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BOOK II. - Marcus Tullius Cicero, On Moral Duties (De Officiis) [44 BC]
Cicero De Officiis, translated with an Introduction and Notes by Andrew P. Peabody (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1887).
Part of: Ethical Writings of Cicero: De Officiis (On Moral Duties); De Senectute (On Old Age); De Amicitia (On Friendship), and Scipio’s Dream
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1. I think, my son Marcus, that it has been sufficiently explained in my first book how duties are to be derived from the right, and from each of the four virtues which I named as divisions of the right. It comes next in order, to treat of those kinds of duties that belong to the adornment of life and the command of its utilities, to influence and resources of every description. Under this head I have said that the inquiry is, first, what is expedient and what inexpedient, and then, of expedient things which is the more expedient, which the most expedient. I shall proceed to the discussion of these things, after saying a few words concerning my design and method in writing on philosophical subjects.
Although, indeed, my books have roused not a few to the desire not only of reading, but of writing, still I sometimes fear that the mere name of philosophy may be offensive to certain worthy men, and that they may marvel that I spend so much labor and time upon it. In truth, so long as the state was administered by men of its own choice, I bestowed upon it all my care and thought. But when all things were held under the absolute sway of one man, and there was no longer room for advice or influence, while at the same time I had lost my associates in the guardianship of the state, men of the highest eminence, I did not abandon myself to melancholy, which would have consumed me had I not resisted it, nor yet, on the other hand, to sensual pleasures unworthy of a philosopher. And oh that the state had continued in the condition in which it recommenced its life,1 and had not fallen into the hands of men desirous not so much of reforming as of revolutionizing its constitution! In that case, in the first place, as I used to do when the state stood on a firm basis, I should expend more labor in pleading than in writing; and in the next place, I should commit to writing not the subjects now in hand, but my arguments before the courts, as I have often done. But when the state, on which all my care, thought, labor, used to be expended, had utterly ceased to be, my forensic and senatorial literature was of course silenced. Yet since my mind could not be unemployed, having been conversant with these studies from my early days, I thought that my chagrin could be most honorably laid aside if I betook myself to philosophy, to which I devoted a large part of my youth as a learner, while after I began to hold important offices and gave myself wholly to the service of the state, philosophy had as much of my time as was not taken up by the claims of my friends and the public. Yet this time was all consumed in reading; I had no leisure for writing.
2. I seem, then, in the severest calamities to have attained at least this good fortune, that I am able to commit to writing subjects not sufficiently familiar to my fellow-countrymen, and yet preeminently worthy of their cognizance. For what, in the name of the gods, is more desirable than wisdom? What more to be prized? What better? What more worthy of man? It is the seekers of this, then, who are called philosophers; nor is philosophy, if you undertake to translate it, anything else than the love of wisdom. But wisdom, as defined by the ancients, is the knowledge of things divine and human, and of the causes by which these things are kept in harmony. I cannot well understand what he who blames the pursuit of this knowledge can regard as commendable. For if gratification of the mind and repose from care be sought, what pleasure can be compared with the pursuits of those who are always searching out what may look and tend toward a good and happy life? Or if regard is paid to consistency of character and to virtue, either this is the science1 by which we may attain them, or there is none at all. To say that there is no science of these greatest of human interests when there are none of the smallest concerns that have not their science, is the language of men who talk without thinking, and who deceive themselves in matters of the highest moment. Then, too, if there is any instruction in virtue, where should it be sought, when you turn away from this department of learning? But these things are usually discussed with greater precision in urging readers to the study of philosophy, as I have done in another treatise.1 My present purpose was simply to say why, deprived of opportunities for the service of the state, I chose this department of study above all others.
It is objected to me, and that too by educated and learned men, that I seem not to act consistently, when I say that nothing can be known with certainty, and yet am accustomed to give my opinion on other subjects, and am now setting forth the rules of duty. I could wish that these persons had an adequate understanding of my philosophical doctrine.2 For I am not one of those whose minds drift about in uncertainty, and never have any definite aim. Indeed, what sort of an intellect, or rather of a life, would remain, if fixed principles not only of reasoning, but of conduct, were abolished? This is not my case; but while others say that some things are certain, some doubtful, so I, differing from them, call some things probable, some improbable. What is there, then, that can hinder me from pursuing those things that seem to me probable, rejecting those things that seem improbable, and, while I shun the arrogance of positive assertion, escaping the recklessness which is at the farthest remove from wisdom? All opinions are controverted by our school, on the ground that this very probability cannot be brought to light unless by a comparison of the arguments on both sides. These things, however, are, as I think, expounded with sufficient care in my Academics. But though you, my Cicero, are becoming versed in the most ancient1 and noble of philosophies, under the guidance of Cratippus, who bears the closest resemblance to the illustrious founders of the school, I am unwilling that these speculations of mine, nearly allied to those of your school, should be unknown to you. But let us now take up the plan proposed for our discussion.
3. At the outset I proposed for the full discussion of duty five divisions, two relating to what is becoming and right; two to the conveniences of life, resources, influence, wealth; the fifth to the determination of our choice, whenever the right and the expedient might seem mutually repugnant. The divisions relating to the right, which I would have you thoroughly understand, are finished. This of which I am now going to treat is what is termed expediency, with reference to which custom has turned out of the right way, and has been gradually brought to the point of separating the right from the expedient, and of maintaining that what is not expedient may be right, and what is not right, expedient, than which there could be no doctrine more pernicious to human well-being. There are, indeed, philosophers of the very highest authority who on strict and tenable grounds make a distinction in theory between three several kinds of excellence, which yet, as they admit, are inseparable in their nature; for whatever is just they regard as expedient, and likewise what is right as just. Hence it follows that whatever is right is also expedient.1 Those who imagine that the distinction is not in mere theory, but in fact, often admiring adroit and crafty men, take roguery for wisdom. Their mistake ought to be eliminated, and the universal opinion brought over to the hope that men may learn to expect the attainment of what they desire by right purposes and honest deeds, not by fraud and roguery.
The means of sustaining human life are in part inanimate, as gold, silver, the products of the earth, and other things of that sort; in part, living beings that have their own instincts and appetites. Of these last some are destitute of reason, others are rational. Those destitute of reason are horses, oxen, other cattle, bees, by whose labor contribution is made to the service and subsistence of men. Of the rational there are named two classes, — the one of gods, the other of men. Reverence and purity will make the gods propitious. But next to and close after the gods, men can be of the greatest service to men. The same division applies to those things that cause injury and obstruction. But because it is thought that the gods do no injury, these being out of the question, men are regarded as most of all interfering injuriously with men.
Indeed, the very things that I have called inanimate are produced for the most part by the labor of men, nor could we have them unless handicraft and skill had given their aid, nor could we utilize them except under the management of men. Nor without the labor of man could there be any care of health, or cultivation of the soil, or harvesting and preservation of grain and other products of the ground. Nor could there be the exportation of our superfluous commodities, nor the importation of those in which we are lacking, unless men performed these offices. By parity of reason the stones that we need for our use could not be quarried from the earth,
“Nor iron, brass, silver, gold, be dug from their deep caverns,”1
without the labor and handicraft of men.
4. Whence, indeed, could houses, to dispel the severity of the cold and to allay the discomfort of the heat, have been furnished for mankind in the beginning, or how could they have been repaired, when made ruinous by storm, or earthquake, or age, unless society had learned to seek aid in these things from men? Take into the account also aqueducts, canals, works for the irrigation of fields, breakwaters, artificial harbors. Whence could we have these without the labor of men? From these and many other things it is obvious that we could in no wise have received the revenues and uses derived from inanimate objects without the skill and labor of men. Then, again, what revenue or what convenience could be derived from beasts, unless by the aid of men? For it was men certainly who were foremost in discovering what use we might make of the several beasts in our service; nor could we now without the labor of men either feed them, or tame them, or keep them, or receive returns from them in their season.1 By men also those beasts that do harm are killed, and those that can be of use are captured. Why should I enumerate the multitude of arts without which life could not have been at all? How would the sick be cured, what would be the enjoyment of the healthy, what would be our food or our mode of living, did not so many arts give us their ministries? It is by these things that the civilized life of men is so far removed from the subsistence and mode of living of the beasts. Cities, too, could not have been built and peopled but for the association of men, in consequence of which laws and rules of moral conduct have been established, as also an equitable distribution of rights, and a systematic training for the work of life. These things have been followed by mildness of disposition and by modesty, and the consequence is that human life is better furnished with what it needs, and that by giving, receiving, and interchanging commodities and conveniences we may have all our wants supplied.
5. I am dwelling on this subject longer than is necessary; for who is there to whom what Panaetius says with no little prolixity is not perfectly obvious, that no one, either as a military commander or as a civil magistrate, could ever have carried into effect important and serviceable measures without the zealous co-operation of men? He names Themistocles, Pericles, Cyrus, Agesilaus, Alexander, who, he says, could not have accomplished such great things without the aid of men. He cites witnesses that are unnecessary in a matter beyond doubt.
Still further, as we obtain great benefits by the sympathy and co-operation of men, so there is no degree of evil, however execrable, which may not spring from man for man. There is extant a book about the destruction of men,1 by Dicaearchus, a distinguished and eloquent Peripatetic, who, after enumerating other causes, — such as inundation, pestilence, perils of the desert, the sudden inrush of destructive beasts2 (by whose assaults, he says, whole races of men have been consumed), — then shows by comparison how many more men have been exterminated by the violence of men, that is, by wars or seditions, than by all other forms of calamity.
Since, then, there is no doubt on this point, that men transcend all other causes both of benefit and of injury to men, I maintain that it is a special property of virtue to conciliate the minds of men, and to make them availing for its own uses. Thus, while whatever in inanimate objects and in the use and management of beasts redounds to human benefit is to be ascribed to the mechanic arts, the good will of men, prompt and ready for the improvement of our condition, is elicited only by the wisdom and virtue which belong to men of superior excellence.
Indeed, all virtue may be said to consist in three things,1 one of which lies in the clear discernment of what is true and real in every subject, of the correspondences of things, of their consequences, sources, and causes; the second, in the restraining of those troubled movements of mind which the Greeks call πάθη,2 and in making the impulses which they call ὁρμάς3 obedient to reason; the third, in the considerate and wise treatment of those with whom we are associated, by whose good will we may have in full and overflowing measure whatever nature craves, and by whose agency we may ward off impending evil, may exact retribution of those who attempt to do us harm, and visit them with such punishment as justice and humanity will permit.
6. By what means we can attain this capacity of winning and holding men’s affections, I will shortly expound; but there are a few things to be said first. Who does not know that Fortune has great power on either side, whether toward prosperous or adverse events? For when we sail under her propitious breath, we reach our desired port, and when she sends a contrary wind, we founder. Fortune herself, then, occasions some calamities — though comparatively rare — independently of human agency: in the first place, from inanimate things, as by gales, tempests, shipwrecks, falling buildings, conflagrations; then from beasts, by stings, bites, assaults. These, as I have said, are comparatively infrequent. But the destruction of armies, as of three very recently,1 and of many others in former times; the murder of commanders, as lately that of an eminent and remarkable man;2 the enmity, also, of the multitude, and by its means the exile,3 ruin, flight, often of well-deserving citizens; and, on the other hand, prosperous events, civic honors, military commands, victories, — these, although they are partly dependent on fortune, cannot be brought to pass on either side without the aid and endeavor of men. This, then, being understood, I am to explain how we can elicit and call forth the good will of men for our own benefit. If the discussion shall seem too long, let it be compared with the advantage to be derived from it. It will then, perhaps, seem too brief.
Whatever, then, men bestow upon a man to enrich and ennoble him, they do it, either from kind feeling to a person whom for some reason they hold dear; or from respect for one to whose virtue they look up, and whom they think worthy of as ample good fortune as can accrue to him; or for one in whom they have confidence, and whose counsel and aid for their own benefit they hope in return; or for one whom they hold in dread for his capacity to injure them; or, on the other hand, for those from whom they have expectations, as when kings and demagogues distribute largesses; or, finally, when they are moved by price and bribe, which is the meanest and vilest way, both for those whose favor is held by it and for those who endeavor to resort to it; for it is a bad case when what ought to be effected by virtue is attempted by money. Yet since subsidies of this kind are sometimes necessary,1 I will define their proper use, when I shall have first spoken of things which bear a closer relation to virtue. Moreover, men put themselves under the command and power of others for several reasons. They are led to this either by kind feeling, or by the greatness of favors received, or by the high social position of him to whom they yield deference, or by hope that such a course will be of use to them, or by fear of being forcibly compelled to render obedience; or they are attracted by the prospect of generous gifts and by promises; or, lastly, as we often see in our state, they are hired for wages.
7. But of all things nothing tends so much to the guarding and keeping of resources as to be the object of affection; nor is anything more foreign to that end than to be the object of fear. Ennius says most fittingly: —
“Hate follows fear; and plotted ruin, hate.”
It has been lately demonstrated, if it was before unknown, that no resources can resist the hatred of a numerous body. It is not merely the destruction of this tyrant, whom the state, subdued by armed force, endured so long as he lived and obeys most implicitly now that he is dead,1 that shows how far the hatred of men may prove fatal; but similar deaths of other tyrants, hardly one of whom has escaped a like fate, teach this lesson. For fear is but a poor guardian for permanent possession, and, on the other hand, good will is faithful so long as there can be need of its loyalty. Those who hold under their command subjects forcibly kept down must indeed resort to severity, as masters toward their slaves when they cannot otherwise be restrained. But nothing can be more mad than the policy of those who in a free state conduct themselves in such a way as to be feared. For though the laws be submerged by some one man’s power, though liberty be panic-stricken, yet in time they rise to the surface, either by opinions circulated, though unuttered, or by the quiet mustering of votes that shall dispose of the high offices of state. Men indeed feel more keenly the suppression of liberty than any evils incident to its preservation. Let us then embrace the policy which has the widest scope, and is most conducive, not to safety alone, but to affluence and power, namely, that by which fear may be suppressed, love retained. Thus shall we most easily obtain what we desire both in private and in public life. For it is inevitable that those who wish to be feared should themselves fear the very persons by whom they are feared. What, for instance, must have been the case with the elder Dionysius?1 With what tormenting fear must he have been racked, when, dreading the barber’s razor, he used to singe off his own beard with burning coals? What are we to think of Alexander of Pherae?2 In what state of mind must we suppose him to have lived, who, as we read the record, though somewhat fond of his wife Thebe, yet when he came from supper to her chamber, ordered a barbarian attendant, and indeed one, as we are told, branded with the marks of a Thracian,1 to precede him with a drawn sword, and sent in advance some of his body-guards to search the woman’s boxes, and see whether there were not some weapon concealed among the clothes? O wretch, to think a tattooed savage more to be trusted than his own wife! Yet he was in the right; for he was slain by that very wife,2 because she suspected him of adultery. Nor indeed is there any ruling power strong enough to be enduring, when it makes itself the object of dread. Of this we may find an example in Phalaris3 whose cruelty was notorious beyond that of any other tyrant, who perished, not by treachery, like that Alexander of whom I have just spoken, — not by the hands of a few, like this tyrant of ours, but who was assailed by the whole mass of the people of Agrigentum. What? Did not the Macedonians desert Demetrius,1 and in a body betake themselves to Pyrrhus? What? When the Lacedaemonians usurped power that was not rightfully theirs, did not almost all their allies leave them, and show themselves idle spectators of the disaster at Leuctra?2
8. I prefer on such a subject to draw my examples from foreign states rather than from our own. Yet so long as the sway of the Roman people was maintained by the bestowal of benefits, not by injustice, wars were waged either in defence of our allies or of our own government; the issues of our successful wars were either merciful or no more severe than necessity demanded; our Senate was the harbor and refuge of kings, tribes, nations; while our magistrates and military commanders sought to obtain the highest praise from this one thing, — the guarding of the interests of our provinces and our allies by equity and good faith. Our sovereignty might then have been termed the patronage, rather than the government, of the world. We previously had encroached by degrees on this habit and policy; after Sulla’s victory we entirely departed from it; for nothing any longer appeared inequitable toward our allies, after so much cruelty had been exercised upon our own citizens. In his case a worthy cause1 was crowned by a disgraceful victory; for he dared to say, when under the auctioneer’s spear2 he sold in the market-place the property of good men and rich men who were undoubtedly citizens, that he was selling his booty. He was succeeded by one who in an impious cause, after even a more disgraceful victory, not merely offered for public sale the goods of individual citizens, but embraced whole provinces and countries in one destructive ban. And so, foreign nations being thus oppressed and ruined, in token of our forfeited empire, we saw Massilia borne in effigy in a triumphal procession, and a triumph celebrated over that city without whose aid our commanders never gained a Transalpine triumph.3 I might mention many other abominable things done to our allies, if the sun had ever beheld anything more shameful than this very transaction. We therefore are justly punished; for unless we had so often had impunity from guilt, so great liberty of sinning would never have come into the hands of one man, whose heritage of property falls to few, that of depraved desire to many bad men. Nor indeed will there ever be wanting seed and pretext for civil wars, so long as abandoned men remember and hope to see again that bloody spear which Publius Sulla1 brandished in the dictatorship of his kinsman, not refusing to be salesman under a more atrociously guilty spear thirty-six years afterward; while another Sulla,2 who in the former dictatorship was secretary, in this last was city-quaestor. Hence it ought to be inferred that while such prizes are held in view, civil wars will never cease to be. And so only the walls of the city stand and remain, and even they already fear the extremity of crime; the state itself we have utterly lost. Moreover (for I must return to the point under discussion), we have fallen into these calamities because we preferred to be feared rather than to be loved and esteemed. If these things could befall the Roman people exercising an unrighteous sway, what ought individuals to think as to their own conduct and fortune? Since it is manifest that the power of good will is great, that of fear feeble, it follows that we should inquire by what means we can most easily obtain, together with respect and confidence, that love of others which we crave. We do not all, indeed, need this love in an equal degree; for it must be determined by each person’s plan of life, whether he requires the love of many, or whether it is enough for him to be held in dear regard by a few. This, however, may be accounted as certain, that it is a prime and most essential requisite, to have the enduring intimacy of friends who love us and hold us in high esteem. This one thing, precious above all others, if attained, leaves but little difference between persons of the loftiest rank and those in moderate condition, and it is almost equally attainable by those of either class. All, perhaps, do not alike need promotion, and fame, and the good will of the citizens at large; but yet, if one has these, they render some help, as to other ends, so to the obtaining of friendships.
9. But I have treated of friendship in another book, under the title of Laelius. Let me now speak of fame. Though on that subject also I have written two books,1 let me touch briefly upon it here, since it is of the utmost service in the administration of important affairs.
The highest fame, and that to which there are no drawbacks, consists of these three things, — the affection of the multitude, their confidence, and their regarding a person as worthy of honor because they hold him in admiration.2 Moreover, these requisites to fame — to speak plainly and concisely — are obtained from the multitude by nearly the same means by which they are obtained from individuals. But there is also a certain other avenue to the popular favor, by which we may, as it were, steal into the affections of all.
Of the three things just named, let us consider, first, the rules for winning good will. It is, indeed, best secured by conferring benefits. But, in the second place, favor is elicited by the will to do good, even if the means of beneficence chance to be insufficient. The love of the multitude, indeed, is strongly excited by the very report and reputation of liberality, beneficence, honesty, good faith, and all those virtues which are included in gentleness of manners and affability. For since that very style of character which we call right and becoming, in itself, gives us pleasure, and by its nature and aspect captivates the minds of all, and shines forth with the greatest lustre from the virtues that I have named, we are therefore compelled by Nature herself to love the persons in whom we think that these virtues are found. These, however, are only the most efficient causes of good will; for there may be some others, though of less weight.
Of the confidence which may be reposed in us there are two efficient causes, our having a reputation for discretion and, at the same time, for honesty. For we have confidence in those whom we think our superiors in intelligence, who, as we believe, look into the future, and who, when an affair is in agitation and a crisis is reached, can clear it of difficulty, and take counsel according to circumstances (for this men regard as true and serviceable discretion); while the confidence reposed in honest and faithful men, that is, in good men, is such that there can rest upon them no suspicion of fraud and wrong. And so we think that our personal security, our fortunes, our children, can be most fittingly intrusted to their care. Of these two qualities, then, honesty has the greater power to create confidence; for while without discretion honesty has sufficient prestige, discretion without honesty can be of no avail in inspiring confidence. For the more skilful and adroit one is, for this very reason is he the more odious and the more open to suspicion, if he has no reputation for honesty. Intelligence, then, combined with honesty, will have all the power that it can desire in creating confidence; honesty without discretion will have much influence toward that end; discretion without honesty will be of no avail whatever.
10. But if any one may have wondered, why, while all philosophers alike maintain, and I myself have often asserted, that whoever has one virtue has all, I now separate them as if a man could be honest without being wise also, my answer is that the nicety of expression employed when the inmost truth is under discussion is one thing; the language used when what we say is entirely adapted to popular opinion is another. Therefore, on this head I am speaking as people in general do, when I call some men brave, others good, others wise; for I ought to employ common and usual terms when I am speaking of public opinion, and Panaetius employed them in the same way. But let us return to our subject.
Of the three requisites for fame, the third that I named was this, — that men should so hold us in admiration as to regard us worthy of honor. Men generally admire all things that they see to be great and beyond their expectation, and specially in individual objects such unexpected good qualities as they discern. Therefore they admire and extol with the highest praise those men in whom they think that they perceive certain rare and surpassing virtues; while they look down with contempt on those in whom they imagine that there is no manliness, no spirit, no energy. For they do not despise all of whom they think ill. They do not despise, indeed, those whom they regard as villanous, malicious, fraudulent, capable of doing mischief, — by no means; of persons of this sort they think ill. But, as I have said, those are despised who, as the saying is, are of no good to themselves or to any one else, in whom there is no work, no industry, no forethought. On the other hand, those are regarded with a certain measure of admiration, who are thought to excel others in virtue, and to be free not only from all disgrace, but also from those vices which their fellow-men cannot easily resist. For sensual pleasures, the most alluring of mistresses, turn away the minds of the greater part of mankind from virtue, and equally when the fiery trial of affliction1 comes most persons are beyond measure terrified. Life, death, riches, poverty, most violently agitate the great mass of mankind. When men with a lofty and large soul look down on these experiences, whether prosperous or adverse, while any great and honorable object of endeavor proposed to them converges and concentrates their whole being in its pursuit, who can fail to admire in them the splendor and beauty of virtue?
11. This contempt of the mind for outward fortunes thus excites great admiration; and most of all, justice, for which one virtue men are called good, seems to the multitude a quality of marvellous excellence, — and not without good reason; for no one can be just, who dreads death, pain, exile, or poverty, or who prefers their opposites to honesty. Men have, especially, the highest admiration for one who is not influenced by money; for they think that the man in whom this trait is made thoroughly manifest has been tested by fire.
Thus justice constitutes all three of the requisites to fame which I have named, — affection, because it aims to do good to the greatest number, and for the same reason, confidence and admiration, because it spurns and neglects those things to which most men are drawn with burning greediness. Moreover, in my opinion, every mode and plan of life demands the aid of men, and craves especially those with whom there may be friendly conversational intercourse, which is not easy, unless you are looked upon as a good man. Therefore, even to a recluse, or to one who passes his life in the country, the reputation of honesty is essential, and the more so because, if he do not have it, in his defenceless condition, he will be assailed by many wrongs. Those, too, who sell and buy, hire and lease, and are involved in business affairs, need honesty for the management of their concerns. The force of this virtue is such that those who obtain their subsistence by crime and guilt cannot live entirely without honesty. For he who takes anything by stealth or force from a fellow-robber cannot maintain his place in a band of robbers; and even the man who is called captain of a crew of pirates, if he were not impartial in the division of their plunder, would be either killed or deserted by his crew. Indeed, it is said that even among robbers there are laws which they obey, which they hold sacred. Thus by fairness in the distribution of booty, Bardylis, an Illyrian robber, of whom Theopompus makes mention, obtained great wealth, and Viriathus, the Lusitanian,1 much greater, to whom indeed some of our armies and commanders gave way in battle, whom Caius Laelius, commonly called the Wise, when he was praetor, crippled and reduced, and so subdued his ferocity that he transmitted an easy conflict with him to his successors. Since, then, the force of justice is such that it strengthens and augments the resources even of robbers, how great shall we account its efficacy among laws and courts, and in a well ordered state?
12. I am inclined to think, indeed, that not only among the Medes, as Herodotus relates,2 but also among our ancestors, men who had borne a high moral character were in early times appointed kings, in order to the administration of justice; for when the poor commonalty were oppressed by those of greater wealth, they had recourse to some one man pre-eminent in virtue, who, while he defended the poorer classes from wrong, by establishing equitable jurisdiction kept the highest under the same legal obligations with the lowest. There was like reason for making laws as for choosing kings; for equality of right was always sought, nor without equality can right exist. If this could be obtained through the ministry of one just and good man, the people were contented under his rule. But when this ceased to be the case, laws were invented which should speak with all, at all times, in one and the same voice. This, then, is manifest, that those of whose justice the mass of the people had an exalted opinion used to be chosen as rulers. If in addition these same persons were thought wise, there was nothing that men did not expect to obtain under their administration. Justice is, therefore, by all means to be cherished and held fast, at once for its own sake — else it would not be justice — and for the increase of one’s honor and fame.
But as there is a method, not only of acquiring money, but also of investing it, so that it may supply constant demands for generous giving no less than for necessary uses, so is fame to be properly invested as well as sought. There is great truth, however, in the saying of Socrates, that this is the nearest way, and, as it were, a short road to fame, — for one to endeavor to be such as he would wish to be regarded. If there be those who think to obtain enduring fame by dissembling and empty show, and by hypocrisy, not only of speech, but of countenance also, they are utterly mistaken. True fame strikes its roots downward, and sends out fresh shoots;1 all figments fall speedily, like blossoms, nor can anything feigned be lasting. Very many cases might be cited in attestation on either side; but for the sake of brevity I will name but a single family. Tiberius Gracchus, the son of Publius, will be praised as long as the memory of Roman affairs shall last; but his sons were not approved by good men while they were living, and in death they have their position among those whose murder was justifiable.2
13. Let him, then, who would obtain genuine fame discharge the duties of justice. What these are I have shown in the First Book.
But in order that we may be taken for what we really are, though there is the greatest efficacy in our being what we would be taken for, yet some additional rules are to be given. If, indeed, one from early youth finds himself in a position of celebrity and reputation, either inherited from his father (as I think is the case with you, my Cicero,) or by some chance or happy combination of circumstances, the eyes of all are turned to him; inquiry is made about him, what he is doing, how he is living, and, as if he were moving in the clearest light, nothing that he says or does can be concealed. But those whose first years, on account of their lowly and obscure condition, are passed out of the knowledge of men, as soon as they emerge from childhood, ought to hold great aims in view, and to strive after them with unswerving diligence, which they will do with the greater confidence, since that age is not only exempt from envious regard, but is even looked upon with favor.
A youth, then, has the first title to fame, if he have the opportunity of obtaining it by military service, in which many in the days of our ancestors won early distinction; for wars were almost perpetual. But your time of service fell upon the epoch of that war in which one party was exceedingly guilty, the other unsuccessful. Yet in this war, when Pompey had made you commander of the left wing of his army,1 you won great praise both from that illustrious man and from your fellow-soldiers for your horsemanship, your skill in the use of weapons, and your endurance of all the hardships of the camp and the field. This reputation of yours sank, indeed, simultaneously with the state. I have undertaken this discussion, however, not with reference to you alone, but with reference to young men as a class. Let us then pass on to the remaining subjects.
As in all other respects mental are much greater than bodily achievements, so those things which we accomplish by intellect and reason win greater favor than those which we perform by mere physical strength. The first claim that can be proffered for the general esteem proceeds from regularity of conduct, with filial piety and kindness to those of one’s own family. Then, too, young men become most favorably known when they seek the society of eminent, wise, and patriotic citizens, with whom if they are intimate, they inspire the people with the expectation that they are going to resemble those whom they have chosen as models for imitation. His frequenting the house of Publius Mucius1 gave the youth of Publius Rutilius2 the reputation both of moral purity and of legal knowledge. On the other hand, however, Lucius Crassus, while yet a mere boy, sought no countenance from his elders, yet won for himself the highest reputation from that splendid and famous accusation;3 and (as we learn was the case with Demosthenes),1 at the very age when young men are wont to be applauded for their exercises in declamation, Lucius Crassus showed that he could already do to perfection before the judges what it would have been to his credit to have merely rehearsed by way of practice at home.
14. But while there are two kinds of speech, to one of which conversation belongs, to the other public debate,2 there is no doubt that the latter is most conducive to the acquisition of fame (for it is that which we dignify by the name of eloquence); yet it is hard to say to what a degree agreeableness and affability of conversation win favor. There are extant letters of Philip to Alexander, of Antipater to Cassander, and of Antigonus to Philip, — all three, as we learn, men of the greatest practical wisdom, — in which they advise their sons to allure the minds of the multitude in their favor by kindliness of address, and to charm the soldiers by accosting them in a genial way.
But the speech that is uttered with energy in a great assembly often awakens the enthusiasm of the entire audience; for great is the admiration bestowed on him who speaks fluently and wisely, and those who hear him think that he also has more intelligence and good sense than other men. And if there is in the speech substantial merit united with moderation, there can be nothing more worthy to be admired, especially if these properties are found in a young man. But while there are many kinds of occasions that demand eloquence, and many young men in our state have obtained praise by speaking both before judges and in the Senate, the highest admiration attends the eloquence of the courts,1 before which there are two descriptions of oratory, that of accusation, and that of defence, of which, although the latter is more worthy of praise, yet the former is very frequently regarded with favor. I spoke just now of Crassus. Marcus Antonius2 did the same when he was a young man. A public accusation also brought into favorable notice the eloquence of Publius Sulpicius,1 when he arraigned for trial that seditious and worthless citizen, Caius Norbanus. Yet this ought not to be done often, nor ever except in the interest of the state, as in the cases that I have named, or to avenge wrongs, as the two Luculli did,2 or for those under one’s special patronage, as when I appeared in behalf of the Sicilians,3 and Julius4 in behalf of the Sardinians in the accusation of Albucius the propraetor. The painstaking fidelity of Lucius Fufius in the accusation of Manius Aquillius5 is also well known. One may, then, venture upon accusation once, or, at any rate, not often. Or if there be reason for doing so more frequently, let it be done as a service to the state, whose enemies one is not to be blamed for punishing repeatedly. But even then let there be a limit; for it is the part of a hard man, or, I should rather say, scarcely of a man, to prefer a capital charge against any considerable number of persons.1 While it is fraught with personal danger, it is also damaging to one’s reputation, to allow himself to be called an accuser, which was the fortune of Marcus Brutus,2 born of an illustrious race, the son of the Brutus who was eminent for his skill in the civil law. Moreover, this maxim of duty is to be carefully observed, that you never bring an innocent person to a capital trial; for this cannot possibly be done without guilt. Nay, what is so inhuman as to pervert eloquence, bestowed by Nature for the security and preservation of men, to the destruction and ruin of good citizens? On the other hand, we are not to be so scrupulous as to decline defending on some occasions a guilty man, if he be not utterly depraved and false to all human relations. This the people demand, custom permits, even humanity endures. It belongs to the judge in the cases before him always to seek the truth; to the advocate, sometimes to defend the probable, even if it be not absolutely true, — which I should not dare to write, especially in a philosophical treatise, unless that strictest of the Stoics, Panaetius, were of the same opinion. But fame and favor are best secured by the defence of accused persons, especially if it so happens that this service is rendered in aid of one who seems to be circumvented and put in peril by the influence of some man in power, — a service which I have performed on many other occasions, and especially — when I was still a young man — in defending Sextus Roscius1 against the power of Lucius Sulla, then playing the tyrant, — a speech which, as you know, is published.
15. Having explained the ways in which, consistently with duty, young men may obtain fame, I must speak, in the next place, of beneficence and liberality, of which there are two sorts, kindness to those needing it being shown either by personal service or by money. The latter is more easy, especially for one who is rich; but the former is more noble, more magnificent, and more worthy of a strong and eminent man. For although in both modes there is the generous desire of bestowing benefit, yet in the one case the kindness is drawn from the purse, in the other from the giver’s own ability and worth. The bounty which proceeds from one’s property drains the very source of liberality. Thus generosity is made impossible by generosity, which you can extend to the fewer in time to come, the more numerous its beneficiaries have been in the time past. But those who will be beneficent and generous in personal service, that is, by influence and effort, the more persons they have already benefited, will have the more helpers in doing good. Then, too, by the habit of beneficent action, they will be better prepared, and, as it were, better trained, to merit the gratitude of the larger number. Philip, in a certain letter of his, very justly blames his son Alexander for seeking the good will of the Macedonians by distributing gifts among them. “What, the mischief!” says he, “ever induced you to entertain a hope like this, that those whom you had corrupted by money would be faithful to you? Are you doing this that the Macedonians may hope to have you not for their king, but for their lackey and caterer?” “Lackey and caterer” is well said, since such conduct is mean for a king; and still better was it that he termed lavish giving “corruption.” For he who receives such gifts grows worse, and more ready to expect the like in all time to come. He said this to his son; let us regard his advice as given to all. It is, then, beyond doubt that the kindness which consists in personal service and effort is more honorable, and extends farther, and can benefit a larger number. Yet gifts must be sometimes bestowed, nor is this form of kindness to be wholly repudiated; and aid should be often given to the deserving poor from one’s own property, but thriftily and moderately. Many, indeed, have squandered their property in inconsiderate generosity. But what is more foolish than to disable yourself from continuing to do what you take pleasure in doing? Moreover, rapine follows extravagance in giving; for when men in consequence of their lavish generosity have begun to be in want, they are constrained to lay hands on the property of others. Thus, while they desire to be generous in order to win favor, they obtain not so much the attachment of those to whom they have been liberal as the hatred of those whom they have robbed. Therefore private property should neither be so shut up that kindness cannot open it, nor so thrown wide as to lie open to all. Let a limit be observed, and let this be determined by our means. We ought always to remember what has been so often repeated by our people as to have come into use as a proverb, that prodigal giving has no bottom.1 For what bound can there be to such giving, when those who have been accustomed to receive, crave what they have been wont to get, and others also crave the same?
16. Of bountiful givers there are, in fine, two kinds, the one class prodigal, the other liberal, — the prodigal, those who, in public banquets, distributions of flesh, gladiatorial shows, and the preparation of games and wild-beast fights, pour out money on the kinds of things of which they will leave but a brief remembrance, or none at all; the liberal, those who by their wealth redeem persons captured by robbers, or take upon themselves the debts of their friends, or render them aid in marriage-portions for their daughters, or help them in acquiring or increasing property. I therefore wonder what came into the mind of Theophrastus in the book that he wrote about Riches,1 in which he said many things admirably well, but that to which I now refer, absurdly. For he is prolix in praise of the magnificence and elaborateness of popular entertainments, and regards the means of meeting such expenses as the chief advantage of wealth. But in my mind the advantage derived from the liberality of which I have given a few examples seems much greater and more certain. How much more soberly and justly does Aristo of Ceos2 reprove us for not being surprised at these outpourings of money which are made to propitiate the multitude! “If those besieged by an enemy,” he says, “are forced to pay a pound1 for a pint2 of water, at the first hearing it seems incredible and all are amazed; yet when they consider the case they excuse it on the plea of necessity; but in this immense waste and these boundless expenditures we feel no great astonishment, and that too, though neither is want thus relieved nor respectability enhanced, and the very delight of the multitude is transient and lasts but a little while, and, withal, is felt only by the most fickle, whose memory of the enjoyment expires as soon as they are satiated.” He fittingly concludes that “these things are gratifying to boys, and weak women, and slaves, and to free men who bear the nearest resemblance to slaves; but that they cannot by any means be approved by a serious man and one who weighs what is done by fixed principles.” Yet I am aware that in our city it is an old tradition, and one that has come down from good times, that lavishness in the aedileship may be expected even from the best men.1 Thus Publius Crassus, rich equally in his surname and in his estate, gave the most costly public entertainments in his aedileship, and shortly afterward Lucius Crassus, with Quintus Mucius, the most moderate of all men, for his colleague, served through a most magnificent aedileship; and in like manner Caius Claudius, the son of Appius, and many afterward, the Luculli, Hortensius, Silanus. Publius Lentulus, when I was consul, surpassed all that went before him. Scaurus imitated him. But the entertainments given by my friend Pompey in his second consulship were the most magnificent. With reference to all these matters you see what my opinion is.
17. Yet the suspicion of penuriousness must be avoided. Mamercus, a very rich man, by declining to be a candidate for the aedileship, lost his election as consul. If such expenditure, then, is demanded by the people, and though not desired, at least approved by good citizens, it is to be incurred, yet in proportion to one’s ability, as in my own case;1 and if at any time some end of great importance and value can be gained by largesses to the people, they may be bestowed, as in the recent instance in which Orestes gained great honor by a public dinner in the streets under the name of a tithe-offering.2 Nor did any one find fault with Marcus Seius, because in a time of dearth he gave the people corn for a penny3 a peck;4 for he thus freed himself from great and inveterate odium by a lavishness not unbecoming inasmuch as he was an aedile, and not very extravagant. But it was to the highest honor of my friend Milo when, not so very long ago, by gladiators bought for the sake of the state which was dependent on my safety, he suppressed all the plots and mad endeavors of Publius Clodius.5 There is, therefore, sufficient reason for profuseness, if it is either necessary or useful. Yet in expenditures of this sort the rule of moderation is the best. Lucius Philippus, indeed, the son of Quintus, a man of great genius and of the highest eminence, used to boast that, without giving any public entertainment, he had been elected to all the offices that were regarded as the most honorable. Cotta said the same; so did Curio. I can also to a certain extent1 make the same boast; for, as compared with the importance of the offices which I obtained without any opposing votes2 in the years at which I became eligible3 to them respectively, — which was not the case with either of those whom I have named, — the expense of my aedileship was very small. At the same time, the more desirable expenditures in connection with public office are for moles, docks, harbors, aqueducts, and whatever may be of service to the community. Although what is given personally, as it were, into men’s hands, confers more immediate gratification, the expense incurred in public works is more thankworthy. I blame the cost bestowed on theatres, porticos, new temples, with diffidence on account of my regard for Pompey’s memory;1 but the wisest authorities disapprove of such expenditures, as did this very Panaetius whom in my present treatise I have followed, not translated; as did also Demetrius Phalereus, who finds fault with Pericles for throwing away so much money on that famous vestibule of the Parthenon.2 But this entire subject is carefully discussed in my book on the Republic.3 The whole system of such extravagant largesses, in general worthy of censure, is under certain circumstances necessary, — yet, when it becomes necessary, the expense must be apportioned to one’s means, and kept within moderate limits.
18. In the other style of free expenditure which proceeds from liberality, we ought not to be equally ready to give where the cases are unlike. The case of him who is laboring under misfortune differs from that of him who, without any actual stress of adverse circumstances, seeks to improve his condition. Generosity ought to be more readily bestowed on the unfortunate, unless perchance they deserve what they suffer. Yet with regard to those who desire assistance, not to be saved from utter ruin, but to reach a higher position, we ought to be by no means niggardly, but to be judicious and careful in selecting suitable subjects for our bounty. For Ennius says very fittingly: —
“Good done amiss I count as evil done.”
But what is given to a good and grateful man yields us in return a revenue both from him and from others. For when one does not give at haphazard, generosity confers the highest pleasure, and most persons bestow upon it the greater applause, because the kindheartedness of any one who holds a conspicuous station is the common refuge for all. Care must be taken, therefore, that we confer on as many as possible benefits of such a nature that their memory may be transmitted to children and posterity, so that they too cannot be ungrateful. All, indeed, hate him who is unmindful of a benefit received, and think themselves wronged when generosity is thus discouraged; and he who is thus ungrateful becomes the common enemy of persons of slender fortunes.1 Moreover, the liberality of which I now speak is of service also to the state in redeeming captives from slavery, and in providing needy persons with the comforts of life, which used to be very commonly done by men of senatorial rank,1 as we find written out in full in the speech of Crassus.2 This habitual practice of charity I regard as far preferable to the giving of public shows. The former is the part of substantial and prominent citizens; the latter seems to belong to those who fawn on the people, and tickle, so to speak, the fickleness of the multitude by low pleasure. But it will be becoming for one, while munificent in giving, to be also not severe in exacting, and in all contracts, in selling and buying, in hiring and leasing, in questions arising out of adjoining houses and estates,3 to be fair and accommodating, freely making concessions from his own right, avoiding litigation as much as he can without excessive sacrifice, and perhaps even beyond what might seem the proper limit. For it is not only generous, but sometimes profitable also, to abate a little from one’s rightful claims. Yet reference must be had to one’s own estate, which cannot be suffered to go to ruin without disgrace to the owner; but private property must be so cared for as to leave no suspicion of penuriousness and avarice. Indeed, the ability of being generous without robbing one’s self of his patrimony is the greatest revenue that money can yield. Theophrastus also rightly commends hospitality; for it is, as it seems to me, very becoming that the houses of distinguished men should be open to distinguished guests; and it is even for the honor of the state that foreigners should not lack this kind of liberality in our city. It is also in the highest degree expedient for those who desire to obtain great influence by honorable means to avail themselves of help and favor among foreign nations through their guests. Theophrastus, indeed, says that Cimon, at Athens, was hospitable not to strangers only, but to all of his own district of Laciadae,1 making such arrangements and giving such orders to his farm-servants, that every attention should be shown to any citizen of that district who might turn aside to his country residence.
19. But the benefits which are bestowed, not by gift, but by personal service, are conferred, sometimes on the whole state, sometimes on individual citizens. To protect the rights of others, to aid them by legal advice, and by this sort of knowledge and skill to be of service to as many as possible, tends very largely to the increase of one’s influence and popularity. Thus among many things to be commended in the days of our ancestors, it is worthy of note that the knowledge and the interpretation of our admirably constituted civil law were always held in the highest honor. This science, until the present unsettled times, the leading men of the state retained as one of their special prerogatives. Now, as is the case with civil offices and with all grades of rank, its prestige is destroyed, and this the more shamefully, as it took place in the lifetime of him who would have transcended in legal learning all his predecessors whom he equalled in rank.1 This kind of service, then, is gratifying to many, and is adapted to bind men by the ties of benefit. Closely allied to skill in interpreting the law is oratory, which even surpasses it both as a grave pursuit and as a personal accomplishment. For what stands before eloquence, whether in the admiration of its hearers, the hope of those who need its aid, or the gratitude of those defended by it? To this, therefore, our ancestors assigned the first rank among civil professions. There is, then, an extended range of beneficial services and of patronage open to the eloquent man, who willingly appears in the courts, and, as was the custom in the time of our fathers, without reluctance and without compensation1 defends the causes of the many who seek his aid. The subject was reminding me to deplore here, as elsewhere in my writings, the discontinuance, not to say the extinction, of eloquence, — only I should dread the appearance of making complaint in my own behalf. But yet we see how many orators have passed away, in how few is there good promise, in how much fewer ability, in how many nothing save presumption. Yet while not all, indeed only a few can be either skilled in the law or eloquent, still one may render service to many, by canvassing in their behalf for appointments, by appearing in their interest before judges and magistrates, by watching the progress of their cases in court, and soliciting for them the aid of legal counsellors and of advocates. Those who do thus, obtain the largest amount of good will, and their labor has a most widely extended influence. Nor need they here to be admonished (for it is obvious), that they take heed lest while they desire to assist some, they disoblige others. For under such circumstances they are liable to hurt the feelings of those whom it is either morally wrong or inexpedient for them to wound. If they do this unwittingly, it is the result of carelessness; if knowingly, of recklessness. You must even resort to apology wherever you can, to those to whom you unwillingly give offence, showing them why what you did was necessary, so that you could not have done otherwise, and promising them that the omission shall be compensated by other services and kind offices.
20. But while in giving assistance to men reference is usually had either to character or to condition, it is easy to say, and men commonly do say, that in conferring1 favors they are influenced by the character, not by the outward condition of their beneficiaries. This mode of speaking sounds well. Yet who is there, who in rendering his service does not prefer the cause of a rich and influential man to that of a man without influence, though of signal excellence? Our will, for the most part, inclines the more strongly toward him from whom we may expect the more prompt and speedy remuneration. Yet we ought to look more carefully at the nature of things. Undoubtedly that poor man, if he is a good man, even if he cannot return the favor, can bear it faithfully in mind; and it is well said, whoever he be that first said it, “He who has money has not repaid it; he who has repaid it has it not: but he who has returned kindness has it, and he who has it has returned it.” Now those who think themselves rich, respectable, fortunate, are unwilling to be placed under obligation by kindness rendered, nay, they even think that they have bestowed a favor when they have received one however great, and they imagine that something is also demanded or expected of them, — still more, it seems to them as bad as death to have it said that they are indebted to any one’s patronage, or to be called any one’s clients. On the other hand, the man of slender means just spoken of, thinking that whatever is done for him is done from regard to himself, not to his outward condition, endeavors to appear grateful, not only to him who has deserved his thanks, but also, — for he needs many helpers, — to those from whom he expects similar favors. Nor, if perchance he can render some good office in return, does he magnify it, but rather underrates it in what he says about it. This also is to be observed, that if you defend a rich and successful man, the favor does not extend further than to the man himself, or, peradventure, to his children; while if you defend a poor, yet upright and self-respecting man, all men of humble condition who are not bad — and there is a great proportion of these among the people — see in you a defence prepared for their exigencies. Therefore I think a kindness better invested with good men than with men of fortune. In fine, we should endeavor to meet the claims of those of every class; but if it come to a competition between rival claimants for our service, Themistocles may be well quoted as an authority, who, when asked whether he would marry his daughter to a good poor man, or to a rich man of less respectable character, replied, “I, indeed, prefer the man who lacks money to the money that lacks a man.” But the moral sense is corrupted and depraved by the admiration of wealth. Yet of what concern to any one of us is another man’s great fortune? Perhaps it is of benefit to him who has it, — not always, however. But suppose it to be of benefit to him, — he may, indeed, have more to spend; but how is he made any better? If, however, he be really a good man, let not his wealth be a hindrance, only let it not be a motive for your serving him. The decisive question must be, not how rich one is, but what sort of a man he is. But the ultimate rule in conferring favors and rendering service is, never to make any effort against the right, or in behalf of the wrong; for the basis of enduring praise and reputation is justice, without which there can be nothing worthy of commendation.
21. Having now spoken of the kinds of good offices that concern individuals, I must next discuss those which have reference to a body of men and to the state. Of these a part are such as accrue to the benefit of the whole community; a part, such as affect individuals, though in the form of public service. Both interests ought certainly to be cared for, that of individuals no less than of the community at large, yet in such a way that what is done may be of benefit, or at all events, not of injury to the state. The distribution of corn by Caius Gracchus1 was excessive, and tended to drain the public treasury; that of Marcus Octavius2 was moderate, and both within the easy ability of the state and necessary to the people, — therefore a beneficial measure both to the individual citizens who received the public bounty and to the state. He who administers the affairs of the state must take special care that every man be defended in the possession of what rightfully belongs to him, and that there be no encroachment on private property by public authority. Philippus, during his tribunate, when he proposed the agrarian law (which he readily suffered to be rejected, behaving in the matter with great moderation), while in defending the measure he said many things adapted to cajole the people, did mischief by the ill-meant statement that there were not in the city two thousand men that had any property. It was a criminal utterance, tending to an equal division of property, than which what more ruinous policy can there be? Indeed, states and municipalities were established chiefly to insure the undisturbed possession of private property; for though under the guidance of Nature men were brought together, still it was with the hope of guardianship for their property that they sought the defence of cities. Pains should also be taken that there may be no need of levying a tax on property,1 which in the time of our ancestors was often done on account of the poverty of the treasury and the frequency of wars. Against such a contingency provision should be made long beforehand. But in case such a tax should be necessary for any state — for I would rather speak thus than forebode evil for our own state, and I am treating not of our own, but of states in general — pains must be taken to make all the citizens understand that in order to remain secure they must yield to this necessity. Moreover, it will be the duty of those who govern the state to take care that there be a full supply of everything requisite for the public service. How this provision is commonly made and how it ought to be made, there is no need of discussing, — it is a perfectly plain matter; the subject required to be merely alluded to.
But the chief thing in every department of public business and official administration is that even the least suspicion of greediness for money be put at rest. Caius Pontius,1 the Samnite, said, “Oh that Fortune had reserved me and delayed my birth till the time, should it ever come, when the Romans had begun to take bribes! I would not then have suffered them to hold their supremacy any longer.” Many generations must, indeed, have been waited for; for only of late this evil has invaded our state. Therefore I am glad that Pontius lived then rather than now, if indeed he was so much of a man. It is not yet a hundred and twenty years2 since Lucius Piso’s law about extortion was passed, whereas there had been no such law before. But there have since been so many laws each more severe than the preceding, so many accused, so many penally sentenced, so great an Italian war1 caused by fear of judicial proceedings, such a pillaging and plundering of our allies2 when laws and courts were suspended, that we owe what strength we have to the weakness of others, not to our own virtue.
22. Panaetius praises Africanus because he abstained from all illicit gain. Why should he not praise him? There were in him other greater qualities; the merit of abstaining from illicit gain belongs not only to the man, but to those times. Paulus obtained all the immense treasure of Macedonia. He brought so much money into the public treasury, that the booty acquired by that one commander put an end to the property-tax. But to his own house he brought nothing save the eternal memory of his name. Africanus imitated his father, being none the richer for the overthrow of Carthage. What think you? Was Lucius Mummius, his colleague in the censorship, any the richer when he had destroyed to its foundations a city of vast wealth?1 He chose to embellish Italy rather than his own house;2 though indeed in the embellishment of Italy his house also seems to me more truly embellished. There is, then, — to return to the point whence I made this digression, — no fouler vice than the greed of money, especially in the case of the leading citizens who govern the state; for to turn the state into a source of profit is not only vile, but even outrageous and execrable. Thus the oracle which the Pythian Apollo pronounced,
“By naught but greed of gain will Sparta perish,”
he seems to have proclaimed not to the Lacedaemonians alone, but to all rich nations. But by no means can those who preside over public affairs more readily conciliate the favor of the multitude than by abstinence from the acquisition of wealth and the moderate use of what they have.
Those, therefore, who desire to be popular, and with that view either attempt agrarian measures,1 that the occupants of the public domains may be driven from their homes, or advocate the remission of debts,2 are undermining the foundations of the state, — in the first place, harmony, which cannot exist when money is taken from some and debts are cancelled for others; in the next place, equity, which is utterly destroyed, if hindrances are laid in the way of men’s keeping their own property. For, as I said above, this belongs to the very idea of a state and a city, that the protection of every man’s property should be certain and not a subject of solicitude. Moreover, by measures thus ruinous to the state men do not gain the favor that they anticipate. He from whom property is taken becomes their enemy. He to whom it is given conceals his desire to receive it, and especially in the case of debt cancelled, hides his joy, lest he may be suspected of having been insolvent. On the other hand, he who is wronged remembers it, and keeps his grievance in full sight.1 Nor if those to whom property is wrongfully given are more numerous than those from whom it has been unjustly taken, are they therefore possessed of more influence; for these matters are determined, not by number, but by weight. But what justice is there in a proceeding by which he who had no landed estate obtains an estate that has been in the possession of the same family for many years, or even generations, while he who has had the estate loses it?
23. It was for wrongs of this sort that the Spartans banished Lysander the ephor, and put to death Agis the king,1 the first instance of the kind; and from that time such dissensions ensued that tyrants sprang up, and men of high rank were expatriated, and that most admirably constituted state fell to pieces. Nor did it fall alone, but overthrew also the remainder of Greece by the contagion of evils which, starting from the Lacedaemonians, spread from state to state. What more? Did not agrarian agitations destroy our citizens the Gracchi, sons of that most eminent man Tiberius Gracchus, grandsons of Africanus? On the other hand, praise is most justly bestowed on Aratus of Sicyon, who, when his state had been kept under oppression by tyrants for fifty years,2 going from Argos to Sicyon, obtained possession of the city by entering it secretly, and after suddenly crushing the tyrant Nicocles, restored six hundred exiles who had been the richest men in the state, and freed the people by his advent. Then when he came to reflect on the difficulty about property and its occupancy, thinking it very unjust that those whom he had restored and whose estates were in the possession of others should remain poor, and at the same time deeming it hardly fair that possessions of fifty years’ standing should be disturbed, because after so long a time many estates were innocently held by inheritance, many by purchase, many by dowry, he determined that neither ought the property to be taken from those in possession, nor ought the former owners to be left without compensation. Having come to the conclusion that there was need of money to set this matter right, he said that he wanted to go to Alexandria, and ordered everything to remain as it was till his return. So he hastened to Ptolemy, who had been his host, the second king after the building of Alexandria. Having explained to him his purpose to restore freedom to his country, and informed him of the posture of affairs, this man most worthy of celebrity easily obtained from the rich king the aid of a large amount of money. Carrying this to Sicyon, he took into his counsel fifteen of the principal men, with whom he considered carefully the cases both of those who held the property of others, and of those who had lost their own property, and managed by a valuation of the estates to persuade some of the present occupants to resign their estates and accept money instead, and others to account it more to their advantage to have the value of their estates paid to them than to recover possession of them. Thus it was brought about that all went their ways perfectly satisfied, without any ground of mutual complaint. O truly great man, well worthy to have been a native of our own commonwealth! Thus it is fitting to deal with citizens; not, as we have twice seen, to plant the spear in the market-place, and to submit the property of citizens to sale by the auctioneer. That Greek, indeed, as was to have been expected of a wise and excellent man, thought that the welfare of all should be consulted; and this is the consummate reason and wisdom of a good citizen, not to create separate interests among those of the same state, but to hold all together by the same principles of equity. May men live without compensation on the estates of others? Why so? That when I have bought, built, keep the estate in good order, spend money upon it, you without my consent may have the use of what is mine? What else is this but to take from some what is their own, and to give to others what is not their own? Then too, what does the cancelling of debts mean, but that you may buy an estate with my money, and keep it, while I go without the money?
24. Therefore the care should be to check such excessive indebtedness as will be of injury to the state (which may be prevented in many ways),1 and not, if there are debts, to deprive the rich of their money, and to let the debtors gain what is not theirs. For nothing holds the state more firmly together than good faith, which cannot possibly exist unless the payment of debts is obligatory. Never was there a more earnest endeavor against the payment of debts than in my consulship. The attempt was made by arms and military operations, and by men of every kind and order, which I resisted with such energy that so dire a calamity was averted from the state. Never was there a larger amount of debt, nor was it ever discharged more fully or more easily; for when the hope of successful fraud was removed, the necessity of paying was the consequence. He indeed, of late conqueror, but at that time conquered,2 carried out what he had then planned after he had ceased to have any personal interest in it.1 So great was his appetite for evil-doing, that the very doing of evil gave him delight, even when there was no special reason for it. From this kind of generosity, then, — the giving to some what is taken from others, — those who mean to be guardians of the state will refrain, and will especially bestow their efforts, that through the equity of the laws and of their administration every man may have his own property made secure, and that neither the poorer may be defrauded on account of their lowly condition, nor any odium may stand in the way of the rich in holding or recovering what belongs to them; while they will also aid the growth of the state in power, territory, and revenue, by whatever means, military or domestic, may be at their command. Such are the aims of truly great men; these things were wont to be done in the times of our ancestors; and those who perform faithfully duties of this class will with the greatest benefit to the state secure for themselves distinguished favor and reputation.
Among these precepts relating to expediency, Antipater of Tyre, a Stoic, who recently died at Athens, thinks that two subjects were omitted by Panaetius, — the care of health and that of money, — which, I suppose, were passed over by that illustrious philosopher, because they presented no difficulty. They certainly belong under the head of expediency. I would say, then, that good health is maintained by the knowledge of one’s own constitution, by observing what things are wont to be salutary or injurious, by self-restraint in the whole manner and habit of living, by abstaining from sensual indulgences, and, lastly, by the skill of those to whose profession these matters belong. Property ought to be obtained in ways not dishonorable, to be preserved by diligence and frugality, to be increased also by the same means. These things Xenophon, the disciple of Socrates, has thoroughly discussed in his book on Domestic Economy,1 which, when I was about of your present age, I translated into Latin.
25. But the comparison of things that are expedient — this being the fourth division, omitted by Panaetius — is often necessary. For bodily endowments are wont to be compared with outward advantages, and outward advantages with bodily endowments, bodily endowments themselves, too, with one another, and outward advantages, some with others. Thus in comparing bodily endowments with outward advantages, you would rather be in good health than rich; in comparing outward advantages with bodily endowments, you would choose to be rich rather than to possess extraordinary strength of body. In comparing bodily endowments among themselves, good health would be preferred to sensual gratification, strength to swiftness of foot; and of outward advantages, fame to wealth, city revenues1 to country revenues.2 Of this last kind of comparisons is that quoted from the elder Cato, who, when asked what was the most profitable thing to be done on an estate, replied, “To feed cattle well.” “What second best?” “To feed cattle moderately well.” “What third best?” “To feed cattle, though but poorly.” “What fourth best?” “To plough the land.” And when he who had made these inquiries asked, “What is to be said of making profit by usury?” Cato replied, “What is to be said of making profit by murder?”3 From this and from many things beside it may be inferred that comparisons of things expedient are not infrequently made, and that this is rightly added as a fourth head to our discussion of duty. But in everything appertaining to this last topic, the acquisition and investment of money, — I could wish, as to its use, too, — the discussions that might be held by certain very good men sitting among the bankers in the Exchange1 are worth more than those by any philosophers of any school. Yet these matters ought to be taken notice of; for they belong under the head of expediency, — the subject of this book. Let us, in the next place, pass on to what remains of the proposed plan.
[1 ]After the assassination of Caesar, when for a very little while there seemed some hope of a return to republican institutions in fact as well as in name.
[1 ]Latin, ars; but art is here an inadequate rendering.
[1 ]In Hortensius.
[2 ]That of the New Academy.
[1 ]Cratippus was a Peripatetic, and thus regarded Aristotle as his master; but as Aristotle derived much of his philosophy from Plato, and Plato, much or all of his from Socrates, Cicero, with more rhetorical aptness than literal truth, antedates the school of which his son was the pupil.
[1 ]A syllogism in Barbara.
[1 ]A verse from some lost poem, probably the Prometheus of Attius.
[1 ]For instance, wool, at the proper time of shearing.
[1 ]This work has entirely perished. Dicaearchus, a contemporary and follower of Aristotle, was a copious writer in the departments of geography and history, as well as of philosophy. One of his books on “The Life of Greece,” if we may judge by the fragments of it that remain, would have been worth more than all other extant records of Athenian life in his age.
[2 ]I do not know that there is any ancient record of the extensive destruction of human life by wild beasts, except that in the Old Testament (2 Kings xvii. 25), of the slaughter of people by lions in some of the Samaritan cities. But there are several traditions of instances in which the inhabitants of cities or towns were compelled to change their abodes, and hardly without some loss of life, by devastating, tormenting, or perilous incursions of mice, frogs, scorpions, serpents, moles, rabbits, and locusts.
[1 ]We have here the first, fourth, and second of the cardinal virtues portrayed in Book I. The third is omitted, as peculiarly non-utilitarian; the second has the third place, as a text to be enlarged upon, — as the prime means of securing such utilities as men can bestow.
[1 ]The army of Pompey the Great, in Pharsalia; that of his son, at Munda; and that of Scipio, at Thapsus, — all defeated by Julius Caesar.
[2 ]The murder of Pompey the Great, in Egypt.
[3 ]Cicero undoubtedly has in mind, here, his own exile by the machinations of Clodius.
[1 ]Cicero here refers, not to bribery, but to such liberal uses of money as he designates with approval in the sequel.
[1 ]The Senate were induced by Antony to pass sundry laws, the drafts of which he professed — in part, no doubt, falsely — to have found among Caesar’s papers.
[1 ]Of Syracuse, — a sovereign of signal ability, energy, magnificence, and public spirit, a liberal patron of literature and philosophy, but at the same time jealous, suspicious, arbitrary, and cruel, — leaving at once vestiges of true greatness as a king, and records, undoubtedly in large part authentic, of acts that disgrace humanity. The story is that while his daughters were very young, he made them shave him and cut his hair; when they were old enough for him to fear them, he used shoots of the walnut (juglans) to burn off his beard. He had a ditch round his bed, with a drawbridge commanded by himself.
[2 ]He came to the throne by the murder of his uncle and predecessor.
[1 ]The Thracians, who were accounted as barbarians, were employed as body-guards by some of the petty tyrants of the Grecian cities, as the Swiss have been employed in Paris and in Rome, and as Scythians were employed in a similar capacity at Athens.
[2 ]Alexander’s chamber was at the top of a ladder, and a fierce dog was chained at the door. His wife concealed her three brothers in the house during the day, removed the dog after Alexander was asleep, covered the steps of the ladder with wool, and led the young men up to murder her husband.
[3 ]Phalaris is almost a mythical personage. Different authorities assign dates nearly a century apart for the beginning of his reign, the latest date being 570 b. c. There are also opposite traditions as to his character, some authorities representing him as mild and humane.
[1 ]Demetrius Poliorcetes. Pyrrhus, King of Epeirus, had invaded Macedonia, and when Demetrius marched to meet him, the Macedonian army en masse passed over to the invader. Demetrius was a ruler of marvellous vigor, and though sometimes truculent and cruel, and always grossly sensual, was not wholly devoid of humane and generous feeling.
[2 ]The campaign against Thebes, closed by the battle of Leuctra, was opposed to the wishes of all the allies of Sparta, and their soldiers were accused by the Spartans of utter inefficiency in the field, to be accounted for only by their reluctance to engage in the conflict.
[1 ]Sulla was the champion of the aristocracy, and thus far his position had Cicero’s approval and sympathy.
[2 ]A spear stuck in the ground was in Rome, as a red flag is with us, the sign of a sale at auction.
[3 ]Massilia (Marseilles), a city settled by Grecian colonists, and in Caesar’s time second to no other city in the world as a seat of extensive commerce, was from the first a faithful ally of Rome, and, when the region of Gaul in which it is situated became a Roman province, that city was suffered to retain its independence. In the civil war the Massilians espoused the cause of Pompey, and shut their gates against Caesar, who besieged and took the city, and had a model of it borne in procession in his triumph.
[1 ]Publius Cornelius Sulla, the nephew of the dictator, and, about midway between his dictatorship and Caesar’s, found guilty of bribery when a candidate for the consulship.
[2 ]Cornelius Sulla, a freedman of the dictator, who, as Sulla’s secretary, could secure large profits from confiscated property, and as quaestor under Caesar had access to the city treasury.
[1 ]They are both lost. Cicero mentions one of them in Letters to Atticus, xvi. 27. “Librum tibi celerrime mittam de gloria.”
[2 ]This is evidently meant to exclude the meaner ways by which men insinuate themselves into popular favor.
[1 ]Latin, dolorum faces, — the torches, or cautery, of sorrows.
[1 ]These men were hardly robbers in the ordinary sense of the word; but they carried on for many years guerilla warfare, and, as is generally the case in such warfare, their forays were fully as much predatory as murderous. They were called robbers because they were barbarians. But Bardylis is termed by Diodorus king of the Illyrians, having Pyrrhus, king of Epeirus, for his son-in-law; and Viriathus seems to have been a patriotic chieftain, whose prime aim was to resist the Roman supremacy.
[2 ]According to Herodotus, Deioces, ambitious of sovereignty, commenced as arbitrator in his own village, and on account of the reputation thus obtained for justice was chosen king. His administration is represented as having been, though impartial, annoyingly inquisitorial and relentlessly severe. But as his reign began more than seven centuries before the Christian era, he may be regarded as a semi-mythical personage, and a like doubt may be thrown on the origin of the Median sovereignty. The theory of the origin of kingly power here given seems to have been a favorite notion with Cicero, and is found in other works of his. It perhaps defines what ought to have been; but in fact the kingly office was probably at the outset but an extension of patriarchal sovereignty.
[1 ]The allusion here seems to be to trees like the banyan, whose branches, as they bend to the ground, take root, and send up fresh shoots.
[2 ]All the surviving records of the father’s life entirely justify Cicero’s encomium; it is an open question whether the sons may not have fully inherited his high moral worth and devoted patriotism. The family was plebeian, and it may not be otherwise than natural, that while the father — allied by marriage to the patrician family of the Scipios — was identified with the aristocracy, the sons should with honest and disinterested zeal have devoted themselves to the relief, elevation, and well-being of the plebeians, who in their time might justly complain of disabilities and oppression.
[1 ]Latin, alae alteri. Ala may mean either one of the wings of an army or one of the squadrons of cavalry usually attached to every legion of foot-soldiers in service. Without the alteri, as young Cicero was only sixteen years of age, alae should undoubtedly be rendered a squadron, and many of the commentators suspect alteri to be a spurious interpolation. But as Pompey was to the last degree solicitous to secure and retain the moral support of Cicero, he may have sought to flatter the father by appointing the son to a nominal command, delegating its more important duties to officers of maturer years and experience.
[1 ]Publius Mucius Scaevola, of the highest reputation as a jurist, and a copious writer on the Roman law. While vehemently opposed to the Gracchi, and approving of the murder of Tiberius Gracchus, he gave a legal opinion in favor of compensation from the public treasury for the value of the effects constituting the dowry of the wife of Caius Gracchus, lost in the popular disturbance caused by her husband.
[2 ]A man of rigid integrity and probity, and eminent for ability and learning as a jurisconsult and a forensic orator.
[3 ]Lucius Licinius Crassus. He was undoubtedly the greatest orator of his time. Cicero may have heard him, having been sixteen years of age at his death. When a mere stripling, — Tacitus says, of nineteen years, — he accused Caius Papirius Carbo, of what crime we do not know, probably of bribery or extortion, and met with such signal success that Carbo committed suicide to escape condemnation.
[1 ]Demosthenes, at the age of eighteen, brought a successful suit against his guardians, to compel them to render account of his property in their hands.
[2 ]Latin, contentio. The only occasions for the practice of oratory in Rome were such as might be designated by this term, which means contention. They were the advocacy of disputed measures in the Senate or before the people and the pleading of cases in the courts of law.
[1 ]There was in Rome no profession corresponding to that of the modern advocate. There were jurisconsults, men learned in the law, many of whom were also eloquent advocates, while others were chamber-counsel, to whom advocates, as well as the immediate parties in a suit, resorted for legal opinions and advice. But any man who had the will and the ability might take charge of a case in court; and for young Romans who aspired to distinction, after military ambition began to wane, the bar was the favorite avenue to the popular favor. There were no public prosecutors; but any person who was ready to make and sustain a criminal charge had only to present himself before the praetor urbanus, and to swear that he was acting not from malicious motives, but in good faith, and in the interest of the state.
[2 ]Grandfather of the triumvir, — a contemporary of Crassus, and of nearly equal reputation as an orator.
[1 ]He was twenty-eight years old when he accused Caius Norbanus of majestas, or treason, for turbulent and seditious conduct as tribune of the people.
[2 ]The augur Servilius had prosecuted their father for bribery and malversation in Sicily, and procured his condemnation and exile. Though the elder Lucullus was undoubtedly guilty, his sons may have supposed him innocent, and at any rate they avenged themselves by the unsuccessful impeachment of Servilius.
[3 ]In the impeachment of Verres.
[4 ]Caius Julius Caesar, who commenced public life by the accusation of Titus Albucius of extortion as praetor in Sicily, and procured his condemnation.
[5 ]He was accused by Fufius of extortion in Sicily; but, notwithstanding strong proofs of guilt, was acquitted on the ground of signal courage and ability in military command.
[1 ]Judicium capitis, or a capital trial, was a phrase used, not only where life was put in jeopardy, but with reference to all cases in which one’s standing and privileges as a citizen were imperilled, and the danger of degradation or exile was incurred.
[2 ]Marcus Junius Brutus. His father was eminent for his legal learning. Of the son we know little except from Cicero, who may have been prejudiced against him as belonging to the opposite political party.
[1 ]There is nothing in the entire record of Cicero’s life more honorable to him than his conduct on this trial, in which he was for the first time engaged in a criminal cause. Sextus Roscius was accused of the murder of his father, on no valid or probable evidence, and undoubtedly with the view of securing permanent legality to the seizure of the father’s property on the false pretence of unpaid debts. The principal in the fraud and the instigator of the criminal pursuit was Chrysogonus, a freed man of Sulla. With every possible obstacle thrown in his way, and with the whole influence of the dictator pressed into the opposite scale, Cicero procured, by the masterly management of the case, no less than by his eloquent defence, the acquittal of his client, but undoubtedly incurred imminent peril.
[1 ]The allusion here is, undoubtedly, to the cask with a perforated bottom which the Danaides are eternally attempting to fill.
[1 ]A lost book.
[2 ]Latin (in many of the best editions), Aristo Ceus; (in all extant manuscripts and early editions) Aristoteles. Aristotle not only has no sentiment like this in his extant writings, but can hardly have had in his time the material for such a description of senseless extravagance. The public entertainments of his age, especially in Athens, while redolent of superior culture, were comparatively inexpensive. Aristo of Ceos wrote a treatise (now lost) on Vain Glory (περὶ κενοδοξίας), from which this passage may very probably have been quoted. But the reading which gives his name is at best an ingenious and not unlikely conjecture.
[1 ]Mina, in value a little more than four pounds sterling.
[2 ]Sextarius, about a pint.
[1 ]Of course, popularity in an aedileship contributed largely to one’s success as a candidate for higher offices, and in the best days of the republic an aspirant for the popular favor may, as aedile, have made for the entertainment of the public an expenditure fully level with his ability. But before Cicero’s time it had become common for an aedile to incur in that office heavy debts, to be liquidated, if ever, when as propraetor or proconsul he should be able to fill his exchequer with provincial spoils. Debts thus contracted were regarded as an obligatory mortgage on the popular suffrage, by which the debtor should have the opportunity of reimbursing himself for his outlay to please the people.
[1 ]Cicero, as aedile, gave three public games.
[2 ]The Romans frequently offered to some god, generally to Hercules, a tithe of their property on the eve of any great enterprise, or of their gains, in case of any signal success. But a small part of such an offering was consumed in sacrifice, and the rest was commonly utilized for a magnificent public festival. The words polluceo and polluctura as applied to such feasts may authorize the supposition (though I know of no other ground for it) that Pollux may have had in earlier time the honor which was subsequently paid to Hercules.
[3 ]As, about half an English penny.
[4 ]Modius, a little less than a peck.
[5 ]Clodius was undoubtedly the greater ruffian and the worse man of the two; but it is only by shutting out all testimony save that of Cicero’s magnificent defence of Milo, that we can regard him as a pre-eminently law-abiding and patriotic citizen.
[1 ]Cicero never attained the censorship, to which, by custom tantamount to constitutional law, and seldom departed from, ex-consuls alone were eligible.
[2 ]The vote was taken by centuries, so that a large opposing minority might be consistent with a nominally unanimous suffrage.
[3 ]The normal age at which one was eligible to the quaestorship was thirty; to the aedileship, thirty-seven; to the praetorship, forty; to the consulship, forty-three. These rules had sometimes been disregarded, but were generally adhered to.
[1 ]Pompey erected the most splendid of the then existing theatres, and temples to Venus and Victoria.
[2 ]The Propylaea, said to have cost a sum equivalent to two millions of our money.
[3 ]This discussion is not found in any of the portions of the De Re Publica that have been recovered.
[1 ]Injustice is done to Cicero when these interested motives to beneficence are regarded as standing alone. It must be remembered that in the First Book the duty of beneficence is urged on grounds of intrinsic right; while expediency is the express and sole subject of the Second Book, in which it is his aim to show that interest and duty point in the same direction, — that the selfish man sins against himself no less than against his neighbor.
[1 ]So long as there was a wide distinction between the orders of the Roman state, the patricians, in general, took a generous care of the interests of their respective clients and dependents. Indeed, the very term patrician is an enduring record of kindly relations between the higher and the lower orders.
[2 ]Lucius Licinius Crassus (§ 13). The reference is undoubtedly to his speech in favor of the restoration of judicial functions from the equites to the Senate.
[3 ]There were subtleties in the Roman law as to the falling of water from the eaves of houses (stillicidium), the preservation or obstruction of light, and various matters of dispute that might arise and in all time do arise between owners of contiguous houses. Between estates outside of the city there was legally a space of five or six feet in which each owner had a right of way, and neither a right of occupancy for his own uses. Rights of way and other easements were attached, also, to many private estates. Hence a fruitful field for litigation.
[1 ]The territory of Attica (including Athens) was divided into one hundred and seventy-four δη̂μοι, or districts. The demos of Laciadae was outside of the city.
[1 ]Servius Sulpicius, after the death of Mucius Scaevola the most learned and celebrated jurisconsult. He died but a year before this treatise was written, and Cicero pronounced a eulogy on him in the Senate.
[1 ]The Roman law prohibited advocates from taking fee or reward. There is no proof that Cicero was ever paid directly or indirectly for his services as an advocate, though undoubtedly presents and legacies from those who had enjoyed the benefit of his services may have been among the sources of his wealth.
[1 ]Latin, collocandis, investing, i. e. conferring favors with a view to the revenue in influence and popularity which they may bring in return.
[1 ]Caius Gracchus, as tribune of the people, procured the passage of a law by which every resident of the city who should personally appear at the Capitol might buy five modii (or pecks) of corn each month, at less than half the average price, therefore at much less than cost. The tendency, and of course a prime object, of this measure was to bring into the city, and under the influence of the popular leaders, large numbers of the poorer population in the rural districts.
[2 ]Tribune of the people not long after Caius Gracchus. He procured the passage of a law raising the price of corn from the public granaries to a rate which arrested the depletion of the treasury.
[1 ]For one hundred and four years, from the close of the Macedonian war (b. c. 147), which brought an immense amount of treasure into the public coffers, till the very year succeeding Cicero’s death, no property-tax was levied, the spoils of war and the tribute from the provinces sufficing for the public expenditure.
[1 ]The Samnite general who defeated the Roman army at the Caudine Pass, and many years later was himself defeated by Quintus Fabius Maximus, taken prisoner, led in triumph, and beheaded.
[2 ]About a century and a half after the death of Pontius.
[1 ]Commonly called the Social War. Marcus Livius Drusus had, while tribune of the people, procured the passage of a law providing for inquiry into the corrupt practices of the courts, which had in many instances acquitted persons justly charged with bribery and extortion. He had also procured the passage of laws conferring certain privileges — with a view to ultimate citizenship — on the Italian allies. The Senate, under the influence of those who feared an honest judiciary, annulled all the laws that had been enacted under the auspices of Drusus, on the pretext that they had been carried against the auspices, and in defiance of certain provisions by statute requiring a seventeen days’ promulgation of laws before they could be passed, and forbidding the massing of several distinct clauses in the same vote. The allies were, of course, thwarted of their expectations, and hence the Social War.
[2 ]During the dictatorships of Sulla and Caesar.
[2 ]He flooded Rome with the richest spoils of Grecian art; but though by no means a man of pure life, he rigidly abstained from participating in the booty or gain of his conquest. Pliny says of him, that he filled the city with trophies of conquered Achaia, yet left not a dowry for his daughter.
[1 ]The agrarian laws that have so large a place in Roman history are often misunderstood in consequence of a misapprehension of the Latin terms possessor and possessio. These laws proposed the eviction, in many instances, of possessors, but not of owners. Possessio means not ownership, but occupancy. The lands obtained by conquest were for the most part leased on what were understood to be and what we should call perpetual leases, on condition of the payment of one tenth or one fifth of the annual revenue of the estate into the public treasury, — a condition which after a time lapsed into disuse and oblivion, so that the lands thus acquired were transmitted, bequeathed, and sold, as freeholds would have been, and with no expectation that the possession would ever be disturbed. The possessors thus had the consciousness of ownership, and the sympathy of the aristocracy and the rich men, on their side; and though the state, having never ceded the fee of its domain, had, no doubt, a right to take its lands from defaulting tenants and give them to the veterans or the landless plebeians, still this could not be done without the commission of virtual wrong to a large extent, and perhaps reducing to utter penury some who had felt as secure in the possession of their property as if it had come down to them in an unbroken line of inheritance from the beginning of time. We thus can reconcile the by no means delusive show of right and humanity on the face of the agrarian laws with the virtuous detestation expressed for them by not a few law-abiding Romans.
[2 ]Novae tabulae, or the general remission or scaling down of debts, was, in the latter days of the Roman republic, a frequent demand of demagogues and of their followers and dupes.
[1 ]These words of Cicero describe with wonderful accuracy the result of an experiment with novae tabulae in the United States of America. A profligacy at which Rome in her worst days might have blushed found expression in a national bankrupt law passed by Congress in 1841, repealed in 1843. By this law fraudulent insolvency had every possible facility and inducement. There were in every community notorious instances in which men who had paid little or nothing except the required legal fees showed openly and shamelessly the property of which they had cheated their creditors. In fine, any man who chose to do so, whatever his pecuniary ability, could repudiate his debts. The law resulted in the collapse and defeat of the very party that had hoped by means of it to consolidate its power. Those who had taken the benefit of the law were ashamed of it when they needed it no longer; while those whom it had wronged had no tolerance for the authors of their wrong, — thus verifying to the letter what Cicero says about the effect of such measures on the popularity of their authors and abettors.
[1 ]Agis, the fourth Spartan king of the name, under whose government the Lysander here referred to was ephor. Their endeavor was to procure the entire cancelling of debts, and the re-distribution of the Spartan territory.
[2 ]With only a brief interval, during which the father of Aratus had served as one of two chief magistrates chosen by the people. He probably was not in power long enough, or had not sufficient authority, to right the wrongs committed by a series of tyrants. He was killed by a usurper when Aratus was seven years old, and in the interval of thirteen years before the successful expedition of Aratus, that usurper and his successor had been slain, so that Nicocles was the third in this latter series of tyrants.
[1 ]Cicero would undoubtedly have said, by sumptuary laws, which were sanctioned by the imperfect political economy of that day.
[2 ]Cicero undoubtedly suspected, and with good reason, that Caesar had covertly abetted the Catilinian plot, and Caesar’s speech in the Senate, if its tone and spirit are fairly represented in Sallust’s report of it, shows that he was solicitous to save the lives of the conspirators.
[1 ]At the time of Catiline’s conspiracy Caesar was very deeply in debt. He, in the first year of his dictatorship, was the author of a law by which debts were liquidated by payment of seventy-five per cent of their amount, the pretext being the increased value of money occasioned by the expenditure and loss of treasure during the civil war. Caesar himself had by that time become, not only free from debt, but absolutely rich, in great part, no doubt, from the perquisites of his Gallic campaigns.
[1 ]Oeconomicus (Οὶκονομικός), a work wholly devoted to the administration of the household and private property.
[1 ]From rents, and from the wages of slaves, — this last a very lucrative and therefore a favorite source of income, though not deemed entirely respectable.
[2 ]Returns at a lower percentage than city investments, and more precarious, as contingent on the character of the season and the abundance or scantiness of the crops. Agriculture, though not the most gainful, was regarded as the most respectable source of income.
[3 ]Usury was held in abhorrence even more than in contempt.
[1 ]Latin, ad Janum medium. Janus was the name of a street in or near the forum, in which were to be found almost all the brokers’ and bankers’ offices in the city; and Janus summus, medius, and imus meant, respectively, the top, middle, and bottom of Janus Street.