The citizens of Simplex Pond asked Gilmore Hilton, the area’s intellectual giant, to run for Town Council. Several of us gathered in his store on a rainy Sunday morning and literally begged him to seek election. His response was typical and interesting.

“I turn to Cicero for my answer. He was the greatest lawyer, orator, philosopher, and politician of his time. His moral fiber was never torn. He argued that the loss of character was one reason for the fall of the Roman Republic.

“Influential Romans had to place character before power. He was such an outstanding speaker that he was able to sway the populous to his positions.

“He gravitated toward a gray area in many issues. You may call that wishy-washy. He recognized all sides of an argument. Cicero convinced all that no position was definitive; he often took no particular side himself.

“I take a side and dig in, if that position is best for the majority of the people. Cicero initially supported Mark Antony but later broke away from him. I would not have left Antony. So what happened? Cicero was captured and killed by Antony’s mob. His head and right hand were cut off and displayed publicly in Rome. Ouch! Do you want to see these blue eyes and aquiline nose swinging from the flag pole in Simplex Pond’s public square? O tempora … O mores!”

We left Gilmore’s store. As usual, his word did not beg rebuttal, nor did Hilton smirk or gloat. Too bad— he would have been a great councilor.

Morton Soule teaches Latin at Cape Elizabeth High School. He can be reached at [email protected]

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