it I thought about whether Quintus was giving him good advice considering they are brothers and all. Not only is he supportive of his brother by telling him about his strengths as a cand
Michael Finocchiaro
Compared to the book I read by Cardinal Mazarin, this one was less intriguing. Perhaps it was the flat translation or just the distance in time between now and ancient Rome, but the exchanges here between the Cicero brothers brought me little insight into how campaigns are run or their personalities. Maybe I need to read it again in a few years? Or perhaps read some of the rhetoric of Cicero to fully appreciate his style. Anyway, this one didn't really do it for me.
Salem Lorot
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The more things change, the more they remain the same. I could identify with most of the pieces of advice given and how politicians exploit them. We just had an election in Kenya, so it was great to go through this short book and reflect on a couple of things in the book. It is the kind of book you read in-between books (well, for the polygamous readers out there, you catch the drift?)

I realized that as a politician, Quintus Tullius Cicero advises, you would rather promise something that you may
This translation of the Commentariolum Petitionis was put out, I am assuming, in an effort to capitalize on, well, all the people who might be interested in reading something a bit more classic for the US election season. Count me in. I was actually trying to get through all of it in Latin before Election Day; that didn't happen, so I gave up and read the second half in translation.

I am not a classicist and as such had never heard of the Commentariolum before I found it mentioned in the by-line
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I came across this book at a Barnes and Nobles bookstore, on a table of books that was in front of the entrance. I picked up the little book, read the jacket cover and the back of the book, that had the endorsements of Karl 'The Architect' Rove, former U.S. Senator Gary Hart, and decided that it was worth picking up to read on the train.

The book, which was translated by Philip Freeman, who also writes the introduction, was taken from the ancient Latin text the Conmmentariolum Petitionis, a short
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This is another one of those interesting little books that have been popping up lately on Rome. The book is based on a letter from Quintus Tullius Cicero to his more famous orator brother Marcus Cicero on how to deal to an upcoming election. It reads remarkably like what a modern campaign manager would say and for those who might be disillusioned it show that cynicism in politics has been with us forever. Some of the advice is insightful - remember names,some are practical - promise everyone eve ...more
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Should you be concerned about the nature of today's elections, take a look at campaign strategy 2000 years ago. The key difference: John Stuart wasn't there in the Daily show to show news clips of Marcus Cicero making promises to one group while promising the opposite to another.

The test s how both the original Latin and and an English translation.
Cody Sexton
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
The advice contained herein is as relevant now as it was then.
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Or, to give it it's Latin title, Commentariolum Petitionis.

A delightful little primer on electioneering that should still be read today. Although given the apparently timely nature of its advice, perhaps modern politicians are, in fact, still reading it today. Or maybe little brother Quintus invented the art of negative advertising. He reminds brother Marcus to dredge up opponents' sexual scandals. And to smile at everyone. And my favourite: to promise everyone everything because voters will be
Zach Vaughn
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
Some will probably be appalled by the apparent cynicism in this translation of Quintus’ letter of advice to his brother Marcus, especially if you are a “follower of the philosopher Plato” like Marcus Cicero, but I enjoyed this short volume translated by Prof. Philip Freeman.

As you read, you might think Quintus has advised Marcus to be like an Etch-a-Sketch. Newt probably could’ve taken some Quintus advice about not taking a vacation during the campaign and avoided the two he took (Greece and Haw
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, politics
I can think of someone running for high office right now that could use this book (you can fill in the blank). Or maybe...don't read this book; just keep doing what you are doing!
Nathan Albright
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge
Quintus Tullius Cicero, the younger brother of the more famous Marcus, who was among the greatest orators of the late Roman Republic [1], apparently wrote this delightful little book in a lengthy letter to his older brother about how to win an election. In understanding this book, the word “an” becomes rather important. Within this book there are two different ways this word can be understood as far as its larger significance. The author, a somewhat cynical and worldly wise Roman of his time, gi ...more
Son Tung
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really like the practical and cunning advices in this book, for now. It shows many dirty tricks in politics are timeless.
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is one of the most valuable treasures I had looted from the Harvard Bookstore three or four years ago, as I debated becoming a Classics graduate student, at the same time as I assumed the responsibility of a political officer at my undergraduate university.

Of course, that political job was overrun by Russian, vis á vis this song, or possibly by spending too much of my limited time at my most favourite professor's office... I don't remember for sure: the ideas are
Liam Thompson
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
In this short book by Quintus Cicero, the brother of the great statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, Quintus advises his brother on how to win his election to the consulship. In this handbook, Quintus gives Marcus the run-down on everything from patronage, campaign promises, and slander, which are hallmarks of politics to this day. It is truly remarkable that politics has not changed in the 2000 years that have passed since the handbook's creation. Upon much reflection, I believe that politics has no ...more
John Betts
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A short book on a letter from Quintus Tullius Cicero to his brother, the most famous Ancient Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero. In this Quintus gives Marcus practical advice on how his brother can win an election as Consul (equivalent to President, although there were 2 Consuls in Rome). Cynical and manipulative at times in what he outlines, but nothin really shocking. If modern political candidates haven't used this as a guide for winning elections today, they're surely getting similar tips fr ...more
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really liked this short treatise. Cicero's older brother offered the more famous Cicero solid advice to win his election for proconsul in the Roman Republic. His insights still prove useful for modern politicians. It also offers a number of useful tips for building lasting interpersonal relationships. Nothing too profound here, though, because it's mostly common sense. For example, before you run for public office be sure that you have the support of your family and close friends. More often t ...more
Paul Ispas
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deși e clar că selecția de texte din Cicero a fost făcută pentru a deservi unui anume scop, actualitatea temelor și abordărilor sale sunt debordante. Aproape fiecare text din compilație conține fraze/expresii demne de citat în situații contemporane, iar politica românească ar face bine să (re?)citească ce spunea clasicul antic contemporan.
Lucrarea e foarte bine îngrijită, iar prefața lui Maior este surprinzătoare.
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A MUST READ! This 2,070 year old letter from Quintus Cicero to his brother Marcus Cicero (Google them) explain the basics of campaigning and electioneering that every politician adheres to still. I'm positive Obama read the excerpts about making then breaking promises.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
A thin book featuring the classical text of Commentariolum Petitionis. The book contains an introduction that brings you up to speed with the context of the classical text. After that, it features the text in Latin and in English, side by side, with the 2 versions aligned to each other.
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I geeked out when I saw that the original Latin was printed on the left side of the pages. Great for a little bit of ancient history.
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Practical advice on a civil/political campaign.
Ramsey Carroll
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Solid and sound advice. Truly timeless.
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
So fascinating how humans and their politics haven't changed.
Tammam Aloudat
It is shocking how little politics has changed in two thousand years. Quintus Cicero wrote this letter to his brother, the great Roman orator Marcus Cicero, advising him on his campaign as a candidate for the consulship of Rome. Marcus, who didn't come from a noble family was an unlikely candidate for the highest office in the Roman empire and needed all the advice he could get.

What is in this letter is all the tricks a politician can play to win elections from the good ones of being honest and
Josh Reese
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an extremely interesting read. As the United States' system of government was heavily influenced by the Roman Republic, and Cicero's writings were household standards at the time of the founding fathers, it shouldn't be surprising that 95% of this book is directly applicable to the modern day U.S. It is written with such candor that you will probably find yourself laughing at Quintus's blunt observations from time to time. If this book sounds interesting to you at all, I recommend giving ...more
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
working through my back log of audio books. knocking out some short ones.
Jozef Gajdos
Interesting quick read

It is remarkable how little changed in politics and campaigning in the last 2000 years.
The reason probably is that it works.
Ediţie bilingvă: latină şi română. Majoritatea sfaturilor sunt încă utile dar nu prea morale.
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Quintus Tullius Cicero (/ˈsɪsɨroʊ/; Classical Latin: [ˈkɪkɛroː]; 102 BC – 43 BC) was the younger brother of the celebrated orator, philosopher and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero. He was born into a family of the equestrian order, as the son of a wealthy landowner in Arpinum, some 100 kilometres south-east of Rome.