“Nevertheless, I do not advise you merely to relinquish the sovereignty, but first to take all the measures which the public interest demands and by decrees and laws to settle definitively all important business, just as Sulla did, you recall; for even if some of his ordinances were subsequently overthrown, yet the majority of them and the more important still remain. 6 And do not say that even then some men will indulge in factional quarrels, and thus require me, on my part, to say once more that the Romans would be much more apt to refuse to submit to the rule of a monarch. For if we should undertake to provide against all possible contingencies, it would be utterly absurd for us to be more afraid of the dissensions which are but incidental to democracy than of the tyrannies which are the natural outgrowth of monarchy. 7 Regarding the terrible nature of such tyrannies I have not so much as attempted to say anything; for it has not been my wish idly to inveigh against a thing that so readily admits of condemnation, but rather to show you that monarchy is so constituted by nature that not even the men of high character . . .
“But Maecenas advised the contrary course, declaring that he (Caesar = Octavian = Augustus) had already for a long time been directing the monarchy, and that he must inevitably do one of two things — either remain in the same position or abandon his present course and perish.”
14 1 ” (. . . nor can they easily convince by frank argument those who are not in a like situation) and they succeed in their enterprises, because their subjects are not in accord with one another. Hence, if you feel any concern at all for your country, for which you have fought so many wars and would so gladly give even your life, reorganize it and regulate it in the direction of greater moderation. 2 For while the privilege of doing and saying precisely what one pleases becomes, in the case of sensible persons, if you examine the matter, a cause of the highest happiness to them all, yet in the case of the foolish it becomes a cause of disaster. For this reason he who offers this privilege to the foolish is virtually putting a sword in the hands of a child or a madman; but he who offers it to the prudent is not only preserving all their other privileges but is also saving these men themselves even in spite of themselves. 3 Therefore I ask you not to fix your gaze upon the specious terms applied to these things and thus be deceived, but to weigh carefully the results which come from the things themselves and then put an end to the insolence of the populace and place the management of public affairs in the hands of yourself and the other best citizens, to the end that the business of deliberation may be performed by the most prudent and that of ruling by those best fitted for command, while the work of serving in the army for pay is left to those who are strongest physically and most needy. 4 In this way each class of citizens will zealously discharge the duties which devolve upon them and will readily render to one another such services as are due, and will thus be unaware of their inferiority when one class is at a disadvantage as compared with another, and all will gain the true democracy and the freedom which does not fail. 5 For the boasted freedom of the mob proves in experience to be the bitterest servitude of the best element to the other and brings upon both a common destruction; whereas this freedom of which I speak everywhere prefers for honour the men of prudence, awarding at the same time equality to all according to their deserts, and thus gives happiness impartially to all who enjoy this liberty.
15 1 “For I would not have you think that I am advising you to enslave the people and the senate and then set up a tyranny. This is a thing I should never dare suggest to you nor would you bring yourself to do it. The other course, however, would be honourable and expedient both for you and for the city — that you should yourself, in consultation with the best men, enact all the appropriate laws, without the possibility of any opposition or remonstrance to these laws on the part of any one from the masses; 2 that you and your counsellors should conduct the wars according to your own wishes, all other citizens rendering instant obedience to your commands; that the choice of the officials should rest with you and your advisers; and that you and they should also determine the honours and the punishments. The advantage of all this would be that whatever pleased you in consultation with your peers would immediately become law; 3 that our wars against our enemies would be waged with secrecy and at the opportune time; that those to whom any task was entrusted would be appointed because of their merit and not as the result of the lot or rivalry for office; that the good would be honoured without arousing jealousy and the bad punished without causing rebellion. 4 Thus whatever business was done would be most likely to be managed in the right way, instead of being referred to the popular assembly, or deliberated upon openly, or entrusted to partisan delegates, or exposed to the danger of ambitious rivalry; and we should be happy in the enjoyment of the blessings which are vouchsafed to us, instead of being embroiled in hazardous wars abroad or in unholy civil strife. 5 For these are the evils found in every democracy, — the more powerful men, namely, in reaching out after the primacy and hiring the weaker, turn everything upside down, — but they have been most frequent in our country, and there is no other way to put a stop to them than the way I propose. 6 And the evidence is, that we have now for a long time been engaged in wars and civil strife. The cause is the multitude of our population and the magnitude of the business of our government; for the population embraces men of every kind, in respect both to race and to endowment, and both their tempers and their desires are manifold; and the business of the state has become so vast that it can be administered only with the greatest difficulty.
16 1 “Witness to the truth of my words is borne by our past. For while we were but few in number and differed in no important respect from our neighbours, we got along well with our government and subjugated almost all Italy; 2 but ever since we were led outside the peninsula and crossed over to many continents and many islands, filling the whole sea and the whole earth with our name and power, nothing good has been our lot. At first it was only at home and within our walls that we broke up into factions and quarrelled, but afterwards we even carried this plague out into the legions. 3 Therefore our city, like a great merchantman manned with a crew of every race and lacking a pilot, has now for many generations been rolling and plunging as it has drifted this way and that in a heavy sea, a ship as it were without ballast. Do not, then, allow her to be longer exposed to the tempest; 4 for you see that she is waterlogged. And do not let her be pounded to pieces upon a reef; for her timbers are rotten and she will not be able to hold out much longer. But since the gods have taken pity on her and have set you over her as her arbiter and overseer, prove not false to her, to the end that, even as now she has received a little by your aid, so she may survive in safety for the ages to come.
17 1 “Now I think you have long since been convinced that I am right in urging you to give the people a monarchical government; if this is the case, accept the leadership over them readily and with enthusiasm — or rather do not throw it away. For the question we are deliberating upon is not whether we shall take something, but whether we shall decide not to lose it and by so doing incur danger into the bargain. 2 Who, indeed, will spare you if you thrust the control of the state into the hands of the people, or even if you entrust it to some other man, seeing that there are great numbers whom you have injured, and that practically all these will lay claim to the sovereignty, and yet no one of them will wish either that you should go unpunished for what you have done or that you should be allowed to survive as his rival? 3 Pompey, for example, once he had given up the supreme power, became the object of scorn and of secret plotting and consequently lost his life when he was unable to regain his power. Caesar also, your father, lost not only his position but also his life for doing precisely what you are proposing to do. And Marius and Sulla would certainly have suffered a like fate had they not died first. 4 And yet some say that Sulla, fearing this very fate, forestalled it by making away with himself; at any rate, much of his legislation began to be undone while he was yet alive. Therefore you also must expect that there will be many a man who will prove a Lepidus to you and many a man who will prove a Sertorius, a Brutus, or a Cassius.
18 1 “Looking, then, at these facts and reflecting upon all the other considerations involved, do not abandon yourself and your country merely in order to avoid giving the impression to some that you deliberately sought the office. For, in the first place, even if men do suspect this, the ambition is not inconsistent with human nature and the risk involved is a noble one. Again, what man is there who does not know the circumstances which constrained you to assume your present position? 2 Hence, if there be any fault to find with these compelling circumstances, one might with entire justice lay it upon your father’s murderers. For if they had not slain him in so unjust and pitiable a fashion, you would not have taken up arms, would not have gathered your legions, would not have made your compact with Antony and Lepidus, and would not have had to defend yourself against these men themselves. 3 That you were right, however, and were justified in doing all this, no one is unaware. Therefore, even if some slight error has been committed, yet we cannot at this time with safety undo anything that has been done. 4 Therefore, for our own sake and for that of the state let us obey Fortune, who offers you the sole rulership. And let us be very grateful to her that she has not only freed us from our domestic troubles, but has also placed in your hands the organisation of the state, to the end that you, by bestowing due care upon it, may prove to all mankind that those troubles were stirred up and that mischief wrought by other men, whereas you are an upright man.
5 “And do not, I beg you, be afraid of the magnitude of the empire. For the greater its extent, the more numerous are the salutary elements it possesses; also, to guard anything is far easier than to acquire it. Toils and dangers are needed to win over what belongs to others, but a little care suffices to retain what is already yours. 6 Moreover, you need not be afraid, either, that you will not live quite safely in that office and enjoy all the blessings which men know, provided that you will consent to administer it as I shall advise you. And do not think that I am shifting the discussion from the subject in hand if I speak to you at considerable length about the office. 7 For of course my purpose in doing this will be, not to hear myself talk, but that you may learn by a strict demonstration that it is both possible and easy, for a man of sense at least, to rule well and without danger.
19 1 “I maintain, therefore, that you ought first and foremost to choose and select with discrimination the entire senatorial body, inasmuch as some who have not been fit have, on account of our dissensions, become senators. Such of them as possess any excellence you ought to retain, but the rest you should erase from the roll. 2 Do not, however, get rid of any good man because of his poverty, but even give him the money he requires. In the place of those who have been dropped introduce the noblest, the best, and the richest men obtainable, selecting them not only from Italy but also from the allies and the subject nations. 3 In this way you will have many assistants for yourself and will have in safe keeping the leading men from all the provinces; thus the provinces, having no leaders of established repute, will not begin rebellions, and their prominent men will regard you with affection because they have been made sharers in your empire.
4 “Take these same measures in the case of the knights also, by enrolling in the equestrian order such men as hold second place in their several districts as regards birth, excellence and wealth. Register as many new members in both classes as you please, without being over particular on the score of their number. For the more men of repute you have as your associates, the easier you will find it, for your own part, to administer everything in time of need and, 5 so far as your subjects are concerned, the more easily will you persuade them that you are not treating them as slaves or as in any way inferior to us, but that you are sharing with them, not only all the other advantages which we ourselves enjoy, but also the chief magistracy as well, and thus make them as devoted to that office as if it were their own. 6 And so far am I from retracting this last statement as rashly made, that I declare that the citizens ought every one actually to be given a share in the government, in order that, being on an equality with us in this respect also, they may be our faithful allies, living as it were in a single city, namely our own, and considering that this is in very truth a city, whereas their own homes are but the countryside and villages.