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But our morals are corrupted and depraved by the admiration of other men's wealth. Though what concern is its amount to any of us? Perhaps it is of use to him who owns it; not always even that: but admit that it is of use to himself, to be sure he is able to spend more, but how is he an honester man? But if he shall be a good man besides, let his riches not prevent him from getting our assistance-only let them not help him to get it, and let the entire consideration be not how wealthy, but how worthy each individual is. But the last precept about benefits and bestowing our labor is, do nothing hostile to equity-nothing in defense of injustice. For the foundation of lasting commendation and fame is justice—without which nothing can be laudable.
XXI. But since I have finished speaking about that kind of benefits which have regard to a single citizen, we have next to discourse about those which relate to all the citizens together, and which relate to the public good. But of those very ones, some are of that kind which relate to all the citizens collectively; some are such that they reach to all individually, which are likewise the more agreeable. The effort is by all means to be made, if possible, to consult for both, and notwithstanding, to consult also for them individually; but in such a manner that this may either serve, or at least should not oppose, the public interest. The grant of corn proposed by Caius Gracchus was large, and thereforo would have exhausted the treasury; that of Marcus Octavius was moderate, both able to be borne by the state, and necessary for the commons; therefore it was salutary both for tho citizens and for the nation. But it is in the first place to be considered by him who shall have the administration of the government, that each may retain his own, and that no diminution of the property of individuals be made by public authority. For Philip acted destructively, in his tribuneship, when he proposed the agrarian law, which, however, he readily suffered to be thrown out, and in that respect showed himself to be exceeding moderate; but when in courting popularity he drove at many things, he uttered this besides improperly, “ that there were not in the state two thousand persons who possessed property.” A dangerous speech, and aiming at a leveling of property—than which mischief, what can be greater ? For commonwealths and states were estab
lished principally for this cause, that men should hold what was their own. For although mankind were congregated together by the guidance of nature, yet it was with the hopo of preserving their own property that they sought the protection of cities.
Care should also be taken, lest, as often was the case among our ancestors, on account of the poverty of the treasury and the continuity of wars, it may be necessary to impose taxation, and it will be needful to provide long before that this should not happen. But if any necessity for such a burden should befall any state (for I would rather speak thus than speak ominously of our own;' nor am I discoursing about our own stato only, but about all states in general), care should be taken that all may understand that they must submit to the necessity is they wish to be safe.
And also all who govern a nation are bound to provide that there be abundance of those things which are necessaries-of which, what kind of a provision it is usual and proper to make, it is not necessary to canvass. For all that is obvious; and the topic only requires to be touched on. But the principal matter in every administration of public business and employments is, that even the least suspicion of avarice be repelled. “Would to heaven,” said Caius Pontius, the Samnite, “ that fortune had reserved me for those times, and I had been born then, whenever the Romans may havo begun to accept bribes I would not have suffered them to reign much longer.” He surely would have had to wait many generations. For it is of late that this evil has invaded this state; therefore I am well pleased that Pontius was in existence rather at that time, since so much power resided in him. It is not yet a hundred and ten years since a law about bribery was passed by Lucius Piso, when previously there had been no such law. But afterward there were so many laws, and each successive one more severe, so many persons arraigned, so many condemned, such an Italian war excited through fear of condemnations, such a rifling and robbing of our allies, those laws and judgments were sus
Plutarch relates that Æmilius Paullus, on the conquest of Persius, king of Macedonia, brought home such an immense treasure, that the Roman people were entirely relieved from taxes until the consulship of Ilirtius and Pansa, which was the year after Cicero wrote this work.
pended, that we are strong through the weakness of others, not through our own valor.
XXII. Panætius applauds Africanus because he was selfdenying. Why not applaud him? But in him there were other and greater characteristics ; the praise of self-restraint was not the praise of the man only, but also of those times. Paullus having possessed himself of the whole treasure of the Macedonians, which was most immense, brought so much wealth into the treasury, that the spoils of one commander put an end to taxes; but to his own house he brought nothing cxcept the eternal memory of his name. Africanus, imitating his father, was nothing the richer for having overthrown Carthage. What! Lucius Memmius, who was his colleague in the censorship, was he the wealthier for having utterly dcstroyed the wealthiest of cities ? Ile preferred ornamenting Italy rather than his own house-although by the adornment of Italy, his own house itself seems to me more adorned. No vice, then, is more foul (that my discourse may return to the point from whence it digressed) than avarice, especially in great men and such as administer the republic. For to make a gain of the republic is not only base, but wicked also, and abominable. Therefore, that which the Pythian Apollo delivered by his oracle, “ that Sparta would perish by nothing but its avarice,” he seems to have predicted not about the Lacedæmonians alone, but about all opulent nations. Moreover, they who preside over the state can by no way more readily conciliate the good-will of the multitude than by abstinence and self-restraint.
But they who wish to be popular, and upon that account either attempt the agrarian affair, that the owners may be driven out of their possessions, or think that borrowed money should be released to the debtors, sap the foundations of the constitution; namely, that concord, in the first place, which can not exist when money is exacted from some, and forgiven to others; and equity, in the next place, which is entirely subverted, if each be not permitted to possess his own. For, as I said before, this is the peculiar concern of a s'ate and city, that every person's custody of his own property be free and undisturbed. And in this destructivo course to the state they do not obtain even that popularity which they expect; for he whose property is taken is hostile ; le also to whom it is given disguises his willingness to accept it, and especially in lent moneys he conceals his joy that he may not appear to have been insolvent; but he, on the other hand, who receives the injury, both remembers and proclaims his indignation ; nor if there are more in number to whom it is dishonestly given than those from whom it has been unjustly taken, are they even for that cause more successful. For these matters are not determined by number, but by weight. Now, what justice is it that lands which have been pre-occupied for many years, or even ages, he who was possessed of none should get, but he who was in possession should lose ?
XXIII. And on account of this kind of injustice, tho Lacedæmonians expelled their Ephorus Lysander, and put to death their king Agis-a thing which never before had happened among them. And from that time such great dissensions ensued, that tyrants arose, and the nobles were exiled, and a constitution admirably established fell to pieces.
by the contagion of evil principles, which having sprung from the Lacedæmonians, flowed far and wide. What! was it not the agrarian contentions that destroyed our own Gracchi, sons of that most illustrious man Tiberius Gracchus, and grandsons of Africanus? But, on the contrary, Aratus, the Sicyonian, is justly commended, who, when his native city had been held for fifty years by tyrants, having set out from Argos to Sicyon, by a secret entrance got possession of the city, and when on a sudden he had overthrown the tyrant Nicocles, he restored six hundred exiles, who had been the wealthiest men of that state, and restored freedom to the state by his coming. But when he perceived a great difficulty about the goods and possessions, because he considered it most unjust both that they whom he had restored, of whose property others had been in possession, should be in want, and he did not think it very fair that possessions of fifty years should be disturbed, because that after so long an interval many of those properties were got possession of without injustice, by inheritance, many by purchase, many by marriage portions ; he judged neither that the properties ought to be taken from the latter, nor that these to whom they had belonged should be without satisfaction. When, then, he had concluded that there was need of money to arrange that matter, he said that he would go to Alexandria, and ordered the matter to be undisturbed until his return. He quickly came to his friend Ptolemy, who was then reigning, the second after the building of Alexandria, and when he had explained to him that he was desirous to liberate his country, and informed him of the case, this most eminent man readily received consent from the opulent king that he should be assisted with a large sum of money. When he had brought this to Sicyon, he took to himself for his council fifteen noblemen, with whom he took cognizance of the cases, both of those who held other persons' possessions, and of those who had lost their own; and by valuing the possessions, he so managed as to persuade some to prefer receiving the money, and yielding up the possessions ; others to think it more convenient that there should be paid down to them what was the price, rather than they should resume possession of their own. Thus it was brought about that all departed without a complaint, and concord was established. Admirable man, and worthy to have been born in our nation! Thus it is right to act with citizens, not (as we have now seen twice)' to fix up a spear in the forum, and subject the goods of the citizens to the voice of the auctioneer. But that Greek thought, as became a wise and superior man, that it was necessary to consult for all. And this is the highest reason and wisdom of a good citizen, not to make divisions in the interests of the citizens, but to govern all by the same equity. Should any dwell free of expense in another man's house? Why so? Is it that when I shall have bought, built, repaired, expended, you, without my will, should enjoy what is mine? What else is this but to take from some what is theirs; to give to some what is another man's ? But what is the meaning of an abolition of debts, unless that you should buy an estate with my money—that you should have the estate, and I should not have my money ?