Marcus Tullius Cicero


As witness to the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Empire, Cicero (106–43 BC) protested against the rise of the Caesars and called for a return to republican principles. As a leader of the Senate, he opposed the intrigues of of Marc Anthony and was executed. A gifted writer, Cicero's defense of the republic, under the guidance of the laws of nature, is among the most memorable in all of literature.

On the Nature of the Gods

Playing the role of a Stoic philosopher, Cicero describes nature as a teleological system, under the direction of the gods, who are aware of all that happens in the world and so govern as the Divine Providence.

Observations on the Republic

We enter into government because we are social by nature. The mixed form, which combines monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, is the most stable and affords the people the greatest degree of justice.

The Source of Justice in Nature

Nature, which is under the direction of the Divine Providence, precedes government. The whole human race therefore lives under one law, which is established by God, and made evident to reason in nature.

The Role of Law under Government

Corrupt laws conflict with nature and so cannot command our assent. The written law exists for the sake of the people. The gods observe all that we do, judge our conduct, and serve as witnesses to public oaths.