Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire

By Clifford Ando | Go to book overview
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Singulare et Unicum Imperium

Legum denique idcirco omnes servi sumus ut liberi esse possimus. CICERO Clu. 146

If more of Cicero's De legibus survived, this Conclusion would be easier to write.1 Ancient political theorists started with noble assumptions—for example, that the state, formed by a primitive social contract, existed to benefit the common good. To be fair, one must admit that these assumptions shaped Cicero's beliefs that a republic could not truly exist unless founded on the consensus of the political orders and that such concord must itself be founded upon the highest degree of justice.2 These theorists also assumed, however, that true political power ought to reside in men of their class; much of their “political theory” simply exhorted their peers to a career in the service of a state whose actual constitution they outlined in the barest of terms. The De legibus promised more: whatever Cicero intended, it had the potential to reveal one exceptional intellectual's vision of the bond that held the social fabric together. In that work Cicero provided a constitution for the ideal state that he had described in his De re publica some years before. He also supplied an extensive commentary on each section of that ideal law code, in which he set forth the objective good toward which each clause of that code was directed. Insofar as Cicero displayed an equal concern for the quality of a citizen's obedience, we can see, behind the perspective of the commentary, a particular understanding of the Roman citizen's adherence to his society's normative order.

The only extant work comparable in scope and topic to Leg. is Cicero Off. 3, on which see Dyck 1996. The Latin title of this chapter is quoted from Tertullian Adv. Praxean 3.2; for the context, see Chapter 2 at n. 123.
Cicero Rep. 2.69–70. See also Cicero Rep. 6.13.2, with Macrobius Comm. 1.8.13, discussed in Chapter 1 at nn. 20–21.


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