My friend Richard Edelman, in his Davos round-up, included this bon mot from Stephen Green, chief executive of HSBC:
“Business has to get on with being trustworthy. We need consistency of promise and action. We should be engaged in dialogue to bridge differences.” He offered a quote from Tacitus, “Good people don’t need rules to tell them how to behave responsibly and bad people will always find the ways around rules.”
Those Romans, huh? They had the right phrase for everything. But I wondered, is that really something from Tacitus. Or is it fake learning, that somehow has found its way into some eager beaver’s repertoire at HSBC?
Well, here at Davos Newbies Towers we have a trained squad of classicists ready for any eventuality. I sicced them on the quote from “Tacitus” and, so far, they’ve come up dry. It might turn up eventually, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Incidentally, my erudite classicist reports that a “quote” from Cicero is also doing the rounds:
The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign hands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall.
Perfect for Republicans in today’s Senate, surely. Except it’s confected. No Cicero was harmed in the production of the quote.