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The Republic and The Laws (Oxford World's Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Cicero , Jonathan Powell , Niall Rudd
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

`However one defines Man, the same definition applies to us all. This is sufficient proof that there is no essential difference within mankind.' (Laws l.29-30)

Cicero's The Republic is an impassioned plea for responsible governement written just before the civil war that ended the Roman Republic in a dialogue following Plato. Drawing on Greek political theory, the work embodies the mature reflections of a Roman ex-consul on the nature of political organization, on justice in society, and on the qualities needed in a statesman. Its sequel, The Laws, expounds the influential doctrine of Natural Law, which applies to all mankind, and
sets out an ideal code for a reformed Roman Republic, already half in the realm of utopia.

This is the first complete English translation of both works for over sixty years and features a lucid Introduction, a Table of Dates, notes on the Roman constitution, and an Index of Names.

Editorial Reviews


`In his translation G. achieves a consistent vitality both in narrative... and in argument.' Michael Coffey, The Classical Review Vol.XLIX No.2

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin

Product Details

  • File Size: 1581 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (April 2, 1998)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006RQ11JU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,533 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Statesman's Handbook" February 1, 2004
Niall Rudd's edition of Cicero's two works The Republic and The Laws is the ideal handbook for the aspiring statesman; the accomplished politician should also be referred to use these two dialogues as a sort of political guide to draw from. In these two texts, the reader will find Cicero in all his eloquence artfully dicating the principles of what it means to be a good man and what it takes to create and consolidate states. This book will leave a lasting impression upon anyone who pans through the pages of these two very important works of the great Marcus Tullius Cicero. Also found here are the always insightful explanatory notes contained in the excellent series of Oxford World Classics; and the concise, scholarly introductions will without a doubt throw significant light upon the principles addressed throughout these timeless texts.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good translation of important works October 27, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this translation and found it to be quite accessible. The two works go together to discuss the ideal state through a reasonably sophisticated approach though one which is quite trapped by views of Roman superiority. After all, Cicero begins by extolling the virtues of patriotism so we shouldn't be surprised if his ideal state looks exactly like his own state.

However, the approach taken by Cicero is rather interesting. Rather than emphasizing a specific structure, he seems to emphasize ongoing synthesis of elements of different structures, emphasizing the importance of what might later be thought to be a "social contract theory of government." Often I think in many areas of political discourse returning to this basic level would be helpful even in our modern age.

The second work builds upon this by offering a system of laws for the ideal republic. This helps to clarify Cicero's thinking a great deal by offering more concrete examples of how the Republic should be formed.

The introduction and end notes add a great deal to this edition. Anyone interested in theory of government, Roman studies, or Cicero in general, should read this book. Highly recommended.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different view of the ideal state February 4, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
From Plato's Republic or before, people have written their ideas of what the ideal state would look like, and especially how it would be governed. Cicero, a citizen of classical Rome adds his thoughts in the first half of this volume. To him, the philosophically ideal state would be very much like Rome itself.

Cicero establishes early on (p.16) that, regarding the marvels of the physical world, "that kind of knowledge will not make us better or happier people." Only statecraft is worthy of serious study. That ideal state would be populated by "We Romans, paragons of justice as we are" (p.63-64), who forbid many industries in their outlying states "in order to enhance the value of our own products." He reinforces this idea of the predatory state by saying "No state is so stupid as not to prefer wicked domination to virtuous subjection" (p.67), as if domination and subjection are the only two roles that states may hold with respect to each other.

Cicero presents his thoughts in the form of Platonic dialogs, but without the clear direction of Plato's works. Instead, these little plays express Cicero's unfailingly high opinion of himself and of Rome, dismissing all others (both people and states) as unworthy of interest. His "Lasw" follow the same pattern, exploring the ideal by reciting the rules that Rome had in place, with only minor revisions.

Mixed in with his smug sense of superiority regarding self and state, Cicero makes a few points of interest. He compares monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy as forms of government. He notes that each has flaws, and each holds the seeds of its own collapse. Instead of any one, Cicero proposes an ideal government - i.e., Rome's own - that combines all three.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent translation November 1, 2012
Cicero's dialogue The Republic was written just before the civil war that ended the Roman Republic. Drawing on Greek political theory, it embodied the mature reflections of a Roman ex-consul on the nature of political organization, on justice in society, and on the qualities needed in a statesman. Its sequel, The Laws, expounded the influential doctrine of Natural Law, which applies to all mankind, setting out an ideal code for a reformed Roman Republic. Throughout both of these works Cicero shared his concern for the failing political and philosophical systems of the Roman Republic.

Niall Rudd's introduction and overview of Cicero's The Republic and The Laws was extremely helpful. Rudd gave necessary background information for these two works, along with Cicero's main themes. I enjoyed reading The Republic more than The Laws simply because Cicero discussed his reasons for fall of the Republic. I agreed with Cicero's arguments concerning Rome's faulty political system, but I was still surprised to find so many of his predictions came true when the Roman Empire itself fell.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I really enjoyed Cicero's writing and insight into politics and government, but too much of Cicero's Republic is missing to make it a compelling read. What parts do exist are reminiscent of Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics, and Polybius's Histories and Cicero certainly built upon those sources. It is interesting to read what this great man who fought against Cataline, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Octavian/Octavius/Augustus has to say on the topic. I certainly recommend Cicero's Republic to anybody interested in Roman history or the history of political thought. However, to the more casual reader or those more generally interested in political thought, there is little benefit to reading this book if you already read or plan to read Plato, Aristotle, and Polybius. If we had all of Cicero's Republic, I'd likely be giving it four or five stars, but it deserves only two or three stars as it exists to us today.

Turning to the second half of the book, The Laws, which appears to be more complete and thus easier to read and review, Cicero argues that laws come from nature, not men. Cicero explains, "Law was not thought up by the intelligence of human beings, not is it some kind of resolution passed by communities, but rather an eternal force which rules the world by the wisdom of its commands and prohibitions... That original and final law is the intelligence of God, who ordains or forbids everything by reason." In this respect, I found sections of Cicero's The Laws to be quite similar to Frederic Bastiat's The Law.

Cicero explains that the Latin word for law, lex, comes from the word for choosing, lego. [Pages 103 and 125. But there is much uncertainty whether this is the actual etymology of the word law.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy with purchase and vendor
Item as described,arrived quickly. Happy with purchase and vendor.
Published 16 days ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for the Well Rounded Citizen
Oxford World Classics always has great translations, clear print and are easily readable. Cicero, the great roman senator, writes a compelling piece on a citizen's duty to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by D. Price
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
the book arrived in good condition
Published 1 month ago by Stephen M. Keating
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
so far so good and a needful read for fans of classic authors
Published 4 months ago by areader
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good edition and translation of these works
Oxford World Classics has produced a fine edition and translation of Cicero's "On the Republic" and "On the Laws. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Douglas H. Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book at a good price
Cicero is fantastic. He is a clear example of all those things which are good, true, beautiful, and common to all mankind - his writings are exemplary of the best sort of stateman.
Published 20 months ago by Bill
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
It was a little bit frustrating to read because of the missing sections from the translation of the palimpsest. You follow a train of thought only to have it disappear. Read more
Published on March 19, 2013 by M. Lee
3.0 out of 5 stars A Required Reading Book for Poli Sci
This book was from a required readinglist for an undergraduate political science course. Don't have a review for the content yet.
Published on January 21, 2013 by lkwennv
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I needed!
The Republic and The Laws for Kindle was exactly what I needed while writing my Western Civ paper! No need to carry around texts... I had all I needed on my Kindle!
Published on January 19, 2013 by Sheila
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor formatting
Formatting for the Kindle (at least mine - the older keyboard version) is poor. The text is interpreted as being in a table, making navigation around the page sometimes quite... Read more
Published on December 11, 2012 by Frederick J. Woods
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