Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK I. - On Moral Duties (De Officiis)
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BOOK I. - Marcus Tullius Cicero, On Moral Duties (De Officiis) [44 BC]
Cicero De Officiis, translated with an Introduction and Notes by Andrew P. Peabody (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1887).
Part of: Ethical Writings of Cicero: De Officiis (On Moral Duties); De Senectute (On Old Age); De Amicitia (On Friendship), and Scipio’s Dream
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1. Although you, my son Marcus, having listened for a year to Cratippus, and that at Athens, ought to be well versed in the maxims and principles of philosophy, on account of the paramount authority both of the teacher and of the city, — the former being able to enrich you with knowledge; the latter, with examples, — yet, as for my own benefit I have always connected Latin with Greek, and have done so, not only in philosophy, but also in my self-training as a public speaker, I think that you, too, ought to do the same, in order that you may be equally capable of either style of discourse.1 To this end I have, as it seems to me, been of no small service to my fellow-citizens, so that not only those ignorant of Greek literature, but highly educated men also, think that they have gained somewhat from me, both as to public speaking and as to philosophical discussion. Therefore, while you will be the pupil of the first philosopher of our time, and will continue so as long as you please, — and that ought to be as long as you can profit by his instruction, — yet by reading my writings, which dissent very little from the Peripatetics (for both they and I regard ourselves as disciples both of Socrates and of Plato), though on the subjects of discussion I would have you freely exercise your own judgment, you will certainly acquire a fuller command of the Latin tongue. Nor in speaking thus ought I to be regarded as presumptuous. For while in the science of philosophy I may have many superiors, if I claim for myself what belongs properly to the orator, aptness, perspicuity, and elegance of diction, since I have passed my life in this pursuit, it is not without a good measure of right that I proffer the claim. Wherefore I earnestly exhort you, my Cicero, to read carefully not only my orations, but these books of mine on philosophy, which already in bulk are nearly equal to the orations. For while in oratory there is a greater force of expression, the more even and moderate style of writing that belongs to philosophy ought also to be cultivated. And indeed I do not see that it has fallen to any Greek author to exercise himself in both styles, and to pursue at once forensic eloquence and unimpassioned philosophical discussion; unless, perchance, this may be said of Demetrius Phalereus,1 — a keen disputant, and at the same time an orator, though of no great power, yet with a winning grace by which one might recognize him as a disciple of Theophrastus. But what proficiency I have made in either style let others judge; I certainly have pursued both. Indeed, I think that Plato, too, if he had been disposed to attempt forensic eloquence, would have spoken with equal fluency and power; and that Demosthenes, if he had retained and had wished to put into writing what he had learned from Plato, would have done so in a style both graceful and magnificent. I have the same opinion of Aristotle and Isocrates, each of whom, charmed with his own department, held the other in low esteem.
2. But, having determined to write expressly for your benefit something at the present time, much hereafter, I have thought it best to begin with what is most suitable both to your age and to my parental authority. Now, among the many important and useful subjects in philosophy that have been discussed by philosophers with precision and fulness of statement, their traditions and precepts concerning the duties of life seem to have the widest scope. Indeed, no part of life, whether in public or in private affairs, abroad or at home, in your personal conduct or your social relations, can be free from the claims of duty; and it is in the observance of duty that lies all the honor of life, in its neglect, all the shame. This, too, is a theme common to all philosophers. For who would dare to call himself a philosopher, if he took no cognizance of duty? Yet there are some schools of philosophy that utterly pervert duty by the view which they propose as to the supreme good, and as to the opposite extreme of evil. For he who so interprets the supreme good as to disjoin it from virtue, and measures it by his own convenience, and not by the standard of right, — he, I say, if he be consistent with himself, and be not sometimes overcome by natural goodness, can cultivate neither friendship, nor justice, nor generosity; nor can he possibly be brave while he esteems pain as the greatest of evils, or temperate while he regards pleasure as the supreme good. These things, though too obvious to need discussion, I yet have discussed elsewhere.1 Those schools, therefore, can, if self-consistent, say nothing about duty; nor can any precepts of duty, decisive, immutable, in accordance with nature, be promulgated, except by those who maintain that the right is to be sought solely,2 or chiefly,3 for its own sake. This prerogative belongs to the Stoics, the Academics, and the Peripatetics; for the opinions of Ariston, Pyrrho, and Herillus1 were long since exploded, though they might fittingly have discussed subjects pertaining to duty, if they had left any ground for the preference of one thing over another, so that there might be a way open for the ascertainment of duty. In this treatise I shall follow the Stoics, not as a translator, but drawing from their fountains at my own discretion and judgment, as much, and in such way, as may seem good.
I think it fit, however, since duty is to be my sole subject, to define duty at the outset.2 I am surprised that Panaetius should not have done this; for the rational treatment of any subject ought to take its start from definition, that readers may understand what the author is writing about.
3. The discussion of duty is twofold. One division relates to the supreme good in itself considered; the other, to the rules by which the conduct of life may in all its parts be brought into conformity with the supreme good. Under the first head belong such questions as these: Whether all duties are of perfect obligation; whether any one duty is greater than another; and, in general, inquiries of a similar kind. But the duties for which rules are laid down belong, indeed, to the supreme good, as means to an end; yet this is the less obvious, because they seem rather to have reference to the ordering of common life. It is of these that I am going to treat in the present work. There is also another division of duty. Duty may be said to be either contingent or perfect. We may, I think, give the name of perfect duty to the absolute right, which the Greeks term κατόρθωμα;1 while contingent duty is what they call καθη̂κον.2 According to their definitions, what is right in itself is perfect duty; that for the doing of which a satisfactory reason can be given is a contingent duty.
According to Panaetius, in determining what we ought to do there are three questions to be considered. It is first to be determined whether the contemplated act is right or wrong, — a matter as to which there often are opposite opinions. Then there is room for inquiry or consultation whether the act under discussion is conducive to convenience and pleasure, to affluence and free command of outward goods, to wealth, to power, in fine, to the means by which one can benefit himself and those dependent on him; and here the question turns on expediency. The third class of cases is when what appears to be expedient seems repugnant to the right. For when expediency lays, as it were, violent hands upon us, and the right seems to recall us to itself, the mind is distracted, and laden with two-fold anxiety as to the course of action. In this distribution of the subject, while a division ought by all means to be exhaustive, there are two omissions. Not only is the question of right or wrong as to an act wont to be considered, but also the question, of two right things which is the more right; equally, of two expedient things which is the more expedient. Thus we see that the division which Panaetius thought should be threefold ought to be distributed under five heads. First, then, I am to treat of the right, but under two heads; then, in the same way, of the expedient; lastly, of their seeming conflict.
4. In the beginning, animals of every species were endowed with the instinct that prompts them to take care of themselves as to life and bodily well-being, to shun whatever threatens to do them harm, and to seek and provide whatever is necessary for subsistence, as food, shelter, and other things of this sort. The appetite for sexual union for the production of offspring is, also, common to all animals, together with a certain degree of care for their offspring.
But between man and beast there is this essential difference, that the latter, moved by sense alone, adapts himself only to that which is present in place and time, having very little cognizance of the past or the future. Man, on the other hand — because he is possessed of reason, by which he discerns consequences, sees the causes of things, understands the rise and progress of events, compares similar objects, and connects and associates the future with the present — easily takes into view the whole course of life, and provides things necessary for it. Nature too, by virtue of reason, brings man into relations of mutual intercourse and society with his fellow-men; generates in him a special love for his children; prompts him to promote and attend social gatherings and public assemblies; and awakens in him the desire to provide what may suffice for the support and nourishment, not of himself alone, but of his wife, his children, and others whom he holds dear and is bound to protect. This care rouses men’s minds, and makes them more efficient in action. The research and investigation of truth, also, are a special property of man. Thus, when we are free from necessary occupations, we want to see, or hear, or learn something, and regard the knowledge of things either secret or wonderful as essential to our living happily and well.1 To this desire for seeing the truth is annexed a certain craving for precedence, insomuch that the man well endowed by nature is willing to render obedience to no one, unless to a preceptor, or a teacher, or one who holds a just and legitimate sway for the general good. Hence are derived greatness of mind and contempt for the vicissitudes of human fortune. Nor does it indicate any feeble force of nature and of reason, that of all animals man alone has a sense of order, and decency, and moderation in action and in speech. Thus no other animal feels the beauty, elegance, symmetry, of the things that he sees; while by nature and reason, man, transferring these qualities from the eyes to the mind, considers that much more, even, are beauty, consistency, and order to be preserved in purposes and acts, and takes heed that he do nothing indecorous or effeminate, and still more, that in all his thoughts and deeds he neither do nor think anything lascivious. From these elements the right, which is the object of our inquiry, is composed and created; and this, even if it be not ennobled in title, yet is honorable, and even if no one praise it, we truly pronounce it in its very nature worthy of all praise.
5. You behold, indeed, my son Marcus, the very form and, as it were, the countenance of the right, which, were it seen by the eyes, as Plato says, would awaken the intensest love of wisdom. But whatever is right springs from one of four sources. It consists either in the perception and skilful treatment of the truth; or in maintaining good-fellowship with men, giving to every one his due, and keeping faith in contracts and promises; or in the greatness and strength of a lofty and unconquered mind; or in the order and measure that constitute moderation and temperance.1 Although these four are connected and intertwined with one another, yet duties of certain kinds proceed from each of them; as from the division first named, including wisdom and prudence, proceed the investigation and discovery of truth, as the peculiar office of that virtue. For in proportion as one sees clearly what is the inmost and essential truth with regard to any subject, and can demonstrate it with equal acuteness and promptness, he is wont to be regarded, and justly, as of transcendent discretion and wisdom. Therefore truth is submitted to this virtue as the material of which it treats, and with which it is conversant. The other three virtues have for their sphere the providing and preserving of those things on which the conduct of life depends, so that the fellowship and union of society may be maintained, and that superiority and greatness of mind may shine forth, not only in the increase of resources and the acquisition of objects of desire for one’s self, and for those dependent on him, but much more in a position from which one can look down on these very things. But order, and consistency, and moderation, and similar qualities have their scope in affairs that demand not merely the movement of the mind, but some outward action; for it is by bringing to the concerns of daily life a certain method and order that we shall maintain honor and propriety.
6. Of the four heads into which I have divided the nature and force of the right, the first, which consists in the cognizance of truth, bears the closest relation to human nature. For we are all attracted and drawn to the desire of knowledge and wisdom, in which we deem it admirable to excel, but both an evil and a shame to fail, to be mistaken, to be ignorant, to be deceived. In this quest of knowledge, both natural and right, there are two faults to be shunned, — one, the taking of unknown things for known, and giving our assent to them too hastily, which fault he who wishes to escape (and all ought so to wish) will give time and diligence to reflect on the subjects proposed for his consideration. The other fault is that some bestow too great zeal and too much labor on things obscure and difficult, and at the same time useless. These faults being shunned, whatever labor and care may be bestowed on subjects becoming a virtuous mind and worth knowing, will be justly commended. Thus we learn that Caius Sulpicius was versed in astronomy,1 as I myself knew Sextius Pompeius to be in geometry,2 as many are in logic, many in civil law, — all which sciences are concerned in the investigation of truth, but by whose pursuit duty will not suffer one to be drawn away from the active management of affairs. For the reputation of virtue consists wholly in active life, from which, however, there is often a respite, and frequent opportunities are afforded for returning to the pursuit of knowledge. At the same time mental activity, which never ceases, may retain us, without conscious effort, in meditation on the subjects of our study. But all thought and mental action ought to be occupied either in taking counsel as to the things that are right and that appertain to a good and happy life, or in the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. I have thus spoken of the first source of duty.
7. Of the remaining three heads, the principle which constitutes the bond of human society and of a virtual community of life has the widest scope. Of this there are two divisions, — justice, in which consists the greatest lustre of virtue, and which those who possess are termed good; and in close alliance with justice, beneficence, which may also be called benignity or liberality. The first demand of justice is, that no one do harm to another, unless provoked by injury;1 the next, that one use common possessions as common, private, as belonging to their owners. Private possessions, indeed, are not so by nature, but by ancient occupancy, as in the case of settlers in a previously uninhabited region; or by conquest, as in the territory acquired in war; or by law, treaty, agreement, or lot.2 Thus it comes to pass that the territory of Arpinas is said to belong to the Arpinates, that of Tusculum to the Tuscans, and a similar account is to be given of the possessions of individual owners. Because each person thus has for his own a portion of those things which were common by nature, let each hold undisturbed what has fallen to his possession. If any one endeavors to obtain more for himself, he will violate the law of human society. But since, as it has been well said by Plato, we are not born for ourselves alone; since our country claims a part in us, our parents a part, our friends a part; and since, according to the Stoics, whatever the earth bears is created for the use of men, while men were brought into being for the sake of men, that they might do good to one another, — in this matter we ought to follow nature as a guide, to contribute our part to the common good, and by the interchange of kind offices, both in giving and receiving, alike by skill, by labor, and by the resources at our command, to strengthen the social union of men among men. But the foundation of justice is good faith, that is, steadfastness and truth in promises and agreements. Hence, though it may seem to some too far-fetched, I may venture to imitate the Stoics in their painstaking inquiry into the origin of words, and to derive faith1 from the fact corresponding to the promise.
Of injustice there are two kinds, — one, that of those who inflict injury; the other, that of those who do not, if they can, repel injury from those on whom it is inflicted. Moreover, he who, moved by anger or by some disturbance of mind, makes an unjust assault on any person, is as one who lays violent hands on a casual companion; while he who does not, if he can, ward off or resist the injury offered to another, is as much in fault as if he were to desert his parents, or his friends, or his country. Indeed, those injuries which are purposely inflicted for the sake of doing harm, often proceed from fear, he who meditates harm to another apprehending that, if he refrains, he himself may suffer harm. But for the most part men are induced to injure others in order to obtain what they covet; and here avarice is the most frequent motive.
8. Wealth is sought sometimes for the necessary uses of life, sometimes for indulgence in luxury. In those possessed of a higher order of mind the desire for money is entertained with a view to the increase of the means of influence and the power of generous giving. Thus, not long ago, Marcus Crassus1 pronounced no property sufficient for one who meant to hold a foremost place in the republic, unless its income would enable him to support an army. Others, again, delight in magnificent furniture, and in an elegant and profuse style of living. In all these ways there has come to be an unbounded desire for money. Nor, indeed, is the increase of property, without harm to any one, to be blamed; but wrong-doing for the sake of gain is never to be tolerated. Most of all, however, large numbers of persons are led to lose sight of justice by the craving for military commands, civic honors, and fame. The saying of Ennius,
has a much broader application; for, as to whatever is of such a nature that but few can be foremost in it, there is generally so keen a rivalry that it is exceedingly difficult to keep social duty inviolate. This was recently illustrated by the audacity of Caius Caesar, who overturned all laws, human and divine, to obtain the sovereignty which he had shaped for himself in the vagaries of his fancy. In this respect it is indeed unfortunate that it is, for the most part, in the greatest minds and in men of transcendent genius that the desire for offices civil and military, for power and for fame, is rife. The more heed, therefore, is to be taken against criminal conduct in this matter.
But in every form of injustice it makes a very essential difference whether the wrong be committed in some disturbance of mind, which is generally brief and temporary, or whether it be done advisedly, and with premeditation. For those things which are done from some sudden impulse are more venial than what is done with plan and forethought. Enough has now been said with regard to the infliction of injury.
9. For omitting to defend the injured, and thus abandoning duty, there are many reasons in current force. Men are sometimes unwilling to incur the enmity, or the labor, or the cost involved in such defence; or by mere carelessness, indolence, sloth, or engrossment in pursuits or employments of their own, they are so retarded in their movements as to leave undefended those whom they ought to protect. It will thus be seen that Plato is not entirely in the right when he says of philosophers, that because they are engaged in the investigation of truth, and because they despise and count as naught what most persons eagerly seek and are always ready to fight with each other for, they are therefore just men.1 They indeed attain one part of justice, in injuring no one: they fail as to the other part; for, kept inactive by their zeal for learning, they forsake those whom they ought to defend. Plato thinks, too, that they will take no part in public affairs, unless by compulsion. But it were more fitting that they should do this of their own accord; for the very thing which it is right to do, can be termed virtuous only if it be voluntary. There are, also, those who, either from the over-anxious care of their property or from misanthropic feeling, profess to confine their attention to their own affairs, so as to avoid even the appearance of doing injury to any one. They are free from one kind of injustice: they fall into the other; for they forsake social duty, inasmuch as they bestow upon it neither care, nor labor, nor cost. Since, then, we have assigned to each of the two kinds of injustice its inducing causes, having previously determined the constituent elements of justice, we shall easily ascertain the specific duty of any particular occasion, unless we be blinded by inordinate self-love. However, the care of other men’s concerns is difficult. Although Chremes, in Terence’s play, thinks nothing human indifferent to him, yet because we perceive and feel the things, prosperous or adverse, which happen to ourselves more keenly than those that happen to others, which we see, as it were, at a great distance, we decide concerning them otherwise than we should concerning ourselves in like case. Therefore those give good counsel who forbid our doing that as to the equity of which we have any doubt. For equity is self-evident; doubt implies a suspicion of wrong.
10. But there are frequent occasions when those things which are generally regarded as worthy of a just man, and one of good report, such as the restoring of a trust or the fulfilment of a promise, are reversed, and become the opposite of right, and what belongs to truth and good faith seems to change its bearing, so that justice demands its violation. Here reference is fittingly made to what I have laid down as the fundamental principles of justice, first, that injury should be done to no one, and in the next place, that service should be rendered to the common good. When these principles are modified by circumstances, duty is also modified, and is not always the same. There may perchance be some promise or agreement, the fulfilment of which is harmful to him to whom the promise was made or to him who made it. Thus, to take an instance from the popular mythology, if Neptune had not kept his promise to Theseus,1 Theseus would not have been bereft of his son, Hippolytus; for, of the three wishes which Neptune had promised to grant him, the third, as the story runs, was his demand in anger for the death of Hippolytus, the granting of which plunged him into the deepest sorrow. Promises, then, are not to be kept, when by keeping them you do harm to those to whom they are made; nor yet if they injure you more than they benefit him to whom you made them, is it contrary to duty that the greater good should be preferred to the less.1 For instance, if you engaged to appear as an advocate in an impending lawsuit, and meanwhile your child became severely ill, you would not fail in your duty to your client by breaking your promise; on the other hand, he to whom you made the promise would be false to his duty, if he complained of your deserting him. Again, who does not perceive that promises extorted by fear,2 or obtained by fraud, are not to be kept? Indeed, such promises are made void, in most cases by praetorian edict,1 in some by express statutes.
There are, also, wrongs committed by a sort of chicanery, which consists in a too subtle, and thus fraudulent, interpretation of the right. Hence comes the saying: The extreme of right is the extreme of wrong. Under this head, there have been many violations of the right in the administration of public affairs, as in the case of him who, during a thirty days’ truce with an enemy, ravaged the enemy’s territory by night, on the pretext that the truce had been agreed upon for so many days, not nights.2 Nor can we approve of our fellow-citizen, if the story is true, that Quintus Fabius Labeo, or some one else, — I know of the matter only by hearsay, — being appointed by the Senate as an umpire between the people of Nola and those of Neapolis about their boundaries, when he came to the spot, argued with each party separately that they should not be greedy or covetous, but should rather recede than advance in their demands of each other. When they had both complied with his advice, there remained some territory between these previously contiguous states; and so he fixed their bounds in accordance with their respective claims, and adjudged the intermediate territory to the Roman people.1 This, indeed, is swindling, not arbitration. Shrewdness like this is to be shunned in transactions of every kind.
11. There are also certain duties to be observed toward those who may have injured you. For there is a limit to revenge and punishment, — nay, I know not whether it may not be enough for him who gave the provocation to repent of his wrong-doing, so that he may not do the like again, and that others may be the less disposed to do as he has done. In the public administration, also, the rights of war are to be held sacred. 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. Wars, then, are to be waged in order to render it possible to live in peace without injury; but, victory once gained, those are to be spared who have not been cruel and inhuman in war, as our ancestors even admitted to citizenship the Tuscans, the Aequi, the Volsci, the Sabines, the Hernici; while they utterly destroyed Carthage and Numantia. I could wish that they had not destroyed Corinth; but I believe that they had some motive, especially the convenience of the place for hostile movements, — the fear that the very situation might be an inducement to rebellion.1 In my opinion, peace is always to be sought when it can be made on perfectly fair and honest conditions. In this matter had my opinion been followed, we should now have, not indeed the best republic possible, but a republic of some sort, which is no longer ours. Still further, while those whom you conquer are to be kindly treated, those who, laying down their arms, take refuge in the good faith of the commander of the assailing army, ought to be received to quarter, even though the battering-ram have already shaken their walls.2 In this respect justice used to be so carefully observed by our people, that by the custom of our ancestors those who received into allegiance states or nations subdued in war were their patrons. Indeed, the rights of war are prescribed with the most sacred care by the fecial law3 of the Roman people, from which it may be understood that no war is just unless after a formal demand of satisfaction for injury, or after an express declaration and proclamation of hostilities. Popilius, as commander, held control of a province. A son of Cato served his first campaign in his army. When Popilius saw fit to discharge one of the legions, he discharged also Cato’s son, who served in that same legion. But when the youth remained in the army for love of military service, Cato wrote to Popilius that if he permitted his son to stay, he must make him take a second oath of military duty, else, the term of the first oath having expired, he could not lawfully fight with the enemy. Thus there used to be the most scrupulous observance of the right in the conduct of war. There is, indeed, extant a letter of Marcus Cato the elder to his son Marcus, in which he writes that he has heard of his son’s discharge by the consul, after service in Macedonia in the war with Perseus, and warns him not to go into battle, inasmuch as it is not right for one who is no longer a soldier to fight with the enemy.1
12. In this connection it occurs to my mind that in the early time the name denoting an enemy engaged in actual war was the word employed to denote a foreigner, the unpleasantness of the fact being thus relieved by the mildness of the term; for he whom we call a foreigner bore with our ancestors the appellation which we now give to an enemy. The laws of the Twelve Tables show this, as, for instance, “A day assigned for trial with a foreigner,” “Perpetual right of ownership as against a foreigner.”1 What can more truly indicate gentleness of spirit than calling him with whom you are at war by so mild a name? Yet time has made that word harsher; for it has ceased to denote a foreigner, and has retained, as properly belonging to it, its application to an adversary in arms. Even when there is a contest for power, and fame is sought in war, there ought still to underlie the conflict the same grounds that I have named above as just causes for war. But the wars waged for superiority in honor or in dominion should be conducted with less bitterness of feeling than where there are actual wrongs to be redressed. For as we contend with a fellow-citizen in one way if he is an enemy, in a very different way if he is a rival, — the contest with the latter being for honor and promotion, with the former for life and reputation, — so our wars with the Celtiberi and the Cimbri were waged as with enemies, to determine not which should come off conqueror, but which should survive; while with the Latins, the Sabines, the Samnites, the Carthaginians, Pyrrhus, the contest was for superiority. The Carthaginians, indeed, violated their treaties; Hannibal was cruel; the others were more worthy of confidence. Indeed, what Pyrrhus said about restoring the captives of war is admirable: —
A sentiment truly royal, and worthy of the race of the Aeacidae.2
13. Still further, if any person, induced by stress of circumstances, makes a promise to a public enemy, good faith must be observed in keeping such a promise. Thus Regulus, in the first Punic war, taken captive by the Carthaginians, sent to Rome to negotiate an exchange of prisoners, and bound by an oath to return, in the first place, on his arrival, gave his opinion in the Senate that the prisoners should not be sent back, and then, when his kindred and friends tried to retain him, preferred returning to punishment to breaking his faith with the enemy.
But in the second Punic war, after the battle of Cannae, the ten men whom Hannibal sent to Rome bound by an oath that they would return unless they obtained the redemption of the prisoners of war, were all disfranchised for life1 by the censors, because they had perjured themselves. Nor did that one of the ten escape who had incurred guilt by the fraudulent performance of his oath. He, having been suffered by Hannibal to leave the camp, returned shortly afterward, saying that he had forgotten something. Then going out again from the camp, he imagined himself acquitted of his oath, and he was so in words alone, not in fact. But in a promise, what you mean, not what you say, is always to be taken into account. The most illustrious example of justice toward an enemy was presented by our ancestors, when the Senate and Caius Fabricius sent back to Pyrrhus a deserter who promised the Senate to kill the king by poison. Thus they refused to sanction the murder of an enemy, and a powerful one, and one who was making war on them without provocation.
Enough has now been said about duties connected with war.
We should also bear it in mind that justice is to be maintained even toward those of the lowest condition. But the lowest condition and fortune is that of slaves, who, it has been well said, ought to be treated as hired servants, to have their daily tasks assigned them, and to receive a just compensation for their labor.1 In fine, while wrong may be done in two ways, either by force or by fraud, the latter seems to belong, as it were, to the fox, the former to the lion, and neither to be congenial with man. Yet of the two, fraud is the most detestable. But of all forms of injustice, none is more heinous than that of the men who, while they practise fraud to the utmost of their ability, do it in such a way that they appear to be good men. Enough has been said about justice.
14. In the next place, as was proposed, let us speak of beneficence and liberality, than which, indeed, nothing is more in harmony with human nature; yet at many points it demands circumspection. In the first place, care must be taken lest our kindness be of disadvantage to those whom we seem to benefit, or to others; in the next place, lest our generosity exceed our means; still further, that our benefactions be apportioned to the merit of our beneficiaries, — a fundamental principle of justice to which reference should be had in whatever we do for others. Now, those who bestow on any person what is likely to be of disadvantage to him to whom they seem to be kind, are to be regarded not as beneficent and liberal, but as harmful flatterers; and those who injure some that they may be generous to others, are as much in the wrong as if they directly converted what belongs to others into their own property. Yet there are many, especially those greedy for show and fame, who take from some what they mean to lavish on others, and these persons think that they shall seem beneficent toward their friends if they enrich them, no matter how. But this is so remote from duty, that nothing can be more contrary to duty. We must, then, take care that in our generosity, while we do good to our friends, we injure no one. Therefore the transfer of property by Lucius Sulla and Caius Caesar1 from its rightful owners to those to whom it did not belong ought not to be deemed generous; for nothing is generous that is not at the same time just. The second caution is that our generosity should not exceed our means; for those who want to be more generous than their property authorizes them to be, in the first place are blameworthy because they are unjust toward their nearest kindred, giving to strangers what ought to be employed for the needs of their own families or bequeathed for their future use. There is, too, connected with generosity of this type, in almost every instance, a disposition to seize and appropriate wrongfully the property of other men, in order to furnish means for prodigal giving. We can see, also, that a large number of persons, less from a liberal nature than for the reputation of generosity, do many things that evidently proceed from ostentation rather than from good will. It was said, in the third place, that in beneficence regard should be had to merit, in which matter we should take into consideration the character of the candidate for our favor, his disposition toward us, the degree of his familiarity and intimacy with us, and the good offices which he may have previously rendered for our benefit. That all these reasons for our kindness should be combined, is desirable; if some of them are wanting, preponderant weight must be given to the more numerous and more important reasons.
15. But since we pass our lives, not among perfect and faultlessly wise men,1 but among those in whom it is well if there be found the semblance of virtue, it ought, as I think, to be our purpose to leave none unbefriended in whom there is any trace of virtue; but at the same time those have the highest claim to our kind offices who are most richly endowed with the gentler virtues, moderation, self-control, and this very justice about which I have said so much. For in a man not perfect or wise, a bold and ambitious mind is generally too impetuous; while the virtues that I have just named seem to be more in accordance with the character of a truly good man. Thus far I have spoken only of the character of those to whom our kind offices are to be rendered. In the next place, as to the good will borne to us, our first duty is to bestow the most on those who hold us in the dearest regard. We ought, however, to judge of their good will not, as young people often do, by ardent expressions of love, but rather by the firmness and constancy of their attachment. But if there are obligations on our part, so that kindness is not to begin with us, but to be returned by us, there is all the greater responsibility laid upon us; for there is no more essential duty than that of returning kindness received. If Hesiod bids us to restore what we have borrowed for use in a greater measure, if we can, what ought we to do when appealed to by unsolicited beneficence? Ought we not to imitate fertile fields, which bring forth much more than they received? If we do not hesitate to confer favors on those who, we hope, will be of service to us, what ought we to be toward those who have already done us service? For while there are two kinds of generosity, one that of bestowing, the other that of returning good offices, — whether we bestow or not, it is for us to choose; but to omit the returning of kindness is impossible for a good man, if he can do so without wronging any one. But there is room for discrimination as to the benefits received; nor can it be denied that the greater the benefit, the greater is the obligation. In this matter the first thing to be considered is, with what degree of earnestness, zeal, and true benevolence one has shown us kindness. For many bestow benefits at haphazard, without judgment or method, or roused to action by some sudden impulse of mind, as if by a blast of wind; and their kindnesses are not to be esteemed so great as those which are conferred with judgment, deliberately and continuously. But alike in bestowing benefit and in returning kindness, other things being equal, it is in the highest degree incumbent upon us to do the most for those who need the most. The contrary is the common habit. Him from whom men hope the most, even if he has no need, they are the most ready to serve.
16. Still further, human society and fellowship will be best maintained, if where there is the most intimate relation, the greatest amount of kindness be bestowed. Here it may be well to trace back the social relations of men to their principles in nature. The first of these principles is that which is seen in the social union of the entire race of man. Its bond is reason as expressed in language,1 which by teaching, learning, imparting, discussing, deciding, conciliates mutual regard, and unites men by a certain natural fellowship; nor in any respect are we farther removed from the nature of beasts, in which, we often say, there is courage, as in the horse and the lion, but not justice, equity, goodness, inasmuch as they have neither reason nor language. Indeed, it is through this society, so broadly open to men with one another, to all with all, that common possession is to be maintained as to whatever nature has produced for the common use of men; so that while those things that are specially designated by the statutes and the civil law are held as thus decreed, according to these very laws other things may be regarded in the sense of the Greek proverb, “All things are common among friends.” Indeed, all those things seem to be common among men, which are of the kind designated by Ennius in a single example, but comprehending many others: —
This one instance suffices to illustrate the rule, that whatever one can give without suffering detriment should be given even to an entire stranger. Thus among common obligations we may reckon, to prohibit no one from drinking at a stream of running water; to permit any one who wishes to light fire from fire; to give faithful advice to one who is in doubt, — which things are useful to the receiver, and do no harm to the giver. But since the resources of individuals are small, while the multitude of those who need them is unbounded, this indiscriminate giving should have the limit suggested by Ennius, “No less he shines,” so that we may have the means of generosity to those peculiarly our own.
17. But there are several degrees of relationship among men. To take our departure from the tie of common humanity, of which I have spoken, there is a nearer relation of race, nation, and language, which brings men into very close community of feeling. It is a still more intimate bond to belong to the same city; for the inhabitants of a city have in common among themselves forum, temples, public walks, streets, laws, rights, courts, modes and places of voting, beside companionships and intimacies, engagements and contracts, of many with many. Closer still is the tie of kindred; for by this from the vast society of the human race one is shut up into a small and narrow circle. Indeed, since the desire of producing offspring is common by nature to all living creatures, the nearest association consists in the union of the sexes;1 the next, in the relation with children; then, that of a common home and a community of such goods as appertain to the home. Then the home is the germ of the city, and, so to speak, the nursery of the state. The union of brothers comes next in order, then that of cousins less or more remote, who, when one house can no longer hold them all, emigrate to other houses as if to colonies. Then follow marriages1 and affinities by marriage, thus increasing the number of kindred. From this propagation and fresh growth of successive generations states have their beginning. But the union of blood, especially, binds men in mutual kindness and affection; for it is a great thing to have the same statues of ancestors, the same rites of domestic worship, the same sepulchres. But of all associations none is more excellent, none more enduring, than when good men, of like character, are united in intimacy. For the moral rectitude of which I have so often spoken, even if we see it in a stranger, yet moves us, and calls out our friendship for him in whom it dwells. Moreover, while every virtue attracts us to itself, and makes us love those in whom it seems to exist, this is emphatically true of justice and generosity. At the same time, nothing is more lovable, and nothing brings men into more intimate relations, than the common possession of these moral excellences; for those who have the same virtuous desires and purposes love one another as they love themselves, and they realize what Pythagoras would have in friendship, the unifying of plurality. That also is an intimate fellowship which is created by benefits mutually bestowed and received, which, while they give pleasure on both sides, produce a lasting attachment between those who thus live in reciprocal good offices. But when you survey with reason and judgment the entire field of human society, of all associations none is closer, none dearer, than that which unites each of us with our country. Parents are dear, children are dear, so are kindred and friends; but the country alone takes into her embrace all our loves for all, in whose behalf what good man would hesitate to encounter death, if he might thus do her service? The more detestable is the savageness of those who by every form of guilt have inflicted grievous wounds on their country, and are and have been employed in her utter subversion. Now, if you make an estimate and comparison1 of the degree of service to be rendered in each relation, the first place must be given to our country and our parents, bound as we are to them by paramount benefits; next come our children, and the entire family which looks to us alone, nor in stress of need can have any other refuge; then, afterward, the kindred with whom we are on pleasant terms, and with whom, for the most part, we are in the same condition of life. For the reasons indicated we owe chiefly to these that I have named the necessary protection of daily life; but companionship, conviviality, counsel, conversation, advice, consolation, sometimes reproof also, have their most fruitful soil in friendship, and that is the most pleasant friendship which is cemented by resemblance in character.
18. In discharging all these duties, we ought to consider what is most needful for each person, and what each person either can or cannot obtain without our aid. Thus the degrees of relationship will not correspond with those of the occasions for our kind offices; and there are duties which we owe to some rather than to others, on grounds independent of their connection with us. Thus you would help a neighbor rather than a brother or an intimate friend in harvesting his crops; while in a case in court you would appear as an advocate for your kinsman or friend rather than for your neighbor. These and similar points are to be carefully considered in every department of duty, and we should practise and exercise ourselves so that we may be good calculators of duty, and by adding and subtracting may ascertain the remainder, and thus know how much is due to each person. Indeed, as neither physicians, nor commanders, nor orators, though they understand the rules of their art, can accomplish anything worthy of high commendation without practice and exercise; so, though the precepts for the faithful discharge of duty be delivered, as I am delivering them now, the very greatness of the work which they prescribe demands practice and exercise. I have now shown, with nearly sufficient fulness of detail, how the right, on which duty depends, is derived from the constituent elements of human society.
It is to be observed that of the four sources from which right and duty flow, the greatest admiration attends that consisting in a large and lofty mind which looks down on human fortunes. Thus, when reproach is intended, nothing occurs more readily than utterances like this, —
or this, —
On the other hand, in panegyrics, our speech rolls on with a fuller flow when we praise deeds that have been wrought with a large mind, bravely and grandly. Hence the field for eloquent discourse about Marathon, Salamis, Plataea, Thermopylae, Leuctrae; hence the fame of our own fellow-countrymen, Cocles, the Decii, Cneius and Publius Scipio; hence the glory of Marcus Marcellus, and of others more than can be numbered; and the Roman people, as a nation, excels other nations chiefly in this very greatness of soul. In particular, the prevailing love for glory in war is manifested in the almost uniform clothing of statues in military attire.1
19. But this loftiness of spirit, manifested in peril and in toil, if devoid of justice, and contending for selfish ends, not for the public good, is to be condemned; for not only does it not appertain to virtue, — it belongs rather to a savageness that spurns all human feelings.2 Therefore courage is well defined by the Stoics as the virtue that contends for the right. No one, then, who has sought a reputation for courage by treachery and fraud, has won the fame he sought. Nothing that is devoid of justice can be honorable. It was well said by Plato: “Not only is knowledge, when divorced from justice, to be termed subtlety rather than wisdom; but also the soul prompt to encounter danger, if moved thereto by self-interest, and not by the common good, should have the reputation of audacity rather than of courage.” Therefore I would have brave and high-spirited men also good and simple, friends of truth, remote from guile, — traits of character which belong to the very heart of justice. But the mischief is, that in this exaltation and largeness of soul obstinacy and an excessive lust of power very easily have birth. For as, according to Plato, the entire character of the Lacedaemonians was set on fire by the desire for victory, so now, in proportion as one surpasses others in grandeur of soul, he is ambitious to hold the foremost place among those in power, or rather, to rule alone. Now it is hard, when you covet pre-eminence, to maintain the equity which is the most essential property of justice. Hence it is that such men suffer themselves to be overcome neither in debate nor by any legal or constitutional hindrance, and in the state they, for the most part, employ bribery and intrigue that they may acquire the greatest influence possible, and may rise by force, rather than maintain equality with their fellow-citizens by justice. But the greater the difficulty, the greater the glory. Nor is there any occasion that ought to be devoid of justice. Therefore not those who inflict, but those who repel, wrong ought to be deemed brave and magnanimous. A soul truly and wisely great regards the right to which the nature of man aspires as consisting in deeds, not in fame; it chooses to be chief rather than to seem so. On the other hand, he who depends on the waywardness of the undiscerning multitude does not deserve to be reckoned among great men. But in proportion to a man’s towering ambition, he is easily urged by the greed of fame to deeds averse from justice. His is a slippery standing-ground;1 for we seldom find a man, who, for labors undertaken and dangers encountered, does not demand fame as the price of his exploits.
20. A brave and great soul is, in fine, chiefly characterized by two things. One of these is the contempt of outward circumstances in the persuasion that a man ought not to admire or wish or seek aught that is not right and becoming, or to yield to human influence, or to passion, or to calamity. The other is that, with this disposition of mind, one should undertake the conduct of affairs great, indeed, and, especially, beneficial, but at the same time arduous in the highest degree, demanding severe toil, and fraught with peril not only of the means of comfortable living, but of life itself. Of these two things, all the lustre and renown, and the utility too, belong to the latter: but their cause and the habit of mind that makes men great lie in the former; for in this is inherent that which renders souls truly great, and lifts them above the vicissitudes of human fortune. Moreover, this first constituent of greatness consists in two things, in accounting the right alone as good, and in freedom from all disturbing passions: for to hold in light esteem, and on fixed and firm principles to despise, objects which to most persons seem excellent and splendid, is the token of a brave and great soul; and to bear those reputedly bitter experiences which are so many and various in human life and fortunes, in such a way as to depart in no wise from the deportment that is natural to you, in no wise from the dignity befitting a wise man, is the index of a strong mind and of great steadfastness of character. But it is incongruous for one who is not broken down by fear to be broken down by the love of gain, or for him who has shown himself unconquered by labor, to be conquered by sensuality. These failures must be provided against, and the desire for money must especially be shunned. For nothing shows so narrow and small a mind as the love of riches; nothing is more honorable and magnificent than to despise money if you have it not, — if you have it, to expend it for purposes of beneficence and generosity. The greed of fame, also, as I have already said, must be shunned; for it deprives one of liberty, which every high-minded man will strive to the utmost to maintain. Indeed, posts of command1 ought not to be eagerly sought, nay, they should sometimes rather be refused, sometimes resigned. One should also be free from all disturbing emotions, not only from desire and fear, but equally from solicitude, and sensuality, and anger, that there may be serenity of mind, and that freedom from care which brings with it both evenness of temper and dignity of character. But there are and have been many who, in quest of the serenity of which I am speaking, have withdrawn from public affairs, and taken refuge in a life of leisure. Among these are the most eminent philosophers, including those of the very first rank, and also some stern and grave men, who could not endure the conduct either of the people or of their rulers. Some, too, have taken up their abode in the country, engrossed in the care of their own property. Their design is the same as that of kings, to lack nothing, to obey no one, to enjoy liberty, the essence of which is to live as one pleases.
21. While the purpose of living as one pleases is common to those greedy of power and to the men of leisure of whom I have spoken, the former think that they can realize it if they have large resources; the latter, if they are content with what they have, and with little. Nor is either opinion to be despised. But the life of the men of leisure is easier, and safer, and less liable to give trouble or annoyance to others; while that of those who have fitted themselves for the public service and for the management of large affairs, is more fruitful of benefit to mankind, and more conducive to their own eminence and renown. All things considered, we ought, perhaps, to excuse from bearing part in public affairs those who devote themselves to learning with superior ability, and those who, from impaired health, or for some sufficiently weighty reason, have sought retirement, abandoning to others the power and the praise of civic service. But as for those who have no such reason, yet say that they despise what most persons admire, places of trust and honor in the military or civil service,1 this, I think, is to be reckoned to their discredit, not to their praise. They, indeed, deserve approval for despising fame and thinking it of no account. But they seem to dread not only toil and trouble, but a certain imagined shame and disgrace from the disappointments and repulses which they must encounter. For there are those who in opposite circumstances fail to act consistently, — who have the utmost contempt for pleasure, yet are unmanned by pain, — who scorn fame, yet are broken down by unpopularity; and these are, indeed, manifest incongruities in a man’s character. But those whom nature has endowed with qualities that fit them for the management of public affairs ought, without needless delay, to become candidates for office and to take the interests of the state in charge; for only thus can the state be well governed, and only thus can commanding power of mind be made manifest. At the same time, for those who undertake public trusts, perhaps even more than for philosophers, there is need of elevation of mind, and contempt of the vicissitudes of human fortune, and that serene and unruffled spirit of which I often speak, in order that they may be free from solicitude, and may lead dignified and self-consistent lives. This is easier for philosophers, inasmuch as their condition in life is less open to the assaults of fortune, their wants are fewer, and in case of adverse events they encounter a less heavy fall. On the other hand, those who hold public trusts are obviously liable to stronger mental excitement, and are more heavily burdened with care than those who live in retirement; and they should therefore bring to their duty a corresponding strength of mind, and independence of the ordinary causes of vexation. But let him who meditates entering on any important undertaking, carefully consider, not only whether the undertaking is right, but also whether he has the ability to carry it through; and here he must beware, on the one hand, lest he too readily despair of success from mere want of spirit, or, on the other hand, lest he be over-confident from excessive eagerness. In fine, in all transactions, before you enter upon them, you should make diligent preparation.
22. Moreover, since military achievements are very commonly regarded as outranking civil service, this opinion needs to be refuted; for wars have often been encouraged from the desire of fame, especially by men of superior intellect and genius, when they have the requisite ability for the service of arms, and are ambitious of the places of command which it offers. Yet if we will only look at facts, there have been many civic transactions that have surpassed feats of arms in importance and in renown.1 Thus, although Themistocles be rightly held in honor, and his name be more illustrious than that of Solon, and Salamis be cited as witness of a most splendid victory which may have a higher place in the popular esteem than Solon’s establishing the Areopagus,2 yet this last must be regarded as no less glorious than the victory. For this was once of benefit; that will always be of benefit to the state, as preserving inviolate the laws of the Athenians and the institutions of their ancestors. And Themistocles could have named no particular in which he could have given help to the Areopagus; while the Areopagus rendered substantial aid3 to Themistocles, the war having been conducted by the counsel of that same Senate established by Solon. The like may be said of Pausanias1 and Lysander.2 Although the common idea is that the Lacedaemonian empire owed its enlargement to their prowess, yet their achievements bear no comparison with the laws and discipline of Lycurgus. For was it not these very institutions that made their armies both more obedient and more courageous? Nor, indeed, when I was a boy, did I regard Marcus Scaurus3 as inferior to Caius Marius; nor, when I was in public life, did I think Quintus Catulus4 inferior to Cneius Pompeius.
“Valor abroad is naught, unless at home be wisdom.”5
Nor yet did Africanus, of rare worth both as a man and as a commander, do greater service to the republic in exterminating Numantia, than at the same time did Publius Nasica, a private citizen, in killing Tiberius Gracchus. This last transaction, indeed, is not wholly of a civil character, — as it was performed by force and arms, it borders on the military; yet it was effected by civic policy without military array. That verse of mine, against which, as I hear, unprincipled and envious men are wont to rail, —
“Let arms yield to the robe, the laurel to the tongue,”1
is by no means devoid of excellence. Not to mention others, when I was at the helm of the republic, did not arms yield to the gown? For there was never in the republic greater danger, and never a more profound peace. Thus by my counsels and my assiduity their very weapons fell speedily from the hands of the most audacious citizens. What equally great achievement was ever performed in war? What triumph is to be compared with it? I may take the liberty of boasting to you, my son Marcus, to whom belong both the heritage of this fame and the imitation of my deeds. Forsooth, Cneius Pompeius, a man rich in military renown, in the hearing of many did me the honor of saying that he would in vain have obtained his third triumph, unless by my service to the state he would have had a place for the celebration of his triumph. There are, then, cases of civic courage not inferior to those in war, nay, demanding even a larger amount of labor and of zeal.
23. Of a certainty, the virtue which we demand of a lofty and large mind is generated by strength of mind, not of body. Yet the body must be disciplined, and brought into a condition in which it can obey counsel and reason in following out affairs to their issue, and in enduring toil. But the virtue which we demand consists in mental care and thought, in which those who preside over the state in the robe of peace, perform no less service than those who take the lead in war. Indeed, by the counsel of the former, wars have been often prevented or terminated, sometimes, also, begun, as the third Punic war, by the counsel of Marcus Cato,1 then dead, whose authority outlived him. Therefore skill in the settlement of controversies is more desirable than courage in disputing them by arms; but care must be taken lest we resort to peaceful measures rather to avoid fighting than for the public good.
But war should be undertaken in such a way that it may seem nothing else than a quest of peace. Moreover, it belongs to a brave and firm man not to be disturbed in misfortune, nor to be so thrown off his balance as to be, in the trite phrase, hustled down from his position, but to take prompt thought and counsel, and not to be betrayed into unreason. While as much as this belongs to a great mind, it is also the part of a man of transcendent ability to anticipate the future in thought, and somewhat beforehand to consider what is liable to happen on either side, and what is to be done in case of any possible event, so as not to be compelled at any time to say, “I had not thought of this.” Such is the work of a mind large, and lofty, and trusting in discretion and good counsel. But to make rash manoeuvres in battle, and to come to close quarters with the enemy, is something savage and beastlike. Yet when occasion and need demand, there must be hand-to-hand fighting, and death is to be preferred to slavery or poltroonery.
24. As to the destruction and plundering of conquered cities, care must be taken that nothing be done precipitately, nothing cruelly; and it is the part of a truly great man, in times of disorder, to punish the guilty, to spare the many, and, whatever takes place, to keep rectitude and honor inviolate. For as there are those, as I have already said, who prefer military to civil service, so you may find many to whom perilous and hot-headed counsels seem more splendid and imposing than calm and deliberate measures. Never, certainly, are we by shunning danger to make ourselves seem tame and timid; but equally are we to avoid encountering needless perils, than which nothing can be more foolish. Therefore, in impending danger, we should imitate the custom of physicians, who employ mild treatment for those but slightly ill, but are compelled to use dangerous and doubtful remedies for severer diseases. Thus it is the part of a madman, in a calm sea to desire a storm with a head-wind; but that of a wise man, to withstand the storm as best he may, especially if the benefits obtained by carrying the matter through successfully are greater than the evil that may be incurred in the conflict. But public transactions are perilous, sometimes to those who undertake them, sometimes to the state; and, again, some run the risk of life, others of fame, and of the good-will of their fellow-citizens. We ought to be more ready to encounter danger for ourselves than for the state, and to contend more promptly for honor and fame than for anything else that concerns ourselves personally.
Yet there have been found many who were ready to pour out not only their money, but even their blood for their country, who would not make the least sacrifice of reputation, even when the well-being of the state demanded it; as, for instance, Callicratidas, who, after having been at the head of the Lacedaemonian forces in the Peloponnesian war, and having repeatedly rendered excellent service, at last reversed everything by rejecting the advice of those who thought it best to remove the fleet from the Arginusae and not to fight with the Athenians. He answered them that the Lacedaemonians, if they lost that fleet, could equip another, while he could not retreat without disgracing himself.1 This was, indeed, to the Lacedaemonians a blow of moderate severity; that, a ruinous one, by which, when Cleombrotus,2 for fear of unpopularity, fought rashly with Epaminondas, the power of the Lacedaemonians utterly collapsed. What a contrast here to the advantage of Quintus Maximus,3 of whom Ennius writes: —
This same kind of error is also to be shunned in civil affairs; for there are those who, for fear of unpopularity, dare not say what they think, even if it be the very best that could be said.
25. In fine, let those who are to preside over the state obey two precepts of Plato, — one, that they so watch for the well-being of their fellow-citizens that they have reference to it in whatever they do, forgetting their own private interests; the other, that they care for the whole body politic, and not, while they watch over a portion of it, neglect other portions. For, as the guardianship of a minor, so the administration of the state is to be conducted for the benefit, not of those to whom it is intrusted, but of those who are intrusted to their care. But those who take counsel for a part of the citizens, and neglect a part, bring into the state an element of the greatest mischief, and stir up sedition and discord, some siding with the people, some with the aristocracy, and few being equally the friends of all. From this cause arose great dissensions among the Athenians, and in our republic it has led not only to seditions, but also to destructive civil wars. Partiality of this kind, a citizen who is substantial and brave, and worthy of a chief place in the state, will shun and abhor, and will give himself wholly up to the state, pursuing neither wealth nor power; and he will so watch over the entire state as to consult the well-being of all its citizens. Nor will he expose any one to hatred or envy by false accusation, and he will in every respect so adhere to justice and right as in their behalf to submit to any loss however severe, and to face death itself rather than surrender the principles which I have indicated. Most pitiful in every aspect is the canvassing and scrambling for preferment, of which it is well said by the same Plato, that those who strive among themselves which shall be foremost in the administration of the state, act like sailors who should quarrel for a place at the helm. The same writer exhorts us to regard as enemies those who bear arms against us, not those who desire to care for the interests of the state in accordance with their own judgment, as in the case of the disagreement without bitterness between Publius Africanus and Quintus Metellus.1
Nor are they to be listened to who think that anger is to be cherished toward those who are unfriendly to us on political grounds, and imagine that this betokens a large-minded and brave man; for nothing is more praiseworthy, nothing more befitting a great and eminent man, than placability and clemency. Moreover, in free states and where all have equal rights, there is a demand for courtesy, and for a soul superior to petty causes of vexation, lest if we suffer ourselves to be angry with those who intrude upon us inopportunely, we fall into irritable habits equally harmful and hateful. Yet an easy and accommodating temper is to be approved only so far as may be consistent with the strictness demanded in public business, without which the state cannot be administered. But all punishment and correction ought to be free from personal insult, and should have reference, not to the pleasure of him who administers punishment or reproof, but to the public good. Care also must be taken lest the punishment be greater than the fault, and lest for the same cause some be made penally responsible, and others not even called to account. Most of all is anger to be eliminated in punishment; for he who enters on the office of punishment in anger will never preserve that mean between too much and too little, of which the Peripatetics make so great account,1 and rightly too, if they only would not commend anger, and say that it is implanted by nature for useful ends. On the other hand, it is under all circumstances to be shunned, and it is desirable that those who preside over the state should be like the laws, which are led to inflict punishment, not by anger, but by justice.
26. Again, in prosperity, and when affairs flow on as we would have them, we should with the utmost care avoid pride, fastidiousness, and arrogance; for it is the token of a frivolous mind to bear either prosperity or adversity otherwise than moderately, and pre-eminently praiseworthy is an equable temperament in one’s whole life, the same countenance and the same mien always, as we learn was the case with Socrates, and equally with Caius Laelius.1 I regard Philip, king of the Macedonians, though surpassed by his son in achievements and in fame, as having been his superior in affability and kindness. Thus the one was always great, the other often very mean, — so as to give good ground for the rule of those who say that the higher our position is, the more meekly we should carry ourselves. Panaetius, indeed, tells us that Africanus, his pupil and friend, used to say, that as it is common to give horses that, from having been often in battle, rear and prance dangerously, into the hands of professional tamers, that they may be ridden more easily, so men, when at loose reins in prosperity, and over self-confident, should be brought, as it were, to the ring2 of reason and instruction, that they may fully see the frailty of man’s estate, and the fickleness of fortune. Still further, in the extreme of prosperity, especially, resort is to be had to the counsel of friends, and even greater authority to be given to them than under ordinary circumstances. In such a condition we must also take heed lest we open our ears to flatterers, and suffer ourselves to be cajoled. In yielding to sycophancy, we are always liable to be deceived, thinking that we deserve the praise bestowed upon us, whence proceed numberless mistakes, men who are inflated by self-conceit becoming the objects of coarse derision, and committing the most egregious eccentricities in conduct. But enough on this point.
From what has been said, it is to be inferred that the most important affairs, and those indicative of the highest tone of spirit, come under the direction of men in public life, their official duty having the widest scope, and extending to the largest number of persons; but that there are and have been many men of great mind in private life, engaged in important investigations or enterprises, yet attending to no affairs but their own; while others, no less great, midway between philosophers and statesmen, are occupied with the care of their property, not, indeed, increasing it by every means in their power, nor yet depriving their friends of the benefit of it, but rather, whenever there is need, giving freely to their friends and to the state. Property thus held should, in the first place, have been fairly obtained, and not by any mean or offensive calling; then it should show itself of service to as many as possible, if they only be worthy; then, too, it should be increased by industry and frugality, and should not lie open to the demands of sensuality and luxury rather than to those of generosity and beneficence. He who observes these rules may live in splendor, dignity, and independence, and at the same time with simplicity, with integrity, and in friendly relations with mankind.
27. I have now to speak of the only remaining division of the right, embracing modesty, which gives a certain lustre to life, temperance, discretion, serenity of soul, and moderation in all things. Under this head is included what we may fitly call decorum, or becomingness;1 the Greeks call it πρέπον.2 The property of this is that it cannot be separated from the right; for whatever is becoming is right, and whatever is right is becoming. In what way the right and the becoming differ is more easily felt than told; for whatever it is that constitutes becomingness, it makes its appearance when the right has gone before; and thus the becoming is not confined to the division of the right now under discussion, but is equally manifest in the three other divisions. For it is becoming to employ both reason and speech with discretion, and to do what you do deliberately, and on every subject to perceive and discern the truth; and, on the other hand, it is as unbecoming to be deceived, to misjudge, to commit grave mistakes, to be deluded into unwise conduct, as it is to be delirious or insane. Then, too, whatever is just is becoming; on the other hand, whatever is unjust, as it is base, is also unbecoming. The case is the same with courage; for whatever is done manfully and high-spiritedly seems worthy of a man, and becoming; whatever is the opposite of this, as it is base, is also unbecoming. Thus this becomingness of which I speak belongs, indeed, to all virtue, and so belongs to it that it is not discerned by any abstruse process of reasoning, but is perfectly obvious. For there is, in truth, a certain something which is becoming — and it is understood to be contained in every form of virtue — which can be separated from virtue in thought rather than in fact. As grace and beauty of body cannot be separated from health, so this becomingness of which I am speaking is entirely blended with virtue, yet is distinguished from it in conception and thought. It has a twofold definition; for there is a certain general becomingness which has its place in every kind of virtue; and another, subordinate to this and included within it, which belongs to single departments of virtue. The former is usually defined somewhat in this way: That is becoming which is in accordance with the superiority of man in those respects in which his nature differs from that of other animals. The special type included under this general head may be defined as designating that as becoming which is so in accordance with nature as to present the aspect of moderation and self-restraint, together with the air and manner that befit ingenuous breeding.
28. That these things are so understood, we may infer from that becomingness which is the poet’s aim, about which I speak more at large in another treatise.1 We say that poets observe what is becoming, when they represent that which befits each individual character as both done and said. Thus were Aeacus or Minos2 to say, —
“No matter how they hate me while they fear me,”
“The very father is his children’s tomb,”3
it would seem unbecoming; for the tradition is that they were just men. But when Atreus4 so speaks, the audience applaud; for the speech befits the character. Now, the poets will determine from the type of the character in hand, what befits each character. To us, however, Nature has assigned a character endowed with great excellence and superiority over other animals. The poets, on their part, in a great diversity of characters, will determine what is suitable and becoming to each, even to the very worst. But since the parts of consistency, moderation, self-restraint, modesty, are assigned to us by Nature, and since the same Nature teaches us not to be indifferent as to the manner of our conduct toward men, we may thus see how broad is the scope, both of that becomingness which belongs to all virtue, and of this which is made manifest in each several kind of virtue. For as the beauty of the body attracts notice by the symmetry of the limbs, and gives delight by the very fact that all its parts harmonize with a certain graceful effect, so this becomingness which shines in the life calls forth the esteem of society by the order, consistency, and moderation of all that is said and done. A certain measure of respect should indeed be shown toward all men, whether in superior position or on the common level; for indifference to the opinion of others is the token, not only of self-sufficiency, but of utter recklessness. But in the treatment of men there is a difference between justice and courtesy.1 It is the part of justice not to injure men; of courtesy, not to give them offence, and it is in this last that the influence of becomingness is most clearly seen. With this exposition, I think that the nature of what we term becoming may be sufficiently understood.
The duty derived from it first leads to conformity with Nature and observance of her fitnesses, whom if we follow as a leader, we shall never err, and shall attain equally that which is in its essence keen and clear-sighted, that which is adapted to human society, and that which is strong and brave.1 But the chief province of becomingness is in the division of virtue now under discussion; for not only movements of the body fitted to nature, but much more those movements of the mind which are in harmony with nature, claim approval. The natural constitution of the human mind is twofold. One part consists in impulse, ὁρμὴ2 in Greek, which hurries a man hither and thither; the other, in reason, which teaches and explains what is to be done and what to be avoided. Thus it is that reason fitly presides, and impulse obeys.
29. Every purpose ought to be free alike from rashness and from negligence, nor ought anything to be done for which a reason worthy of approval cannot be given. This, indeed, is almost a complete definition of duty.3 Moreover, the impulses must be made obedient to reason, and neither get the advance of it, nor yet from stupidity or indolence lag behind it, and they must be quiet and free from all excitement, — a state of things which will show consistency and moderation in their full lustre. For impulses which rove too far, prancing, as it were, either in the pursuit or avoidance of objects within their scope, and not sufficiently held in by reason, evidently transcend bound and measure; for they desert and repudiate obedience, nor do they submit themselves to reason, to which they are subject by the law of nature. By such impulses not only minds, but bodies are thrown into disturbance. You can discriminate at sight the very countenances of the angry, of those who are excited by sensual passion or by fear, or of those who are beside themselves through excess of pleasure, in all of whom face, voice, gait, and posture are changed. Hence, — to return to the delineation of duty, — it is inferred that all the appetites must be checked and calmed, and that watchfulness and care must be on the alert to prevent us from doing anything rashly and at haphazard, inconsiderately and carelessly. For we are not so constituted by nature as to seem made for sport and jest, but rather for sobriety and for certain more weighty and important pursuits. It is, indeed, right to indulge in sport and jest, but only as in sleep and other relaxations, when we have done full justice to grave and serious concerns. Still further, the very style of jesting ought not to be extravagant or immoderate, but in pure taste and with genuine humor. For as we do not give boys the unlimited liberty of play, but only that degree of freedom which is consistent with good conduct, so in jest itself there ought to shine forth something of the radiance of a pure character. There are, in truth, two kinds of jokes, — the one vulgar, impertinent, vicious, obscene; the other, elegant, refined, witty, humorous. This last kind fills not only our own Plautus and the old comedy of the Athenians, but also the books of the Socratic philosophers; and many things of this sort have been wittily said by many persons, as, for instance, those sayings collected by the elder Cato1 which they call ἀποϕθέγματα.2 The distinction between a refined and a vulgar joke is easily made. The one, if not untimely, is worthy of any man at leisure; the other, unworthy of any man above the condition of a slave, if polluted by vile images or filthy words. A certain limit is to be observed in sport, also, lest we run into excess, and, carried away by pleasure, lapse into some kind of disgraceful conduct. Our field1 for athletic exercises, and the amusement of the chase, furnish proper examples of sport.
30. It is appropriate to every discussion of duty, always to bear in mind how far the nature of man excels that of cattle and other beasts. They feel nothing save sensual pleasure, and toward that they are borne by every instinct; but the mind of man is nourished by learning and reflection, is constantly thinking or doing something, and is led by the pleasure and profit derived from what is seen and heard. And even if one is unduly inclined to sensual pleasure, if he only be not on a level with brute beasts, — for there are some who are men, not in fact, but in name, — if he be ever so little above them, although captivated with the mere delight of the senses, he hides and dissembles the appetite for such pleasure from very shame. Hence it is inferred that bodily pleasure is unworthy of man’s superior endowments, and ought to be despised and spurned; and if there be any one who sets some value on sensual gratification, he should carefully keep it within due limits. Thus food and the care of the body should be ordered with reference to health and strength, not to sensual pleasure. Indeed, if we will only bear in mind what excellence and dignity belong to human nature, we shall understand how base it is to give one’s self up to luxury, and to live voluptuously and wantonly, and how honorable it is to live frugally, chastely, circumspectly, soberly.
But it is to be borne in mind that we are endowed by nature as it were with two characters, one of which is common to us with other men, inasmuch as we all partake of reason, and of the traits which raise us above the brutes, from which all that is right and becoming is derived, and from which we seek the method of ascertaining our duty; while the other is that which is assigned to each of us individually. For as in bodies there are great dissimilarities, — we see some excelling in speed for the race, others in strength for wrestling; also in personal appearance, some have dignity, others grace, — so in minds there are even greater diversities. Lucius Crassus and Lucius Philippus had a great deal of pleasantry; Caius Caesar, the son of Lucius, even more and more elaborate; while in their contemporaries, Marcus Scaurus and Marcus Drusus the younger, there was an unusual severity of manner; in Caius Laelius, much mirthfulness; in his friend Scipio, greater ambition, a more austere type of character. Among the Greeks, too, we have learned that Socrates was pleasant and facetious, and had a jocose way of talking, and meant more than he said, one whom the Greeks call εἴρωνα;1 on the other hand, that Pythagoras and Pericles obtained the highest authority in their intercourse with men without any seasoning of mirthfulness. We are informed that, of the Carthaginians, Hannibal was crafty, and of our own commanders, that Quintus Maximus readily practised concealment, kept silence, dissembled, laid snares, anticipated the plans of his enemies. In these traits the Greeks assign the foremost place to Themistocles and Jason of Pherae, and accord pre-eminent praise to the cunning and crafty procedure of Solon, who, for his own safety, and that he might render additional service to the state, feigned insanity.2 There are others of very unlike character, simple and open, who think that nothing should be done covertly or insidiously, votaries of truth, enemies of fraud; others still, who will endure anything whatever, and will be subservient to any one whomsoever, till they attain what they desire, as we saw in the case of Sulla and of Marcus Crassus. Of this class of men we learn that Lysander, the Lacedaemonian, was unsurpassed in crafty plotting and in his power of endurance, while Callicratidas, who succeeded Lysander in the command of the fleet, was of the opposite character. Also in speech, we sometimes see a man of surpassing ability contrive to appear like one of the multitude, as we witnessed in Catulus, both father and son, and in Quintus Mucius Mancia. We have heard from those of an earlier generation that this was the habit of Publius Scipio Nasica, and, on the other hand, that his father, the man who avenged the nefarious enterprises of Tiberius Gracchus, had nothing genial in his address. We learn, too, that Xenocrates, indeed the sternest of philosophers, was on this very score eminent and renowned.1 There are other innumerable diversities of nature and of manners, which yet give no good ground for obloquy.
31. Every one ought to hold fast, not his faults, but his peculiarities, so as to retain more easily the becomingness which is the subject of our inquiry. We ought, indeed, to act in such a way as shall be in no respect repugnant to our common human nature; yet, holding this sacred, let us follow our individual nature, so that, if there are other pursuits in themselves more important and excellent, we yet may measure our own pursuits by the standard of our own nature. For it is of no avail to resist nature, or to pursue anything which we cannot reach. It is the more apparent of what quality is the becomingness under discussion, when we consider that nothing is becoming that is done, as the phrase is, without Minerva’s sanction, that is, with the opposition and repugnancy of nature. In truth, if anything is becoming, nothing surely is more so than uniform consistency in the whole course of life and in each separate action, which you cannot preserve if, imitating the nature of others, you abandon your own. For as we ought to use our native tongue, and not, like some who are perpetually foisting in Greek words, incur well-deserved ridicule, so we ought not to introduce any discordance into our conduct and our general way of living. This difference of natures, indeed, has so much force that sometimes one person ought, and another under the same circumstances ought not, to commit suicide.1 For was the case of Marcus Cato different from that of the others who surrendered to Caesar in Africa? Yet had they killed themselves, they might perhaps have been worthy of censure, because their mode of life was less severe, and their characters were more pliant; while, since Nature had given Cato an incredible massiveness of character, and he himself had strengthened it by undeviating self-consistency, and had always been steadfast in the purpose once conceived and the design once undertaken, it seemed fit for him to die rather than to look upon the face of a tyrant. How many things did Ulysses endure in his long wandering, while he submitted to the service of women, — if Circe and Calypso are to be called women, — and while he strove to be affable and pleasant to all in his whole social intercourse! At home, also, he bore the jeers of slaves and maidservants, that he might attain the object of his desire. But Ajax, with the temper which he is said to have had, would have faced death a thousand times rather than have borne such insults. In view of these things, it will be each man’s duty to weigh well what are his own peculiar traits of character, and to keep them in serviceable condition, and not to desire to try how far another man’s peculiarities may be becoming to him; for that is most becoming to each man which is most peculiarly his own. Let each of us, then, know his own capacities and proclivities, and show himself a discriminating judge of his own excellences and defects, lest performers on the stage may evince more discretion than we do. For they choose, not the best plays, but those the best adapted to their respective abilities, — those who rely on voice, the Epigoni and Medus; those who depend on action, Menalippa or Clytaemnestra; Rutilius, whom I remember, Antiopa always; Aesopus, not often Ajax.1 An actor, then, will look to this fitness on the stage; shall not the wise man have equal regard to it in life? Let us therefore bestow our diligence chiefly on those concerns for which we are the best fitted. But if at any time necessity shall have forced us to undertake things outside of our specialty, we must employ all possible care, thought, and diligence, that we may be able to dispose of them, if not becomingly, yet with the least degree of unbecomingness; nor ought we in that case to endeavor to attain capacities not our own, so much as to avoid mistake or failure.
32. To the two characters which, as I have said, every man must sustain, is added a third, imposed upon us by chance, or by circumstances beyond our power; a fourth, also, which we assume at our own discretion. Posts of authority, military commands, high rank, honors, wealth, and their opposites, at the disposal of chance, are controlled by circumstance. But it depends on our own choice what character we will assume as to a favorite pursuit or profession. Thus some apply themselves to philosophy; some, to the civil law; some, to oratory; and of the several virtues some prefer to excel in one, some in another. Those, indeed, whose fathers or ancestors have held any special distinction, generally aim at eminence in the same department, as Quintus Mucius, the son of Publius, in the civil law; Africanus, the son of Paulus, in military service. But some add to the honors inherited from their fathers a special reputation of their own, as this very Africanus crowned his military renown by eloquence. Timotheus, the son of Conon, also did the like, being fully his father’s equal in military reputation, and adding to it the praise of learning and genius. It is, however, now and then the case that young men, forsaking the example of their ancestors, pursue some plan of their own; and this is the course, almost always, of those who, of obscure origin, set before themselves large aims. All these things ought to be taken into careful consideration when we inquire what is becoming.
At the outset, we should determine in what condition we wish to be, in what kind of pursuits, and whether in private or public life, — a decision the most difficult of all; for it is in early youth, when judgment is the weakest, that one chooses some mode of life with which he has become enamored, and thus is involved in a fixed avocation and course before he is capable of judging what is best for him. For as to what they say of the Hercules of Prodicus, as quoted by Xenophon,1 that when he was just approaching maturity — the time given by nature to every one to choose what course of life he will enter — he went into a solitary place, and sitting there, hesitated long and seriously within himself, which of the two paths before him, one of pleasure, the other of virtue, it was better for him to take, — this might perchance happen to Hercules, the son of Jupiter, but not in like manner to us, who imitate whomsoever we see fit, and feel impelled toward their pursuits and modes of life, yet still oftener, imbued with the advice of our parents, are drawn into their manners and habits; while others, still, are carried away by popular opinion, and make choice of those things that seem most charming to the multitude. Yet some, whether by happy fortune, or by goodness of nature, or by parental discipline, enter upon the right way of living.
33. But the rarest description is of those who, endowed either with the prestige of surpassing genius, or with pre-eminent culture and learning, or with both, have time to deliberate what course of life they would prefer to follow, — in which deliberation the issue should be made to conform to one’s own natural bias. For while in the details of conduct we determine what is becoming from a man’s native disposition, so in ordering the entire course of life much greater care should be taken that we may be consistent with ourselves so long as we live, and may not falter in the discharge of any one duty. But while in determining our course nature has the greatest influence, fortune comes next in controlling power, and account must be taken of both in choosing a mode of life, — yet most, of nature. For Nature is far the more stable and consistent of the two, so that Fortune — herself mortal — sometimes seems to be in conflict with Nature, the immortal. Let him, then, who refers his entire plan of life to his nature so far as it is unvitiated, go on as he has begun (for this is in the highest degree becoming), unless he be made aware that he was mistaken in his choice. If this take place (and it may), a change of habits and of plans is requisite. If circumstances favor this change, we can make it with a good measure of ease and convenience; otherwise, it must be made gradually and step by step, just as it is more becoming, in the opinion of the wise, to unknit gradually friendships which no longer please or satisfy us, than to cut1 them in sunder with a single stroke. But when our mode of life is changed, we ought by all means to take heed that we present some show of sufficient reason. To return to what I said awhile ago as to the fitness of imitating parents and ancestors, an exception is to be made, in the first place, as to their faults, which we are not to reproduce; and, in the next place, if nature will not permit this imitation in certain particulars, — as the son of the elder Africanus1 (who adopted the younger Africanus, the son of Paulus) on account of feeble health could not resemble his father as his father had resembled his grandfather, — if, for instance, one cannot frequent the courts as an advocate, or hold the ear of the people in their assemblies, or conduct military enterprises, he ought at least to exhibit the qualities which are at his own command, justice, good faith, generosity, moderation, temperance, so that public opinion may not require of him those things in which he is inevitably deficient. But the best inheritance that fathers can give their children, more precious than any patrimony however large, is reputation for virtue and for worthy deeds, which if the child disgraces, his conduct should be branded as infamous and impious.
34. Since the same duties are not assigned to different periods of life, some belonging to the young, others to those more advanced in years, this distinction needs to be spoken of. It is, then, the part of the young man to revere his elders, and to choose from among them the best and the most approved, on whose advice and authority he may rely; for the inexperience of early life demands the wisdom of older men for its stability and its right direction. But most of all is this early age to be guarded against sensuality, and to be trained in labor and endurance, both of mind and of body, that the capacity of persistent diligence may be developed alike for military service and for civic duty. Moreover, when the young wish to relax their minds and to give themselves up to enjoyment, let them beware of excess, let them keep modesty in mind, which they will do the more if their elders will interest themselves also in matters of this sort. But for old men it would seem that bodily labor ought to be slackened, while mental efforts are to be even increased. At the same time they should take pains to aid their friends, and the young men, and, above all, the state, as much as possible by their counsel and experience. But nothing is to be more shunned by old age than self-surrender to listlessness and indolence. Luxurious living, too, unbecoming at any period of life, is most shameful for old age; and if to this licentiousness be added, the evil is double; for thus old age at once disgraces itself, and makes the excess of youth still more shameless.
Still further, it is not irrelevant to treat of the duties of magistrates and of those in private life, of citizens1 and of foreigners. It is, then, the special function of the magistrate to regard himself as representing the person of the state, and bound to maintain its dignity and honor, to enforce the laws, to define conflicting rights, and to bear in mind whatever is committed to his good faith. The private citizen ought to live on fair and equal terms with his fellow-citizens, neither cringing and grovelling, nor yet assuming supercilious airs. Then too, in the state he ought to choose those things which are peaceful and honorable; for we are wont to feel and to say that such a man is a good citizen. It is the duty of a foreigner and a temporary resident to do nothing beyond his own business, not to pry into the concerns of other people, and, least of all, to be meddlesome in the affairs of the state in which he is an alien. Thus, for the most part, duties can be ascertained, when the inquiry is raised what is becoming and what is fitting for different persons, occasions, and ages. But there is nothing which is so becoming as to maintain consistency in all that we do and undertake.
35. Since becomingness in all that is done and said has its place also in the movement and attitude of the body, and consists in three things, beauty, order, and attire fitted for the work in hand, difficult to express in words, — but it will be enough if they are felt, — and since in these is included our care to win the approval of those among whom we live, a few things ought to be said as to these particulars. In the beginning Nature seems to have made great account of our bodies, having placed in plain sight our frame and such parts of our structure as have a comely appearance, while she has covered and concealed those parts of the body bestowed for the needs of nature, which might have an unshapely and ugly aspect. This so careful construction of Nature the modesty of men has followed; for the very things which Nature has hidden all persons of sound mind keep out of sight, and are at pains to obey the necessities connected with them as secretly as possible. Moreover, as to these same parts of the body, whose uses are necessary, they call neither them nor their uses by their proper names, and what it is not disgraceful to do, if it be only in secret, it is obscene to name. Thus the open doing of these things and the obscene mention of them are equally liable to the charge of immodesty. Nor is any heed to be given to the Cynics, or to those Stoics who are almost Cynics,1 who make it a matter of reproach and ridicule that we deem things that are not shameful in fact unfit to be called by their right names, while we apply their proper names to things that are really shameful. Thus theft, fraud, and adultery are shameful in fact, but it is not obscene to call them by their names; while to perpetuate one’s family is right in fact, yet obscene in name. On this notion those same philosophers hold prolix arguments at the expense of modesty. But let us follow Nature, and refrain from whatever lacks the approval of eye and ear. Let attitude, gait, mode of sitting, posture at table, countenance, eyes, movement of the hands, preserve the becomingness of which I speak. In these matters there are two extremes to be especially shunned, — on the one hand, effeminacy or daintiness, on the other, coarseness or rusticity. Nor ought it to be admitted that these rules, though proper for actors and public speakers, are matters of indifference to us. The custom of actors, from ancient tradition, carries modesty so far that no one is permitted to go upon the stage without drawers, in the fear that in case of the accidental exposure of certain parts of the body they may present an unbecoming spectacle. Our usage also forbids sons of ripe age from bathing with their fathers, sons-in-law with their fathers-in-law. This kind of modesty is to be adhered to, especially as Nature herself is mistress and guide.
36. While there are two kinds of beauty, in one of which grace, in the other dignity, predominates, we ought to regard grace as belonging to woman, dignity to man. Let then every species of apparel or adornment unworthy of a man be removed from his person, and let him guard against similar faults in attitude and gesture. For the manners of the wrestling ground1 are apt to be somewhat disagreeable, and the affected attitudes of actors frequently give offence; while in the entire carriage of the body whatever is direct and simple receives commendation. Dignity of person is to be made sure by healthiness of complexion, and the complexion is to be maintained by bodily exercise. There should be rendered, with reference to neatness, a regard not offensively remiss, nor yet over-punctilious, just sufficient to avoid rustic and ill-bred slovenliness. The same rule is to be observed in dress, in which, as in most things, that which is becoming lies between the two extremes. Care must also be taken lest in our gait we accustom ourselves to effeminate slowness, like the litters that carry in procession the images of the gods, or when time presses attempt excessive speed, in consequence of which panting ensues, the countenance is changed, the features are distorted, from all which the obvious inference is that there is a lack of stead-fastness in the character. But much greater pains should be taken lest the movements of the mind should transcend their natural equipoise; and this we shall effect if we guard against violent emotions and fits of despondency, and if we keep our minds intent on the observance of what is becoming. But the operations of the mind are of two kinds, — the one of thought, the other of impulse. Thought is occupied chiefly in seeking the truth; impulse urges to action. Care, then, is to be taken that we employ thought on the best subjects possible, and that we make impulse obedient to reason.
37. To pass to another subject, the power of speech being great, and of two kinds, the one of oratory, the other of conversation, let oratory find place in the arguments of courts, popular assemblies, and the Senate; let conversation have its scope in smaller circles, in the discussion of ordinary affairs, in the gatherings of friends, — let it also follow1 convivial entertainments. The rhetoricians give rules for oratory; there are none for conversation. Yet I know not but that conversation might also have its rules. Masters are found when learners want them; but there are none who make conversation a study, while the rhetoricians have crowds of pupils. Yet the rules given about words and sentences apply to conversation no less than to oratory. And since we have the voice as the organ of speech, let us at least attempt two things as to the voice, — to have it distinct, and to have it pleasing to the ear. For both we must of course look to nature; but the one may be improved by practice, the other by imitating those who pronounce neither too broadly nor too rapidly. There was nothing in the Catuli1 that would make you think them of exquisite taste in literature, — though they were men of letters, but only as others are, — yet they were thought to speak the Latin language as perfectly as it could be spoken. Their pronunciation was sweet to the ear; the separate letters were neither drawled nor clipped, so as to avoid equally indistinctness and affectation; they spoke without effort, in a voice neither languid nor shrill. Lucius Crassus1 had a more copious flow of language, with no less humor; yet the reputation of the Catuli as good talkers was fully equal to his. Caesar, the brother2 of the elder Catulus, surpassed them all in wit and humor, so that when he spoke in the courts in his conversational way he was more efficient than other advocates with their set speeches. On all these matters we must bestow labor, if we aim at what is becoming in every detail of conduct.
Let then conversation, in which the followers of Socrates are pre-eminent, be easy, and by no means prolix; let politeness be always observed, nor must one debar others from their part, as if he had sole right to be heard; but, as in all things else, so in social intercouse, let him regard alternation as not unfair. Then, too, let him at the outset consider on what sort of subjects he is talking; if on serious things, let him show due gravity; on amusing, grace. Especially let him take heed lest his conversation betray some defect in his moral character, which is most frequently the case when the absent are expressly ridiculed or spoken of slanderously and malignly, with the purpose of injuring their reputation. For the most part, conversation relates to private affairs, or politics, or the theory and practice of the arts. Pains must then be taken that, if the conversation begins to wander off to other subjects, it be recalled to these. Yet reference must be had to the persons present; for we are not all interested in the same things, at all times, and in a similar degree. We should always observe, also, the length of time to which the pleasure of conversation extends, and as there was reason for beginning, so let there be a limit at which there shall be an ending.
38. But as it is a most fitting rule for the entire life, that we shun passion, by which I mean emotions that transcend the control of reason, so conversation ought to be free from emotions of this kind, that thus no anger or inordinate desire may show itself, and that at the same time there be no appearance of listlessness, or indifference, or anything of the kind. We must also take special care to preserve the bearing of respect and esteem for those with whom we converse. There is sometimes occasion for administering reproof, in which we must perhaps use a greater stress of voice and a keener severity of diction; indeed, this may need to be carried so far as to make us seem under the influence of anger. But we shall have recourse to this kind of oral castigation, as to the cautery and the knife, rarely and reluctantly, nor ever, unless it be necessary in the absence of any other remedy. And at all events let anger be kept far away; for with anger nothing can be done rightly, nothing judiciously. But in most cases we can administer mild reproof, yet combined with earnestness, so that at once due severity may be employed and invective avoided. Moreover, the very bitterness which our reproof carries with it should be made to appear as designed for the benefit of the person reproved. It is right, also, even in our disputes with those the most hostile to us, and even though we receive from them unmerited reproach, to maintain a serious bearing indeed, but to exclude irritation. For what is done under some degree of excitement cannot be done with self-respect or with the approval of bystanders. Still further, it is in bad taste to talk about one’s self, especially to lie about one’s self, and with the derision of the audience to play the part of the Braggart Soldier.1
39. Since I want to make a thorough discussion of everything involving the question of duty, — for such is my purpose, — I ought to say also what sort of a house, in my opinion, should belong to a man in high office and conspicuous station. The ultimate end, of course, is convenience, and to this the plan of the building should be adapted, while at the same time care should be taken as regards stateliness of appearance and amplitude of accommodation. We are told that it redounded to the honor of Cneius Octavius, the first of his family that was made consul, that he had built a splendid house, one in all respects magnificent, on the Palatine Hill,1 which, being seen by the people at large, was thought to have procured for the owner, belonging to a family that had before held no high office, the votes that raised him to the consulship. This house Scaurus demolished, and built where it stood an addition to his own house. And so the former of the two, first of his race, brought the consulship into his house; the latter, the son of a man of distinguished eminence and renown, bore home to his enlarged house on the same spot not only failure as a candidate for the consulship, but disgrace and disaster.2 In truth, high standing in the community should be adorned by a house, not sought wholly from a house; nor should the owner be honored by the house, but the house by the owner. Moreover, as in matters of various kinds one must take account not of himself alone, but of others also, so in the house of a distinguished man, into which many guests are to be received, and a multitude of men of all kinds are to be admitted, care must be taken to have it roomy. Under other circumstances a very large house is apt to bring discredit to its owner if it have the air of loneliness, especially if under some former owner it used to be thronged. For it is offensive to have it said by those who pass by, —
which in these times may be said about many a house. But special care should be taken, if you build yourself, not to go beyond reasonable limits in costliness and splendor. In such extravagance great mischief is done by mere example; for very many are anxious, especially in this direction, to follow the example of distinguished men. Thus who imitates the virtue of Lucius Lucullus, a man of the highest character? But how many have imitated the magnificence of his villas!2 Here there certainly is need of a limit, and of a return to a moderate standard. This same standard ought to be applied to the entire habit and style of living. But enough on this head.
In whatever we do there are three things to be endeavored. The first is that impulse be subservient to reason, than which there is no more fitting rule for the observance of duty. In the next place, we should make ourselves acquainted with the magnitude of the object in hand, so that we may take upon ourselves neither more nor less care and labor than the case demands. The third rule is that the outlay for show and parade be brought within moderate limits; and those limits are best kept when we maintain the becomingness of which I have already spoken, and suffer ourselves not to go beyond it. Yet of these three the most excellent is that impulse should be subservient to reason.
40. In the next place, I am to speak of the order of our doings and the fit arrangement of time, which are comprehended in the science which the Greeks term εὐταξίαν, yet not in its sense of moderation (which involves the idea of measure or quantity), but in that sense of εὐταξία1 which implies the observance of order in time and place. Yet in favor of our calling this moderation, we might cite the definition of the Stoics, who say that moderation is the art of putting in the right place whatever is done or said. Thus the import of order and that of collocation seem identical with it; for they define order to be the putting of things in fit and suitable places, and say that the fit time is the place of an action, — the fit time for an action, which we call occasion, being called in Greek εὐκαιρία.1 Thus it is that moderation, which I interpret as I have said, comes to denote skill in determining the fitness of times for specific acts. But the same definition may be given of prudence, of which I treated in the earlier part of this essay.2 Here, however, our subject is regularity, self-control, and virtues of that kind. What belongs peculiarly to prudence has been spoken of in its proper place; but of the class of virtues which has of late occupied our attention, it remains for me to speak of what may fall under the head of modesty and of regard for the approval of those among whom we live.
Such, then, should be the order applied to whatever we do, that, as in a coherent speech, so in the life, all things should be fitted to one another, and in harmony with one another. For it is disgraceful and exceedingly blameworthy, on a serious subject to introduce the kind of talk that belongs to a festive occasion, or any wanton strain of utterance. When Pericles had Sophocles for a colleague in military command, and they had met on their common official duty, and, a handsome boy happening to pass by, Sophocles said, “Oh, Pericles, what a beautiful boy!” Pericles very fittingly answered, “It becomes a commander, Sophocles, to have his eyes as abstinent1 as his hands.”2 Yet had Sophocles said the same at a trial of skill among athletes, he would have incurred no just censure. So great is the significance of both place and time. Thus, if one who is going to plead a cause should, on a journey or in walking, be self-absorbed in meditation, or if at such a time he be wrapt in earnest thought on any other subject, he cannot be blamed; but if he present this appearance on a festive occasion, he would be regarded as ill-bred, because unmindful of the fitness of time. Such things, indeed, as are at a very great remove from propriety, like singing in the forum, or any other gross misconduct, are readily perceived, nor do they stand in special need of admonition and direction. But one should avoid with peculiar care offences that seem small, and cannot be appreciated by the many. As in stringed instruments or flutes an expert detects discord, however slight, so we should in our lives be on the watch for even the least discord, and all the more so, inasmuch as the harmony of actions is greater and better than that of musical notes.
41. Therefore, as in stringed instruments the ears of musicians detect the slightest falsity of tone, so shall we, if we are willing to be keen and careful observers of faults, often learn great things from small. From the glance of the eyes, from the expansion or contraction of the brows, from depression, from cheerfulness, from laughter, from the tone of the voice, from silence, from a higher or lower key of utterance, and other similar tokens, we may easily determine which of the greater things that they typify are fittingly done and which of them are at variance with duty and nature. Nor is it unsuitable in matters of this sort to judge of the character of our actions by looking at others, so that we may ourselves avoid whatever is unbecoming in them; for it is the case — I know not how — that we perceive any delinquency more readily in others than in ourselves. Therefore those pupils whose faults their masters mimic in order to cure them are most easily corrected. Nor yet is it out of place, before forming our judgment in doubtful cases, to consult men of superior natural intelligence or those who have become wise by experience, and to ask them what they think as to any matters in which the question of duty is involved. Indeed, most persons are wont to be drawn in nearly the direction in which their nature leads them, and we want to learn of men, not merely what they say, but what they think, and also why.1 As painters, and sculptors, and poets, too, like to have their work pass under review by the people, that if any fault is found by a considerable number of persons it may be corrected, and as they earnestly inquire both of themselves and of others wherein the fault consists, so for us there are many things to be done and left undone, and changed and corrected by the opinion of others. Concerning things done by established custom or in order to obey the laws of the state, there are no rules to be given; for custom and law are themselves rules. Nor ought any one to be led into the error of supposing that, if Socrates or Aristippus2 did or said anything contrary to custom and to legal usage, he may regard the like as lawful for himself. They obtained this liberty by superior and divine endowments. The entire system of the Cynics also is to be shunned; for it is opposed to modesty, without which there can be neither right nor honor. But we ought to respect and revere those whose life has been passed in the transaction of honorable and important affairs, who have a right feeling toward the state, and have rendered or are still rendering it service, no less than those in civil office or military command; to pay great deference to old age; to yield precedence to the magistrates; to make a distinction between citizens and foreigners, and in the case of foreigners, between those who come in a private and those who come in a public capacity. In short, not to treat of particulars, we ought to cherish, defend, preserve, the common harmony and fellowship of the whole human race.
42. Now as to the trades and modes of getting gain that are to be regarded as respectable,1 and those that are to be deemed mean and vulgar, the general opinion is as follows: In the first place, those callings are held in disesteem that come into collision with the ill will of men, as that of taxgatherers, as that of usurers. The callings of hired laborers, and of all who are paid for their mere work and not for skill, are ungenteel1 and vulgar; for their wages are given for menial service. Those who buy to sell again as soon as they can are to be accounted as vulgar; for they can make no profit except by a certain amount of falsehood, and nothing is meaner than falsehood. All mechanics are engaged in vulgar business; for a workshop can have nothing respectable about it. Least of all can we speak well of the trades that minister to sensual pleasures, —
“Fishmongers, butchers, cooks, poulterers, and fishermen,”
as Terence says. Add, if you please, to this list perfumers, ballet-dancers, and the whole tribe of dice-players. The professions which require greater skill and are of no small benefit to the community, such as medicine, architecture, the instruction of youth in liberal studies, are respectable for those whose rank they suit.2 Commerce,3 if on a small scale, is to be regarded as vulgar; but if large and rich, importing much from all quarters, and making extensive sales without fraud, it is not so very discreditable. Nay, it may justly claim the highest regard, if the merchant, satiated, or rather contented with his profits, instead of any longer leaving the sea for a port,1 betakes himself from the port itself to an estate in the country. But of all means of acquiring gain nothing is better than agriculture, nothing more productive, nothing more pleasant, nothing more worthy of a man of liberal mind. Since I have said enough of this in my Cato Major, you will find there what belongs to the subject.
43. I think that I have sufficiently expounded the way in which specific duties are derived under the several divisions of the right. But as to the very things that are right there may be sometimes a question as to alternatives,2 of two right things which is the more imperatively right, — a subject omitted by Panaetius. Since all that is right is deduced from four divisions of virtue, the first, knowledge; the second, social obligation; the third, elevation of mind; the fourth, moderation, — these must of necessity be often brought into comparison with one another in determining a specific duty.
In my opinion the duties derived from the relations of society have a closer adaptation to nature1 than those which are derived from knowledge, as may be established by this argument, — that should such a life fall to the lot of a wise man that in the full abundance of all things and in entire leisure he could consider and contemplate within his own mind whatever is worth knowing, yet, were his solitude such that he could never see a human face, he would rather die. Then, too, the chief of all the virtues, that wisdom which the Greeks term σοϕίαν2 (for prudence, which the Greeks call ϕρόνησιν,3 has another, narrower meaning, namely, the knowledge of things to be sought and shunned), — the wisdom which I have designated as chief of the virtues is the knowledge of things divine and human, which comprises the mutual fellowship and communion of gods and men. But if wisdom is the greatest of the virtues, as it undoubtedly is, it follows of necessity that the duty derived from this fellowship and communion is the greatest of duties. Moreover, the knowledge and contemplation of nature are somehow defective and imperfect, unless they lead to some result in action; and this appropriate action is best recognized in care for the well-being of mankind. The virtue from which it springs belongs, then, to the sodality of the human race, and is therefore to be preferred to knowledge. That this is so, every excellently good man shows and indicates in very deed. For who is there so deeply interested in penetrating and understanding the nature of things, that if, while he is handling and contemplating subjects most worthy of being understood, there is suddenly announced to him some danger and peril of his country in which he can render aid and succor, will not abandon and fling away his learned pursuits, even though he imagines that he can number the stars and find out the dimensions of the universe? And he would do the same thing in the business or in the peril of a father or a friend. It is thus seen that the duties of justice which concern the interests of our fellow-men, than which nothing ought to be more sacred to man, are to have precedence over the pursuits and duties of knowledge.
44. Now those whose pursuits and whose entire life have been devoted to the acquisition of knowledge, have nevertheless not withdrawn from the obligation of contributing to the advantage and benefit of mankind; for they have so instructed many as to make them better citizens and more useful to their respective states. Thus Lysis, the Pythagorean, taught Epaminondas of Thebes, and Plato was the preceptor of Dion of Syracuse, and many others have had numerous pupils. I myself, in whatever I have contributed to the well-being of the state (if I have indeed contributed anything), entered upon the public service well furnished in point of teachers and teaching. Nor is it only when these men are living and present that they instruct and teach those desirous of learning; but they follow up this same work even after death by the records of their knowledge and wisdom. For there is no topic omitted by them that could relate to laws, to morals, to the government of the state; so that they seem to have bestowed their leisure on our business.1 Thus the very men who are devoted to the pursuit of learning and wisdom employ their intelligence and practical discretion chiefly for the benefit of mankind. Therefore it is better to speak fluently, if wisely, than to think, no matter with what acuteness of comprehension, if the power of expression be wanting; for thought begins and ends in itself, while fluent speech extends its benefit to those with whom we are united in fellowship. Moreover, as swarms of bees are not gathered for the purpose of making honeycombs, but make honeycombs because they are gregarious by nature, so, and even much more, men, sociable by nature, bring to their union skill in joint and associate action. Therefore, unless the virtue which consists in caring for the well-being of men, that is, in the maintenance of human society, accompany the knowledge of things, that knowledge must seem isolated and meagre; and equally loftiness of mind, if divorced from human society and fellowship, becomes mere brutality and savageness. Thus it is that the society and fellowship of men transcend in importance the pursuit of knowledge. Nor is it true, as some say, that it is on account of the necessities of life — because we could not obtain and accomplish what nature demands without the aid of others — that fellowship and society were initiated among men, but that if everything appertaining to subsistence and comfortable living were supplied for us, so to speak, as by a magic wand, every person of excelling genius, giving up all other concerns, would occupy himself wholly in knowledge and science. It is not so; for man in that case would shun solitude, and seek companionship in his pursuits, — would want now to teach, then to learn; now to hear, then to speak. Therefore every form of duty which is of avail for the union of men and the defence of society is to be regarded as of higher obligation than the duty which is dependent on abstract study and science.
45. It may perchance be asked whether this human fellowship which is most closely allied to nature is also always to have the precedence over modesty and decency. I think not. For there are certain things, some so repulsive, some so scandalous, that a wise man would not do them even to save his country. Posidonius1 has brought together a great many of these things, some of them so foul, so indecent, that it would be offensive even to name them. These things, then, one will not do for the sake of the state, nor yet will the state demand that they should be done for its sake. But the question is the more easily settled, inasmuch as there cannot come any crisis in which it can be for the interest of the state that a wise man should do any of these things.
This, then, may be regarded as settled, that in choosing between conflicting duties preference must be given to the class of duties essential to the maintenance of human society. Moreover, considerate action is the result of knowledge and prudence. It therefore follows that to act considerately is of more worth than to think wisely.2 But I have said enough on this point; for this division of the subject has been so laid open that it cannot be difficult in an inquiry as to duty to see in any particular case which duty is to be regarded as of prime and which of secondary obligation.
But in society itself there are gradations of duties, from which it may be determined what one owes in any individual relation. Thus we are bound in obligation, first to the immortal gods, secondly to our country, thirdly to our parents, then by successive degrees to other persons more or less nearly related to us.
From this brief discussion light may be thrown, not only on the question whether certain specific acts are right or wrong, but also, when the choice lies between two right things, on the question which of the two is of the highest obligation. This last head, as I said above, is omitted by Panaetius. Let us go on now to what remains of the subject.
[1 ]Either philosophical discussion or oratory.
[1 ]He was known chiefly as an orator; but the list of his numerous works comprises philosophy, history, and poetry. Driven from Athens, he took refuge in Alexandria; and it was owing to his influence that Ptolemy Lagi commenced the collection of books which grew into the famous Alexandrian library. No probably genuine work of Demetrius Phalereus is now extant.
[1 ]In the De Finibus.
[2 ]As was the case with the Stoics.
[3 ]As was the case with the Peripatetics, and, hypothetically, with the Academics.
[1 ]Ariston, while he regarded virtue as the supreme good, maintained that among the external conditions and objects with which duty is conversant, there is no ground for preference, therefore no reason why one should be sought or pursued rather than another. Pyrrho, the founder of the school of the Sceptics, in denying the possibility of attaining any objective truth, denied the possibility of determining any condition, object, or action to be better than any other. Herillus — like Ariston, a professed Stoic — regarded knowledge as the supreme good, and external life, with all its doings and objects, though practically necessary, as of no ethical value, because not contributing to the supreme good.
[2 ]Yet Cicero leaves duty (officium) undefined. Officium may be abbreviated from opificium, i. e. work-doing; or it may be derived from ob and facio, in which case it denotes doing on account of, or for a reason, and would include all acts for which a reason, i. e. a right reason, can be given. I am inclined to think that it is in this latter sense that Cicero made choice and use of the word.
[1 ]The direct, i. e. the intrinsically right.
[2 ]The fitting, i. e. that which is rendered right by circumstances.
[1 ]It will be seen that, in the sequel, Cicero transposes the virtues springing from man’s social nature and his desire for knowledge, placing wisdom or prudence first, and assigning the second place to justice.
[1 ]These four virtues may be easily so enlarged in their scope as to cover the whole of life, and to comprehend the entire duty of man. Thus, Prudence embraces all selfward obligations; Justice (which includes benevolence, and is not exclusive of piety), all duties to fellow-beings; Fortitude (including patience, submission, and courage), duty with reference to objects and events beyond one’s control; Order (in time, place, and measure), duty with reference to objects under one’s control.
[1 ]When serving in the Macedonian war, as military tribune under Aemilius Paulus, he predicted an eclipse of the moon, and obtained liberty to announce his prediction to the assembled army, thus precluding the else inevitable terror and foreboding which pervaded the Macedonian army, and very probably turning the scale in favor of the Romans in the then imminent battle in which Perseus, the Macedonian king, was utterly overthrown.
[2 ]Uncle of Cneius Pompeius Magnus, not in political life, but celebrated for his proficiency in geometry, jurisprudence, and philosophy. He was a Stoic.
[1 ]This exception is one of the few points of discrepancy between the Ciceronian ethics and the moral precepts of Christianity.
[2 ]The veterans who settled on the public lands (coloni) received their portions of land by lot, and when a limited number from a particular corps were to be colonized, the persons to be colonized were determined by lot.
[1 ]Fides, from fit quod dictum est, a derivation certainly very improbable, but hardly more so than the derivation from πίστις, or, in the Aeolic dialect, πίττις, which most lexicographers assign to fides.
[1 ]Surnamed Dives. He inherited this cognomen, and belonged to the fifth generation of the gens Licinius that had borne it. His prime ambition seems to have been to verify his name. Pliny says that the estates which he owned outside of Rome amounted in value to two hundred millions of sesterces, equivalent to little less than eight millions of dollars, no account being taken of the much greater value of money then than now. He was a man of respectable ability, of no mean reputation as an orator, and of considerable executive capacity; but it was probably his wealth that gave him his place in the triumvirate with Caesar and Pompey, and that thus procured for him the command in the Parthian war, in which he lost his army and his life.
[1 ]This is the substance of a discussion in the 6th Book of Plato’s Republic.
[1 ]Among the myths as to the parentage of Theseus, there is one which makes him the son of Poseidon, or Neptune, who was said to have promised to grant him three wishes, two of which had already been granted, when Phaedra, his wife, accused her step-son Hippolytus of an attempted criminal intrigue with her. Theseus claimed of Poseidon his son’s destruction, and Poseidon accordingly sent a bull from the water to frighten the horses of Hippolytus, as he was driving in his chariot by the sea-shore. The horses upset the chariot, and dragged Hippolytus till he died. Theseus too late ascertained that his son was innocent, and that his wife had falsely accused him because he had repulsed her advances toward a criminal intimacy.
[1 ]The Hebrew conception of righteousness, “He that sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not,” is certainly in closer accordance with the absolute right than this maxim of Cicero. Yet Cicero’s example under this head really belongs to another category, that of circumstances so altered as in the very nature of the case to make a promise void.
[2 ]A promise wrong in itself cannot be rightfully made, even under stress of fear; and if made, should not be kept; for two wrongs cannot make a right. But a promise which one has a right to make, as that of a ransom for one’s life, is sacred in the forum of conscience, if not binding in law. If a man regards his life as worth a certain price, and offers that price, there is no rightful reason why he should not pay it.
[1 ]The praetor urbanus was virtually the chief justice of Rome. On entering upon the duties of his office he published a manifesto, or edictum, stating the principles to be recognized by him in the interpretation and application of the laws. The principles laid down in these successive edicts, and those involved in praetorian decisions under them, unless abrogated or nullified by express legislation, were regarded as having the force of law, and corresponded to what we familiarly term judge-made law.
[2 ]There are two transactions of this kind on record, — one of Cleomenes, the Spartan king, in a war with Argos; the other, of the Thracians, when at war with the Boeotians.
[1 ]Quintus Fabius Labeo lived more than a century before Cicero. Valerius Maximus tells the same story, but without expressing any doubt as to the name of the umpire. He adds that the same Labeo, after a victory over Antiochus, King of Macedonia, having made peace on condition of the surrender of half of the king’s fleet, cut all the vessels into halves, so as utterly to destroy the fleet.
[1 ]Corinth had two ports, — one commanding the Ionian, the other the Aegean sea.
[2 ]It was the established custom of the Romans to admit to quarter enemies who surrendered before the application of the battering-ram to their walls.
[3 ]So called from the fetiales, — priests whose duty it was, as heralds, to perform all the ceremonies connected with the declaration of war, the ratifying of peace, and the making of treaties. These forms were regarded as religious solemnities.
[1 ]Commentators in general see here two versions of the same story, and suppose one of the two to be spurious. Yet there is no reason other than the internal evidence for rejecting either, and they may both be true of the same Cato and the same son. The Ligurian war in which Popilius was commander occurred four years before the war with Perseus. In the former, Marcus Cato the younger may have made his first campaign, and in the latter, though no longer a tiro or novice in the art of war, he may have been discharged as before, and his father have repeated his legal objection to the son’s continuous service.
[1 ]This passage can be literally rendered only by retaining the Latin terms employed, as thus: “He who by our present usage would be called perduellis was in former time called hostis, the unpleasantness of the fact being thus relieved by the mildness of the term; for him whom we now term peregrinus our ancestors called hostis. The laws of the Twelve Tables show this, as, for instance, ‘A day assigned for trial cum hoste,’ ‘Perpetual right of ownership adversus hostem.’ ”
[1 ]These verses are from the “Annales” of Ennius, and are supposed to be addressed to the deputies sent with a large sum of money to treat with Pyrrhus for the release of prisoners after the battle of Heraclea, b. c. 280.
[2 ]The kings of Epeirus claimed to be lineal descendants of Aeacus, the son of Zeus, who for the righteousness of his rule on earth was made judge in the under-world.
[1 ]Literally, left among the aerarii, i. e. liable to taxation, but without the rights of citizenship.
[1 ]The Stoics deduced the obligation to treat slaves humanely from their doctrine of human equality, and the indifference of outward conditions to the truly philosophic mind. Seneca goes in this direction to as great length as that of modern anti-slavery reformers. Cicero was an eminently humane master.
[1 ]Reference is here made to the vast amount of property confiscated by Sulla from the victims of his proscription, and bestowed with lavish prodigality on his partisans, and to the rich spoils of the provinces which Caesar largely employed to purchase and reward adherents, and to win the popular favor.
[1 ]The Stoics maintained that the truly wise man lived only in theory, but had had no actual being in this world.
[1 ]In the Latin, ratio et oratio, — a verbal assonance which our language affords us no means of translating.
[1 ]Latin, conjugium, which is often employed to denote marriage without religious ceremonies, and not necessarily permanent, and is used equally as to men and the lower animals.
[1 ]Latin, connubia, which denotes legal marriages, deemed sacred and permanent as compared with conjugia.
[1 ]Latin, contentio et comparatio, literally, a stretching of two or more objects side by side, and measuring their equality or nonequality in length, — a figure which can hardly be represented in translation.
[1 ]Salmacis was the name of a fountain in Caria, so called from a not very virtuous nymph of that name. The waters of the fountain were said to enervate those who bathed in it, and it was fabled to have been the resort of eager pleasure-seekers of both sexes. Trophies were, of course, won there by wanton dalliance, and not by deeds of prowess.
[2 ]Some commentators say that these scraps of verse are from Ennius; others say that it is not known whence they come. The latter are probably in the right.
[1 ]There were hardly any distinguished Romans that had not held some military command, so that even for those best known as civilians a military costume might not have been inappropriate.
[2 ]Latin, immanitatis omnem humanitatem repellentis, — one of those untranslatable assonances in which Cicero delights, and which contribute largely to the euphony of his diction.
[1 ]On which it is hard to maintain one’s moral equipoise.
[1 ]Imperia, by which Cicero, oftener than not, denotes high military office.
[1 ]Latin, imperia et magistratus.
[2 ]Solon did not establish the Areopagus, which was of even prehistoric origin; but before his time it was merely a criminal court, while he gave it censorial jurisdiction, advisory authority in public affairs, and, in fine, functions that rendered it a council of state, and a strongly conservative force against else unchecked democracy.
[3 ]The Areopagus, in a time of great dearth, furnished funds for the payment of the seamen who were going to fight at Salamis.
[1 ]Pausanias overthrew the Persian general, Mardonius, in the battle of Plataea.
[2 ]Lysander took Athens, and destroyed the Long Walls.
[3 ]Marcus Aemilius Scaurus was a strong conservative and a zealous supporter of the aristocratic party. His deportment, too, was remarkable for its gravity and its general respectability. He may have been a better man than Marius; but he was charged with receiving a heavy bribe from Jugurtha for securing a peace on terms favorable to the king, and he saved himself from penal accountability only by procuring his own appointment as one of the judges for the trial of his accomplices.
[4 ]Quintus Catulus supported Cicero at the time of the Catilinian conspiracy, and was the first in the Senate to hail him as Father of the Country (pater patriae).
[5 ]A verse, quoted probably from some lost comedy, the measure being one employed by the comic poets.
[1 ]This verse is from a poem of Cicero on his own times, and mainly to his own glory as carried to its climax in his suppression of the Catilinian conspiracy. It was laughed at for the patent self-conceit which it exhibited.
[1 ]As is well known, Cato never gave his vote in the Senate, no matter what the subject, without repeating the words, Delenda est Carthago, Carthage must be destroyed. Its destruction took place three years after his death.
[1 ]Callicratidas himself perished in the battle.
[2 ]Cleombrotus was taunted for excess of caution, and was thus induced to risk the battle with the Thebans, against his own judgment. There seems to have been as much hesitation on the Theban side, so that, prior to the battle, the scales would probably have seemed equipoised.
[3 ]Quintus Fabius Maximus, who from his repeatedly avoiding direct conflict with Hannibal in the determination to weary him out by delay, acquired the surname of Cunctator, and has bequeathed the enduring epithet of Fabian to a policy like his own.
[1 ]They were often on opposite sides in the politics of the city, and sometimes on non-friendly, if not unfriendly terms; but when Africanus was found dead in his bed, and supposed to have been assassinated, Metellus exclaimed, “Come, citizens, to the rescue; the walls of our city are thrown down;” and he ordered his sons to put their shoulders under the bier, saying that they would never have the opportunity to perform that office for a greater man.
[1 ]The Peripatetics, after Aristotle, defined virtue as always consisting of the mean between two extremes. Thus, courage is the mean between rashness and cowardice. The New Academy, to which Cicero belonged, accepted hypothetically the ethics of the Peripatetic school.
[1 ]Caius Laelius Sapiens, who died before Cicero was born, was a man of but moderate, though not mean reputation as a general, a statesman, and an orator; but had a strong hold on Cicero’s veneration as second to no man of his time in elegant culture, especially in Greek literature and philosophy, and also as a stanch advocate of the aristocracy as opposed to the plebs. Cicero makes him the chief interlocutor in the De Amicitia, and one of the speakers in the De Senectute and the De Republica.
[2 ]Latin, gyrum, the ring or circle, round which horses are ridden to break or tame them.
[1 ]Literally, what may be called in Latin decorum. In what follows I have translated decorum by the awkward, yet legitimate word, becomingness, which corresponds in sense very closely to the Latin word, while in making decorum an English word we have dropped a part of its native meaning.
[2 ]That which is becoming, or decorous.
[1 ]In the Orator.
[2 ]Sons of Jupiter, said to have led such righteous lives that they were made judges in the underworld.
[3 ]These passages are probably from the lost tragedy of Atreus, by Attius.
[4 ]He, in Greek fable, killed the children of his brother Thyestes, and feasted him on their flesh.
[1 ]Latin, verecundia, which commonly denotes modesty, but here evidently means that courtesy which is a part or a consequence of modesty.
[1 ]The first three cardinal virtues are thus enumerated.
[2 ]Literally, impulse. The Latin word here is appetitus, which I have rendered impulse, because anger and fear are included under it.
[3 ]Officium, from facere ob, to do on account of, or for a sufficient reason.
[1 ]Marcus Porcius Cato, the Censor. This collection is lost; but there are some specimens of its contents in Cicero’s Orator. Collections of this kind, probably, were not unusual among the ancients, though, so far as I know, but one has been preserved in either of the classic tongues, namely, the Ἀστεɩ̂α of Hierocles, the work, probably, of a compiler of whom no other vestige remains.
[2 ]Apophthegms, terse, pithy sayings, including jokes. Lord Bacon’s “Apophthegms New and Old” are, all of them, anecdotes comprising smart, pointed sayings, and many of them jokes.
[1 ]The Campus Martius, used by the Roman youth for riding, driving, swimming, and various athletic sports.
[1 ]The accusative of εἴρων, which literally means a dissembler. Hence our word irony, which always involves the idea of a double meaning, and especially of a secondary meaning which shall be latent to the person addressed or satirized, patent to every one else.
[2 ]When Athens had failed in a contest with Megara for the possession of Salamis, a law was passed rendering it criminal to advocate the renewal of the contest. Solon evaded the law by feigning insanity, and recited a poem of his own, calling upon the people to reconquer the “lovely island.” The law was repealed, the war renewed, and the island won.
[1 ]Of the traits of personal character described in this section, some are known only on Cicero’s authority; while others, attached to well-known names, are matters of history. I have not thought it necessary to give, as I easily might, under the successive names, a series of extracts from a dictionary of classical biography.
[1 ]It is well known that from Zeno, who committed suicide when he thought his life no longer serviceable, down to Seneca, the Stoics maintained the right of suicide as a mode of relief from irretrievable evil, whether bodily disease or untoward circumstances.
[1 ]None of the tragedies here named are extant. It would appear that on the Roman as on the modern stage, actors not only had parts assigned them according to their peculiar types of ability, but that the genius of a leading actor determined the choice of the play in which he should appear.
[1 ]Xenophon, in the Memorabilia, gives this story by Prodicus, as cited by Socrates.
[1 ]Latin, dissuere — praecidere; to unsew — to cut.
[1 ]Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, bearing the same name with his father, the conqueror of Hannibal, whose father was Publius Cornelius Scipio, alternately victor and vanquished in the first Punic war. This second Africanus was regarded as superior in ability, no less than in learning and elegant culture, to all the other members of the Scipio gens, but was too feeble in health to take any part in public affairs, except in the peaceful offices of Augur and Flamen Dialis. He had no children, but adopted a son of Lucius Aemilius Paulus, Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus, under whose generalship Carthage was finally subdued, and the city destroyed.
[1 ]Latin, privatorum — civium, referring to the same persons, in contradistinction, first to magistrates, and secondly to foreigners.
[1 ]The Cynics undoubtedly took their name from the κυνόσαργες, — one of the Athenian gymnasia in which their founder, Antisthenes, a pupil of Socrates, held his school; but some by no means contemptible authorities derive the name from κύων, a dog, and ascribe it to the snarling habit of the early disciples of the school, who were wont to sneer and scoff at what the rest of the world admired and prized. Diogenes of Sinope represented this type of character. Stoicism, in the person of Zeno, sprang out of the bosom of Cynicism, and embodied in its philosophy and ethics the fundamental principle of Antisthenes, that virtue is not the supreme, but the sole good. The later Cynics were characterized mainly by insolence, gratuitous indecency, and aimless asceticism.
[1 ]Palaestrici motus, literally, palaestric movements. The palaestra was the resort of the young men of wealth and fashion, and thus a nursery of foppish manners no less than of bodily vigor.
[1 ]Sequatur, which I have translated literally; for so far as I have been able to trace the festal habits of the ancients, from Homer’s heroes downward, they ate in silence, and talked afterward. This is implied in the uses of the term συμπόσιον, symposium, a drinking together after the more solid portions of the feast have been disposed of.
[1 ]Both of them men who held high places in the republic, and were worthy of its better days. The father was distinguished as an orator, and both father and son were among the foremost of their respective times in solid learning and in elegant culture.
[1 ]The greatest orator of his age. He was in his prime in Cicero’s boyhood.
[2 ]They had the same mother; their fathers were of different gentes, — Catulus being of a plebeian, Caesar of a patrician gens.
[1 ]Militem gloriosum. Miles Gloriosus is the title of a comedy of Plautus, in which Pyrgopolineces, a military braggadocio, is the principal personage. The character was a favorite one with the Roman comedians and stage-lovers. Thraso, in Terence’s Eunuchus, plays this part so well, as to have enriched the English language with the adjective thrasonical.
[1 ]In Palatio, — the Palatium was the most fashionable quarter on the Palatine Hill.
[2 ]Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, son of the Scaurus named in § 22, when candidate for the consulship, was accused of extortion in the government of Sardinia, and though undoubtedly guilty, was defended by Cicero, and was acquitted, but failed of election. Two years afterward he was accused of bribery, condemned, and banished.
[1 ]From an unknown poet.
[2 ]Lucullus would have transmitted to coming time a great name as the conqueror of Mithridates, had he not become still more famous by magnificence, ostentation, and extravagance in his villas, gardens, fish-ponds, and entertainments. A single supper is said to have cost him a sum equivalent in silver to about ten thousand dollars, in value to at least five times as much. From him is derived the word lucullite, both French and English, denoting a devotee of luxury.
[1 ]This word is used by Xenophon in the sense of order; by Thucydides, in that of moderation.
[2 ]This passage, as it treats of the definition of words, can hardly be understood without the use of the specific Latin words, both defining and defined. I therefore give here a more literal translation: “I am to speak of the order of our doings and the fit arrangement of time, which are comprehended in the science which the Greeks term εὐταξία, — not in that meaning of the word which we term modestia in which modus is implied, but in that sense which denotes the order of time and place. Yet in favor of our translating the word (εὐταξία) modestia, it may be said that the Stoics define modestia as the art of putting whatever is done or said in the right place. Thus ordo and collocatio seem to have the same import with it. For they define ordo as the putting of things in fit and suitable places; but they say that the fit time is the place of an action, — the fit time being called in Greek εὐκαιρία, in Latin, occasio. Thus it is that modestia, interpreted as I have said, comes to denote skill in determining the fitness of time for specific acts. But the same definition may be given of prudentia, of which I treated in the early part of this essay.”
[1 ]From lust.
[2 ]From bribes.
[1 ]Which we may learn by consulting men of sound discretion and practical experience.
[2 ]Aristippus maintained that the pleasure that lies nearest, whatever it be, is to be sought and enjoyed, and that man has no other end of being. The records that remain of his life give reason for believing that his personal morality was not so bad as his philosophy; yet he was luxurious in his habits, boasted of his freedom from moral restraints, and boasted also of his ability to forego without a sense of loss the indulgences which he had made habitual. He was a hearer, not to say a pupil, of Socrates, whose eccentricities were abnormal in the direction of a severer type of virtue.
[1 ]Liberales, worthy of a free man.
[1 ]Illiberales, unworthy of a free man.
[2 ]For men of senatorial, or even equestrian rank, these employments, if practised for gain, were regarded as derogating from respectability.
[3 ]The Romans in general, till near the last days of the republic, despised commerce, and though they depended for grain in great part on Sicily and remoter provinces, it was long before they brought grain in their own ships. In Cicero’s time, however, it was the reproach of the equestrian order that many members of it, tired of genteel poverty, were enriching themselves by commerce; and Cicero, as a parvenu in the Senate, was weak enough to fall in with this foolish prejudice.
[1 ]Merchants, engaged in traffic from port to port, owned and commanded the ships that carried their goods.
[2 ]Latin, contentio et comparatio, — stretching two objects side by side, and determining their comparative length. See § 17.
[1 ]A Stoic idea. The Stoics derived all duty from nature, — the nature of things, the nature of man. They therefore made nature the sole test of duty, and (if I may so express what in less awkward phrase would be less clear) regarded the greater or less naturalness of a duty as the criterion of its relative importance.
[2 ]Σοϕία primarily meant sagacity, but is commonly employed to denote wisdom in its broadest sense.
[3 ]Φρόνησις means prudence, in the sense of practical wisdom.
[1 ]Otium, leisure; negotium = nec otium, business, — a favorite play upon words with Cicero, which we have not the means of rendering into English.
[1 ]Posidonius was a Stoic, a disciple of Panaetius, a voluminous writer on an encyclopedic range of subjects. Of his works only fragments are preserved, and happily the catalogue of things not fit to be done has left no traces of itself. His works are known chiefly by copious extracts made by Athenaeus.
[2 ]An inference so illogical as to seem an oversight.