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Cicero,   On the Republic

-   Book 4


Translated by C.W.Keyes (1928). The Latin text has survived mostly in a palimpsest, discovered in 1819, and because there is no complete manuscript, there are frequent gaps in the text. Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section. Click on ** to go to the translator's footnotes.


Book 3  

{ The Vatican manuscript contains only two short passages from this book, sections 2-3 and section 4. The order of the other fragments printed here is of course uncertain.     The social classification of citizens, the maintenance of high moral standards in the State, the physical and mental training of the young, and the influence of drama, lyric poetry, and music, are evidently among the subjects discussed. }    

{1.} [1] L   . . . and the same mind that foresees the future also remembers the past . . .   

. . . And indeed, if there is no one who would not prefer death to transformation into an animal of any sort, even if he could retain the mind of a man, how much more wretched is it to have the mind of a beast while retaining human form ! As much more so, in my opinion, as the mind is superior to the body . . .  

. . . he does not think the good of a ram and the good of Publius Africanus are the same. . . .    

. . . and the same body, by its interposition, makes darkness and night, useful both for the reckoning of the days and for rest from labour . . .    

. . . and when in the autumn the earth has opened to receive the seed of her produce, in winter has rested so that she may [transform] this seed, and in the maturity of summer has softened some and parched others . . .    

 . . . when they employ shepherds for the flocks . . .  

{2.} [2] L   . . . How conveniently the orders are arranged, the ages, the classes, the knights, among whom the votes of the senators also are included ! ** Too many foolishly desire to abolish this useful system in their search for a new distribution of money through some resolution of the plebs providing for the return of the horses.   

{3.} [3] L   Now consider the other wise provisions for that association of the citizens in a happy and honourable life ; for that is the original purpose of men's coming together, ** and it should be accomplished for them in their commonwealth partly by established customs and partly by laws. Now in the first place our people have never wished to have any system of education for the free-born youth which is either definitely fixed by law, or officially established, or uniform in all cases, though the Greeks have expended much vain labour on this problem, and it is the only point which our guest Polybius finds neglected in our institutions. For . . .    

{ At least thirty lines are lost between this passage and section 4. The following three fragments may be quoted from the lost passage. }    

. . . it is the custom to assign guardians to those who are entering upon military service, in order to direct them during their first year . . .    

. . . not only as at Sparta, where the boys learn to steal and thieve ** . . .    

. . . it was [considered] a disgrace to youths if they did not have lovers ** . . .     

{4.} [4] L   Scipio. . . . that a young man should go naked. From such ancient sources are derived what we may call the foundation-stones of modesty ! And how absurd their system of exercise for young men in gymnasiums ! How far from rigorous is their system of military training for the ephebes ! ** How free and easy are their contacts and love relations ! To say nothing of the Eleans and Thebans, among whom lust is actually given free rein in the relations of free men, the Spartans themselves, who give every freedom to love relations with young men except that of actual defilement, protect only by a very thin wall this one exception, for, providing only that cloaks be interposed, they allow embraces and the sharing of the bed.   

Laelius. I see clearly, Scipio, that in regard to the Greek systems of training which you criticize, you prefer to attack the most famous States rather than your beloved Plato, whom you do not even mention, especially as . . .    

{5.} [5] L   And our beloved Plato went even further than Lycurgus, for he actually provided that all property should be owned in common, so that no citizen might be able to say of anything that it was his very own ** . . .  

. . . But I . . . in the same way as [Plato] sends Homer out of the city which he invented, buying him off with wreaths and anointing him with perfumes ** . . .   

{6.} [6] L   . . . The censor's judgment imposes almost no penalty except a blush, upon the man he condemns. Therefore, as his decision affects nothing but the reputation, his condemnation is called "ignominy" ** . . .   

. . . The State is said at first to have been terrified by their severity . . .   

. . . Nor indeed should there be a governor placed over women, as is usually done among the Greeks, ** but there should be a censor to teach men to rule their wives . . .   

. . . Thus training in modesty has great effect ; all women abstain from intoxicating drinks . . .    

. . . And besides, if any woman had a bad reputation, her relatives refused to kiss her . . .  

. . . Thus impudence is derived from seeking, and shamelessness from demanding ** . . .  

{7.} [7] L   . . . For I do not approve of the same nation being the ruler of the world and also its tax-gatherer ; on the other hand, I consider frugality the best revenue both for private families and for States . . .    

Credit seems to me to get its very name from the fact that what is promised is performed ** . . .  

. . . In a citizen of high rank or a man of high reputation, [I judge] flattery, ingratiation, and canvassing to be [indications] of shallowness . . .   

{8.} [8] L   . . . I admire the excellence, not only of the subject matter, but also of the style. "If they disagree," ** it says. A contest between friends, not a quarrel between enemies, is called a disagreement . . . Therefore the law considers that neighbours disagree rather than quarrel . . .    

. . . the boundaries of men's care and men's life [to be] the same ; thus by the pontifical law the sanctity of burial . . .    

. . . because they had left unburied those whom they could not rescue from the sea on account of the severity of the storm, they put innocent men to death ** . . .   

. . . and in this controversy I sided not with the people but with the good . . .    

. . . It is not easy to resist the people in their might if you give them no legal rights or only a few . . .   

. . . Would that I might prophesy honestly to him. . . .   

{9.} . [9] L   . . . When the applause and approval of the people, as of some great and wise master, have been granted to them, what darkness they produce ! What fears they cause ! What desires they inflame ! ** . . .   

{10.} [10] L   . . . Since they considered the dramatic art and the theatre in general disgraceful, they desired ** that all persons connected with such things should not only be deprived of the privileges of other citizens, but should even be removed from their tribes by sentence of the censors. . . .    

[11] L   Scipio. . . . Nor would comedy, unless the customs of daily life had so permitted, ever have been able to make its disgraceful exhibitions acceptable to the spectators . Whom has [comedy] not attacked, or rather persecuted ? Whom has it spared ? It is true that it has wounded wicked demagogues and men who stirred up sedition in the State, like Cleon, Cleophon, and Hyperbolus. ** This we might allow, though it is preferable for such citizens to suffer disgrace from a censor rather than from a poet. But it was no more proper that Pericles, who by reason of his commanding influence had already governed his commonwealth for many years, both in peace and war, should be insulted in verse, and that such verses should be recited on the stage, than it would have been for our own Plautus or Naevius to have selected Publius and Gnaeus Scipio for abuse, or for Caecilius to have vilified Marcus Cato . . . [12] L   On the other hand, our Twelve Tables, ** though they provided the death penalty for only a few crimes, did provide it for any person who sang or composed a song which contained a slander or insult to anyone else This was an excellent rule ; for our mode of life ought to be liable to judgment by the magistrates and the courts of law, but not by clever poets ; nor ought we to be subject to disgrace unless we have an opportunity to answer and defend ourselves in a court of law. . . . The early Romans did not desire that any living man should either be praised or blamed on the stage . . .    

{11.} [13] L   . . . Aeschines of Athens, a most eloquent orator, took part in affairs of State though he had been a tragic actor in his youth, and the Athenians frequently sent Aristodemus, ** also a tragic actor, as ambassador to Philip in regard to the most important questions of peace and war . . . 

Book 5



FOOTNOTES

  

(1)   Evidently a reference to the Servian reforms : see Book II, 39-40. 

(2)   Compare Aristotle, Politics I, 1252 B - 1253 A.  

(3)   See Plutarch, Lycurgus 17-18 ; [Xenophon,] Laced . Polit. II, 6-9. 

(4)   A probable reference to Spartan custom ; see the following fragment. 

(5)   Evidently a reference to Athenian institutions The young men were ephebes, or cadets, for two years, from eighteen to twenty. The first year was spent in preliminary physical and military training , the second in the ordinary duties of a soldier. 

(6)   See Plato, Republic III, 416-417, where the Guardians, as distinguished from the rest of the citizens, are forbidden to possess private property. For the community of wives, see V, 47. For "communism" in the constitution of Lycurgus, see Plutarch, Lycurgus 8-10 , 15 ; [Xenophon,] Laced. Polit . I, 7-9 ; VI , VII ; Polybius VI, 45, 3 , 48, 3. 

(7)   Plato, Republic III, 397E-398A. 

(8)   Ignominia, derived from in and nomen , means a deprivation of one's good name. 

(9)   Compare Aristotle, Politics VI, 1322 B. 

(10)   Cicero derives petulantia (impudence) from peto (seek), and procacitas (shamelessness) from proco = posco (demand). 

(11)   Cicero derives fides (faith, credit) from fio (to be done). 

(12)   Probably a quotation from the Twelve Tables (see Book II, 54-56). 

(13)   i.e., the Athenian commanders at the Battle of Arginusae in 406 B .C. (Xenophon, Hellenica I, 7). 

(14)   Cicero is speaking of the poets, probably of the writers of comedy. 

(15)   i.e., the Romans. Compare Livy VII, 2, 12. 

(16)   Aristophanes and other writers of the Old Comedy ridiculed these Athenian demagogues. 

(17)   See Book II, 61. 

(18)   In regard to Aristodemus, see J B O'Connor, Chapters in the History of Actors and Acting in Ancient Greece, Diss. Princeton, 1908, pp 82-84. 



Book 5



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