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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



2298
Cicero, On Laws, 1.17


nanATTICUS: In your opinion, then, it is not in the edict of the praetors, as the majority of our modern lawyers pretend, nor in the rules of the Twelve Tables of our Statutes, as the ancient Romans maintained, but in the sublimest doctrines of philosophy, we must seek the true source and obligation of jurisprudence. MARCUS: It is for this reason, my Atticus, that you do not ask me to explain to you the formalities of legal practice, and the technical replications and rejoinders of our professional pleadings. These, indeed, deserve much study and respect, inasmuch as they have occupied the attention of many great men, and are at present expounded by a most eminent lawyer (Servius Sulpicius Rufus) with admirable ability and skill. But the subject of our present discussion soars far higher, and comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws. QUINTUS: You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain-head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation. MARCUS: Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia). But more of this bye-and-bye. With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary. This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it is confirmed and established in menʼs minds, is the law of all their actions. They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (νόμος), which is derived from νέμω, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimation between good and evil. The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self-evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice. But since every discussion must relate to some subject, whose terms are of frequent occurrence in the popular language of the citizens, we shall be sometimes obliged to use the same terms as the vulgar, and to conform to that common idiom which signifies by the word law, all the arbitrary regulations which are found in our statute books, either commanding or forbidding certain actions. ATTICUS: Let us begin, then, to establish the principles of justice on that eternal and universal law, whose origin precedes the immeasurable course of ages, before legislative enactments were in being, or political governments constituted.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

5 results
1. Cicero, On Laws, 1.18-1.19, 1.42, 1.44, 2.8, 2.10-2.11, 2.13 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

2. Cicero, On Duties, 3.63, 3.69 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

3.63. Hecatonem quidem Rhodium, discipulum Panaeti, video in iis libris, quos de officio scripsit Q. Tuberoni, dicere sapientis esse nihil contra mores, leges, instituta facientem habere rationem rei familiaris. Neque enim solum nobis divites esse volumus, sed liberis, propinquis, amicis maximeque rei publicae. Singulorum enim facultates et copiae divitiae sunt civitatis. Huic Scaevolae factum, de quo paulo ante dixi, placere nullo modo potest; etenim omnino tantum se negat facturum compendii sui causa, quod non liceat. Huic nec laus magna tribuenda nec gratia est. 3.69. Hoc quamquam video propter depravationem consuetudinis neque more turpe haberi neque aut lege sanciri aut iure civili, tamen naturae lege sanctum est. Societas est enim (quod etsi saepe dictum est, dicendum est tamen saepius), latissime quidem quae pateat, omnium inter omnes, interior eorum, qui eiusdem gentis sint, propior eorum, qui eiusdem civitatis. Itaque maiores aliud ius gentium, aliud ius civile esse voluerunt; quod civile, non idem continuo gentium, quod autem gentium, idem civile esse debet. Sed nos veri iuris germanaeque iustitiae solidam et expressam effigiem nullam tenemus, umbra et imaginibus utimur. Eas ipsas utinam sequeremur! feruntur enim ex optimis naturae et veritatis exemplis. 3.63.  Now I observe that Hecaton of Rhodes, a pupil of Panaetius, says in his books on "Moral Duty" dedicated to Quintus Tubero that "it is a wise man's duty to take care of his private interests, at the same time doing nothing contrary to the civil customs, laws, and institutions. But that depends on our purpose in seeking prosperity; for we do not aim to be rich for ourselves alone but for our children, relatives, friends, and, above all, for our country. For the private fortunes of individuals are the wealth of the state." Hecaton could not for a moment approve of Scaevola's act, which I cited a moment ago; for he openly avows that he will abstain from doing for his own profit only what the law expressly forbids. Such a man deserves no great praise nor gratitude. 3.69.  Owing to the low ebb of public sentiment, such a method of procedure, I find, is neither by custom accounted morally wrong nor forbidden either by statute or by civil law; nevertheless it is forbidden by the moral law. For there is a bond of fellowship — although I have often made this statement, I must still repeat it again and again — which has the very widest application, uniting all men together and each to each. This bond of union is closer between those who belong to the same nation, and more intimate still between those who are citizens of the same city-state. It is for this reason that our forefathers chose to understand one thing by the universal law and another by the civil law. The civil law is not necessarily also the universal law; but the universal law ought to be also the civil law. But we possess no substantial, life-like image of true Law and genuine Justice; a mere outline sketch is all that we enjoy. I only wish that we were true even to this; for, even as it is, it is drawn from the excellent models which Nature and Truth afford.
3. Plutarch, On Stoic Self-Contradictions, None (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

4. Seneca The Younger, Letters, 90.28, 90.35-90.36, 94.21, 94.29, 94.37, 94.39-94.40, 95.4, 95.37 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

5. Gaius, Instiutiones, 1.1 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
ambiguous Günther, Brill's Companion to Horace (2012) 129
cicero, and law of nature Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 21, 28, 157
codes, justinian Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
codes, theodosian Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
diogenes laertius Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 21
ennius, tentatively deduced as model Günther, Brill's Companion to Horace (2012) 129
epicurus, epicureanism Günther, Brill's Companion to Horace (2012) 129
fools, mankind as Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 157
gastronomy Günther, Brill's Companion to Horace (2012) 129
horace, detractors Günther, Brill's Companion to Horace (2012) 129
ius antiquum, civile Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
ius antiquum, gentium Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
ius antiquum, naturale Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
ius antiquum, publicum Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
law, constitutional Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
law, natural Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
law, private Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
law of nature, and stoicism Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 157
law of nature, and wise man Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 157
law of nature, connection to reason and god Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 21
law of nature, in philo Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 157
law of nature, officia of Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 28
law of nature, transcended written law Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 21
lawyers Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
legislation Rüpke, Religion in Republican Rome: Rationalization and Ritual Change (2012) 187
lucilius Günther, Brill's Companion to Horace (2012) 129
magistrates Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
messalla Günther, Brill's Companion to Horace (2012) 129
mosaic law, for ordinary people Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 21, 28
nature, philos and stoics views of Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 157
occentare Günther, Brill's Companion to Horace (2012) 129
ratio Rüpke, Religion in Republican Rome: Rationalization and Ritual Change (2012) 187
sacra' Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
stoicism Rüpke, Religion in Republican Rome: Rationalization and Ritual Change (2012) 187
stoics/stoicism, and law of nature Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 21
stoics/stoicism, and the sage Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 157
stoics/stoicism, natural law Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 157
terence Günther, Brill's Companion to Horace (2012) 129
twelfe tables Günther, Brill's Companion to Horace (2012) 129
ulpianus, domitius Ando and Ruepke, Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006) 133
wise man, katoryvmata of Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 157
word-play (etymological, puns, ambiguity) Günther, Brill's Companion to Horace (2012) 129