Cicero, De Re Publica

LCL 213: 16-17

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Marcus Tullius Cicero

et honestatis? unde in laboribus et periculis fortitudo? nempe ab his qui haec disciplinis informata alia moribus confirmarunt, sanxerunt autem alia legibus. 3quin etiam Xenocraten ferunt, nobilem in primis philosophum, cum quaereretur ex eo, quid adsequerentur eius discipuli, respondisse, ut id sua sponte facerent, quod cogerentur facere legibus. ergo ille civis, qui id cogit omnis imperio legumque poena, quod vix paucis persuadere oratione philosophi possunt, etiam his, qui illa disputant, ipsis est praeferendus doctoribus. quae est enim istorum oratio tam exquisita, quae sit anteponenda bene constitutae civitati publico iure et moribus? equidem quem ad modum “urbes magnas atque imperiosas,” ut appellat Ennius, viculis et castellis praeferendas puto, sic eos, qui his urbibus consilio atque auctoritate praesunt, his, qui omnis negotii publici expertes sint,1 longe duco sapientia ipsa esse anteponendos. et quoniam maxime rapimur ad opes augendas generis humani studemusque nostris consiliis et laboribus tutiorem et opulentiorem vitam hominum reddere et ad hanc voluptatem2 ipsius naturae stimulis incitamur, teneamus eum cursum, qui semper fuit optimi cuiusque, neque ea signa audiamus, quae receptui canunt, ut eos etiam revocent, qui iam processerint.

4III. His rationibus tam certis tamque inlustribus opponuntur ab his, qui contra disputant, primum


The Republic I

disgrace, eagerness for praise and honour? Whence comes endurance amid toils and dangers? I say, from those men who, when these things had been inculcated by a system of training, either confirmed them by custom or else enforced them by statutes. Indeed Xenocrates, one of the most eminent of philosophers, when asked what his disciples learned, is said to have replied: “To do of their own accord what they are compelled to do by the law.” Therefore the citizen who compels all men, by the authority of magistrates and the penalties imposed by law, to follow rules of whose validity philosophers find it hard to convince even a few by their admonitions, must be considered superior even to the teachers who enunciate these principles. For what speech of theirs is excellent enough to be preferred to a State well provided with law and custom? Indeed, just as I think that “cities great and dominant,”1 as Ennius calls them, are to be ranked above small villages and strongholds, so I believe that those who rule such cities by wise counsel and authority are to be deemed far superior, even in wisdom, to those who take no part at all in the business of government. And since we feel a mighty urge to increase the resources of mankind, since we desire to make human life safer and richer by our thought and effort, and are goaded on to the fulfilment of this desire by Nature herself, let us hold to the course which has ever been that of all excellent men, turning deaf ears to those who, in the hope of even recalling those who have already gone ahead, are sounding the retreat.

III. As their first objection to these arguments, so well founded and so obviously sound, those who

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-de_re_publica.1928