Treatise de Finibus, by Marcus Tullius Cicero

First Book Of The Treatise On The Chief Good And Evil.

I. I was not ignorant, Brutus, when I was endeavouring to add to Latin literature the same things which philosophers of the most sublime genius and the most profound and accurate learning had previously handled in the Greek language, that my labours would be found fault with on various grounds. For some, and those too, far from unlearned men, are disinclined to philosophy altogether; some, on the other hand, do not blame a moderate degree of attention being given to it, but do not approve of so much study and labour being devoted to it. There will be others again, learned in Greek literature and despising Latin compositions, who will say that they would rather spend their time in reading Greek; and, lastly, I suspect that there will be some people who will insist upon it that I ought to apply myself to other studies, and will urge that, although this style of writing may be an elegant accomplishment, it is still beneath my character and dignity. And to all these objections I think I ought to make a brief reply; although, indeed, I have already given a sufficient answer to the enemies of philosophy in that book in which philosophy is defended and extolled by me after having been attacked and disparaged by Hortensius.13 And as both you and others whom I considered competent judges approved highly of that book, I have undertaken a larger work, fearing to appear able only to excite the desires of men, but incapable of retaining their attention. But those who, though they have a very good opinion of philosophy, still think it should be followed in a moderate degree only, require a temperance which is very difficult in a thing which, when once it has the reins given it, cannot be checked or repressed; so that I almost think those men more reasonable who altogether forbid us to apply ourselves to philosophy at all, than they who fix a limit to things which are in their nature boundless, and who require mediocrity in a thing which is excellent exactly in proportion to its intensity.

For, if it be possible that men should arrive at wisdom, then it must not only be acquired by us, but even enjoyed. Or if this be difficult, still there is no limit to the way in which one is to seek for truth except one has found it; and it is base to be wearied in seeking a thing, when what we do seek for is the most honourable thing possible. In truth, if we are amused when we are writing, who is so envious as to wish to deny us that pleasure? If it is a labour to us, who will fix a limit to another person’s industry? For as the Chremes14 of Terence does not speak from a disregard of what is due to men when he does not wish his new neighbour

To dig, or plough, or any toil endure:

for he is not in this dissuading him from industry, but only from such labour as is beneath a gentleman; so, on the other hand those men are over scrupulous who are offended by my devoting myself to a labour which is far from irksome to myself.

II. It is more difficult to satisfy those men who allege that they despise Latin writings. But, first of all, I may express my wonder at their not being pleased with their native language in matters of the highest importance, when they are fond enough of reading fables in Latin, translated word for word from the Greek. For what man is such an enemy (as I may almost call it) to the Roman name, as to despise or reject the Medea of Ennius, or the Antiope of Pacuvius? and to express a dislike of Latin literature, while at the same time he speaks of being pleased with the plays of Euripides? “What,” says such an one, “shall I rather read the Synephebi of Cæcilius,15 or the Andria of Terence, than either of these plays in the original of Menander?” But I disagree with men of these opinions so entirely, that though Sophocles has composed an Electra in the most admirable manner possible, still I think the indifferent translation of it by Atilius16 worth reading too, though Licinius calls him an iron writer; with much truth in my opinion; still he is a writer whom it is worth while to read. For to be wholly unacquainted with our own poets is a proof either of the laziest indolence, or else of a very superfluous fastidiousness.

My own opinion is, that no one is sufficiently learned who is not well versed in the works written in our own language. Shall we not be as willing to read —

Would that the pine, the pride of Pelion’s brow,

as the same idea when expressed in Greek? And is there any objection to having the discussions which have been set out by Plato, on the subject of living well and happily, arrayed in a Latin dress? And if we do not limit ourselves to the office of translators, but maintain those arguments which have been advanced by people with whom we argue, and add to them the exposition of our own sentiments, and clothe the whole in our own language, why then should people prefer the writings of the Greeks to those things which are written by us in an elegant style, without being translated from the works of Greek philosophers? For if they say that these matters have been discussed by those foreign writers, then there surely is no necessity for their reading such a number of those Greeks as they do. For what article of Stoic doctrine has been passed over by Chrysippus? And yet we read also Diogenes,17 Antipater,18 Mnesarchus,19 Panætius,20 and many others, and especially the works of my own personal friend Posidonius.21 What shall we say of Theophrastus? Is it but a moderate pleasure which he imparts to us while he is handling the topics which had been previously dilated on by Aristotle? What shall we say of the Epicureans? Do they pass over the subjects on which Epicurus himself and other ancient writers have previously written, and forbear to deliver their sentiments respecting them? But if Greek authors are read by the Greeks, though discussing the same subjects over and over again, because they deal with them in different manners, why should not the writings of Roman authors be also read by our own countrymen?

III. Although if I were to translate Plato or Aristotle in as bold a manner as our poets have translated the Greek plays, then, I suppose, I should not deserve well at the hands of my fellow-countrymen, for having brought those divine geniuses within their reach. However, that is not what I have hitherto done, though I do not consider myself interdicted from doing so. Some particular passages, if I think it desirable, I shall translate, especially from those authors whom I have just named, when there is an opportunity of doing so with propriety; just as Ennius often translates passages from Homer, and Afranius22 from Menander. Nor will I, like Lucilius, make any objection to everybody reading my writings. I should be glad to have that Persius23 for one of my readers; and still more to have Scipio and Rutilius; men whose criticism he professed to fear, saying that he wrote for the people of Tarentum, and Consentia, and Sicily. That was all very witty of him, and in his usual style; but still, people at that time were not so learned as to give him cause to labour much before he could encounter their judgment, and his writings are of a lightish character, showing indeed, a high degree of good breeding, but only a moderate quantity of learning. But whom can I fear to have read my works when I ventured to address a book to you, who are not inferior to the Greeks themselves in philosophical knowledge? Although I have this excuse for what I am doing, that I have been challenged by you, in that to me most acceptable book which you sent me “On Virtue.”

But I imagine that some people have become accustomed to feel a repugnance to Latin writing because they have fallen in with some unpolished and inelegant treatises translated from bad Greek into worse Latin. And with those men I agree, provided they will not think it worth while to read the Greek books written on the same subject. But who would object to read works on important subjects expressed in well-selected diction, with dignity and elegance; unless, indeed, he wishes to be taken absolutely for a Greek, as Albucius was saluted at Athens by Scævola, when he was prætor? And this topic has been handled by that same Lucilius with great elegance and abundant wit; where he represents Scævola as saying —

You have preferr’d, Albucius, to be call’d

A Greek much rather than a Roman citizen

Or Sabine, countryman of Pontius,

Tritannius, and the brave centurions

And standard-bearers of immortal fame.

So now at Athens, I, the prætor, thus

Salute you as you wish, whene’er I see you,

With Greek address, ὦ χαῖρε noble Titus,

Ye lictors, and attendants χαίρετε.

ὦ χαῖρε noble Titus. From this day

The great Albucius was my enemy.

But surely Scævola was right. However, I can never sufficiently express my wonder whence this arrogant disdain of everything national arose among us. This is not exactly the place for lecturing on the subject; but my own feelings are, and I have constantly urged them, that the Latin language is not only not deficient, so as to deserve to be generally disparaged; but that it is even more copious than the Greek. For when have either we ourselves, or when has any good orator or noble poet, at least after there was any one for him to imitate, found himself at a loss for any richness or ornament of diction with which to set off his sentiments?

IV. And I myself (as I do not think that I can be accused of having, in my forensic exertions, and labours, and dangers, deserted the post in which I was stationed by the Roman people,) am bound, forsooth, to exert myself as much as I can to render my fellow-countrymen more learned by my labours and studies and diligence, and not so much to contend with those men who prefer reading Greek works, provided that they really do read them, and do not only pretend to do so; and to fall in also with the wishes of those men who are desirous either to avail themselves of both languages, or who, as long as they have good works in their own, do not care very much about similar ones in a foreign tongue. But those men who would rather that I would write on other topics should be reasonable, because I have already composed so many works that no one of my countrymen has ever published more, and perhaps I shall write even more if my life is prolonged so as to allow me to do so. And yet, whoever accustoms himself to read with care these things which I am now writing on the subject of philosophy, will come to the conclusion that no works are better worth reading than these. For what is there in life which deserves to be investigated so diligently as every subject which belongs to philosophy, and especially that which is discussed in this treatise, namely, what is the end, the object, the standard to which all the ideas of living well and acting rightly are to be referred? What it is that nature follows as the chief of all desirable things? what she avoids as the principal of all evils?

And as on this subject there is great difference of opinion among the most learned men, who can think it inconsistent with that dignity which every one allows to belong to me, to examine what is in every situation in life the best and truest good? Shall the chief men of the city, Publius Scævola and Marcus Manilius argue whether the offspring of a female slave ought to be considered the gain of the master of the slave; and shall Marcus Brutus express his dissent from their opinion, (and this is a kind of discussion giving great room for the display of acuteness, and one too that is of importance as regards the citizens,) and do we read, and shall we continue to read, with pleasure their writings on this subject, and the others of the same sort, and at the same time neglect these subjects, which embrace the whole of human life? There may, perhaps, be more money affected by discussions on that legal point, but beyond all question, this of ours is the more important subject: that, however, is a point which the readers may be left to decide upon. But we now think that this whole question about the ends of good and evil is, I may almost say, thoroughly explained in this treatise, in which we have endeavoured to set forth as far as we could, not only what our own opinion was, but also everything which has been advanced by each separate school of philosophy.

V. To begin, however, with that which is easiest, we will first of all take the doctrine of Epicurus, which is well known to most people; and you shall see that it is laid down by us in such a way that it cannot be explained more accurately even by the adherents of that sect themselves. For we are desirous of ascertaining the truth; not of convicting some adversary.

But the opinion of Epicurus about pleasure was formerly defended with great precision by Lucius Torquatus, a man accomplished in every kind of learning; and I myself replied to him, while Caius Triarius, a most learned and worthy young man, was present at the discussion. For as it happened that both of them had come to my villa near Cumæ to pay me a visit, first of all we conversed a little about literature, to which they were both of them greatly devoted; and after a while Torquatus said — Since we have found you in some degree at leisure, I should like much to hear from you why it is that you, I will not say hate our master Epicurus — as most men do who differ from him in opinion — but still why you disagree with him whom I consider as the only man who has discerned the real truth, and who I think has delivered the minds of men from the greatest errors, and has handed down every precept which can have any influence on making men live well and happily. But I imagine that you, like my friend Triarius here, like him the less because he neglected the ornaments of diction in which Plato, and Aristotle, and Theophrastus indulged. For I can hardly be persuaded to believe that the opinions which he entertained do not appear to you to be correct. See now, said I, how far you are mistaken, Torquatus. I am not offended with the language of that philosopher; for he expresses his meaning openly and speaks in plain language, so that I can understand him. Not, however, that I should object to eloquence in a philosopher, if he were to think fit to employ it; though if he were not possessed of it I should not require it. But I am not so well satisfied with his matter, and that too on many topics. But there are as many different opinions as there are men; and therefore we may be in error ourselves. What is it, said he, in which you are dissatisfied with him? For I consider you a candid judge; provided only that you are accurately acquainted with what he has really said. Unless, said I, you think that Phædrus or Zeno have spoken falsely (and I have heard them both lecture, though they gave me a high opinion of nothing but their own diligence,) all the doctrines of Epicurus are quite sufficiently known to me. And I have repeatedly, in company with my friend Atticus, attended the lectures of those men whom I have named; as he had a great admiration for both of them, and an especial affection even for Phædrus. And every day we used to talk over what we heard, nor was there ever any dispute between us as to whether I understood the scope of their arguments; but only whether I approved of them.

VI. What is it, then, said he, which you do not approve of in them, for I am very anxious to hear? In the first place, said I, he is utterly wrong in natural philosophy, which is his principal boast. He only makes some additions to the doctrine of Democritus, altering very little, and that in such a way that he seems to me to make those points worse which he endeavours to correct. He believes that atoms, as he calls them, that is to say bodies which by reason of their solidity are indivisible, are borne about in an interminable vacuum, destitute of any highest, or lowest, or middle, or furthest, or nearest boundary, in such a manner that by their concourse they cohere together; by which cohesion everything which exists and which is seen is formed. And he thinks that motion of atoms should be understood never to have had a beginning, but to have subsisted from all eternity.

But in those matters in which Epicurus follows Democritus, he is usually not very wrong. Although there are many assertions of each with which I disagree, and especially with this — that as in the nature of things there are two points which must be inquired into — one, what the material out of which everything is made, is; the other, what the power is which makes everything — they discussed only the material, and omitted all consideration of the efficient power and cause. However, that is a fault common to both of them; but these blunders which I am going to mention are Epicurus’s own.

For he thinks that those indivisible and solid bodies are borne downwards by their own weight in a straight line; and that this is the natural motion of all bodies. After this assertion, that shrewd man — as it occurred to him, that if everything were borne downwards in a straight line, as I have just said, it would be quite impossible for one atom ever to touch another — on this account he introduced another purely imaginary idea, and said that the atoms diverged a little from the straight line, which is the most impossible thing in the world. And he asserted that it is in this way that all those embraces, and conjunctions, and unions of the atoms with one another took place, by which the world was made, and all the parts of the world, and all that is in the world. And not only is all this idea perfectly childish, but it fails in effecting its object. For this very divergence is invented in a most capricious manner, (for he says that each atom diverges without any cause,) though nothing can be more discreditable to a natural philosopher than to say that anything takes place without a cause; and also, without any reason, he deprives atoms of that motion which is natural to every body of any weight (as he himself lays it down) which goes downwards from the upper regions; and at the same time he does not obtain the end for the sake of which he invented all these theories.

For if every atom diverges equally, still none will ever meet with one another so as to cohere; but if some diverge, and others are borne straight down by their natural inclination, in the first place this will be distributing provinces as it were among the atoms, and dividing them so that some are borne down straight, and others obliquely; and in the next place, this turbulent concourse of atoms, which is a blunder of Democritus also, will never be able to produce this beautifully ornamented world which we see around us. Even this, too, is inconsistent with the principles of natural philosophy, to believe that there is such a thing as a minimum; a thing which he indeed never would have fancied, if he had been willing to learn geometry from his friend Polyænus,24 instead of seeking to persuade him to give it up himself.

The sun appears to Democritus to be of vast size, as he is a man of learning and of a profound knowledge of geometry. Epicurus perhaps thinks that it is two feet across, for he thinks it of just that size which it appears to be, or perhaps a little larger or smaller. So what he changes he spoils; what he accepts comes entirely from Democritus — the atoms, the vacuum, the appearances, which they call εἴδωλα, to the inroads of which it is owing not only that we see, but also that we think; and all that infiniteness, which they call ἀπειρία, is borrowed from Democritus; and also the innumerable worlds which are produced and perish every day. And although I cannot possibly agree myself with all those fancies, still I should not like to see Democritus, who is praised by every one else, blamed by this man who has followed him alone.

VII. And as for the second part of philosophy, which belongs to investigating and discussing, and which is called λογικὴ, there your master as it seems to me is wholly unarmed and defenceless. He abolishes definitions; he lays down no rules for division and partition; he gives no method for drawing conclusions or establishing principles; he does not point out how captious objections may be refuted, or ambiguous terms explained. He places all our judgments of things in our senses; and if they are once led to approve of anything false as if it were true, then he thinks that there is an end to all our power of distinguishing between truth and falsehood.

But in the third part, which relates to life and manners, with respect to establishing the end of our actions, he utters not one single generous or noble sentiment. He lays down above all others the principle, that nature has but two things as objects of adoption and aversion, namely, pleasure and pain: and he refers all our pursuits, and all our desires to avoid anything, to one of these two heads. And although this is the doctrine of Aristippus, and is maintained in a better manner and with more freedom by the Cyrenaics, still I think it a principle of such a kind that nothing can appear more unworthy of a man. For, in my opinion, nature has produced and formed us for greater and higher purposes. It is possible, indeed, that I may be mistaken; but my opinion is decided that that Torquatus, who first acquired that name, did not tear the chain from off his enemy for the purpose of procuring any corporeal pleasure to himself; and that he did not, in his third consulship, fight with the Latins at the foot of Mount Vesuvius for the sake of any personal pleasure. And when he caused his son to be executed, he appears to have even deprived himself of many pleasures, by thus preferring the claims of his dignity and command to nature herself and the dictates of fatherly affection. What need I say more? Take Titus Torquatus, him I mean who was consul with Cnæus Octavius; when he behaved with such severity towards that son whom he had allowed Decimus Silanus to adopt as his own, as to command him, when the ambassadors of the Macedonians accused him of having taken bribes in his province while he was prætor, to plead his cause before his tribunal: and, when he had heard the cause on both sides, to pronounce that he had not in his command behaved after the fashion of his forefathers, and to forbid him ever to appear in his sight again; does he seem to you to have given a thought to his own pleasure?

However, to say nothing of the dangers, and labours, and even of the pain which every virtuous man willingly encounters on behalf of his country, or of his family, to such a degree that he not only does not seek for, but even disregards all pleasures, and prefers even to endure any pain whatever rather than to forsake any part of his duty; let us come to those things which show this equally, but which appear of less importance. What pleasure do you, O Torquatus, what pleasure does this Triarius derive from literature, and history, and the knowledge of events, and the reading of poets, and his wonderful recollection of such numbers of verses? And do not say to me, Why all these things are a pleasure to me. So, too, were those noble actions to the Torquati. Epicurus never asserts this in this manner; nor would you, O Triarius, nor any man who had any wisdom, or who had ever imbibed those principles. And as to the question which is often asked, why there are so many Epicureans — there are several reasons; but this is the one which is most seductive to the multitude, namely, that people imagine that what he asserts is that those things which are right and honourable do of themselves produce joy, that is, pleasure. Those excellent men do not perceive that the whole system is overturned if that is the case. For if it were once granted, even although there were no reference whatever to the body, that these things were naturally and intrinsically pleasant; then virtue and knowledge would be intrinsically desirable. And this is the last thing which he would choose to admit.

These principles, then, of Epicurus, I say, I do not approve of. As for other matters, I wish either that he himself had been a greater master of learning, (for he is, as you yourself cannot help seeing, not sufficiently accomplished in those branches of knowledge which men possess who are accounted learned,) or at all events that he had not deterred others from the study of literature: although I see that you yourself have not been at all deterred from such pursuits by him.

VIII. And when I had said this, more for the purpose of exciting him than of speaking myself, Triarius, smiling gently, said — You, indeed, have almost entirely expelled Epicurus from the number of philosophers. For what have you left him except the assertion that, whatever his language might he, you understood what he meant? He has in natural philosophy said nothing but what is borrowed from others, and even then nothing which you approved of. If he has tried to amend anything he has made it worse. He had no skill whatever in disputing. When he laid down the rule that pleasure was the chief good, in the first place he was very short-sighted in making such an assertion; and secondly, even this very doctrine was a borrowed one; for Aristippus had said the same thing before, and better too. You added, at last, that he was also destitute of learning.

It is quite impossible, O Triarius, I replied, for a person not to state what he disapproves of in the theory of a man with whom he disagrees. For what could hinder me from being an Epicurean if I approved of what Epicurus says? especially when it would be an amusement to learn his doctrines. Wherefore, a man is not to be blamed for reproving those who differ from one another; but evil speaking, contumely, ill-temper, contention, and pertinacious violence in disputing, generally appear to me quite unworthy of philosophy.

I quite agree with you, said Torquatus; for one cannot dispute at all without finding fault with your antagonist; but on the other hand you cannot dispute properly if you do so with ill-temper or with pertinacity. But, if you have no objection, I have an answer to make to these assertions of yours. Do you suppose, said I, that I should have said what I have said if I did not desire to hear what you had to say too? Would you like then, says he, that I should go through the whole theory of Epicurus, or that we should limit our present inquiry to pleasure by itself; which is what the whole of the present dispute relates to? We will do, said I, whichever you please. That then, said he, shall be my present course. I will explain one matter only, being the most important one. At another time I will discuss the question of natural philosophy; and I will prove to you the theory of the divergence of the atoms, and of the magnitude of the sun, and that Democritus committed many errors which were found fault with and corrected by Epicurus. At present, I will confine myself to pleasure; not that I am saying anything new, but still I will adduce arguments which I feel sure that even you yourself will approve of. Undoubtedly, said I, I will not be obstinate; and I will willingly agree with you if you will only prove your assertions to my satisfaction. I will prove them, said he, provided only that you are as impartial as you profess yourself: but I would rather employ a connected discourse than keep on asking or being asked questions. As you please, said I.

On this he began to speak; —

IX. First of all then, said he, I will proceed in the manner which is sanctioned by the founder of this school: I will lay down what that is which is the subject of our inquiry, and what its character is: not that I imagine that you do not know, but in order that my discourse may proceed in a systematic and orderly manner. We are inquiring, then, what is the end — what is the extreme point of good, which, in the opinion of all philosophers, ought to be such that everything can be referred to it, but that it itself can be referred to nothing. This Epicurus places in pleasure, which he argues is the chief good, and that pain is the chief evil; and he proceeds to prove his assertion thus. He says that every animal the moment that it is born seeks for pleasure, and rejoices in it as the chief good; and rejects pain as the chief evil, and wards it off from itself as far as it can; and that it acts in this manner, without having been corrupted by anything, under the promptings of nature herself, who forms this uncorrupt and upright judgment. Therefore, he affirms that there is no need of argument or of discussion as to why pleasure is to be sought for, and pain to be avoided. This he thinks a matter of sense, just as much as that fire is hot, snow white, honey sweet; none of which propositions he thinks require to be confirmed by laboriously sought reasons, but that it is sufficient merely to state them. For that there is a difference between arguments and conclusions arrived at by ratiocination, and ordinary observations and statements:— by the first, secret and obscure principles are explained; by the second, matters which are plain and easy are brought to decision. For since, if you take away sense from a man, there is nothing left to him, it follows of necessity that what is contrary to nature, or what agrees with it, must be left to nature herself to decide. Now what does she perceive, or what does she determine on as her guide to seek or to avoid anything, except pleasure and pain? But there are some of our school who seek to carry out this doctrine with more acuteness, and who will not allow that it is sufficient that it should be decided by sense what is good and what is bad, but who assert that these points can be ascertained by intellect and reason also, and that pleasure is to be sought for on its own account, and that pain also is to be avoided for the same reason.

Therefore, they say that this notion is implanted in our minds naturally and instinctively, as it were; so that we feel that the one is to be sought for, and the other to be avoided. Others, however, (and this is my own opinion too,) assert that, as many reasons are alleged by many philosophers why pleasure ought not to be reckoned among goods, nor pain among evils, we ought not to rely too much on the goodness of our cause, but that we should use arguments, and discuss the point with precision, and argue, by the help of carefully collected reasons, about pleasure and about pain.

X. But that you may come to an accurate perception of the source whence all this error originated of those people who attack pleasure and extol pain, I will unfold the whole matter; and I will lay before you the very statements which have been made by that discoverer of the truth, and architect, as it were, of a happy life. For no one either despises, or hates, or avoids pleasure itself merely because it is pleasure, but because great pains overtake those men who do not understand how to pursue pleasure in a reasonable manner. Nor is there any one who loves, or pursues, or wishes to acquire pain because it is pain, but because sometimes such occasions arise that a man attains to some great pleasure through labour and pain. For, to descend to trifles, who of us ever undertakes any laborious exertion of body except in order to gain some advantage by so doing? and who is there who could fairly blame a man who should wish to be in that state of pleasure which no annoyance can interrupt, or one who shuns that pain by which no subsequent pleasure is procured? But we do accuse those men, and think them entirely worthy of the greatest hatred, who, being made effeminate and corrupted by the allurements of present pleasure, are so blinded by passion that they do not foresee what pains and annoyances they will hereafter be subject to; and who are equally guilty with those who, through weakness of mind, that is to say, from eagerness to avoid labour and pain, desert their duty.

And the distinction between these things is quick and easy. For at a time when we are free, when the option of choice is in our own power, and when there is nothing to prevent our being able to do whatever we choose, then every pleasure may be enjoyed, and every pain repelled. But on particular occasions it will often happen, owing either to the obligations of duty or the necessities of business, that pleasures must be declined and annoyances must not be shirked. Therefore the wise man holds to this principle of choice in those matters, that he rejects some pleasures, so as, by the rejection, to obtain others which are greater, and encounters some pains, so as by that means to escape others which are more formidable.

Now, as these are my sentiments, what reason can I have for fearing that I may not be able to accommodate our Torquati to them — men whose examples you just now quoted from memory, with a kind and friendly feeling towards us? However, you have not bribed me by praising my ancestors, nor made me less prompt in replying to you. But I should like to know from you how you interpret their actions? Do you think that they attacked the enemy with such feelings, or that they were so severe to their children and to their own blood as to have no thought of their own advantage, or of what might be useful to themselves? But even wild beasts do not do that, and do not rush about and cause confusion in such a way that we cannot understand what is the object of their motions. And do you think that such illustrious men performed such great actions without a reason? What their reason was I will examine presently; in the meantime I will lay down this rule — If there was any reason which instigated them to do those things which are undoubtedly splendid exploits, then virtue by herself was not the sole cause of their conduct. One man tore a chain from off his enemy, and at the same time he defended himself from being slain; but he encountered great danger. Yes, but it was before the eyes of the whole army. What did he get by that? Glory, and the affection of his countrymen, which are the surest bulwarks to enable a man to pass his life without fear. He put his son to death by the hand of the executioner. If he did so without any reason, then I should be sorry to be descended from so inhuman and merciless a man. But if his object was to establish military discipline and obedience to command, at the price of his own anguish, and at a time of a most formidable war to restrain his army by the fear of punishment, then he was providing for the safety of his fellow-citizens, which he was well aware embraced his own. And this principle is one of extensive application. For the very point respecting which your whole school, and yourself most especially, who are such a diligent investigator of ancient instances, are in the habit of vaunting yourself and using high-flown language, namely, the mention of brave and illustrious men, and the extolling of their actions, as proceeding not from any regard to advantage, but from pure principles of honour and a love of glory, is entirely upset, when once that rule in the choice of things is established which I mentioned just now — namely, that pleasures are passed over for the sake of obtaining other greater pleasures, or that pains are encountered with a view to escape greater pains.

XI. But, however, for the present we have said enough about the illustrious and glorious actions of celebrated men; for there will be, hereafter, a very appropriate place for discussing the tendency of all the virtues to procure pleasure.

But, at present, I will explain what pleasure itself is, and what its character is; so as to do away with all the mistakes of ignorant people, and in order that it may be clearly understood how dignified, and temperate, and virtuous that system is, which is often accounted voluptuous, effeminate, and delicate. For we are not at present pursuing that pleasure alone which moves nature itself by a certain sweetness, and which is perceived by the senses with a certain pleasurable feeling; but we consider that the greatest of all pleasures which is felt when all pain is removed. For since, when we are free from pain, we rejoice in that very freedom itself, and in the absence of all annoyance — but everything which is a cause of our rejoicing is pleasure, just as everything that gives us offence is pain — accordingly, the absence of all pain is rightly denominated pleasure. For, as when hunger and thirst are driven away by meat and drink, the very removal of the annoyance brings with it the attainment of pleasure, so, in every case, the removal of pain produces the succession of pleasure. And therefore Epicurus would not admit that there was any intermediate state between pleasure and pain; for he insisted that that very state which seems to some people the intermediate one, when a man is free from every sort of pain, is not only pleasure, but the highest sort of pleasure. For whoever feels how he is affected must inevitably be either in a state of pleasure or in a state of pain. But Epicurus thinks that the highest pleasure consists in an absence of all pains; so that pleasure may afterwards be varied, and may be of different kinds, but cannot be increased or amplified.

And even at Athens, as I have heard my father say, when he was jesting in a good-humoured and facetious way upon the Stoics, there is a statue in the Ceramicus of Chrysippus, sitting down with his hand stretched out; and this attitude of the hand intimates that he is amusing himself with this brief question, “Does your hand, while in that condition in which it is at present, want anything?”— Nothing at all. But if pleasure were a good, would it want it? I suppose so. Pleasure, then, is not a good. And my father used to say that even a statue would not say this if it could speak. For the conclusion was drawn as against the Stoics with sufficient acuteness, but it did not concern Epicurus. For if that were the only pleasure which tickled the senses, as it were, if I may say so, and which overflowed and penetrated them with a certain agreeable feeling, then even a hand could not be content with freedom from pain without some pleasing motion of pleasure. But if the highest pleasure is, as Epicurus asserts, to be free from pain, then, O Chrysippus, the first admission was correctly made to you, that the hand, when it was in that condition, was in want of nothing; but the second admission was not equally correct, that if pleasure were a good it would wish for it. For it would not wish for it for this reason, inasmuch as whatever is free from pain is in pleasure.

XII. But that pleasure is the boundary of all good things may be easily seen from this consideration. Let us imagine a person enjoying pleasures great, numerous, and perpetual, both of mind and body, with no pain either interrupting him at present or impending over him; what condition can we call superior to or more desirable than this? For it is inevitable that there must be in a man who is in this condition a firmness of mind which fears neither death nor pain, because death is void of all sensation; and pain, if it is of long duration, is a trifle, while if severe it is usually of brief duration; so that its brevity is a consolation if it is violent, and its trifling nature if it is enduring. And when there is added to these circumstances that such a man has no fear of the deity of the gods, and does not suffer past pleasures to be entirely lost, but delights himself with the continued recollection of them, what can be added to this which will be any improvement to it?

Imagine, on the other hand, any one worn out with the greatest pains of mind and body which can possibly befal a man, without any hope being held out to him that they will hereafter be lighter, when, besides, he has no pleasure whatever either present or expected; what can be spoken of or imagined more miserable than this? But if a life entirely filled with pains is above all things to be avoided, then certainly that is the greatest of evils to live in pain. And akin to this sentiment is the other, that it is the most extreme good to live with pleasure. For our mind has no other point where it can stop as at a boundary; and all fears and distresses are referable to pain: nor is there anything whatever besides, which of its own intrinsic nature can make us anxious or grieve us. Moreover, the beginnings of desiring and avoiding, and indeed altogether of everything which we do, take their rise either in pleasure or pain. And as this is the case, it is plain that everything which is right and laudable has reference to this one object of living with pleasure. And since that is the highest, or extreme, or greatest good, which the Greeks call τέλος, because it is referred to nothing else itself, but everything is referred to it, we must confess that the highest good is to live agreeably.

XIII. And those who place this in virtue alone, and, being caught by the splendour of a name, do not understand what nature requires, will be delivered from the greatest blunder imaginable if they will listen to Epicurus. For unless those excellent and beautiful virtues which your school talks about produced pleasure, who would think them either praiseworthy or desirable? For as we esteem the skill of physicians not for the sake of the art itself, but from our desire for good health — and as the skill of the pilot, who has the knowledge how to navigate a vessel well, is praised with reference to its utility, and not to his ability — so wisdom, which should be considered the art of living, would not be sought after if it effected nothing; but at present it is sought after because it is, as it were, the efficient cause of pleasure, which is a legitimate object of desire and acquisition. And now you understand what pleasure I mean, so that what I say may not be brought into odium from my using an unpopular word. For as the chief annoyances to human life proceed from ignorance of what things are good and what bad, and as by reason of that mistake men are often deprived of the greatest pleasures, and tortured by the most bitter grief of mind, we have need to exercise wisdom, which, by removing groundless alarms and vain desires, and by banishing the rashness of all erroneous opinions, offers herself to us as the surest guide to pleasure. For it is wisdom alone which expels sorrow from our minds, and prevents our shuddering with fear: she is the instructress who enables us to live in tranquillity, by extinguishing in us all vehemence of desire. For desires are insatiable, and ruin not only individuals but entire families, and often overturn the whole state. From desires arise hatred, dissensions, quarrels, seditions, wars. Nor is it only out of doors that these passions vent themselves, nor is it only against others that they run with blind violence; but they are often shut up, as it were, in the mind, and throw that into confusion with their disagreements.

And the consequence of this is, to make life thoroughly wretched; so that the wise man is the only one who, having cut away all vanity and error, and removed it from him, can live contented within the boundaries of nature, without melancholy and without fear. For what diversion can be either more useful or more adapted for human life than that which Epicurus employed? For he laid it down that there were three kinds of desires; the first, such as were natural and necessary; the second, such as were natural but not necessary; the third, such as were neither natural nor necessary. And these are all such, that those which are necessary are satisfied without much trouble or expense: even those which are natural and not necessary, do not require a great deal, because nature itself makes the riches, which are sufficient to content it, easy of acquisition and of limited quantity: but as for vain desires, it is impossible to find any limit to, or any moderation in them.

XIV. But if we see that the whole life of man is thrown into disorder by error and ignorance; and that wisdom is the only thing which can relieve us from the sway of the passions and the fear of danger, and which can teach us to bear the injuries of fortune itself with moderation, and which shows us all the ways which lead to tranquillity and peace; what reason is there that we should hesitate to say that wisdom is to be sought for the sake of pleasure, and that folly is to be avoided on account of its annoyances? And on the same principle we shall say that even temperance is not to be sought for its own sake, but because it brings peace to the mind, and soothes and tranquillizes them by what I may call a kind of concord. For temperance is that which warns us to follow reason in desiring or avoiding anything. Nor is it sufficient to decide what ought to be done, and what ought not; but we must adhere to what has been decided. But many men, because they are enfeebled and subdued the moment pleasure comes in sight, and so are unable to keep and adhere to the determination they have formed, give themselves up to be bound hand and foot by their lusts, and do not foresee what will happen to them; and in that way, on account of some pleasure which is trivial and unnecessary, and which might be procured in some other manner, and which they could dispense with without annoyance, incur terrible diseases, and injuries, and disgrace, and are often even involved in the penalties of the legal tribunals of their country.

But these men who wish to enjoy pleasure in such a way that no grief shall ever overtake them in consequence, and who retain their judgment so as never to be overcome by pleasure as to do what they feel ought not to be done; these men, I say, obtain the greatest pleasure by passing pleasure by. They often even endure pain, in order to avoid encountering greater pain hereafter by their shunning it at present. From which consideration it is perceived that intemperance is not to be avoided for its own sake; and that temperance is to be sought for, not because it avoids pleasures, but because it attains to greater ones.

XV. The same principle will be found to hold good with respect to courage. For the discharge of labours and the endurance of pain are neither of them intrinsically tempting; nor is patience, nor diligence, nor watchfulness, nor industry which is so much extolled, nor even courage itself: but we cultivate these habits in order that we may live without care and fear, and may be able, as far as is in our power, to release our minds and bodies from annoyance. For as the whole condition of tranquil life is thrown into confusion by the fear of death, and as it is a miserable thing to yield to pain and to bear it with a humble and imbecile mind; and as on account of that weakness of mind many men have ruined their parents, many men their friends, some their country, and very many indeed have utterly undone themselves; so a vigorous and lofty mind is free from all care and pain, since it despises death, which only places those who encounter it in the same condition as that in which they were before they were born; and it is so prepared for pain that it recollects that the very greatest are terminated by death, and that slight pains have many intervals of rest, and that we can master moderate ones, so as to bear them if they are tolerable, and if not, we can depart with equanimity out of life, just as out of a theatre, when it no longer pleases us. By all which considerations it is understood that cowardice and idleness are not blamed, and that courage and patience are not praised, for their own sakes; but that the one line of conduct is rejected as the parent of pain, and the other desired as the author of pleasure.

XVI. Justice remains to be mentioned, that I may not omit any virtue whatever; but nearly the same things may be said respecting that. For, as I have already shown that wisdom, temperance, and fortitude are connected with pleasure in such a way that they cannot possibly be separated or divided from it, so also we must consider that it is the case with justice. Which not only never injures any one; but on the contrary always nourishes something which tranquillizes the mind, partly by its own power and nature, and partly by the hopes that nothing will be wanting of those things which a nature not depraved may fairly derive.

Since rashness and lust and idleness always torture the mind, always make it anxious, and are of a turbulent character, so too, wherever injustice settles in any man’s mind, it is turbulent from the mere fact of its existence and presence there; and if it forms any plan, although it executes it ever so secretly, still it never believes that what has been done will be concealed for ever. For generally, when wicked men do anything, first of all suspicion overtakes their actions; then the common conversation and report of men; then the prosecutor and the judge; and many even, as was the case when you were consul, have given information against themselves. But if any men appear to themselves to be sufficiently fenced round and protected from the consciousness of men, still they dread the knowledge of the Gods, and think that those very anxieties by which their minds are eaten up night and day, are inflicted upon them by the immortal Gods for the sake of punishment. And how is it possible that wicked actions can ever have as much influence towards alleviating the annoyances of life, as they must have towards increasing them from the consciousness of our actions, and also from the punishments inflicted by the laws and the hatred of the citizens? And yet, in some people, there is no moderation in their passion for money and for honour and for command, or in their lusts and greediness and other desires, which acquisitions, however wickedly made, do not at all diminish, but rather inflame, so that it seems we ought rather to restrain such men than to think that we can teach them better. Therefore sound wisdom invites sensible men to justice, equity, and good faith. And unjust actions are not advantageous even to that man who has no abilities or resources; inasmuch as he cannot easily do what he endeavours to do, nor obtain his objects if he does succeed in his endeavours. And the gifts of fortune and of genius are better suited to liberality; and those who practise this virtue gain themselves goodwill, and affection, which is the most powerful of all things to enable a man to live with tranquillity; especially when he has absolutely no motive at all for doing wrong.

For those desires which proceed from nature are easily satisfied without any injustice; but those which are vain ought not to be complied with. For they desire nothing which is really desirable; and there is more disadvantage in the mere fact of injustice than there is advantage in what is acquired by the injustice. Therefore a person would not be right who should pronounce even justice intrinsically desirable for its own sake; but because it brings the greatest amount of what is agreeable. For to be loved and to be dear to others is agreeable because it makes life safer, and pleasure more abundant. Therefore we think dishonesty should be avoided, not only on account of those disadvantages which befal the wicked, but even much more because it never permits the man in whose mind it abides to breathe freely, and never lets him rest.

But if the praise of those identical virtues in which the discourse of all other philosophers so especially exults, cannot find any end unless it be directed towards pleasure, and if pleasure be the only thing which calls and allures us to itself by its own nature; then it cannot be doubtful that that is the highest and greatest of all goods, and that to live happily is nothing else except to live with pleasure.

XVII. And I will now explain in a few words the things which are inseparably connected with this sure and solid opinion.

There is no mistake with respect to the ends themselves of good and evil, that is to say, with respect to pleasure and pain; but men err in these points when they do not know what they are caused by. But we admit that the pleasures and pains of the mind are caused by the pleasures and pains of the body. Therefore I grant what you were saying just now, that if any philosophers of our school think differently (and I see that many men do so, but they are ignorant people) they must be convicted of error. But although pleasure of mind brings us joy, and pain causes us grief, it is still true that each of these feelings originates in the body, and is referred to the body; and it does not follow on that account that both the pleasures and pains of the mind are not much more important than those of the body. For with the body we are unable to feel anything which is not actually existent and present; but with our mind we feel things past and things to come. For although when we are suffering bodily pain, we are equally in pain in our minds, still a very great addition may be made to that if we believe that any endless and boundless evil is impending over us. And we may transfer this assertion to pleasure, so that that will be greater if we have no such fear.

This now is entirely evident, that the very greatest pleasure or annoyance of the mind contributes more to making life happy or miserable than either of these feelings can do if it is in the body for an equal length of time. But we do not agree that, if pleasure be taken away, grief follows immediately, unless by chance it happens that pain has succeeded and taken the place of pleasure; but, on the other hand, we affirm that men do rejoice at getting rid of pain even if no pleasure which can affect the senses succeeds. And from this it may be understood how great a pleasure it is not to be in pain. But as we are roused by those good things which we are in expectation of, so we rejoice at those which we recollect. But foolish men are tortured by the recollection of past evils; wise men are delighted by the memory of past good things, which are thus renewed by the agreeable recollection. But there is a feeling implanted in us by which we bury adversity as it were in a perpetual oblivion, but dwell with pleasure and delight on the recollection of good fortune. But when with eager and attentive minds we dwell on what is past, the consequence is, that melancholy ensues, if the past has been unprosperous; but joy, if it has been fortunate.

XVIII. Oh what a splendid, and manifest, and simple, and plain way of living well! For as certainly nothing could be better for man than to be free from all pain and annoyance, and to enjoy the greatest pleasures of both mind and body, do you not see how nothing is omitted which can aid life, so as to enable men more easily to arrive at that chief good which is their object! Epicurus cries out — the very man whom you pronounce to be too devoted to pleasure — that man cannot live agreeably, unless he lives honourably, justly, and wisely; and that, if he lives wisely, honourably, and justly, it is impossible that he should not live agreeably. For a city in sedition cannot be happy, nor can a house in which the masters are quarrelling. So that a mind which disagrees and quarrels with itself, cannot taste any portion of clear and unrestrained pleasure. And a man who is always giving in to pursuits and plans which are inconsistent with and contrary to one another, can never know any quiet or tranquillity.

But if the pleasure of life is hindered by the graver diseases of the body, how much more must it be so by those of the mind? But the diseases of the mind are boundless and vain desires of riches, or glory, or domination, or even of lustful pleasures. Besides these there are melancholy, annoyance, sorrow, which eat up and destroy with anxiety the minds of those men who do not understand that the mind ought not to grieve about anything which is unconnected with some present or future pain of body. Nor is there any fool who does not suffer under some one of these diseases. Therefore there is no fool who is not miserable. Besides these things there is death, which is always hanging over us as his rock is over Tantalus; and superstition, a feeling which prevents any one who is imbued with it from ever enjoying tranquillity. Besides, such men as they do not recollect their past good fortune, do not enjoy what is present, but do nothing but expect what is to come; and as that cannot be certain, they wear themselves out with grief and apprehension, and are tormented most especially when they find out, after it is too late, that they have devoted themselves to the pursuit of money, or authority, or power, or glory, to no purpose. For they have acquired no pleasures, by the hope of enjoying which it was that they were inflamed to undertake so many great labours. There are others, of little and narrow minds, either always despairing of everything, or else malcontent, envious, ill-tempered, churlish, calumnious, and morose; others devoted to amatory pleasures, others petulant, others audacious, wanton, intemperate, or idle, never continuing in the same opinion; on which account there is never any interruption to the annoyances to which their life is exposed.

Therefore, there is no fool who is happy, and no wise man who is not. And we put this much more forcibly and truly than the Stoics: for they assert that there is no good whatever, but some imaginary shadow which they call τὸ καλὸν, a name showy rather than substantial; and they insist upon it, that virtue relying on this principle of honour stands in need of no pleasure, and is content with its own resources as adequate to secure a happy life.

XIX. However, these assertions may be to a certain extent made not only without our objecting to them, but even with our concurrence and agreement. For in this way the wise man is represented by Epicurus as always happy. He has limited desires; he disregards death; he has a true opinion concerning the immortal Gods without any fear; he does not hesitate, if it is better for him, to depart from life. Being prepared in this manner, and armed with these principles, he is always in the enjoyment of pleasure; nor is there any period when he does not feel more pleasure than pain. For he remembers the past with gratitude, and he enjoys the present so as to notice how important and how delightful the joys which it supplies are; nor does he depend on future good, but he waits for that and enjoys the present; and is as far removed as possible from those vices which I have enumerated; and when he compares the life of fools to his own he feels great pleasure. And pain, if any does attack him, has never such power that the wise man has not more to rejoice at than to be grieved at.

But Epicurus does admirably in saying that fortune has but little power over the wise man, and that the greatest and most important events of such a man’s life are managed by his own wisdom and prudence; and that greater pleasure cannot be derived from an eternity of life than such a man enjoys from this life which we see to be limited.

But in your dialectics he thought that there was no power which could contribute either to enable men to live better, or argue more conveniently. To natural philosophy he attributed a great deal of importance. For by the one science it is only the meaning of words and the character of a speech, and the way in which arguments follow from or are inconsistent with one another, that can be seen; but if the nature of all things is known, we are by that knowledge relieved from superstition, released from the fear of death, exempted from being perplexed by our ignorance of things, from which ignorance horrible fears often arise. Lastly, we shall be improved in our morals when we have learnt what nature requires. Moreover, if we have an accurate knowledge of things, preserving that rule which has fallen from heaven as it were for the knowledge of all things, by which all our judgments of things are to be regulated, we shall never abandon our opinions because of being overcome by any one’s eloquence.

For unless the nature of things is thoroughly known, we shall have no means by which we can defend the judgments formed by our senses. Moreover, whatever we discern by our intellect, all arises from the senses. And if our senses are all correct, as the theory of Epicurus affirms, then something may be discerned and understood accurately; but as to those men who deny the power of the senses, and say that nothing can be known by them, those very men, if the senses are discarded, will be unable to explain that very point which they are arguing about. Besides, if all knowledge and science is put out of the question, then there is an end also of all settled principles of living and of doing anything.

Thus, by means of natural philosophy, courage is desired to withstand the fear of death, and constancy to put aside the claims engendered by superstition; and by removing ignorance of all secret things, tranquillity of mind is produced; and by explaining the nature of desires and their different kinds, we get moderation: and (as I just now explained) by means of this rule of knowledge, and of the judgment which is established and corrected by it, the power of distinguishing truth from falsehood is put into man’s hands.

XX. There remains a topic necessary above all others to this discussion, that of friendship, namely: which you, if pleasure is the chief good, affirm to have no existence at all. Concerning which Epicurus speaks thus: “That of all the things which wisdom has collected to enable man to live happily, nothing is more important, more influential, or more delightful than friendship.” Nor did he prove this assertion by words only, but still more by his life, and conduct, and actions. And how important a thing it is, the fables of the ancients abundantly intimate, in which, many and varied as they are, and traced back to the remotest antiquity, scarcely three pairs of friends are found, even if you begin as far back as Theseus, and come down to Orestes. But in one single house, and that a small one, what great crowds of friends did Epicurus collect, and how strong was the bond of affection that held them together! And this is the case even now among the Epicureans. However, let us return to our subject: it is not necessary for us to be discussing men.

I see, then, that the philosophers of our school have treated the question of friendship in three ways. Some, as they denied that those pleasures which concerned our friends were to be sought with as much eagerness for their own sake, as we display in seeking our own, (by pressing which topic some people think that the stability of friendship is endangered,) maintain that doctrine resolutely, and, as I think, easily explain it. For, as in the case of the virtues which I have already mentioned, so too they deny that friendship can ever be separated from pleasure. For, as a life which is solitary and destitute of friends is full of treachery and alarm, reason itself warns us to form friendships. And when such are formed, then our minds are strengthened, and cannot be drawn away from the hope of attaining pleasure. And as hatred, envy, and contempt are all opposed to pleasures, so friendships are not only the most faithful favourers, but also are the efficient causes of pleasures to one’s friends as well as to oneself; and men not only enjoy those pleasures at the moment, but are also roused by hopes of subsequent and future time. And as we cannot possibly maintain a lasting and continued happiness of life without friendship, nor maintain friendship itself unless we love our friends and ourselves equally, therefore this very effect is produced in friendship, and friendship is combined with pleasure.

For we rejoice in the joy of our friends as much as we do in our own, and we are equally grieved at their sorrows. Wherefore the wise man will feel towards his friend as he does towards himself, and whatever labour he would encounter with a view to his own pleasure, he will encounter also for the sake of that of his friend. And all that has been said of the virtues as to the way in which they are invariably combined with pleasure, should also be said of friendship. For admirably does Epicurus say, in almost these exact words: “The same science has strengthened the mind so that it should not fear any eternal or long lasting evil, inasmuch as in this very period of human life, it has clearly seen that the surest bulwark against evil is that of friendship.”

There are, however, some Epicureans who are rather intimidated by the reproaches of your school, but still men of sufficient acuteness, and they are afraid lest, if we think that friendship is only to be sought after with a view to our own pleasure, all friendships should, as it were, appear to be crippled. Therefore they admit that the first meetings, and unions, and desires to establish intimacy, do arise from a desire of pleasure; but, they say, that when progressive habit has engendered familiarity, then such great affection is ripened, that friends are loved by one another for their own sake, even without any idea of advantage intermingling with such love. In truth, if we are in the habit of feeling affection for places, and temples, and cities, and gymnasia, and the Campus Martius, and for dogs, and horses, and sports, in consequence of our habit of exercising ourselves, and hunting, and so on, how much more easily and reasonably may such a feeling be produced in us by our intimacy with men!

But some people say that there is a sort of agreement entered into by wise men not to love their friends less than themselves; which we both imagine to be possible, and indeed see to be often the case; and it is evident that nothing can be found having any influence on living agreeably, which is better suited to it than such a union. From all which considerations it may be inferred, not only that the principle of friendship is not hindered by our placing the chief good in pleasure, but that without such a principle it is quite impossible that any friendship should be established.

XXI. Wherefore, if the things which I have been saying are clearer and plainer than the sun itself; if all that I have said is derived from the fountain of nature; if the whole of my discourse forces assent to itself by its accordance with the senses, that is to say, with the most incorruptible and honest of all witnesses; if infant children, and even brute beasts, declare almost in words, under the teaching and guidance of nature, that nothing is prosperous but pleasure, nothing hateful but pain — a matter as to which their decision is neither erroneous nor corrupt — ought we not to feel the greatest gratitude to that man who, having heard this voice of nature, as I may call it, has embraced it with such firmness and steadiness, that he has led all sensible men into the path of a peaceful, tranquil, and happy life? And as for his appearing to you to be a man of but little learning, the reason of that is, that he thought no learning deserving of the name except such as assisted in the attainment of a happy life. Was he a man to waste his time in reading poets, as Triarius and I do at your instigation? men in whose works there is no solid utility, but only a childish sort of amusement; or to devote himself, like Plato, to music, geometry, arithmetic, and astronomy? studies which, starting from erroneous principles, cannot possibly be true; and which, if they were true, would constitute nothing to our living more agreeably, that is to say, better. Should he, then, pursue such occupations as those, and abandon the task of laying down principles of living, laborious, but, at the same time, useful as they are?

Epicurus, then, was not destitute of learning; but those persons are ignorant who think that those studies which it is discreditable for boys not to have learnt, are to be continued till old age.

And when he had spoken thus — I have now, said he, explained my opinions, and have done so with the design of learning your judgment of them. But the opportunity of doing so, as I wished, has never been offered me before to-day.

13. It is not even known to what work Cicero is referring here.

14. In the Heautontimorumenos. Act i. Sc. 1.

15. Cæcilius Statius was the predecessor of Terence; by birth an Insubrian Gaul and a native of Milan. He died b.c. 165, two years before the representation of the Andria of Terence. He was considered by the Romans as a great master of the art of exciting the feelings. And Cicero (de Opt. Gen. Dic. 1.) speaks of him as the chief of the Roman Comic writers. Horace says —

Vincere Cæcilius gravitate, Terentius arte.

16. Marcus Atilius, (though Cicero speaks of him here as a tragedian,) was chiefly celebrated as a comic poet. He was one of the earliest writers of that class; but nothing of his has come down to us. In another place Cicero calls him “duris simusscriptor.” (Epist. ad Att. xiv. 20.)

17. Diogenes was a pupil of Chrysippus, and succeeded Zeno of Tarsus as the head of the Stoic school at Athens. He was one of the embassy sent to Rome by the Athenians, b.c. 155, and is supposed to have died almost immediately afterwards.

18. Antipater was a native of Tarsus, and the pupil and successor of Diogenes. Cicero speaks in very high terms of his genius. (De Off. iii. 12.)

19. Mnesarchus was a pupil of Panætius and the teacher of Antiochus of Ascalon.

20. Panætius was a Rhodian, a pupil of Diogenes and Antipater, which last he succeeded as head of the Stoic school. He was a friend of P. Scipio Æmilianus, and accompanied him on his embassy to the kings of Egypt and Asia in alliance with Rome. He died before b.c. 111.

21. Posidonius was a native of Apamea, in Egypt, a pupil of Panætius, and a contemporary of Cicero. He came to Rome b.c. 51, having been sent there as ambassador from Rhodes in the time of Marius.

22. Lucius Afranius lived about 100 b.c. His comedies were chiefly togatæ, depicting Roman life; he borrowed largely from Menander, to whom the Romans compared him. Horace says —

Dicitur Afranî toga convenisse Menandro.

Cicero praises his language highly (Brut. 45).

23. Caius Lucilius was the earliest of the Roman satirists, born at Suessa Aurunca, b.c. 148; he died at Naples, b.c. 103. He served under Scipio in the Numantine war. He was a very vehement and bold satirist. Cicero alludes here to a saying of his, which he mentions more expressly (De Orat. ii.), that he did not wish the ignorant to read his works because they could not understand them: nor the learned because they would be able to criticise them.

Persium non curo legere: Lælium Decimum volo.

This Persius being a very learned man; in comparison with whom Lælius was an ignoramus.

24. Polyænus, the son of Athenodorus was a native of Lampsacus: he was a friend of Epicurus, and though he had previously obtained a high reputation as a mathematician, he was persuaded by him at last to agree with him as to the worthlessness of geometry.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53