Cornelius Nepos

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Cornelius Nepos (c. 110 – c. 25 BC) was a Roman biographer. He was born at Hostilia, a village in Cisalpine Gaul not far from Verona.


Text and translation: John C. Rolfe, Cornelius Nepos, LCL (1929), pp. 355–697
  • Tantum abest, ut ego magistram esse putem vitae philosophiam beataeque vitae perfectricem, ut nullis magis existimem opus esse magistros vivendi quam plerisque qui in ea disputanda versantur. Video enim magnam partem eorum qui in schola de pudore et continentia praecipiant argutissime, eosdem in omnium ibidinum cupiditatibus vivere.
    • So far am I from thinking that philosophy can teach how to live and is the perfecter of a happy life, that I believe that none have more need of learning how to live than the greater number of those who are engaged in teaching philosophy. In fact, I observe that a great part of those same men who in the schools argue most subtly about moderation and self-restraint pass their lives a prey to all the passions.
    • Ad Ciceronem Epistulae fragmentum

De excellentibus ducibus exterarum gentium

  • Putamus malo fuisse nimiam opinionem ingenii atque virtutis.
    • I am convinced that nothing was more to his disadvantage than the excessive confidence in his ability and valour.
    • Alcibiades, 7
  • Matrem timidi flere non solere.
    • The mother of one who knows what fear is seldom has cause to weep.
    • Thrasybulus, 2
  • Miseranda vita, qui se metui, quam amari malunt.
    • The hatred of absolute power and the wretched life of those who prefer to be feared rather than loved.
    • Dion, 9
  • Est enim hoc commune vitium in magnis liberisque civitatibus, ut invidia gloriae comes sit; et libenter de iis detrahunt quos eminere videant altius, neque animo aequo pauperes alienam opulentium intuuntur fortunam.
    • It is a common fault of great states which enjoy freedom that jealousy waits upon glory and that the people take pleasure in humbling those whom they see rising above the level of their fellows. Those of moderate means cannot regard with patience the good fortune of others who are rich.
    • Chabrias, 3
  • Magnos homines virtute metimur, non fortuna.
    • We measure a man’s greatness by his merit and not by his fortune.
    • Eumenes, 1

T. Pomponii Attici vita

  • Sui cuique mores fingunt fortunam hominibus.
    • ’Tis each man’s character his fortune makes.
    • 11
  • Plus salis, quam sumptus.
    • Rather tasteful than costly.
    • 13
  • Elegans, non magnificus, splendidus, non sumptuosus; omnisque diligentia munditiam, non adfluentiam adfectabat.
    • He was tasteful rather than magnificent, distinguished rather than extravagant; and all his efforts were in the direction of elegance, not of excess.
    • 13


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