In 194 BC, when Scipio Africanus returned to Rome, the city of his birth, he was summoned to appear before the council to justify his accounts in what appeared then a serious misappropriation of war money Scipio had extracted from Rome’s erstwhile enemy Antiochus III of Syria. Scipio’s defense was to appear before the council in full military regalia and while holding the documents high above his head, unceremoniously rip them to shreds. Documents whose contents would have proved his innocence.

The point was made. Scipio was a loyal citizen of Rome: a praetor, military strategist and leader, twice consular and eventually princeps senatus. The thought he could be party to some treasonous intrigue was ludicrous.

With Trump’s ongoing refusal to comply with Congress’ demand for tax records by allegorically tearing up the documents gives us an idea where he stands on the rule of law. The point of the comparison is not to show how ruthless politicians can behave as they please, but how those who possess no honor, responsibility, civility to others or respect for the republic will be remembered in history — as thugs or dictators. While words like generosity and magnanimity were used to describe Publius, they are traits not often ascribed to Trump.

Gregory Hauss, Bakersfield