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Justice, the great leveller

“Men of high moral character were made kings in order that the people might enjoy justice. For, as the masses in their helplessness were oppressed by the strong, they appealed for protection to some one man who was conspicuous for his virtue; and, as he shielded the weaker classes from wrong, he managed by establishing equitable conditions to hold the higher and the lower classes in an equality of right. The reason for making constitutional laws was the same as that for making kings. For what people have always sought is equality of rights before the law. For rights that were not open to all alike would be no rights. If the people secured their end at the hands of one just and good man, they were satisfied with that; but when such was not their good fortune, laws were invented, to speak to all men at all times in one and the same voice. This, then, is obvious: nations used to select for their rulers those men whose reputation for justice was high in the eyes of the people. If in addition they were also thought wise, there was nothing that men did not think they could secure under such leadership. Justice is, therefore, in every way to be cultivated and maintained.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis (trans. Miller)

Published inCiceroPolitics & LawThe Ancients

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