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York, ±·), “; the same author™s study of the dating of On the
Laws, Die Abfassungszeit von Ciceros Schrift uber die Gesetze (Rome,
±·), includes a great deal of material extending far beyond the nominal
subject. E. Heck, Die Bezeugung von Ciceros Schrift De re publica (Hil-
desheim, ±), contains the text of all citations of and allusions to On the
Commonwealth with detailed discussion.

The bibliography on the late Republic and on Cicero in general is
immense. A recent useful guide to the political history will be found in
Cambridge Ancient History vol. © (nd ed., ±), particularly (for
Cicero) the chapters by T. P. Wiseman on the period “µ°. The most
in¬‚uential and eloquent modern treatment of the end of the Republic is
R. Syme, The Roman Revolution (Oxford, ±); also admirable are the
various studies by P. A. Brunt, including Social Con¬‚icts in the Roman
Republic (London, ±·±) and the articles collected in The Fall of the
Roman Republic and Related Essays (Oxford, ±). For the actual work-


ings of Roman civic life, there is also the detailed study by C. Nicolet,
The World of the Citizen in Republican Rome (London, ±°). For the
intellectual history of the period, M. Gri¬n™s chapter in Cambridge
Ancient History vol. © is an excellent introduction; a detailed study
(which omits Cicero himself ) is E. Rawson, Intellectual Life in the Late
Roman Republic (London, ±µ). Her articles collected in Roman Culture
and Society (Oxford, ±±) include many papers on Cicero, including
several directly related to On the Commonwealth and On the Laws. A
valuable introduction to the values of Roman public life is D. C. Earl,
The Moral and Political Tradition of Rome (London, ±·), and many of
the ethical issues relevant to On the Commonwealth are discussed by A. A.
Long in ˜˜Cicero™s Politics in De O¬ciis,™™ in Justice and Generosity, ed. A.
Laks and M. Scho¬eld (Cambridge, ±µ).
For Cicero himself, the best brief biography, which pays due attention
to Cicero™s ideas, is that of E. Rawson, Cicero: A Portrait (London, ±·µ);
more recent, fuller, and with more annotation is the two-volume life by
T. Mitchell, Cicero: The Ascending Years and Cicero: The Senior States-
man (New Haven, ±· and ±±). The useful collection of essays in T.
A. Dorey (ed.), Cicero (London, ±µ), contains a brief political biogra-
phy and introductions to the various aspects of Cicero™s writings; an
excellent bibliographical essay on recent Ciceronian scholarship is A. E.
Douglas, Cicero (Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics ,
Oxford, ±; rev. ±·).
Several recent collections of essays contain valuable papers (some of
which are mentioned speci¬cally below) on Cicero™s philosophical writ-
ings and their background: Philosophia Togata, ed. M. Gri¬n and J.
Barnes (Oxford, ±), and Philosophia Togata II, ed. J. Barnes and M.
Gri¬n (Oxford, ±·); Cicero™s Knowledge of the Peripatos, ed. W. For-
tenbaugh and P. Steinmetz (New Brunswick, N.J., ±) (mostly in
German); Cicero the Philosopher, ed. J. G. F. Powell (Oxford, ±µ); and
Justice and Generosity (full citation above). There are two helpful intro-
ductions to the complex world of Hellenistic philosophy: A. A. Long,
Hellenistic Philosophy (nd ed., London, ±), and R. Sharples, Stoics,
Epicureans and Skeptics (London, ±). For Stoic political theory, there
is the superb study of M. Scho¬eld, The Stoic Idea of the City (Cam-
bridge, ±±). There is also an excellent bibliography for both Hellenistic
and Roman philosophy in Philosophia Togata [I].


On the Commonwealth
Syme in The Roman Revolution described On the Commonwealth as a book
˜˜about which too much has been written,™™ but unfortunately (or not)
very little of it until recently has been in English. The introduction to J.
Zetzel (ed.), Cicero: De re publica: Selections (Cambridge, ±µ), provides
orientation on the major issues, and the bibliography includes major
scholarly treatments and bibliographies; a fuller study of On the Common-
wealth by the editor is in progress. The survey of Cicero™s political ideas
by N. Wood, Cicero™s Social and Political Thought (Berkeley and Los
Angeles, ±) has some useful analyses but many errors; older general
treatments still worth reading are those of C. W. Keyes, ˜˜Original
Elements in Cicero™s Ideal Constitution,™™ American Journal of Philology
 (±±), °“, and W. W. How, ˜˜Cicero™s Ideal in his De re publica,™™
Journal of Roman Studies ° (±°), “. Two recent articles that deal
with central issues in Cicero™s political theory are J. G. F. Powell, ˜˜The
rector rei publicae of Cicero™s De Republica,™™ Scripta Classica Israelica ±
(±), ±“, and J.-L. Ferrary, ˜˜The Statesman and the Law in the
Political Philosophy of Cicero,™™ in Justice and Generosity.
For the constitutional theories of Book ±, the study of Polybius by K.
von Fritz, The Theory of the Mixed Constitution in Antiquity (New York,
±µ), remains fundamental. More recent studies include the chapter on
Polybius Book  in F. W. Walbank, Polybius (Berkeley and Los Angeles,
±·); D. Hahm, ˜˜Polybius™ Applied Political Theory,™™ in Justice and
Generosity; and A. Lintott ˜˜The Theory of the Mixed Constitution at
Rome,™™ in Philosophia Togata II. J. A. North, ˜˜Democratic Politics in
Republican Rome,™™ Past and Present ± (±°), “±, relates constitu-
tional theory to the practice of Roman politics and reviews the recent
debate on democratic elements in Roman government, and M. Scho¬eld
provides an excellent discussion of Cicero™s use of the term res publica in
˜˜Cicero™s De¬nition of Res Publica,™™ in Cicero the Philosopher.
A general treatment of Cicero™s philosophical models is A. A. Long,
˜˜Cicero™s Plato and Aristotle,™™ in Cicero the Philosopher. More speci¬-
cally related to On the Commonwealth are R. Sharples, ˜˜Cicero™s Republic
and Greek Political Theory,™™ Polis µ. (±), °“µ°, and D. Frede,
˜˜Constitution and Citizenship: Peripatetic In¬‚uence on Cicero™s Politi-
cal Conceptions in the De re publica,™™ in Cicero and the Peripatos.
For the political and dramatic setting of the dialogue, there are useful
historical discussions in A. E. Astin, Scipio Aemilianus (Oxford, ±·),


and A. Bernstein, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (Ithaca, ±·), together
with A. Lintott™s chapter in Cambridge Ancient History vol. ©; for
Cicero™s approach to historiography (relevant to both dialogues), the
most important treatment is that of E. Rawson, ˜˜Cicero the Historian
and Cicero the Antiquarian,™™ in Roman Culture and Society. For the early
history of Rome, discussed by Cicero in Book  of On the Commonwealth,
an excellent recent account of what is actually known may be found in
Tim Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze
Age to the Punic Wars (London, ±µ). J.-L.Ferrary, Philhellenisme et
imperialisme (Rome, ±), includes valuable discussions of the debate on
justice in Book  and on the intellectual world of the second century. A
strictly philosophical account of the Carneadean debate and its relation-
ship to Stoic ethics may be found in Gisela Striker, ˜˜Following Nature:
A Study in Stoic Ethics,™™ Essays on Hellenistic Epistemology and Ethics
(Cambridge, ±), ±“°. On the debate on justice and its in¬‚uence,
see also J. Zetzel, ˜˜Natural Law and Poetic Justice: A Carneadean Debate
in Cicero and Virgil,™™ Classical Philology ± (±), ·“±. There is no
single study devoted to the later use (direct or indirect) of On the
Commonwealth, but there are an excellent analysis of Renaissance Cicero-
nianism (including some uses of On the Commonwealth) in Richard Tuck,
Philosophy and Government ±µ·“±µ± (Cambridge, ±), ±“, and
valuable observations on some particular passages in Maurizio Viroli,
˜˜Machiavelli and the Republican Idea of Politics,™™ in G. Bock, Q.
Skinner, and M. Viroli (eds.), Machiavelli and Republicanism (Cam-
bridge, ±°), ±“·±.
The Dream of Scipio has long been treated as a separate text as a result
of its separate transmission. A valuable recent study is J. G. F. Powell,
˜˜Second Thoughts on the Dream of Scipio,™™ Papers of the Leeds Interna-
tional Latin Seminar  (±), ±“·; also worth reading (although too
inclined to see Pythagorean in¬‚uences) is R. G. C. Coleman, ˜˜The
Dream of Cicero,™™ Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society n.s.
±° (±), ±“±. The fundamental study of the sources and philosophical
origins of the Dream remains P. Boyance, Etudes sur le Songe de Scipion
(Paris, ±); his articles on Cicero, collected in Etudes sur l™humanisme
ciceronien (Brussels, ±·°), contain much of value on Ciceronian philos-
ophy as a whole.


On the Laws
Far less has been written about On the Laws than about On the Common-
wealth, and less about the dialogue as a whole than about particular
portions of it. A new commentary by A. Dyck is in preparation. The
fundamental introduction to most of the major critical issues is E.
Rawson, ˜˜The Interpretation of Cicero™s De Legibus,™™ in Roman Culture
and Society. Recent articles of value for general interpretation include S.
Benardete, ˜˜Cicero™s De Legibus I: Its Plan and Intention,™™ American
Journal of Philology ±° (±·), µ“°, and W. Goerler, ˜˜Silencing the
Troublemaker: De Legibus ±. and the Continuity of Cicero™s Skepti-
cism,™™ in Cicero the Philosopher.
On the concept of natural law and its history before Cicero, see above
all M. Scho¬eld, The Stoic Idea of the City (Cambridge, ±±); of value
also are his article ˜˜Two Stoic Approaches to Justice,™™ in Justice and
Generosity, and G. Striker, ˜˜Origins of the Concept of Natural Law,™™
Essays on Hellenistic Epistemology and Ethics (Cambridge, ±), °“°.
A good recent review of the subject is P. Mitsis, ˜˜Natural Law and
Natural Right in Post-Aristotelian Philosophy: The Stoics and Their
Critics,™™ Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen Welt, part ©©, vol. ©.·
(Berlin and New York, ±), ±“µ°. There are a good translation of
the relevant texts of Aquinas and much material on the modern history of
natural law in P. Sigmund, St. Thomas Aquinas on Politics and Ethics
(New York, ±).
For the context of On the Laws in the development of Roman jurispru-
dence, there is much relevant material in B. Frier, The Rise of the Roman
Jurists: Studies in Cicero™s ˜˜Pro Caecina™™ (Princeton, ±µ); basic intro-
ductions to the development of Roman law will be found in F. Schulz,
Roman Legal Science (Oxford, ±), and H. F. Jolowicz and B. Nicholas,
Historical Introduction to the Study of Roman Law (rd ed., Cambridge,
±·). The religious laws of Book  are closely related to Cicero™s
discussions of Roman religion in On the Nature of the Gods and On
Divination; two useful introductions to various aspects of these texts are
P. Brunt, ˜˜Philosophy and Religion in the Later Republic,™™ in
Philosophia Togata, and J. Linderski, ˜˜Cicero and Roman Divination,™™
Parola del Passato  (±), ±“.

Text and Translation

The translation of On the Commonwealth is based on C. [K.] Ziegler
(ed.), M. Tullius Cicero: De re publica (·th ed., Leipzig, ±), and (for
the continuous portions of the palimpsest and the Dream of Scipio) J.
Zetzel (ed.), Cicero: De re publica: Selections (Cambridge, ±µ). The
translation of On the Laws is based on K. Ziegler (ed.), M. Tullius
Cicero: De legibus (rd ed., rev. by W. Goerler: Heidelberg, ±·). Most
departures from these editions are indicated in the notes. It should be
noted that a new critical edition of both texts is being prepared by J. G.
F. Powell for Oxford Classical Texts.
On the Commonwealth di¬ers in the format of the dialogue from On
the Laws in that the latter is pure dialogue, with no narrator, and
changes of speaker are marked (by convention) with the name of the
speaker followed by a colon, as in dramatic texts; in On the
Commonwealth, by contrast, there is a narrator, and in the Latin text
speakers are often introduced by phrases such as ˜˜Then Scipio said.™™
To avoid extremely stilted translation, these phrases have been replaced
here by the same dramatic convention as is used in On the Laws.
With respect to the order and presentation of the fragments of On the
Commonwealth, there have been many departures from Ziegler™s text.
His numbering of the sections has been maintained (with the addition
of lower-case letters to indicate separate fragments grouped under one
section), although many of them have been moved; an index of frag-
ments will be found at the back of the book. In printing the fragments,
the following conventions have been employed:

± Verbatim quotations given without context have the source of the

Text and Translation

citation in parentheses at the end of the fragment; the sign + indi-
cates that the source assigns the fragment to a speci¬c book.
 Fragments quoted with context or consisting largely of paraphrase
are given with the source of the citation at the beginning of the
fragment. Paraphrase or loose citation is given in italics, and words
or phrases that are, or are very close to, Cicero™s own are in roman
Although this is occasionally cumbersome, it is important in many cases
(particularly in quotations in Lactantius and Augustine) to be able to
distinguish carefully the words of Cicero from the often tendentious
context in which they appear. And in dealing with a fragmentary text, it
is crucial for the reader to be able to assess the degree of accuracy of
any given citation. It should also be noted that the beginnings and ends
of sections of the manuscript of On the Commonwealth are marked by an
asterisk (*), and that editorial supplements are enclosed in angle
brackets (: 9).

Notes on terminology
The terminology of Cicero™s political and legal theory is not always
precise, and is almost never capable of being transferred into English
with complete consistency. The following words deserve particular no-
tice; the translations given in parentheses are those used in this volume
and do not cover the possible range of meanings in other contexts.

Res publica (commonwealth, government, public undertaking,
public career, public a¬airs, public life)
Literally, res publica means ˜˜public thing,™™ and Cicero de¬nes it (On the
Commonwealth ±. and elsewhere) as res populi, ˜˜the people™s thing,™™
here always translated as ˜˜the concern of the people™™ in order to
emphasize its connection with ideas of property as well as of government.
Res publica is used idiomatically in a number of phrases (notably rem
publicam adire or gerere, lit. ˜˜to approach™™ or ˜˜to perform the public
thing™™) that simply mean participation in the work of government and
holding o¬ce, and they are translated variously as the context requires.
Most often in On the Commonwealth, however, res publica is a technical
term for Cicero, used to translate Plato™s and Aristotle™s politeia, and here
translated in every appropriate case as ˜˜commonwealth.™™ That is per-

Text and Translation

haps not a term of current constitutional language except in the British
Commonwealth (which is not parallel) or in the commonwealths of
Massachusetts and Virginia (which are), but its very lack of modern
speci¬city makes it useful, as the meaning of res publica itself varies
considerably in Cicero: it can be used (as in Book ±) for any constitutional
form of government; it can be limited to some form of participatory
republic and contrasted with monarchy (as at .); it can denote a morally
legitimate constitution only (as in Book .¬.). In almost all cases in On
the Commonwealth, it refers to the constitutional aspect of a state, the way
in which power is structured internally.

Civitas (state, government, civic a¬airs)
There are many occasions in which civitas is a synonym for res publica,
but in general it emphasizes the corporate collection of individuals
(derived from civis, ˜˜citizen™™) that make up a society rather than the
constitutional structure in which they are organized. Frequently the
phrase status civitatis, ˜˜organization/condition/form of the state™™ is a
synonym for res publica. The translation ˜˜state™™ is used here (in all but a
few idiomatic usages) not because civitas is equivalent to the modern
notion of the nation-state but as a relatively neutral term that implies
nothing about legitimacy or structure.

Consilium (counsel, judgment, plan, planning, policy,
deliberation, deliberative function, deliberative responsibility,
Consilium is an extraordinarily ¬‚exible term, of considerable importance
in On the Commonwealth. It represents both the necessary intelligence
needed to guide a commonwealth, whether in a single person or a group
(and hence shades into concilium, ˜˜council™™), and also the speci¬c virtue
of aristocratic government (at least in the aristocrats™ self-presentation at
±.µ±“µ). Cicero also employs it at ±.° to identify an aspect of the mind
that mediates between reason and passion.

Prudens; prudentia; providere (prudent, man of foresight;
prudence, foresight, judgment; to foresee, see ahead, look into
the future)
Cicero emphasizes the etymology of prudens from the verb providere, to

Text and Translation

look ahead. Prudentia is the essential quality of the good statesman, the
ability to understand circumstances and to deal with them in advance. He
uses it as the equivalent of the Aristotelian virtue of phronesis, practical
knowledge; but it is also used more cynically by Philus in Book  of On
the Commonwealth (particularly .) to contrast with decency and hon-
orable behavior. It should also be noted that prudentia is carefully
distinguished from sapientia, ˜˜wisdom,™™ which translates Greek sophia
(theoretical wisdom in Aristotle; ˜˜knowledge of things divine and hu-
man™™ for the Stoics).

Auctoritas (authority)
Auctoritas is a term particularly associated with the Roman senate: it is,
among other things, a technical term for something voted by the senate,
its advice and recommendation. The important point is that the senate
had no legislative powers: it could only advise and could not command.
Cicero™s extension of senatorial power is one of the more signi¬cant
changes from Roman practice made in On the Laws Book . Hence
˜˜authority™™ here does not connote a legal right to direct behavior; it
connotes strong in¬‚uence and the right to command respect for one™s

Lex (law, legislation, rules, proviso)
In these two works, lex has a single very speci¬c meaning which is
signi¬cantly extended in one important respect. A lex in On the Common-
wealth and On the Laws is a written rule approved by a body (or person)
with the constitutional right to make such rules, that is, a statute or set of
statutes. The one occasion on which it is translated ˜˜rules™™ is Cicero™s
equation (On the Laws .) of musical and societal ˜˜laws,™™ and in other
contexts it can be used of binding contracts as well as of statutes, as at On
the Commonwealth ±., where it is translated ˜˜proviso.™™ The one im-
portant extension is the ˜˜law of nature™™ at On the Commonwealth . and
in the ¬rst two books of On the Laws, where Cicero makes an explicit
analogy (and contrast) between the usual meaning of lex as positive law
and its larger signi¬cance as the binding if unwritten statute that governs
the behavior of all rational beings, equated with ˜˜right reason™™ and the
intention of the divine ruler of the cosmos.

Text and Translation

Ius (law, justice, right, rights, procedures of justice, just
behavior, court, regulations, power, authority)
The range of meanings of ius (from which are derived iustus, ˜˜just,™™
iustitia, ˜˜justice,™™ and iniuria, ˜˜wrong, injury, crime™™) is far broader than
that of lex. The two words are in some contexts equivalent: almost all
leges are iura, but the converse is not true. Ius can refer to varieties of
rules (e.g. ponti¬cal law) that are not statutory but are nonetheless
binding; to the rights, powers, and responsibilities that are part of a
magistrate™s capacities; to all the aspects of a legal system (legal pro-
cedure, courts, magistrates™ decisions, the civil law taken as a whole, the
principles of law and jurisprudence) that extend beyond and around the
texts of statutes. Ius also has the connotation of ˜˜justice™™ “ that is, the
broader principles of equity or morality which a legal system is supposed
to embody.

Aequitas; aequabilitas; aequabilis (equity; equality, balance and
fairness; equitable, balanced)
The fundamental distinction in Cicero™s usage (particularly in On the
Commonwealth) is that aequitas can only mean fairness or equity, not
equality, while aequabilitas can mean either. Equity (roughly equivalent
to proportional equality in Aristotelian language) is an essential charac-
teristic of a balanced constitution, but the con¬‚ict between proportional
and arithmetic equality is crucial to the aristocratic argument at ±.µ,
which blurs the distinction between (arithmetic) equality and (propor-
tional) equity in order to disparage democratic ideals. Cicero uses
aequalitas, ˜˜equality,™™ in the philosophical discussions of On the Laws
Book ± (, ); he does not use it in the political analysis of On the

Optimates; optimus quisque (optimates, aristocracy, aristocrats,
˜˜the best people™™; every responsible citizen, the best people)
Optimate (which has been taken over in English) is the favorable term for
the Roman aristocracy, derived from optimus, ˜˜best™™ “ itself the Latin
equivalent of the Greek aristos. In On the Commonwealth Book ± and Book
, there is some question raised as to whether the aristocracy is in fact

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