The Republic and The Laws

By Cicero; Niall Rudd | Go to book overview

BOOK 3

1-7. The abilities and achievements of man

[Cicero is speaking in his own person. Four leaves are missing, but according to Augustine, Contra Iulianum 4. 12. 60, Cicero affirms that in spite of man's physical weakness, his fears and moral failings, he, unlike other animals, has deep within him the divine fire of rational intelligence.]

. . . and 〈intelligence enabled him to compensate〉 for his slowness by means of vehicles. Also, on hearing the confused and jumbled noise which men were making with their inarticulate sounds, 〈intelligence〉 split those sounds up and divided them into units, imprinting words, like signs, on things, and bringing together people who previously dwelt apart through the delightful bond of a common speech. Thanks to that same intelligence, vocal sounds, which seemed to be numberless, were all set down and represented by the invention of a few marks. Those marks allowed conversations to be carried on with people who were far away, wishes to be indicated, and records of things past to be preserved. Then came number, a thing which is necessary for life and is also, uniquely, changeless and eternal.* That was what first induced us to look up to the sky, and enabled us to gaze with understanding at the movements of the stars, and by marking off nights and days 〈to calculate the year〉.

3

[Four leaves are missing. Cicero is speaking of the different activities of moral philosophy and statesmanship, and the possibility of combining the two.]

. . . their minds rose higher and succeeded in achieving, in thought or action, something worthy of what I have previously called the gift of the gods. So let us regard those who theorize about ethical principles as great men, which indeed they are; let us grant that they are scholars and teachers of truth and moral excellence, provided we acknowledge the fact that this other branch of study is by no means contemptible, whether it was invented by men engaged in the ever-changing world of politics or was practised by those philosophers in the course of their peaceful

4

-60-

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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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