Cicero’s De Re Publica Translations

This page is for some of my translations of the sections from De Re Publica which I read in Latin. The Roman numerals before each paragraph denote the section number. I will update this page when I have new translations that I think are interesting/relevant to my study.

Book I:

[XXV] “Thus,” said Africanus, “the state is the matters of the people; however, the public is not every assembly of men, gathered in some way, but an assembly of a multitude united by an agreement of law and a common interest. However, the first cause of this gathering is not so much a weakness as much as if congregation is the certain nature of humans; indeed this is not a singular or solitary race, but created so that in a certain abundance of all things…”

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[XXVI] “… as if a seed, and neither of the remaining strengths nor of the republic itself has any institution been found. These assemblies, having been instituted in this way from the cause which I put forth, established their first home in a certain place with the cause of residences; which, when they have protected it by the location and by their hand, a union of houses of this manner, they call a town or a city, distinguished by temples and joint spaces. Therefore the entire population, which is such an assembly of great number as I have described, the whole state, which is the structure of the people, the whole republic, which is the matters of the people as I have said, must be ruled by a certain counsel, so that it is long lasting. However this counsel first must always be brought back for the cause which gave birth to the state. Then it must be assigned either to one man, or to certain selected ones, or it must be taken up by the multitude or by all. Hence, when the highest of all things is in the hands of one man, we call that man king, and the status of this government a kingdom. When however it is in the hands of selected men, then that state is said to be ruled by the judgement of the aristocrats. That however is the state of the people (thus they indeed call it) in which all things are in the people. And any of these three types, if it holds the chain which first tied men up among themselves in the alliance of a state, that indeed is not perfect and in my opinion is not the best, but nevertheless tolerable, and one can be more excellent than another. For a just and wise king, or the chosen and best citizens, or the populace itself, though that must be esteemed least, nevertheless with no inequalities or greed introduced, it seems could be in some way in a not unstable state.

[XXVII] But both in kingdoms there are others too free from laws and a counsel, and in the domain of the aristocrats the multitude can scarcely be a sharer of liberty, since they are absent from all common counsel and power, and when everything is managed through the population, although just and moderate, nevertheless equality itself is unequal, because it has no position of worth. Thus although that Persian Cyrus was the most just and wise king, nevertheless to me the matters of the people (this indeed is, as I said previously, the state), does not seem to have been most worthy to be desired, because it was ruled by the nod of one man; although are Massilian clients are ruled by the highest righteousness through the chosen and best citizens, nevertheless there is in this arrangement a certain likeness of the population to slavery; although the Atehnians at certain times after the areopago was removed did nothing unless by the statutes and decrees of the people, since they did not have a distinct position, the state did not hold its own order. 

[XXVIII] And I speak this about the three forms of states not when they have not been disturbed or mixed, but holding its own condition. These first kinds are separate in their faults which I said before, then they have other dangerous faults: none is indeed the kind of those republics which does not have a path, headlong and slippery, towards a certain neighboring evil one.