A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.
Indeed so. That there’s Marcus Tullius Cicero speaking to us from the annals of history (or perhaps not), a guy who surely knew a thing or two about Enemies, Domestic and the wanton damage and destruction they can wreak upon any Republic, then or now. Cicero also well knew how such enemies are most properly and effectively dealt with.
Though he was an accomplished orator and successful lawyer, Cicero believed his political career was his most important achievement. It was during his consulship that the Catiline conspiracy attempted to overthrow the government through an attack on the city by outside forces, and Cicero suppressed the revolt by summarily and controversially executing five conspirators without trial.
Bold mine, and entirely dispositive. Alas for his own suffering, tottering Republic though, Cicero went on to provide a pluperfect example of that damage I mentioned a minute ago:
During the chaotic middle period of the first century BC, marked by civil wars and the dictatorship of Julius Caesar, Cicero championed a return to the traditional republican government. Following Caesar’s death, Cicero became an enemy of Mark Antony in the ensuing power struggle, attacking him in a series of speeches. He was proscribed as an enemy of the state by the Second Triumvirate and consequently executed by soldiers operating on their behalf in 43 BC, having been intercepted during an attempted flight from the Italian peninsula. His severed hands and head were then, as a final revenge of Mark Antony, displayed on the Rostra.
Again: bold mine, and entirely etc. New category for things like this: Enemies, Domestic. Considered just renaming the “Our Enemies” cat, but then thought, nah. “Enemies, Domestic” is much more specific, seems to me; certainly, in our parlous age it’s all too apt.