Cicero, de re publica I.49
“Since law constitutes the bond of civil society, and the authority of the law is equal, how can the society of citizens be maintained when their condition is not equal? If it be not pleasing to place their wealth on equal footing, and if everyone is endowed with unequal abilities, certainly all of those who are citizens of the same republic ought to have equal rights. For, what is the state but the shared rights of its citizens?”
quare cum lex sit civilis societatis vinculum, ius autem legis aequale, quo iure societas civium teneri potest, cum par non sit condicio civium? si enim pecunias aequari non placet, si ingenia omnium paria esse non possunt, iura certe paria debent esse eorum inter se qui sunt cives in eadem re publica. quid est enim civitas nisi iuris societas civium?
3 thoughts on “Cicero: Equal Rights for All Citizens”
Great catch. I find myself suddenly more generous to Cicero.
This week totally re-framed my understanding of Cicero. He started his career in defiance of Sulla, thwarted Catiline’s conspiracy, and was then forced to hedge some dangerous bets in the civil wars between Pompey/Caesar and Antony/Octavian. He was a slippery lawyer, to be sure, yet he also spent most of his life trying to pick up the crumbs of the political power which had been violently seized by competing would-be autocrats, only to die at the instigation of the most unstable of them.