Monday, April 27, 2020


Looking Out for Number One

Cicero, On the Laws 1.18.49 (tr. Niall Rudd):
Furthermore, if goodness is sought for its advantages, not for itself, then there will be one virtue only; and that will most properly be called selfishness. For where each person measures his actions totally by his own advantage, to that extent he totally falls short of being a good man. Hence to those who estimate goodness by its rewards selfishness is the only admirable quality. Where is a generous person to be found if no one acts kindly for the sake of another? What becomes of gratitude if people are not seen to be grateful to the person to whom they owe thanks? Where is that holy thing, friendship, if no one loves a friend wholeheartedly, as they say, for his own sake? Why, a friend must be cast off and abandoned if he offers no hope of profit and reward; and what can be more barbaric than that?
The Latin text with an image of the critical apparatus from J.G.F. Powell, ed., M. Tullius Ciceronis De Re Publica, De Legibus, Cato Maior De Senectute, Laelius De Amicitia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 182-183:
Atque etiam si emolumentis, non suapte natura virtus expenditur, una erit virtus, quae malitia rectissime dicetur. Ut enim quisque maxume ad suum commodum refert quaecumque agit, ita minime est vir bonus; ut qui virtutem praemio metiuntur, nullam virtutem nisi malitiam putent. Ubi enim beneficus, si nemo alterius causa benigne facit? Ubi gratus, si non eum respiciunt grati cui referunt gratiam? Ubi illa sancta amicitia, si non ipse amicus per se amatur toto pectore, ut dicitur? Quin etiam deserendus et abiciendus est desperatis emolumentis et fructibus; quo quid potest dici immanius?

Andrew R. Dyck analyzes the textual problems in his commentary (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004), pp. 200-202:
Löfstedt, 2, 251-52, followed by von Albrecht, 1973, 1261.24-26, sought to defend the transmitted suapte by reference to Apul. Met. 9.25, but there noxa can be understood from the context (so already Oudendorp); Halm's sua sponte for suapte (based on H2's correction of the latter to sponte) is followed by de Plinval; but sponte for suapte is likely to have been suggested to the scribe by the occurrence of sponte earlier in this paragraph. Moser's suapte <vi> is adopted by Vahlen, Ziegler, and Görler but is improbable. Suapte in Cicero is almost always followed by natura (de Orat. 2.98; Orat. 164; Fin. 1.54, 5.36, 5.61; Fat. 42; cf. Acc. Arr. 234 at Tusc. 2.13); the exceptions are de Orat. 3.10 (suapte interfectum manu) and Fat. 43 (suapte vi et natura); this last passage suggests that suapte vi would not have sufficient weight to stand on its own; hence Minutianus' suapte natura, here adopted.—In light of suapte natura it becomes possible to retain expenditur (= "is weighed") of the archetype (so Powell), rather than, as is usually done, substitute P's expetitur—Halm's illa for una (an easy corruption) is well worth considering: the word in this position must bear considerable weight; yet this is not an argument for the unity of virtue but for its having a certain content; a scribe could easily have mistaken the point and thought a contrast intended with omnium virtutum of the previous sentence.


Transmitted is ... si non eum ipsi cernunt grati ... Previous solutions are listed by Görler ad loc. Ipsi is a problem; if it is to be read, it should refer to the object, rather than the subject.196 The best solution so far proposed is Powell's change of the transmitted ipsi cernunt to respiciunt: "where is gratitude to be found, if grateful people do not have regard for those to whom they repay thanks." Less convincing is the change of cernunt to spernunt and deletion of non (Philippson, 1929, 979), even if one also changes ipsi to ipsum, since spernunt seems too harsh in this context, and the deletion of non is a further disadvantage.197

196. Cf. Watt, 1997, 242, proposing ipsum or, rather, with A.E. Housman, The Classical Papers, ed. J. Diggle and F.R.D. Goodyear, 2 (Cambridge, 1972), 873-74, eumpse.

197. Watt, loc. cit., has proposed cernuntur grati quoi referunt gratiam, glossed as "if people are not seen to be grateful to the man himself to whom they repay a favour." But the idea of "being seen to be grateful" places an unwelcome emphasis on the subjective element.

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