De re publica, commonly known as On the Commonwealth, is a compilation of six books written by Marcus Tullius Cicero between the years 54 and 51 BC. Revealing his perspective on many matters of the state, his style may be familiar to those who are readers of the ancient philosophers since it takes the form of a Socratic dialogue.
Scipio Aemilianus, a wise old man, is the main converser. Every two books covers one complete day of conversation amongst himself and various other characters – from legal scholars to military leaders – on his estate. Though many portions of the books have not survived the ages, this work’s continuous fame speaks to its timeless wisdom for any human mind seeking to understand the profound relationship between man, society, and state. Cicero’s characters oppose, antagonize, and build upon each other’s ideas as they explore topics like the complexities of history, education, constitutions, and the qualities of the ideal citizen. We leave you with this quote from Book 1:
This excessive liberty soon brings the people, collectively and individually, to an excessive servitude. (In Latin: Nimiaque illa libertas et populis et privatis in nimiam servitutem cadit)