Well aware of both the continuity and contingency of human affairs, Adams and Madison searched the works of Tacitus and Voltaire and Locke like carpenters rummaging through their assortment of tools, knowing that all the pediments were jury-rigged, all the provisional, all the alliances temporary.
There are people who believe everything is sane and sensible that is done with a solemn face. ... It is no great art to say something briefly when, like Tacitus , one has something to say; when one has nothing to say, however, and none the less writes a whole book and makes truth ... into a liar that I call an achievement.Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Tacitus appears to have been as great an enthusiast as Petrarch for the revival of the republic and universal empire. He has exerted the vengeance of history upon the emperors, but has veiled the conspiracies against them, and the incorrigible corruption of the people which probably provoked their most atrocious cruelties. Tyranny can scarcely be practised upon a virtuous and wise people.john adams