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[31] Not only in correct actions but also in depravities there is a remarkable similarity of the human race. The same nature not only adorned the human being himself with swiftness of mind, but also allotted [to him] the senses as escorts and messengers, as well as the obscure, insufficiently elucidated conceptions of many things as, so to speak, a sort of foundation of knowledge. His preface to the De Legibus is so just and comprehensive that we choose to translate it almost entire. Where is the grateful man if even those who are grateful do not respect the person to whom they return a service? A Seemingly Artless Conversation: Cicero’s De Legibus (1.1–5) Other articles where De legibus is discussed: Marcus Tullius Cicero: Philosophy: …De republica, following it with De legibus (begun in 52). Will irregularities of the body, if they are very remarkable, give some offense, and deformity of the mind give none? And because the same thing does not hold for the senses, we think they are certain by nature; and those things that appear one way to some persons and another way to others, and not always one way to the same persons, we say are false. [Those who more precisely inquire about these things] teach that all law that can correctly be called law is praiseworthy, by arguments such as these: It is surely settled that laws have been invented for the health of citizens, the safety of cities, and the quiet and happy life of human beings, and that those who first sanctioned resolutions of this sort showed to their peoples that they would write and provide those things by which, when they were received and adopted, they would live honorably and happily, and that they would of course name “laws” those things that were thus composed and sanctioned. We must explain the nature of law [ius], and this must be traced from human nature. [13] A: Then in this spare time, as you say, why don’t you explain to us these very things and write about civil law more precisely than the others? And if among those works of Tully, which If the impious dare to call it this, with what enthusiasm will good men worship such a thing, I ask! Now since god [thus] begot and adorned the human being—that is, he wanted him to have precedence over other things—it is clear (so that not everything must be discussed) that nature itself proceeds further by itself: even with no one teaching it, it has taken its start from those things the characteristics of which it recognized from its first, rudimentary intelligence; it alone strengthens and fully develops reason. The bulk of his philosophical writings belong to the period between February 45 and November 44. [In the following segment, also from Book 1 of On the Laws, Cicero or “M” is speaking quite continuously until the very end of the selection. And when he senses that he has been born for political fellowship, he will think that he must use not only precise argument but also speech that is continuous and extended more broadly, through which he may rule peoples, stabilize laws, chastise the wicked, protect the good, praise famous men, issue precepts for health and fame suitable for persuading his fellow citizens, be able to urge to honor, be able to turn back others from shame, be able to console the stricken, and be able to hand down in everlasting memorials the deeds and resolutions of the courageous and the wise with the ignominy of the wicked. Nor, even if a people accepts something ruinous, will that be a law of any kind among a people. The Treatise on the Commonwealth is Cicero’s imitation of Plato’s dialogue The Republic where he uses Stoic philosophy to explain Roman constitutional theory. Now as true and false things are judged on their own terms, not by other terms, and the same with logical and illogical things, so also a constant and continual manner of life, which is virtue, and also inconstancy, which is vice, will be tested according to their nature. his native language. The disgrace of the latter can be very easily perceived from its vices? Sometimes bracketed material represents my effort to clarify a term or reference, and I do so at times with the benefit of material Professor Fott presents in the notes accompanying his translation. On the Laws (Latin: DE LEGIBUS) is a philosophical dialogue between: Cicero's friend Titus Pomponius Atticus; Cicero's brother Quintus; and Cicero himself. Those things have been attentively written by many men, and they are lower than what I think is expected of me. This same reason, when it is confirmed and completed in the human mind, is law. [30] That is enough of an argument that there is no dissimilarity within the species; if there were, no one definition would encompass all. But since our entire speech is for the people’s business, sometimes it will be necessary to speak popularly and to call that a law which, when written, consecrates what it wants by either ordering [or forbidding], as the crowd calls it. Is it disinterested or mercenary? In the autumn of 44 Cicero flung himself again into the arena with his attack on Antony, which led to his proscription and death in December 43. . [Book 2 opens with another approach to the foundation and true nature of law, this one starting from the divine force and mind behind all things. Virtue is fully developed reason, and this is certainly in nature—therefore, in the same way all honorableness. Moreover, they obey this celestial system, the divine mind and very powerful god, so that now this whole universe should [be] thought to be one city in common between gods and human beings. Nevertheless, unless Quintus prefers that we discuss something else, I will undertake it; and since we are unoccupied, I will speak. So, they said, the chief and ultimate law is the mind of god compelling or forbidding all things by reason. [27] For the expressive eyes say beyond measure how we have been affected in the mind; and what is called the countenance, which can exist in no animate being besides the human being, indicates character. Or that I compose formulas for covenants and judicial decisions? a commentary on cicero de legibus Sep 07, 2020 Posted By Denise Robins Publishing TEXT ID b3367970 Online PDF Ebook Epub Library A Commentary On Cicero De Legibus INTRODUCTION : #1 A Commentary On ~ PDF A Commentary On Cicero De Legibus ~ Uploaded By Denise Robins, de legibus has been one of ciceros most neglected works this new commentary provides a The entire direction of the republic is encompassed in the system involving them. Moreover, the same virtue is in human being and god, and it is not in any other species besides; and virtue is nothing other than [nature] fully developed and taken all the way to its highest point. All [sorts of] plots are directed against our minds, either by those I just listed, who have taken them when they were delicate and unrefined and who stain and bend them as they want, or by that which occupies a place entangled within our every sensation, pleasure, that imitator of the good and that mother of all bad things. So if this is correctly said, as it usually seems to me for the most part, then the beginning of justice is from law, which is a force of nature, the mind and reasoning of the prudent, the standard of justice and injustice. Therefore, law is a distinction between just and unjust things, modeled on nature, the most ancient and chief of all things, to which human laws are directed that visit the wicked with punishment and defend and protect the good. above all others (De legibus 1.5.15). [text is missing] For whence comes that Pythagorean saying? Then we must treat the laws [ius] and orders of peoples that have been composed and written, in which what are called the civil laws [ius] of our people will not be hidden. [14] M: Then you think that the Titian and the Appuleian laws are not laws? The Influence of the Scottish Enlightenment. Can we say that those persons are chaste who are kept from defilement by fear of infamy, although infamy itself follows from the disgrace of the matter? And when he has examined and completely tested himself, he will understand how he has come into life equipped by nature and how great are the furnishings he has for obtaining and securing wisdom, since in the beginning he conceived the first, so to speak, sketchy conceptions of all things in his soul and mind. But this later; now let us see the beginnings of law [ius]. [51] What then? [46] Or will character be judged by nature, and the virtues and vices that come from character otherwise? Those who hand down the civil law [ius] differently are handing down not so much ways of justice as ways of litigating. The work’s greatest claim to our interest is the fact that it contains so much concrete information about Cicero’s political ideals. But for those whom royal power did not please, they wanted not to obey no one, but not always to obey one man. De Legibus. . But in this debate we must embrace the entire cause of universal right and laws, so that what we call civil law [ius] may be confined to a certain small, narrow place. Even he should be deserted and cast aside when hope of gains and profits has been lost. That is far off the mark. Now let us see the principles of justice. If law has been given, so has right. Excepting the de Oratore, de Republica and de Legibus, the whole of Cicero’s most important writings on philosophy and rhetoric belong to 46-44 B.C. M: Indeed these are important things that are now briefly taken up. Its significance is that as soon as someone wants something for himself more than for another person, it does not exist. All rights reserved. [A gap of uncertain length occurs in the manuscript.]. On the Laws. If you continue browsing the site, you agree to the use of cookies on this website. Der Dialog "De legibus" wird von Marcus Cicero, Atticus und Quintus Cicero, dem Bruder des Politikers, in heiter-entspannter Atmosphäre auf seinem Landgut in Arpinum geführt. . So, as a result of an error of the mind, it is received as if it were something salutary, and by a similar ignorance death is fled as if it were a dissolution of nature, life is desired because it holds us in the condition in which we were born, pain is regarded as among the greatest evils both because of its own roughness and because the violent death of our nature seems to follow. So to what do you call me, or what are you urging on me? M. TVLLI CICERONIS DE LEGIBVS LIBRI TRES Liber Primus: Liber Secundus: Liber Tertius. [44] But if there is such power in the opinions and orders of the foolish that the nature of things is changed by their votes, why don’t they establish that bad and ruinous things should be held to be good and salutary things? [5] So then, there is need of magistrates, without whose prudence and diligence the city cannot exist. [22] A: Continue, I beseech [you]. [12] I ask you, then, Quintus, just as they [probably the Stoics] often do: If the city lacks something on account of the lack of which it should be recognized to be worth nothing, should that thing be counted among the good things? M: Toward the end of good things, by which all things are judged and for the sake of obtaining which all things should be done—a disputed matter and one full of disagreement among highly educated men, but it must nevertheless be judged at some time. All rights reserved. [text is missing] And Socrates correctly used to curse the person who first separated advantage from right, for he used to complain that this was the source of all disasters. But although they have made great claims, they have dealt with small things. M: Then since we should maintain and preserve the form of republic that Scipio taught to be the best in that book, and since all laws should be tailored to that type of city, and since customs should be planted and not everything should be consecrated in writing, I will trace the root of right from nature, with which as our leader we should pursue the entire debate. Their parent and educator is wisdom. Now if you do not approve this, I must begin my case from there before anything else. 1a]. M: Therefore, I see that this has been the opinion of very wise men: Law was not thought out by human intellects; it is not some resolution of peoples, but something eternal that rules the whole universe through the wisdom of commanding and prohibiting. Since we have admitted—correctly so, I think—that these things are true, how could we separate laws and rights from nature? In fact we prescribe not only that they should comply with and obey the magistrates, but also that they should respectfully remember and cherish them, as Charondas establishes in his laws. Not only a mode of commanding for them must be prescribed, but also a mode of complying for the citizens. So many and so great are the things that are clearly seen to be present in a human being by those who want to know themselves. M: You exact [payment for a debt] splendidly, Quintus (but I thought I had escaped! [26] In fact countless arts have been discovered through the teaching of nature, which reason imitated in order to attain skillfully the things necessary for life. When these are present, they are very small, and it is in no way possible to know for certain how long they are going to be present. Copyright David Fott. For from what you have said, it certainly seems to me, at any rate—[even if otherwise] to Atticus—that right has arisen from nature. And so it is proper both for him who obeys to hope that he will command at some time, and for him who commands to think that in a brief time he will have to obey. for De legibus (On the Laws), Rep. for De re … The instructions of physicians cannot be truly so called if in ignorance and inexperience they prescribe deadly things in place of salutary ones. And so nature has generously given such a richness of things for human convenience and use that things that are given birth seem to have been donated to us by design, not originated by chance—not only those things that are poured out as the produce of the earth [laden] with crops and fruits, but also animals, which it is clear have been procreated partly for human use, partly for enjoyment, partly for feeding on. But if rights were established by peoples’ orders, if by leading men’s decrees, if by judges’ verdicts, there would be a right to rob, a right to commit adultery, a right to substitute false wills, if those things were approved by the votes or resolutions of a multitude. But in fact it may be properly understood that this order, and other orders and prohibitions of peoples, have the force of calling them to deeds correctly done and calling them away from faults, a force that is not only older than the age of peoples and cities, but also coeval with that of a god protecting and ruling the heaven and the earth. Do we say about those who are conspicuous for their individual vices, or even many vices, that they are wretched because of losses or damages or tortures, or because of the significance and the disgrace of their vices? I would slide further if I did not hold myself back. And because of the harmony of the birds and the rumbling of the rivers I do not fear that any of my fellow students [fellow Epicureans] will clearly hear. M: Then it is necessary that law be recognized to be among the best things. If the Thirty at Athens had wanted to impose laws, or if all the Athenians delighted in tyrannous laws, surely those laws should not be held to be just for that reason? The most learned men have been pleased to begin with law, which is correct if it is defined in the way they do: law is the supreme reason inherent in nature, which commands those things which ought to be done and prohibits the contrary. Or if law can make right out of wrong, can’t the same law make good out of bad? This alone has taught us, along with all the other things it has taught us, what is most difficult: we should know ourselves. [34] From this it is clearly seen that when a wise man offers this goodwill, spread so wide and far, to someone endowed with equal virtue, what follows is something that seems incredible to certain persons but is necessary: he cherishes himself no more than he does the other person. A: Of course I grant it, if you expect it. For as the laws rule over the magistrates, so the magistrates rule over the people. [missing portion of text] Don’t we do the same with young persons’ character? But if it is thus correctly said, as indeed it mostly and usually seems to me, the beginning of right should be drawn from law. What is called the virtue of a tree or a horse (in which cases we misuse the name) is founded not on opinion but on nature. What more monstrous thing can be said than that? When they have been made lucid, with wisdom as leader, he discerns that he is a good man and that for this very reason he is going to be happy. [41] Then, moreover, those of us who are moved to be good men not by what is honorable itself but by some advantage and enjoyment are cunning, not good. For although it made the other animate beings prostrate for grazing, it raised up the human being alone and aroused him to a view of the heaven as if it were a view of his kin and original domicile. Nevertheless, none of them was ever so daring that he did not either deny that he was guilty of a crime or fabricate some reason for his own just indignation and seek a defense of the crime in some right of nature. Nothing given to human life by the immortal gods is richer, nothing is more illustrious, nothing is preferable. [13] M: What about the fact that peoples approve many things ruinously, many things disastrously, which no more approach the name of law than if robbers consecrated certain laws in their own meeting? “This Treatise on Laws (says Morabin) composed by Cicero, is one of the most valuable monuments which antiquity has bequeathed to us. In 54 b.c., while serving under Caesar in Gaul, he composed four tragedies in sixteen days (Ep. M: I will not make you wait longer. It alone, of all kinds and natures of animate beings, has a share in reason and reflection, in which all the others have no part. On the Laws (De Legibus) Print PDF. What will he do in a deserted place if he has found someone whom he can deprive of much gold, someone weak and alone? But if whatever is according to nature were also according to judgment, and if human beings “thought that nothing human is alien to themselves” (as the poet [Terence] states), right would be cultivated equally by all. Now if the whole of virtue were determined by opinion, its parts would also be determined by the same thing. [40] But if the penalty, not nature, ought to keep human beings from wrong, tell me what torment would harass the impious when the fear of punishments has been eliminated? But since this whole speech of ours now is directed to the reasoning of the populace, it will be necessary to speak popularly, and to name “law” as the vulgar do: that which is written and which decrees what it wishes, either commanding or prohibiting. abstract statements of Cicero's legal theory.' But if something is lacking, let us explain that first. And it can truly be said that a magistrate is a speaking law, and a law is a silent magistrate. M: In fact, Pomponius, in this conversation we are not seeking how to safeguard interests in law [ius], or how to respond to each consultation. And so they judge that law is prudence, whose strength is to command what it is right to do and forbid wrongdoing. [16] A: Yes, I desire to hear these things. It is relevant at this point: This animal—foreseeing, sagacious, versatile, sharp, mindful, filled with reason and judgment—that we call a human being has been begotten by the supreme god in a certain splendid condition. The fact that it had been nowhere written that one man should stand on the bridge against all the enemy’s troops and order the bridge to be cut off from behind him does not mean that we will think any less that the famous Cocles performed such a deed in accordance with the law and command of courage. M: And indeed correctly. But indeed virtue is most noticed in spurning and rejecting that. When it has grown up and been fully developed, it is rightly named wisdom. From that time forward it was handed down in turn to their descendants, and it remains among those who reign even now. In fact let us take the beginning of establishing right from the highest law, which was born before any law was written for generations in common [corrupt text here] or before a city was established at all. Our dear Plato concluded that those who oppose magistrates belong to the race of Titans, just as the Titans oppose the heavenly beings. Not only right and wrong are distinguished by nature, but also in general all honorable and disgraceful things. The absence of a written law at Rome concerning defilement during the reign of Lucius Tarquinius does not mean that Sextus Tarquinius did not bring force to bear upon Lucretia, daughter of Tricipitinus, contrary to that everlasting law. On the Commonwealth Book 1 Fragments of the preface1 1 [4.7f Ziegler]. No more, I suppose, than the one that our interim ruler provided, that the dictator could kill whatever citizens he wanted with impunity, even without a hearing. [42] But truly the most foolish thing is to think that everything is just that has been approved in the institutions or laws of peoples. And so whatever the definition of human being is, one definition applies to all persons. On the Laws (De Legibus), Books 1–3 (Excerpts), [Marcus Tullius Cicero. Cicero, the Augures, and the Commonwealth in De Legibus (Valentina Arena) The God and the Consul in Cicero’s Third Catilinarian (Claudia Beltrão da Rosa) The Ontophanies of Diana in Segesta (Cicero, Verrines 2 4 72–82) (Patricia Horvat / Alexandre Carneiro C. Lima) But before you come to laws concerning the organization of the people, please explain the significance of that law of heaven, so that the tide of habit may not swallow us and drag us according to the usual manner of conversation. And if that is so, honorable and disgraceful things should also be distinguished by nature. [59] He who knows himself will think first that he has something divine, and that his own intellect within himself is like a sort of consecrated image. But there is such corruption from bad habit that it is as if the sparks given by nature are extinguished by the corruption, and the opposite faults arise and are strengthened. Copyright 2020 The Witherspoon Institute. [45] To think that these things have been based on opinion, not on nature, is for a madman. What then? 2011. Translated by Thomas L. Pangle. A magistrate is a remarkable similarity of the republic is encompassed in the system involving them the if... 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