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vious reason for the troubles and revolutions of Greece lies in the vices
of maritime cities which I just touched on. But among these vices there
is one great advantage, that whatever grows anywhere can be shipped to
the city where you live, and conversely whatever your own territory pro-
duces you can carry or send to any country.
[±°] Could anything display divine ability more than Romulus™ em-
brace of the bene¬ts of the coast while avoiding its vices by placing his
city on the bank of a large river that ¬‚ows strongly into the sea through-
out the year? In that way, the city could import essentials by sea and ex-
port its surplus produce; it could also use the river to receive the necess-
ities of civilized life not only from the sea but carried downriver from
inland.± Romulus therefore seems to me to have divined that this city
would someday be the home and center of the greatest empire; for a
city located in any other part of Italy would not so easily have exercised
so much power.
[±±] As for the natural defenses of the city, who is so inattentive as
not to recognize them distinctly? The course and direction of the wall
was marked out by the wisdom of Romulus and the other kings, follow-
ing high and steep hills in every section; the one approach, between the
Esquiline and Quirinal hills, was protected by building a huge mound
and a deep ditch; the citadel was well forti¬ed with a steep circuit and
rested on an almost sheer rock, so that even on the terrible occasion of
the Gallic attack it remained safe and unconquered.± The site that
Romulus chose also abounded in springs and was a healthful spot in a
plague-ridden region: the hills not only receive a breeze, but they bring
shade to the valleys.
[±] All this he accomplished with great speed: he established a city,
which he ordered to be named Rome after his own name; and in order
to strengthen his new state he adopted a new and somewhat crude plan,
but one that, in terms of bolstering the resources of his kingdom and
people, shows the mark of a great man who looked far into the future:
he ordered Sabine girls of good family, who had come to Rome for the

An idealized description: the Tiber was not so easily navigable even in C.™s day.
C. is describing the so-called Servian Wall of the fourth century  “ not ascribed to

Romulus even in antiquity. The Gallic sack of Rome took place in ·/ according to
Polybius™ chronology, ° according to Livy and others.

Book 

¬rst annual celebration of the Consualia in the circus,±µ to be seized,
and he placed them in marriages with the most important families. [±]
This led the Sabines to wage war against the Romans; and when the
battle was indecisive, he made a treaty with Titus Tatius the Sabine
king at the urging of the women who had been seized. By that treaty he
admitted the Sabines to citizenship and joint religious rituals, and he
shared his rule with their king.
[±] After Tatius died, the entire power returned to Romulus. To-
gether with Tatius, he had chosen leading citizens for a royal council “
they were called ˜˜Fathers™™ because of a¬ection “ and had distributed
the populace into three tribes under his own name and Tatius™ and that
of Lucumo, an ally of his who had died in the Sabine war, and into
thirty curiae, which he named after those of the seized Sabine girls who
had subsequently been advocates of a peace treaty.± Although all this
was organized in Tatius™ lifetime, after he was killed Romulus ruled
with even more reliance on the authority and the judgment of the
[±µ] In doing this he ¬rst recognized and approved the same policy
that Lycurgus at Sparta had recognized slightly earlier, that states are
guided and ruled better under the sole power of a king if the authority
of the most responsible citizens is added to the monarch™s absolute
rule;±· and so, relying on the support of this quasi-senatorial council, he
waged many wars against his neighbors with great success and contin-
ually enriched his citizens while taking for himself nothing of the plun-
der. [±] What is more “ a custom that we still maintain to the great ad-
vantage of the public safety “ he relied extensively on the auspices. He
took the auspices himself before founding the city and creating the com-
monwealth; and for all public undertakings he selected one augur from
each tribe to assist him in taking the auspices. He also had the people

In classical times, celebrated on ± August. Consus was originally a god of the granary

(from condere, to store), but C. alludes to an alternative derivation from consilium, the
virtue of good statesmanship.
The signi¬cance of the curiae is obscure; in C.™s time the curiate assembly (comitia curiata)
was an antiquarian vestige represented by the magistrates™ lictors, the function of which
was primarily to ratify adoptions and the election of priests.
While Polybius compares the developed ˜˜mixed constitution™™ of the Republic to the
regime of Lycurgus at Sparta, C. compares Romulus™ government to Lycurgus™; he thus
suggests that Rome™s government was mixed (if not ˜˜blended™™ “ see . below) from the
very beginning. C. uses ˜˜Fathers™™ for both the proto-senatorial council of Romulus and
(as was traditional) for the formal senate of the Republic, but he generally avoids calling
Romulus™ group a senate, as it had no established constitutional position.

On the Commonwealth

divided up under the protection of the leading citizens (and I will dis-
cuss later the utility of this), and he kept them in order not by force or
by physical punishments but through the setting of ¬nes in sheep and
cattle; at that time wealth consisted of livestock and landed property,
the origin of the words pecuniosi and locupletes to mean ˜˜wealthy.™™±
[±·] When Romulus had ruled for thirty-seven years± and had cre-
ated these two excellent foundations for the commonwealth, the aus-
pices and the senate, he was so successful that when he did not re-
appear after a sudden darkening of the sun, he was thought to have
become a god; no mortal could ever have achieved that without an extra-
ordinary reputation for virtue. [±] In the case of Romulus that is even
more remarkable: all other men who are said to have become gods lived
in less sophisticated periods of human history, when such a ¬ction
might be more acceptable, given that the uneducated are more gullible.
But Romulus lived less than six hundred years ago at a time when liter-
acy and learning were well established, and all the primeval ignorance
of men™s primitive existence had been eliminated. For if, as the chrono-
logies of the Greeks demonstrate, Rome was founded in the second
year of the seventh Olympiad, then the lifetime of Romulus fell in a
time when Greece was already full of poets and musicians, and legends
were given less credence unless they concerned events of the distant
past. The ¬rst Olympiad took place ±° years after Lycurgus undertook
to write laws (although some people are confused by the name and be-
lieve that the Olympics were founded by the same Lycurgus); the latest
date that anyone gives to Homer is some thirty years before the time of
Lycurgus. [±] Thus one can see that Homer lived a great many years
before Romulus, so that “ since men and even the times themselves
were educated “ there would be little room for making anything up.
Ancient times accepted stories that were often crude inventions, but
this cultivated age generally ridicules and rejects everything that is im-
possible. *
[°] * Some people say that :Stesichor9us was his daughter™s
son.° He died the same year that Simonides was born, in the ¬fty-sixth
Olympiad; that makes it easier to understand that the story of Romulus™

Pecunia, ˜˜money,™™ is derived from pecus, ˜˜cattle™™; locuples, ˜˜rich,™™ from locus, ˜˜place.™™
For the dates in this section see the chronological table at the front of the book.
˜˜His™™ refers to the poet Hesiod, generally believed to be a contemporary of Homer. C. is
here denying this genealogy on chronological grounds. Part of a leaf of the manuscript has
been torn o¬, and parts of the opening of this section are restorations.

Book 

immortality was believed at a time when civilized life was well estab-
lished. But in fact Romulus™ intelligence and virtue were so great that
people believed the story about him told by Proculus Iulius, a farmer,
something that for many generations men had believed about no other
mortal. Proculus is said to have addressed a public assembly at the urg-
ing of the Fathers, who wanted to dispel the suspicion that they had
caused the death of Romulus; he said that he had seen Romulus on the
hill which is now called the Quirinal; Romulus had told him to ask the
people to have a shrine made to him on that hill, and that he was a god
and was called Quirinus.±
[±] Do you see that the judgment of one man not only created a new
people but brought it to full growth, almost to maturity, not leaving it
like some infant bawling in a cradle?
¬ ¬ © µ: We do see that, and we see that you have introduced a new
kind of analysis, something to be found nowhere in the writings of the
Greeks. That great man, the greatest of all writers, chose his own terri-
tory on which to build a state to suit his own ideas. It may be a noble
state, but it is totally alien to human life and customs. [] All the
others wrote about the types and principles of states without any speci-
¬c model or form of commonwealth. You seem to me to be doing both:
from the outset, you have preferred to attribute your own discoveries to
others rather than inventing it all yourself in the manner of Plato™s Soc-
rates; and you ascribe to Romulus™ deliberate planning all the features
of the site of the city which were actually the result of chance or necess-
ity. Moreover, your discussion does not wander but is ¬xed on one
commonwealth. So go on as you have begun; I think I can foresee a
commonwealth being brought to perfection as you go through the re-
maining kings.
[]  ©°© : And so when Romulus™ senate, which consisted of aristo-
crats whom the king himself had honored by wanting them to be called
˜˜Fathers™™ and their children called ˜˜patrician™™ “ when that senate
tried after the death of Romulus to rule the commonwealth itself with-
out a king, the people did not accept that; because of their a¬ection for
For this story see also On the Laws ±.; this is the earliest attestation of the identi¬cation of

Romulus with the god Quirinus. The tradition that Romulus was murdered by the senate
is also found in Livy ±.±. and elsewhere.
For the criticism of Plato™s lack of practicality cf. also On the Orator ±.. ˜˜The others™™ in

the next sentence refers to Aristotle and the Peripatetics.
An extremely important comment: C., through Laelius, draws attention to the implausi-
bility of his own account of Roman constitutional development.

On the Commonwealth

Romulus they kept up their demand for a king. At that point the aris-
tocrats prudently came up with a new plan, the institution of an inter-
regnum, something unknown to other nations: until a king had been de-
clared, the state should neither be without a king nor have one long-
term king; no one should be allowed to grow used to power and be
either too slow in surrendering it or too prepared for maintaining it.
[] At that time, the new nation of Rome saw something that had es-
caped the Spartan Lycurgus, who thought that the king should not be
selected (if in fact this was a matter in Lycurgus™ control) but accepted,
whoever he might be, so long as he was descended from the family of
Hercules; our people even then, rustic though they were, saw that vir-
tue and wisdom were the proper quali¬cations to be looked for in a
king, not a royal pedigree.
[µ] Since Numa Pompilius had an outstanding reputation in this re-
spect, the people themselves passed over their own citizens and sum-
moned him with the approval of the Fathers, calling him from Cures, a
Sabine to rule over Rome. When he came here, even though the people
by the vote of the curiate assembly had made him king, he himself still
had a curiate law passed concerning his power;µ and as he saw that the
men of Rome, under Romulus™ instruction, were in¬‚amed with eager-
ness for war, he thought that that habit should be somewhat curtailed.
[] His ¬rst act was to divide among the citizens the territory which
Romulus had captured in war; he also taught them that without plun-
der and spoils they could have through agriculture an abundance of all
they needed. He implanted in them a love of tranquillity and peace,
through which justice and trust are most easily strengthened, and un-
der the in¬‚uence of which agriculture and harvests are best defended.
Pompilius also created the greater auspices and added two augurs to the
original number; he placed ¬ve priests chosen from the aristocracy in
charge of religious rituals, and by the promulgation of laws (of which
we have documentary evidence) he softened through religious ceremo-
nies minds that were in¬‚amed with the habit and the desire for making
war.· He also added the Flamines, the Salii, and the Vestal Virgins,
C. clearly suggests a premature attempt to advance the constitutional cycle from mon-
archy to aristocracy.
The formal separation of election to o¬ce and conferral of power (imperium) is repeated by
all the good kings and was a feature of the republican constitution as well.
An evident anachronism: early land division was in the form of colonies, and distribution
to individuals is not known before the second century .
A collection of Numa™s laws is also referred to at µ.. The augurs and ponti¬ces were the

Book 

and he organized all aspects of religion with great sanctity. [·] He de-
sired the performance of religious rituals to be di¬cult but the equip-
ment for them to be very simple: he required many things to be learned
and performed, but he made them inexpensive; he thus added e¬ort to
religious observances but removed the cost. He also began markets and
games and all sorts of occasions for gatherings and festivals. By these in-
stitutions he restored to humane and gentle behavior the minds of men
who had become savage and inhuman through their love of war. So,
after ruling for thirty-nine years in great peace and harmony (I am fol-
lowing my friend Polybius, whose chronology is more careful than any-
one else™s), he died, having strengthened two things that are most im-
portant for the long life of a commonwealth, religion and mildness of
[] When Scipio had said this,   ® ©¬ © µ  said: Is the story true, Af-
ricanus, that King Numa was a pupil of Pythagoras himself, or at least a
Pythagorean? We have often heard this from our elders, and it is
commonly believed; but the public records are not su¬ciently explicit.
 ©°©: The whole story is false, Manilius, and not only a ¬ction but
a clumsy and ridiculous one. Lies are particularly intolerable when we
can see that they are not only inventions but completely impossible.
For Pythagoras is known to have come to Sybaris and Croton and that
region of Italy in the fourth year of the reign of Lucius Tarquinius Su-
perbus: the sixty-second Olympiad marks both the beginning of Superb-
us™ reign and the arrival of Pythagoras. [] From that, it is clear by the
computation of regnal years that Pythagoras ¬rst reached Italy about
±° years after the death of Numa, and no one who has paid close atten-
tion to chronology has ever had any doubt about that.°
® © ¬© µ : Good lord! What huge mistake, and how long it has been
believed! But in fact I can happily accept that we were not educated by
foreign and imported learning, but by home-grown domestic virtues.±
most signi¬cant priesthoods in the late Republic; the Flamines (priests of Jupiter, Mars,
and Quirinus) had archaic ritual functions, as did the Salii, priests of Mars whose primary
obligations involved rites connected with military activity. The Vestal Virgins are the only
ones of the second group mentioned who retained any importance in C.™s or Scipio™s time.
In other accounts (e.g. Livy ±.±.) Numa ruled for  years.

The story of Numa™s Pythagoreanism is old; C. also rejects the chronology at On the
Orator .±µ and Tusculan Disputations .“. Scipio™s natural father, Aemilius Paullus,
claimed descent from Mamercus the son of Pythagoras.
For the chronology see the table.
A frequent theme both in the historical narrative and in C.™s argument. For the arrival of
Greek learning see below, ..

On the Commonwealth

[°]  ©°©: In fact you will recognize that even more clearly if you
watch the commonwealth improving and approaching the ideal condi-
tion by a natural route and direction; you will decide that this is itself a
reason to praise our ancestors™ wisdom, because you will recognize how
much better they made the institutions borrowed from other places
than they had been in the place of origin from which we adopted them;
you will see that the Roman people grew strong not by chance but by
planning and discipline, if not without some help from fortune.
[±] After King Pompilius died, the people made Tullus Hostilius
king in the curiate assembly presided over by an interrex; he followed
the example of Pompilius and asked the assembly to approve his power.
He achieved great glory as a soldier, and his military exploits were
great. From the spoils of war he made the enclosure for the Comitium
and built the Senate House, and he established the law governing the
declaration of wars; he sancti¬ed this just procedure through the ritual
of the Fetiales, so that any war that was not previously announced and
declared was to be judged unjust and impious. You should observe
how wisely our kings saw that the people should be given some respon-
sibilities (I will have a great deal to say on that score): Tullus did not
dare to use the royal insignia without the permission of the people. In
order to have the right to have twelve lictors with the fasces precede
him *
[one leaf missing]
[] Augustine, City of God. .±µ: Concerning Tullus Hostilius, indeed,
the third king “ who was also killed by a thunderbolt “ Cicero says in the same
book that he was not believed to have become a god after dying in this way,
perhaps because the Romans did not wish to cheapen what had been accepted in
the case of Romulus by easily awarding it to someone else.
[] ¬ ¬ © µ?: * In the account you are giving, the commonwealth
does not creep but ¬‚ies towards its best form.
 © °© : After him the son of Numa Pompilius™ daughter, Ancus
Marcius, was made king by the people, and he too carried a curiate law
con¬rming his power. After he had conquered the Latins in war, he
enrolled them as citizens; he also annexed the Aventine and Caelian hills
to the city. He divided up the territory he had captured, and he made all
the coastal woods which he had captured public property. He also
The original meeting place in the Forum for public assemblies.
The fetial law (which governed the declaration and conduct of war) is discussed also in
Laelius™ speech in Book ; see below, .µa.

Book 

founded a city at the mouth of the Tiber and strengthened it with
colonists. He died after he had ruled for twenty-three years.
¬ ¬ © µ: King Ancus certainly deserves praise, but Roman history is
obscure, if we know who the king™s mother was but not his father.
 ©°©: True enough; but for those times little more than the kings™
names is well known.
[] At this point, the state ¬rst seems to have become more cultivated
by a sort of graft of education. It was no mere trickle from Greece that
¬‚owed into the city, but a full river of education and learning. They say
that there was a Corinthian named Demaratus, easily the ¬rst citizen of
his state in distinction and authority and wealth; but that, as he could not
endure the Corinthian tyrant Cypselus, he ¬‚ed with a great fortune and
went to Tarquinii, a very prosperous Etruscan city. When he heard that
the rule of Cypselus was ¬rmly established, this free and brave man
became an exile; he was accepted as a citizen by the people of Tarquinii
and set up his home in that state. There he and his Tarquinian wife had
two sons, and he educated them in all the arts in accordance with Greek
methods *
[one leaf missing]
[µ] * he was readily accepted into the state, and because of his
amiability and learning he became so close a friend of King Ancus that he
was thought to participate in all his plans and to be almost a co-ruler. He
was, moreover, extremely a¬able and extremely generous towards all
citizens in giving support, aid, defense, and money. And so at the death
of Marcius the people unanimously elected him king under the name of
Lucius Tarquinius: that was how he had changed his name from what it
had been in Greek, so as to be seen to follow the customs of this people
in all respects. After carrying the law concerning his power, he ¬rst
doubled the earlier number of Fathers, and he called the original ones
˜˜from the greater families,™™ whose opinions he asked ¬rst, and those he
had selected ˜˜from the lesser families.™™ [] He then organized the
cavalry in the manner that has been kept until now, although he was
unable to change the names ˜˜Titienses,™™ ˜˜Rhamnenses,™™ and ˜˜Lu-
ceres,™™ despite his desire to do so, because the distinguished augur Attus
Navius did not authorize it.µ I notice that the Corinthians too paid close

The original name of Lucius Tarquinius was Lucumo, an Etruscan name; it is striking
that C. omits all mention of Etruscan in¬‚uence on Rome.
The names of the three tribes are alluded to at .± above. C. omits the fabulous story of

Attus™ cutting a whetstone with a razor as proof of his augural ability.

On the Commonwealth

attention to the assignment of public horses and to supporting them by a
tax on orphans and widows. In any case, by adding second divisions to
the earlier sections of the cavalry he created ±,°° knights and doubled
the number. Afterward, he conquered the Aequi, a large and ¬erce tribe
that threatened the Roman people; he also drove the Sabines back from
the walls of the city and then routed them with the cavalry and conquered
them in war. He is said to have been the ¬rst to perform the great games
that are called the Ludi Romani; he also vowed during the war with the
Sabines to build a temple to Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitol.·
He died after ruling for thirty-eight years.

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