"On the Republic" and "On the Laws"

"On the Republic" and "On the Laws"

Series: Agora Editions
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    "On the Republic" and "On the Laws"
    Book Description:

    Cicero'sOn the RepublicandOn the Lawsare his major works of political philosophy. They offer his fullest treatment of fundamental political questions: Why should educated people have any concern for politics? Is the best form of government simple, or is it a combination of elements from such simple forms as monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy? Can politics be free of injustice? The two works also help us to think about natural law, which many people have considered since ancient times to provide a foundation of unchanging, universal principles of justice.

    On the Republicfeatures a defense of politics against those who advocated abstinence from public affairs. It defends a mixed constitution, the actual arrangement of offices in the Roman Republic, against simple forms of government. TheRepublicalso supplies material for students of Roman history-as doesOn the Laws. TheLaws, moreover, presents the results of Cicero's reflections as to how the republic needed to change in order not only to survive but also to promote justice

    David Fott's vigorous yet elegant English translation is faithful to the originals. It is the first to appear since publication of the latest critical edition of the Latin texts. This book contains an introduction that both places Cicero in his historical context and explicates the timeless philosophical issues that he treats. The volume also provides a chronology of Cicero's life, outlines of the two works, and indexes of personal names and important terms.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6912-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. IX-XII)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Marcus Tullius Cicero is widely respected today as one of the two greatest orators (along with Demosthenes) of the ancient world and a brilliant advocate in legal cases. Many people hail him as a statesman who, while holding the highest office of the Roman Republic, saved Rome from the conspiracy of the ruthless politician Catiline. But Cicero is not nearly so renowned as a philosopher, despite the fact that one of his works,On Duties(De officiis), became a textbook of moral philosophy for centuries. Over the years many scholars have regarded him not as a philosopher at all but...

  5. Note on the Text and the Translation
    (pp. 17-20)
  6. Chronology of Cicero’s Life
    (pp. 21-22)
  7. Outlines of On the Republic and On the Laws
    (pp. 23-26)
  8. On the Republic (with explanatory notes)

    • Book 1
      (pp. 29-62)

      [Cicero wrote prefaces in his own voice to books 1, 3, and 5. Most of the preface to book¹ is missing (the missing pages total thirty-four—i.e., seventeen leaves of the discovered manuscript), but we can obtain an indication of Cicero’s line of argument from the first fragment: he maintains that the city has a greater claim than our biological parents to our loyalty. The second fragment is just a snippet, but I leave it here because it may refer to the philosophers who reject involvement in public life, to whom Cicero refers afterward.]

      1. Thus, because the fatherland secures...

    • Book 2
      (pp. 63-88)

      SCIPIO: * * * This is from Cato¹ as an old man. As you know, I uniquely cherished and greatly admired him. I dedicated myself entirely to him from my youth because of the judgment of both of my fathers and my own eagerness. His speech could never sate me. That man’s experience in public affairs—which he managed both at home and abroad exceedingly well and for a very long time—was very great, as were his way of speaking, his wit mixed with seriousness, his utmost eagerness for learning or teaching, and the complete congruence of his life...

    • Book 3
      (pp. 89-104)

      . . . the human being has been brought forth into life by nature not as if by a mother but as if by a stepmother: his body naked, frail, and weak, his spirit worried by trouble, downcast with fears, soft in the face of labors, prone to lusts; but it is as if there were a certain concealed, divine fire of talent and mind in him.³

      [Eight pages are missing.]

      * * * and slowness through vehicles, . . . and when it found human beings making, as it were, rudimentary, confused sounds with crude voices, it broke them...

    • Book 4
      (pp. 105-110)

      UNCERTAIN SPEAKER: * * * gratitude, how conveniently the orders have been arranged into ages, classes, and cavalry.¹ The last includes the votes of the senate, but too many men now foolishly desire that this advantage be eliminated; they seek a new largess through some plebiscite for giving back horses.

      Now consider² how wisely the other things have been provided for the citizens’ fellowship of living happily and honorably. That is indeed the first cause of assembling, and it ought to be accomplished for human beings through the republic partly by institutions, partly by laws. First of all there is...

    • Book 5
      (pp. 111-114)

      “The Roman Republic stands upon ancient customs and men.” Indeed he¹ seems to me to have spoken that verse, in brevity and in truth, as if from a sort of oracle. Neither men, unless the city had been so accustomed, nor customs, unless such men had been in charge, could have either founded or held for so long such a commanding republic and one so widely extended. And so, before our time, paternal custom itself supplied superior men, and excellent men retained that old custom and the ancestors’ institutions. Although in fact our generation had received the republic just like...

    • Book 6
      (pp. 115-124)

      Therefore, you expect¹ the complete prudence [prudential] of this guide, the very name of which originated in foreseeing [providere].²

      Therefore, this citizen necessarily prepares himself so that he is always armed against things that upset the form of the city.³

      And this disagreement among citizens is called sedition [seditio] because some men go [ire] apart [se] to others.⁴

      And in political disagreement, when respectable men exert more influence than the many, I think that citizens should be weighed, not counted.

      For lusts are grave mistresses over thoughts. They compel...

    • Fragments of Uncertain Location
      (pp. 125-126)

      1. . . . to whom no one, citizen or enemy, will be able to render a repayment of assistance for his deeds.¹

      2. . . . if it is holy for anyone to ascend to the regions of the heavenly beings, to me alone the greatest gate to heaven is open.²

      3. “It is true, Africanus,” he said; “now this gate was open to Hercules . . .”³

      4. . . . there is no model that we would prefer the republic to resemble . . .⁴

      5. . . . and nature itself would not only invite but...

  9. On the Laws (with explanatory notes)

    • Book 1
      (pp. 129-152)

      A: That sacred grove and this oak tree of the inhabitants of Arpinum is certainly recognized.¹ I have often read about it inMarius.² If that oak tree remains, surely this is it; and in fact it is certainly old.

      Q: Indeed it remains, my³ dear Atticus, and it always will remain. For it has been planted by an intellect. No root can be sown by a farmer’s cultivation that is so long lasting as one sown by a poet’s verse.

      A: How so, Quintus? What sort is there that poets plant? In fact you seem to me to be...

    • Book 2
      (pp. 153-180)

      A: But since there has already been enough walking and you must make another start in speaking, do you want us to change our location and devote our attention to the rest of our conversation while sitting down on the island in the Fibrenus? I think that is the name of the other river.

      M: Certainly. I regularly use that place most gladly, whether I am thinking something over or writing or reading something.

      A: I, for one, cannot be sated, especially since I have just now come here, and I scorn magnificent villas, marble pavements, and paneled ceilings. The...

    • Book 3
      (pp. 181-200)

      M: As I began, therefore, I will follow that divine man, whom I praise perhaps more often than is necessary because I am excited by a certain admiration.

      A: You speak of Plato, of course.

      M: Exactly, Atticus.

      A: In fact you may never praise him either too strongly or too often. Even those men of mine,¹ who want no one other than their own man to be praised, concede to me that I may cherish him at my own choice.

      M: Good for them, by Hercules! For what is worthier of your refinement? Your life and speech seem to...

    • Fragments
      (pp. 201-202)

      1. (from book 3) Who will be able to protect the allies if he does not have a choice between advantageous and disadvantageous things?¹

      2. (from book 5) Then, since the sun now seems to have declined a little from midday, and this entire place is not yet shaded enough by these young trees, do you² want us to go down to the Liris and pursue the remaining matters in those shady retreats of alders?³

      3. (uncertain location) Just as the universe, all of whose parts are congruent with one another, coheres and supports itself by one and the same...

  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 203-206)
  11. Index of Personal Names
    (pp. 207-218)
  12. Index of Terms
    (pp. 219-230)