2 1 “Be not surprised, Caesar, if I shall try to turn your thoughts away from monarchy, even though I should derive many advantages from it, all if it was you who held the position. For if it were to be profitable to you also, I should advocate it most earnestly; 2 but since the privileges of a monarchy are by no means the same for the rulers as for their friends, but, on the contrary, jealousies and dangers fall to the lot of the rulers while their friends reap, without incurring either jealousies or dangers, all the benefits they can wish for, I have thought it right, in this question as in all others, to have regard, not for my own interests, but for yours and the state’s. 3 “Let us consider, now, at our leisure all the characteristics of this system of government and then shape our course in whichever direction our reasoning may lead us.
4 For surely no one will assert that we are obliged to choose monarchy in any and all circumstances, even if it be not profitable. If we choose it, people will think that we have fallen victims to our own good fortune and have been bereft of our senses by our successes, or else that we have been aiming at sovereignty all the while, making of our appeals to your father and of our devotion to his memory a mere pretext and using the people and the senate as a cloak, with the purpose, not of freeing these latter from those who plotted against them, but of making them slaves to ourselves. 5 And either explanation involves censure for us. For who could help being indignant when he finds that we have said one thing and then discovers that we have meant another? Would he not hate us much more now than if we had at the outset laid bare our desires and set out directly for the monarchy? 6 To be sure, men have come to believe that it somehow is an attribute of human nature, however selfish that may seem, to resort to deeds of violence; for every one who excels in any respect thinks it right that he should have more than his inferior, and if he meets with any success, he ascribes his success to the force of his own intelligence, whereas if he fails, he lays the blame for his failure upon the influence of the divine will. 7 But, on the other hand, the man who, in following such a course, resorts to plotting and villainy, is, in the first place, held to be crafty and crooked, malicious, and depraved, — an opinion which I know you would not allow anyone to express or to entertain about you, even if you might rule the whole world by such practices; and, in the second place, if he succeeds, men think that the advantage he has gained is unjust, or if he fails, that his discomfiture is merited.
3 1 This being the case, men would reproach us quite as much if we should now, after the event, begin to covet that advantage, even though we harboured no such intention at the outset. For surely it is much worse for men to let circumstances get the better of them and not only to fail to hold themselves in check but to abuse the gifts of Fortune, than to wrong others in consequence of failure. 2 For men who have failed are often compelled by their very misfortunes to commit wrongs even against their will in order to meet the demands of their own interests, whereas the others voluntarily abandon their self-control even when it is unprofitable to do so. And when men have no straightforwardness in their souls, and are incapable of moderation in dealing with the blessings bestowed upon them, how could one expect them either to rule well over others or to conduct themselves properly in adversity? 3 In the conviction, therefore, that we are guilty of neither of these shortcomings, and that we have no desire to act irrationally, but that we shall choose whatever course shall appear to us after deliberation to be best, let us proceed to make our decision accordingly. I shall speak quite frankly, for I could not, for my part, speak otherwise, and I know you too well to think that you like to listen to falsehood mingled with flattery.
4 1 “Equality before the law has an auspicious name and is most just in its workings. For in the case of men who are endowed with the same nature, are of the same race with one another, have been brought up under the same institutions, have been trained in laws that are alike, 2 and yield in an equal degree the service of their bodies and of their minds to their country, is it not just that they should have an equal share in all other things also, and is it not best that they should secure no distinctions except as the result of excellence? 3 For equality of birth demands equality of privilege, and if it attains this object, it is glad, but if it fails, it is displeased. And the human race everywhere, sprung as it is from the gods and destined to return to the gods, gazes upward and is not content to be ruled forever by the same person, 4 nor will it endure to share in the toils, the dangers, and the expenditures and yet be deprived of partnership in the better things. Or, if it is forced to submit to anything of the sort, it hates the power which has applied coercion, and if it obtains an opportunity, takes vengeance upon what it hates. 5 All men, of course, claim the right to rule, and for this reason submit to being ruled in turn; they are unwilling to have others overreach them, and therefore are not obliged, on their part, to overreach others. They are pleased with the honours bestowed upon them by their equals, and approve of the penalties inflicted upon them by the laws. 6 Now if they live under this kind of polity and regard the blessings and also the opposite as belonging to all alike, they not only wish no harm to befall any one of the citizens, but devoutly hope that nothing but prosperity will fall to the lot of each and all. 7 And if one of them possesses any excellence himself, he readily makes it known, practises it enthusiastically, and exhibits it most joyfully; or if he sees it in another, he readily brings it to the light, eagerly takes part in increasing it, and bestows the most splendid honours upon it. 8 On the other hand, if any one shows himself base, everybody hates him, and if any one meets with misfortune, everybody pities him; for each person regards the loss and the disgrace that arise therefrom as shared in by the whole state.
5 1 “This is the character of democracies. Under tyrannies exactly the opposite conditions are found. But why go into all the details at length? The chief thing is that no one is willing to be thought to have any superior knowledge or possession, because the dominant power generally becomes wholly hostile to him on account of such superiority; 2 on the contrary, every one makes the tyrant’s character his own standard of life and pursues whatever objects he may hope to gain through him by overreaching others without personal risk. Consequently, the majority of the people are devoted only to their own interests and hate all their neighbors, regarding the others’ successes as their own losses and the others’ misfortunes as their own gains.
3 “Such being the state of the case, I do not see what motive could reasonably induce you to desire to become sole ruler. For that system, besides being difficult to apply to democracies, would be vastly more difficult still for you yourself to put into effect. Or do you not see how the city and its affairs are even now in a state of turmoil? 4 It is difficult, also, to overthrow our populace, which has lived for so many years in freedom, and difficult, when so many enemies beset us round about, to reduce again to slavery the allies and subject nations, some of which have had a democratic government from of old, while others of them have been set free by us ourselves.
6 1 “To begin first with the least important consideration, it will be necessary that you procure a large supply of money from all sides; for it is impossible that our present revenues should suffice for the support of the troops, not to speak of the other expenses. Now this need of funds, to be sure, exists in democracies also, since it is not possible for any government to continue without expense. 2 But in democracies many citizens make large contributions, preferably of their own free will, in addition to what is required of them, making it a matter of patriotic emulation and securing appropriate honours in return for their liberality; or, if perchance compulsory levies are also made upon the whole body of citizens, they submit to it both because it is done with their own consent and because the contributions they make are in their own interests. 3 In monarchical governments, on the other hand, the citizens all think that the ruling power alone, to which they credit boundless wealth, should bear the expense; for they are very ready to search out the ruler’s sources of income, but not reckon his expenses so carefully; and so they make no contributions from their private means gladly or of their own free will, nor are the public levies they make voted of their own free choice.
4 As for the voluntary contributions, no citizen would feel free to make one, any more than he would readily admit that he was rich, and it is not to the advantage of the ruler that he should, for immediately he would acquire a reputation for patriotism among the masses, become conceited, and incite a rebellion. On the other hand, a general levy weighs heavily upon the masses, the more so because they suffer the loss while the others reap the gain. 5 Now in democracies those who contribute the money as a general rule also serve in the army, so that in a way they get their money back again; but in monarchies one set of people usually engages in agriculture, manufacturing, commerce, and politics, — and these are the classes from which the state’s receipts are chiefly derived, — and a different set is under arms and draws pay.
7 1 “This single circumstance, then, which is as I have described it, will cause you trouble. But here is another. It is by all means essential that whoever from time to time commits a crime should pay some penalty. For the majority of men are not brought to reason by admonition or by example, but it is absolutely necessary to punish them by disfranchisement, by exile, or by death; and such punishments are often administered in an empire as large as this is and in a population as great as ours, especially during a change of government. 2 Now if you appointed other men to judge these wrongdoers, they would vie with each other in acquitting the accused, and particularly all whom you might be thought to hate; for judges, you know, gain an appearance of authority when they act in any way contrary to the wish of the ruler. 3 And if an occasional criminal is in fact convicted, it will be thought that he has been condemned deliberately, in order to please you. But if, on the other hand, you sit in judgment yourself, you will be obliged to punish many also of your peers — an unfortunate situation — and you will certainly be thought to be calling some of them to account through resentment rather than through a sense of justice. 4 For no one believes that those who have the power to use compulsion are acting honestly when they give judgment, but all men think they are led by a sense of shame to spread out before the truth a mere semblance and illusive picture of a constitutional government, and under the legal name of a court of justice are but satisfying their own desires. This, then, is what happens in monarchies. 5 In democracies, on the other hand, when any one is accused of committing a private wrong, he is made defendant in a private suit before a jury of his equals; or, if he is accused of a public crime, in his case also a jury of his peers, men whom the lot shall designate, sits in judgment. It is therefore easier for men to bear the decisions which proceed from such juries, since they think that any penalty dealt out to them has been inflicted neither by a judge’s power nor as a favour which a judge has been forced to grant.
8 1 “Then again, apart from those who are guilty of wrongdoing, there are many men who pride themselves, some on their birth, others on their wealth, and still others on something else, who, though in general not bad men, are yet by nature opposed to the principle of monarchy. If a ruler allows these men to become strong, he cannot live in safety, and if, on the other hand, he undertakes to impose a check on them, he cannot do so justly. 2 What, then, will you do with them? How will you deal with them? If you root out their families, diminish their wealth, and humble their pride, you will not have the good-will of your subjects. How could you have it, if no one is permitted to be born to noble rank, or to grow rich honestly, or to become strong or brave or intelligent? 3 Yet if you allow these various classes to grow strong, you will not be able to deal with them easily. True, if you alone were equal to carrying on the business of the state and the business of warfare successfully and in a manner to meet the demands of each situation, and needed no assistant for any of these matters, it would be a different matter. 4 As the case stands, however, since you would be governing this vast world, it would be quite essential for you to have many helpers; and of course they ought all to be both brave and high-spirited. Now if you hand over the legions and the offices to men of such parts, there will be danger that both you and your government will be overthrown. 5 For it is not possible either for a man of any real worth to be naturally lacking in spirit, or on the other hand for a man sprung from a servile sphere of life to acquire a proud spirit; nor again, if he proves himself a man of spirit, can he fail to desire liberty and hate all mastery. 6 If, on the other hand, you entrust nothing to these men, but put affairs in charge of common men of indifferent origin, you will very soon incur the resentment of the first class, who will think themselves distrusted, and you will very soon fail in the greatest enterprises. 7 For what good thing could an ignorant or low-born person accomplish? Who of our enemies would not hold him in contempt? Who of our allies would obey him? Who even of the soldiers would not disdain to be ruled by such a man? And yet I need not explain to you all the evils that naturally result from such a condition, for you know them thoroughly; 8 but this one thing I shall say, as I am constrained to do — that if a minister of this kind failed in every duty, he would injure you far more than the enemy, while if he met with any success in the conduct of his office, his lack of education would cause him to lose his head and he as well would prove formidable to you.
9 1 “Such a situation, however, does not arise in democracies, but the more men there are who are wealthy and brave, so much the more do they vie with each other and upbuild the state, and the state, on its part, rejoices in them, unless one of them conceives a desire for tyrannical power; for the citizens severely punish such an one. 2 That this is so, now, and that democracies are far superior to monarchies, is shown by the experience of Greece. For as long as the people had the monarchical form of government, they accomplished nothing of importance; but when they began to live under the democratic system they became most renowned. 3 It is shown also by the experience of the other races of mankind. For those which still live under tyrannies are always in slavery and are always plotting again their rulers, whereas those which have governors chosen for a year or a longer period continue to be both free and independent. 4 But why should we resort to examples furnished by other peoples when we have examples here at home? We Romans ourselves at first had a different form of government, then later, after we had gone through many bitter experiences, conceived a desire for liberty; and when we had secured it, 5 we advanced to our present proud eminence, strong in no advantages save those that come from democracy. It was on the strength of these that the senate deliberated, the people ratified, the soldiers in the ranks were filled with zeal and their commanders with ambition. None of these things could happen under a tyranny. At any rate the ancient Romans came to feel so great a hatred of tyranny for these reasons that they even laid that form of government under a curse.
10 1 “And apart from these considerations, if one is to speak above matters which touch your personal interests, how could you endure to administer affairs so manifold, not only by day but also by night? How could you hold out if your health should fail? What human blessings could you enjoy, and how could you be happy if deprived of them? In what could you take genuine pleasure, and when would you be free from the keenest pain? 2 For it is quite inevitable that a man who holds an office of this kind should have many anxieties, be subject to many fears, and have very little enjoyment of what is most pleasant, but should always and everywhere both see and hear, do and suffer, only that which is disagreeable. That, I imagine, is the reason why, in certain instances, among both Greeks and barbarians, men have refused to accept the office of king when it was offered to them.
3 “Therefore I would have you foresee all these disadvantages and take counsel before you become involved in them. For it is disgraceful, or rather it is quite impossible, for a man to withdraw when once he has entered upon the position. And do not be deceived, either, by the greatness of its authority or the abundance of its possessions, or by its array of bodyguards, or by its throng of courtiers. 4 For men who have much power have many troubles; those who have large possessions are obliged to spend largely; the multitude of bodyguards is gathered merely because of the multitude of conspirators; and as for the flatterers, they would be more likely to destroy you than to save you. Consequently, in view of these considerations, no sensible man would desire to become supreme ruler. 11 1 But if the thought that men in such a station are able to enrich others, to save their lives, and to confer many other benefits upon them — yes, by heaven, and even to insult them and to do harm to whomsoever they please — leads anyone to think that tyranny is worth striving for, he is utterly mistaken. 2 I need not, indeed, tell you that the life of wantonness and evil-doing is disgraceful or that it is fraught with peril and is hated of both gods and men; for in any event you are not inclined to such things, and you would not be led by these considerations to choose to be sole ruler. And besides, I have chosen to speak now, not of all the mischief one might work who managed the task badly, but only of what even those who make the very best use of the position are obliged both to do and to suffer. 3 But as to the other consideration, — that thus one is in a position to bestow favours in profusion, — this is indeed a privilege worth striving for; yet however noble, august, glorious, and safe it is when enjoyed by a private citizen, in a king’s position it does not, in the first place, counterbalance the other considerations of a less agreeable nature, so that a man should be induced for the sake of gaining this advantage to accept those disadvantages also, especially when the sovereign is bound to bestow upon others the benefit to be derived from this advantage and to have for himself alone the unpleasantness that results from the disadvantages. 12 1 In the second place, this advantage is not without complications, as people think; for a ruler cannot possibly satisfy all who ask for favours. Those, namely, who think they ought to receive some gift from the sovereign are practically all mankind, even though no favour is due to them at the moment; 2 for every one naturally thinks well of himself and wishes to enjoy some benefit at the hands of him who is able to bestow it. But the benefits which can be given to them, — I mean titles and offices and sometimes money, — will be found very easy to count when compared with the vast number of the applicants. This being so, greater hostility will inevitably be felt toward the monarch by those who fail to get what they want, than friendliness by those who but their desires. 3 For the latter take what they receive as due them and think there is no particular reason for being grateful to the giver, since they are getting no more than they expected; besides, they actually shrink from showing gratitude for fear they may thereby give evidence of their being unworthy of the kindness done them. 4 The others, when they are disappointed in their hopes, are aggrieved for two reasons: in the first place, they feel that they are being robbed of what belongs to them, for invariably men think they already possess whatever they set their hearts upon; and, in the second place, they feel that, if they are not indignant at their failure to obtain whatever they expect to get, they are actually acknowledging some shortcoming on their own part. 5 The reason for all this is, of course, that the ruler who bestows such gifts in the right way obviously makes it his first business to weigh well the merits of each person, and thus he honours some and passes others by, with the result that, in consequence of his decision, those who are honoured have a further reason for elation, while those who are passed by feel a new resentment, each class being moved by their own consciousness of their respective merits. 6 If, however, a ruler tries to avoid this result and decides to award these honours capriciously, he will fail utterly. For the base, finding themselves honoured contrary to their deserts, would become worse, concluding that they were either being actually commended as good or at any rate were being courted as formidable; and the upright, seeing that they were securing no greater consideration than the base but were being regarded as being merely on an equality with them, 7 would be more vexed at being reduced to the level of the others than pleased at being thought worthy of some honour themselves, and consequently would abandon their cultivation of the higher principles of conduct and become zealous in the pursuit of the baser. And thus the result even of the distribution of honours would be this: those who bestowed them would reap no benefit from them and those who received them would become demoralized. Hence this advantage, which some would find the most attractive in monarchies, proves in your case a most difficult problem to deal with.
13 1 “Reflecting upon these considerations and the others which I mentioned a little while ago, be prudent while you may and duly place in the hands of the people the army, the provinces, the offices, and the public funds. If you do it at once and voluntarily, you will be the most famous of men and the most secure; but if you wait for some compulsion to be brought to bear upon you, you will very likely suffer some disaster and gain infamy besides. 2 Consider the testimony of history: Marius and Sulla and Metellus, and Pompey at first, when they got control of affairs, not only refused to assume sovereign power but also escaped disaster thereby; whereas Cinna and Strabo, the younger Marius and Sertorius, and Pompey himself at a later time, conceived a desire for sovereign power and perished miserably. 3 For it is a difficult matter to induce this city, which has enjoyed a democratic government for so many years and holds empire over so many people, to consent to become a slave to any one. You have heard how the people banished Camillus just because he used white horses for his triumph; 4 you have heard how they deposed Scipio from power, first condemning him for some act of arrogance; and you remember how they proceeded against your father just because they conceived a suspicion that he desired to be sole ruler. Yet there have never been any better men than these.