When, in 75BC, Cicero stepped of the boat at Brundisium, having fulfilled his duty to the Roman republic as quaestor of Sicily he imagined that all Rome would be abuzz with the news of his performance.
As he sailed into the harbour he keenly anticipated the praise that he would soon have lavished upon him by the citizens of the republic.
Cicero thrived on the praise of the people. Especially keen for Cicero was the hunger for praise from his social betters. To the great and not so good of Rome, Cicero keenly desired to prove his unlimited ability and potential. To prove that he deserved his place in their midst.
He waited in vain.
Stepping off the boat he was greeted with indifference. No one noticed the return of the great Roman magistrate sent to aid in the governance of Sicily. Events occupied the minds of the powerful in Rome, and these events were not the banal management of a distant colony.
Cicero learned an important lesson that day, one that he did not forget for the rest of his career.
No matter what glories you achieve in distant lands, no matter how great the tales told of your prowess, people are consistent in one thing. They do not remember what they hear.
But what they see? Visions and images stay with them forever. What is seen has impact. Everything else fades away.
Appearances are important.
As important as substance.