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Peripatos. C.™s account of the development of ethics after Plato is closely based on the
ideas of Antiochus of Ascalon (cf. ±.µ), who tried to demonstrate the similarity in all but
terminology of Stoic, Peripatetic, and early Academic ethics. For a valuable assessment of
his importance see now J. Barnes, ˜˜Antiochus of Ascalon,™™ in Philosophia Togata, ed.
Gri¬n and Barnes (Oxford, ±), µ±“.
For Aristo™s system cf. Long and Sedley µ¦.
· 
The Epicureans.
The skeptical Academy denied the possibility of true knowledge and made a point of
arguing against all dogmatic arguments; for Carneades™ balanced speeches on justice see
On the Commonwealth Book . µ°
There is a lacuna following this sentence.
Possibly a reference to Pythagoras and to the use of puri¬cations for ritual purposes.
Reading inpietatum.
C. (following Aeschines, Against Timarchus ±°“±) contrasts the Furies of tragedy with

the pangs of conscience also at On Behalf of Roscius of Ameria ·.

On the Laws

justice, what worry would trouble the wicked if the fear of punishment
were removed?µ In fact, however, no criminal has ever been so bold that
he did not either deny the commission of a crime or invent some reason
for just resentment and seek the defense of his deed in some natural right.
And if the wicked dare to make this claim, then how eagerly should it be
embraced by the good! If penalties and the fear of punishment rather
than the criminal behavior itself are the deterrent from an unjust and
criminal existence, then no one is unjust, and the wicked should rather be
considered incautious.µµ [±] Furthermore, those of us who are not
moved by the idea of honor itself to be good men, but rather by some sort
of utility or pro¬t, are not good men, but crafty. What will a person do in
the dark if he is afraid only of witnesses and judges? What will he do in
some deserted place if he encounters someone from whom he can steal a
lot of gold, someone weak and alone? Our naturally just and good man
will talk to him, help him, and lead him on his way; the man who does no-
thing for someone else™s sake and measures everything by his own inter-
est “ I think you know what he will do! And if he denies that he will kill
him and take his gold, he will never deny it on the ground that he con-
siders it to be wrong by nature, but because he is afraid that word will get
out and therefore that it will cause trouble to him. That is something to
cause peasants as well as philosophers to blush.
[] The most stupid thing of all, moreover, is to consider all things
just which have been rati¬ed by a people™s institutions or laws. What
about the laws of tyrants? If the famous thirty tyrants at Athens had
wanted to impose laws, or if all the Athenians were pleased with tyranni-
cal laws, is that a reason for calling those laws just? No more than the one
carried by our interrex, that the dictator could put to death with impun-
ity whatever citizens he wished, even without a trial.µ There is only one
justice, which constitutes the bond among humans, and which was estab-
lished by the one law, which is right reason in commands and prohib-
itions. The person who does not know it is unjust, whether the law has
been written anywhere or not. And if justice is obedience to the written
laws and institutions of a people, and if (as these same people say)µ·
everything is to be measured by utility, then whoever thinks that it will

In what follows C. argues against Epicurean utilitarian interpretations of justice.
For the arguments of this and the following section see On the Commonwealth .“±.

The interrex is Lucius Valerius Flaccus, who in   proposed the law making Sulla

Still the Epicureans.

Book ±

be advantageous to him will neglect the laws and will break them if he
can. The result is that there is no justice at all if it is not by nature, and
the justice set up on the basis of utility is uprooted by that same utility:µ
[] if nature will not con¬rm justice, all the virtues will be eliminated.
Where will there be a place for liberality, for love of country, for piety,
for the desire to do well by others or return kindness? These all arise be-
cause we are inclined by nature to love other humans, and that is the
foundation of justice.µ Not only deference to humans but religious ob-
servances towards the gods will be destroyed, which I believe need to be
preserved not because of fear but because of the bond which exists be-
tween human and god. If justice were determined by popular vote or by
the decrees of princes or the decisions of judges, then it would be just to
commit highway robbery or adultery or to forge wills if such things were
approved by popular vote. [] If the opinions and the decrees of stupid
people are powerful enough to overturn nature by their votes, why don™t
they ordain that what is evil and destructive should be considered good
and helpful? If law can make justice out of injustice, why can™t it make
good from evil? But in fact we can divide good laws from bad by no other
standard than that of nature. And it is not only justice and injustice that
are distinguished naturally, but in general all honorable and disgraceful
acts. For nature has given us shared conceptions and has so established
them in our minds that honorable things are classed with virtue, dis-
graceful ones with vice.° [µ] To think that these things are a matter of
opinion, not ¬xed in nature, is the mark of a madman. What we call (and
it is a misuse of the word) the virtue of a tree or of a horse is not a matter
of opinion; it is natural. And if that is true, honorable and disgraceful can
also be distinguished by nature. For if virtue as a whole is determined by
opinion, then the same is true of its parts. And therefore who would
judge a man to be prudent or, to use another word, shrewd from some ex-
ternal circumstance rather than from his own bearing? Virtue is reason
brought to completion, which certainly exists in nature; and therefore the
same is true of all honorable behavior. For just as true and false, logical
and illogical are judged in themselves and not by external considerations,
so too a constant and consistent manner of life, which is virtue, and simi-
larly inconstancy, which is vice, will be judged by their own nature. Will
we test the character of a tree or a horse by the standard of nature and not
judge the characters of young men in the same way? [] Or are charac-
For Epicurus™ own statement of the utilitarian basis of law cf. Principal Sayings ±“·.

Cf. On the Commonwealth .a.
µ °
The text here is very uncertain.

On the Laws

ters to be judged by nature, but virtues and vices “ which derive from
character “ to be judged di¬erently? Or will we judge virtue and vice in
the same way as character but not ¬nd it necessary to refer honorable and
dishonorable to the standard of nature? Whatever good thing deserves
praise must necessarily have in itself something that is to be praised; the
good itself is not a matter of opinion but of nature. If that were not the
case, then men would be happy by opinion “ and nothing dumber than
that could possibly be said. Therefore, since good and bad are judged by
nature, and they are fundamental concepts of nature, then certainly hon-
orable and dishonorable things must be judged in a similar way and refer-
red to nature.
[·] But the variety of opinions and the discord of humans disturb us;
and because we do not have the same problems with our senses, we con-
sider them to be certain by nature, but we say that because moral qualities
seem di¬erent to di¬erent people and not even the same person always
sees them the same way, they must be false.± That is completely untrue:
our senses are not distorted by a parent, a nurse, a teacher, a poet, or the
stage; the agreement of the multitude does not lead them from the
truth. All sorts of traps are directed against our minds, either by those
whom I just listed, who take them when they are tender and inexperi-
enced and corrupt and bend them as they wish, or by that which lurks en-
twined deep in all our senses, namely pleasure, which imitates the good
but is the mother of all evils. Those who are corrupted by her blandish-
ments do not perceive su¬ciently well what things are good by nature,
because these things lack the sweet itch of pleasure.
[] The result (to bring my whole argument to a close) is what is obvi-
ous from what has already been said, that justice, like every honorable
thing, is desirable on its own account. In fact all good men love equity
and just behavior for themselves, and it is not the part of a good man to go
wrong and to love something that is not lovable for itself; and therefore
what is just is to be sought and loved for itself. And if that is true of what
is just, then it is true of justice; and if justice, then all the other virtues are
to be cultivated for themselves. What of liberality? is it gratuitous or for a
reward? If someone is benevolent without a price, then it is gratuitous; if
for a reward, then it is bought. Nor is there any doubt that the person
who is said to be liberal or benevolent is following duty, not pro¬t.
Cf. On the Commonwealth .±.

A very similar argument is at Tusculan Disputations .“.

Cf. Academica .±° for the argument that virtuous acts are necessarily gratuitous.

Book ±

Therefore justice too seeks no reward and no prize, and thus it is sought
for itself, and the same is the case for all virtues. [] And furthermore, if
virtue is sought for its rewards, not for its own intrinsic merits, then the
only virtue will be the one most rightly called wicked conduct. The more
a man judges his actions by his interest, the less good he will be, and those
who measure virtue by its reward think nothing to be a virtue except
wickedness. Where is the benevolent man if no one behaves benevolently
on another™s behalf? Where is the grateful man if people are not genuine-
ly grateful to the person to whom they owe gratitude? Where is holy
friendship if the friend is not loved, as they say, with whole heart? He will
have to be deserted and abandoned if there is no hope of pro¬t and re-
ward; and what more terrible thing could possibly be said? And if friend-
ship is to be cultivated for itself, then the fellowship of men, equality, and
justice are desirable in themselves. And if that is not so, then there is no
such thing as justice at all. For that is the most unjust thing of all, to seek
a reward for justice.
[µ°] What about moderation, temperateness, and self-restraint? What
about modesty, shame, and chastity? Are people to refrain from aggres-
sion through fear of disgrace, or of laws and courts? Are people innocent
and modest in order to have a good reputation, and do they blush in order
to gain good opinion? I am ashamed to talk about chastity, and I am
ashamed of those philosophers who think the avoidance of a bad reputa-
tion more important than the avoidance of vice. [µ±] What then? Can we
call those people decent who are kept from adultery by the fear of dis-
grace, although the disgrace is the necessary consequence of the baseness
of the act? What can properly be praised or criticized if you ignore the na-
ture of what you think should be praised or criticized? Do great physical
deformities cause o¬ense, but not a misshapen mind? The dishonorable-
ness of that can be seen most easily from the vices themselves. What is
uglier than greed, what is more horrible than lust, what is more con-
temptible than cowardice, what is lower than sloth and stupidity? What
then? Those who are remarkable for single vices or even for several “ do
we call them wretched because of material losses or torture, or because of
the nature and the dishonor of the vices themselves? And the same is
true, in the opposite direction, of virtue. [µ] Finally, if virtue is desirable
for other reasons, it is necessary that there be something better than vir-
tue; is it money, or o¬ce, or beauty, or health? When these are present,

The text here is very uncertain.

On the Laws

they are trivial, and it is impossible to have certain knowledge of how
long they will last. Or is it (the vilest thing to mention) pleasure?µ But it
is in spurning and repudiating pleasure that virtue is most clearly recog-
Do you see what a long chain of subjects and ideas this is, and how one
thing is bound to another? I would go on even further unless I stopped
±µ ©® µ : In what direction? I would be happy to go further with you
in this discussion.
  µ: To the supreme good, by which all things should be judged
and for the sake of gaining which all things should be done; that is a mat-
ter of controversy, ¬lled with disagreement among philosophers, but a
judgment must be made about it eventually.
[µ]   © µ : How can that be, now that Lucius Gellius is dead?
  µ: How is that relevant?
 ©  µ: Because I remember hearing in Athens from my friend
Phaedrus that your friend Gellius, when he came to Greece as proconsul
after his praetorship,· summoned all the philosophers who were then in
Athens to one place and vigorously urged them to bring their controver-
sies to an end. And if they did not want to waste the rest of their lives in
disputes, some accommodation could be made, and he promised them
his assistance in reaching some agreement.
  µ: That was very funny, Atticus, and has been a source of
amusement to many people. But I would like to have been assigned as ar-
bitrator between the Old Academy and Zeno.
 ©  µ: How so?
  µ: Because they disagree on only one thing, and they are in re-
markable accord about everything else.
 ©  µ: Do you think so? Is there only one disagreement?
[µ]   µ : Only one essential thing: the Old Academy decided that
everything in accordance with nature was good if it helped us in life,
while Zeno thought nothing good that was not also honorable.
 ©  µ: I suppose that™s a small matter, not the sort to make such a
great division.
The Epicurean position.
C. devoted his dialogue On the Supreme Good and Evil to the question of ends; he gives a
brief doxography at Tusculan Disputations µ.“µ. For Hellenistic debates on the subject
cf. Long and Sedley “. In  .

In what follows, C. again accepts the views of Antiochus of Ascalon, who grouped
Aristotle and the early Peripatetics with the successors of Plato.

Book ±

  µ : I would agree with you if they di¬ered in substance and not
just in words.
 © µ : So you share the opinion of my friend Antiochus (I don™t
dare call him my teacher), with whom I lived and who nearly plucked me
out of the Garden and brought me almost into the Academy.
  µ : He was a wise and clever man, perfect of his own sort, and a
friend of mine, as you know; but we will see soon whether or not I agree
with him in everything. I will say this, that the whole dispute can be
[µµ]   © µ : How do you see that?
  µ : If, like Aristo of Chios, Zeno had said that the only good is
what is honorable, and that only what is dishonorable is bad, and that all
other things are quite equal, and that it made no di¬erence at all whether
they are present or absent, then he would have a serious di¬erence from
Xenocrates and Aristotle and the disciples of Plato, and there would be a
disagreement among them about the most important thing and about the
whole basis of life. But since Zeno said that virtue was the sole good,
while the Old Academy said it was the highest good; and he said that vice
was the only evil, and they said it was the greatest evil; he calls wealth,
health, and beauty convenient rather than good, and poverty, weakness,
and pain inconvenient rather than evil, he has the same idea as Xenoc-
rates and Aristotle but uses di¬erent language. From this di¬erence in
words rather than substance arose the controversy about ends, and since
the Twelve Tables forbade ownership to be obtained by possession with-
in ¬ve feet of a boundary line, we will not allow the ancient possession of
the Academy to be displaced by this clever man; and we will serve as a
board of three arbitrators to settle the boundary according to the Twelve
Tables rather than assigning a single arbitrator by the Mamilian law.·°
[µ]   © µ : What, then, will be our verdict?
  µ : That the boundary markers set out by Socrates should be
found and that they should hold good.
± µ© ® µ : You are making ¬ne use, brother, of the language of civil
law, the subject of the discussion that I am still waiting for. The arbitra-
tion that you describe is a signi¬cant one, as I have often heard from you.

A reference to Epicureanism.
C. makes an extended play on the two meanings of ¬nis as ˜˜end™™ in the philosophical sense

and as ˜˜boundary™™ in the terminology of Roman property law. The Lex Mamilia Roscia
Peducaea Aliena Fabia (probably of µ ) substituted a single arbiter for the three
permitted under the Twelve Tables (fr. ©©, µ Crawford).

On the Laws

But certainly it is the case that it is the highest good either to live in ac-
cordance with nature, that is, to enjoy a moderate life equipped with vir-
tue, or to follow nature and to live in accordance with what can be called
its law, that is insofar as possible to do everything to accomplish the de-
mands of nature, who wishes us to live in accordance with virtue as if it
were a law.·± So I don™t know whether this dispute can ever be settled; we
certainly can™t solve it in this discussion, at least if we are to accomplish
what we set out to do.
[µ·]   µ: This digression was my responsibility, and I enjoyed it.
±µ ©® µ : Leave it for another time. Now let us do what we began, es-
pecially since this disagreement about the greatest good and evil has no-
thing to do with it.
  µ: Very wise, Quintus. What I have already said . . .·
±µ ©® µ : . . . I am not asking you [to discuss] the laws of Lycurgus or
Solon or Charondas or Zaleucus or our own Twelve Tables or legislation
passed by the people, but I expect you to give in today™s discussion the
laws and the discipline of life both for peoples and for individuals.
[µ]   µ: What you expect certainly belongs to this discussion,
Quintus; I only wish I had the capacity for it. But as things are, since law
ought to correct vices and encourage virtues, then the knowledge of how
to live should be drawn from it. Thus it is the case that wisdom is the
mother of all good things, from the love of which philosophy took its
name in Greek.· The gods have given to human existence nothing
richer, nothing more outstanding, nothing more noble. Philosophy alone
has taught us, in addition to everything else, the most di¬cult of all
things, that we should know ourselves; and the force and signi¬cance of
this maxim are such that it was attributed not to some human but to the
god of Delphi. [µ] The person who knows himself will ¬rst recognize
that he has something divine and will think that his own reason within
himself is a sort of consecrated image of the divine. He will always do and
think things worthy of this great gift of the gods; and when he has studied
and made a complete examination of himself, he will understand how he
came into life ¬tted out by nature, and what tools he has for getting and
possessing wisdom, since in the beginning he formed the ¬rst sketchy
conceptions of all things in his mind; and when light has been cast on
them under the guidance of wisdom he recognizes that he is a good man
The two alternatives represent the Academic/Peripatetic and Stoic positions respectively.
The text is uncertain. There is a lacuna in the text.
Greek sophia, ˜˜wisdom,™™ is the root of philosophia, ˜˜love of wisdom.™™

Book ±

and for that reason he perceives that he will be blessed. [°] For when the
mind, through the knowledge and perception of virtue, has departed
from obedience to and indulgence of the body, and has conquered pleas-
ure like some blot of disgrace, and has escaped all fear of death and pain,
and has entered the bond of a¬ection with his own “ and has recognized
as his own all those who are linked with him by nature “ and has taken up
the worship of the gods and pure religion, and has sharpened the gaze of
his mind, like that of the eyes, for the selection of good things and the re-
jection of the opposite, the virtue which is called ˜˜prudence™™ from the
capacity to see ahead,· “ what can be said or thought to be more blessed
than he? [±] And when he has studied the heaven, lands, seas, and the
nature of all things, and has seen where they come from and where they
are going and when and how they will perish, what in them is mortal and
bound to die, what is divine and eternal; and when he has (so to speak)
got a grip on the god who guides and rules these things and has recog-
nized that he is not bound by human walls as the citizen of one particular
spot but a citizen of the whole world as if it were a single city·µ “ then in
this perception and understanding of nature, by the immortal gods, how
he will know himself, as Pythian Apollo commands, how he will scorn
and despise and think as nothing all those things which are commonly
called magni¬cent! [] And he will fortify all these things as if by a fence
through the method of argument, the knowledge of judging true and
false, the science of understanding logical consequences and contradic-
tions. And when he realizes that he is born for civil society, he will realize
that he must use not just that re¬ned type of argument but also a more
expansive style of speaking, through which to guide peoples, to establish
laws, to chastise the wicked and protect the good, to praise famous men
and to issue instructions for safety and glory suited to persuading his fel-
low citizens, to exhort people to honor, to call them back from crime, to
be able to comfort the a¬„icted, to enshrine in eternal memorials the
deeds and opinions of brave and wise men together with the disgrace of
the wicked. And of all these great and numerous things which are recog-
nized as present in man by those who wish to know themselves, the par-

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