Dyck An incisive and long-needed update to scholarship on Cicero's de Legibus Description De Legibus has been one of Cicero's most neglected works; this new commentary provides a detailed interpretation and places the essay in the context of the politics and philosophical thought of its time. Just as Plato drafted a vision of an ideal state in his Republic and followed that up with detailed provisions in his Laws, so Cicero, after writing Republic, wanted to provide legislation for his ideal state and thus wrote the Laws as a sequel. But whereas Cicero's Republic was set shortly before the death of its main speaker, Scipio Africanus, in B. The unique value of the Laws of Cicero is that it is a work written at the end of the Roman republic that gives Cicero's own diagnosis of the ills that plagued the Roman state and what might be done to cure them.
Thatcher Book II 4. Let us, then, once more examine, before we come to the consideration of particular laws, what is the power and nature of law in general; lest, when we come to refer everything to it, we occasionally make mistakes from the employment of incorrect language, and show ourselves ignorant of the force of those terms which we ought to employ in the definition of laws.
This is a very necessary caution, and the proper method of seeking truth.
This, then, as it appears to me, has been the decision of the wisest philosophers — that law was neither a thing to be contrived by the genius of man, nor established by any decree of the people, but a certain eternal principle, which governs the entire universe, wisely commanding what is right and prohibiting what is wrong.
Therefore, they called that aboriginal and supreme law the mind of God, enjoining or forbidding each separate thing in accordance with reason. On which account it is that this law, which the gods have bestowed upon the human race, is so justly applauded. For it is the reason and mind of a wise Being equally able to urge us to good or to deter us from evil.
You have, on more than one occasion, already touched on this topic. But before you come to treat of Ciceros de legibus laws of nations, I wish you would endeavor to explain the force and power of this divine and celestial law, lest the torrent of custom should overwhelm our understanding, and betray us into the vulgar method of expression.
From our childhood we have learned, my Quintus, to call such phrases as this Ciceros de legibus a man appeals to justice, and goes to law," and many similar expressions "law," but, nevertheless, we should understand that these, and other similar commandments and prohibitions, have sufficient power to lead us on to virtuous actions and to call us away from vicious ones.
Which power is not only far more ancient than any existence of states and people, but is coeval with Ciceros de legibus himself, who beholds and governs both heaven and earth.
For it is impossible that the divine mind can exist in a state devoid of reason; and divine reason must necessarily be possessed of a power to determine what is virtuous and what is vicious.
Nor, because it was nowhere written, that one man should maintain the pass of a bridge against the enemy's whole army, and that he should order the bridge behind him to be cut down, are we therefore to imagine that the valiant Cocles [i.
Again, though in the reign of Tarquin there was no written law concerning adultery, it does not therefore follow that Sextus Tarquinius did not offend against the eternal law when he committed a rape on Lucretia, daughter of Tricipitius.
For, even then he had the light of reason from the nature of things, that incites to good actions and dissuades from evil ones; and which does not begin for the first time to be a law when it is drawn up in writing, but from the first moment that it exists. And this existence of moral obligation is co-eternal with that of the divine mind.
Therefore, the true and supreme law, whose commands and prohibitions are equally authoritative, is the right reason of the Sovereign Jupiter.
I grant you, my brother, that whatever is just is also at all times the true law; nor can this true law either be originated or abrogated by the written forms in which decrees are drawn up. Therefore, as that Divine Mind, or reason, is the supreme law, so it exists in the mind of the sage, so far as it can be perfected in man.
But with respect to civil laws, which are drawn up in various forms, and framed to meet the occasional requirements of the people, the name of law belongs to them not so much by right as by the favor of the people.
For men prove by some such arguments as the following, that every law which deserves the name of a law, ought to be morally good and laudable. It is clear, say they, that laws were originally made for the security of the people, for the preservation of states, for the peace and happiness of society; and that they who first framed enactments of that kind, persuaded the people that they would write and publish such laws only as should conduce to the general morality and happiness, if they would receive and obey them.
And then such regulations, being thus settled and sanctioned, they justly entitled Laws. From which we may reasonably conclude, that those who made unjustifiable and pernicious enactments for the people, acted in a manner contrary to their own promises and professions, and established anything rather than laws, properly so called, since it is evident that the very signification of the word "law" comprehends the whole essence and energy of justice and equity.
I would, therefore, interrogate you on this point, my Quintus, as those philosophers are in the habit of doing. If a state wants something for the want of which it is reckoned no state at all, must not that something be something good? A very great good. And if a state has no law, is it not for that reason to be reckoned no state at all?
We must needs say so. We must therefore reckon law among the very best things. I entirely agree with you.
If, then, in the majority of nations, many pernicious and mischievous enactments are made, which have no more right to the name of law than the mutual engagement of robbers, are we bound to call them laws?
For as we cannot call the recipes of ignorant and unskillful empirics, who give poisons instead of medicines, the prescriptions of a physician, so likewise we cannot call that the true law of a people, of whatever kind it may be, if it enjoins what is injurious, let the people receive it as they will.
For law is the just distinction between right and wrong, made conformable to that most ancient nature of all, the original and principal regulator of all things, by which the laws of men should be measured, whether they punish the guilty or protect and preserve the innocent.
I quite understand you, and think that no law but that of justice should either be proclaimed as one or enforced as one. Then you regard as null and void the laws of Titius and Apuleius, because they are unjust. Yes; and I would say the same of the laws of Livius. You are right, and so much more the more, since a single vote of the senate would be sufficient to abrogate them in an instant.
But that law of justice, the power of which I have explained, can never be abrogated. Certainly, if I could get you both to agree with me.
But Plato, that wisest of all men, that most dignified of all philosophers, who was the first man who ever composed a treatise on a Commonwealth, and afterwards a separate one on Laws, induces me to follow his illustrious example, and to proclaim the praises of law, before I begin to recite its regulations.
Such, likewise, was the practice of Zaleucus and Charondas, who wrote the laws which they gave their cities, not for the sake of study or amusement, but for the benefit of their country and their fellow-citizens."De legibus," from Cicero.
Cicero was a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist ( BC)/5. M. TVLLI CICERONIS DE NATVRA DEORVM AD M. BRVTVM LIBER PRIMVS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 De Legibus 1.
for law is a natural force] Kastely: Cicero's De Legibus Kastely This effort is important precisely because the practice of equating law and justice. rutadeltambor.com of the smallest size. After that time.C. as with a demonstrating rod.". Verzeichnis der in der Website behandelten lateinischen Autoren, Texte und Themen für den Lateinunterricht am Gymnasium und für Latinumskurse.
De Legibus topic. The De Legibus (On the Laws) is a dialogue written by Marcus Tullius Cicero during the last years of the Roman Republic. It bears the same name as Plato ’s famous dialogue, The Laws.
Cicero: On the Commonwealth and On the Laws (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought) May 27, by Marcus Tullius Cicero and James E. G. Zetzel.