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Cui bono? (/kw ˈbn/), literally "to whom is it a benefit?", is a Latin phrase related to the identification of crime suspects, expressing a utilitarian view that the perpetrator of a crime may be found among those who have something to gain, chiefly with an eye toward financial gain. The party which benefits may not always be obvious or may have successfully diverted attention to a scapegoat, for example.[citation needed]



The phrase is a double dative construction. It is also rendered as cui prodest? ("whom does it profit?") and ad cuius bonum? ("for whose good?").[citation needed]


 L. Cassius ille, quem populus Romanus verissimum et sapientissimum iudicem putabat, identidem in causis quaerere solebat, cui bono fuisset?[1]

 The famous Lucius Cassius, whom the Roman people used to regard as a very honest and wise judge, was in the habit of asking, time and again, to whose benefit it be?

Cicero: Pro Roscio Amerino, §§ 84, 86

Another example of Cicero using Cui bono is in his defence of Milo, in the Pro Milone, once again invoking Cassius as the source: "Let that maxim of Cassius apply."[2]

American sociologist Peter Blau has used the concept of cui bono to differentiate organizations by who has primarily benefited: owners; members; specific others; or the general society.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Karl Felix Halm (1861), John Eyton Bickersteth Mayor, ed., Cicero's Second Philippic, p. 87 
  2. ^ Cicero, Pro Milone 32.3.
  3. ^ Blau, Peter (1962). Formal Organizations.