Content thyself to be obscurely good.
When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,
The post of honor is a private station.
Joseph Addison (1672-1719) from Cato Act iv Scene 2
Public service is an honorable thing, and was regarded very highly in the Roman Republic, and later the Roman Empire. What these lines are telling us is that when the power of the state is held by men (or women) of poor moral character it would be a good idea to refrain from offering their services. In this play, Cato prefers death over Caesar’s offer of clemency if he would accept the rule of a dictator.
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