also show us he was equally a man ofphilosophical temperament and affluence. Yet at times these two forces within Cicero clashand contradict with the early stoic teachings. Cicero gradually adopted the stoiclifestyle but not altogether entirely, and this is somewhat due to the fact of what it waslike to be a roman of the time. The morals of everyday Rome conflicted with some of thestoic ideals that were set by early stoicism.
Thus, Cicero changed the face of stoicism byromanizing it; redefining stoicism into the middle phase. Of Cicero it can be said he possessed a bias towards roman life and doctrine. For Cicero every answer lay within Rome itself, from the ideal governing body to the place of divination. Cicero does not offer any alternate answers to roman society, which robs him of being truly a unique and bold political philosopher. This is not to say however some of his doctrines are untrue, just that he is somewhat blinded by his roman beliefs and assumptions. The assumptions of Cicero can be noticed when one inspects his view of the ideal governing body, which he expresses through Scipio (in the commonwealth).
Although Cicero presents very convincing arguments for a Composite government, clearly his view is possibly only due towards his belief in the roman structure of government. 1Cicero was limited to roman borders of experience, and this point was best illustratedby his disagreement with Aristotle’s writings on the decay of states. Cicero wasunable to think on the level of Aristotle’s logic. He quite simply used roman historyas a mapping of the paths of the decay of states. In contrast, Aristotle understood the underlying forces and influences that transpired whena state degraded. Cicero quite frankly could not understand the forces which Aristotle soeloquently denoted.
For Cicero, history offered the only possible paths of outcomes; theforces and behaviors played little part on the resulting state. 2A further point of philosophical belief which Cicero contradicted the stoic lifestyle,is religion. Roman tradition conflicted greatly with stoic doctrine, and the twophilosophies could never truly harmonize with one another. This point brought thedistinction between the Greek learned world of intellect, and the traditional religiousroman patronage. This observation literally draws a line between the two worlds, thatof knowledge and reason opposing that of tradition and sentiment.
This illustrated thatroman was truly unable to fully accept a Greek philosophy based on knowledge andbrotherhood, and a great Roman such as Cicero was similarly unable to accept the stoicdoctrine as a whole. 3 The philosophy of stoicism originated in Greece, and was based on the order of the universe. Nature to the stoics (universe) was a precisely ordered cosmos. Stoics taught that there was an order behind all the evident confusion of the universe.
Mans purpose was to acquire order within the universe; harmonizing yourself with the universal order. Within this notion of harmonizing lies wisdom, sin resides with resisting the natural order (or nature). The stoics also tell of a rational plan in nature; our role was to live in accord with this plan. The natural order was filled with divinity, and all things possess a divine nature. This natural order was god, and thus the universe was god; the Greek and roman pathos were simply beliefs forged by superstition.
The stoics also had a great indifference towards life, in the regard that the natural plan cannot be changed. This attitude made stoic’s recluse from fame, and opposed to seeking it. One fundamental belief stoics held was in the universal community of mankind. They heldthat a political community is nothing more than its laws’ borders, since the naturallaws are universal imposed; a universal political community existed in which all menshare membership.
This interpretation is generally regarded as the early stoic stage,which had yet to experience little roman influence. Upon roman adoption, stoicism wentthrough a romanizing period; an altering of the philosophy to better integrate intoroman mainstream. The ideal state of Cicero’s;” For I hold it desirable, first, that there should be a dominant and royal element in the commonwealth; second, that some powers should begranted and assigned to the influence of the aristocracy; and third,that certain matters should be reserved to the people for decision and judgment. “4It is important to note that Cicero loses sight of the international community which Zeno,Cleanthes and Chrysippus taught. Cicero tries to link the universal community of mankindwithin the borders of roman political thought.
This composite state expressed in Scipio byCicero, is an ideal Rome of the past. The Rex, was the royal element; the senate was thearistocratic influence; The plebs and patricians became the deciding people. By giving thisblueprint of the ideal society, Cicero attempted to answer the stoic doctrine of theuniversal community of mankind. Cicero addressed the pragmantical problems faced by theuniversal community, by giving it armies, judges and powers; literally giving the communityof mankind the powers it lacked through Rome. But what makes this attempt unattainable isthe notion of Rome; Rome was a dividing agent.
Rome was the polity that divides people;early stoics understood that tradition and politics divide people. Brotherhood of man is notthe assimilation of people into Roman mainstream, but in reality the assimilation of Romeinto the universal community. Cicero does not understand the spirit in which the universalcommunity of mankind was thought. ” It is, indeed, my judgment, opinion, and conviction that of all formsof government there is none which for organizing, distribution of power,and respect for authority is to be compared with that constitution whichour fathers received from their ancestors and have bequeathed tous. .
. . . . The roman commonwealth will be the model; and to it shallapply, if I can, all that I must say about the perfect state.
“5Clearly Cicero Identifies the perfect state with Rome, he suggested that Rome was theclosest thing their was to such an aspiration. The perfect state was the expressionand embodiment of the universal community of mankind, to link Rome with the idealstate; was to link Rome with the universal community. The early stoics held that aspecific community was nothing more than its laws borders. Thus, arises the notion ofa universal community, since we are all under the natural law imposed by theuniverse.
The fundamental problem lays in that Rome could not realistically imposethe natural law. Rome could simply impose laws of convention, which it could pass asnatural law. This brought about a belief in dual citizenship; one roman, the otheruniversal. But Cicero believed that Rome was the closest manifestation of the commoncommunity of man.
A very clear bias was present, Cicero forced Roman sentiment onstoic thought; thereby changing it into something less grandiose than the stoicsmeant by universal citizenship. The accommodating of stoic philosophy into Roman society is very present in theargument of the ideal state. The accommodating brings about the validity ofimperialistic Roman virtue. The Roman expansion was part of the divine plan, to drawtogether a universal community under Roman society. At this point early stoics andRoman virtue conflicted. Roman expansion contradicted stoic indifference doctrine; thenatural plan cannot be changed.
Yet Roman expansion was rationalized by accepting thebelief that it was part of the divine plan. For stoicism to be adopted by Roman someideals had to be compromised. Cicero saw this notion of compromise more so than theidea of the early stoic view on universal citizenship. In using the composite statewhich Rome possesses traits of, Cicero tried to justify roman conquest.
” You will see the truth of what you say still more clearly when you observe the state progressing and coming to its perfect form bycourse of development natural to itself. You will conclude, infact, that the wisdom of our ancestors deserves praise even forthe many institutions which, as you will find, they adopted fromother states and made much better in our state than they had beenin the places where they originated and whence they werederived. “6Within this quotation, Rome’s stance as the “perfect form” is brought about due to Romanconquests and adoptions. This was another instance of Roman virtue being rationalized bystoic philosophy. This is a twisting of view points on stoicism, which Cicero did notnecessarily do intentionally. Cicero also has a good deal of Roman insight on the decay of states.
Stoics contendthat reason and logic should have precedence over tradition and sentiment, yetCicero goes against this somewhat. Cicero chooses tradition and Roman sentiment overlogic when discussing the decay of states. However his opinions are belittledsomewhat by Aristotle’s views on the decaying of a states constitution. A contrastof Aristotle and Cicero on constitutional decay illuminates Cicero’s acceptance oftradition.
It is important to note the major differences between Aristotle’s andCicero’s understanding of terms and powers at work. When Aristotle spoke of a statesconstitution, he referred to the well being of that state. He took the wordconstitution in a health sense; in a context of well being. In Aristotle themeaning of well being is implied because the state reflects the well being of thepeople. The constitution of states become the teachings on a day to day basis.
Thepeople become a mirror of the states well being. Cicero held the meaning ofconstitution to be in the form of a legal document. A good constitution for Cicerowas something establish by the people for the common good. 7 The forces at work in determining the courses of a deteriorating state are verydifferent between Aristotle and Cicero.
Aristotle believes in a behavioral chain ofevents, pushing a state which has a certain constitution (good or bad) into anotherconstitution (good or bad). Aristotle held that they’re are six constitutional formspossible. All likely constitutional forms have either a good or bad alignment. Furthermore, some forms can only arise after another. Finally, all constitutions canbe categorized into one, few or many citizens.
A simple chart can be made of good andbad, by one, few and many. The constitutions for the good are monarchy (one),aristocracy (few), and polity (many), oppossingly for the bad are tyranny (one),oligarchy (few), and democracy (many). The simple diagram Aristotle illustrated he had an underlying logic. For exampleAristotle holds that within a tyranny, certain forces and behaviors take place.
If atyranny exists, all the people become carbon copies of their ruler. The teachings on aday to day bases promote the values imposed by the ruler. In a sense, the populacebecome “mini-tyrants” within the society. This is due to the morals being promoted:lies, cheating, hypocrisy, obsequiousness, etc. In such a case the decay, or overthrowof a tyrannical power that has long been established does not become a polity.
Ratherthe citizens reflect their well being, and become what has been promoted; an oligarchyor democracy. Similar logic dictates that a good (well being) people who have a tyrantseizing power would be quick to overthrow him. For Aristotle the governmentalarrangements affected people day to day; essentially people mirror they’re governmentsalignment. Cicero uses a different rationale than did Aristotle, and in so doing conflictedwith early stoic doctrine.
Cicero believed that the pattern of governmentaldecomposition laid in the past. By looking within Rome’s past, Cicero hoped tounderstand the possible propelling factors which led states to behave in a certainfashion. However, Cicero did not attempt to understand the factors too deeply butrather he relied to mush on the roman historic path as a blueprint. Cicero offeredno real comprehensive logic behind his pattern of possible outcomes.
Early roman history (tradition) tells of a series of seven kings, and the last,Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, was a tyrannical rex. In the first part of Cicero’sdiagram a monarch is in place, which can only be followed by a tyrant. After LuciusTarquinius Superbus overthrow the senate and patricians played a decisive role. Therex’s position was abolished and two consuls were elected annual ridding Rome ofmonarchical and tyrannical rule. This brought Rome into the age of a republic,shortly after the senate gained powers and showed aristocratic traits.
Cicero’sdiagram almost perfectly shadowed the events described. After the seventh tyrannicalrule, there are two possible outcomes in Cicero’s diagram, either a democracy or anaristocracy. Cicero’s logic is that he knew of the senate gaining power historically,yet he also knew of the struggles in the republic between the aristocratic party andthe popular party. Cicero understood that the powers could have been gained by themasses just as easily as the aristocrats. It is noteworthy that Cicero did not takethe peoples well being as Aristotle did. For Cicero, a good aristocracy could seizepower, or rather a bad mob could seize power over the government.
Cicero did notcontend (as Aristotle did) that the populace mirrors the government. Cicero’s diagramloses more strength in its argument as it progresses. Cicero believed a democracycould then only be followed by an oligarchy or an aristocracy. The first aristocracycould only be followed by an oligarchy; At this point it is hard to comprehendCicero’s logic. Cicero, when describing his logic is not systematic or organized, andclearly his Greek counterparts were more convincing.
As a stoic Cicero held far toomuch esteem to the past and traditions of Rome, as the major part of the second bookof the commonwealth is dedicated to that notion of the roman tradition. It is easy tosee how a man such as Cicero transfused his sentiment of roman accomplishments into arationalized logic. The point on roman tradition can more carefully be examined, and reveals anotheraspect in which Cicero changed stoicism. Early stoics did not have a patronage inthe ancient roman or Greek sense, rather they believed in the universe being full ofdivine reason. Thus, the stoics adhered to the universe and divine plan as god. Mostancient Greek philosophies denied the existence of traditional gods and pathos.
Aconflict arised between the Greek world of the intellect and the Roman world oftraditional sentiment. On the subject of divinity Cicero had a dual nature to hisbeliefs. On one hand he spoke dispassionately on the inability of the gods to exist,on the other hand he made great oratories to Jupiter and the other gods who hebelieved helped and guided the state. 8 Cicero gives an example of the romansentiment on religion, which we hear through the mouth of Cotta in De Natura Derum: ” I will always defend, and always have defended, the traditional Roman religious opinions, rites and ceremonies, and nothing that anyone, learned or unlearned, says will move me from the view I have inherited from our forefathers about the worship of the immortal gods. On any question of religion I follow men who held the office of pontifex maximus, like Coruncanius, Scipio and Scaevola, not Zeno, Cleanthes or Chrysippus.
. . . I have never held that any branch of traditional Roman religion should be despised, and am persuaded that Romulus be establishing the auspices and Numa by instituting our sacred rites laid the foundation of our state.
“9It is important to note that at this point in time Rome was in crisis of religious belief. Cicero often took the stance of disclaiming Roman divination, yet as a statesman he returnsto his Roman attitudes. In De Legibus, Cicero hesitatingly shows his support for the notionof divination. ” If the gods exist, and guide the universe and care for mankind and can give us indications of future events, I see no reasonfor denying divination”10Greek though was kept in a different light in the Roman mind, apart from the day to daybeliefs and lifestyles of Rome. Rome and Cicero were unable to accept the early stoicdoctrine as a whole, especially in light of religious beliefs. Philosophy to Romans was anadopted import from outside Rome, thus not fully accepted.
This is another point whichconflicted with stoicism, it proved that politics and tradition do divide men. A distinctionis evident between Cicero’s philosophical works and his non-philosophical writings andoratories. 11 On the matter of immortality of the soul, Cicero was in accordance with Plato ratherthan early stoics. The early stoics preached that the soul and body survive, yet notwithin a sense of capacity. By this they meant the soul was together with theuniversal worldly soul; which forsook the premise of reward and punishment.
This maybe due to Cicero the man, rather than Cicero the philosopher. Cicero cannot be faulted for not relinquishing his roman traditions, after all Cicerowas also a man of the state. The attitudes of other senate members and the generalpopulace forced him to keep these sentiments. But this showed he was only slightlystoic or only sympathetic towards stoic teachings, his primary responsibility laytowards Rome; not stoicism. Due to his primary responsibility being the state, Cicero’sadoption of stoic religious view was simply not possible.
The stoic lifestyle is that of an emotion vacuum, this appealed to Cicero. In truth Cicero may have thought embracing stoicism would cure his worldly pains. Namely the loss of his daughter Tullia, whom he obviously loved very much. Equally stoicism may have given him escape during his time of exile from Rome. But early stoics had certain fundamental traits of comportment, which in some instances of his life, Cicero as a roman and a person abolished. One trait at practice was the stoics aversion to violence stoics as Cicero also shared this disgust.
In addition stoics also avoided and scorned personal glory. However Cicero had a very different demeanor towards this type of behavior. The quest for glory on a national and personal level was a widely held feature of roman disposition. It was intensely present within Cicero’s temperament, the posterity of his and his family name was an abnormally great desire. Cicero’s family name was relatively unfamiliar in Rome.
Plutarch tells of a tale which although may be untrue conveys the right idea of Cicero’s desire for glory;12″Cicero himself is said to have given a lively reply to hisfriendson one occasion. When he first entered politics, theysaid he ought to drop or change the name. He said that hewould do his best to make the name Cicero more famousthan names like Scaurus or Catulus. (Plutarch, life ofCicero I)13In a letter to his son Cicero admitted that sometimes his sentiment for glory and traditionprovided a better direction than the life of philosophy. ” One should know what philosophy teaches, but live like a gentleman. “14Cicero displayed an air of Roman vanity, which denies him of being a true early stoic.
Assuch Cicero’s aspirations are of a Roman political life, not that of a stoic good life. Cicero either consciously or accidentally, permanently changed early stoicism into itslater identity; middle stoicism. Cicero did not agree to everything stoicism taught, hesought to accept what had merit and what was true to him. At times this proved tocontradict Cicero’s ideas, he was part skeptic, part stoic and all roman.
Some ofCicero’s peers reject his seemingly over-acceptance of Greek philosophy. Yet Cicerobelieved he could strike a balance between the two worlds. By his exhortations on the composite state Cicero attempted to create a common accord between the roman state and the universal community of mankind. To say the romanization of stoicism was an abuse upon early stoicism is a inaccurate assumption. Cicero made the survival of stoicism possible by rendering it more appeasing to roman society. At the same instance Cicero was trying to answer the early pragmatic problem facing such stoic topics as the universal community of mankind.
Although he may not have been true to the stoic ideal (spirit of), Cicero made a genuine effort to answer the philosophical dilemmas present in stoicism. It is unfortunate that Cicero’s historic bias deprived him from being place on the samefooting as Aristotle. Cicero’s viewed the decay of states to be nothing more than areoccurrence of history, but he did seem to understand too well the powers at work. However Cicero did not see past the roman republic of the day. The aspect of stoicism that Cicero cannot accept, is religion.
Perhaps because of his daughter’s death, the inner pain he must have felt to believe she was too much to bear, as such, this influenced his position. This must have made him decide that the stoic belief in this instance to be unacceptable. Cicero the statesman knew that disbelief in roman religion and tradition was an unwisecourse of action. Tradition and the gods gave Rome its strength, intelligence andresolve. To discredit the gods was to discredit Roman society; something Cicero wouldnever do.
But this drew a line into how far Cicero would have believed in stoicism;Cicero would believe in stoicism so long as it did not weaken Rome’s strength andintegrity. For Cicero, stoicism was something to be admired, read, and used. But stoicism wasstill a Greek philosophy, something the roman heart could never truly digest verywell. This may have been Cicero’s attitude to a certain extent; however it certainlywas the belief of his contemporaries. Evidence exists that Cicero did not follow stoic lifestyle in his day to day ambitions.
His glory seeking made him less respectful as a philosopher, a damage inflicted byRoman sentiment. Cicero took beliefs, attitudes, doctrines and logic to form his own inner philosophical temperament. Regarded as stoic because he sympathized with that philosophy, Cicero modified earl stoicism to form a hybrid with roman tradition. By adding tradition, patriotism, and roman virtue, Cicero reshaped the landscape of stoa’s philosophy. In essence Cicero was a Roman philosopher.
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