The Republic and The Laws

By Cicero; Niall Rudd | Go to book overview

NOTE ON THE TRANSLATION

The reader of any Latin text is likely to encounter some words which have no exact equivalent in English. In these works the chief examples are animus, magistratus, optimates, pietas, popularis, respublica, and virtus. The Latin animus is translated by 'mind', 'soul', and even 'heart', depending on the context. Magistratus often meant something more like the minister of a government department than our magistrate. Nevertheless, it has been translated as 'magistrate' since that is the traditional practice in all works on classical antiquity. For optimates 'the best people' will not do, for that is a colloquial phrase, usually tinged with irony. In Pro Sestio 96 Cicero extends the term to 'right-thinking people'; but in the Republic and Laws he usually restricts it to the socially, economically, and politically dominant group, i.e. the aristocracy. The word popularis was used of a politician who was keen to promote the interests of (and thus gain the favour of) the common people. It did not imply a party or even a programme. 'Populist' seems to be the closest approximation. 'Devotion' has been used for pietas, since our 'piety' is predominantly a religious concept. 'The Republic' has been kept as the title of Cicero's work because of the Platonic precedent. Elsewhere 'state', 'country', 'form of government', 'constitution', and 'nation' have been used for respublica, according to the context. As for virtus, which originally denoted 'manliness' in the sense of 'courage', the term 'moral excellence', or, less frequently, 'valour', 'worth', or 'goodness' has been used. Latin was blest with two general words for 'men', namely homines ('human beings') and viri ('males'). Often the translation simply uses 'men', relying on the context to make the sense clear.

In the dialogues the names of the speakers have been put at the beginning of every speech, and 'Marcus' or 'Quintus' has been substituted for 'brother'. In the direct interchanges the style is that of a rather formal conversation; but when Cicero warms to his theme he tends to rise, quite spontaneously, to a higher, more rhetorical, level. Obvious examples occur in 'The Dream of Scipio' and at the end of Laws 1. Little attempt

-xxxiv-

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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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