Scholarly article on topic 'Ciceronian Ideas in Andrius Volanas's Social and Political Theory'

Ciceronian Ideas in Andrius Volanas's Social and Political Theory Academic research paper on "Law"

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Baltic Journal of Law & Politics
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Academic research paper on topic "Ciceronian Ideas in Andrius Volanas's Social and Political Theory"


VOLUME 3, NUMBER 1 (2010) ISSN 2029-0405

Cit.: Baltic Journal of Law & Politics 3:1 (2010): 15-29 DOI: 10.2478/v10076-010-0002-z



Bernaras Ivanovas

Assistant Professor; Dr

Vytautas Magnus University Faculty of Political Sciences and Diplomacy


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Address: Gedimino str. 44, LT-44248 Kaunas, Lithuania

Phone:(+370) 37 206704

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Received: April 05, 2010; reviews: 2; accepted: June 05, 2010.


Andrius Volanas was a sixteenth-century Lithuanian Calvinist leader. He was known not only for his political activities, but also gained notoriety as the author of De libertate politica sive civili (1572), in which he studies the main social and political problems of Lithuania. In this book we can find political and social ideas that were modern not only for Lithuania of that time, but also for Europe, where different protestant theologians were trying to define the new social and political frames of social and political life, and in so doing were trying to find the keys to political modernization. They sought inspiration not only among their contemporaries, but also in ancient Hellenistic philosophy. The Roman philosopher Cicero was one of their most popular sources of inspiration. Andrius Volanas and others had used Cicero's ideas to look for new vectors in political and social life.


Volanas, Cicero, freedom, liberty, self-will, law



A researcher comes across quite a lot of problems while trying to perceive spiritual life intersections in Lithuania in the second part of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century. There are both external and internal reasons for these problems. The emergence of the external reasons is conditioned by an insufficient source base or competence; however, this is characteristic of the process of investigation of nearly all serious history problems and not only Lithuanian. The internal reasons emerge from the sub-conscious of the researcher and are determined by the imbalance of the functional system in society. The latter reasons appear in the case of incorrect interpretation (conscious or unconscious) of phenomena, their meanings as well as their components, and they create a number of internal thresholds that are overcome by very few scientists.

This was obviously confirmed in the nineteenth century by the work of certain scientists: J. Lukaszewiczius (1842),1 M. Balinskis (1843),2 A. Kurnatowskis (1910),3 about whom I. Luksaite writes, that according to their opinion, Andrius Volanas was famous, but forgotten.4 Unfortunately, Volanas was forgotten not only in the nineteenth century. Hardly any researcher devoted sufficient attention to this prominent man. After the failure of the reformation movement, the "heresies" of Volanas could not be treated in another way but as mistakes, even more as the Renaissance ideals popularized by him as a humanist had been discredited and, according to D. Kuolys, at that time valiant individualism found few supporters and attention was instead concentrated on a humble man of the Baroque epoch who perceived his own weakness in the sight of God.5 In the seventeenth century, when Lithuania was overwhelmed by a stream of misfortunes and in the presence of active counter-reformation propaganda which blamed "heretics" with all possible sins, the so-called traditional conservatism took rule over the country and the very idea of human freedom was treated as a dangerous infection. This situation did not change during the period between the wars because, as M. Rocka6 states,

1 Jozef tukaszewicz, Dzieje koscioiow wyznania helweckiego w Litwie (Activities of Calvinist's Churces in Lithuania), t. 1 (Poznan: Nowa K^ngarnia, 1842).

2 Michal Balinski, Andrzej Wolan, jego zycieuczone i publiczne (Andrius Volanas and his public life), Pisma historyczne, t. 3 (Warszawa, 1843).

3 Oskar Kurnatowski, Andrzej Wolan. Krotki rys zycia i pracy (Work and privat life of Andrius Volanas) (Wilno: Bartel, 1910).

4 Andrius Volanas, Rinktiniai rastai (Selected writings), (Vilnius: Mokslo enciklopedijq, leidykla, 1996), p. 27.

5 Darius Kuolys, Asmuo, tauta, valstybe (Person, nation, state), (Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijq, leidykla, 1992).

6 Similar thoughts could be found in the book of the emigrant researcher J. Kregzde (Sigitas Kregzde, Lietuvos reformats rastija (Writings of Lithuanian reformats), (Chicago: Devyniq, kulturinis fondas, 1978).


"malevolence towards that heretic didn't disappear during the ages".7 No doubt this process was influenced by many other circumstances, though less meaningful, which changed over the course of time, but traditional conservatism did not want to give ground to modernization (which could draw a bigger distance between the norms of morality and law). In the sixteenth century the interaction between those processes played an important and positive role, and encouraged the adoption of new cultural elements and their adaption into life. The main source for that interaction was antiquity and the works of its most important cultural men. Here Volanas found his niche, which appeared after the first wave of reformation had calmed down.

The main goal of this article is to analyze Volanas attitude toward political and social problems of Lithuania in the sixteenth century and the influence on his thought by the works of Cicero. The article will study the problem of the possibilities of modernisation in political and social life. The methods used here are analytical comparative and content analysis.


Starting the first chapter of his work with the phrase "Freedom has always been highly cherished by clever people", Volanas obviously follows the idea of Cicero and states that "it is impossible to handle a good work in slavery..."8 while he cites the latter: "Slavery is the worst thing of all the evil therefore one should fight it sacrificing his life and even his death",9 because "a man in slavery doesn't really live a real life".10 Unfortunately, Volanas does not express sufficient criticism towards Cicero, because according to many researchers, Cicero, though teaching others to die for their motherland and for freedom, did not show any courage himself when such a moment turned up.11 On the other hand, one can treat very sceptically the above-mentioned strict attitude towards Cicero, as when, in the court of law, Cicero took great risk while defending Sekstus Rocsio (the case was directly associated with Chrizogonas' property interests, who took advantage of Sulla's repressions against the democrats' families and made a fortune on that) speaking against the dictatorship of the tyrant.12 Yet, it is obvious that Volanas was interested in the idea itself, and not in the way Cicero himself had followed his own teaching in life, or that he hadn't, as Cicero's thoughts on slavery and freedom

7 Marcelinas Rocka, "Humanistas, teisininkas, publicistas" (Humanist, lawyer, publicist), Mokslas ir gyvenimas Nr. 2 (1974): 47.

8 Andrius Volanas, supra note 4, p. 119.

9 Ibid., p. 120.

10 Ibid., p. 121.

11 Czeslaw Milosz, Lenky literatOros istorija (History of Polish literature), (Vilnius: Baltos lankos, 1996), p. 84.

12 Evgenija Orlova, Demosfen i Ciceron (Demosphen and Cicero), (Moskva: SPB, 1991), p. 63.


were quite popular in Lithuania at that time. For instance, in Sapiega's address to the nobles, Cicero's words were cited: "We are slaves of law so that we could make use of freedom".13

Volanas chooses old Rome as the most important example of freedom, where the synthesis of war and peace's blessings was guaranteed by the principles of freedom that already existed at that time. The author points readers towards the Roman care not only of their own freedom, but even of the freedom of other enslaved nations, without trying to escape fighting with a threatening enemy. On the one hand is the art of war (glory), and on the other hand is the decoration of public creation (intellect). This ratio was obviously influenced by Cicero's aesthetics, which in its own turn was the highest achievement of Roman aesthetics. Its essence lies in the conception of moderation, directly connected with the desire to follow nature. This conforms with the law and moderation. Here the conception of moderation (modus) breaks free from the level of private life and reaches the level of public benefit apprehension, and the organization of state welfare.14

In his speech "In defence of Sekstus Roscio from America" Cicero stated:

The senate didn't support the previous means levelled against those who were able to hold a weapon in their hands, so that it wouldn't look as if on the agreement of the state council, a more cruel punishment is approved than it had been determined by the customs of ancestors; if you don't reject or ignore in this court of law these new proscriptions, executed against the sons, even children, babies in wraps of those people, then - I swear to the immortal Gods -you will see what is going to happen with our state.15

Volanas adopted a very similar attitude towards punishment. According to his understanding, there is a possibility to balance punishments not only with the help of fair laws, but as well by applying them justly, as they are too general and make no exceptions, otherwise - "The highest law - the greatest injustice".16 The law, according to the author, shouldn't be carried out blindly, i.e. it has to be "alive", moderate, and correspond to the needs of the public in such a way that it could not become a tool of a crime itself. Volanas fairly grounds the source of his thought on the third book of Cicero's tractate "On laws" ("De legibus"), in which Cicero determines the law as dead justice. In fact, he strongly criticized those who assumed the law literally and got into details while the case had to be discussed essentially without breach of justice. Otherwise, no attention would be paid to the

13 Kostas Korsakas, red., Uetuviq literaturos istorijos chrestomatija (The reader of the history of Lithuanian literature), (Vilnius: Valstybine grozines literaturos leidykla, 1957), p. 488.

14 Cicero talks about it in his creative works while trying to remind the glorious days of the Roman state to his contemporaries.

15 Markas Tulijus Ciceronas, Kalbos (Speeches), (Vilnius: Pradai, 1997), p. 87.

16 Andrius Volanas, supra note 4, p. 169.


conception, argumentation and authority of the writers of the law; it is the habit of the slanderer to concentrate only on the written stuff, while a good judge tries to defend the will and authority of the legislator.17 At the same time one should keep in mind the Holy Scripture which has a fixed principle that people having committed manslaughter should not be punished by death. There are obvious similarities while estimating law problems in the Holy Scripture as well as in scriptures of Cicero and other pagans. In this way, we come to the conclusion that fair organization can exist not only in the Christian countries, i.e. people can with fairness manage their lives without Christianity.

The conception of moderation (in yet another context) can be found in another place in Volanas' work. Here moderation is interpreted as a condition insuring a real freedom, preventing freedom from turning into self-will and further on into slavery. He writes: "As overall immoderate usage turns into vice, those who seek for unlimited freedom, can worthily be proud of not glorious freedom, but its distorted form - self-will."18 So, here we have two clear definitions concerning the conception of real and imaginary freedom. On the ground of Cicero's thoughts, the author seems to expand their limits: "All the light-minded, according to Cicero, all the voluptuous, all the immoral are slaves, as slavery - submission to the fastidiousness and meanness of the soul and inability to make independent decisions."19 Therefore, human surrender to vices of the soul is also treated as slavery, though it is much more difficult to identify it here or to distinguish its damage to others. Therefore, according to Volanas, "freedom of every human will be sufficiently real and strong when the laws make them live in one state without making any harm to others."20

In this respect, Volanas is highly attentive towards such vices as surfeit, hard drinking and luxury. Keeping in mind that in the Holy Scripture this evil is treated as a capital sin and is directly associated with the conception of moderation, the author's intention is absolutely clear. There are several sorts of damage caused by debauchery: first of all it harms the ones who drink with no restraint as well as harming their families; and second, money is wasted aimlessly and in this way, especially in the Renaissance epoch, lame attempts are made to demonstrate supposed prowess. Volanas suggests adoption of law that would limit evil: he insists on solving problems in a legal way. Unfortunately, the roots of this evil were much deeper than Volanas thought. In fact, he suggests fighting against the outcome of some social aspects of evil, without evaluating the reasons. Therefore,

17 Ibid., p. 171.

18 Ibid., p. 123.

19 Ibid., p. 125.

20 Ibid.


Volanas' efforts couldn't make any fundamental changes: the laws would have affected the nobles, i.e. Volanas' own supporters. Anyway, it is of great importance that the author tries to help the situation by lawful means and the effect of the latter is already another subject.


In spite of all imperfections, we can already see the process of formation of a legal state, reinforcing the power of law first of all. This regulation is concretely formulated in the fourth chapter of Volanas' work where he repeats the words of Cicero cited in Sapiega's address to the noblemen. It is complicated to understand them without evaluation of the whole context; e.g., the meaning of the reformation movement - an important factor that was about to change the whole public structure, i.e. the interrelations of public hierarchies. Volanas tried to insist on a regulation that society did not consist of classes (estates), but of individuals who had to obey the laws that are common to all. He considered the law as the uniting bond.

Cicero declared similar thoughts. While defending Sekstas Roscio from America in the court of law, he asked: "What does that mean, when you accuse and produce such evidence that you not only can't but you don't even try to prove -isn't this a breach of court and law and their competence while trying to profit and satisfy your own whims?!21 Though Cicero's and Volanas' interests differ a lot, -Cicero insists on following the existing law (i.e. submit proof of evidence and not groundless emotions22) and not to abusing it as in this case the rights and freedoms of the accused person will be violated. Volanas' main task is to formulate laws that will protect the rights and freedoms of the accused person and will fight the existing evil - yet both of them try to follow the regulations of law.

Volanas' piece of criticism, according to Roeka, "shows his ability to look at the future";23 yet, the historian is not quite right comparing the ideas of the sixteenth-century humanist Volanas with Mykolas Lietuvis' reform proposals. Volanas does not suggest a "return to the Golden Age of Vytautas" when there was no freedom, no equality. V. Kavolis was right, noting that:

Mykolas Lietuvis - the first Lithuanian who described the threat not only of women but also of Jews. In his opinion, the Jews flocking to Lithuania, they only cheat, slander, swindler, drive away Christians from market places, lead a depraved life, they are scoundrels and villains. The facts that a legal state and

21 Markas Tulijus Ciceronas, supra note 15, p. 51.

22 Ibid., p. 58.

23 Marcelinas Rocka, supra note 7, p. 48.


women threat, religious tolerance for Christians and hatred for Jews, the first books and inquisition took deep roots in Lithuania at one and the same time, reveal best of all the fermentation of that period, a threatening spiritual and public energy for many people.24

It is hardly likely that during that process of fermentation parallels could be drawn between Volanas and Mykolas Lietuvis, first of all because Volanas tried to modernize the state, i.e. his efforts corresponded to this kind of process taking place in Europe at that time, showing Lithuania as an integral part of the continent.

I. Luksaite produced concrete examples of the realization of Volanas' ideas when landlord reformats by their will granted freedom to the peasants.25 As the counter-reformation was taking deeper and deeper roots, this process stopped in the middle of the seventeenth century, until the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Yet, Volanas' attitude towards women can hardly be considered modern. As well as Mykolas Lietuvis he often looks for the signs of public vice in women. While analyzing the problem of immoderate luxury, Volanas puts the blame on women and gives an example from the history of Rome, year 215 BC - Opius' law against the luxury of women.26 Women become the reason for all negative public processes and the restraint of their rights should solve all of men's problems. Volanas grounds his thought on Cicero's words which say "that it is impossible to root out the more and more degenerated habits of women without extinguishing the source of all vice - luxury."27

The author gives a suggestion for solving this problem by applying strict restrictions and penalties, yet, due to his zealous desire to serve humanity, Volanas forgot that similar restrictions adopted by Ceasar Augustus in Rome later caused a wave of unheard contempt for moral norms. One should not seek for moderation by decisive restrictions that are usually immoderate themselves and cause a negative reaction in public, but by decisions made by sound mind that could be supported by the majority of the society members and not the ones who consider themselves the only defenders of chastity without being chaste at all. It is also incorrect trying to draw parallels between luxury and accumulation of wealth as in the former case money is wasted and in the latter case, it is saved. Anyhow, in spite of such estimation of problematic issues, Volanas pursues an important aim: to strengthen

24 Vytautas Kavolis, Zmogus istorijoje (Man in history), (Vilnius: Vaga, 1994), p. 370.

25 Inge Luksaite, Lietuvos publicistai valstieciy klausimu XVI a. pabaigoje - XVII a. pirmoje puseje (Lithuanian publicists on the question of peasants at the end of the XVI c. and the first half of the XVII c.), (Vilnius: Lietuvos istorijos instituto leidykla, 1976), p. 104-106.

26 Andrius Volanas, supra note 4, p. 162.

27 Ibid., p. 168.


the state with the help of restrictions or taxes on luxury, based on laws dictated by sound mind.


In his writings Volanas encourages the passing of laws that guarantee freedom. He also declares the importance of structures which ensure the execution of them and that, according to the author, might be:

The royal power when one person holds the supreme power and rules fairly over his subordinates, or the aristocracy when the rule and order of the state is put into the hands of a group of honest people. The third is democracy, or polytheism, i.e. people's system when the rule of the state is executed not by one person or majority, but by all people together when they pass laws as well as follow them on equal basis.28

Volanas considers all these systems acceptable but only in their pure shape, i.e. without degeneration. But understanding well the illusionary nature of them, the author remembers again the antique experience and declares that Greeks and Romans preferred the people's rule while they hated the rule of kings.29 Yet, he marks a clear difference between the king and the tyrant. Only the tyrant abuses the law, punishes the innocent and leaves a scoundrel unpunished while the king to Volanas is a speaking law and an example to people. This difference is evident in the works of Cicero as well. In his letter to Titus Pomponius Atticus he strictly rejects a further enforcement and development of Caesar's power,30 while a famous French researcher of Cicero, Pierre Grimal, is absolutely right considering the latter as the ideological creator of Augustus' power.

In fact, Augustus' power was based on quite different principles than tyrants', i.e. everything was determined by personal characteristic features of the ruler that helped to withhold from exceeding dangerous limits. Volanas has no doubts about that. Though he simplifies everything, we cannot apply to Volanas the requirements set for the researchers in the twentieth century as even the latter do not agree on the character of Augustus' principles. The main thing is that Volanas admits the superiority of the law to the ruler and this principle, either formally or not (there is a disagreement on this issue in historiography), was declared by Octavian Augustus. There is a clear compromise of different legal systems: on one hand, the basis of social life order guaranteed by effective functioning of the law system the

28 Ibid., p. 126.

29 Ibid.

30 Vasilij Kuzishchin, Chrestomatija po istorii drevnego Rima (Moskva: Nauka, 1987), p. 153.


growth of which is complex like a social structure; and, on the other hand, it is not the law but a social compliance based on a clearly set system of moral authorities.

When talking about the laws and their sources, Volanas again turns to Cicero. In the first book "On Law" he states that "the law is the most important requirement of one's mind set for the human nature: it insists on doing what is necessary and prevents from doing what is forbidden."31 Here human nature is mentioned again as a basis of the law.

In the work "On Duties" Cicero speaks about the natural mind given only to a human being and enabling him to decide, what is order, morality, moderation in actions as well as in words, to grasp the idea of beauty and overall harmony.32 There exist obvious limits. Only in the case of not exceeding them (following the principle of moderation) can we guarantee the order not contradicting human nature. For Volanas this limit is marked by a natural sound mind, so we can notice an evident analogy. Yet Volanas does not blindly repeat the words of Cicero, but tries to understand them and evaluate and harmonize with the situation of his epoch.

While analyzing class problems, Volanas, according to Rocka, is quite original, as he singles out the estates of the nobles, the town-dwellers, the farmers (i.e. according to function) without mentioning the clergy. The distinction of the town-people is very significant as this clearly shows the individualization of the society, in this way delimitating it from the collective mind model pushed forward by the Catholics. The clergy have gone away from the evangelical teachings and do not follow the principles belonging to them.


One of the most important issues discussed by Volanas in his work is to determine a deserved (according to the author) punishment for murder to all classes. In his reasoning he attempts to combine the antique wisdom of Demosten and Plato with Biblical truth, saying that man cannot treat another person in the way he himself does not want to be treated. The problem here is the appointment of a punishment that is too small or too great; on one hand, self-will, and on the other hand, cruelty (this is constantly repeated by Cicero in his speeches). Volanas understood that both self-will and cruelty in the Lithuanian legal system stood side by side: a nobleman having murdered a plebeian escaped justice by paying only

31 Andrius Volanas, supra note, p. 128.

32 Aleksei Losev, Ellenisticheski-rimskaja estetika (Hellenistic aesthetics of Rome), (Moskva: Iskusstvo, 1979), p. 362.


some ridiculously small penalty, in this way violating the freedom of the common man. According to the humanist, this contradicts God's word.

One can make a supposition that the author evaluates legal norms existing at that time as contradicting the teachings of God, i.e. inspired by evil. Still Volanas takes God's commandments too literally, as the very principle of the Old Testament "tit for tat" in the context of a modernizing society cannot always be applied without an exception. A modern effect of this principle could only reveal in the old times when in the case of one murdered villager all the people from another village of the murderer were exterminated. This was the tradition and in its context the principle of the Scripture seemed modern. This must be taken with a grain of salt, as the imbalance of the sixteenth-century Lithuanian legislative norms is very evident. If human life is worth less than property, there occurs the danger for the existence of society itself, yet it is impossible to isolate with the help of one-sided drastic measures of punishment. There occurs another realistic danger of creating another injustice.

While discussing this problem, one can come across some contradictions. Volanas is an active supporter of civil freedoms. He highly values the order existing in Lithuania where the power of the ruler is greatly restricted and he is not allowed to overstep the restrictions set by the law. But who passes the laws? They are passed by noblemen who care least of all for justice (as it is understood by Volanas). Their most important aim is to ensure their own privileges, the expression of which could be considered a great punishment for murder. Amendments suggested by Volanas to one or another law could not basically change the legal system itself, but might even promote greater cruelty. This was confirmed by the centuries that followed: "even in the nineteenth century the differentiation of punishment according to class was still preserved. According to Stasys Vancevicius, a historian of law, in the II and III Statutes the number of punishment devoted to physical extermination or injury of a criminal increased, and the severity and volume of punishment depended on the class of a criminal and a victim".33 In this light, Volanas' attempts to differentiate punishment according to the severity of a crime and not to the class is definitely a new phenomenon, the urgency of which did not fade away for quite a while due to the deep-rooted traditions in Lithuania. Unfortunately, the author could not always understand the sources of existing problems, i.e. the fragility of the situation, in which, according to Kavolis, there were no roots of avant-garde elements in local culture and wider

33 Vladas Sirutavicius, Nusikaltimai ir visuomené XIX amziaus Lietuvoje (Crimes and society in Lithuania of the XIX c.), (Vilnius: Baltos lankos, 1995), p. 95.


layers of inhabitants, therefore those elements were inevitably smothered by archaic political culture.34

Volanas' considerations on adultery, debauchery and the size of punishment for these great crimes which the author considers equal to murder, show his attempt of combining the elements of archaic cultures with modern ideas. Like a real evangelical he emphasizes that debauchery contradicts human nature, yet he looks for examples of punishment (especially inhuman examples) for this crime in the pagan cultures of infidels.35

The author seeks for archaism by means that are modern to his epoch, as these discussions doubtlessly involve the sphere of women's rights. He compares a woman to a lioness that has indulged in debauchery with the leopard. Therefore the lion attacks her severely and punishes her.36 Women are shown as "dirty swine" or even "murderers of men", yet the responsibility of men somewhere disappears. It is as if they were turned into the victims of a woman's spell who had yielded to a moment's temptation. It seems like the principle "what's allowed for one person, is forbidden for another" suits well the system of Volanas' attitudes.

In this respect, Volanas is close to Mykolas Lietuvis who defended the grounds of a shaken patriarch, who in fact was identified with the state and freedom itself. The attempts to keep the system are again argued by Cicero's words on the importance of the law, as without it is hardly clear what is yours and what is not.37 Yet the problem of human nature seems hardly solvable on the basis of the laws only, as they often are found contradictory and practically difficult to apply. If we choose to believe Volanas, who says that the Lithuanian nation "can compete with all the nations in the sphere of moral life glory",38 then the suggestions to adopt special legislation raise a lot of doubt.

Yet there is a suggestion to follow the easiest way - to pass the most severe laws against adultery. Volanas, who used to refer so often to historic wisdom, sees only a narrow aspect of the debauchery problem and suggests the further restriction of the rights of women. Referring to the Roman regulations of law, he compares adulterers to rapists which isn't always true or adequate.

Some unexpected thoughts on this problem in a quite a different light can be found in Volanas' "Andrius Volanas' reply to the indecent and infamous little book of Vilnius Jesuit School and first of all to the angry slanderer Andrius Jurgiavicius, the priest and canon of Vilnius" (1589), in which he blames all the priests of Vilnius for debauchery. Another work of Volanas', "On political or civil freedom", is also

34 Vytautas Kavolis, supra note 24, p. 371.

35 Andrius Volanas, supra note 4, p. 153.

36 Ibid.

37 Ibid., p. 152.

38 Ibid., p. 155.


directed against Catholics. Most of the researchers confirm the soundness of Volanas' accusations. The priest J. Sepetys in his book endlessly points out the wicked behaviour of Catholic priests and immoral profligate nuns who push young daughters of the nobles into sin instead of teaching them in the Christian spirit.39 He is supported by the opinion of later researchers, such as J. Jurginis and I. Luskaite.40

Finally, Volanas notes that "it is hardly possible to expect that a person whose soul has been invaded by some hideous lust and the limits of shame have been overstepped, that this person could devote himself to honourable activities of soul and body: he who wants one thing only, will roll in a hideous dirt of his own passions."41 With the example of his own life Cicero42 refutes Volanas' words, as the problems of his internal contradictions (relation of high and low feelings) researchers from different countries have tried to solve for many years. Most of them experienced failure not because of a wrong interpretation of Cicero's texts and life circumstances. Their greatest mistake was their attempt to separate the features of an orator and philosopher which they considered inappropriate from the rest. Once it was done for religious-moral reasons, another time for political reasons. Therefore they failed to understand the most prominent Roman eclectic Cicero.


Raising serious public problems such as incapacity of authority, surfeit or excessive waste of money, Volanas suggests solutions that require a much deeper change, as the defensive potential of the state can be strengthened by means from magnates (introduction of taxes), there would be a necessity to accumulate great funds in the hands of a ruler in this strengthening his powers; yet, this process would contradict another thought said by Volanas (and which would have been supported by all noblemen) concerning the restrictions put on the rights of the ruler. In this situation, a significant role is devoted to the character of the ruler himself. Zygimantas Augustas would have hardly managed to strengthen the state because being a strict ruler or a despot involves special character features. His successors were no exceptions as they made further concessions to the magnates and high hierarchies of the Catholic Church.

39 Jonas Sepetys, Reformacijos istorija Lietuvoje ligi jezuitL atsikraustymo [ VilniL (History of reformation in Lithuania before the arrival of Jesuits), (Vilnius: LUX, 1923), p. 35-36.

40 Juozas Jurginis ir Inge Luksaite, Lietuvos kulturos istorijos bruozai (Elements of the history of Lithuanian culture), (Vilnius: Mokslas, 1981), p. 113.

41 Andrius Volanas, supra note 4, p. 156-167.

42 In his "Tusculan Disputations" Cicero denies the existence of love and natural feeling. In this way there is a doubt, what Volanas tried to oppose to debauchery.


In spite of a number of contradictions arising due to Cicero, whose moral views in practice usually differed from his declarations (they were most often used by Volanas in his texts giving them as an example that should be followed and paying no attention to a practical side of the matter), Volanas' desire to solve all the problems existing in the state by legal means, i.e. by passing the laws insuring the freedoms and the rights of a person, is in fact a positive step towards the modernisation of the state, basically trying to change the point of view concerning the courts and the policy they execute.

Volanas singles out the condition of a woman as one of the most serious problems. To his mind, restrictions to women's rights can facilitate the process of setting men's affairs in a more moderate way. In this way, he only justifies the offence of men brought against women. In this respect, how could we consider Volanas as a modern man, as the negative attitude towards women in Lithuania was expressed by burning "witches" almost, as K. Jablonskis notes, until the end of the eighteenth century, while in the Netherlands this barbaric tradition was extinguished in the second part of the sixteenth century, i.e. during Volanas' lifetime. This is an example of how the author in many cases confuses the conception of public immorality with public modernisation. But this is natural: a mature man in the conservative environment could not come up with ideas akin to those of the most advanced humanists in Europe. When speaking about freedom, Volanas cannot really feel free himself: he feels limits set by his obligations to his supporters and moral restrictions that are not always dictated by sound mind.

As an evangelical, Volanas tried to make all classes equal before the law, especially in the case of serious matters like murder. No doubt, such suggestions were often faced with serious opposition, but even Catholics followed his texts (without announcing the name of Volanas), so the changes in the society had ripened long ago. The suggested ways for solution seemed acceptable for reformers as well as for the wider range of the society that was not satisfied with the existing situation.

Unfortunately, evangelicals did not succeed in coming into contact with the Lithuanian speaking citizens; in other words, the process lasted too long. This is the reason why neither Volanas nor other reformers could become great national leaders. After the defeat of the Protestants, reactive conservatism took rule over Lithuania for several hundred years, the damage of which was described by V. Kudirka and a number of other representatives of the nineteenth-century Lithuanian cultural level.



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