LINEBURG


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In ± . Galus also wrote a book about solar eclipses.
°

Marcus Claudius Marcellus captured Syracuse in ± , during the Second Punic War;
±

Archimedes was killed in the siege.


±°
Book ±

often heard about this globe because of the fame of Archimedes, but its
appearance was not particularly marvelous: the other globe made by
Archimedes, which the elder Marcellus had placed in the temple of
Virtue, had greater beauty and fame in the public eye. [] But when
Galus with his great learning began to explain the workings of this
device, I decided that Archimedes had more genius than human nature
seemed capable of possessing. Galus said that the invention of the other
globe, the solid one, was old; it had ¬rst been made by Thales of Miletus
and then was marked out with the ¬xed celestial stars by Eudoxus of
Cnidus, who he said was a pupil of Plato™s. Many years later, Aratus
brought out a verse description of its ornamentation, drawn from Eu-
doxus, not using any astronomical knowledge but through his ability as a
poet. But this new kind of globe included the motions of the sun and
moon and the ¬ve stars that are known as ˜˜planets™™ or ˜˜wandering,™™
something that could not be achieved in the solid globe. The discovery of
Archimedes was all the more remarkable, because he had discovered how
a single turning action could preserve these unequal orbits with their
di¬erent speeds. When Galus moved this globe, the moon followed the
sun by as many revolutions of the bronze globe as it does by days in the
sky itself; the result was that the same eclipse of the sun occurred on the
globe, and the moon then fell into the space which was in the shadow of
the earth, when the sun from the region *
[probably four leaves missing]
[]  © °© : * was . . . because I was fond of the man myself and knew
that he was highly respected and loved by my father Paullus. I remem-
ber that when I was in my teens, when my father was consul in Mac-
edonia and I was with him on campaign, the army was shaken by religious
fear because on a clear night the bright full moon suddenly disappeared.µ
Galus was there as a legate about a year before he was elected consul; the
next day he had no qualms about explaining openly in the camp that it
was no omen, but that it had happened then and would always happen in


The Temple of Virtue was vowed by Marcellus (the conqueror of Syracuse) after the
battle of Clastidium in   and built by his son (also Marcus Marcellus, consul in ±
and father of the consul of ±). The globe dedicated in the temple was a solid celestial
sphere; the one kept by Marcellus was clearly an orrery.

C. himself as a young man translated Aratus™ poem, the Phaenomena; a large portion of the
translation survives.

Scipio distinguishes between his natural father, Lucius Aemilius Paullus, and his adoptive
father, Publius Cornelius Scipio.
± June ±  ( September in the Roman calendar of that date; cf. Livy .·.µ“).
µ




±±
On the Commonwealth

the future at ¬xed times when the sun was so placed that its light could
not reach the moon.
µ  : Really? Was he able to teach that to simple countryfolk, and
did he dare to say such things before uneducated people?
 © °© : He did indeed, and with great :success9 *
[probably one leaf missing]
[]  © ° ©: * neither inappropriate bravado nor a speech that was
inconsistent with the character of a very authoritative man: he accom-
plished something great in dispelling the empty religious fear of men
who were terri¬ed.
[µ] During the great war which the Athenians and Spartans waged so
bitterly against one another, Pericles, the leading man of his state in
authority, eloquence, and judgment, is said to have taught his fellow
citizens something similar: when there was a sudden darkness and the
sun disappeared, the Athenians were seized by intense fear, and he
taught them what he had learned from his teacher Anaxagoras, that such
things necessarily take place at speci¬c times when the whole moon
passes below the disk of the sun; and that while it does not happen at
every new moon, it can only happen at the time of the new moon. In
giving a scienti¬c lecture, he freed the people from fear: at that time this
was a new and unknown explanation, that the sun is eclipsed by the
interposition of the moon. They say that Thales of Miletus was the ¬rst
to recognize this, but later on it was known even by our own Ennius; as he
writes, in roughly the three hundred and ¬ftieth year after the foundation
of Rome, ˜˜on the ¬fth of June moon and night blocked the sun.™™·
Astronomical knowledge is so precise that from the date which is in-
dicated in Ennius and the Great Annals, previous eclipses of the sun
have been calculated back to the one which took place on the seventh of
July in the reign of Romulus. During that darkness, even if nature
snatched Romulus to a human death, his virtue is still said to have carried
him up to the heavens.
[]  µ  : Do you see then, Africanus, what seemed otherwise to
you a little while ago, that :learning9 *
 August ± .


Ennius, Annales ± Warmington. The correct astronomical date is ± June °° , µ°
·

years after the Polybian date (used by C.) for the foundation of Rome, ·µ±/°.

The Annales Maximi was an annual record kept by the pontifex maximus, including
eclipses and other portents.  On the dei¬cation of Romulus see below .±· and ..




±
Book ±

[one leaf missing]
 ©°©: * let others see.°
But what element of human a¬airs should a
man think glorious who has examined this kingdom of the gods; or
long-lived who has learned what eternity really is; or glorious who has
seen how small the earth is “ ¬rst the whole earth, then that part of it
which men inhabit? We are attached to a tiny part of it and are unknown
to most nations: are we still to hope that our name will ¬‚y and wander far
and wide? [·] The person who is accustomed neither to think nor to
name as ˜˜goods™™ lands and buildings and cattle and huge weights of
silver and gold, because the enjoyment of them seems to him slight, the
use minimal, and the ownership uncertain,± and because the vilest men
often have unlimited possessions “ how fortunate should we think such a
man! He alone can truly claim all things as his own, not under the law of
the Roman people but under the law of the philosophers; not by civil
ownership but by the common law of nature, which forbids anything to
belong to anyone except someone who knows how to employ and use it.
Such a man thinks of military commands and consulates as necessary
things, not as desirable ones, things that must be undertaken for the sake
of performing one™s duty, not to be sought out for the sake of rewards or
glory. Such a man, ¬nally, can say of himself the same thing Cato writes
that my grandfather Africanus used to say, that he never did more than
when he did nothing, that he was never less alone than when he was
alone. [] Who can really think that Dionysius accomplished more by
seeking in every way to deprive his citizens of liberty than did his citizen
Archimedes, while seeming to accomplish nothing, in creating that globe
we spoke about just now? Or that men who have no one with whom to
enjoy conversation in the crowded forum are not more alone than men
who, even when no one else is present, can converse with themselves or
are somehow present in a meeting of the most learned men, whose
discoveries and writings give them pleasure? Who would think anyone
wealthier than the man who lacks nothing of what nature requires, or
more powerful than the man who achieves all that he seeks, or more
blessed than the man who is freed from all mental disturbance, or of more
Scipio™s ¬rst speech anticipates themes taken up later in the dialogue, notably in the
°

preface to Book  and in the Dream. It also has close connections with Aristotle™s lost
Protrepticus (fr. ±°a Ross).
±
There is an extended play on the technical terminology of Roman property law, which
distinguished sharply between ownership and possession.
Cato, Origines fr. ±· Peter, but the location is doubtful. C. cites the same aphorism (in


slightly di¬erent words) at On Duties .±.


±
On the Commonwealth

secure good fortune than the man who possesses, as they say, only what
he can carry with him out of a shipwreck? What power, what o¬ce, what
kingdom can be grander than to look down on all things human and to
think of them as less important than wisdom, and to turn over in his mind
nothing except what is eternal and divine? Such a man believes that
others may be called human, but that the only true humans are those who
have been educated in truly human arts. [] I think that the saying of
Plato (or whoever else said it) is elegant: when a storm drove him from
the sea to an unknown land on a deserted shore, when his companions
were afraid because of their ignorance of the place, they say that he
noticed that some geometrical shapes were drawn in the sand; when he
saw them, he exclaimed that they should be of good spirits: he saw
human traces. He clearly inferred that not from his observation of sown
¬elds, but from the signs of learning. And therefore, Tubero, learning
and educated men and your own studies have always been a source of
pleasure to me.
[°] ¬ ¬ © µ: I don™t dare respond to that, Scipio, nor :do I think
that9 you or Philus or Manilius are so *
[one leaf missing]
¬ ¬ © µ: * there was a model in his own father™s family for our friend
Tubero here to imitate,
superbly stout-minded man, wise Sextus Aelius
who was “ and was called by Ennius “ ˜˜superbly stout-minded™™ and
˜˜wise™™ not because he looked for things he could never ¬nd, but because
he gave opinions which relieved his questioners of care and trouble. In
his arguments against Galus™ studies he always used to quote Achilles™
famous lines from the Iphigenia:µ
What™s the point of looking at astronomers™ signs in the sky
when goat or scorpion or some beast™s name arises “
no one looks at what™s in front of his feet; they scan the tracts of the sky.
He also used to say (I listened to him frequently and with great pleasure)
that Pacuvius™ Zethus was too hostile to learning; he preferred Ennius™
Neoptolemus, who said that ˜˜he wanted to be a philosopher, but only a
little; it didn™t please him totally.™™ But if Greek learning pleases you

The anecdote is in fact normally connected to Aristippus, not Plato.
Ennius, Annals  Warmington. Ennius, Plays “µ± ±Warmington.
 µ

Ennius, Plays °° Warmington. The same two passages are similarly juxtaposed at On the


Orator .±µ. The contrast between the brothers Zethus and Amphion as men of action
and learning respectively derives from Euripides™ Antiope (adapted by Pacuvius) and is
used by Callicles in Plato, Gorgias µe“a, to demonstrate the folly of philosophers.


±
Book ±

that much, then there are other studies, more suitable to free men and
more widely applicable, that we can bring to the needs of everyday life or
even to public a¬airs. If studies of your kind have any value, it is this:
they sharpen a little and seem to tickle the minds of boys, so that they can
learn greater things more easily.·
[±] µ  : I don™t disagree with you, Laelius, but I want to know
what you understand to be ˜˜greater things.™™
¬ ¬ © µ: I will indeed speak, although I may earn your scorn, since
you are asking Scipio about those things in the sky, while I think that the
things before our eyes are more worth asking about. Why, I ask you, is
the grandson of Lucius Aemilius Paullus, with an uncle like Scipio here,
born into the most noble family and in this glorious commonwealth,
asking how two suns could have been seen and not asking why in one
commonwealth there are two senates and almost two peoples? As you see,
the death of Tiberius Gracchus and, before that, the whole conduct of his
tribunate have divided one people into two parts. Scipio™s enemies and
opponents, starting from Publius Crassus and Appius Claudius, but no
less after their deaths, control one part of the senate that opposes you
under the leadership of Metellus and Publius Mucius; although the allies
and the Latins are stirred up, the treaties are broken, and a treasonous
land commission is daily starting revolutionary actions, they do not
permit this man, the only capable person, to remedy such a dangerous
situation. [] Therefore, my young friends, if you listen to me, you
should have no fear of that second sun: either it is nothing at all, or “
granting that it is as it appeared, so long as it isn™t causing trouble “ we
can know nothing about such things, or, even if we knew all about them,
such knowledge would make us neither better nor happier. But it is
possible for us to have one senate and one people, and if we don™t we are
in very deep trouble; we know that things are not that way now, and we
see that if it can be brought about, then we will live both better and
happier lives.
[]  µ ©µ : Well then, Laelius, what do you think that we need to
learn in order to accomplish what you demand?
¬ ¬ © µ: The skills that make us useful to the state: that, I think, is
the most outstanding task of philosophy and the greatest evidence and
function of virtue. Therefore, so that we may devote this holiday to

Also drawn from Callicles, Gorgias µcd; imitated previously by C. at On the Orator .µ.
·

See also .± below.





±µ
On the Commonwealth

conversations that will be most useful to the commonwealth, we should
ask Scipio to explain to us what he thinks the best organization of the
state to be. After that, we will investigate other subjects, and when we
have learned about them I hope that we will arrive directly at these
present circumstances and will unravel the signi¬cance of the current
situation.
[] When Philus and Manilius and Mummius had expressed their
strong approval *
[one leaf missing]
¬ ¬ © µ: * This is what I wanted to happen, not only because a leader
of the commonwealth should be the one to talk about the commonwealth,
but also because I remembered that you frequently used to discuss this
with Panaetius in the presence of Polybius “ possibly the two Greeks
most experienced in public a¬airs. Your argument was that by far the
best condition of the state was the one which our ancestors had handed
down to us. And since you are better prepared to speak about this
subject, you will do us all a great favor (and I will speak for the others too)
if you explain your ideas about the commonwealth.
[µ]  ©° © : In fact, I cannot say that I pay closer or more careful
attention to any subject than the one which you, Laelius, are proposing to
me. I observe that artisans who are outstanding in their own crafts think
and plan and worry about nothing except the improvement of their own
skill; and since this is the one craft handed down to me by my parents and
my ancestors “ the service and administration of the commonwealth “
would I not be admitting that I am less attentive than some workman, if I
exerted less e¬ort in the greatest craft than they do in trivial ones? []
Moreover, although I am not satis¬ed with what the greatest and wisest
men of Greece have written about this subject, I am also not bold enough
to prefer my own opinions to theirs. Therefore, I ask you to listen to me
in this way: as someone neither completely ignorant of Greek learning
nor deferring to the Greeks “ particularly on this subject “ but as one
Roman citizen, reasonably well educated by the care of his father and
in¬‚amed from childhood with the desire for learning, but educated much
more by experience and home learning than by books.µ°

This sentence has often been used as evidence for C.™s use of Panaetius as a major source
for On the Commonwealth. In fact, it says the opposite: the argument that follows was
Scipio™s, not Panaetius™. Polybius was clearly one of C.™s sources in Books ±, , and  (at
least); there is no evidence that he made use of Panaetius, although it is not unlikely.
Crassus makes a similar disclaimer at On the Orator ±.±±±, as does C. himself at On Fate 
µ°

and probably in the preface to this dialogue: cf. fr. µ above.


±
Book ±

[·] ° © ¬µ : I have no doubt at all, Scipio, that no one surpasses you
in talent, and in terms of experience in important public a¬airs you also
easily outdo everyone; but we also know the kind of intellectual activities
in which you have always been engaged. Therefore if, as you say, you
have addressed the study of public a¬airs (almost a science in itself), then
I am very grateful to Laelius. I expect that what you will say will be richer
than all the books of the Greeks.
 ©°©: You arouse very great expectations of what I will say “ a very
heavy burden for someone about to speak on an important topic.
° ©¬ µ : The expectation may be great, but you will surpass it, as you
usually do: there™s no danger that your eloquence will fail you as you
discuss the commonwealth.
[]  © °© : I will do what you want to the best of my ability, and I
will begin my discussion with this proviso “ something that speakers on
every subject need to use to avoid mistakes “ namely that we agree on the
name of the subject under discussion and then explain what is signi¬ed
by that name; and when that is agreed on, only then is it right to begin to
speak.µ± We will never be able to understand what sort of thing we are
talking about unless we understand ¬rst just what it is. And since we are
looking into the commonwealth, let us ¬rst see what it is that we are
looking into.
When Laelius agreed,  © ° © said: In talking about such a well-known
and important subject, I will not begin by going back to the origins which
learned men generally cite in these matters, starting from the ¬rst
intercourse of male and female and then from their o¬spring and family
relationships;µ nor will I give frequent verbal de¬nitions of what each
thing is and how many ways it can be named. In speaking to knowledge-
able men who have earned great glory through participation in the public
life, both military and domestic, of a great commonwealth, I will not
make the mistake of letting the subject of my speech be clearer than the
speech itself. I have not undertaken this like some schoolteacher explain-
ing everything, and I make no promises that no tiny details will be left
out.
¬ ¬ © µ: The kind of speech you promise is just what I am waiting
for.


The emphasis on the importance of de¬nitions is drawn from Plato, Phaedrus ·bc; so
µ±

also On the Orator ±.°“± and elsewhere.
So, for example, Aristotle, Politics ±. ±µa“°, ±. ±µb±“, and Polybius ...
µ




±·
On the Commonwealth

[a]  © °© : Well then: the commonwealth is the concern of a
people,µ but a people is not any group of men assembled in any way, but
an assemblage of some size associated with one another through agree-
ment on law and community of interest. The ¬rst cause of its assembly is
not so much weakness as a kind of natural herding together of men: this
species is not isolated or prone to wandering alone, but it is so created
that not even in an abundance of everything :do men wish to live a
solitary existence9 *
[one leaf missing]
[°] Lactantius, Inst. .±°.±:µ Others have thought these ideas as insane
as they in fact are and have said that it was not being mauled by wild animals
that brought men together, but human nature itself, and that they herded
together because the nature of humans shuns solitude and seeks community and
society.
[b] And nature itself not only encourages this, but even compels it
(Nonius ±.±)
[±] * what we can call seeds;µµ nor can we ¬nd any deliberate
institution either of the other virtues or of the commonwealth itself.
These assemblages, then, were instituted for the reason that I explained,
and their ¬rst act was to establish a settlement in a ¬xed location for their
homes. Once they had protected it by both natural and constructed
forti¬cations, they called this combination of buildings a town or a city,
marked out by shrines and common spaces. Now every people (which is
the kind of large assemblage I have described), every state (which is the
organization of the people), every commonwealth (which is, as I said, the
concern of the people) needs to be ruled by some sort of deliberationµ in
order to be long lived. That deliberative function, moreover, must always
be connected to the original cause which engendered the state; [] and it
must also either be assigned to one person or to selected individuals or be

µ
The de¬nition (est . . . res publica res populi) is virtually untranslatable, playing on the
meaning of res (lit. ˜˜thing™™) as property. On the meanings of res publica, see ˜˜Text and
Translation.™™ Scipio returns to and modi¬es the meaning of this de¬nition at .. The
account of the origins of society given here is basically Aristotelian.
Lactantius™ summary clearly overlaps with the end of sect. a; for that reason the
µ

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