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stops: for if the beginning is extinguished it will not be reborn from
something else, nor will it create something else from itself, since it is
necessary that everything start from a beginning. Thus the beginning of
motion comes from that which is moved by itself; and it can neither be
born nor die; otherwise the whole heaven and all nature would collapse
and come to a stop and there would be no force that it could ¬nd to move
it from the start. [] And since it is clear that what is moved by itself is
eternal, who could deny that the soul has such a nature? Whatever is
moved by an external force is inanimate; but whatever is animate is
stirred by its own internal motion. That is the special nature and force of
the soul. And if it is the one thing of all which moves itself, then it is
certainly not born and is therefore eternal. [] Use your soul in the best
activities! And the best concerns are those that involve the safety of the
fatherland; the soul which is aroused and exercised by them will ¬‚y more
swiftly to this, its dwelling and home. It will do so all the more swiftly if
even when it is enclosed in the body it projects outward and by contem-
plating those things that are outside it draws itself as much as possible
from the body. The souls of men who have surrendered themselves to the
pleasures of the body and have made themselves into the servants of
those pleasures, and at the urging of desires that are directed by pleasure
have broken the laws of gods and men “ those souls, when they have
departed from the body, circle around the earth and only after having
been harried for many generations do they return to this place.™™
He departed, and I awoke.
Sects. ·“ translate Plato™s proof of the immortality of the soul at Phaedrus µc“a.

Although the Dream was the last major episode of On the Commonwealth, there was almost
certainly at least one more paragraph which brought the conversation to its conclusion.

Book 

Unplaced fragments of On the Commonwealth
[] strive [Diomedes ±..±«]µ
[] they excel [Diomedes ±.·.±·«]
[] Marius Victorinus, Commentary on Cicero™s Rhetoric p. ±µ.: This
virtue is identi¬ed by Cicero in his rhetorical works with wisdom [sapientia],
but elsewhere, in On the Commonwealth, it is said to be the same as
judgment [prudentia].
[] Lactantius, Inst. ±.±.±±“±: In Ennius, Africanus says:
If it is right for anyone to ascend into the tracts of the gods
For me alone the greatest gate of heaven stands open.
. . . Cicero agrees with this vanity, saying: ˜˜True enough, Africanus; that
same gate stood open for Hercules.™™
[·] Seneca, Moral Letters ±°.: When a grammarian explains the same
text, he ¬rst reports that Cicero used the words reapse for re ipsa and sepse for
se ipse and then passes on to things that the custom of the times has altered, as
when Cicero says: ˜˜since we have been called back by his summons from
the very end of the race.™™ The ancients used the word calx [¬nish line] for
what we now call creta in the circus.
Anonymous Byzantine Dialogue on Politics, p. ·.“° Mazzucchi: In
saying this, Menodorus, you agree with Cicero, who says that it is proper for
a king™s entire thought to concern the selection of ten of the best men,
who will be adequate and su¬cient to make a selection of others whom they can
use for the administration of the government.·
This and the following fragment are quoted for their grammatical forms.
Ennius, Epigrams “ Warmington.

Menae patricii cum Thoma referendario De scientia politica dialogus, ed. C. Mazzucchi
(Milan, ±). This citation from an anonymous sixth-century Byzantine dialogue on
politics was ¬rst identi¬ed in ±·. It is unclear whether the quotation ends at ˜˜. . . ten of
the best men™™ or ˜˜. . . government.™™ It is also extremely unclear to what it refers, and
whether the mention of a king is C.™s or the Byzantine author™s. It has generally been
placed in Book µ, but in fact it need not even come from On the Commonwealth.

On the Laws

Book ±

[±±]  © µ : I recognize that grove and the oak tree of the people of
Arpinum: I have read about them often in the Marius.± If that oak tree
survives, this is surely it; it™s certainly old enough.
± µ© ® µ : It survives, Atticus, and it will always survive: its roots
are in the imagination. No farmer™s cultivation can preserve a tree as
long as one sown in a poet™s verse.
 © µ : How so, Quintus? What sort of thing do poets sow? In
praising your brother, I suspect that you are looking for praise for your-
[] ± µ © ® µ : Be that as it may, as long as Latin literature has a
voice, there will always be an oak at this spot called ˜˜Marius™s,™™ and as
Scaevola says about my brother™s Marius, ˜˜it will grow old for countless
generations.™™ But perhaps you think that your beloved Athens has
been able to keep the olive tree on the Acropolis alive forever, or that
the palm that they show today on Delos is the same as the tall and slen-
der tree that Homer™s Ulysses says that he saw there: many other
things in many places last longer in recollection than they could in na-
ture. And so let us assume that this ˜˜acorn-bearing™™ oak is the same as
the one from which once ¬‚ew o¬ ˜˜the tawny messenger of Jove, seen in
Both C. and Marius came from the Volscian town of Arpinum, about ±±µ km  of Rome.

C. had written an epic poem on the life of his fellow townsman (perhaps only on his exile
and return) at an uncertain date, but probably in the µ°s.

Quintus Cicero was himself a poet and tragedian; only one fragment of his verse survives.
Fr. ± Courtney. The Scaevola in question was probably the grandson of C.™s teacher

Scaevola the augur.
The Delian palm is mentioned at Odyssey .±; Athena supposedly gave the olive tree on

the Acropolis to the Athenians in her contest with Poseidon over the patronage of the city.

On the Laws

wondrous shape.™™µ But whenever a storm or old age destroys it, there
will still be in this spot an oak which they will call ˜˜Marius™ oak.™™
[]   ©  µ: Of that I have no doubt. But my question is not for
you, Quintus, but for the poet himself: was it your verses that planted
this oak, or was your account of what happened to Marius based on
something you had learned?
  µ: I will give you an answer, Atticus, but not before you give
me one: is it true that it was not far from your house that Romulus took
a stroll after his death and told Proculus Iulius that he was a god and
was named Quirinus, and ordered a temple to be dedicated to himself
on that spot? And is it true that in Athens, not far from your former
home, the North Wind picked up Orithyia?· “ that is what they say.
[]  © µ : What is your point? Why do you ask?
  µ: Only that you should not be too particular in your re-
searches into things that are handed down in stories of this kind.
 ©  µ: But people are curious about the truth or falsehood of
many things in the Marius, and since you are dealing with recent events
and a man from Arpinum, they expect the truth from you.
  µ: I certainly don™t want to be considered a liar, but those
people, Titus, behave ignorantly in such circumstances, in looking for
the truth of a witness when examining a poet. No doubt these same
people think that Numa had conversations with Egeria and that an
eagle placed the priest™s cap on Tarquin™s head.
[µ] ±µ ©® µ : I gather, brother, that you think that there are di¬er-
ent rules to be observed in a poem from those that apply to history.
  µ: In the one case, Quintus, everything aims at truth; in the
other, much aims at pleasure; although there are countless fables both
in Herodotus the father of history and in Theopompus.
 ©  µ: Now I have the chance that I wanted, and I will not miss
  µ: What chance, Titus?
 ©  µ: For a long time, people have been asking “ demanding “ a
history from you. They think that if you undertake it, then in this type
of writing too we may rival the Greeks. My own opinion is that you
owe this task not only to the interest of those who take pleasure in your

Cicero, Marius frr. ±µ“± Courtney. The same tale is in On the Commonwealth .°.
µ 

Near the river Ilissus; cf. Plato, Phaedrus b.

Cf. Livy ±.±.µ, ±... C. leaves these legends out of his account in On the Commonwealth

Book .

Book ±

writing, but to your country: the nation that has been preserved by you
should be glori¬ed by you as well. History is missing from our litera-
ture, as I know myself and as I have often heard from you. And you are
the one who can ¬ll the gap, since history is, as you yourself believe, a
kind of writing particularly suited to an orator. [] Therefore we ask
you to undertake it and to ¬nd the time for something which up to now
has been ignored or abandoned by the Romans. Nothing could be drier
than the annals of the pontifex maximus;±° and if you turn to what fol-
lows them, to Fabius or to Cato “ to whom you refer constantly “ or to
Piso or Fannius or Vennonius, even if each of them occasionally writes
forcefully, still, what is as ¬‚at as the whole bunch? Fannius™ contempor-
ary Coelius Antipater was a little more vigorous, but the strength he
had was rustic and rough, with no polish or skill; still, he could serve as
a reminder to the others to write with more care. But look at his suc-
cessors: Gellius,±± Clodius, and Asellio are nothing like Coelius, al-
though they stand comparison with the sloth and ignorance of the early
writers. [·] I won™t even consider Macer: he has some wit in his verbos-
ity, but it derives from Latin hacks, not from the learned eloquence of
the Greeks; his speeches are ¬lled with awkwardness, and when he
writes in a high style, he is completely over his head. His friend
Sisenna easily surpassed all our writers up to now “ unless there are
some who have not yet made their work public, about whom we can™t
form a judgment.± But he was never considered an orator in your class,
and he strives for childish e¬ects in his history writing: the only Greek
he seems to have read is Clitarchus, whom he simply tries to imitate;
and even if he were able to achieve that, he would still be well below
the ideal. And so the task is yours, and people await it from you. Un-
less, of course, Quintus has a di¬erent opinion.
[] ±µ © ® µ : Not at all, and we have often talked about it. But we
do have a slight disagreement.
 © µ : What is that?
± µ© ® µ : What period he should take as his starting point. I think

C.™s friend Cornelius Nepos agreed and imitated this passage in his work On Latin
Historians (fr. µ Marshall). For history as a form related to oratory cf. On the Orator
The earliest form of historical writing in Rome; cf. On the Commonwealth ±.µ. ˜˜Drier™™

(ieiunius) is an emendation of the manuscripts™ ˜˜more pleasing™™ (iucundius).
Gellius™ name is an emendation; the text is corrupt.
In all probability C. is referring to his friend Lucceius, whom he had asked (unsuccess-
fully) to write a monograph on his (C.™s) consulate; cf. Letters to His Friends µ.±.

On the Laws

that he should begin from the beginning, since what has been written
about those events is unreadable. He demands a contemporary subject,
to include events in which he took part.
 © µ : I agree with him. Great things have happened in our mem-
ory and our lifetime. He will be able to bestow praise on our good
friend Gnaeus Pompeius, and he will include his own glorious and
memorable consular year. I would rather have him speak of these things
than (as they say) of Remus and Romulus.±
  µ: I realize there have been demands for some time that I
undertake this task, Atticus, and I wouldn™t refuse if I had any free and
unencumbered time. It is impossible to undertake something so large
when you are busy or when your mind is on other things: you need to
be free of both cares and business.
[]  © µ : What do you mean? You have written more than any of
us, and what free time did you have?
  µ: Snatches of time turn up, and I don™t let them go to waste.
If there are a few days free to spend in the country, I match what I
write to the time that I have. But a history can™t be undertaken unless
free time is arranged in advance, and it can™t be ¬nished quickly. When
once I begin something and am forced to change directions I am always
left in a state of suspense; and I ¬nd it harder to pick up the threads
when I am interrupted than to work through a project in a single push.
[±°]  ©  µ: What you say seems to demand an ambassadorial ap-
pointment± or some similar respite giving you freedom and leisure.
  µ: I have been counting on the free time that comes with old
age, especially since I would not refuse to follow ancestral custom and
sit in a counselor™s seat and give advice to clients, performing the useful
and honorable function that belongs to a productive old age.±µ Then I
would be able to give as much e¬ort as I wanted to the subject that you
desire, and to many larger and richer subjects as well.
[±±]   ©  µ: But I™m afraid that no one would accept that excuse
and that you would always have to make speeches: all the more, as you
have changed yourself and taken up a di¬erent style of speaking. Just as
your friend Roscius, when he grew old, softened the rhythms of his

Presumably a proverb, although not otherwise attested.
A so-called free embassy (legatio libera), an o¬cial appointment with no o¬cial duties (C.
himself objected to such appointments; see . below).
The giving of legal advice was a traditional function of senior senators; see below, ±.±· and

On the Orator ±.±.

Book ±

songs and made the ¬‚utes play more slowly, so too you, day by day, re-
duce somewhat the high intensity that you used to display; the result is
that your oratory is now not very di¬erent from the relaxed style of phil-
osophers. And since even a very old man can manage this style, I fore-
see that you will be given no vacation from the courts.
[±] ± µ ©® µ : I certainly think that the people might approve of
your giving legal advice; so when you like, I think that you should try
  µ : I would, Quintus, if there were no risk in such an experi-
ment. But I™m afraid that the desire to lessen my work would actually
increase it, and that the interpretation of law would simply be added to
my work on cases, which I never approach without preparation and
practice. Giving legal advice would not be a burden to me so much be-
cause of the work as because it would take away time from planning my
speeches, without which I have never dared approach any major case.
[±]  © µ : Since this is one of those ˜˜snatches of time,™™ as you
call them, why don™t you explain this very subject to us, and write
about civil law more subtly than the others? I know that you have
studied the law from the time you were very young, when I too used to
study with Scaevola.± You have never seemed to me to be devoted to
oratory to the exclusion of civil law.
  µ : You summon me to a long discussion, Atticus; but unless
Quintus has something else in mind I will undertake it, and “ since we
have free time “ I will speak.
± µ© ® µ : I would be happy to listen. What better is there for me to
do, or how better should I occupy the day?
[±]   µ : Then let us move on to our walks and benches; when
we have walked enough we will rest, and there will be no lack of pleas-
ure in inquiring into one topic after another.
 © µ : That™s ¬ne with us, and if you like we will go this way to
the Liris along the shady bank. But now, please, begin to explain your
ideas about the civil law.
  µ : My ideas? I think that there have been very eminent men
in our state who have made it their business to interpret the law to the
people and to give opinions, but although they have made great claims
they have been occupied in small matters. What is as grand as the law
of a state? What is so trivial as the function of the jurists, necessary
Quintus Mucius Scaevola the augur, to be distinguished from his cousin the pontifex,
whose legal opinions are discussed below at .·¬.

On the Laws

though it be to the people? I don™t believe that the men who were in
charge of this function were ignorant of universal law, but they have
only explored what they call the civil law to the extent that they wanted
to provide it to the people; that, however, is as slight intellectually as it
is necessary in practical matters. So where do you want me to go, and
what are you urging me to do? that I write pamphlets on the law about
water running o¬ roofs or about shared walls? that I write the formulas
for contracts or civil judgments? Many people have done that diligent-
ly, and it is more humble than I think is expected of me.±·
[±µ]  © µ : If you ask what I expect, it is this: since you have writ-
ten about the best form of the commonwealth, it seems logical that you
should also write about the laws. I know that your beloved Plato did
just that, a man you admire, exalt above all others, and cherish
  µ: Then is this your wish? Just as with the Cretan Clinias and
the Lacedaemonian Megillus, as he describes it, he spent a summer day
in the cypress groves and forest paths of Cnossos, frequently stopping
and occasionally resting, discoursing on public institutions and the best
laws, in the same way let us walk and rest among these tall poplars on
this green and shady bank and inquire into these same subjects more
deeply than is required by the practical uses of the courts.
[±]   © µ : That is exactly what I want to hear.
  µ: What about Quintus?
±µ ©® µ : Nothing better.
  µ: And quite right too: you must understand that there is no
subject for discussion in which it can be made so clear± what nature
has given to humans; what a quantity of wonderful things the human
mind embraces; for the sake of performing and ful¬lling what function
we are born and brought into the world; what serves to unite people;
and what natural bond there is among them. Once we have explained
these things, we can ¬nd the source of laws and of justice.
[±·]   ©µ : So you don™t think that the discipline of law should
be drawn from the praetor™s edict (as is the current custom) or from the

C. makes similarly disparaging comments about the jurists at On Behalf of Murena “

and at On the Orator ±..
Just as Plato™s Laws was meant as the sequel to the Republic, so On the Laws is the sequel to
On the Commonwealth; see ±.° below. The di¬erence is that the Laws provides legislation
not for the ideal state of the Republic but for a second-best state; C. does not recognize this.
Accepting Vahlen™s conjecture posse ita for the transmitted honesta.

Book ±

Twelve Tables (as our predecessors did),° but from the deepest core of
  µ : The object of inquiry in this conversation, Atticus, is not
how to write legal documents or how to answer legal questions. Granted,
that is a great task, which used to be performed by many famous men and
is now done by one man of the greatest authority and wisdom± “ but in
this discussion we must embrace the whole subject of universal justice
and law, so that what we call ˜˜civil law™™ will be limited to a small and
narrow area. We must explain the nature of law, and that needs to be
looked for in human nature; we must consider the legislation through
which states ought to be governed; and then we must deal with the laws
and decrees of peoples as they are composed and written, in which the so-
called civil laws of our people will not be left out.
[±] ± µ © ® µ: You are looking deep, and (as is right) to the source of
what we seek; people who teach civil law di¬erently are teaching not so
much the way of justice as of the courtroom.
  µ : That isn™t true, Quintus, and in fact ignorance of law leads
to more lawsuits than knowledge of it. But that comes later; now we
should consider the origins of law.
Philosophers have taken their starting point from law; and they are
probably right to do so if, as these same people de¬ne it, law is the highest
reason, rooted in nature, which commands things that must be done and
prohibits the opposite. When this same reason is secured and estab-
lished in the human mind, it is law. [±] And therefore they think that
law is judgment, the e¬ect of which is such as to order people to behave
rightly and forbid them to do wrong; they think that its name in Greek is
derived from giving to each his own, while I think that in Latin it is de-
Although the Twelve Tables (traditionally dated to the mid ¬fth century ) provided

the main statutory basis for Roman law, most civil law in the late republic was based on the
annual edict of the urban praetor, which announced the actions and remedies that he
would permit.
C. refers to his contemporary Servius Sulpicius Rufus (consul in µ±), the last great jurist

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