The Republic and The Laws
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This work contains two of Cicero's most important political writings, "The Republic" (De re publica) and "The Laws" (De Legibus). In "The Republic", or "On the Commonwealth", Cicero crafts a Socratic dialogue in six books on the subject of Roman politics. Cicero discusses the history of Roman politics and its constitution, the role of justice in government, the types of constitutions, the role of education, and the ideal citizen in a republic. In "The Laws" we find another Socratic dialogue which discusses the laws and in which Cicero expounds on his theories of natural law and of harmony among the classes. Only three books of "The Laws" remain from an indeterminate number that were originally written. Together these books will enlighten the reader as to the foundation of Cicero's political philosophy and give one insight into the early democratic ideals which form the foundation of western political thought.
these is an essential property of law. If this assertion is correct, as on the whole I think it is, the origin of justice must be derived from law. For law is a force of nature, the intelligence and reason of a wise man, and the criterion of justice and injustice. At the same time, as our whole discourse has to do with ordinary ways of thinking, we shall sometimes have to use ordinary language, applying the word ‘law’ to that which lays down in writing what it wishes to enjoin or forbid. For
never be repealed. MARCUS: Certainly—provided they are accepted by the two of you! But I think I must follow the precedent of Plato, that most learned man and most weighty of thinkers. He first wrote about the state and later added a separate work about the laws. Before setting out the legal code itself, I shall say some words in praise of it. I notice that Zaleucus and Charondas did the same when they framed laws for their states, not just for the sake of interest and pleasure, but for the
in Rome. Our ancestors’ strictness in such matters is shown by the old senatorial resolution about the Bacchanalia,* and by the consuls’ inquiry and punishments, supported by military force. In case we may perhaps seem rather harsh, the Theban Diagondas in central Greece suppressed all nocturnal rituals by law in perpetuity. Strange gods, and the ceremonies in their honour which turned night into day, were satirized by Aristophanes, the wittiest poet of the Old Comedy. In his work* Sabazius and
adequate for understanding the system—countless others appeared, filling the books of the legal experts. An attempt has been made to determine who should be obliged to carry out the rites. In the case of heirs,* the answer is entirely reasonable, for they are the deceased’s immediate next of kin. Then comes the person who, as a result of the man’s death or will, receives as much as all the heirs put together. He, too, should accept the obligation, for that is in line with the intention of the
property, and their opinion that holidays and rites should be held by the same people. The Scaevolas add that, when an estate is divided, if no deductions have been stipulated* in the will, and the legatees have voluntarily received less than has been left to all the heirs together, they should not be obliged to perform the rites. In the case of a gift* they interpret the rule in a different way. Where a gift has been made by a person who is under the authority of the head of the family, that