Cicero addressing the Roman Senate. Photograph: Baldwin
The recent US election campaign was a bitter volatile campaign, with accusations of inconsistency, incompetence and scandal filling the air. Candidates competed to portray themselves as the true choice, to the charge of 'deplorables' the crowd chanted 'lock her up'. Hardly dialectics that
Cicero would have approved of.
2,000 years ago, covered expertly in Quintus Tullius Cicero's strategy memo for the campaign of his brother, Marcus, for consul in Rome in 64BC. The Commentariolum Petitionis, or "Little Handbook on Electioneering", is remarkable.
Quintus starts with what we campaign advisers call "confidence building", assuring the candidate that he has what it takes to win.
He moves on to an assessment of the nature and strength of the candidate's base and the need to target specific groups, cautioning against what might be perceived as class warfare.
He urges his brother to go negative early, even bringing up the character issue . He then moves brilliantly back to base development, urges his brother to pander, and anticipates Napoleon's advice that a leader should be "a dealer in hope".