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

Let the welfare of the people be the ultimate law.


So long as there is life in the sick man, it is said that there is hope.
True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions.
Fulvia and Cicero's head
The distinguishing property of man is to search for and to follow after truth.
A war is never undertaken by the ideal State, except in defense of its honor or its safety.
A happy life consists in tranquility of mind.
How long, Catiline, will you abuse our patience?
The beginnings of all things are small.
Constant practice devoted to one subject often prevails over both ability and skill.
  • Equidem ad pacem hortari non desino; quae vel iniusta utilior est quam iustissimum bellum cum civibus.
    • As for me, I cease not to advocate peace. It may be on unjust terms, but even so it is more expedient than the justest of civil wars.
      • Epistulae ad Atticum (Letters to Atticus) Book VII, Letter 14, section 3; as translated by E.O. Winstedt in the Loeb Classical Library
  • Quidem concessum est rhetoribus ementiri in historiis ut aliquid dicere possint argutius.
    • Indeed rhetoricians are permitted to lie about historical matters so they can speak more subtly.
      • Brutus, 42
  • Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit.
    • Almost no one dances sober, unless he is insane.
      • Pro Murena (Chapter VI, sec. 13)
  • Etenim, iudices, cum omnibus virtutibus me adfectum esse cupio, tum nihil est quod malim quam me et esse gratum et videri. Haec enim est una virtus non solum maxima sed etiam mater virtutum omnium reliquarum.
    • In truth, O judges, while I wish to be adorned with every virtue, yet there is nothing which I can esteem more highly than being and appearing grateful. For this one virtue is not only the greatest, but is also the parent of all the other virtues.
      • Pro Plancio (54 B.C.)
  • Silent enim leges inter arma.
    • For laws are silent among arms.
      • Pro Milone, Chapter IV, section 11. Often paraphrased as Inter arma enim silent leges.
      • Variant translations:
      • In a time of war, the law falls silent.
      • Laws are silent in time of war.
  • O di immortales! non intellegunt homines, quam magnum vectigal sit parsimonia.
    • O immortal gods! Men do not realize how great a revenue parsimony can be!
      • Paradoxa Stoicorum; Paradox VI, 49
  • Vi victa vis.
    • Force overcome by force.
      • Pro Milone, Chapter XI, section 30
      • Variant translation: Violence conquered by violence.
  • Historia vero testis temporum, lux veritatis, vita memoriae, magistra vitae, nuntia vetustatis, qua voce alia nisi oratoris immortalitati commendatur?
    • History is truly the witness of times past, the light of truth, the life of memory, the teacher of life, the messenger of antiquity; whose voice, but the orator's, can entrust her to immortality?
      • De Oratore Book II; Chapter IX, section 36
  • Id quod est praestantissimum, maximeque optabile omnibus sanis et bonis et beatis, cum dignitate otium.
    • That which is most excellent, and is most to be desired by all happy, honest and healthy-minded men, is dignified leisure.
      • Pro Publio Sestio; Chapter XLV
  • Quam cum suavissima et maxima voce legisset, admirantibus omnibus "quanto" inquit "magis miraremini, si audissetis ipsum!"
    • He read with a charming full voice, and when everyone was applauding, "how much", he asked, "would you have applauded if you had heard the original?"
      • De Oratorio, book 3, chapter 56.
      • Note: Cicero was telling the story of Æschines' return to Rhodes, at which he was requested to deliver Demosthenes' defence of Ctesiphon.
  • At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus, qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti, quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint, obcaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa, qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio, cumque nihil impedit, quo minus id, quod maxime placeat, facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet, ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat.
    • On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammeled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.
      • De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (The Ends of Good and Evil), Book I, section 33; Translation by H. Rackham (1914)
  • Est quidem vera lex recta ratio naturae congruens, diffusa in omnes, constans, sempiterna, quae vocet ad officium iubendo, vetando a fraude deterreat; quae tamen neque probos frustra iubet aut vetat nec improbos iubendo aut vetando movet. Huic legi nec obrogari fas est neque derogari ex hac aliquid licet neque tota abrogari potest, nec vero aut per senatum aut per populum solvi hac lege possumus, neque est quaerendus explanator aut interpres eius alius, nec erit alia lex Romae, alia Athenis, alia nunc, alia posthac, sed et omnes gentes et omni tempore una lex et sempiterna et immutabilis continebit, unusque erit communis quasi magister et imperator omnium deus, ille legis huius inventor, disceptator, lator; cui qui non parebit, ipse se fugiet ac naturam hominis aspernatus hoc ipso luet maximas poenas, etiamsi cetera supplicia, quae putantur, effugerit.
    • There is a true law, a right reason, conformable to nature, universal, unchangeable, eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and whose prohibitions restrain us from evil. Whether it enjoins or forbids, the good respect its injunctions, and the wicked treat them with indifference. This law cannot be contradicted by any other law, and is not liable either to derogation or abrogation. Neither the senate nor the people can give us any dispensation for not obeying this universal law of justice. It needs no other expositor and interpreter than our own conscience. It is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens; one thing to–day and another to–morrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must for ever reign, eternal and imperishable. It is the sovereign master and emperor of all beings. God himself is its author,—its promulgator,—its enforcer. He who obeys it not, flies from himself, and does violence to the very nature of man. For his crime he must endure the severest penalties hereafter, even if he avoid the usual misfortunes of the present life.
      • De Re Publica [Of The Republic], Book III Section 22; as translated by Francis Barham
    • Variant translations:
    • True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions. And it does not lay its commands or prohibitions upon good men in vain, though neither have any effect on the wicked. It is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to attempt to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is, God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst penalties, even if he escapes what is commonly considered punishment.
      • As translated by Clinton W. Keyes (1928)
  • Etiamne hoc adfirmare potes, Luculle, esse aliquam vim, cum prudentia et consilio scilicet, quae finxerit vel, ut tuo verbo utar, quae fabricata sit hominem? Qualis ista fabrica est? ubi adhibita? quando? cur? quo modo?
    • Can you also, Lucullus, affirm that there is any power united with wisdom and prudence which has made, or, to use your own expression, manufactured man? What sort of a manufacture is that? Where is it exercised? when? why? how?
      • Academica, Book II (Entitled Lucullus), Chapter XXVII, section 87
  • Omnium rerum principia parva sunt.
    • The beginnings of all things are small.
    • Variant translation: Everything has a small beginning.
    • "De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" Book V, Chapter 58
  • Laudandum adulescentem, ornandum, tollendum.
    • The young man should be praised, honored, and made immortal.
    • Ad Familiares 11.20.1; the reference is to Octavian, with tollendum carrying the implication of the youth's being slain and thus "made immortal".
  • Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil.
    • If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
    • To Varro, in Ad Familiares IX, 4
  • Una navis est iam bonorum omnium.
    • All loyalists are now in the same boat.
    • Ad Familiares, XII, 25
  • Civis Romanus sum.
    • I am a Roman citizen.
    • Against Verres [In Verrem], part 2, book 5, section 57; reported in Cicero, The Verrine Orations, trans. L. H. G. Greenwood (1935), vol. 2, p. 629
  • Adsiduus usus uni rei deditus et ingenium et artem saepe vincit.
    • Constant practice devoted to one subject often prevails over both ability and skill.[1]
    • Variant translation: Constant practice given to one matter often conquers both genius and art.
      • Pro Balbo, section 45
  • non enim parum cognosse, sed in parum cognito stulte et diu perseverasse turpe est, propterea quod alterum communi hominum infirmitati alterum singulari cuiusque vitio est attributum.
    • for it is not having insufficient knowledge, but persisting a long time in insufficient knowledge that is shameful; since the one is assumed to be a disease common to all, but the other is assumed to be a flaw to an individual.
    • Variant: Any man can make mistakes, but only a fool persists in his error.
      • De Inventione, Section 2.9.3
  • Nonne, ut ignis in aquam conjectus, continuo restinguitur et refrigeratur, sic refervens falsum crimen in purissimam et castissimam vitam collatum, statim concidit et extinguitur?
    • Does not, as fire dropped upon water is immediately extinguished and cooled, so, does not, I say, a false accusation, when brought in contact with a most pure and holy life, instantly fall and become extinguished?
      • Cicero, Pro Roscio Comodeo Oratio, 17; C.D. Yonge translation
  • Sic submissa voce agam tantum ut iudices audiant; neque enim desunt qui istos in me atque in optimum quemque incitent; quos ego, quo id facilius faciant, non adiuvabo.
    • I will speak in a low voice, just so as to let the judges hear me. For men are not wanting who would be glad to excite that people against me and against every eminent man; and I will not assist them and enable them to do so more easily.
  • Est enim unum ius quo deuincta est hominum societas et quod lex constituit una, quae lex est recta ratio imperandi atque prohibendi. Quam qui ignorat, is est iniustus, siue est illa scripta uspiam siue nusquam.
    • For there is but one essential justice which cements society, and one law which establishes this justice. This law is right reason, which is the true rule of all commandments and prohibitions. Whoever neglects this law, whether written or unwritten, is necessarily unjust and wicked.
  • Quid enim foedius auaritia, quid immanius libidine, quid contemptius timiditate, quid abiectius tarditate et stultitia dici potest?
    • For what is there more hideous than avarice, more brutal than lust, more contemptible than cowardice, more base than stupidity and folly?
  • Nam et qui bene imperat, paruerit aliquando necesse est, et qui modeste paret, videtur qui aliquando imperet dignus esse.
    • For in order to command well, we should know how to submit; and he who submits with a good grace will some time become worthy of commanding.
      • Book III, section 2; translation by Francis Barham
  • Salus populi suprema lex esto.
    • Let the welfare of the people be the ultimate law.
      • Book III, section 3
  • Noxia poena par esto.
    • Let the punishment match the offense.
      • Book III, section 11

In Catilinam IAgainst Catiline (63 BC)

  • Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?
    • To what length will you abuse our patience, Catiline?
    • Variant translation: "When, O Catiline, do you mean to cease abusing our patience?" by Charles Duke Yonge (M. Tullius Cicero. The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, B. A. London. Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Covent Garden. 1856.)
      • Speech I
  • O tempora! O mores!
    • O, the times! O, the morals!
    • Variant: O the times! O, the customs!
      • Speech I
  • Quodsi ea mihi maxime inpenderet tamen hoc animo fui semper, ut invidiam virtute partam gloriam, non invidiam putarem.
    • I have always been of the opinion that infamy earned by doing what is right is not infamy at all, but glory.
      • Speech I
  • O di inmortales! ubinam gentium sumus? in qua urbe vivimus? quam rem publicam habemus? Hic, hic sunt in nostro numero, patres conscripti, in hoc orbis terrae sanctissimo gravissimoque consilio, qui de nostro omnium interitu, qui de huius urbis atque adeo de orbis terrarum exitio cogitent!
    • O ye immortal Gods, where on earth are we? In what city are we living? What republic is ours? There are here,—here in our body, O conscript fathers, in this the most holy and dignified assembly of the whole world, men who meditate my death, and the death of all of us, and the destruction of this city, and of the whole world.
      • Speech I

Orator Ad M. Brutum (46 BC)

  • Prima enim sequentem honestum est in secundis tertiisque consistere. (3)
    • If a man aspires to the highest place, it is no dishonor to him to halt at the second, or even at the third.
    • Variant translation: If you aspire to the highest place, it is no disgrace to stop at the second, or even the third, place.
      • Chapter I, section 4
  • Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. Quid enim est aetas hominis, nisi ea memoria rerum veterum cum superiorum aetate contexitur? (120)
    • Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever. For what is the time of a man, except it be interwoven with that memory of ancient things of a previous age?
    • Variant translation: To be ignorant of the past is to be forever a child.
      • Chapter XXXIV, section 120

De DivinationeOn Divination (44 BC)

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

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

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

De OfficiisOn Duties (44 BC)

We are not born for ourselves alone; a part of us is claimed by our nation, another part by our friends.
Let your desires be ruled by reason.
  • Existunt etiam saepe iniuriae calumnia quadam et nimis callida sed malitiosa iuris interpretatione. Ex quo illud "summum ius summa iniuria" factum est iam tritum sermone proverbium.
    • Injustice often arises also through chicanery, that is, through an over-subtle and even fraudulent construction of the law. This it is that gave rise to the now familiar saw, "More law, less justice."
      • Book I, section 33; translation by Walter Miller.
  • In primisque hominis est propria veri inquisitio atque investigatio. Itaque cum sumus necessariis negotiis curisque vacui, tum avemus aliquid videre, audire, addiscere cognitionemque rerum aut occultarum aut admirabilium ad beate vivendum necessarian! ducimus. Ex quo intellegitur, quod verum, simplex sincerumque sit, id esse naturae hominis aptissimum. Huic veri videndi cupiditati adiuncta est appetitio quaedam principatus, ut nemini parere animus bene informatus a natura velit nisi praecipienti aut docenti aut utilitatis causa iuste et legitime imperanti; ex quo magnitudo animi existit humanarumque rerum contemptio.
    • The distinguishing property of man is to search for and to follow after truth. Therefore, when relaxed from our necessary cares and concerns, we then covet to see, to hear, and to learn somewhat; and we esteem knowledge of things either obscure or wonderful to be the indispensable means of living happily.* From this we understand that truth, simplicity, and candour, are most agreeable to the nature of mankind. To this passion for discovering truth, is added a desire to direct; for a mind, well formed by nature, is unwilling to obey any man but him who lays down rules and instructions to it, or who, for the general advantage, exercises equitable and lawful government. From this proceeds loftiness of mind, and contempt for worldly interests.
    • Book I, section 13
    • Variant translation: Above all, the search after truth and its eager pursuit are peculiar to man. And so, when we have leisure from the demands of business cares, we are eager to see, to hear, to learn something new, and we esteem a desire to know.
  • Non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici.
    • We are not born for ourselves alone; a part of us is claimed by our nation, another part by our friends.
      • Book I, section 22
  • Nam cum sint duo genera decertandi, unum per disceptationem, alterum per vim, cumque illud proprium sit hominis, hoc beluarum, confugiendum est ad posterius, si uti non licet superiore.
    • While there are two ways of contending, one by discussion, the other by force, the former belonging properly to man, the latter to beasts, recourse must be had to the latter if there be no opportunity for employing the former.
      • Book I, section 34. Translation by Andrew P. Peabody
  • In omnibus autem negotiis priusquam adgrediare, adhibenda est praeparatio diligens.
    • Before entering any occupation, diligent preparation is to be undertaken.
      • Book I, section 73
  • Parvi enim sunt foris arma, nisi est consilium domi.
    • Arms are of little value in the field unless there is wise counsel at home.
      • Book I, section 76 (trans. Walter Miller)
  • Cedant arma togae, concedat laurea laudi.
    • Yield, ye arms, to the toga; to civic praise, ye laurels.
      • Book I, section 77
  • Ludo autem et ioco uti illo quidem licet, sed sicut somno et quietibus ceteris tum, cum gravibus seriisque rebus satis fecerimus.
    • We may, indeed, indulge in sport and jest, but in the same way as we enjoy sleep or other relaxations, and only when we have satisfied the claims of our earnest, serious task.
      • Book I, section 103
  • Sed tamen ira procul absit, cum qua nihil recte fieri nec considerate potest.
    • But still anger ought be far from us, for nothing is able to be done rightly nor judiciously with anger.
    • Variant: In anger nothing right nor judicious can be done.
      • Book I, section 136
  • Appetitus rationi pareat.
    • Let your desires be ruled by reason.
      • Book I, section 141, as quoted in A New Dictionary of Foreign Phrases and Classical Quotations (1900) edited by Hugh Percy Jones, p. 12
    • Desire ought to obey reason.
  • Illiberales autem et sordidi quaestus mercennariorum omnium, quorum operae, non quorum artes emuntur; est enim in illis ipsa merces auctoramentum servitutis.
    • Unbecoming to a gentleman, too, and vulgar are the means of livelihood of all hired workmen whom we pay for mere manual labour, not for artistic skill; for in their case the very wage they receive is a pledge of their slavery.
      • Book I, section 150; translation by Walter Miller
  • Omnium autem rerum, ex quibus aliquid adquiritur, nihil est agri cultura melius, nihil uberius, nihil dulcius, nihil homine libero dignius.
    • For of all gainful professions, nothing is better, nothing more pleasing, nothing more delightful, nothing better becomes a well-bred man than agriculture.
      • Book I, section 151. Translation by Cyrus R. Edmonds (1873), p. 73
  • Omnium autem rerum nec aptius est quicquam ad opes tuendas ac tenendas quam diligi nec alienius quam timeri.
    • But of all motives, none is better adapted to secure influence and hold it fast than love; nothing is more foreign to that end than fear.
      • Book II, section 23; translation by Walter Miller
  • Multorum autem odiis nullas opes posse obsistere, si antea fuit ignotum, nuper est cognitum. Nec vero huius tyranni solum, quem armis oppressa pertulit civitas ac paret cum maxime mortuo interitus declarat, quantum odium hominum valeat ad pestem, sed reliquorum similes exitus tyrannorum, quorum haud fere quisquam talem interitum effugit. Malus enim est custos diuturnitatis metus contraque benivolentia fidelis vel ad perpetuitatem.
    • And we recently discovered, if it was not known before, that no amount of power can withstand the hatred of the many. The death of this tyrant (Julius Caesar), whose yoke the state endured under the constraint of armed force and whom it still obeys more humbly than ever, though he is dead, illustrates the deadly effects of popular hatred; and the same lesson is taught by the similar fate of all other despots, of whom practically no one has ever escaped such a death. For fear is but a poor safeguard of lasting power; while affection, on the other hand, may be trusted to keep it safe for ever.
      • Book II, section 23; translation by Walter Miller
  • Vera gloria radices agit atque etiam propagatur, ficta omnia celeriter tamquam flosculi decidunt nec simulatum potest quicquam esse diuturnum.
    • True glory strikes root, and even extends itself; all false pretensions fall as do flowers, nor can anything feigned be lasting.
      • Book II, section 43
  • P. Scipionem [...] dicere solitum scripsit Cato [...] numquam se minus otiosum esse, quam cum otiosus; nec minus solum, quam cum solus esset.
    • According to Cato the Elder, Scipio Africanus was wont to say that he was never less at leisure than when at leisure, nor less alone than when alone.
      • Book III, section 1
  • Ita duae res, quae languorem afferunt ceteris, illum acuebant; otium et solitudo.
    • The two conditions that lead others to languor – i.e. leisure and solitude – him made sharper.
      • Book III, section 1
  • Here you have a man who desired to be king of the Roman people, and who accomplished his purpose. Whoever says that this desire was right, is mad; for he approves of the destruction of laws and of liberty, and deems their foul and detestable suppression glorious. But as for him who acknowledges that it is not right to usurp sovereign power in a state which was and which ought to be free, yet that it is expedient for him who can do so, by what remonstrance, or rather by what reproach, can I strive to draw him back from so grave an error? For (ye immortal gods!) can the basest and foulest parricide committed upon his country be expedient for any man, even though he who has made himself thus guilty be called parent by the citizens whom he has brought under the yoke? Expediency, then, ought to be measured by the right, and so indeed, that the two, though expressed by different names, may have to the ear the same sound. I do not accord with the opinion of the multitude who ask what can be more expedient than the possession of sovereign power; on the other hand, I find nothing more inexpedient for him who has obtained this power unjustly, when I begin to recall reason to things as they really are. For can anxieties, solicitudes, terrors by day and by night, a life crowded full of snares and of perils, be expedient for any one? Attius says,"The throne has many faithless, loyal few."
    • Book III, Sect. 21, as translated by Andrew P. Peabody
  • How long will men dare to call anything expedient that is not right? Can odium and infamy be of service to any empire, which ought to be supported by glory and by the good-will of its allies? I was often at variance even with my friend Cato. He seemed to me to guard the treasury and the revenues too obstinately, to refuse everything to the farmers of the revenue, and many things to our allies; while we ought to be generous to our allies, and to deal with the farmers of the revenue as leniently as we individually do with our own tenants, especially as the union of orders to which such a course would conduce is for the well-being of the state.
    • Book III, Sect. 22, as translated by Andrew P. Peabody
  • Honesta enim bonis viris, non occulta quaeruntur.
    • Honorable things, not secretive things, are sought by good men.
      • Book III, section 38
  • Si responderint se impunitate proposita facturos, quod expediat, facinorosos se esse fateantur, si negent, omnia turpia per se ipsa fugienda esse concedant.
    • Should they answer that, if impunity were assured, they would do what was most to their selfish interest, that would be a confession that they were criminally minded; should they say that they would not do so, they would be granting that all things in and of themselves immoral should be avoided.
      • Book III, section 39; translated by Walter Miller

Laelius De AmicitiaLaelius On Friendship (44 BC)

  • Nam et secundas res splendidiores facit amicitia et adversas partiens communicansque leviores.
    • For friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.
      • Section 22
  • Ita pulcherrima illa et maxime naturali carent amicitia per se et propter se expetita nec ipsi sibi exemplo sunt, haec vis amicitiae et qualis et quanta sit. Ipse enim se quisque diligit, non ut aliquam a se ipse mercedem exigat caritatis suae, sed quod per se sibi quisque carus est. Quod nisi idem in amicitiam transferetur, verus amicus numquam reperietur; est enim is qui est tamquam alter idem.
    • Thus they are destitute of that very lovely and exquisitely natural friendship, which is an object of desire in itself and for itself, nor can they learn from themselves how valuable and powerful such a friendship is. For each man loves himself, not that he may get from himself some reward for his own affection, but because each one is of himself dear to himself. And unless this same feeling be transferred to friendship, a true friend will never be found; for a true friend is one who is, as it were, a second self.
      • Section 80; translation by J. F. Stout
  • Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt.
    • Few are those who wish to be endowed with virtue rather than to seem so.

PhilippicaePhilippics (44 BC)

The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.
  • Quid tandem erat causae, cur in senatum hesterno die tam acerbe cogerer? Solusne aberam, an non saepe minus frequentes fuistis, an ea res agebatur, ut etiam aegrotos deferri oporteret? Hannibal, credo, erat ad portas, aut de Pyrrhi pace agebatur, ad quam causam etiam Appium illum et caecum et senem delatum esse memoriae proditum est.
    • What reason had he then for endeavouring, with such bitter hostility, to force me into the senate yesterday? Was I the only person who was absent? Have you not repeatedly had thinner houses than yesterday? Or was a matter of such importance under discussion, that it was desirable for even sick men to be brought down? Hannibal, I suppose, was at the gates, or there was to be a debate about peace with Pyrrhus; on which occasion it is related that even the great Appius, old and blind as he was, was brought down to the senate-house.
      • Philippica I; English translation by C. D. Yonge
      • Note: Potentially the origin of the phrase "Hannibal ad portas" (Hannibal at the gates)
  • Vi et armis.
    • By force and arms.
      • Philippica I
  • Sed quo beneficio? quod me Brundisi non occideris?
    • But what is the benefit (you have done me)? That you did not kill me at Brundisium?
      • Philippica II
  • Quod est aliud, patres conscripti, beneficium latronum, nisi ut commemorare possint iis se dedisse vitam, quibus non ademerint? Quod si esset beneficium, numquam, qui illum interfecerunt, a quo erant conservati, quos tu clarissimos viros soles appellare, tantam essent gloriam consecuti. Quale autem beneficium est, quod te abstinueris nefario scelere? Qua in re non tam iucundum mihi videri debuit non interfectum me a te quam miserum te id impune facere potuisse.
    Sed sit beneficium, quandoquidem maius accipi a latrone nullum potuit; in quo potes me dicere ingratum? An de interitu rei publicae queri non debui, ne in te ingratus viderer?
    • Nevertheless, let us imagine that you could have killed me. That, Senators, is what a favour from gangsters amounts to. They refrain from murdering someone; then they boast that they have spared him! If that is a true favour, then those who killed Caesar, after he had spared them, would never have been regarded as so glorious — and they are men whom you yourself habitually describe as noble. But the mere abstention from a dreadful crime is surely no sort of favour. In the situation in which this "favour" placed me, my dominant feelings ought not to have been pleasure because you did not kill me, but sorrow because you could have done so with impunity.
      However, let us even assume that it was a favour; at any rate the best favour that a gangster could confer. Still, in what respect can you call me ungrateful? Were my protests against the downfall of our country wrong, because you might think they showed ingratitude?
      • Philippica II, Sections 5 & 6, as translated by Michael Grant, in Cicero : Selected Works (1960), Part One: Against Tyranny; Ch. 3: Attack on an Enemy of Freedom: The Second Philippic against Antony, p. 104
    • Variant translation:
    • What kind of favour is it to abstain from doing evil?
  • Hoc qui non videt, excors; qui, cum videt, decernit, impius est.
    • Who does not see this is senseless; who sees and still approves is ungodly.
      • Philippica V
  • Vita enim mortuorum in memoria vivorum est posita.
    • The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.
      • Philippica IX, 5.

Tusculanae DisputationesTusculan Disputations (45 BC)

  • M: Nam efficit hoc philosophia: medetur animis, inanes sollicitudines detrahit, cupiditatibus liberat, pellit timores.
    • For such is the work of philosophy: it cures souls, draws off vain anxieties, confers freedom from desires, drives away fears.
      • Book II, Chapter IV; translation by Andrew P. Peabody
  • Quotus enim quisque philosophorum invenitur, qui sit ita moratus, ita animo ac vita constitutus, ut ratio postulat? qui disciplinam suam non ostentationem scientiae, sed legem vitae putet? qui obtemperet ipse sibi et decretis suis pareat?
    • How few philosophers are to be found who are such in character, so ordered in soul and in life, as reason demands; who regard their teaching not as a display of knowledge, but as the rule of life; who obey themselves, and submit to their own decrees!
      • Book II, Chapter IV; translation by Andrew P. Peabody
  • A: Quod est enim maius argumentum nihil eam prodesse quam quosdam perfectos philosophos turpiter vivere?
    M: Nullum vero id quidem argumentum est. Nam ut agri non omnes frugiferi sunt qui coluntur
    [...] sic animi non omnes culti fructum ferunt. Atque, ut in eodem simili verser, ut ager quamvis fertilis sine cultura fructuosus esse non potest, sic sine doctrina animus; ita est utraque res sine altera debilis. Cultura autem animi philosophia est; haec extrahit vitia radicitus et praeparat animos ad satus accipiendos eaque mandat eis et, ut ita dicam, serit, quae adulta fructus uberrimos ferant.
    • A: For what stronger proof can there be of its [philosophy's] uselessness than that some accomplished philosophers lead disgraceful lives?
      M: It is no proof at all; for as all cultivated fields are not harvest-yielding [...] so all cultivated minds do not bear fruit. To continue the figure – as a field, though fertile, cannot yield a harvest without cultivation, no more can the mind without learning; thus each is feeble without the other. But philosophy is the cultivation of the soul. It draws out vices by the root, prepares the mind to receive seed, and commits to it, and, so to speak, sows in it what, when grown, may bear the most abundant fruit.
      • Book II, Chapter V; translation by Andrew P. Peabody
  • A: Dolorem existimo maximum malorum omnium.
    M: Etiamne malus quam dedecus?
    A: Non audeo id dicere equidem, et me pudet tam cito de sententia esse deiectam.
    M: Magis esset pudendum, si in sententia permaneres.
    • A: I think pain the greatest of all evils.
      M: Greater than disgrace ?
      A: That indeed I dare not affirm; and yet I am ashamed to be so soon thrown down from my position.
      M: It would have been a greater shame to have maintained it.
      • Book II, Chapter V; translation by Andrew P. Peabody
  • A: Nunc rationem, quo ea me cumque ducet, sequar.
    • A: I will now follow Reason whithersoever she shall lead me.
      • Book II, Chapter V; translation of Andrew P. Peabody
  • Morbi perniciosiores pluresque sunt animi quam corporis.
    • Diseases of the mind are more common and more pernicious than diseases of the body.
      • Book III, Chapter III
  • Est profecto animi medicina, philosophia; cuius auxilium non ut in corporis morbis petendum est foris, omnibusque opibus viribus, ut nosmet ipsi nobis mederi possimus, elaborandum est.
    • Philosophy is certainly the medicine of the soul. Its aid is to be sought not from without, as in diseases of the body; and we must labour with all our resources and with all our strength to cure ourselves.
      • Book III, Chapter III; translation by Walter Miller
  • Atque cum perturbationes animi miseriam, sedationes autem vitam efficiant beatam, duplexque ratio perturbationis sit, quod aegritudo et metus in malis opinatis, in bonorum autem errore laetitia gestiens libidoque versetur, quae omnia cum consilio et ratione pugnent, his tu tam gravibus concitationibus tamque ipsis inter se dissentientibus atque distractis quem vacuum solutum liberum videris, hunc dubitabis beatum dicere? atqui sapiens semper ita adfectus est; semper igitur sapiens beatus est.
    • Now since perturbations of mind create misery, while quietness of mind makes life happy, and since there are two kinds of perturbations, grief and fear having their scope in imagined evils, inordinate joy and desire in mistaken notions of the good, all being repugnant to wise counsel and reason, will you hesitate to call him happy whom you see relieved, released, free from these excitements so oppressive, and so at variance and divided among themselves? Indeed one thus disposed is always happy. Therefore the wise man is always happy.
      • Book V, chapter 15, section 43; translated by Andrew P. Peabody
  • What! You would convict me from my own words, and bring against me what I had said or written elsewhere. You may act in that manner with those who dispute by established rules. We live from hand to mouth, and say anything that strikes our mind with probability, so that we are the only people who are really at liberty."
    • Book 5 Section 11

De Natura Deorum On the Nature of the Gods (45 BC)

  • We know, that of all living beings man is the best formed, and, as the gods belong to this number, they must have a human form. ... I do not mean to say that the gods have body and blood in them; but I say that they seem as if they had bodies with blood in them. . . , Epicurus, for whom hidden things were as tangible as if he had touched them with his finger, teaches us that gods are not generally visible, but that they are intelligible; that they are not bodies having a certain solidity . . . but that we can recognize them by their passing images; that as there are atoms enough in the infinite space to produce such images, these are produced before us . . . and make us realize what are these happy, immortal beings.
    • Book I, Section 18
  • Beatus autem esse sine virtute nemo potest
    • No one can be happy without virtue.
      • Book I, section 48
  • Mala enim et impia consuetudo est contra deos disputandi, sive ex animo id fit sive simulate.
    • For the habit of arguing in support of atheism, whether it be done from conviction or in pretence, is a wicked and impious practice.
      • Book II, section 67
  • Dico igitur providentia deorum mundum et omnes mundi partes et initio constitutas esse et omni tempore administrari.
    • I say, then, that the universe and all its parts both received their first order from divine providence, and are at all times administered by it.
      • Book II, section 30
  • Nulla igitur in caelo nec fortuna nec temeritas nec erratio nec vanitas inest contraque omnis ordo veritas ratio constantia, quaeque his vacant ementita et falsa plenaque erroris, ea circum terras infra lunam, quae omnium ultima est, in terrisque versantur. caelestem ergo admirabilem ordinem incredibilemque constantiam, ex qua conservatio et salus omnium omnis oritur, qui vacare mente putat is ipse mentis expers habendus est.
    • In the heavens, then, there is no chance, irregularity, deviation, or falsity, but on the other hand the utmost order, reality, method, and consistency. The things which are without these qualities, phantasmal, unreal, and erratic, move in and around the earth below the moon, which is the lowest of all the heavenly bodies. Any one, therefore, who thinks that there is no intelligence in the marvellous order of the stars and in their extraordinary regularity, from which the preservation and the entire well-being of all things proceed, ought to be considered destitute of intelligence himself.
      • Book II, section 21
  • Si igitur meliora sunt ea quae natura quam illa quae arte perfecta sunt, nec ars efficit quicquam sine ratione, ne natura quidem rationis expers est habenda. Qui igitur convenit, signum aut tabulam pictam cum aspexeris, scire adhibitam esse artem, cumque procul cursum navigii videris, non dubitare, quin id ratione atque arte moveatur, aut cum solarium vel descriptum vel ex aqua contemplere, intellegere declarari horas arte, non casu, mundum autem, qui et has ipsas artes et earum artifices et cuncta conplectatur consilii et rationis esse expertem putare. [88] Quod si in Scythiam aut in Brittanniam sphaeram aliquis tulerit hanc, quam nuper familiaris noster effecit Posidonius, cuius singulae conversiones idem efficiunt in sole et in luna et in quinque stellis errantibus, quod efficitur in caelo singulis diebus et noctibus, quis in illa barbaria dubitet, quin ea sphaera sit perfecta ratione.
    • If, then, the things achieved by nature are more excellent than those achieved by art, and if art produces nothing without making use of intelligence, nature also ought not to be considered destitute of intelligence. If at the sight of a statue or painted picture you know that art has been employed, and from the distant view of the course of a ship feel sure that it is made to move by art and intelligence, and if you understand on looking at a horologe, whether one marked out with lines, or working by means of water, that the hours are indicated by art and not by chance, with what possible consistency can you suppose that the universe which contains these same products of art, and their constructors, and all things, is destitute of forethought and intelligence? Why, if any one were to carry into Scythia or Britain the globe which our friend Posidonius has lately constructed, each one of the revolutions of which brings about the same movement in the sun and moon and five wandering stars as is brought about each day and night in the heavens, no one in those barbarous countries would doubt that that globe was the work of intelligence.
      • Book II, section 34
  • Hic ego non mirer esse quemquam, qui sibi persuadeat corpora quaedam solida atque individua vi et gravitate ferri mundumque effici ornatissimum et pulcherrimum ex eorum corporum concursione fortuita? Hoc qui existimat fieri potuisse, non intellego, cur non idem putet, si innumerabiles unius et viginti formae litterarum vel aureae vel qualeslibet aliquo coiciantur, posse ex is in terram excussis annales Enni, ut deinceps legi possint, effici; quod nescio an ne in uno quidem versu possit tantum valere fortuna.
    • Must I not here express my wonder that any one should exist who persuades himself that there are certain solid and indivisible particles carried along by their own impulse and weight, and that a universe so beautiful and so admirably arrayed is formed from the accidental concourse of those particles? I do not understand why the man who supposes that to have been possible should not also think that if a countless number of the forms of the one and twenty letters, whether in gold or any other material, were to be thrown somewhere, it would be possible, when they had been shaken out upon the ground, for the annals of Ennius to result from them so as to be able to be read consecutively,—a miracle of chance which I incline to think would be impossible even in the case of a single verse.
      • Book II, section 37
  • Quibus enim oculis animi intueri potuit vester Plato fabricam illam tanti operis, qua construi a deo atque aedificari mundum facit; quae molitio, quae ferramenta, qui vectes, quae machinae, qui ministri tanti muneris fuerunt; quem ad modum autem oboedire et parere voluntati architecti aer, ignis, aqua, terra potuerunt; unde vero ortae illae quinque formae, ex quibus reliqua formantur, apte cadentes ad animum afficiendum pariendosque sensus? Longum est ad omnia, quae talia sunt, ut optata magis quam inventa videantur.
    • For with what eyes of the mind was your Plato able to see that workhouse of such stupendous toil, in which he makes the world to be modelled and built by God? What materials, what bars, what machines, what servants, were employed in so vast a work? How could the air, fire, water, and earth, pay obedience and submit to the will of the architect? From whence arose those five forms, of which the rest were composed, so aptly contributing to frame the mind and produce the senses? It is tedious to go through all, as they are of such a sort that they look more like things to be desired than to be discovered.
      • Book I, section 19
  • Nos autem beatam vitam in animi securitate et in omnium vacatione munerum ponimus.
    • We, on the contrary, make blessedness of life depend upon an untroubled mind, and exemption from all duties.
    • Shortened Version: We think a happy life consists in tranquility of mind.
      • Book I, section 6
  • Age et his vocabulis esse deos facimus quibus a nobis nominantur? At primum, quot hominum linguae, tot nomina deorum. Non enim, ut tu Velleius, quocumque veneris, sic idem in Italia, idem in Africa, idem in Hispania.
    • Come now: Do we really think that the gods are everywhere called by the same names by which they are addressed by us? But the gods have as many names as there are languages among humans. For it is not with the gods as with you: you are Velleius wherever you go, but Vulcan is not Vulcan in Italy and in Africa and in Spain.
      • Book I, section 84
  • Opinionis enim commenta delet dies, naturae iudicia confirmat.
    • Time destroys the figments of the imagination, while confirming the judgments of nature.
    • Variant: For time destroys the fictions of error and opinion, while it confirms the determinations of nature and of truth.
      • Book II, section 2; translation by Francis Brooks

De Oratore On the Orator (55 BC)

  • Malim equidem indisertam prudentiam quam stultitiam loquacem
    • I should prefer uneloquent good sense to loquacious folly
      • Book III, chapter 34, section 142; J. S. Watson's translation


  • The first duty of a man is the seeking after and the investigation of truth.
    • As quoted in A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity (2007) by John Clippinger, p. 130
      • Compare: "The distinguishing property of man is to search for and to follow after truth." – De Officiis, Book I, 13
  • For as lack of adornment is said to become some women, so this subtle oration, though without embellishment, gives delight.
    • Supposedly from De Oratore, 78 ("...for women more easily preserve the ancient language unaltered, because, not having experience of the conversation of a multitude of people, they always retain what they originally learned..."), reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Compare: "Loveliness / Needs not the foreign aid of ornament, / But is when unadorn'd, adorn'd the most", James Thomson, The Seasons, "Autumn", Line 204
  • The freedom of poetic license.
    • Suggested to be from Pro Publio Sestio (sec. 6: " attacking those men with some freedom of expression..."
  • Genius is fostered by energy.
    • Suggested to be from Pro Caelio (ch. xix, sec. 45: " that branch of study you saw not only his genius shine forth, which frequently, even when it is not nourished by industry, still produces great effects by its own natural vigour...")


  • The following three quotes are sometimes wrongly attributed to Cicero. In fact, they come from a novel about Cicero by Taylor Caldwell, and are not found in any of Cicero's actual writings.
    • A bureaucrat is the most despicable of men, though he is needed as vultures are needed, but one hardly admires vultures whom bureaucrats so strangely resemble. I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty or stupid, an oppressor or a thief, a holder of little authority in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious dog. Who can trust such creatures?
      • Taylor Caldwell in her novel based on the life of Cicero, A Pillar of Iron (1965), p. 451
    • Antonius [i. e., C. Antonius Hybrida] heartily agreed with him [sc. Cicero] that the budget should be balanced, that the Treasury should be refilled, that public debt should be reduced, that the arrogance of the generals should be tempered and controlled, that assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt, that the mobs should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence, and that prudence and frugality should be put into practice as soon as possible.
      • Taylor Caldwell in her novel based on the life of Cicero, A Pillar of Iron (1965), p. 483 of the 1965 edition published by Doubleday (Garden City, NY). In the 1966 British edition from Collins (London), the passage occurs at the bottom of p. 371, in chapter 51. The origin and history of the quotation have been discussed at Quote Investigator and Snopes.
    • "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared. The traitor is the carrier of the plague. You have unbarred the gates of Rome to him."
      • Taylor Caldwell in her novel based on the life of Cicero, A Pillar of Iron (1965), p. 661 in Open Road Media; Reprint edition (September 26, 2017).
        • This passage is also quoted in a speech given by Florida Governor and State Supreme Court Justice Millar F. Caldwell in 1965. a 1965 essay by Justice Millard Caldwell.
        • The paraphrase may ultimately be from the Second Catiline Oration but drastically changes the rhetoric.
        • Actual example from Second Catiline Oration: "But why are we speaking so long about one enemy; and about that enemy who now avows that he is one; and whom I now do not fear, because, as I have always wished, a wall is between us; and are saying nothing about those who dissemble, who remain at Rome, who are among us? ".
  • Study carefully, the character of the one you recommend, lest their misconduct bring you shame.
    • from Horace, Epistles I.xviii.76
  • So live as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts
    • The origin of this quote is often misattributed to Cicero; however, it is from Line 135-136 of Book 2, Satire 2 by Horace, "Quocirca vivite fortes, fortiaque adversis opponite pectora rebus." The English translation that most closely matches the one misrepresented as Cicero's is from a collection of Horace's prose written by E. C. Wickham, "So live, my boys, as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts."
  • "Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the 'new, wonderful good society' which shall now be Rome, interpreted to mean 'more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.'"
  • Diem adimere aegritudinem hominibus.
    • Time heals all wounds.
      • Truly from Terentius, Heautontimorumenos, Act III, scene i
  • "The evil was not in bread and circuses, per se, but in the willingness of the people to sell their rights as free men for full bellies and the excitement of the games which would serve to distract them from the other human hungers which bread and circuses can never appease."
  • Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.
    • As quoted in InfoWorld, Vol. 23, No. 16, 16 April 2001, p. 49. This had been attributed previously to many other sources from 1908 on, according to this analysis by Quote Investigator.
  • Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.
    • The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government.
    • Paraphrased as "The closer the collapse of the Empire, the crazier its laws are."
      • Truly from Tacitus, Annals, Book III, 27

Quotes about Cicero

Sorted alphabetically by author or source
  • As all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united in the same character, his authority should have great weight.
    • John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government (1787), Preface
  • For, when Cicero tells us that he had seen the entire Iliad written on skin of such a miniature size, that it could easily be rolled up inside a nut-shell, and Pliny asserts that Nero had a ring with a small glass in it, through which he watched the performance of the gladiators at a distance—could audacity go farther? Truly, when we are told that Mauritius could see from the promontory of Sicily over the entire sea to the coast of Africa, with an instrument called nauscopite, we must either think that all these witnesses lied, or that the ancients were more than slightly acquainted with optics and magnifying glasses. p. 240
  • Aristotle maintains that this gas, or astral emanation, escaping from inside the earth, is the sole sufficient cause, acting from within outwardly for the verification of every living being and plant upon the external crust. In answer to the skeptical negators of his century, Cicero, moved by a just wrath, exclaims : "And what can be more divine than the exhalations of the earth, which affect the human soul so as to enable her to predict the future ? And could the hand of time evaporate such a virtue?"... *(Book I, Section 18 De Divinatione – On Divination) Do modem experimentalists claim to be wiser than Cicero, and say that this eternal force has evaporated, and that the springs of prophecy are dry? p. 200
  • Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Epicharmus, Empedocles, Kebes, Euripides, Plato, Euclid, Philo, Boethius, Virgil, Marcus Cicero, Plotinus, Iamblichus, Proclus, Psellus, Synesius, Origen, and, finally, Aristotle himself, far 'from denying our immortality, support it most emphatically. p. 251
  • If unwilling to seek for proof or receive information from mediaeval, hermetic philosophy, we may go still further back into antiquity, and select, out of the great body of philosophers of the pre-Christian ages, one who can least be accused of superstition and credulity—Cicero. Speaking of those whom he calls gods, and who are either human or atmospheric spirits, " We know," says the old orator, " that of all living beings man is the best formed, and, as the gods belong to this number, they must have a human form... Epicurus, for whom hidden things were as tangible as if he had touched them with his finger, teaches us that gods are not generally visible, but that they are intelligible; that they are not bodies having a certain solidity . . . but that we can recognize them by their passing images; that as there are atoms enough in the infinite space to produce such images, these are produced before us . . . and make us realize what are these happy, immortal beings." p. 280
  • If I could have known Cicero, and been his friend, and talked with him in his retirement at Tusculum (beau-ti-ful Tusculum l), I could have died contented.
  • As for Cicero, when he had heard some of the verses [of Virgil's Eclogues], his piercing judgement immediately perceived that these were productions of uncommon vigor, and ordered the whole eclogue to be recited from the beginning. Having familiarized himself with its every nuance, he declared it "the second great hope of Rome" [Magnae spes altera Romae], as if he himself were the first hope of the Latin language and Maro the second. These words Virgil later inserted in the Aeneid [12.168].
  • Interestingly, Cicero saw the root of benevolence and charity in conscience, and in fact was the first scholar in history to use the word “conscience” (conscientia) in the moral sense we are familiar with. We can summarize his thought by stating that friendship is possible when two or more persons who have some common purposes in life systematically act towards each other with benevolence and charity (caritas, which is a non-erotic form of love), guided by conscience.
  • But to confess the truth boldly (for once you have crossed over the barriers of impudence there is no more curb), his way of writing, and every other similar way, seems to me boring. For his prefaces, definitions, partitions, etymologies, consume the greater part of his work; what life and marrow there is, is smothered by his long-winded preparations. If I have spent an hour in reading him, which is a lot for me, and I remember what juice and substance I have derived, most of the time I find nothing but wind; for he has not yet come to the arguments that serve his purpose and the reasons that properly touch on the crux, which I am looking for.
    • Michel de Montaigne, 'Of Books', 1580, in The Complete Essays of Montaigne, ed. D. Frame (1958)
  • Quare non inmerito ab hominibus aetatis suae regnare in iudiciis dictus est, apud posteros vero id consecutus ut Cicero iam non hominis nomen sed eloquentiae habeatur. hunc igitur spectemus, hoc propositum nobis sit exemplum, ille se profecisse sciat cui Cicero valde placebit.
    • It was not, therefore, without good reason that his own contemporaries spoke of his "sovereignty" at the bar, and that for posterity the name of Cicero has come to be regarded not as the name of a man, but as the name of eloquence itself. Let us, therefore, fix our eyes on him, take him as our pattern, and let the student realise that he has made real progress if he a passionate admirer of Cicero.
      • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria Book X, Chapter I, 112; translation by H. E. Butler
  • ... It was Seneca or it was Cicero, I don't know which, that said, "If it was not for the elders correcting the mistakes of the young, there would be no state."
    • Ronald Reagan, in the second presidential debate of 1984, responding to a question challenging his fitness, being "the oldest President in history". May be a loose paraphrase of the "greatest states" quote (above) from Cicero's On Old Age.
  • Cicero discusses justice as the second of the four cardinal virtues (wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance) whose presence constitutes moral goodness. Justice is the virtue that holds society together and allows us to pursue the common good for whose sake society exists. ... One interesting feature is his concern with in justice... The Stoic view that morality promotes the common good implies that we must try to restore the social relationship that has been violated.
    • Alan Ryan, Introduction in Justice (1993) edited by Alan Ryan

See also

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Works by Cicero
Biographies and descriptions of Cicero's time
Social and political philosophers
Classic AristotleMarcus AureliusChanakyaCiceroConfuciusMozi LaoziMenciusMoziPlatoPlutarchPolybiusSeneca the YoungerSocratesSun TzuThucydidesXenophonXun Zi
Conservative de BenoistBolingbrokeBonaldBurkeBurnhamCarlyleColeridgeComteCortésDurkheimDávilaEvolaFichteFilmerGaltonGentileHegelHeideggerHerderHobbesHoppeHumede JouvenelJüngerKirkvon Kuehnelt-LeddihnLandde MaistreMansfieldMoscaOakeshottOrtegaParetoPetersonSantayanaSchmittScrutonSowellSpenglerStraussTaineTocqueville • VicoVoegelinWeaverYarvin
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