Civilizing Society and Humanity with Cicero

CIVILIZING SOCIETY  AND HUMANITY WITH CICERO

Marcus Tullius Cicero  [also known as Tully], On the Good Life, translation and notes by Michael Grant; Preface by A C Grayling, London, The Folio Society, 2003.

Cicero (106-43 BC) was a Roman orator, statesman and man of letters. He studied law, oratory, philosophy, and literature and his political career reached its height when he became Consul (one of two military and civil leaders of the Republic) in 63 BC. Thereafter his political fortunes declined in spite of his great favour with the people, because of his opposition to the dictatorship of Sulla, both Caesars and Pompey’s faction as well as the two triumvirates. After several speeches in the Senate in which he criticized Mark Antony (the “Philippics”) he was murdered by Antony’s soldiers as he tried to escape after the formation of the second triumvirate of Mark Antony, Lepidus and Octavian

Most of Cicero’s writing was completed while in exile in one of his seven country villas, perhaps at Latium. Prolific translator and author, the late Michael Grant (Cambridge don and author of over 50 books on the Greeks, Romans and early Christianity) praises Cicero’s fame in this way: “The influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas greatly exceeds that of any other prose writer in any language.”  (Cicero: Selected Works, London, Penguin,1960, p24). Grant proceeds to list the following writers as deeply influenced by Cicero: They include Quintilian, Juvenal, Lactantius (‘the Christian Cicero’), Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine (who wrote that Cicero’s Hortensius..”quite altered my affections, turned my prayers to thyself, O Lord”),  Guido of Pisa, Thomas Aquinas (who quoted Cicero more frequently than any other Latin writer), Boethius, Dante (who compares Cicero to Orpheus, and declares that the chief philosophical influence operating upon his own thought had been the essay “On Friendship”..) , Chaucer, Petrarch…(“led by Petrarch,then, the Renaissance became, above all else, a revival of Cicero, and only after him and through him of the rest of classical antiquity), Leonardo Bruni, Poggio Bracciolini, Guarino, Vittorino Da Feltre, William Grey, John Frey of Balliol, Robert Flemmyng, John Tiptoft, Thomas Chandler, Erasmus, Luther, Melanchthon, Elizabeth 1, Roger Ascham, Richard Hooker, Montaigne, Milton, Edward Herbert, Locke, Basset, Montesquieu, Hume, Diderot, Frederick the Great, Voltaire, Samuel Johnson,William Robertson, Edward Gibbon, Burke, Chatham, Sheridan, Fox, Pitt, Kant, Schiller, Herbart, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Camille Desmoulins, Mirabeau, Girondin Louvet, Robespierre, Macaulay, Trevelyan, Gladstone, Lincoln, Newman … Yet the nineteenth century witnessed an eclipse of Cicero’s reputation especially as regards his philosophical writings. His lack of ‘originality”’was now for the first time held against him, with the results that his true merits were neglected. Furthermore the originals had been Greek, and this was such a philhellenic age that a Latin interpreter and adapter of the Greeks stood no chance….(Grant, Introduction, p.xl).

“Society has subsequently shown that it has not learnt Cicero’s principal messages. In England, particularly, the neglect of his treatises has continued.  Perhaps they are too relevant: they strike near the bone, since few people have the time or inclination to reflect about the practical principles that ought to be governing their lives.”  (Ibiid, p. xl). Interestingly Petrarch quoted Cicero so much because he thought that Cicero was the greatest illustration of the ideal aim of “glorious scholarly solitude. In Petrarch’s On the Solitary Life, he quoted Cicero …to show that highest aim of leisure was to be busy. (Grant:Introduction, p.xxxv). Petrarch was later shocked to learn that, apart from enforced exiles, most of Cicero’s works were written in the midst of a fiercely busy political life.

The Folio edition contains the following works by Cicero all in the form of imagined conversations between Roman scholars, lawyers, oraters and political figures from previous ages.

 

Discussions at Tusculum: Book V.

On Duties: Book 11: Service.

Cato the Elder: On Old Age.

Laelius: On Friendship.

On the Orator: Book 1: Speech and SocietOn the State: Book 111: The Ideal Form of Government and a fragment of Book V1: The Dream of Scipio.

The following quotations come from the above works in Grant’s translation.

From Discussions at Tusculum (V): On the Good Life:  Grant notes: If we can overcome a modern distaste for being edified, it is one of the most entertaining, in addition to being highly characteristic of its author.

p8 …it would be over-optimistic to suppose that philosophy get the praise its service to mankind deserves. On the contrary, most people pay no attention to it at all; and some actually subject it to abuse. ..the reason, I suppose, why uneducated people have fallen into this darkest of errors is because they are incapable of looking far enough back into the past; this is what makes them fail to realise that the people who first created civilisation were the philosophers. This section continues with a brief “history” of philosophy to Cicero’s day including the ancient “gods”, Ulysses, Nestor,  Lycurgus, Homer, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Heraclides, Anaxagoras, Archelaus, Carneades, Zeno, Peripatetics, Cato, Aristotle, Theophrastus (pupil of Aristotle), Brutus, Aristus, Antiochus, Epicurus,Speusippus, Xenocrates, Polemo, Stoics [pp8-23]

p21 Philosophers should be judged by their consistency and coherence, not individual statements, however clear.

p24 …the law of nature, which has given to each kind its special distinguishing feature to retain permanently as its own peculiar possession..Man, however, has been endowed with something more outstanding. Yet it would be better, perhaps, to reserve the term ‘outstanding’ for things which admit of some comparison: whereas the human soul admits of none, since, being derived from the divine mind [the Stoic view], it can only be compared —if such suggestion is permissible —with God himself.

p24 Once, therefore, this human soul has received the appropriate training, once its vision has been seen to—so as to make sure it is blinded by no errors—the result will be perfect mind, flawless reason: which is the same thing as moral goodness…if those are also precisely the characteristics of moral goodness, then all good men are happy. [so also Aristotle, Xenocrates, Speusippus and Polemo]

But hereafter I part from them, because I next have to assert that good men are not only happy, but supremely happy.

p25 For the happy man, as I see him, has to be safe, secure, unconquerable, impregnable, a man whose fears are not just insignificant but non-existent.

p28 [According to Socrates]…a man’s soul indicates the man; the man indicates his speech; his speech indicates his actions; his actions indicate his life. Since, then, the disposition of a man’s good soul is laudable, the same applies to his life. His life therefore is morally good. And so, once again, we come to the conclusion that the good people are happy.

p29 …the wise man is free from all those disturbances of the soul which I describe as passions; his  heart is full of tranquil calm for ever. And anyone who is self-controlled, unwavering, fearless, undistressed, the victim of no cravings or desires, must inevitably be happy…..If therefore, happiness and moral goodness are not identical, it would be necessary ago suppose that there is something morally better than the happy life—which would be an utterly nonsensical conclusion.

p36 For since the best part of a man is his mind, that, surely, must be where the ‘best’ , the supreme good you are looking for, is located.

p37 ..And then again he must have a passionate enthusiasm for trying to discover the truth. And this leads to that famous threefold division of intellectual study. [Stoicism..physics, ethics and dialectics]

p38  ..To men immersed day and night in these meditations comes the understanding of the truth pronounced by the god at Delphi, that the mind should know itself; and there comes also the perception of its union with the divine mind, the source of its inexhaustible joy. 

p41 ..the most formidable obstacle to adopting a moral standard seems to be pain. When its fiery torches intimidate us they threaten the complete destruction of all the courage, character, and endurance that we can muster. So does this mean that moral goodness is forced to succumb to pain? When pain comes, does the wise and steadfast man ’s happiness just have to bow down before it? God, what a shameful suggestion! 

p43  ..Happiness, I say again, will not tremble, however much it is tortured. Clinging steadfastly to its integrity, its self-control and above all its courage, with all the strength of character and endurance that the word implies, happiness will not flinch even when the countenance of the executioner himself is revealed..

..[a truly wise man]…will never do anything he might regret—or anything he does not want to do. Every action he performs will always be dignified, consistent, serious, upright. He will not succumb to the belief that this or that future event is predestined to happen.  [against determinism].

p45…[about the ultimate good]..there are four simple points of view:

…the Stoic contention that nothing is good except what is morally right

…the attitude of Epicurus that nothing is good except pleasure

…the idea of Hieronymus that the only thing which is good is the absence of pain

…the opinion of Carneades against the Stoics that nothing can be good except the enjoyment of “the first fruits of nature” (one’s bodily and mental gifts)

p50 …Epicurus and the others belittle expensive and sumptuous banquets, on the grounds that nature’s needs are modest…[contrast the modern definition of an “epicure’.]

p51…the true satisfaction to be derived from food comes not from repletion but from appetite—the people who run after pleasure are the least likely to catch what they are after.

p52…we ought to ask ourselves whether the popular affection and glory we so greatly long to win are not more of a burden than a pleasure….For it is imperative to understand that popular glory isn not worth coveting for its own sake; and there is nothing very frightening about obscurity.’I came to Athens,’ said Democritus, ‘and no one there took any notice of me.’

p53  The truly wise thing is to despise all our trivial ambitions, all our honours bestowed by the crowd…to have no job, to devote one’s time to literature, is the most wonderful thing in the world. And by literature, I mean the works which give us an opportunity to understand the universe and nature in all its infinity, and the world in which we ourselves live, its sky, land and sea.

p55…the wise man …never has any lack of pleasures..

From On Duties (1): Service.

p70  …[moral goodness] …may be held to fall into three subdivisions…

– the ability to distinguish truth from falsity…

– the ability to restrain the passions [παθη] and to make the appetites [ὁρμαι] amenable to reason…

– the capacity to behave considerately and understandingly in our associations with other people.

p73  ..it is better to win affection than fear..

p76…how can we win affection—based on loyalty and honour….the truest, loftiest sort of reputation can be obtained by inspiring three feelings in the public: (i)good will, (ii) confidence, (iii) respect…

p77  …there are two requirements for winning confidence…A man must be considered intelligent; and he must be regarded as just.

p77..To sum up, then, a combination of justice and intelligence is best of all —and capable of winning all the confidence that could be desired.

p79 No one at all, whatever his way and manner of life, can in my opinion dispense with the help of his fellow men.

p87…whereas one’s purse must not be tightly closed against every generous inclination, it must also not be opened so wide that its contents are available to everybody and anybody.

p98… Themistocles: “personally, I like a man without money better than money with a man.”

From On Duties (111): A Practical Code of Behaviour 

p108  …one must not only choose the least among evils, one must also extract from them any good that they may contain.

….To everyone who proposes to have a good career, moral philosophy is indispensable.

p109:  Panaetius on moral obligations:

Is a thing morally right or wrong?

– Is it advantageous or disadvantageous?

– If apparent right and apparent advantage clash, what is the basis for our choice between them?

p111: Nobody who falls short  of this perfect wisdom  can possibly claim perfect goodness….

p115 the finest and noblest characters prefer a life of dedication to a life of self-indulgence.

p119  ..if we have learnt any philosophy at all, this at lease we ought to appreciate: all the secrets we may be able to keep from any and every god and human being do not in the least absolve us from the obligation to refrain from whatever actions are greedy, unjust, sensual or otherwise immoderate.

p132 what forbids [shonky business deals] is the moral law which nature itself has ordained …there is a bond of community that links every man in the world with every other..

p133 ..In this section Cicero tolerates slavey provided slaves are dealt with fairly and humanely.

p134  Nature is the source of law.

p135 …what must be thought of the man who not only fails to avert wrong but actually promotes its commitment?

p138  Will a good man lie for his own profit, will he slander, will he grab, will he deceive? He will do nothing of the kind.

p145  The four cardinal virtues: (adapted from the Stoics)…wisdom, justice, fortitude and temperance.

From Cato the Elder: On Old Age

p157 A person who lacks the means within himself, to live a good and happy life will find any period of his existence wearisome.

Everyone hopes to attain an advanced age; yet when it comes they all complain!

p158  If a man controls himself and avoids bad temper and churlishness, then he can endure being old. But if he is irritable and churlish, then any period of his life will seem to him tiresome.

Old age has its own appropriate weapons; namely the study, and the practice, of decent, enlightened living.

p166 True, not everyone can be a Scipio or a Maximus and remember the cities he has captured,  the battles he has fought on land and sea, the triumphs he has won. But there is another sort of old age too: the tranquil and serene evening of a life spent in peaceful, blameless and enlightened pursuits.

p167 Great deeds are not done by strength or speed or physique: they are the products of thought, and character, and judgment. And far from diminishing, such qualities actually increase with age.

p169 An old man is well advised to favour the society of promising young people. If the young cultivate and like him, he will find age more tolerable — and youths welcome an old man’s advice, which helps them to work at living good lives.

p170 Some people never stop learning, however old they are. You can see Solon, for example, boasting in his poems that while he grows old he continues to learn something new every day.

p173  Age has to be fought against; its faults need vigilant resistance. We must combat them as we should fight disease—following a fixed regime, taking exercise in moderation, and enough food and drink to strengthen yet not enough to overburden. However the mind and spirit need even more attention than the body, for old age easily extinguishes them.

p174  Age will only be respected if it fights for itself, maintains its own rights, avoid dependence, and asserts control over its own sphere as long as life lasts.

p.180 …surely the satisfactions of the mind are greater than all the rest!

p185  …old age must have its foundations well laid in early life

p186…old people are complained about as morose, and petulant, and ill-tempered, and hard to please; and on enquiry some of them prove to be avaricious as well. But these are faults of character, not of age.

p186 I cannot see the point of old men being miserly. Is it not the height of absurdity for a traveller to think he needs more funds for his journey when it is nearly over?

p 186 When a man is old, there can obviously be no doubt that death is near.  Yet if, during his long life, he has failed to grasp that death is of no account  he is unfortunate indeed. There are two alternatives: either death completely destroys human souls, in which case it is negligible; or it removes the soul to some place of eternal life—in which case its coming is greatly to be desired.

p187 [An old man] is better of than his juniors, since what they are hoping for he has actually achieved; they want long lives, and he has had one.

p188  …the later seasons are those that reap the harvests and gather them in. And the particular harvest of old age, I repeat, is its abundant recollection of blessings acquired in earlier years.

p189 Pythagoras forbids us to desert life’s sentry-post till God, our commander, has given the word.

From Laelius: On Friendship

Cicero’s discussion here is limited to male friendships especially how to maintain the friendship in the face of political disagreement. He was not a homosexual but his two marriages were failures. We lack Cicero’s view on the ideal marriage!

p206 Friendship is only possible between good men..

p207 …so let us take some individual whose life and behaviour have displayed proven loyalty, honesty, fairness and generosity — a man of unflinching integrity….whose character does not contain  a trace of covetousness or violence or unscrupulousness. For such are the men who are generally described as ‘good’.

p208  Friendship may be defined as a complete identity of feeling about all things in heaven and on earth: an identity which is strengthened by good will and affection. With the single exception of wisdom, I am inclined to regard it as the greatest of all gifts the gods have bestowed upon mankind. Some people, I know, give preference to riches, or good health, or power, or public honours. And many rank sensuous pleasures highest of all. But feelings of that kind are something which any animal can experience; and the other items in that list, too, are thoroughly transient and uncertain….Another school of thought believes that the supreme blessing is moral goodness; and this is the right view. Moreover, this is the quality to which friendship owes its entire origin and character. Without goodness, it cannot even exist.

p209  Even when a friend is absent, he is present all the same. However poor he is, he is rich. however weak, he is strong….Even when he is dead, he is still alive. He is alive because his friends still cherish him, and remember him, and long for him. This means there is happiness even in his death —he ennobles the existences of those who are left behind.

p209f  Take away the bond of kindly feeling from the world, and no house or city can stand…When there is internal hatred and division, no home or country in the world is strong enough to avoid destruction.

p211  For good will is established by love, quite independently of any calculation of profit; and it is from love, amor,  that the word for friendship, amicitia, is derived.

p212f Another source of friendly feeling is to see a lot of someone in one’s daily life.

p214f [Scipio] maintained that it was the most difficult thing in the world for a friendship to last until the very end of life. Either it ceases to be mutually advantageous, or people’s political views change and affect their relations with one another. And another thing that changes, he added, is a person’s character; it gets altered, by the blows of misfortune or the increasing burdens of age….Among the majority of the population ..friendship’s worst destroyer is greed for money. But in men the top competitive ambition for jobs and distinctions is what causes the deadliest enmities…

p214 [Scipio also said that] friendships are violated, and often quite rightly, broken when one party has asked the other to do something that is wrong…

p220 Cicero opposed the Epicurean view that friendships should be cultivated not for the sake of kindly and affectionate feeling at all, but solely for the purposes of mutual utility. [By this philosophy they are] depriving life of friendship, which is the noblest and most delightful of all the gifts the gods have given mankind.

p221 …to remove friendship from our lives, just because it might bring us worries, would be the biggest possible mistake. For if we eliminate all human emotions, there is no difference left…between man and tree-trunks, or stones, or any other inanimate object you like to mention.

p222…the greatest of all possible incentives to friendshipis congeniality of temperament. This means that a good man is attracted by other good men.

p223  Cicero writes against self-indulgence….there is not a man upon the whole earth who would want to live surrounded by unlimited wealth and affluence if the price he had to pay was to renounce both loving and being loved. That is how a tyrant lives —without mutual trust, without affection, without any assurance of enduring good will. In such a life suspicion and anxiety reign everywhere, and friendship has no place. For no one can love the person he fears —or the person he believes himself to be feared by…..You can see how military command and power and success transform people who had been decent enough before, and cause them to discard their old friendships in favour of new ones.

p224f We do a great many things for our friends that we should never dream of doing for ourselves… Friendship, to me, is something altogether richer and more abundant; it is not going to keep a close watch on whether it pays out more than it receives…

p228  ..A true friend will not enjoy criticising you; and, what is more, when other people criticise you, he will refuse to listen.

p228 …a friend should be pleasant in conversation and manner, since these are things which add spice to any relationship.To be solemn and austere on all occasions may be impressive, but friendship ought to be something freer and more relaxed, and more agreeable..

p229  There is truth in the saying that men must eat many a peck of salt together before they can know what friendship really means…

p233 …do not be too quick to form an attachment…

p236 …If you are lonely, every pleasure loses its savour..

p237-8 …Terence said in his Woman of Andros: “flattery gets us friends, but truth earns ill will.”…[but]  most culpable of all is the friend who spurns the truth and allows flattery to seduce him into doing wrong..a man whose ears are so completely closed to the truth  that he cannot hear it from a friend is a hopeless case..

p240 … a lot of people are less concerned to be virtuous that to look it..

p242  …without affection and kindly feeling life can hold no joys…

p243 …next to goodness itself, I entreat you to regard friendship as the finest thing in all the world.

From On the Orator (1): Speech and Society

p255f …first, one has to acquire knowledge about a formidable quantity of different matters. To hold forth without this information will just mean a silly flow of windy verbiage….it is also essential to have an intimate understanding of every emotion which nature has given to mankind..other requirements include a certain sparkle and wit, and the culture appropriate to an educated man, and a terse promptitude both in repartee and attack. A civilised lightness of touch is also desirable. As regards delivery…the principal relevant factors included physical deportment, gesture of the arms, facial expression, voice production, and the avoidance of monotony.

p257 …whatever subject he is called upon to deal with, both the form and substance of his performance will attain an impressive high quality.

p265  …an extensive experience in public affairs, and a mastery of our ordinances and customs and law, and a mastery of human nature and character.

p266  …the distinction, evidently, is a stylistic one; the particular circumstance of a good speaker is a harmonious, attractive manner, marked by a certain artistry and polish.

p267….it is widely appreciated that an orator’s special strength lies in his capacity to rouse men’s hearts to anger, hatred and indignation, or to soothe these violent emotions and transform them into gentleness and compassion……all this learning continues to be of no value whatever until he, the orator, has put it into words.

p268  …an orator will have occasion to make some general reflection about the immortal gods, piety, concord, friendship; about the rights shared in common among citizens  or all human beings or nations; about equity, moderation, generosity or other virtues.

p271 …philosophy…has three branches, relating to the mysteries of nature, the subtleties of logic, and the life and behaviour of human beings. ..the third has always been the orator’s special sphere.

p272…no one should be counted as an orator unless he has a thorough acquaintance with the subjects an educated man ought to know. It is not so much that one actually needs to draw upon these themes while one is making his speech. The trouble is that if we are ignorant of such topics it very soon becomes painfully evident!

p283 In the invented dialogue one of the questioners asks the orator Crassus whether there is indeed such a thing as the art of speaking.

p284f…  Crassus’ reply is cryptic: ….any sort of talking, except when absolutely necessary, is a silly activity; talking about talking must surely be the most imbecile procedure in the world….then more seriously..what a good speaker needs most of all is natural ability….certain active intellectual gifts and talents are absolutely essential: swiftness of invention, fluency of exposition and elaboration, and a strong and retentive memory.  People who think these are assets that can be picked up by theoretical study are quite mistaken…they all have to be implanted by nature…other characteristics which are quite obviously inborn, such as a ready tongue, a loud voice, powerful lungs, physical strength, and the shape and build of a man’s face and body.

p285…the speaker …worth hearing on some issue of major importance..is accepting a truly enormous burden and responsibility. 

p288…in an orator…we demand the acuteness of a logician, the profundity of a philosopher, diction virtually of a poet, the memory of a lawyer, the voice of a performer in tragic drama…of an actor at the top of his profession.

p289 …who on earth is every going to attain the sublime total perfection you are insisting upon?

p290…the essence of art is taste…

p294f….the most important education of all is something which, to tell the truth, we go in for much too rarely; because it requires a great deal of labour, which most of us shirk. What I mean is writing. Far and away the best creator and professor of eloquence is the pen…..however strenuously  one may have practised extempore speech-making, the only way to achieve this acclamation is by writing and by continuing to write.

p296  …to return to the question of training, a speaker also ought to read the poets and the historians. Indeed he must peruse and scrutinise the writers and experts on every liberal art….and finally he must be able to sprinkle a little salt on his speech, in the form of a civilised, wel-varied supply of humorous and entertaining touches.

pp298-311 list some of the complex legal issues and disputations of Roman law and public disputation.

p312 The great Socrates, we are told, used t describe his work as completed as soon as his exhortations had stimulated someone to tackle the study of ethics; once people had become convinced that they really wanted to lead good lives, and wanted this more than they wanted anything else, everything else that had to be learned was easy.

p318  …as for ourselves  who have to go down into the Forum and deal with the people of Rome, let us learn, and teach others, just as much about human nature as a human being can reasonably master; and we shall be entitled to feel content.

p319 ….[the orator] does not need all the definitions of the philosophers at all. it is not for him to worry whether the supreme good lies in the soul or the body or whether it consists of moral right or pleasure, or whether there is some way of uniting and blending morality and pleasure, or even whether, as some have maintained, nothing at all can be known or understood or apprehended with any certainty….his philosophical books, on the other hand, he should keep for a leisurely holiday at a Tuscan villa….if he ever has to talk about justice and loyalty, for example, he would be well advised not to let the idea of borrowing from Plato enter his head. For when Plato had to write down his views on such matters, the republic he depicted was an unfamilar bookish affair in which the concept of justice, as he interpreted it, was totally divorced from the actual everyday lives and customs of human societies.

p322…Socrates valued courage ahead of oratory. Evaluating an elegant speech by the eloquent Lysias he commented: …this speech of yours; it seems to me eloquent oratory, but deficient in the courage a man ought to show.

pp323-332 provide further argument about how deep a knowledge of the law is required for an effective orator.

p333 …the solitude you find so alarming seems to me  a haven to look forward to. For in my opinion the most splendid asset of old age is spare time!

From On The State (111) :

p341  …to establish a state that is going to be durable demands the greatest intelligence that nature can provide….we are looking for justice, which is more valuable than all the gold in the world.

pp342 -344 demonstrate that different nations and societies have very different views about justice e.g. examples of human sacrifice, banditry, against manual labour etc.

p345 Cicero argues against government by the people…if the people gain the supremacy, and the whole government is conducted according to their wishes, a state of affairs has arisen which is hailed as liberty, but is, in fact, chaos. Cicero moves on to defend the oligarchy of the Roman Senate …rule by titled and elected leaders; he lost his life opposing the dictatorships of the Caesars and the triumverates.

p345f Cicero criticizes the false wisdom that we should rule over as many subjects as possible, indulge in pleasures, hold on to power, be rulers and masters. But justice, on the other hand, demands that we should be merciful to all men, act in the interests of the whole human race, give everyone what they are entitled to, and never tamper with religious property, or what belongs to the community or to private persons.

p348 True law is in keeping with the dictates of both reason and of nature. It applies universally to everyone. It is unchanging and eternal. Its commands are summons to duty, and its prohibitions declare that nothing wrongful must be done….the maker, and umpire, and proposer of this law will be God, the single master and ruler of us all. If a man fails to obey God, then he will be in flight from his own self.for a state ought to be so firmly established that it will last for ever.

p350 for the word…that defines a state is res public, the property of the people.

p352  …an aristocratic, oligarchic government is better than a monarchy…

From The Dream of Scipio:

This famous passage is a fragment from Book V1 of On The State, now largely lost. In a vision of some sort of “astral theology” [Michael Grant: Introduction] the younger Africanus Scipio has a vision of the heavenly habitation and the nature and structure of the universe with a  particular emphasis on the sun and the music of the spheres, influencing many European writers including Milton and Thomas Browne.

p359 Africanus’ dream places particular emphasis on defending one’s homeland since every man who has preserved or helped his country, or has made its greatness even greater, is reserved a special place in heaven.

p359 Africanus is more concerned about seeing his father Paullus again and is deeply moved in the dream to speak with him.

p360  …it is destined that you, Publius, and all other righteous men, shall suffer your souls to stay in the custody of the body. You must not abandon human life except at the command of him who gave it to you. For otherwise you would have failed in the duty which you, like the rest of humanity, have to fulfil.  [Michael Grant notes that Plato had compared men who commit suicide to soldiers who desert their posts. Cicero, on the other hand, supports suicide/euthanasia under some circumstances….suppose [illnesses] are greatly prolonged, and inflict agonies more severe than he can be expected to endure. In that case, why, for God’s sake , should we continue to suffer? After all, there is a haven close at hand. I refer to the eternal refuge of death — where nothing is felt any longer. [Discussions at Tusculum, p59]

p362 fThe emphasis in the dream is on the vastness of the heavenly empyrean and how insignificant everything earthly becomes….can you not understand that the earth is totally insignificant? Contemplate these heavenly regions instead. Scorn what is mortal! ….and I must disabuse you of any idea that your own fame, or the fame of any of us, could ever be great enough to extend beyond these known and settled lands….you will have to conclude that the area over which your glory is so eager to extend itself is really of the most trifling dimensions.

p365: This glorious musical universe is promised after death to those who …let virtue herself, by her own unaided allurements, summon you to a glory  that is genuine and real. Feel no concern about what other people may say about you….no utterance of man about his fellow man has ever been lasting. When a person dies his words die with him….strive on! it is only your body that is mortal. your true self is nothing of the kind. ,,,your real self is not that corporeal, palpable shape, but the spirit inside. Understand that you are God. You have a god’s capacity of aliveness and sensation and memory and foresight; a god’s power to rule and govern and direct the body that is your servant, in the same way as God himself, who reigns over us, directs the entire universe. And this rule exercised by eternal God is mirrored in the dominance of your frail body by your immortal soul.

p366 The beginning of all movement, then, comes from that which has set itself in motion: which can neither be born nor die….Since, therefore, it is plain that the self-moving principle is eternal, the same must evidently apply to the human soul….Use this eternal force, therefore, for the most splendid deeds it is in you to achieve. And the very best deeds are those which serve your country.

p368 When, on the other hand, a man has failed to do this, and has abandoned himself instead to bodily indulgence and become its slave, letting the passions which serve pleasure impel him to flout the laws both of gods and men, his soul, after departing from his body, hovers about close to the earth. Nor does it return to this place until many ages of torment have been undergone…..

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