The Republic and the Laws Paperback
Part of the Oxford World's Classics series
'However one defines Man, the same definition applies to us all.
This is sufficient proof that there is no essential difference within mankind.' (Laws l.29-30) Cicero's The Republic is an impassioned plea for responsible governement written just before the civil war that ended the Roman Republic in a dialogue following Plato. Drawing on Greek political theory, the work embodies the mature reflections of a Roman ex-consul on the nature of political organization, on justice in society, and on the qualities needed in a statesman. Its sequel, The Laws, expounds the influential doctrine of Natural Law, which applies to all mankind, and sets out an ideal code for a reformed Roman Republic, already half in the realm of utopia.
This is the first complete English translation of both works for over sixty years and features a lucid Introduction, a Table of Dates, notes on the Roman constitution, and an Index of Names.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 288 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
- Publication Date: 14/08/2008
- Category: Literary essays
- ISBN: 9780199540112
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Review by booksontrial
A lawyer by trade, statesman by calling and philosopher by hobby, Cicero was the ideal candidate to draw from the political philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, combine it with an examination of the constitution and civic laws of his own country Rome, the most powerful state of his time, and propose a political theory both philosophically grounded and legitimately sound.<br/><br/>Like the ancient Greek and Roman statues and architecture, only fragments of Cicero's two works (<em>De Republica</em> and <em>De Legibus</em>) have been preserved, and, as a result, this translation is incomplete and disjointed in many places. However, I discovered that even fragmented works of a great mind are worth more than complete volumes of mediocrity.<br/><br/><strong>A Call to Public Service</strong><br/><br/>Cicero is his eloquent, oratorical self when he delivers a passionate speech exhorting the virtues and advantages of the life and career of a statesman, who dedicates himself to public service, not for self-interest or personal gain, but for the just cause and demand of his country.<br/><br/><strong>The Nature and Origin of the Law</strong><br/><br/>As a foundation of his entire discourse, Cicero lays down a definition of the Law derived from his view of the universe, which is in accord with those of Plato and the Stoics, and argues that law and justice are inherent in nature, not drawn up by custom or convention.<br/><br/>The universe is governed by God, who has implanted the immortal soul in man from His own divine nature. The Mind of God (i.e., the highest reason and intelligence) is the unchanging and universal Law governing the whole universe, both the natural world and human society. "Law is the highest reason, inherent in nature, which enjoins what ought to be done and forbids the opposite. When that reason is fully formed and completed in the human mind, it too is law." Man comprehends the Law because he partakes of the faculty of reason and intelligence from God. The laws of human societies are based on their understanding of the universal Law, and may vary from people to people, depending on the integrity of their vision and their political acumen. Nevertheless, the essence of the Law is the same. "It received its Greek name from giving each his own. I think its Latin name comes from choosing. As they stress the element of fairness in law, and we stress that of choice; but in fact each of these is an essential property of law."<br/><br/><strong>The Best Form of Government</strong><br/><br/>Of the three forms of government, monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, Cicero, as Aristotle did in Politics, proposes a moderate mixture of the three as the best form of government, because the pure forms easily degenerate into their corrupted counterpart (i.e. monarchy into tyranny, aristocracy into oligarchy), although he agrees with Plato that monarchy in its uncorrupted form is the best government.<br/>