The Republic and The Laws

By Cicero; Niall Rudd | Go to book overview

BOOK 5

The ideal statesman

[The Vatican manuscript contains only sections 3, 5, 6, and 7. Augustine says that the quotation in sections 1-2 comes from Cicero's introduction. The position of the other fragments is conjectural.]

On ancient customs and old-fashioned men the state of Rome stands firm.

The compactness and truth of that line are such that the poet* who uttered it must, I think, have been prompted by an oracle. For neither the men on their own (in a state which lacked such a moral tradition) nor the state on its own (without such men in charge) could have founded or long maintained so great and wide- ranging an empire. Long before living memory our ancestral way of life produced outstanding men, and those excellent men preserved the old way of life and the institutions of their forefathers. Our generation, however, after inheriting our political organization like a magnificent picture now fading with age, not only neglected to restore its original colours but did not even bother to ensure that it retained its basic form and, as it were, its faintest outlines. What remains of those ancient customs on which he said the state of Rome stood firm? We see them so ruined by neglect that not only do they go unobserved, they are no longer known. And what shall I say of the men? It is the lack of such men that has led to the disappearance of those customs. Of this great tragedy we are not only bound to give a description; we must somehow defend ourselves as if we were arraigned on a capital charge. For it is not by some accident--no, it is because of our own moral failings--that we are left with the name of the Republic, having long since lost its substance . . . ( Augustine, De Civitate Dei 2. 21).

2

1

MANILIUS:* . . . 〈that there was no function so〉 proper for a king as the administration of justice. That embraced the interpretation of law, because private citizens used to ask the kings to rule

3

-81-

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The Republic and The Laws
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • OXFORD WORLD'S CLASSICS i
  • OXFORD WORLD'S CLASSICS ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Abbreviations viii
  • Introduction ix
  • NOTE ON THE TEXT xxxii
  • NOTE ON THE TRANSLATION xxxiv
  • Bibliography xxxvi
  • TABLE OF DATES (BC) xlii
  • THE REPUBLIC 1
  • Book 1 3
  • Book 2 35
  • Book 3 60
  • Book 4 76
  • Book 5 81
  • Book 6 85
  • THE LAWS 95
  • Book 1 97
  • Book 2 121
  • Book 3 150
  • APPENDIX NOTES ON THE ROMAN CONSTITUTION 170
  • EXPLANATORY NOTES 175
  • INDEX OF NAMES 222
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