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ent and the teacher of them all is philosophy.
[]   © µ : Your praise of philosophy is both profound and true.
But where does it lead?
  µ : First to those things, Atticus, with which we will be con-
See On the Commonwealth .· n ±.

The Stoic idea of the cosmopolis, the universal city; see above, ±..

On the Laws

cerned, which we want to be so grand, and they won™t be unless their
sources are also perceived to be magni¬cent. Secondly, I have spoken
willingly and I hope truly, because I cannot pass over in silence the sub-
ject to which I am devoted and which has made me what I am.
 ©  µ: You are right to do so: it is both deserved and respectful on
your part, and as you say it was necessary to do so in this discussion.

Book 

[±]  © µ : Since we have already walked enough and you have to
make a start on a new topic, why don™t we move and sit down for the
rest of the conversation on the island in the Fibrenus “ I think that that
is the name of the other river?
  µ : Certainly. I use that spot regularly with great pleasure,
whether I am thinking something over or reading or writing something.
[]   © µ : For my part, since I have just now come here, there are
no bounds to my pleasure, and I have only contempt for grand villas
and marble pavements and paneled ceilings. Those water channels that
some people call ˜˜Nile™™ or ˜˜Euripus™™ can only arouse laughter when
you have seen this spot.± And just as you, in speaking of law and justice
a little while ago, made nature the standard for everything, so too in
seeking aids for mental relaxation and pleasure nature is best. I used to
wonder “ I thought that there was nothing here but rocks and moun-
tains, basing my opinion on your own speeches and poetry “ I won-
dered, as I said, why you took such pleasure in this place. Now I won-
der why when you are away from Rome you ever go anywhere else.
[]   µ : When I have enough free time, particularly at this sea-
son, I seek out the beauty and the healthfulness of this place “ though
that is not very often. But in fact I have another cause of pleasure here,
which is not so relevant to you.
 © µ : What is that?
  µ : Because, in truth, this is my own and my brother™s real
It was fashionable to name landscaped features of great estates after famous natural sites, as
to name (as C. himself did) buildings after the Academy or Lyceum at Athens. The
Euripus is the strait between Euboea and the mainland of Greece.

On the Laws

fatherland. Here is the most ancient origin of our stock; here are our
family rituals and our family; here there are many traces of our ances-
tors. In brief: you see this house? It was made larger and fancier by our
father, who spent most of his life here in study, because of his poor
health; but on this very spot, while my grandfather was still alive and it
was a small house of the old style, like the house of Curius in the
Sabine country, I was born. And so something abides deep in my mind
and feelings which makes me take all the more pleasure in this place,
just as that wisest of men is said to have refused immortality so that he
could see Ithaca again.
[]   ©µ : I think that you have an excellent reason to enjoy
coming here and for loving this place. To tell the truth, I too am made
more fond of that house and this whole land in which you were born
and raised. We are somehow moved by the places in which the signs of
those we love or admire are present. My beloved Athens pleases me not
so much because of the grand buildings and re¬ned arts of the ancients
as because of the recollection of great men “ where each one lived,
where he sat, where he used to teach “ and I make a point of visiting
their tombs as well. And so I will love even more in the future the place
where you were born.
  µ: Then I am delighted to have shown you my cradle, so to
[µ]   ©  µ: And I too am delighted to have seen it. But what you
said a few moments ago, that this place “ by which I take it you mean
Arpinum “ is your real fatherland: what did you mean? Do you have
two fatherlands, or is the one we share the only one? Unless, perhaps,
the fatherland of wise old Cato was not Rome but Tusculum.
  µ: Indeed, I believe that both Cato and all those who come
from the townsµ have two fatherlands, one by nature, the other by citi-
zenship. Cato was born at Tusculum but was given Roman citizenship,
and so he was Tusculan by origin, Roman by citizenship, and had one
fatherland by place of birth, the other by law. In the same way the
people of your Attica, before Theseus ordered them to move in from

Sacra: the graves of ancestors and the rituals associated with the dead, particularly the rite
of the Parentalia, observed in February. These religious observances are the subject of an
extended discussion below, at .“µ. Odyssey µ.±µ“.

The elder Cato; see biographical notes.
In essence municipia were previously independent towns which were given Roman citizen-
ship, as opposed to colonies, which were settlements sent out from Rome. After   all
towns that were not colonies became municipia.

Book 

the countryside to the city (the astu, they call it), were citizens both of
their own places and of Attica, so we consider that too to be a father-
land where we were born. But of necessity that one takes precedence in
our a¬ections whose name ˜˜commonwealth™™ belongs to the entire citi-
zen body, on behalf of which we have an obligation to die, to which we
should give ourselves entirely and in which we should place and almost
consecrate everything we have. But in our a¬ections the one that bore
us stands almost as high as the one that received us; and so I will never
deny that this is my fatherland, while recognizing that the other one is
greater and that this one is contained within it . . . has two citizenships
but thinks of them as one citizenship.
[]   © µ: Then our friend Pompey was right to say in my hear-
ing, when he was defending Ampius in court together with you, that
our commonwealth had very just cause to thank this town, because two
of its saviors had come from here;· as a result, I am inclined to agree
that this place that gave you birth is your fatherland.
But we have reached the island. Really, nothing could be more
charming. The Fibrenus is split by this prow, so to speak: it divides
into two equal channels ¬‚owing along the sides and then swiftly comes
together into one, including just enough for a palaestra of moderate
size. And after doing that, as if that was its function “ to create a place
for us to sit and converse “ it immediately plunges into the Liris, and,
like someone entering a patrician family, it loses its unfamiliar name; it
also makes the Liris much colder. I™ve never touched a river colder that
this, although I™ve seen many. I can scarcely put my foot in it, as Soc-
rates does in Plato™s Phaedrus.
[·]   µ : True enough. But to judge from what Quintus has of-
ten said, your own Thyamis in Epirus is the equal of this in charm.±°
± µ© ® µ : Quite true. You shouldn™t think that anything surpasses
the Amaltheum and the plane trees of our friend Atticus. But if you
agree, let us sit here in the shade and return to that part of the dis-
cussion from which we digressed.
µ: You™re a careful creditor, Quintus “ I thought that I had es-
caped “ and nothing of this debt to you can be left unpaid.

There is a gap in the text.
Marius was the other famous citizen of Arpinum; see ±. above.

The image is of someone of undistinguished family being adopted into a noble family and
Phaedrus °b.

taking the famous name.
Atticus™ villa; in ± C. asked for details about the Amaltheum to use in his own

construction at Arpinum (Letters to Atticus ±.±.±µ).

On the Laws

±µ ©® µ : Then begin; we give the whole day over to you.
  µ: ˜˜From Jupiter the beginnings of song,™™ as I began in my
±µ ©® µ : What is your point?
  µ: That now too we must take the starting point of the dis-
cussion from Jupiter and the other immortal gods.
±µ ©® µ : Fine, brother; it™s right to do so.
[]   µ : Then before we get to particular laws, let us consider
again the meaning and nature of law, so that “ since everything else in
our discussion rests on this “ we don™t slip from time to time in the mis-
use of language and make mistakes about the meaning of the [word]±
by which our laws are to be de¬ned.
±µ ©® µ : Fair enough; that™s the right course of instruction.
  µ: This has, I know, been the opinion of the wisest men: that
law was not thought up by human minds; that it is not some piece of
legislation by popular assemblies; but it is something eternal which
rules the entire universe through the wisdom of its commands and pro-
hibitions.± Therefore, they said, that ¬rst and ¬nal law is the mind of
the god who compels or forbids all things by reason. From that cause,
the law which the gods have given to the human race has rightly been
praised: it is the reason and mind of a wise being, suited to command
and prohibition.
[] ± µ© ® µ : You have dealt with that subject several times already.
But before you come to legislation enacted by popular vote, please ex-
plain the meaning of that heavenly law, so that we may not be sucked in
by the tide of habit and drawn to the customs of everyday language.
  µ: From the time we were small, Quintus, we were taught to
call ˜˜if there is a summons to court™™ and other things of that sort
˜˜laws.™™± But in fact it should be understood that both this and other
commands and prohibitions of peoples have a force for summoning to
proper behavior and deterring from crime, a force which is not only
older than the age of peoples and states but coeval with the god who
protects and steers heaven and earth. [±°] It is not possible for there to
be a divine mind without reason, nor does divine reason lack this force
in sanctioning right and wrong. The fact that it was not written down
anywhere that one man should stand on the bridge against all the forces
of the enemy and order the bridge to be cut down behind him does not
See On the Commonwealth ±.µ. See above, ±.±.
±± ± ±
The text is corrupt.
The opening clause of the Twelve Tables (fr. ©, ± Crawford).

Book 

mean that we should not believe that the famous Horatius Cocles per-
formed his great deed in accordance with the law and command of brav-
ery; nor does the absence of a written law on sexual assault during the
reign of Lucius Tarquinius mean that the violence which Sextus Tar-
quinius brought against Lucretia the daughter of Tricipitinus was not
contrary to the eternal law. Reason existed, derived from nature, direc-
ting people to good conduct and away from crime; it did not begin to
be a law only at that moment when it was written down, but when it
came into being; and it came into being at the same time as the divine
mind. And therefore that true and original law, suitable for commands
and prohibitions, is the right reason of Jupiter, the supreme god.
[±±] ± µ© ®  µ : I agree, brother, that what is right and true is also
eternal and neither rises nor falls with the texts in which legislation is
  µ : Therefore, just as that divine mind is the highest law, so
too when in a human being it is brought to maturity, :it resides9±µ in
the mind of wise men. The legislation that has been written down for
nations in di¬erent ways and for particular occasions has the name of
law more as a matter of courtesy than as a fact; for they± teach that
every law that deserves that name is praiseworthy, using arguments
such as these: it is generally agreed that laws were invented for the
well-being of citizens, the safety of states, and the calm and happy life
of humans; and that those who ¬rst ordained legislation of this sort dem-
onstrated to their peoples that they would write and carry such legisla-
tion the adoption of which would make their lives honorable and
happy; and that what was so composed and ordained they would call
laws. From this it should be understood that those who wrote decrees
that were destructive and unjust to their peoples, since they did the op-
posite of what they had promised and claimed, produced something ut-
terly di¬erent from laws; so that it should be clear that in the interpreta-
tion of the word ˜˜law™™ itself there is the signi¬cance and intention of
choosing something just and right. [±] So I ask you, Quintus, as they
generally do: if the lack of something causes a state to be worthless, is
that something to be considered a good thing?
± µ© ® µ : Among the very best.
  µ : Then should not a state lacking law be considered as no-
thing for that very reason?

±µ ±
Conjectural supplement; there is a gap in the text. I.e. philosophers.

On the Laws

±µ ©® µ : No other conclusion is possible.
  µ: Then it is necessary that law be considered one of the best
±µ ©® µ : I agree completely.
[±]   µ: What of the fact that many things are approved by
peoples that are damaging and destructive, which no more approach the
name of law than whatever bandits have agreed upon among them-
selves? The instructions of doctors cannot truly be so called if in ignor-
ance and inexperience they prescribe poisons in place of medicine; nor,
even if the people approve of it, will something harmful in a nation be a
law of any kind. Law, therefore, is the distinction between just and un-
just things, produced in accordance with nature, the most ancient and
¬rst of all things, in accordance with which human laws are constructed
which punish the wicked while defending and protecting the good.
±µ ©® µ : I understand entirely, and I now think that any other law
should not only not be accepted, but should not even be given the name
of law.
[±]   µ: So you think that the laws of Titius and Appuleius are
no laws at all?±·
±µ ©® µ : And not even the laws of Livius.±
  µ: Rightly, since in a single moment they were removed by a
single word from the senate. The law whose force I have explained,
however, can be neither removed nor abrogated.±
±µ ©® µ : So the laws that you will pass, I imagine, are never to be
  µ: Certainly, so long as you two accept them. But I think that
I must do as Plato did, the most learned of men and also the most seri-
ous of philosophers, who ¬rst wrote about the commonwealth and also
wrote a separate work about its laws,° namely to speak in praise of the
law before I recite it. And I see that Zaleucus and Charondas did the
same thing, not as a matter of intellectual enjoyment but in writing laws
for their states for the sake of the commonwealth. In imitating them Pla-
to appears to have thought that it was a function of law to persuade
rather than to compel all things through force and threats.±

Laws passed through violence by the radical tribunes of ±°° and  .

The tribune of ± .

Compare the de¬nition of the natural law at On the Commonwealth .±.

Accepting eius, which Ziegler deleted. For C.™s error about the relationship between
Plato™s two dialogues see ±.±µ n. ±. Cf. Laws .·a.

Book 

[±µ] ±µ ©® µ : What of the fact that Timaeus denies that Zaleucus
ever existed?
  µ : But Theophrastus, a no worse authority in my opinion
(and many people think him a better one), says that he did, and his own
fellow citizens, our clients the Locrians, refer to him. But it makes no
di¬erence whether he existed or not: what I say is what has been re-
Therefore let the citizens be persuaded of this at the outset, that the
gods are lords and managers of all things, and whatever happens hap-
pens by their judgment and will; that they have treated the human race
very well; that they observe what sort of person each man is, what he
does, what he permits himself, in what state of mind and with what sort
of piety he observes religious customs; and that they keep account of
the good and the wicked. [±] Minds that are steeped in these beliefs
will not be averse to useful and true opinions. What is more true than
that no one ought to be so stupid and arrogant as to think that he has
reason and a mind but not to believe the same of the heavens and the
universe? Or to think that things which are barely understood by the
greatest intelligence and reason are moved without reason? Anyone who
is not compelled to be grateful by the order of the stars, the alternations
of day and night, the balance of the seasons, the crops which grow for
our enjoyment “ why is it proper for someone like that to be counted
human at all? And since all things endowed with reason are superior
to those which lack reason, and since it is wrong to say that anything is
superior to the natural universe, it must be admitted that the universe
has reason. Who could deny that such opinions are useful when he
understands how many things are secured by oaths, how conducive to
safety are the religious guarantees of treaties, how many people have
been kept from crime by the fear of punishment, how holy the bond of
citizens one with another is, with the presence of the immortal gods as
judges or as witnesses? This is the proem to the law, to use Plato™s
[±·] ±µ © ® µ : Yes indeed, brother, and I am particularly pleased
that you concentrate on subjects and ideas di¬erent from his. There is
nothing so unlike Plato as what you said earlier, or as this preface con-
cerning the gods. The only thing that you seem to me to imitate is the

Compare On the Commonwealth ±.“, .±. Laws .·d.
 

On the Laws

  µ: Perhaps I wish to; but who can or ever will be able to imi-
tate him? It™s easy enough to translate his ideas, and I would do that if I
didn™t prefer to be myself. What is the di¬culty in translating the same
things in virtually the same words?
±µ ©® µ : I quite agree. But as you yourself just said, I prefer you to
be yourself. But please give us your laws concerning religion.
[±]   µ: I will give them as well as I can; and since both this
place and our conversation are private, I will set forth the laws in the
language of laws.
±µ ©® µ : What is that?
  µ: There are words that belong to laws, Quintus: not as ar-
chaic as in the ancient Twelve Tables or the Sacred Laws, but still, to
have more authority, a little more antique than our conversation. To
the best of my ability I will imitate that custom and its terseness. The
laws which I will propose are not complete “ that would be endless “
but only the leading ideas of these subjects.
±µ ©® µ : That is certainly necessary; so let us hear them.
[±]   µ : Let them approach the gods in purity, let them display
piety, let them remove luxury.µ If anyone behave otherwise, the god him-
self will enforce the law.
Let no one have gods separately, neither new nor foreign, unless they
have been recognized publicly; let them worship in private those whose
worship has been duly handed down by their ancestors.
Let them have sanctuaries in the cities; let them have groves in the coun-
try and homes for their Lares.
Let them preserve the rituals of their family and ancestors.
Let them worship both those who have always been considered gods of
heaven and those whose deeds have placed them in heaven: Hercules,
Liber, Aesculapius, Castor, Pollux, Quirinus. Furthermore, as to those praise-
worthy qualities on account of which ascent into heaven is granted to hu-
mans “ Intelligence, Virtue, Piety, Faith “ let there be sanctuaries for them,
but none for vices.
Let them take part in customary rites.
Let disputes be absent from holidays, and let them observe holidays

The translation that follows makes no attempt to imitate the pseudo-archaic language that
C. employs in his laws.
˜˜Let them . . .™™: C. uses archaic imperative forms, imitating the language of old laws; it

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