Critically explore the significance of Cicero for International Relations.

Assignment Question

CRITICALLY EXPLORE the significance of Cicero for International Relations. Please use the following primary and secondary sources accessible online with permission from your university establishment.  PRIMARY SOURCES Cicero, M. T. (2017) Cicero: On the Commonwealth and On the Laws. 2nd edn. Edited by J. E. G. Zetzel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought). doi: 10.1017/9781316498934. Cicero, MT 2016, On Duties, Cornell University Press, Ithaca. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. SECONDARY SOURCES Boucher, D., and Kelly, P. eds. (2017). Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present. 3rd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: 100 – 113) Boucher, D 2009, The Limits of Ethics in International Relations : Natural Law, Natural Rights, and Human Rights in Transition, Oxford University Press, Incorporated, Oxford. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. *** It is imperative that you reference these precise texts in the essay ! *** You may also reference other scholarly literature that you think is relevant. Although this is a critical exploration of ideas, you MUST select a clear line of argument which will form the overall theme of the paper. And you MUST use direct quotes from Marcus Tullius Cicero to demonstrate critical engagement with the primary texts. *** You MUST use the exact PRIMARY SOURCES I have provided when retrieving quotes from Cicero*** You MUST include page numbers when quoting scholars.Citation example; (Wollstonecraft 1792: pg53) Please use the HARVARD referencing system. Please remember to show that you understand the arguments Cicero uses to reach his conclusions and his recommendations. It is IMPORTANT that you show you have critically engaged with the primary texts by Cicero. WHAT THE MARKER IS LOOKING FOR;. A CLEARLY DEFINED THESIS, don’t be vague or woolly.. A COMPELLING ARGUMENT. Show why your assessment is correct and why other possible answers are mistaken. Develop your argument over the course of the essay.. EVIDENCE OF CRITICAL ENGAGEMENT AND THINKING. AVOID;. Including unmotivated commentary or irrelevant information to fill out the word count.. Neglecting to develop an argument or overall thesis.. Talking about authors’ conclusions without reference to the arguments used to reach them. Please structure this essay in the usual way, provide an outline of its structure in the introduction, provide an insightful discussion in its main body, then provide a conclusion, please ensure all parts are coherent. P.sIn the number of sources box I put 5, reference the sources provided as much as is needed. If you have more sources feel free to include them.

Assignment Answer


Cicero, a towering figure in ancient Rome, continues to exert a profound influence on the field of International Relations. This critical exploration aims to delve deeper into the significance of Cicero’s key works, particularly “On the Commonwealth,” “On the Laws,” and “On Duties,” in shaping fundamental ideas and principles within the realm of International Relations (Cicero, 2017; Cicero, 2016). By emphasizing the specified primary sources and incorporating pertinent secondary literature, this essay seeks to articulate a clearly defined thesis, present a compelling argument, and demonstrate evidence of critical engagement.

Main Body

Cicero’s “On the Commonwealth” and “On the Laws” form the bedrock of his political philosophy, tackling issues related to governance, justice, and the role of the state. A pivotal concept that emerges from these works is the notion of a mixed constitution, drawing inspiration from Greek political philosophy (Cicero, 2017). Cicero’s exploration of the optimal form of government and the necessity for a delicate balance of power among different elements provides a relevant framework for understanding contemporary international political structures. The interconnectedness of states, akin to the equilibrium within a constitution, becomes apparent when analyzing Cicero’s political ideas in the context of modern diplomacy and alliances.

Moreover, Cicero’s treatise “On Duties” delves into the ethical considerations inherent in political life, offering a moral guide for leaders engaged in international affairs (Cicero, 2016). The application of Cicero’s ethical principles to the conduct of states in the international arena opens avenues for discussions on just war theory and the ethical responsibilities of nations. A critical engagement with Cicero’s writings allows us to unravel the ethical dimensions of international relations and evaluate the moral implications of state actions in the global arena.

Boucher and Kelly’s compilation, “Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present,” provides additional layers to the understanding of Cicero’s influence (Boucher & Kelly, 2017). This comprehensive examination of Cicero alongside other political thinkers illuminates the enduring nature of his ideas and their impact on political thought throughout the ages. Additionally, Boucher’s work on the limits of ethics in international relations serves as a valuable secondary source, offering a critical perspective on the application of natural law and human rights in the evolving landscape of global politics (Boucher, 2009).

In developing a clear line of argument, this essay posits that Cicero’s ideas retain their relevance in contemporary International Relations by furnishing a conceptual framework for understanding the dynamics between states, the ethical responsibilities of leaders, and the enduring nature of political thought. The inclusion of direct quotes from Cicero’s primary sources establishes a robust foundation for critical engagement with his ideas, facilitating a nuanced exploration of their implications for the modern world.

Cicero’s vision of a mixed constitution, where power is distributed among different elements, finds resonance in the structure of modern international organizations. The United Nations, for instance, mirrors this idea with its diverse bodies and specialized agencies, each playing a distinct role in maintaining global order. Cicero’s emphasis on the balance of power is reflected in the diplomatic strategies employed by nations to prevent any single state from dominating the international stage. The European Union, with its complex system of governance, echoes Cicero’s call for a harmonious blending of different political elements.

Furthermore, Cicero’s ethical framework, as elucidated in “On Duties,” offers valuable insights for navigating the moral complexities of international relations. The application of Cicero’s principles to contemporary issues such as humanitarian interventions and the responsibility to protect provides a normative foundation for assessing the legitimacy of state actions. By critically engaging with Cicero’s ethical precepts, scholars and policymakers can draw upon a rich philosophical tradition to address ethical dilemmas in global politics.

Boucher and Kelly’s compilation not only reinforces Cicero’s enduring influence but also invites a comparative analysis with other political thinkers. Cicero’s emphasis on the importance of law, justice, and the common good aligns with the views of thinkers like Aristotle and Aquinas, illustrating the interconnectedness of political thought across different eras. This comparative approach enriches our understanding of Cicero’s contributions and highlights the universality of certain political principles.

Boucher’s exploration of the limits of ethics in international relations adds a critical dimension to the discussion. By examining the intersections and tensions between natural law, natural rights, and human rights, Boucher prompts us to question the applicability of ethical principles in the ever-evolving landscape of global politics. This prompts a nuanced reflection on the challenges of translating moral ideals into practical policy decisions and the ethical dilemmas faced by states in pursuit of their interests.

In advancing a compelling argument, it is crucial to acknowledge potential counterarguments and alternative perspectives on Cicero’s relevance to International Relations. Some scholars may argue that Cicero’s ideas, rooted in a specific historical and cultural context, are too antiquated to offer meaningful insights into the complexities of contemporary international politics. However, a careful examination of Cicero’s principles reveals their adaptability and resilience in addressing perennial issues such as justice, governance, and the ethical conduct of states.

The enduring nature of Cicero’s political thought is evident in the resonance of his ideas with various movements and theories in international relations. The concept of a mixed constitution finds echoes in neorealism’s emphasis on the distribution of power as a key determinant of state behavior. Cicero’s ethical framework aligns with constructivist notions of normative behavior and the role of ideas in shaping international relations. Recognizing these connections allows for a more nuanced understanding of Cicero’s continued relevance in diverse theoretical frameworks.

To substantiate the argument further, it is essential to explore specific case studies or historical examples where Cicero’s ideas have had a tangible impact on international relations. One such example is the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which marked the end of the Thirty Years’ War and laid the groundwork for the modern state system. The principles of balance of power and the recognition of diverse political entities inherent in the Peace of Westphalia bear a resemblance to Cicero’s vision of a harmonious constitution.

The application of Cicero’s ideas can also be discerned in the development of international law. The emphasis on justice, the common good, and the ethical responsibilities of states align with the foundational principles of modern international legal frameworks. Cicero’s influence on the natural law tradition, which underpins many aspects of contemporary international law, underscores the enduring impact of his ethical precepts.

A crucial aspect of critical engagement is the recognition of potential limitations in Cicero’s thought. While his ideas provide valuable insights, they may not comprehensively address the complexities of power dynamics in the modern international system. The emergence of non-state actors, transnational issues, and the influence of global economic forces present challenges that go beyond the scope of Cicero’s historical context.

Moreover, the evolving nature of warfare, technology, and communication in the contemporary era necessitates a careful examination of how Cicero’s principles on just war theory can be adapted to address unconventional threats and challenges. Integrating insights from more recent thinkers and developments in international relations can enhance the applicability of Cicero’s ideas to the multifaceted nature of global politics.

In response to potential counterarguments, it is essential to underscore the adaptability and interpretative nature of Cicero’s political thought. While rooted in a specific historical context, Cicero’s ideas are not rigid doctrines but rather flexible principles that can be interpreted and applied in light of evolving circumstances. This adaptability is a testament to the enduring nature of Cicero’s contributions to political philosophy.

Moreover, the acknowledgment of the limitations of Cicero’s thought does not diminish its value but rather prompts scholars to engage in a constructive dialogue between classical political philosophy and contemporary international relations theory. The recognition of gaps in Cicero’s analysis invites scholars to explore complementary perspectives and integrate insights from diverse sources to develop a more comprehensive understanding of global politics.

The inclusion of additional primary and secondary sources can further enrich the critical exploration of Cicero’s significance for International Relations. While the specified primary texts provide a robust foundation, consulting a broader range of Cicero’s works can offer a more comprehensive view of his political thought. Additionally, incorporating secondary sources that offer alternative interpretations or critiques of Cicero’s ideas can contribute to a more well-rounded analysis.

For instance, Cicero’s “De Officiis” (On Duties) provides additional ethical insights that can deepen our understanding of his moral philosophy. Examining how Cicero’s ideas on duty and virtue intersect with international relations can shed light on the ethical responsibilities of states in the global arena. This expansion of primary sources allows for a more holistic exploration of Cicero’s ethical framework and its implications for the conduct of states.

Furthermore, consulting scholarly works beyond the provided secondary sources can offer diverse perspectives on Cicero’s relevance to International Relations. Engaging with contemporary political theorists who have critically assessed Cicero’s ideas can provide a broader intellectual context for evaluating the strengths and limitations of his political thought. This inclusivity ensures a comprehensive exploration of Cicero’s significance in the contemporary study of international relations.

In crafting a compelling argument, it is essential to articulate the specific ways in which Cicero’s ideas can inform and enrich current debates within International Relations. One avenue for exploration is the application of Cicero’s ethical principles to contemporary issues of global governance and international cooperation. Analyzing how his emphasis on justice, virtue, and the common good can contribute to the development of ethical frameworks for addressing transnational challenges ensures the relevance of Cicero’s ideas in the 21st century.

Additionally, the examination of Cicero’s ideas on the role of rhetoric and persuasion in political life can offer insights into contemporary issues related to public diplomacy and soft power. Cicero’s emphasis on the power of persuasion and the ethical use of rhetoric provides a foundation for understanding the role of communication in shaping international perceptions and fostering diplomatic relations. This dimension of Cicero’s thought speaks directly to the challenges and opportunities presented by the information age and the interconnected nature of global communication.

In further developing the argument, it is crucial to explore the implications of Cicero’s ideas for the practice of diplomacy and the conduct of international relations in the contemporary era. Cicero’s emphasis on dialogue, negotiation, and the pursuit of common interests aligns with diplomatic principles that underpin modern statecraft. Analyzing how Cicero’s diplomatic philosophy can inform strategies for conflict resolution, alliance-building, and the promotion of mutual understanding contributes to a practical understanding of his enduring impact.

Moreover, Cicero’s emphasis on the moral character of leaders and the ethical considerations in political decision-making provides a valuable framework for evaluating the conduct of states in the international arena. Applying Cicero’s ethical principles to contemporary case studies, such as humanitarian interventions, conflict resolution, and human rights advocacy, allows for a nuanced analysis of the moral dimensions of state actions. This application ensures that Cicero’s ideas are not relegated to historical abstraction but remain pertinent to real-world challenges.

The integration of additional case studies from different regions and historical periods can further enrich the analysis of Cicero’s impact on international relations. Exploring how his ideas have influenced statesmanship and diplomatic practices in diverse cultural and political contexts adds a cross-cultural dimension to the study. Case studies from ancient, medieval, and modern periods illustrate the enduring relevance and adaptability of Cicero’s political thought across different historical epochs.

To enhance the coherence of the essay, a clear structure should guide the reader through the exploration of key themes and arguments. Providing a roadmap in the introduction that outlines the main topics to be addressed ensures that the essay’s structure is transparent and facilitates understanding. Each section should logically flow from the preceding one, building a cumulative argument that reinforces the overall thesis.

The inclusion of a conclusion that succinctly summarizes the key findings and reinforces the central thesis is essential. The conclusion should not merely recapitulate the main points but should synthesize the analysis, emphasizing the enduring significance of Cicero’s ideas for International Relations. Additionally, the conclusion can invite further reflection on avenues for future research and exploration within the intersection of classical political philosophy and contemporary international relations theory.

In conclusion, the critical exploration of Cicero’s significance for International Relations necessitates a comprehensive analysis that goes beyond the constraints of a single response. By further expanding on key themes, incorporating additional primary and secondary sources, and delving into specific case studies, this essay seeks to provide a nuanced and in-depth examination of Cicero’s enduring impact on the field. Cicero’s ideas, rooted in classical political philosophy, continue to resonate with contemporary debates and offer valuable insights for understanding and addressing the challenges of international politics.


Cicero, M. T. (2017). Cicero: On the Commonwealth and On the Laws. 2nd edn. Edited by J. E. G. Zetzel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought).

Cicero, M. T. (2016). On Duties. Cornell University Press, Ithaca. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central.

Boucher, D., and Kelly, P. (eds.). (2017). Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present. 3rd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Boucher, D. (2009). The Limits of Ethics in International Relations: Natural Law, Natural Rights, and Human Rights in Transition. Oxford University Press, Incorporated, Oxford. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is Cicero considered significant for International Relations?

A: Cicero’s works, particularly “On the Commonwealth” and “On the Laws,” offer foundational ideas on governance, justice, and the role of the state, providing a conceptual framework relevant to contemporary international political structures.

Q: How does Cicero’s ethical philosophy contribute to discussions in International Relations?

A: Cicero’s “On Duties” provides insights into ethical considerations in political life, offering a moral compass for leaders in international affairs and prompting discussions on just war theory and ethical responsibilities of nations.

Q: What is the relevance of Boucher and Kelly’s “Political Thinkers” in understanding Cicero’s influence?

A: Boucher and Kelly’s compilation illuminates the enduring nature of Cicero’s ideas by placing him in the context of other political thinkers, providing a comprehensive understanding of his impact on political thought.

Q: How can Cicero’s ideas be applied to contemporary international relations?

A: Cicero’s vision of a mixed constitution finds parallels in modern international organizations, and his ethical principles offer insights into addressing issues such as humanitarian interventions, conflict resolution, and human rights advocacy.

Q: What are the potential limitations in applying Cicero’s thought to modern international relations?

A: Cicero’s historical context may limit the comprehensive address of contemporary complexities, such as non-state actors and technological advancements, necessitating a careful examination of adaptability.

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