A Commentary on Cicero, De legibus

Andrew R. Dyck, A Commentary on Cicero, De legibus. Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2004.



–  De Legibus has been one of Cicero’s most neglected works; this new commentary provides a detailed interpretation and places the essay in the context of the politics and philosophical thought of its time.

Just as Plato drafted a vision of an ideal state in his Republic and followed that up with detailed provisions in his Laws, so Cicero, after writing Republic, wanted to provide legislation for his ideal state and thus wrote the Laws as a sequel. But whereas Cicero’s Republic was set shortly before the death of its main speaker, Scipio Africanus, in 129 B.C., Cicero set his Laws in his own lifetime, enabling him to comment on current political trends. The unique value of the Laws of Cicero is that it is a work written at the end of the Roman republic that gives Cicero’s own diagnosis of the ills that plagued the Roman state and what might be done to cure them.

Andrew R. Dyck’s full commentary on this work is the first to appear in English or any other language for over a century. Whereas previous commentaries focused primarily on grammar and textual criticism, this one, while not neglecting those areas, insightfully relates the text to the trends, political, philosophical, and religious, of Cicero’s times; identifies the influences on Cicero’s thinking; and analyzes the relation of this theoretical treatise to his other utterances, public and private, of the time.


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