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[·] ¬  ¬© µ : Now the truth of Cato™s saying becomes more evident,
that the establishment of our commonwealth was not the work of one
time or one man; it is very clear how much the stock of good and useful
things increased with each king. But the king who follows is the one who
seems to me to have had the greatest vision of all in the commonwealth.
 © °© : True enough. The next king was Servius Tullius, who is said
to have been the ¬rst to rule without the vote of the people. They say that
he was the son of a slave woman from Tarquinii and that his father was a
client of the king; he was brought up among the slaves and served at the
king™s table, but the spark of talent that was already evident in his
childhood did not pass unobserved: his cleverness appeared in all his
duties and in what he said. And Tarquinius, whose children were still
very small, was so fond of Servius that Servius was commonly held to be
his son; he enthusiastically instructed him in all the subjects which he
himself had learned in accordance with the best Greek methods. [] But
when Tarquinius was killed by the treachery of the sons of Ancus,
Servius (as I said before) began to rule without the formal approval of the
citizens, but with their support and acquiescence.° When Tarquinius
was falsely said to be alive but ill from his wound, Servius administered
justice wearing the royal costume; he freed debtors with his own money;
and with great a¬ability he declared that he was administering justice by
Not otherwise attested. C. is attempting to link Tarquinius™ actions with his origins.
The Great or Roman Games (ludi Romani) were connected with the birthday of the
Capitoline temple, celebrated on ± September. For the completion of the temple cf. .
Above, ..
C. rationalizes the ˜˜spark,™™ traditionally a halo of ¬re that appeared around his head as a

C.™s account of Servius includes without comment the elements of his accession that in
other traditions mark him as an incipient tyrant: his disapproval of Servius™ populist
tendencies is balanced by his approval of the timocratic constitution generally ascribed to

Book 

the order of Tarquinius. He did not ask the approval of the Fathers, but
after Tarquinius was buried he asked for the approval of the people, and
having gained it he carried a law concerning his own powers. His ¬rst act
was to wage war on the Etruscans to avenge the wrongs they had done;
after that *
[one leaf missing]
[] * ± :centuries9 of the highest census rating.± Then after
separating this large number of the knights from the people at large, he
divided the rest into ¬ve classes, separating the older from the younger,
and he so organized them that the votes were in the control of the wealthy
rather than the majority; he made certain (something that must always be
secure in a commonwealth) that the greatest number did not have the
greatest power. If his division were unknown to you, I would explain it;
but as it is, you see the logic of the system: the centuries of the knights,
together with the ˜˜six voting groups™™ and the ¬rst class “ plus ± century
given to the carpenters because of their great utility to the city “ make up
 centuries; if only  of the remaining ±° centuries join them, then a
voting majority of the people is achieved, and the much greater multi-
tude in the other  centuries is neither excluded from voting, which
would be arrogant, nor excessively powerful, which would be dangerous.
[°] In all this he was extremely careful in the choice of words and names:
he called the wealthy assidui from contributing money, and those who
brought to the census either no more than ±,µ°° asses or in fact nothing
but their own persons, he called proletarii, thus showing that he expected
from them only children, that is, the o¬spring of the state. In any one of
those  centuries at that time there were almost more people than in the
entire ¬rst class. And so no one was kept from the right to vote, but the
people who had the most power in the voting were those who had the
greatest interest in maintaining the state in the best possible condition. In
fact, to the auxiliaries, the trumpeters and the horn players, the prolet-
arians *
The account of the Servian constitution is not only fragmentary but concentrates on its
timocratic elements and its place in the mixed constitution to such an extent that C. omits
the reorganization of the tribes generally connected with it and the military purpose of the
centuriate structure. C.™s numbers diverge somewhat from the other accounts, and all
versions clearly re¬‚ect later reorganizations of the system.
The ˜˜six voting groups™™ (sex su¬ragia) are a vexed problem; they are probably the 

centuries of the knights as organized by Tarquinius Priscus, to which Servius added ±
Assidui ab aere dando (from giving money) is the ancient etymology. The bronze as
(weighing ± pound) was the basic unit of early Roman coinage. Proles = ˜˜children.™™

On the Commonwealth

[two leaves missing]
[] * sixty:-¬ve9 years older, because it was founded thirty-nine
years before the ¬rst Olympiad; and Lycurgus in the distant past
recognized much the same thing. And so the balance and fairness of this
triple form of commonwealth seem to me to be shared by us with those
But what is speci¬c to our commonwealth, and is a very grand thing, I
will try to explain somewhat more carefully, as it is of such a character
that nothing similar is to be found in any other commonwealth. The
elements that I have explained so far were combined in this state and in
those of the Spartans and the Carthaginians in such a way that they were
not at all blended.µ [] In any commonwealth in which there is one
person with permanent power, especially royal power, even if there is
also a senate, as there was at Rome in regal times and as in Sparta under
the laws of Lycurgus, and even if the people have some rights, as was the
case under our kings “ even so, the name of king stands out, and such a
commonwealth cannot be called, or be, anything but a monarchy. And
that type of state is the most unstable because through a single person™s
fault it can be sent headlong in the most destructive direction. The
monarchic form of state itself not only is not to be criticized, but probably
should be ranked far ahead of the other simple forms (if I approved of any
of the simple forms of commonwealth) “ but only so long as it maintains
its condition; and its proper condition is that the safety and equality and
peace of the citizens be governed by one person™s permanent power and
justice and one person™s wisdom. The people that is ruled by a king lacks
a great deal, and above all it lacks liberty, which does not consist in
having a just master, but in having none *
[one leaf missing]
[.µa] . . . and so, after Romulus™ superb constitution had remained
¬rm for some ° years ( + Nonius µ.±°)
[] * they endured. Even that unjust and cruel master was for a
certain amount of time attended by good fortune in his actions. He

The reference is to Carthage, traditionally founded in ±µ/. Polybius too compares

Rome with Carthage and Sparta as examples of the mixed constitution.
While Polybius emphasizes the mixed constitution as a defensive system of checks and
balances, C. prefers to see the ideal more positively as one that incorporates elements of all
three simple forms.
The ° years are those of ˜˜good™™ monarchy, before the tyranny of Tarquinius Superbus.

Others including Ziegler have altered the number to ° and seen it as the total length of
the monarchy.

Book 

conquered all Latium in war, and he captured Suessa Pometia, a rich and
prosperous city; with the wealth he acquired through the large booty of
gold and silver he paid his father™s vow through the building of the
Capitolium. He also established colonies, and in keeping with the cus-
toms of his nation of origin he send magni¬cent gifts as an o¬ering from
the spoils to Apollo at Delphi.·
[µ] At this point you will see the political circle turning; you should
learn to recognize its natural motion and circuit from the very beginning.
This is the essential element of civic prudence (the topic of our entire
discussion): to see the paths and turns of commonwealths, so that when
you know in what direction any action tends, you can hold it back or
anticipate it. The king of whom I am speaking was, in the ¬rst place, of
unsound mind because he had been stained by the slaughter of the best of
kings; and since he was afraid of being severely punished for his crime,
he wanted to be feared. In the second place, he reveled in his violence,
relying on his victories and his wealth. [] And so, when his elder son
assaulted Lucretia, the daughter of Tricipitinus and wife of Collatinus,
and that modest and noble woman sentenced herself to death because of
his attack, Lucius Brutus, a man of outstanding talent and virtue, threw
o¬ from his fellow citizens the unjust yoke of harsh slavery. Although he
was a private citizen, he upheld the whole commonwealth; he was the
¬rst in this state to show that in preserving the liberty of citizens no one is
a private person. Under his leadership and initiative, the state was roused
both by the fresh complaint of Lucretia™s father and relatives and by the
memory of Tarquin™s pride and of the many injuries in¬‚icted by him and
his sons; they ordered the king himself, his sons, and the family of the
Tarquins to go into exile.
[·] Do you see, then, how a master emerged from a king, and how by
one person™s fault the form of the commonwealth was altered from a good
one to the worst? This lord of the people is the man the Greeks call a
tyrant; they want ˜˜king™™ to be the title of the man who looks after his
people like a parent and keeps those of whom he is in charge in the best
possible condition of life. It is, as I said, a genuinely good form of
commonwealth; but it verges on the most terrible type. [] As soon as

An allusion without details to the story of Brutus™ participation in the embassy to Delphi
and his correct interpretation of a prophecy.
Superbus and his wife Tullia had murdered her father, Servius Tullius.
As C. repeats at ., Greek distinguishes between a good ˜˜king™™ and a bad ˜˜tyrant,™™

while in Latin the word ˜˜king™™ itself implies tyrannical behavior.

On the Commonwealth

this king turned to a more unjust form of mastery, he immediately
became a tyrant; no animal can be imagined that is more awful or foul or
more hateful to gods and men alike.µ° Although he has the appearance of
a human, through the viciousness of his character he outdoes the most
destructive beasts. Who could rightly call ˜˜human™™ someone who desires
no bond of shared law, no link of human nature with his fellow citizens or
indeed with the whole human race? But there will be a more suitable
moment for us to speak about this type of government when the occasion
leads us to condemn those men who have sought domination even in a
freed state.
[] There you have the ¬rst origin of a tyrant. That is the name that
the Greeks wanted to give an unjust king; our own people have used
˜˜king™™ to refer to everyone who had sole and perpetual power over their
people. And so Spurius Cassius and Marcus Manlius and Spurius
Maelius were said to have wanted to seize monarchic power; and more
recently *µ±
[one leaf missing]
[µ°] * he called :elders9 at Sparta; they were too few, only twenty-
eight, whom he wanted to serve as the highest council, while the king
kept the executive power. Following his example, our people had the
same purpose; they translated his terms, and called ˜˜senate™™µ the men
he had called ˜˜elders™™; in selecting the ˜˜Fathers,™™ Romulus had already
done the same thing. Even so, the force, power, and name of king stands
out and dominates. Grant the people some power, as did Lycurgus and
Romulus: you will not give them enough liberty but you will set them on
¬re with the desire for liberty, while only giving them the opportunity for
a taste. And always the fear will loom over them that the king, as
frequently happens, may become unjust. The fortune of a people is
fragile that rests, as I said before, on a single person™s wishes or character.
[µ±] Therefore, let this be the ¬rst shape and appearance and origin of
a tyrant, which we have discovered in the commonwealth which
Romulus founded after taking the auspices, not in the one which, as Plato
writes, Socrates designed in that elegantµ conversation: how Tarquinius,
not by the acquisition of new power but by the unjust use of power that
In C.™s account (here as at .“) below, a change of constitution from good to bad need

not imply a change of ruler: a king can become a tyrant, and aristocrats can become
oligarchs. For beasts in human guise see below, .±d (before . in this edition).
A reference to Tiberius Gracchus (who was accused of monarchic tendencies at the time)
clearly followed. Senatus is derived from senex, ˜˜old man.™™
Perpolito is an emendation; the text is corrupt.

Book 

he already had, entirely overturned monarchic government. Let there be
opposed to this man another, who is good and wise and knowledgeable
about the interests and the reputation of the state, almost a tutor and
manager of the commonwealth; that, in fact, is the name for whoever is
the guide and helmsman of the state. Make sure you recognize this
man; he is the one who can protect the state by his wisdom and e¬orts.
And since this concept has not yet been treated in our conversation,µ
and we will often have to consider this type of man in our remaining
discussion *µµ
[six leaves missing]
[.c] . . . when Lucius Quinctius was named dictator (Servius on
Vergil, Georgics .±µ)µ
[µ] * he sought . . . and he created a state more to be desired than
expected; one as small as possible, not one that could exist, but one in
which the principles of civic organization could be discerned. But if I can
do it, I will try to use the same principles that he observed, not in the
shadowy image of a state but in the greatest commonwealth, so as to
appear almost to touch with my pointer the cause of each public good and
The monarchy lasted slightly longer than ° years, including the
interregna;µ· after Tarquinius was expelled, the Roman people hated the
name of king as much as they had loved it after the death, or rather
departure, of Romulus. Then they were unable to do without a king; at
the expulsion of Tarquinius they were unable even to hear the name of
king . . . *
[eight leaves missing]
[.b] Cicero, Letters to Atticus .±.: You ask a historical question
concerning Gnaeus Flavius, the son of Annius. He certainly was not earlier
than the decemvirs, since he was curule aedile, an o¬ce that was not instituted

Less probably ˜˜in our language.™™
Before the lengthy gap, C. begins the ¬rst extensive discussion of his ideal citizen, who is

given a number of di¬erent labels, combining Roman political terminology with the
˜˜royal™™ or ˜˜political™™ man at Plato, Statesman c. C.™s ideal leader has often been
misconstrued as a monarch; in fact, the role described is temporary (Lucius Brutus is the
¬rst great example) and can be ¬lled by any one of the many quali¬ed statesmen available.
The passage should be read in connection with C.™s description of his own public service
at ±.±°“±±. When the manuscript returns, C. is describing Plato™s Republic.
Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was named dictator for the second time in  in connec-

tion with the attempted coup of Spurius Maelius. The location of the fragment is
uncertain, but it has plausibly been connected to the discussion of the ideal citizen.
From ·µ±/° to µ°/· on C.™s chronology.

On the Commonwealth

until many years after the decemvirs. What was the e¬ect of his publication of
the o¬cial calendar? They think that that document was concealed at one
time, so that the days for public actions would have to be sought from a few
people. And quite a few sources say that Gnaeus Flavius the scribe made the
calendar public and composed the forms of action; so don™t think that I or
rather Africanus (he is the speaker) made it up.µ
[µc] * that whole law was repealed.µ In this state of mind, our
ancestors at that time threw out Collatinus, although he was innocent,
through suspicion arising from his relationship to Tarquinius; they
expelled the rest of the family of the Tarquinii through hatred of the
name. In the same state of mind Publius Valerius was the ¬rst to order
the fasces to be lowered when he began to speak in an assembly; he also
moved his house to the foot of the Velia after he recognized that the
people were becoming suspicious when he began to build higher on the
Velia on the same spot where King Tullus had lived.° He too “ an action
in which he most embodied his cognomen ˜˜Publicola™™± “ proposed a law
to the people, the ¬rst which was passed by the centuriate assembly, that
no magistrate should execute or whip a Roman citizen without his having
the right of appeal to the people. [µ] The ponti¬cal books state, and our
augural books indicate, that the right of appeal also existed under the
kings. Similarly, many laws in the Twelve Tables show that there was
the possibility of appeal from every judgment and penalty: the fact that
the decemvirs who wrote the laws are said to have been elected without
the right of appeal is a su¬cient proof that there was a right of appeal
from other magistrates; and the consular law of Lucius Valerius Potitus
and Marcus Horatius Barbatus, men who were wisely democratic for
the sake of harmony, ordained that no magistracy should be created
without the right of appeal. And in fact the Porcian laws, three laws as
Gnaeus Flavius was aedile in ° . C.™s comment shows that he must have mentioned

Flavius before his account of the Decemvirate; otherwise Atticus would not have raised
the chronological issue. For Nonius µ.±° (placed here by Ziegler) see .“ above.
Augustine, City of God µ.± (placed here but considered spurious by Ziegler), is not from
C. A law permitting the family of Tarquinius to take their possessions into exile.
The Velia is the northeast spur of the Palatine Hill.
C. wrongly considers publicola to be derived from populum colere, ˜˜to cultivate the
This section is an antiquarian excursus on the origins of prouocatio, the right of appeal to
the people. The issue was one of personal interest to C., whose exile resulted from his
execution of the Catilinarian conspirators in  withut giving them the opportunity to
appeal the sentence.
The consuls of  , after the restoration of the Republic at the overthrow of the


Book 

you know named after three members of the Porcian family, added
nothing new other than a penalty for violations. [µµ] And so Publicola,
after carrying the law on appeal, immediately ordered the axes to be taken
out of the fasces; on the next day he presided over the election of his new
colleague Spurius Lucretius, and he ordered his lictors to be transferred
to Lucretius because he was the elder. Publicola ¬rst established that the
lictors should precede one consul at a time in alternate months, so that
there would be no more symbols of power in a free republic than there
had been in the monarchy. To my understanding, Publicola was a man of
no average talent: by giving a moderate amount of liberty to the people,
he more easily maintained the authority of the aristocracy. Nor am I now
reciting such old and outworn things to you without a reason: I want to
set up examples of men and actions using famous people and events, to
serve as the basis for the rest of my argument.
[µ] This was the condition in which the senate maintained the
commonwealth at that time:µ considering that the people were free, a
few things were to be done through the people, but more by the authority
of the senate and by custom and precedent; the consuls were to have
power that lasted only for one year but was in form and law like royal
power. They held very ¬rmly to what may have been the most important
element in maintaining the power of the nobles, that votes of the people
should not be held valid unless the senate voted to approve them. This
period also saw the appointment of the ¬rst dictator, Titus Larcius, some
ten years after the ¬rst consuls;· this new form of power seemed very
close to that of a king. But in any case everything was in the hands of the
aristocracy: they had the greatest authority, and the people gave way to
them. Great actions were performed in war in those days by brave men
holding supreme power as dictators or consuls.
[µ·] Nature itself, however, required that, as a result of their having
been freed from monarchy, the people should claim rather more rights
for themselves; that took place not much later (about sixteen years) in the
consulate of Postumus Cominius and Spurius Cassius. This develop-
ment was perhaps not completely rational, but the nature of common-
wealths often overcomes reason. You must bear in mind what I said at the
The only reference to there having been three Porcian laws; C. elsewhere knows only one.
After the overthrow of tyranny comes the aristocratic stage of the constitution, which lasts
until the decemvirs become oligarchic (below, .“). Not altered until  .

In  according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus and (probably) C.; µ°± according to Livy.

˜˜Nature™™ and ˜˜the nature of commonwealths™™ below must be the same thing.
 ; the secession traditionally began in the preceding year.

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