previous next


There have always in this city been two kinds of men who have been ambitious of being concerned in affairs of state, and of arriving at distinction by such a course and of these two kinds one wish to be considered popular men and the others wish both to be and to be considered of the party of the best men in the state. Those whose object it was that whatever they did and whatever they said should be agreeable to the multitude, were the popular party; but those who conducted themselves in such a way as to induce all the best men to approve of their counsels were considered of the best party.1 [97]

Who then are they? Every good man. If you ask what are their numbers, they are innumerable. For if they were not, we could not stand. They are the chief men of the public council; they are those who follow their school they are the men of the highest orders of the state to whom the senate house is open; they are the citizens of the municipal towns and Roman citizens who dwell in the country; they are men engaged in business; there are even some freedmen of the best party. The number, as I have said, of this party is widely scattered in various directions; but the entire body (to prevent all mistakes) can be described and defined in a few words. All men belong to the best party, who are not guilty of any crime, nor wicked by nature, nor madmen, nor men embarrassed by domestic difficulties. Let it be laid down, then, that these men (this race, as you call them) are all those who are honest and in their senses, and who are well off in their domestic circumstances. Those who are guided by their wishes, who consult their interests and opinions in the management of the republic, are the partisans of the best men, and are themselves accounted best men, most wise and most illustrious citizens, and chief men in the state.

[98] What then, is the object proposed to themselves by these directors of the republic, which they are bound to keep their eyes fixed upon, and towards which they ought to direct their course? That which is most excellent and most desirable to all men in their senses, and to all good and happy men,—ease conjoined with duty. Those who seek this are all best men; those who effect it are considered the chief leaders in and the preservers of their states. For men ought not to be so elated by the dignity of the affairs which they have undertaken to manage, as to have no regard to their ease; nor ought they to dwell with fondness on any sort of ease which is inconsistent with dignity.

1 It is quite impossible to give Cicero's meaning here in any translation. The Latin word he uses is optimates, which when spoken generally means the nobles and the aristocratic party but all through this passage he connects it with optimus, best most virtuous.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Albert Clark, 1909)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: