In their discussion of justice in Book III of Cicero’s “On the Commonwealth” Philus, Laelius and Scipio repeat some of the argument about justice that Plato and Socrates develop in the Republic.
Compare and contrast discussions of justice in these two texts. In what ways is Philus’ argument similar to those made by Thrasymachus and Glaucon in Books I and II of the Republic? Is Scipio’s argument reminiscent of any made in the Republic? How would Aristotle via his Politics have assessed this discussion of justice in Rome?
- In his introduction to Cicero’s On the Commonwealth George Sabine suggests [p. 63] that “While other writers on political theory, such as Plato, had described the ideal state in general, Cicero illustrates the nature of the perfect commonwealth by the description of a real state,” a state, moreover, that had progressed by a natural course from its humble beginnings under the kings to its perfection in the years preceding the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus.
How would Plato and Aristotle have responded to Cicero’s “real state”? Cite specific texts and arguments in each case
from the Gorgias, the Republic and the Politics as well as Cicero’s On the Commonwealth.