A Ship of State Metaphor in Cicero

ne mi quidem ipsi tunc placebat diutius abesse ab rei p. custodia ; sedebamus enim in puppi et clavum tenebamus ; nunc autem vix est in sentina locus

This is from a very free letter to L. Papirius Paetus in the last months of 46 BC.  What I enjoy about this usage of a common metaphor (Plato’s Republic, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex) is its creativity and sarcasm.  It is not didactic or ideological in function here, but rather a colorful expression of frustration.

I did not myself at that time desire to absent myself for any length of time from the guardianship of the constitution: for I was sitting at the helm and holding the rudder; whereas now I have scarcely a place in the hold.

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