words; Candidate

Share
Related Topics
Candidates for office in ancient Rome were expected to show up in pure white togas and were therefore called candidati, the Latin for "clothed in white". Such gear, dignified though it must have been, would make sad fools of some of our parliamentary candidates in the impending general election. Others might carry it off well enough but would object on ideological grounds. They would insist on their party colours, thus missing the whole point, which was that by wearing white those senatorial candidates were showing they were beyond reproach and free from corruption and sleaze.

White was always the colour, or rather non-colour, of purity until it began to be classed as politically incorrect. At the beginning of this century a kind or generous person of whatever colour could be called a "white man". "Life," wrote Shelley in one of his less meaningful passages, "like a dome of many-coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of eternity." Shelley would have made a great copywriter for the soap powder industry. Actually candidus didn't mean white at first so much as bright, like a candle or candela. Cicero once described a fellow-orator as both brilliant (candidus) and colourful (fucatus).

You don't get much brilliance or colour in modern political debate, going by what is shown of Parliament, however you fiddle with the controls. Nor do you always get quite enough candour, at least in the word's original sense as the noun associated with candidus. Candour started by meaning brilliance and perspicuity, then purity of character, then absence of bias and coming clean. It also, in the 17th and 18th centuries, meant freedom from malice, but we've forgotten all that now. If in the coming weeks you hear a candidate starting a sentence with "Candidly" you can be fairly sure it's not going to be free from malice. Still, I don't suppose the Romans were any better, however togged up (the same word, by the way).

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Management Support Assistant

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Railway Museum, the largest of its ...

Sauce Recruitment: FP&A Analyst -Home Entertainment

£250 - £300 per day: Sauce Recruitment: (Rolling) 3 month contractA global en...

Recruitment Genius: Sales and Account Manager - OTE £80,000+

£40000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - Kent - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - ne...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Ukip on the ropes? Voters don’t think so

Stefano Hatfield
'One minute he cares desperately about his precious things, the next he can’t remember them'  

I repeat things over and over in the hope they’ll stay with him

Rebecca Armstrong
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project