34. Injustice is not evil in itself; it is evil because fear of not escaping punishment necessarily arises from it.
Alternate Translations: Bailey: Injustice is not an evil in itself, but only in consequence of the fear which attaches to the apprehension of being unable to escape those appointed to punish such action.
Cicero’s Defense of Epicurus: The mind possesses nothing within itself on which it can rest as final. Every fear, every sorrow, can be traced back to pain — and there is nothing besides pain which has the capacity to cause either anxiety or distress.
Cicero’s Defense of Epicurus: As with the other virtues, Justice cannot correctly be said to be desirable in and of itself. Here again, Justice is desirable because it is so highly productive of gratification. Esteem and affection are gratifying because they render life safer and happier. Thus we hold that injustice is to be avoided not simply on account of the disadvantages that result from being unjust, but even more, because when injustice dwells in a man’s heart, it never allows him to breathe freely or to know a moment’s rest.
NewEpicurean Commentary: Acts of injustice are not evil in themselves, but only because we see that those who have committed the unjust act are never free of the turmoil of fear of suffering punishment for those unjust acts. This is an application of the rule that the desires of debauched men would not be blameworthy if they in fact procured a happy life. Ultimately the order of Nature is that all good derives from pleasure, all evil derives from pain.