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This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Cicero page.


Unsourced: Quotes widely attributed to the author or work but not sourced to an original work or reputable secondary publication. Read more at Wikiquote:Sourced and Unsourced sections.

Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote on this list please move it to Cicero.

With original Latin[edit]

  • Respublica est consensus iuris et communio utilitatis
    • The Republic is a common law and the common good
      • Suspected confusion of De Re Publica, Book I, section 39:
        Est igitur, inquit Africanus, res publica res populi, populus autem non omnis hominum coetus quoquo modo congregatus, sed coetus multitudinis iuris consensu et utilitatis communione sociatus.
  • Si vis doceri, doce
    • If you want to be taught, teach
      • Note: Dubious
  • Ut aegroto, dum anima est, spes esse dicitur, sic ego, quoad Pompeius in Italia fuit, sperare non destiti haec,
    • As in the case of a sick man one says, “while there is life, there is hope” , so, as long as Pompey was in Italy, I did not cease to hope.
      • Epistulae ad Atticum (Letters to Atticus) Book IX, Letter X, section 3
      • While Cicero ‘’said’’ the full sentence, the sentence itself makes clear that the oft quoted bold text did not orignate with him. Compare: “While there's life there's hope, and only the dead have none.” Theocritus, Idyll 4, line 42
      • The bold text may be the basis for the misattribution to Cicero of dum spiro spero (while I breathe, I hope).


  • A bad peace is always better than a good war.
    • Potentially confusion of:
      Equidem ad pacem hortari non desino; quae vel iniusta utilior est quam iustissimum bellum cum civibus.
      "As for me, I cease not to advocate peace. It may be on unjust terms, but even so it is more expedient than the justest of civil wars."
  • A life of peace, purity, and refinement leads to a calm and untroubled old age.
  • All action is of the mind and the mirror of the mind is the face, its index the eyes.
  • Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature.
  • As the old proverb says "Like readily consorts with like."
  • Be sure that it is not you that is mortal, but only your body. For that man whom your outward form reveals is not yourself; the spirit is the true self, not that physical figure which and be pointed out by your finger.
  • Everyone has the obligation to ponder well his own specific traits of character. He must also regulate them adequately and not wonder whether someone else's traits might suit him better. The more definitely his own a man's character is, the better it fits him.
  • Freedom is a possession of inestimable value.
  • Freedom is participation in power. (This is a misquotation. There is no reference or source to the Latin original anywhere.)
  • Friends, though absent, are still present.
    • Friends, though absent, are present still.
  • He only employs his passion who can make no use of his reason.
  • He removes the greatest ornament of friendship, who takes away from it respect.
  • I will go further, and assert that nature without culture can often do more to deserve praise than culture without nature.
  • If we are forced, at every hour, to watch or listen to horrible events, this constant stream of ghastly impressions will deprive even the most delicate among us of all respect for humanity.
  • In men of the highest character and noblest genius there is to be found an insatiable desire for honour, command, power, and glory.
  • In so far as the mind is stronger than the body, so are the ills contracted by the mind more severe than those contracted by the body.
  • It is a great thing to know our vices.
  • It is a true saying that "One falsehood leads easily to another".
  • Liberty is rendered even more precious by the recollection of servitude.
  • Live as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts. | The origin of this quote is often misattributed to Cicero; however, it is from Line 135-136 of Book 2, Satire 2 by Horace, "Quocirca vivite fortes, fortiaque adversis opponite pectora rebus" (Horace, 1909). The English translation that most closely matches the one misrepresented as Cicero's is from a collection of Horace's prose written by E. C. Wickham, "So live, my boys, as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts" (Wickham, 1903). References: Horace. (1909). Horace the Satires. (E. P. Morris, Ed.) American Book Company. Retrieved May 24, 2018, from; Wickham, E. (1903). Horace for English Readers. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Retrieved May 24, 2018, from
  • Men decide far more problems by hate, love, lust, rage, sorrow, joy, hope, fear, illusion, or some other inward emotion, than by reality, authority, any legal standard, judicial precedent, or statute.
  • Natural ability without education has more often attained to glory and virtue than education without natural ability.
  • Nature herself has imprinted on the minds of all the idea of God.
    • I went looking for the source of this quote (other than the game CivIV) and found nearly nothing. I couldn't find a quote that also included a source. The closest nature/God quote I could find was from "On Old Age" "..I follow Nature, the best of guides, as I would a god, and am loyal to her commands." which isn't close at all. ~
    • This phrase is found verbatim in a book titled The Homilist; or, The pulpit for the people, conducted by D. Thomas. Vol. II, Excelsior Series, Vol. XLV, from commencement (LONDON: SIMPKIN, MARSHALL & CO., 1879), p. 266. He states: “Belief in a God Universal.— ‘Nature herself has imprinted on the minds of all the idea of a God. For what nation or race of men is. there that has not, even without being taught, some idea of a God?’ (Nat. D. i. 16.) The Eternity of God.— ‘For the same nature that has given to us a knowledge of the God, has imprinted on our minds that He is eternal and happy. . . . For the gods always have been, and never were born.’ (Nat. D. i. 17, 25.) ‘Among men there is not a nation so savage and brutish, which, though it may not know what kind of a Being God ought to be, does not kuow that there must be one. From this we may infer, that, whoever, as it were, recollects and knows whence he is sprung, acknowledges the existence of a God.’ (Leg.i. 8.)”. Rev. Thomas gives the source as De Natura Deorum, I, 16, but it is clearly a mistranslation of the discussion of Epicurean thought which is set out immediately below this note in the original Latin. Cicero was concerned with “the gods” plural not with “a God” singular.
      • De Natura Deorum, Liber I, Pars XVI (book 1, chapter 16): talking about Epicurus, "Solus enim vidit primum esse deos, quod in omnium animis eorum notionem impressisset ipsa natura", only he (Epicurus) saw that the gods exist because in every soul these notions [the existence of the gods discussed in previous chapters] are imprinted by nature herself.

I insist on the plural of gods, it is improper (I'm being polite) to use "God" as a tranlation here.

        • John Calvin, possibly also Sid Meier's source in this case, quotes tusc. disp. I, 13, 30; also nat. deor. I, 16, 43. It says: "Yet there is as, as the famous heathen says, no nation so barbaric, no tribe so savage, or the conviction is seated in her, that there is a God." (Institutie of onderwijzing in de Christelijke Godsdienst, trans. A. Sizoo.)
  • Nature herself makes the wise man rich.
  • The man who has a garden and a library has everything.
  • Neither can embellishments of language be found without arrangement and expression of thoughts, nor can thoughts be made to shine without the light of language.
  • Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.
  • No one can speak well, unless he thoroughly understands his subject.
  • Nothing quite new is perfect.
  • Our span of life is brief, but is long enough for us to live well and honestly.
  • Our thoughts are free.
  • Politicians are not born; they are excreted.
  • Strain every nerve to gain your point.
  • Such praise coming from so degraded a source, was degrading to me, its recipient.
  • The absolute good is not a matter of opinion but of nature.
  • The evil implanted in man by nature spreads so imperceptibly, when the habit of wrong-doing is unchecked, that he himself can set no limit to his shamelessness.
  • The man who backstabs an absent friend, nay, who does not stand up for him when another blames him, the man who angles for bursts of laughter and for the repute of a wit, who can invent what he never saw, who cannot keep a secret — that man is black at heart: mark and avoid him.
  • The name of peace is sweet, and the thing itself is beneficial, but there is a great difference between peace and servitude. Peace is freedom in tranquility, servitude is the worst of all evils, to be resisted not only by war, but even by death.
  • The wise are instructed by reason; ordinary minds by experience; the stupid, by necessity; and brutes by instinct.
In Charles Simmons, A Laconic Manual and Brief Remarker (1852), 273. Link: Couldn't find in anywhere else. Maybe should be inserted on the "disputed" section? --Pedro Gomes Andrade (talk) 02:22, 27 December 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • There are some duties we owe even to those who have wronged us. There is, after all, a limit to retribution and punishment.
  • There is no duty more obligatory than the repayment of kindness.
  • Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.
  • To be content with what one has is the greatest and truest of riches.
  • We are obliged to respect, defend and maintain the common bonds of union and fellowship that exist among all members of the human race.
  • What is morally wrong can never be advantageous, even when it enables you to make some gain that you believe to be to your advantage. The mere act of believing that some wrongful course of action constitutes an advantage is pernicious.
  • What we call pleasure, and rightly so is the absence of all pain.
  • When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men's minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind.
  • Where is there dignity unless there is honesty?
  • The Six Mistakes of Man
  1. The illusion that personal gain is made up of crushing others.
  2. The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected.
  3. Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it.
  4. Refusing to set aside trivial preferences.
  5. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and study.
  6. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.
    • The "Six Mistakes of Man" is spuriously attributed to Cicero. This list was part of a book written by Bernard Meador in 1914 entitled "Secrets of Personal Culture and Business Power", and advertised in various labor and trade union journals in the 1910's. It was published as a list of 7 items, and "The Seven Mistakes of Life" was one of the chapters in this book that looked at each point in detail (see this advertisement from 1916 for reference). Journals, books, and editorials don't start attributing this list to Cicero until the 1940's. -HanClinto (talk)
      • The link above doesn't seem to point to the right advertisement. However the book is available online, and this page contains the Seven Mistakes. --ABehrens (talk) 06:24, 11 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • You're trying to refute me by quoting things I've said or written myself. That's confronting me with documents that have already been sealed! You can reserve that method for people who only argue according to fixed rules. But I live from one day to the next! If something strikes me as probable, I say it; and that is how, unlike everyone else, I remain a free agent.

> This is in the Tusculan Disputations, Book 5 section 11. My translation has:

“What! You would convict me from my own words, and bring against me what I had said or written elsewhere. You may act in that manner with those who dispute by established rules. We live from hand to mouth, and say anything that strikes our mind with probability, so that we are the only people who are really at liberty.”

  • Poor man : Works. Rich man : Exploits the poor man. Soldier: Defends both. Taxpayer : Pays for all three. Vagabond : Rests for all four, Drunkard : Drinks for all five. Banker: Robs all six. Lawyer : Deceives all seven. Doctor : Kills all eight. Undertaker : Buries all nine. Politician : Lives at the cost of all ten.

Bold quotes?[edit]

I see that some quotes are in bold, some are not. I'm curious as to the reason for the bold ones. Should this be fixed? Magnoliasouth 00:12, 4 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See the discussion at Wikiquote:Village_pump#Random_quotes_that_are_bold-faced.3F ~ Kalki 00:26, 4 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Discussion archived at Wikiquote:Village_pump_archive_8#Random_quotes_that_are_bold-faced.3FOttoMäkelä (talk) 09:27, 31 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Balanced Budget[edit]

Apparently, this quote was made up back in the 80s and attributed to Cicero. I removed it as such. I couldn't find any direct link to the Roman ever saying this. See link for more details:

The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn't want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.

  • It's older than that; in fact from Taylor Caldwell's novel A Pillar of Iron (1965). This is now noted in the Misattributed section. --TLockyer (talk) 17:38, 27 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  • Quam cum suavissima et maxima voce legisset, admirantibus omnibus "quanto" inquit "magis miraremini, si audissetis ipsum!"

is currently translated

  • He spoke with a charming full voice, and when everyone was applauding, "how much", he asked, "would you have applauded if you had heard the original?"

My Latin may be a bit rusty, but surely "legisset" should be "he read" rather than "he spoke"? I recognise that it's a fairly dynamic translation, but it seems to me that being a bit more literal here would prepare the reader for the explanation of the context which follows. Is the translation also quoted, or is it an in-house affair which can be altered without causing confusion? 19:00, 16 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • I agree, I made the modification. Seven years later. Melior sero quam numquam. IOHANNVSVERVS (talk) 17:50, 25 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Enemy Within[edit]

What about the one that has made internet rounds in the past few years, "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious, but it cannot survive treason from within...." It's always attributed to Cicero, but I've never found any evidence to support that claim, or any context. Should it be under misattributed?

Reply: it is a heavy paraphrase of Cicero from a 1965 speech, "Cicero's Prognosis", by Florida Supreme Court Justice, Millard F. Caldwell, who spoke at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc (October 7-9, 1965, Columbus, Ohio). Here is the full text:

Reply 2: I'm not certain if Justice Millard Caldwell was aware that it was actually written by the novelist Talyor Caldwell. It is possible he believed Caldwell was actually quoting Cicero. But it is direct quotation from her book Pillar of Iron.

    • "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared. The traitor is the carrier of the plague. You have unbarred the gates of Rome to him."
      • Taylor Caldwell in her novel based on the life of Cicero, A Pillar of Iron (1965), p. 661 in Open Road Media; Reprint edition (September 26, 2017).

More about this title (only one part of Ms. Caldwell's large body of historical fiction) can be found at MacKendrick, Paul. The Classical Journal, vol. 61, no. 4, 1966, pp. 183–184. JSTOR,

In connection with Justice Caldwell from Florida, he may hve only recently read the novel. The novel had been featured in a favorable review in the America Bar Association Journal shortly before his speech. Sbarboro, Gerald L. American Bar Association Journal, vol. 51, no. 9, 1965, pp. 866–866. JSTOR,


Cicero did not ever write anything that directly translates to “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” What he actually wrote was etenim, iudices, cum omnibus virtutibus me adfectum esse cupio, tum nihil est quod malim quam me et esse gratum et videri. haec enim est una virtus non solum maxima sed etiam mater virtutum omnium reliquarum.[1].

The second sentence translates to “For this virtue is not only the greatest of virtues, but also the mother of all others.”, but “this” is incorrectly substituted in many translations.

There are many later writings and early printings that make the connection, but not the direct substitution. Among them is the 1630 printing of Encyclopaedia septem tomis distincta, by Johann Heinrich Alsted. It reads: “Nam gratitudo, ut Cicero, ait pro Planco, virtus est non solum maxima, sed etiam mater virtutum omnium reliquarum.” (Vol. 2., p. 1297, col. 2)[2]. That seems to be a fair summary and a direct reference to the word “gratitude”, but not even Alsted makes the direct substitution in the quotation.

The 1882 printing of Hoyt and Ward's The Cyclopædia of Practical Quotations, goes so far as to replace the original Latin haec with Gratus animus, and translates that to “A thankful heart” (p. 533, col. 2) [3].

The 1884 printing of Day's Collacon substitutes “this” with “[a] grateful mind”. (p. 344, col. 1)[4].

The switch to “gratitude” might have started as late as the late 20th century.

A current University of Chicago translation more accurately includes an original meaning lost in many later translations, that of not merely feeling grateful, but also of showing gratitude: “...the being and appearing grateful. For this one virtue is not only the greatest, but is also the parent of all the other virtues.”[5].

Thus, in this Wikipedia entry, I am substituting “Gratitude” with “Being and appearing grateful”. Danorton (talk) 21:02, 30 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What credibility is being lent to the validity of any of these statements? How is this page now than opinion?

Paceni? ((fixed))[edit]

"Equidem ad paceni hortari non desino"

As far as I can tell "paceni" is not a version of any Latin word, but when I google "equiem ad pacem hortari non desino", I get a ton of results. Would someone who knows more about Latin and/or about Cicero than me like to check and see if the quote on the main page should be altered?

  • You are correct. Clearly someone misread the letter "m" as "ni". 17:14, 15 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]