Cicero

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Let the welfare of the people be the ultimate law.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (3 January 106 BC7 December 43 BC), also known by the anglicized name Tully, in and after the Middle Ages, was a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the Roman equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.

Quotes

True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrong-doing by its prohibitions.
The distinguishing property of man is to search for and to follow after truth.
A war is never undertaken by the ideal State, except in defense of its honor or its safety.
A happy life consists in tranquility of mind.
How long, Catiline, will you abuse our patience?
The beginnings of all things are small.
When the young die I am reminded of a strong flame extinguished by a torrent; but when old men die it is as if a fire had gone out without the use of force and of its own accord, after the fuel had been consumed.
  • 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.
      • Epistulae ad Atticum (Letters to Atticus) VII, 14, as translated by E.O. Winstedt in the Loeb Classical Library
  • Quidem concessum est rhetoribus ementiri in historiis ut aliquid dicere possint argutius.
    • Indeed rhetoricians are permitted to lie about historical matters so they can speak more subtly.
      • Brutus, 42
  • Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit.
    • Almost no one dances sober, unless he is insane.
      • Pro Murena (Chapter VI, sec. 13)
  • 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.
    • In truth, O judges, while I wish to be adorned with every virtue, yet there is nothing which I can esteem more highly than being and appearing grateful. For this one virtue is not only the greatest, but is also the parent of all the other virtues.
      • Pro Plancio (54 B.C.)
  • Silent enim leges inter arma.
    • Law stands mute in the midst of arms.
      • Pro Milone, Chapter IV, section 11. Often paraphrased as Inter arma enim silent leges.
      • Variant translations:
      • In a time of war, the law falls silent.
      • Laws are silent in time of war.
  • Vi victa vis.
    • Force overcome by force.
      • Pro Milone, Chapter XI, section 30
      • Variant translation: Violence conquered by violence.
  • Historia vero testis temporum, lux veritatis, vita memoriae, magistra vitae, nuntia vetustatis, qua voce alia nisi oratoris immortalitati commendatur?
    • History is truely the witness of times past, the light of truth, the life of memory, the teacher of life, the messenger of antiquity; whose voice, but the orator's, can entrust her to immortality?
      • De Oratore Book II; Chapter IX, section 36
  • Id quod est praestantissimum, maximeque optabile omnibus sanis et bonis et beatis, cum dignitate otium.
    • That which stands first, and is most to be desired by all happy, honest and healthy-minded men, is dignified leisure.
      • Pro Publio Sestio; Chapter XLV
  • Quam cum suavissima et maxima voce legisset, admirantibus omnibus "quanto" inquit "magis miraremini, si audissetis ipsum!"
    • He read with a charming full voice, and when everyone was applauding, "how much", he asked, "would you have applauded if you had heard the original?"
      • De Oratorio, book 3, chapter 56.
      • Note: Cicero was telling the story of Æschines' return to Rhodes, at which he was requested to deliver Demosthenes' defence of Ctesiphon.
  • At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus, qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti, quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint, obcaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa, qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio, cumque nihil impedit, quo minus id, quod maxime placeat, facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet, ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat.
    • On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammeled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.
      • De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (The Ends of Good and Evil), Book I, section 33; Translation by H. Rackham (1914)
  • Est quidem vera lex recta ratio naturae congruens, diffusa in omnes, constans, sempiterna, quae vocet ad officium iubendo, vetando a fraude deterreat; quae tamen neque probos frustra iubet aut vetat nec improbos iubendo aut vetando movet. Huic legi nec obrogari fas est neque derogari ex hac aliquid licet neque tota abrogari potest, nec vero aut per senatum aut per populum solvi hac lege possumus, neque est quaerendus explanator aut interpres eius alius, nec erit alia lex Romae, alia Athenis, alia nunc, alia posthac, sed et omnes gentes et omni tempore una lex et sempiterna et immutabilis continebit, unusque erit communis quasi magister et imperator omnium deus, ille legis huius inventor, disceptator, lator; cui qui non parebit, ipse se fugiet ac naturam hominis aspernatus hoc ipso luet maximas poenas, etiamsi cetera supplicia, quae putantur, effugerit.
    • There is a true law, a right reason, conformable to nature, universal, unchangeable, eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and whose prohibitions restrain us from evil. Whether it enjoins or forbids, the good respect its injunctions, and the wicked treat them with indifference. This law cannot be contradicted by any other law, and is not liable either to derogation or abrogation. Neither the senate nor the people can give us any dispensation for not obeying this universal law of justice. It needs no other expositor and interpreter than our own conscience. It is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens; one thing to–day and another to–morrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must for ever reign, eternal and imperishable. It is the sovereign master and emperor of all beings. God himself is its author,—its promulgator,—its enforcer. He who obeys it not, flies from himself, and does violence to the very nature of man. For his crime he must endure the severest penalties hereafter, even if he avoid the usual misfortunes of the present life.
      • De Re Publica [Of The Republic], Book III; Translation by Francis Barham
      • Variant translation of opening line: True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrong-doing by its prohibitions.
  • Illa iniusta bella sunt, quae sunt sine causa suscepta. nam extra ulciscendi aut propulsandorum hostium causam bellum geri iustum nullum potest.
    • A war is never undertaken by the ideal State, except in defense of its honor or its safety.
    • De Re Publica, Book 3, Chapter 23
  • Qui tacet non utique fatetur, sed tamen verum est eum non negare.
    • Though silence is not necessarily an admission, it is not a denial, either.
    • Paulus, L, 17
  • Etiamne hoc adfirmare potes, Luculle, esse aliquam vim, cum prudentia et consilio scilicet, quae finxerit vel, ut tuo verbo utar, quae fabricata sit hominem? Qualis ista fabrica est? ubi adhibita? quando? cur? quo modo?
    • Can you also, Lucullus, affirm that there is any power united with wisdom and prudence which has made, or, to use your own expression, manufactured man? What sort of a manufacture is that? Where is it exercised? when? why? how?
      • Academica, Book II (Entitled Lucullus), Chapter XXVII, section 87
  • Quibus enim oculis animi intueri potuit vester Plato fabricam illam tanti operis, qua construi a deo atque aedificari mundum facit; quae molitio, quae ferramenta, qui vectes, quae machinae, qui ministri tanti muneris fuerunt; quem ad modum autem oboedire et parere voluntati architecti aer, ignis, aqua, terra potuerunt; unde vero ortae illae quinque formae, ex quibus reliqua formantur, apte cadentes ad animum afficiendum pariendosque sensus? Longum est ad omnia, quae talia sunt, ut optata magis quam inventa videantur.
    • For with what eyes of the mind was your Plato able to see that workhouse of such stupendous toil, in which he makes the world to be modelled and built by God? What materials, what bars, what machines, what servants, were employed in so vast a work? How could the air, fire, water, and earth, pay obedience and submit to the will of the architect? From whence arose those five forms, of which the rest were composed, so aptly contributing to frame the mind and produce the senses? It is tedious to go through all, as they are of such a sort that they look more like things to be desired than to be discovered.
      • De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods) Book I, section 19
  • Nos autem beatam vitam in animi securitate et in omnium vacatione munerum ponimus.
    • We, on the contrary, make blessedness of life depend upon an untroubled mind, and exemption from all duties.
    • Shortened Version: We think a happy life consists in tranquility of mind.
    • De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods), Book I, section 6
  • Age et his vocabulis esse deos facimus quibus a nobis nominantur? At primum, quot hominum linguae, tot nomina deorum. Non enim, ut tu Velleius, quocumque veneris, sic idem in Italia, idem in Africa, idem in Hispania.
    • Come now: Do we really think that the gods are everywhere called by the same names by which they are addressed by us? But the gods have as many names as there are languages among humans. For it is not with the gods as with you: you are Velleius wherever you go, but Vulcan is not Vulcan in Italy and in Africa and in Spain.
  • Omnium rerum principia parva sunt.
    • The beginnings of all things are small.
    • Variant translation: Everything has a small beginning.
    • "De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" Book V, Chapter 58
  • Laudandum adulescentem, ornandum, tollendum.
    • The young man should be praised, honored, and made immortal.
    • Ad Familiares 11.20.1; the reference is to Octavian, with tollendum carrying the implication of the youth's being slain and thus "made immortal".
  • Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit.
    • If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
    • To Varro, in Ad Familiares IX, 4
  • Una navis est iam bonorum omnium.
    • All loyalists are now in the same boat.
    • Ad Familiares, XII, 25
  • Civis Romanus sum.
    • I am a Roman citizen.
    • Against Verres [In Verrem], part 2, book 5, section 57; reported in Cicero, The Verrine Orations, trans. L. H. G. Greenwood (1935), vol. 2, p. 629

De Legibus (On the Laws)

  • Est enim unum ius quo deuincta est hominum societas et quod lex constituit una, quae lex est recta ratio imperandi atque prohibendi. Quam qui ignorat, is est iniustus, siue est illa scripta uspiam siue nusquam.
    • For there is but one essential justice which cements society, and one law which establishes this justice. This law is right reason, which is the true rule of all commandments and prohibitions. Whoever neglects this law, whether written or unwritten, is necessarily unjust and wicked.
  • Quid enim foedius auaritia, quid immanius libidine, quid contemptius timiditate, quid abiectius tarditate et stultitia dici potest?
    • For what is there more hideous than avarice, more brutal than lust, more contemptible than cowardice, more base than stupidity and folly?
  • Noxia poena par esto.
    • Let the punishment match the offense.
      • Book III, section 11
  • Salus populi suprema lex esto.
    • Let the welfare of the people be the ultimate law.
  • Suum cuique.
    • To each his own.
      • Book I

In Catilinam I - Against Catiline (63 B.C)

  • Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?
    • To what length will you abuse our patience, Catiline?
    • Variant translation: "How long, Catiline, will you abuse our patience?"
      • Speech I
  • O tempora! O mores!
    • O, the times! O, the morals!
    • Variant: O the times! O, the customs!
      • Speech I
  • Quodsi ea mihi maxime inpenderet tamen hoc animo fui semper, ut invidiam virtute partam gloriam, non invidiam putarem.
    • I have always been of the opinion that infamy earned by doing what is right is not infamy at all, but glory.
      • Speech I

Orator Ad M. Brutum (46 BC)

  • Prima enim sequentem honestum est in secundis tertiisque consistere. (3)
    • If a man aspires to the highest place, it is no dishonor to him to halt at the second, or even at the third.
    • Variant translation: If you aspire to the highest place, it is no disgrace to stop at the second, or even the third, place.
  • Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. Quid enim est aetas hominis, nisi ea memoria rerum veterum cum superiorum aetate contexitur? (120)
    • Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever. For what is the time of a man, except it be interwoven with that memory of ancient things of a superior age?
    • Variant translation: To be ignorant of the past is to be forever a child.

De Divinatione - On Divination (44 BC)

  • Sed ita a principio incohatum esse mundum, ut certis rebus certa signa praecurrerent.
    • From the beginning of the world it has been ordained that certain signs must needs precede certain events.
      • Book I, Chapter LII, section 118
      • Compare: "Often do the spirits / Of great events stride on before the events, / And in to-day already walks to-morrow", Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Death of Wallenstein, Act v, scene 1
  • Non enim omnis error stultitia est dicenda.
    • We must not say that every mistake is a foolish one.
      • Book II, Chapter LII, section 90
  • Nihil tam absurde dici potest, quod non dicatur ab aliquo philosophorum.
    • There is nothing so absurd that it has not been said by some philosopher.
      • Book II, chapter LVIII, section 119
      • Cf. René Descartes' "On ne sauroit rien imaginer de si étranger et si peu croyable, qu’il n’ait été dit par quelqu’un des philosophes [One cannot conceive anything so strange and so implausible that it has not already been said by one philosopher or another]" (Le Discours de la Méthode, Pt. 2)
  • Nec vero superstitione tollenda religio tollitur.
    • We do not destroy religion by destroying superstition.
      • Book II, chapter LXXII, sec. 148

Cato Maior de Senectute - On Old Age (44 BC)

English translation by William Armistead Falconer.
  • Quibus enim nihil est in ipsis opis ad bene beateque vivendum, eis omnis aetas gravis est; qui autem omnia bona a se ipsi petunt, eis nihil potest malum videri quod naturae necessitas afferat. quo in genere est in primis senectus, quam ut adipiscantur omnes optant, eandem accusant adeptam; tanta est stultitiae inconstantia atque perversitas. obrepere aiunt eam citius quam putassent. primum quis coegit eos falsum putare? qui enim citius adulescentiae senectus quam pueritiae adulescentia obrepit? deinde qui minus gravis esset eis senectus, si octingentesimum annum agerent, quam si octogesimum? praeterita enim aetas quamvis longa, cum effluxisset, nulla consolatione permulcere posset stultam senectutem.
    • For to those who have not the means within themselves of a virtuous and happy life every age is burdensome; and, on the other hand, to those who seek all good from themselves nothing can seem evil that the laws of nature inevitably impose. To this class old age especially belongs, which all men wish to attain and yet reproach when attained; such is the inconsistency and perversity of Folly! They say that it stole upon them faster than they had expected. In the first place, who has forced them to form a mistaken judgement? For how much more rapidly does old age steal upon youth than youth upon childhood? And again, how much less burdensome would old age be to them if they were in their eight hundredth rather than in their eightieth year? In fact, no lapse of time, however long, once it had slipped away, could solace or soothe a foolish old age.
    • section 4
  • Etenim, cum complector animo, quattuor reperio causas, cur senectus misera videatur: unam, quod avocet a rebus gerendis; alteram, quod corpus faciat infirmius; tertiam, quod privet fere omnibus voluptatibus; quartam, quod haud procul absit a morte.
    • And, indeed, when I reflect on this subject I find four reasons why old age appears to be unhappy: first, that it withdraws us from active pursuits; second, that it makes the body weaker; third, that it deprives us of almost all physical pleasures; and, fourth, that it is not far removed from death.
  • Nemo enim est tam senex qui se annum non putet posse vivere.
    • No one is so old as to think that he cannot live one more year.
    • section 24
  • Denique isto bono utare, dum adsit, cum absit, ne requiras: nisi forte adulescentes pueritiam, paulum aetate progressi adulescentiam debent requirere. cursus est certus aetatis et una via naturae eaque simplex, suaque cuique parti aetatis tempestivitas est data, ut et infirmitas puerorum et ferocitas iuvenum et gravitas iam constantis aetatis et senectutis maturitas naturale quiddam habet, quod suo tempore percipi debeat.
    • In short, enjoy the blessing of strength while you have it and do not bewail it when it is gone, unless, forsooth, you believe that youth must lament the loss of infancy, or early manhood the passing of youth. Life's race-course is fixed; Nature has only a single path and that path is run but once, and to each stage of existence has been allotted its own appropriate quality; so that the weakness of childhood, the impetuosity of youth, the seriousness of middle life, the maturity of old age—each bears some of Nature's fruit, which must be garnered in its own season.
    • section 33
  • Omnia autem quae secundum naturam fiunt sunt habenda in bonis.
    • Whatever befalls in accordance with Nature should be accounted good.
    • section 71
  • Itaque adulescentes mihi mori sic videntur, ut cum aquae multitudine flammae vis opprimitur, senes autem sic, ut cum sua sponte nulla adhibita vi consumptus ignis exstinguitur; et quasi poma ex arboribus, cruda si sunt, vix evelluntur, si matura et cocta, decidunt, sic vitam adulescentibus vis aufert, senibus maturitas; quae quidem mihi tam iucunda est, ut, quo propius ad mortem accedam, quasi terram videre videar aliquandoque in portum ex longa navigatione esse venturus.
    • When the young die I am reminded of a strong flame extinguished by a torrent; but when old men die it is as if a fire had gone out without the use of force and of its own accord, after the fuel had been consumed; and, just as apples when they are green are with difficulty plucked from the tree, but when ripe and mellow fall of themselves, so, with the young, death comes as a result of force, while with the old it is the result of ripeness. To me, indeed, the thought of this "ripeness" for death is so pleasant, that the nearer I approach death the more I feel like one who is in sight of land at last and is about to anchor in his home port after a long voyage.
    • section 71
  • Post mortem quidem sensus aut optandus aut nullus est. Sed hoc meditatum ab adulescentia debet esse mortem ut neglegamus, sine qua meditatione tranquillo animo esse nemo potest. Moriendum enim certe est, et incertum an hoc ipso die. Mortem igitur omnibus horis impendentem timens qui poterit animo consistere?
    • After death the sensation is either pleasant or there is none at all. But this should be thought on from our youth up, so that we may be indifferent to death, and without this thought no one can be in a tranquil state of mind. For it is certain that we must die, and, for aught we know, this very day. Therefore, since death threatens every hour, how can he who fears it have any steadfastness of soul?
    • section 74
  • Omnino, ut mihi quidem videtur studiorum omnium satietas vitae facit satietatem. Sunt pueritiae studia certa: num igitur ea desiderant adulescentes? Sunt ineuntis adulescentiae: num ea constans iam requirit aetas, quae media dicitur? Sunt etiam eius aetatis: ne ea quidem quaeruntur in senectute. Sunt extrema quaedam studia senectutis: ergo, ut superiorum aetatum studia occidunt, sic occidunt etiam senectutis; quod cum evenit, satietas vitae tempus maturum mortis affert.
    • Undoubtedly, as it seems to me at least, satiety of all pursuits causes satiety of life. Boyhood has certain pursuits: does youth yearn for them? Early youth has its pursuits: does the matured or so-called middle stage of life need them? Maturity, too, has such as are not even sought in old age, and finally, there are those suitable to old age. Therefore as the pleasures and pursuits of the earlier periods of life fall away, so also do those of old age; and when that happens man has his fill of life and the time is ripe for him to go.
    • section 76

De Officiis - On Duties (44 BC)

We are not born for ourselves alone; a part of us is claimed by our nation, another part by our friends.
  • Existunt etiam saepe iniuriae calumnia quadam et nimis callida sed malitiosa iuris interpretatione. Ex quo illud "summum ius summa iniuria" factum est iam tritum sermone proverbium.
    • Injustice often arises also through chicanery, that is, through an over-subtle and even fraudulent construction of the law. From this comes the proverb "the highest law is the highest wrong"
      • Book I, section 33; Translation partially from Walter Miller.
  • In primisque hominis est propria veri inquisitio atque investigatio. Itaque cum sumus necessariis negotiis curisque vacui, tum avemus aliquid videre, audire, addiscere cognitionemque rerum aut occultarum aut admirabilium ad beate vivendum necessarian! ducimus. Ex quo intellegitur, quod verum, simplex sincerumque sit, id esse naturae hominis aptissimum. Huic veri videndi cupiditati adiuncta est appetitio quaedam principatus, ut nemini parere animus bene informatus a natura velit nisi praecipienti aut docenti aut utilitatis causa iuste et legitime imperanti; ex quo magnitudo animi existit humanarumque rerum contemptio.
    • The distinguishing property of man is to search for and to follow after truth. Therefore, when relaxed from our necessary cares and concerns, we then covet to see, to hear, and to learn somewhat; and we esteem knowledge of things either obscure or wonderful to be the indispensable means of living happily.* From this we understand that truth, simplicity, and candour, are most agreeable to the nature of mankind. To this passion for discovering truth, is added a desire to direct; for a mind, well formed by nature, is unwilling to obey any man but him who lays down rules and instructions to it, or who, for the general advantage, exercises equitable and lawful government. From this proceeds loftiness of mind, and contempt for worldly interests.
    • Book I, section 13
    • Variant translation
      Above all, the search after truth and its eager pursuit are peculiar to man. And so, when we have leisure from the demands of business cares, we are eager to see, to hear, to learn something new, and we esteem a desire to know.
  • Non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici.
    • We are not born for ourselves alone; a part of us is claimed by our nation, another part by our friends.
      • Book I, section 22
  • Nam cum sint duo genera decertandi, unum per disceptationem, alterum per vim, cumque illud proprium sit hominis, hoc beluarum, confugiendum est ad posterius, si uti non licet superiore.
    • While there are two ways of contending, one by discussion, the other by force, the former belonging properly to man, the latter to beasts, recourse must be had to the latter if there be no opportunity for employing the former.
      • Book I, section 34. Translation by Andrew P. Peabody
  • Sed tamen ira procul absit, cum qua nihil recte fieri nec considerate potest.
    • But still anger ought be far from us, for nothing is able to be done rightly nor judiciously with anger.
    • Variant: In anger nothing right nor judicious can be done.
      • Book I, section 38
  • Omnium autem rerum, ex quibus aliquid adquiritur, nihil est agri cultura melius, nihil uberius, nihil dulcius, nihil homine libero dignius.
    • For of all gainful professions, nothing is better, nothing more pleasing, nothing more delightful, nothing better becomes a well-bred man than agriculture.
      • Book I, section 42. Translation by Cyrus R. Edmonds (1873), p. 73
  • In omnibus autem negotiis priusquam adgrediare, adhibenda est praeparatio diligens.
    • Before entering any occupation, diligent preparation is to be undertaken.
      • Book I, section 73
  • Cedant arma togae, concedat laurea laudi.
    • Yield, ye arms, to the toga; to civic praise, ye laurels.
      • Book I, section 77
  • Ludo autem et ioco uti illo quidem licet, sed sicut somno et quietibus ceteris tum, cum gravibus seriisque rebus satis fecerimus.
    • We may, indeed, indulge in sport and jest, but in the same way as we enjoy sleep or other relaxations, and only when we have satisfied the claims of our earnest, serious task.
      • Book I, section 103
  • Appetitus rationi pareat.
    • Desire ought to obey reason.
      • Book I, section 141
  • P. Scipionem [...] dicere solitum scripsit Cato [...] numquam se minus otiosum esse, quam cum otiosus; nec minus solum, quam cum solus esset.
    • According to Cato the Elder, Scipio Africanus was wont to say that he was never less at leisure than when at leisure, nor less alone than when alone.
      • Book III, section 1
  • Ita duae res, quae languorem afferunt ceteris, illum acuebant; otium et solitudo.
    • The two conditions that lead others to languor - i.e. leisure and solitude - him made sharper.
      • Book III, section 1
        • English translation mostly from Walter Miller.

De Amicitia - On Friendship (44 BC)

  • Amicus est tamquam alter idem.
    • A friend is, as it were, a second self.
  • Secundas res splendidiores facit amicitia et adversas partiens communicansque leviores.
    • Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.

Philippicae - Philippics (44 BC)

  • Quid tandem erat causae, cur in senatum hesterno die tam acerbe cogerer? Solusne aberam, an non saepe minus frequentes fuistis, an ea res agebatur, ut etiam aegrotos deferri oporteret? Hannibal, credo, erat ad portas, aut de Pyrrhi pace agebatur, ad quam causam etiam Appium illum et caecum et senem delatum esse memoriae proditum est.
    • What reason had he then for endeavouring, with such bitter hostility, to force me into the senate yesterday? Was I the only person who was absent? Have you not repeatedly had thinner houses than yesterday? Or was a matter of such importance under discussion, that it was desirable for even sick men to be brought down? Hannibal, I suppose, was at the gates, or there was to be a debate about peace with Pyrrhus; on which occasion it is related that even the great Appius, old and blind as he was, was brought down to the senate-house.
      • Philippica I; English translation by C. D. Yonge
      • Note: Potentially the origin of the phrase "Hannibal ad portas" (Hannibal at the gates)
  • Vi et armis.
    • By force and arms.
      • Philippica I
  • Sed quo beneficio? quod me Brundisi non occideris?
    • But what is the benefit (you have done me)? That you did not kill me at Brundisium?
      • Philippica II
  • Quale autem beneficium est, quod te abstinueris nefario scelere?
    • What kind of favour is it to abstain from doing evil?
      • Philippica II
  • Quid est aliud omnia ad bellum civile hosti arma largiri, primum nervos belli, pecuniam infinitam, qua nunc eget, deinde equitatum, quantum velit?
    • What is this but to lavish on an enemy all the weapons for civil war? First of all, the sinews of war, infinite money, which he now lacks; and secondly, cavalry, as much as he wishes.
      • Philippica V; translation based on work of Walter C.A. Ker
  • Hoc qui non videt, excors; qui, cum videt, decernit, impius est.
    • Who does not see this is senseless; who sees and still approves is ungodly.
      • Philippica V

Tusculanae Disputationes - Tusculan Disputations (45 BC)

  • M: Nam efficit hoc philosophia: medetur animis, inanes sollicitudines detrahit, cupiditatibus liberat, pellit timores.
    • For such is the work of philosophy: it cures souls, draws off vain anxieties, confers freedom from desires, drives away fears.
      • Book II, Chapter IV; translation by Andrew P. Peabody
  • Quotus enim quisque philosophorum invenitur, qui sit ita moratus, ita animo ac vita constitutus, ut ratio postulat? qui disciplinam suam non ostentationem scientiae, sed legem vitae putet? qui obtemperet ipse sibi et decretis suis pareat?
    • How few philosophers are to be found who are such in character, so ordered in soul and in life, as reason demands; who regard their teaching not as a display of knowledge, but as the rule of life; who obey themselves, and submit to their own decrees!
      • Book II, Chapter IV; translation by Andrew P. Peabody
  • A: Quod est enim maius argumentum nihil eam prodesse quam quosdam perfectos philosophos turpiter vivere?
    M: Nullum vero id quidem argumentum est. Nam ut agri non omnes frugiferi sunt qui coluntur
    [...] sic animi non omnes culti fructum ferunt. Atque, ut in eodem simili verser, ut ager quamvis fertilis sine cultura fructuosus esse non potest, sic sine doctrina animus; ita est utraque res sine altera debilis. Cultura autem animi philosophia est; haec extrahit vitia radicitus et praeparat animos ad satus accipiendos eaque mandat eis et, ut ita dicam, serit, quae adulta fructus uberrimos ferant.
    • A: For what stronger proof can there be of it's [philosophy's] uselessness than that some accomplished philosophers lead disgraceful lives?
      M: It is no proof at all; for as all cultivated fields are not harvest-yielding [...] so all cultivated minds do not bear fruit. To continue the figure - as a field, though fertile, cannot yield a harvest without cultivation, no more can the mind without learning; each is feeble without the other. Whereas philosophy is the cultivation of the soul. It draws out vices by the root, prepares the mind to receive seed, and commits to it, and, so to speak, sows in it what, when grown, may bear the most abundant fruit.
      • Book II, Chapter V; translation slightly modified from Andrew P. Peabody
  • A: Dolorem existimo maximum malorum omnium.
    M: Etiamne malus quam dedecus?
    A: Non audeo id dicere equidem, et me pudet tam cito de sententia esse deiectam.
    M: Magis esset pudendum, si in sententia permaneres.
    • A: I think pain the greatest of all evils.
      M: Greater than disgrace ?
      A: That indeed I dare not affirm; and yet I am ashamed to be so soon thrown down from my position.
      M: It would have been a greater shame to have maintained it.
      • Book II, Chapter V; translation by Andrew P. Peabody
  • A: Nunc rationem, quo ea me cumque ducet, sequar.
    • A: I shall now follow reason whithersoever she leads me.
      • Book II, Chapter V; translation based on work of Andrew P. Peadbody


Disputed

  • The first duty of a man is the seeking after and the investigation of truth.
    • As quoted in A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity (2007) by John Clippinger, p. 130
  • Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.
  • For as lack of adornment is said to become some women, so this subtle oration, though without embellishment, gives delight.
    • Supposedly from De Oratore, 78, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Compare: "Loveliness / Needs not the foreign aid of ornament, / But is when unadorn'd, adorn'd the most", James Thomson, The Seasons, "Autumn", Line 204
  • The freedom of poetic license.
    • Suggested to be from Pro Publio Sestio
  • True glory strikes root, and even extends itself; all false pretensions fall as do flowers, nor can anything feigned be lasting.
    • As quoted in Great Catches; or, Grand Matches (1861) by Eleanor Frances Blakiston, p. 82
  • Genius is fostered by energy.
    • Suggested to be from Pro Caelio (Ch. xix, sec. 45)
  • Aegroto dum anima est, spes est.
    • For the sick, while there is life, there is hope.
      • Compare to Theocritus' "While there's life there’s hope, and only the dead have none." from Idyll 4, line 42; tr. A. S. F. Gow, Theocritus ([1950] 1952) vol. 1, p. 37.


Misattributed

  • The following two quotes are sometimes wrongly attributed to Cicero. In fact, they come from a novel about Cicero by Taylor Caldwell, and are not found in any of Cicero's actual writings.
    • A bureaucrat is the most despicable of men, though he is needed as vultures are needed, but one hardly admires vultures whom bureaucrats so strangely resemble. I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty or stupid, an oppressor or a thief, a holder of little authority in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious dog. Who can trust such creatures?
      • Taylor Caldwell in her novel based on the life of Cicero, A Pillar of Iron (1965), p. 451
    • Antonius [i. e., C. Antonius Hybrida] heartily agreed with him [sc. Cicero] that the budget should be balanced, that the Treasury should be refilled, that public debt should be reduced, that the arrogance of the generals should be tempered and controlled, that assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt, that the mobs should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence, and that prudence and frugality should be put into practice as soon as possible.
      • Taylor Caldwell in her novel based on the life of Cicero, A Pillar of Iron (1965), p. 483 of the 1965 edition published by Doubleday (Garden City, NY). In the 1966 British edition from Collins (London), the passage occurs at the bottom of p. 371, in chapter 51. The origin and history of the quotation have been discussed at Quote Investigator and Snopes.
  • Study carefully, the character of the one you recommend, lest their misconduct bring you shame.
    • from Horace, Epistles I.xviii.76
  • "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."
    • A paraphrase from a 1965 essay by Justice Millard Caldwell. The paraphrase appears to be from the Second Catiline Oration but drastically changes the rhetoric.
    • Actual example from Second Catiline Oration: "But why are we speaking so long about one enemy; and about that enemy who now avows that he is one; and whom I now do not fear, because, as I have always wished, a wall is between us; and are saying nothing about those who dissemble, who remain at Rome, who are among us? ".
  • "Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the 'new, wonderful good society' which shall now be Rome, interpreted to mean 'more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.'"
  • Diem adimere aegritudinem hominibus.
    • Time heals all wounds.
      • Truly from Terentius, Heautontimorumenos, Act III, scene i

Quotes about Cicero

  • As all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united in the same character, his authority should have great weight.
    • John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government (1787), Preface
  • If I could have known Cicero, and been his friend, and talked with him in his retirement at Tusculum (beau-ti-ful Tusculum l), I could have died contented.
  • But to confess the truth boldly (for once you have crossed over the barriers of impudence there is no more curb), his way of writing, and every other similar way, seems to me boring. For his prefaces, definitions, partitions, etymologies, consume the greater part of his work; what life and marrow there is, is smothered by his long-winded preparations. If I have spent an hour in reading him, which is a lot for me, and I remember what juice and substance I have derived, most of the time I find nothing but wind; for he has not yet come to the arguments that serve his purpose and the reasons that properly touch on the crux, which I am looking for.
    • Michel de Montaigne, 'Of Books', 1580, in The Complete Essays of Montaigne, ed. D. Frame (1958)
  • Cicero discusses justice as the second of the four cardinal virtues (wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance) whose presence constitutes moral goodness. Justice is the virtue that holds society together and allows us to pursue the common good for whose sake society exists. … One interesting feature is his concern with in justice... The Stoic view that morality promotes the common good implies that we must try to restore the social relationship that has been violated.
    • Alan Ryan, Introduction in Justice (1993) edited by Alan Ryan

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