Cicero's de Legibus

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Cicero's De Legibus
Cicero's De Legibus attempts to answer the very nature of law and justice, and the workings behind such universal ideals. With this assumption of universality, many compelling arguments are presented towards the inherent doings of man. Undoubtedly influenced by previous Greek philosophers, Cicero followed in the traditions of great minds, such as Aristotle, but concluded against the overall consensus that there was an inherent inferiority amongst men. Cicero's early concepts of equality established a set of ideals that would greatly influence western society to come.

For the duration of this essay the attention will focus on Book One of De Legibus, and will further analyze Cicero’s overlaying conclusion that man is born with the notion of, and desire for justice. This concept of justice is observed by means of direct observation of man’s fellowship and union. As a result of those observations, Cicero concluded that “Law is not a product of human thought, nor is it any enactment of peoples, but something eternal which rules the whole universe by its wisdom in command and prohibition.” (230). By deemphasizing human involvement, Cicero romanticized man’s desire for justice by relegating the idea to the existence of a celestial brotherhood.

With recognition of divine intervention, questions regarding the will of the gods inevitably arose, and suggested that reason amongst the gods does exist, and it is the deciding factor of human livelihood. Inevitably, this concept influence later movements such as Calvinism. John Calvin often quoted Cicero in his writings, and in describing his views on law he states that, “Next to the magistracy in the civil state comes the laws, stoutest sinews of the commonwealth, or as Cicero calls them, the souls, without which the magistracy cannot stand, even as they themselves cannot without the magistracy. Accordingly, nothing truer could be said that that the law is a silent magistrate; the magistrate, a living...
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