The Best of the World's Classics, Restricted to prose. Volume II (of X) - Rome
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With an Introduction, Biographical and Explanatory Notes, etc.


Vol. II






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The Best of the World's Classics



234 B.C.—180 A.D.

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CATO THE CENSOR—(Born in 234 B.C., died in 149.)

Of Work on a Roman Farm. (From "De Re Rustica." Translated by Dr. E. Wilson)

CICERO—(Born in 106 B.C., assassinated in 43.)

I The Blessings of Old Age. (From the "Cato Major." Translated by Cyrus R. Edmonds)

II On the Death of His Daughter Tullia. (A letter to Sulpicius)

III Of Brave and Elevated Spirits. (From Book I of the "Offices." Translated by Cyrus R. Edmonds)

IV Of Scipio's Death and of Friendship. From the "Dialog on Friendship." (Translated by Cyrus R. Edmonds)

JULIUS CAESAR—(Born in 100 B.C., assassinated in 44.)

I The Building of the Bridge Across the Rhine. (From Book IV of the "Commentaries on the Gallic War." Translated by McDivett and W. S. Bohn)

II The Invasion of Britain. (From Book V of the "Commentaries on the Gallic War." Translated by McDivett and Bohn)

III Overcoming the Nervii. (From Book II of the "Commentaries on the Gallic War." Translated by McDivett and Bohn)

IV The Battle of Pharsalia and the Death of Pompey. (From Book III of the "Commentaries on the Gallic War." Translated by McDivett and Bohn)

SALLUST—(Born about 86 B.C., died about 34.)

I The Genesis of Catiline. (From the "Conspiracy of Catiline." Translated by J. S. Watson)

II The Fate of the Conspirators. (From the "Conspiracy of Catiline." Translated by J. S. Watson)

Livy—(Born in 59 B.C., died in 17 A.D.)

I Horatius Cocles at the Bridge. (From Book II of the "History of Rome." Translated by D. Spillan and Cyrus R. Edmonds)

II Hannibal's Crossing of the Alps. (From Book XXI of the "History of Rome." Translated by Spillan and Edmonds)

III Hannibal and Scipio at Zama. (From Book XXX of the "History of Rome." Translated by Spillan and Edmonds)

SENECA—(Born about 4 B.C., died in 65 A.D.)

I Of the Wise Man. (From Book II of the "Minor Essays." Translated by Aubrey Stewart)

II Of Consolation for the Loss of Friends. (From Book VI of the "Minor Essays." Translated by Aubrey Stewart)

III To Nero on Clemency. (From the "Minor Essays." Translated by Aubrey Stewart)

IV The Pilot. (From Epistle 85. Translated by Thomas Lodge)

V Of a Happy Life. (From Book VII of the "Minor Essays." Translated by Aubrey Stewart)

PLINY THE ELDER—(Born in 23 A.D., perished in the Eruption of Vesuvius.)

I The Qualities of the Dog. (From the "Natural History." Translated by Bostock and Riley)

II Three Great Artists of Greece. (From the "Natural History." Translated by Bostock and Riley)

QUINTILIAN—(Born about 35 A.D., died about 95.)

The Orator Must Be a Good Man. (From Book XII, Chapter I, of the "Institutes." Translated by J. S. Watson)

TACITUS—(Born about 55 A.D., died about 117.)

I From Republican to Imperial Rome. (From Book I of the "Annals." The Oxford translation revised)

II The Funeral of Germanicus. (From Book III of the "Annals." The Oxford translation revised)

III The Death of Seneca. (From Book XV of the "Annals." The Oxford translation revised)

IV The Burning of Rome by Order of Nero. (From Book XV of the "Annals." The Oxford translation revised)

V The Burning of the Capitol at Rome. (From Book III of the "History." The Oxford translation revised)

VI The Siege of Cremona. (From Book III of the "History." The Oxford translation revised)

VII Agricola. (The Oxford translation revised)

PLINY THE YOUNGER—(Born in 63 A.D., died in 113.)

I Of the Christians in His Province. (From the "Letters." The Melmoth translation revised)

II To Tacitus on the Eruption of Vesuvius. (From the "Letters." The Melmoth translation revised)

SUETONIUS—(Lived in the first half of the second century A.D.)

I The Last Days of Augustus. (From the "Lives of the Caesars." Translated by Alexander Thomson, revised by Forester)

II The Good Deeds of Nero. (From the "Lives of the Caesars." Translated by Thomson, revised by Forester)

III The Death of Nero. (From the "Lives of the Caesars." Translated by Thomson, revised by Forester)

MARCUS AURELIUS—(Born in 121 A.D., died in 180.)

His Debt to Others. (From the "Meditations." Translated by George Long)

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234 B.C.—180 A.D.

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Born in Tusculum, Italy, in 234 B.C., died in 149; celebrated as statesman, general, and writer; questor under Scipio in 204; Consul in 195; served in Spain in 194; censor in 184; ambassador to Carthage in 150; one of the chief instigators of the third Punic war; among his writings are "De Re Rustica" and "Origines."[1]


When the owner of the farm and slaves visits his country villa, after saluting the household god, he should the same day, if possible, go round the farm; if not the same day, he should do so the day after. On seeing how the farm is being cultivated, and what work has been done or left undone, he should call for his steward and inquire for his account of what work has been done and what remains to be done. He should ask whether the work has been completed in good time and whether what is left uncompleted can be finished. He should find what wine has been made, and what wheat stored. When he has gone into these particulars, he should ask for an account of the days spent in accomplishing the work.

If the work does not seem satisfactory and the steward should excuse himself by declaring that he has done his best, that the slaves were good for nothing, that the weather was bad, that some slaves had run away, that he himself had been called off on public service, and should allege other such excuses, he should still be strictly called to account. He should be asked if on rainy or tempestuous days he had seen that indoor operations had been carried on. Had the wine-casks been scoured and lined with pitch; had the house-cleaning been done; had the grain been taken from the thrashing-floor to the granary; had manure been thrown from the stables and cow-houses and piled into heaps; had the seed been winnowed; had any rope been made; had the old rope been repaired, and had he seen that the slaves mended their coats and caps. He should be reminded that on religious festivals old ditches might have been cleared out, the public road mended, briers cut down, the garden dug over, the meadow cleared, the trees trimmed, thorns pulled up by the roots, the grain ground and a general clearing up carried through. He should also be told that when slaves were sick their rations should be cut down.

When the matters have been settled to the master's satisfaction, he should take measures to see that what has not been done be at once accomplished. He should then proceed to consider the account of the farm, and a consideration of the amount of grain which has been prepared for fodder. He should have returns made of wine and olive-oil, and learn how much has been consumed, how much sold, how much is left over and may be put on sale. If there is a deficit any year, he should order it to be made up from the outside, and whatever is above the needs of the farm sold. If there is anything to let out on contract, he should order this to be done, and concerning the work which he wishes to be thus accomplished he should give his order in writing. As regards the cattle he should order them to be sold by auction, and in the same way should sell the oil, if the price of oil has risen; likewise the superfluous wine and corn of the estate. He should also order to be sold worn-out bulls, blemished cattle, blemished sheep, wool, hides, any plow that is old, old tools, old slaves, slaves who are diseased, or anything else which is useless, for the owner of a farm must be a seller and not a purchaser.

The owner of a farm and of slaves must begin to study in early manhood the cultivation and sowing of the land. He should, however, think a long time before building his villa, but not about farming his property, which he should set about at once. Let him wait until his thirty-sixth year and then build, provided his whole property is under cultivation. So build that neither the villa be disproportionately small in comparison with the farm nor the farm in comparison with the villa. It behooves a slave-owner to have a well-built country house, containing a wine-cellar, a place for storing olive-oil, and casks in such numbers that he may look forward with delight to a time of scarcity and high prices, and this will add not only to his wealth, but to his influence and reputation. He must have wine-presses of the first order, that his wine may be well made. When the olives have been picked, let oil be at once made or it will turn out rancid. Recollect that every year the olives are shaken from the trees in great number by violent storms. If you gather them up quickly and have vessels ready to receive them, the storm will have done them no harm and the oil will be all the greener and better. If the olives be on the ground or even on the barn floor too long, the oil made from them will be fetid. Olive-oil will be always good and sweet if it be promptly made.

The following are the duties of a steward: He must maintain strict discipline, and see that the festivals are observed. While he keeps his hands off the property of a neighbor, let him look well to his own. The slaves are to be kept from quarreling. If any of them commits a fault, he should be punished in a kindly manner. The steward must see that the slaves are comfortable and suffer neither from cold nor hunger. By keeping them busy he will prevent them from running into mischief or stealing. If the steward sets his face against evil doing, evil will not be done by them. His master must call him to task if he let evil doing go unpunished. If one slave do him any service, he should show gratitude that the others may be encouraged to do right. The steward must not be a gadder or a diner-out, but must give all his attention to working the slaves, and considering how best to carry out his master's instructions....

It is at times worth while to gain wealth by commerce, were it not so perilous; or by usury, were it equally honorable. Our ancestors, however, held, and fixt by law, that a thief should be condemned to restore double, a usurer quadruple. We thus see how much worse they thought it for a citizen to be a money-lender than a thief. Again, when they praised a good man, they praised him as a good farmer or a good husbandman. Men so praised were held to have received the highest praise. For myself, I think well of a merchant as a man of energy and studious of gain; but it is a career, as I have said, that leads to danger and ruin. However, farming makes the bravest men and the sturdiest soldiers, and of all sources of gain is the surest, the most natural, and the least invidious, and those who are busy with it have the fewest bad thoughts.[3]


[Footnote 1: Cato was Rome's first thoroughly national author. He is usually classed as the creator of Latin prose. Other Roman authors of his time wrote in Greek. Cato bitterly opposed Greek learning, declaring that, when Greece should give Rome her literature, she would "corrupt everything." On Cato's mind no outside literary influence ever prevailed. He has been called "the most original writer that Rome ever produced."]

[Footnote 2: From "De Re Rustica." Translated for this work by Dr. Epiphanius Wilson.]

[Footnote 3: The translation of this paragraph is taken from Cruttwell's "History of Roman Literature."]


Born in 106 B.C., assassinated in 43; celebrated as orator, philosopher, statesman, and man of letters; served in the social war in 89; traveled in Greece and Asia in 79-77; questor in Sicily in 75; accused Verres in 70; praetor in 60; as Consul supprest Catiline's conspiracy in 63; banished in 58; recalled in 57; proconsul in Cicilia in 51-50; joined Pompey in 49; pronounced orations against Mark Antony in 44-43; proscribed by the Second Triumvirate in 43; of his orations fifty-seven are extant, with fragments of twenty others; other extant works include "De Oratore," "De Republica," "Cato Major," "De Officiis," and four collections of letters.



Nor even now do I feel the want of the strength of a young man, no more than when a young man I felt the want of the strength of the bull or of the elephant. What one has, that one ought to use; and whatever you do, you should do it with all your strength. For what expression can be more contemptible than that of Milo[5] of Crotona, who, when he was now an old man, and was looking at the prize-fighters exercising themselves on the course, is reported to have looked at his arms, and, weeping over them, to have said, "But these, indeed, are now dead." Nay, foolish man, not these arms so much as yourself; for you never derived your nobility from yourself, but from your chest and your arms. Nothing of the kind did Sextus AElius ever say, nothing of the kind many years before did Titus Coruncanius, nothing lately did Publius Crassus; by whom instructions in jurisprudence were given to their fellow citizens, and whose wisdom was progressive even to their latest breath. For the orator, I fear lest he be enfeebled by old age; for eloquence is a gift not of mind only, but also of lungs and strength. On the whole, that melodiousness in the voice is graceful, I know not how, even in old age; which, indeed, I have not lost, and you see my years.

Yet there is a graceful style of eloquence in an old man, unimpassioned and subdued, and very often the elegant and gentle discourse of an eloquent old man wins for itself a hearing; and if you have not yourself the power to produce this effect, yet you may be able to teach it to Scipio and Laelius. For what is more delightful than old age surrounded with the studious attention of youth? Shall we not leave even such a resource to old age, as to teach young men, instruct them, train them to every department of duty? an employment, indeed, than which what can be more noble? But, for my part, I thought the Cneius and Publius Scipios,[6] and your two grandfathers, L. AEmilius and P. Africanus, quite happy in the attendance of noble youths; nor are any preceptors of liberal accomplishments to be deemed otherwise than happy, tho their strength hath fallen into old age and failed; altho that very failure of strength is more frequently caused by the follies of youth than by those of old age; for a lustful and intemperate youth transmits to old age an exhausted body. Cyrus too, in Xenophon, in that discourse which he delivered on his deathbed when he was a very old man, said that he never felt that his old age had become feebler than his youth had been. I recollect, when a boy, that Lucius Metellus,[7] who, when four years after his second consulship he had been made "pontifex maximus," and for twenty-two years held that sacerdotal office, enjoyed such good strength at the latter period of his life, that he felt no want of youth. There is no need for me to speak about myself, and yet that is the privilege of old age, and conceded to my time of life.

Do you see how, in Homer, Nestor very often proclaims his own virtues? for he was now living in the third generation of men; nor had he occasion to fear lest, when stating the truth about himself, he should appear either too arrogant or too talkative; for, as Homer says, from his tongue speech flowed sweeter than honey; for which charm he stood in need of no strength of body; and yet the famous chief of Greece nowhere wishes to have ten men like Ajax, but like Nestor; and he does not doubt if that should happen, Troy would in a short time perish.

But I return to myself. I am in my eighty-fourth year. In truth I should like to be able to make the same boast that Cyrus did; but one thing I can say, that altho I have not, to be sure, that strength which I had either as a soldier in the Punic war or as questor in the same war, or as Consul in Spain, or, four years afterward, when as military tribune I fought a battle at Thermopylae, in the consulship of Marcus Acilius Glabrio; yet, as you see, old age has not quite enfeebled me or broken me down: the senate-house does not miss my strength, nor the rostra, nor my friends, nor my clients, nor my guests; for I have never agreed to that old and much-praised proverb which advises you to become an old man early if you wish to be an old man long. I for my part would rather be an old man for a shorter length of time than be an old man before I was one. And, therefore, no one as yet has wished to have an interview with me to whom I have been denied as engaged.

But I have less strength than either of you two. Neither even do you possess the strength of Titus Pontius the centurion; is he, therefore, the more excellent man? Only let there be a moderate degree of strength, and let every man exert himself as much as he can; and in truth that man will not be absorbed in regretting the want of strength. Milo, at Olympia, is said to have gone over the course while supporting on his shoulders a live ox. Whether, then, would you rather have this strength of body, or Pythagoras' strength of intellect, bestowed upon you? In a word, enjoy that blessing while you have it; when it is gone, do not lament it, unless, indeed, young men ought to lament the loss of boyhood, and those a little advanced in age the loss of adolescence. There is a definite career in life, and one way of nature, and that a simple one; and to every part of life its own peculiar period has been assigned; so that both the feebleness of boys, and the high spirit of young men, and the steadiness of now fixt manhood, and the maturity of old age, have something natural which ought to be enjoyed in their own time. I suppose that you hear, Scipio, what your grandfather's host, Masinissa,[8] is doing at this day, at the age of ninety. When he has commenced a journey on foot, he never mounts at all; when on horseback, he never dismounts; by no rain, by no cold, is he prevailed upon to have his head covered; that there is in him the greatest hardiness of frame; and therefore he performs all the duties and functions of a king. Exercise, therefore, and temperance, even in old age, can preserve some remnant of our pristine vigor.

Is there no strength in old age? neither is strength exacted from old age. Therefore, by our laws and institutions, our time of life is relieved from those tasks which can not be supported without strength. Accordingly, so far are we from being compelled to do what we can not do that we are not even compelled to do as much as we can. But so feeble are many old men that they can not execute any task of duty or any function of life whatever; but that in truth is not the peculiar fault of old age, but belongs in common to bad health. How feeble was the son of Publius Africanus, he who adopted you. What feeble health, or rather no health at all, had he! and had that not been so, he would have been the second luminary of the state; for to his paternal greatness of soul a richer store of learning had been added. What wonder, therefore, in old men if they are sometimes weak when even young men can not escape that.

We must make a stand, Scipio and Laelius, against old age, and its faults must be atoned for by activity; we must fight, as it were, against disease, and in like manner against old age. Regard must be paid to health; moderate exercises must be adopted; so much of meat and drink must be taken that the strength may be recruited, not opprest. Nor, indeed, must the body alone be supported, but the mind and the soul much more; for these also, unless you drop oil on them as on a lamp, are extinguished by old age. And our bodies, indeed, by weariness and exercise, become opprest; but our minds are rendered buoyant by exercise. For as to those of whom Caecilius speaks, "foolish old men," fit characters for comedy, by these he denotes the credulous, the forgetful, the dissolute, which are the faults not of old age, but of inactive, indolent, drowsy old age. As petulance and lust belong to the young more than to the old, yet not to all young men, but to those who are not virtuous; so that senile folly, which is commonly called dotage, belongs to weak old men, and not to all. Four stout sons, five daughters, so great a family, and such numerous dependents, did Appius manage, altho both old and blind; for he kept his mind intent like a bow, nor did he languidly sink under the weight of old age. He retained not only authority, but also command, over his family; the slaves feared him; the children respected him; all held him dear; there prevailed in that house the manners and good discipline of our fathers. For on this condition is old age honored if it maintains itself, if it keeps up its own right, if it is subservient to no one, if even to its last breath it exercises control over its dependents. For, as I like a young man in whom there is something of the old, so I like an old man in whom there is something of the young; and he who follows this maxim, in body will possibly be an old man, but he will never be an old man in mind.

I have in hand my seventh book of Antiquities; I am collecting all the materials of our early history; of all the famous causes which I have defended; I am now completing the pleadings;[9] I am employed on a law of augurs, of pontiffs, of citizens. I am much engaged also in Greek literature, and, after the manner of the Pythagoreans, for the purpose of exercising my memory, I call to mind in the evening what I have said, heard, and done on each day. These are the exercises of the understanding; these are the race-courses of the mind; while I am perspiring and toiling over these, I do not greatly miss my strength of body. I attend my friends, I come into the senate very often, and spontaneously bring forward things much and long thought of, and I maintain them by strength of mind, not of body; and if I were unable to perform these duties, yet my couch would afford me amusement, when reflecting on those matters which I was no longer able to do, but that I am able is owing to my past life; for, by a person who always lives in these pursuits and labors, it is not perceived when old age steals on. Thus gradually and unconsciously life declines into old age; nor is its thread suddenly broken, but the vital principle is consumed by length of time.

Then follows the third topic of blame against old age, that they say it has no pleasures. Oh, noble privilege of age! if indeed it takes from us that which is in youth the greatest defect. For listen, most excellent young men, to the ancient speech of Archytas[10] of Tarentum, a man eminently great and illustrious, which was reported to me when I, a young man, was at Tarentum with Quintus Maximus. He said that no more deadly plague than the pleasure of the body was inflicted on men by nature; for the passions, greedy of that pleasure, were in a rash and unbridled manner incited to possess it; that hence arose treasons against one's country, hence the ruining of states, hence clandestine conferences with enemies—in short, that there was no crime, no wicked act, to the undertaking of which the lust of pleasure did not impel; but that fornications and adulteries and every such crime were provoked by no other allurements than those of pleasure. And whereas either nature or some god had given to man nothing more excellent than his mind, that to this divine function and gift, nothing was so hostile as pleasure; since where lust bore sway, there was no room for self-restraint; and in the realm of pleasure, virtue could by no possibility exist. And that this might be the better understood, he begged you to imagine in your mind any one actuated by the greatest pleasure of the body that could be enjoyed; he believed no one would doubt but that so long as the person was in that state of delight, he would be able to consider nothing in his mind, to attain nothing by reason, nothing by reflection; wherefore that there was nothing so detestable and so destructive as pleasure, inasmuch as that when it was excessive and very prolonged, it extinguished all the light of the soul.

Nearchus of Tarentum, our host, who had remained throughout in friendship with the Roman people, said he had heard from older men that Archytas held this conversation with Caius Pontius the Samnite, the father of him by whom, in the Caudian[11] battle, Spurius Postumius and Titus Veturius, the consuls, were overcome, on which occasion Plato the Athenian had been present at that discourse; and I find that he came to Tarentum in the consulship of Lucius Camillus and Appius Claudius.[12] Wherefore do I adduce this? that we may understand that if we could not by reason and wisdom despise pleasure, great gratitude would be due to old age for bringing it to pass that that should not be a matter of pleasure which is not a matter of duty. For pleasure is hostile to reason, hinders deliberation, and, so to speak, closes the eyes of the mind, nor does it hold any intercourse with virtue. I indeed acted reluctantly in expelling from the senate Lucius Flaminius, brother of that very brave man Titus Flaminius,[13] seven years after he had been Consul; but I thought that his licentiousness should be stigmatized. For that man, when he was Consul in Gaul, was prevailed on at a banquet by a courtezan to behead one of those who were in chains, condemned on a capital charge. He escaped in the censorship of his brother Titus, who had immediately preceded me; but so profligate and abandoned an act of lust could by no means be allowed to pass by me and Flaccus, since with private infamy it combined the disgrace of the empire.

I have often heard from my elders, who said that, in like manner, they, when boys, had heard from old men, that Caius Fabricius was wont to wonder that when he was ambassador to King Pyrrhus, he had heard from Cineas the Thessalian that there was a certain person at Athens who profest himself a wise man, and that he was accustomed to say that all things which we did were to be referred to pleasure; and that hearing him say so, Manius Curius and Titus Coruncanius were accustomed to wish that that might be the persuasion of the Samnites and Pyrrhus[14] himself, that they might the more easily be conquered when they had given themselves up to pleasure. Manius Curius had lived with Publius Decius, who, five years before the consulship of the former, had devoted himself for the commonwealth in his fourth consulship. Fabricius had been acquainted with him, and Coruncanius had also known him, who, as well from his own conduct in life, as from the great action of him whom I mention, Publius Decius, judged that there was doubtless something in its own nature excellent and glorious, which should be followed for its own sake, and which, scorning and despising pleasure, all the worthiest men pursued....

But why do I refer to others? Let me now return to myself. First of all, I always had associates in clubs; and clubs were established when I was questor, on the Idaean worship of the great mother being adopted. Therefore I feasted with my associates altogether in a moderate way, but there was a kind of fervor peculiar to that time of life, and as that advances, all things will become every day more subdued. For I did not calculate the gratification of those banquets by the pleasures of the body so much as by the meetings of friends and conversations. For well did our ancestors style the reclining of friends at an entertainment, because it carried with it a union of life, by the name "convivium" better than the Greeks do, who call this same thing as well by the name of "compotatio" as "concoenatio"; so that what in that kind (of pleasures) is of the least value that they appear most to approve of.

For my part, on account of the pleasure of conversation, I am delighted also with seasonable entertainments, not only with those of my own age, of whom very few survive, but with those of your age, and with you; and I give great thanks to old age, which has increased my desire for conversation, and taken away that of eating and drinking. But even if such things delight any person (that I may not appear altogether to have declared war against pleasure, of which perhaps a certain limited degree is even natural), I am not aware that even in these pleasures themselves old age is without enjoyment. For my part, the presidencies established by our ancestors delight me; and that conversation, which after the manner of our ancestors, is kept up over our cups from the top of the table; and the cups, as in the Symposium of Xenophon, small and dewy, and the cooling of the wine in summer, and in turn either the sun, or the fire in winter—practises which I am accustomed to follow among the Sabines also—and I daily join a party of neighbors, which we prolong with various conversation till late at night, as far as we can. But there is not, as it were, so ticklish a sensibility of pleasures in old men. I believe it; but then neither is there the desire. However, nothing is irksome unless you long for it. Well did Sophocles, when a certain man inquired of him advanced in age whether he enjoyed venereal pleasures, reply, "The gods give me something better; nay, I have run away from them with gladness, as from a wild and furious tyrant." For to men fond of such things, it is perhaps disagreeable and irksome to be without them; but to the contented and satisfied it is more delightful to want them than to enjoy them; and yet he does not want who feels no desire; therefore I say that this freedom from desire is more delightful than enjoyment.

But if the prime of life has more cheerful enjoyment of those very pleasures, in the first place they are but petty objects which it enjoys, as I have said before; then they are those of which old age, if it does not abundantly possess them, is not altogether destitute. As he is more delighted with Turpio Ambivius, who is spectator on the foremost bench, yet he also is delighted who is in the hindmost; so youth having a close view of pleasures is perhaps more gratified; but old age is as much delighted as is necessary in viewing them at a distance. However, of what high value are the following circumstances, that the soul, after it has served out, as it were, its time under lust, ambition, contention, enmities, and all the passions, shall retire within itself, and, as the phrase is, live with itself? But if it has, as it were, food for study and learning, nothing is more delightful than an old age of leisure. I saw Caius Gallus, the intimate friend of your father, Scipio, almost expiring in the employment of calculating the sky and the earth. How often did daylight overtake him when he had begun to draw some figure by night, how often did night, when he had begun in the morning! How it did delight him to predict to us the eclipses of the sun and the moon, long before their occurrence! What shall we say in the case of pursuits less dignified, yet, notwithstanding, requiring acuteness! How Naevius did delight in his Punic war! how Plautus in his Truculentus! how in his Pseudolus! I saw also the old man Livy,[15] who, tho he had brought a play upon the stage six years before I was born, in the consulship of Cento and Tuditanus, yet advanced in age even to the time of my youth. Why should I speak of Publius Licinius Crassus' study both of pontifical and civil law? or of the present Publius Scipio, who within these few days was created chief pontiff? Yet we have seen all these persons whom I have mentioned, ardent in these pursuits when old men. But as to Marcus Cethegus, whom Ennius rightly called the "marrow of persuasion," with what great zeal did we see him engage in the practise of oratory, even when an old man! What pleasures, therefore, arising from banquets, or plays, or harlots, are to be compared with these pleasures? And these, indeed, are the pursuits of learning, which too, with the sensible and well educated, increase along with their age; so that is a noble saying of Solon, when he says in a certain verse, as I observed before, that he grew old learning many things every day—than which pleasure of the mind, certainly, none can be greater.

I come now to the pleasures of husbandmen, with which I am excessively delighted, which are not checked by any old age, and appear in my mind to make the nearest approach to the life of a wise man. For they have relation to the earth, which never refuses command, and never returns without interest that which it hath received; but sometimes with less, generally with very great interest. And yet for my part it is not only the product, but the virtue and nature of the earth itself that delight me, which, when in its softened and subdued bosom it has received the scattered seed, first of all confines what is hidden within it, from which harrowing, which produces that effect, derives its name (occatio); then, when it is warmed by heat and its own compression, it spreads it out, and elicits from it the verdant blade, which, supported by the fibers of the roots, gradually grows up, and, rising on a jointed stalk, is now enclosed in a sheath, as if it were of tender age, out of which, when it hath shot up, it then pours forth the fruit of the ear, piled in due order, and is guarded by a rampart of beards against the pecking of the smaller birds. Why should I, in the case of vines, tell of the plantings, the risings, the stages of growth? That you may know the repose and amusement of my old age, I assure you that I can never have enough of that gratification. For I pass over the peculiar nature of all things which are produced from the earth; which generates such great trunks and branches from so small a grain of the fig or from the grape-stone, or from the minutest seeds of other fruits and roots; shoots, plants, twigs, quicksets, layers, do not these produce the effect of delighting any one even to admiration? The vine, indeed, which by nature is prone to fall, and is borne down to the ground, unless it be propt, in order to raise itself up, embraces with its tendrils, as it were with hands, whatever it meets with, which, as it creeps with manifold and wandering course, the skill of the husbandmen pruning with the knife, restrains from running into a forest of twigs, and spreading too far in all directions.

Accordingly, in the beginning of spring, in those twigs which are left, there rises up as it were at the joints of the branches that which is called a bud, from which the nascent grape shows itself, which, increasing in size by the moisture of the earth and the heat of the sun, is at first very acid to the taste, and then as it ripens grows sweet, and being clothed with its large leaves does not want moderate warmth, and yet keeps off the excessive heat of the sun; than which what can be in fruit on the one hand more rich, or on the other hand more beautiful in appearance? Of which not only the advantage, as I said before, but also the cultivation and the nature itself delight me; the rows of props, the joining of the heads, the tying up and propagation of vines, and the pruning of some twigs, and the grafting of others, which I have mentioned. Why should I allude to irrigations, why to the diggings of the ground, why to the trenching by which the ground is made much more productive? Why should I speak of the advantage of manuring? I have treated of it in that book which I wrote respecting rural affairs, concerning which the learned Hesiod has not said a single word, tho he has written about the cultivation of the land. But Homer, who, as appears to me, lived many ages before, introduces Laertes soothing the regret which he felt for his son by tilling the land and manuring it. Nor indeed is rural life delightful by reason of corn-fields only and meadows and vineyards and groves, but also for its gardens and orchards; also for the feeding of cattle, the swarms of bees, and the variety of all kinds of flowers. Nor do plantings only give me delight, but also graftings, than which agriculture has invented nothing more ingenious....

Was then their old age to be pitied who amused themselves in the cultivation of land? In my opinion, indeed, I know not whether any other can be more happy; and not only in the discharge of duty, because to the whole race of mankind the cultivation of the land is beneficial; but also from the amusement, which I have mentioned, and that fulness and abundance of all things which are connected with the food of men, and also with the worship of the gods; so that, since some have a desire for these things, we may again put ourselves on good terms with pleasure. For the wine-cellar of a good and diligent master is always well stored; the oil-casks, the pantry also, the whole farmhouse is richly supplied; it abounds in pigs, kids, lambs, hens, milk, cheese, honey. Then, too, the countrymen themselves call the garden a second dessert. And then what gives a greater relish to these things is that kind of leisure labor, fowling and hunting. Why should I speak of the greenness of meadows, or the rows of trees, or the handsome appearance of vineyards and olive grounds? Let me cut the matter short. Nothing can be either more rich in use or more elegant in appearance than ground well tilled, to the enjoyment of which old age is so far from being an obstacle that it is even an invitation and allurement. For where can that age be better warmed either by basking in the sun or by the fire, or again be more healthfully refreshed by shades or waters? Let the young, therefore, keep to themselves their arms, horses, spears, clubs, tennis-ball, swimmings, and races; to us old men let them leave out of many amusements the tali and tesserae; and even in that matter it may be as they please, since old age can be happy without these amusements....

What, therefore, should I fear if after death I am sure either not to be miserable or to be happy? Altho who is so foolish, even if young, as to be assured that he will live even till the evening? Nay, that period of life has many more probabilities of death that ours has; young men more readily fall into diseases, suffer more severely, are cured with more difficulty, and therefore few arrive at old age. Did not this happen so we should live better and more wisely, for intelligence, and reflection, and judgment reside in old men, and if there had been none of them, no states could exist at all. But I return to the imminence of death. What charge is that against old age, since you see it to be common to youth also? I experienced not only in the case of my own excellent son, but also in that of your brothers, Scipio, men plainly marked out for the highest distinction, that death was common to every period of life. Yet a young man hopes that he will live a long time, which expectation an old man can not entertain. His hope is but a foolish one; for what can be more foolish than to regard uncertainties as certainties, delusions as truths? An old man indeed has nothing to hope for; yet he is in so much the happier state than a young one; since he has already attained what the other is only hoping for. The one is wishing to live long, the other has lived long.

And yet, good gods! what is there in man's life that can be called long? For allow the latest period; let us anticipate the age of the kings of Tartessii. For there dwelt, as I find it recorded, a man named Arganthonius at Gades;[16] who reigned for eighty years, and lived 120. But to my mind, nothing whatever seems of long duration to which there is any end. For when that arrives, then the time which has passed has flown away; that only remains which you have secured by virtue and right conduct. Hours indeed depart from us, and days and months and years; nor does past time ever return, nor can it be discovered what is to follow. Whatever time is assigned to each to live, with that he ought to be content; for neither need the drama be performed entire by the actor in order to give satisfaction, provided he be approved in whatever act he may be; nor need the wise man live till the plaudite. For the short period of life is long enough for living well and honorably, and if you should advance further, you need no more grieve than farmers do when the loveliness of spring-time hath passed, that summer and autumn have come. For spring represents the time of youth, and gives promise of the future fruits; the remaining seasons are intended for plucking and gathering in those fruits. Now the harvest of old age, as I have often said, is the recollection and abundance of blessings previously secured. In truth everything that happens agreeably to nature is to be reckoned among blessings. What, however, is so agreeable to nature as for an old man to die which even is the lot of the young, tho nature opposes and resists. And thus it is that young men seem to me to die just as when the violence of flame is extinguished by a flood of water; whereas old men die, as the exhausted fire goes out, spontaneously, without the exertion of any force; and as fruits when they are green are plucked by force from the trees, but when ripe and mellow drop off, so violence takes away their lives from youths, maturity from old men—a state which to me indeed is so delightful that the nearer I approach to death, I seem, as it were, to be getting sight of land, and at length, after a long voyage, to be just coming into harbor.

Of all the periods of life there is a definite limit; but of old age there is no limit fixt; and life goes on very well in it, so long as you are able to follow up and attend to the duty of your situation, and, at the same time, to care nothing about death; whence it happens that old age is even of higher spirit and bolder than youth. Agreeable to this was the answer given to Pisistratus,[17] the tyrant, by Solon, when on the former inquiring, "in reliance on what hope he so boldly withstood him," the latter is said to have answered, "on old age." The happiest end of life is this—when the mind and the other senses being unimpaired, the same nature which put it together takes asunder her own work. As in the case of a ship or a house, he who built them takes them down most easily; so the same nature which has compacted man most easily breaks him up. Besides, every fastening of glue, when fresh, is with difficulty torn asunder, but easily when tried by time. Hence it is that that short remnant of life should be neither greedily coveted nor without reason given up; and Pythagoras forbids us to abandon the station or post of life without the orders of our commander, that is, of God.[18] There is indeed a saying of the wise Solon in which he declares that he does not wish his own death to be unattended by the grief and lamentation of friends. He wishes, I suppose, that he should be dear to his friends. But I know not whether Ennius does not say with more propriety,

"Let no one pay me honor with tears, nor celebrate my funeral with mourning."

He conceives that a death ought not to be lamented when immortality follows. Besides, a dying man may have some degree of consciousness, but that for a short time, especially in the case of an old man; after death, indeed, consciousness either does not exist or it is a thing to be desired. But this ought to be a subject of study from our youth to be indifferent about death, without which study no one can be of tranquil mind. For die we certainly must, and it is uncertain whether or not on this very day. He, therefore, who at all hours dreads impending death, how can he be at peace in his mind? concerning which there seems to be no need of such long discussion, when I call to mind not only Lucius Brutus, who was slain in liberating his country; nor the two Decii, who spurred on their steeds to a voluntary death; nor Marcus Atilius,[19] who set out to execution that he might keep a promise pledged to the enemy; nor the two Scipios, who even with their very bodies sought to obstruct the march of the Carthaginians; nor your grandfather Lucius Paulus,[20] who by his death atoned for the temerity of his colleague in the disgraceful defeat at Cannae; nor Marcus Marcellus,[21] whose corpse not even the most merciless foe suffered to go without the honor of sepulture; but that our legions, as I have remarked in my Antiquities, have often gone with cheerful and undaunted mind to that place from which they believed that they should never return. Shall, then, well-instructed old men be afraid of that which young men, and they not only ignorant, but mere peasants, despise? On the whole, as it seems to me indeed, a satiety of all pursuits causes a satiety of life. There are pursuits peculiar to boyhood; do therefore young men regret the loss of them? There are also some of early youth; does settled age, which is called middle life, seek after these? There are also some of this period; neither are they looked for by old age. There are some final pursuits of old age; accordingly, as the pursuits of the earlier parts of life fall into disuse, so also do those of old age; and when this has taken place, satiety of life brings on the seasonable period of death.

Indeed, I do not see why I should not venture to tell you what I myself think concerning death; because I fancy I see it so much the more clearly in proportion as I am less distant from it. I am persuaded that your fathers, Publius Scipio and Caius Laelius, men of the greatest eminence and very dear friends of mine, are living, and that life too which alone deserves the name of life. For while we are shut up in this prison of the body, we are fulfilling, as it were, the function and painful task of destiny; for the heaven-born soul has been degraded from its dwelling-place above, and, as it were, buried in the earth, a situation uncongenial to its divine and immortal nature. But I believe that the immortal gods have shed souls into human bodies, that beings might exist who might tend the earth, and by contemplating the order of the heavenly bodies might imitate it in the manner and regularity of their lives. Nor have reason and argument alone influenced me thus to believe, but likewise the high name and authority of the greatest philosophers. I used to hear that Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans, who were all but our neighbors, who were formerly called the Italian philosophers, had no doubt that we possess souls derived from the universal divine mind. Moreover, the arguments were conclusive to me which Socrates delivered on the last day of his life concerning the immortality of the soul—he who was pronounced by the oracle of Apollo the wisest of all men. But why say more? I have thus persuaded myself, such is my belief; that since such is the activity of our souls, so tenacious their memory of things past and their sagacity regarding things future, so many arts, so many sciences, so many discoveries, that the nature which comprizes these qualities can not be mortal; and since the mind is ever in action and has no source of motion, because it moves itself, I believe that it never will find any end of motion, because it never will part from itself; and that since the nature of the soul is uncompounded, and has not in itself any admixture heterogeneous and dissimilar to itself, I maintain that it can not undergo dissolution; and if this be not possible, it can not perish; and it is a strong argument that men know very many things before they are born, since when mere boys, while they are learning difficult subjects, they so quickly catch up numberless ideas, that they seem not to be learning them then for the first time, but to remember them, and to be calling them to recollection. Thus did our Plato argue....

Let me, if you please, revert to my own views. No one will ever persuade me that either your father, Paulus, or two grandfathers, Paulus and Africanus, or the father of Africanus, or his uncle, or the many distinguished men whom it is unnecessary to recount, aimed at such great exploits as might reach to the recollection of posterity had they not perceived in their mind that posterity belonged to them. Do you suppose, to boast a little of myself, after the manner of old men, that I should have undergone such great toils, by day and night, at home and in service, had I thought to limit my glory by the same bounds as my life? Would it not have been far better to pass an easy and quiet life without any toil or struggle? But I know not how my soul, stretching upward, has ever looked forward to posterity, as if, when it had departed from life, then at last it would begin to live. And, indeed, unless this were the case, that souls were immortal, the souls of the noblest of men would not aspire above all things to an immortality of glory.

Why need I adduce that the wisest man ever dies with the greatest equanimity, the most foolish with the least? Does it not seem to you that the soul, which sees more and further, sees that it is passing to a better state, while that body whose vision is duller, does not see it? I, indeed, am transported with eagerness to see your fathers, whom I have respected and loved; nor in truth is it those only I desire to meet whom I myself have known; but those also of whom I have heard or read, and have myself written. Whither, indeed, as I proceed, no one assuredly should easily force me back, nor, as they did with Pelias, cook me again to youth. For if any god should grant me that from this period of life I should become a child again and cry in the cradle, I should earnestly refuse it; nor in truth should I like, after having run, as it were, my course, to be called back to the starting-place from the goal. For what comfort has life? What trouble has it not, rather? But grant that it has; yet it assuredly has either satiety or limitation (of its pleasures). For I am not disposed to lament the loss of life, which many men, and those learned men too, have often done; neither do I regret that I have lived, since I have lived in such a way that I conceive I was not born in vain; and from this life I depart as from a temporary lodging, not as from a home.

For nature has assigned it to us as an inn to sojourn in, not a place of habitation. Oh, glorious day! when I shall depart to that divine company and assemblage of spirits, and quit this troubled and polluted scene. For I shall go not only to those great men of whom I have spoken before, but also to my son Cato, than whom never was better man born, nor more distinguished for pious affection, whose body was burned by me, whereas, on the contrary, it was fitting that mine should be burned by him. But his soul not deserting me, but oft looking back, no doubt departed to those regions whither it saw that I myself was destined to come. This, tho a distress to me, I seemed patiently to endure; not that I bore it with indifference, but I comforted myself with the recollection that the separation and distance between us would not continue long. For these reasons, O Scipio (since you said that you with Laelius were accustomed to wonder at this), old age is tolerable to me, and not only not irksome, but even delightful. And if I am wrong in this, that I believe the souls of men to be immortal, I willingly delude myself; nor do I desire that this mistake, in which I take pleasure, should be wrested from me as long as I live; but if I, when dead, shall have no consciousness, as some narrow-minded philosophers imagine, I do not fear lest dead philosophers should ridicule this my delusion. But if we are not destined to be immortal, yet it is a desirable thing for a man to expire at his fit time. For, as nature prescribes a boundary to all other things, so does she also to life. Now old age is the consummation of life, just as of a play, from the fatigue of which we ought to escape, especially when satiety is super-added. This is what I had to say on the subject of old age, to which may you arrive! that, after having experienced the truth of those statements which you have heard from me, you may be enabled to give them your approbation.



Yes, my dear Servius, I could indeed wish you had been with me, as you say, at the time of my terrible trial. How much it was in your power to help me if you had been here, by sympathizing with, and I may almost say, sharing equally in my grief, I readily perceive from the fact that after reading your letter I now feel myself considerably more composed; for not only was all that you wrote just what is best calculated to soothe affliction, but you yourself in comforting me showed that you too had no little pain at heart. Your son Servius, however, has made it clear, by every kindly attention which such an occasion would permit of, both how great his respect was for myself and also how much pleasure his kind feeling for me was likely to give you; and you may be sure that, while such attentions from him have often been more pleasant to me, they have never made me more grateful.

It is not, however, only your arguments and your equal share—I may almost call it—in this affliction which comforts me, but also your authority; because I hold it shame in me not to be bearing my trouble in a way that you, a man endowed with such wisdom, think it ought to be borne. But at times I feel broken down, and I scarcely make any struggle against my grief, because those consolations fail me which under similar calamities were never wanting to any of those other people whom I put before myself as models for imitation. Both Fabius Maximus, for example, when he lost a son who had held the consulship, the hero of many a famous exploit; and Lucius Paulus, from whom two were taken in one week; and your own kinsman Gallus; and Marcus Cato, who was deprived of a son of the rarest talents and the rarest virtue—all these lived in times when their individual affliction was capable of finding a solace in the distinctions they used to earn from their country.

For me, however, after being stript of all those distinctions which you yourself recall to me, and which I had won for myself by unparalleled exertions, only that one solace remained which has been torn away. My thoughts were not diverted by work for my friends, or by the administration of affairs of state; there was no pleasure in pleading in the courts; I could not bear the very sight of the Senate House; I felt, as was indeed too true, that I had lost all the harvest of both my industry and my success. But whenever I wanted to recollect that all this was shared with you and other friends I could name, and whenever I was breaking myself in and forcing my spirit to bear these things with patience, I always had a refuge to go to where I might find peace, and in whose words of comfort and sweet society I could rid me of all my pains and griefs. Whereas now, under this terrible blow, even those old wounds which seemed to have healed up are bleeding afresh; for it is impossible for me now to find such a refuge from my sorrows at home in the business of the state as in those days I did in that consolation of home, which was always in store whenever I came away sad from thoughts of state to seek for peace in her happiness. And so I stay away both from home and from public life; because home now is no more able to make up for the sorrow I feel when I think of our country than our country is for my sorrow at home. I am therefore looking forward all the more eagerly to your coming, and long to see you as early as may possibly be; no greater alleviation can be offered me than a meeting between us for friendly intercourse and conversation. I hope, however, that your return is to take place, as I hear it is, very shortly. As for myself, while there are abundant reasons for wanting to see you as soon as possible, my principal one is in order that we may discuss together beforehand the best method of conduct for present circumstances, which must entirely be adapted to the wishes of one man only, a man nevertheless who is far-seeing and generous, and also, as I think I have thoroughly ascertained, to me not at all ill-disposed and to you extremely friendly. But admitting this, it is still a matter for much deliberation what is the line—I do not say of action, but of keeping quiet—that we ought by his good leave and favor to adopt. Farewell!



A spirit altogether brave and elevated is chiefly discernible by two characters. The first consists in a low estimate of mere outward circumstances, since it is convinced that a man ought to admire, desire, or court nothing but what is virtuous and becoming; and that he ought to succumb to no man, nor to any perturbation either of spirit or fortune. The other thing is that, possest of such a spirit as I have just mentioned, you should perform actions which are great and of the greatest utility, but extremely arduous, full of difficulties and danger both to life and the many things which pertain to life.

In the latter of those two characters consist all the glory, the majesty, and, I add, the utility; but the causes and the efficient means that form great men is in the former, which contains the principles that elevate the soul, and gives it a contempt for temporary considerations. Now, this very excellence consists in two particulars: you are to deem that only to be good is to be virtuous, and that you be free from all mental irregularity. For we are to look upon it as the character of a noble and an elevated soul, to slight all those considerations that the generality of mankind account great and glorious, and to despise them, upon firm and durable principles; while strength of mind and greatness of resolution are discerned in bearing those calamities which, in the course of man's life, are many and various, so as not to be driven from your natural disposition, nor from the dignity of a wise man; for it is not consistent that he who is not subdued by fear should be subjugated by passion, nor that he who has shown himself invincible by toil should be conquered by pleasure. Wherefore, we ought to watch and avoid the love of money; for nothing so truly characterizes a narrow, groveling disposition as to love riches; and nothing is more noble and more exalted than to despise riches if you have them not, and if you have them, to employ them in beneficence and liberality.

An inordinate passion for glory, as I have already observed, is likewise to be guarded against; for it deprives us of liberty, the only prize for which men of elevated sentiments ought to contend. Power is so far from being desirable in itself that it sometimes ought to be refused, and sometimes to be resigned. We should likewise be free from all disorders of the mind, from all violent passion and fear, as well as languor, voluptuousness, and anger, that we may possess that tranquillity and security which confer alike consistency and dignity. Now, many there are, and have been, who, courting that tranquillity which I have mentioned here, have withdrawn themselves from public affairs and taken refuge in retirement. Among these, some of the noblest and most prominent of our philosophers; and some persons, of strict and grave dispositions, were unable to bear with the manners either of the people or their rulers; and some have lived in the country, amusing themselves with the management of their private affairs. Their aim was the same as that of the powerful, that they might enjoy their liberty, without wanting anything or obeying any person; for the essence of liberty is to live just as you please....

But, since most persons are of opinion that the achievements of war are more glorious than civil affairs, this judgment needs to be restricted; for many, as generally is the case with high minds and enterprising spirits, especially if they are adapted to military life and are fond of warlike achievements, have often sought opportunities of war from their fondness for glory; but if we are willing to judge truly, many are the civil employments of greater importance, and of more renown, than the military.

For tho Themistocles is justly praised—his name is now more illustrious than that of Solon, and his glorious victory at Salamis is mentioned preferably to the policy of Solon, by which he first confirmed the power of the Areopagus—the one should not be considered more illustrious than the other; for the one availed his country only for once—the other is lastingly advantageous; because by it the laws of the Athenians, and the institutions of their ancestors, are preserved. Now, Themistocles could not have stated any respect in which he benefited the Areopagus, but Solon might with truth declare that Themistocles had been advantaged by him; for the war was carried on by the counsels of that senate which was constituted by Solon.

We may make the same observation with regard to Pausanias[24] and Lysander among the Lacedaemonians; for all the addition of empire which their conquests are supposed to have brought to their country is not to be compared to the laws and economy of Lycurgus; for indeed, owing to these very causes they had armies more subordinate and courageous. In my eyes, Marcus Scaurus (who flourished when I was but a boy) was not inferior to Caius Marius;[25] nor, after I came to have a concern in the government, Quintus Catulus[26] to Cneius Pompey. An army abroad is but of small service, unless there be a wise administration at home. Nor did that good man and great general Africanus perform a more important service to his country when he razed Numantia than did that private citizen P. Nasica[27] when at the same period he killed Tiberius Gracchus. An action which it is true was not merely of a civil nature; for it approaches to a military character, as being the result of force and courage; but it was an action performed without an army, and from political considerations....

Now all that excellence which springs from a lofty and noble nature is altogether produced by the mental and not by the corporeal powers. Meanwhile, the body ought to be kept in such action and order as that it may be always ready to obey the dictates of reason and wisdom, in carrying them into execution, and in persevering under hardships. But with regard to that honestas we are treating of, it consists wholly in the thoughtful application of the mind, by which the civilians who preside over public affairs are equally serviceable to their country as they who wage wars. For it often happens that by such counsels wars are either not entered into or they are brought to a termination; sometimes they are even undertaken, as the third Punic war was by the advice of Marcus Cato, whose authority was powerful, even after he was dead.

Wisdom in determining is therefore preferable to courage in fighting; but in this we are to take care that we are not swayed by an aversion to fighting rather than by a consideration of expediency. Now in engaging in war we ought to make it appear that we have no other view than peace. But the character of a brave and resolute man is not to be ruffled with adversity, and not to be in such confusion as to quit his post, as we say, but to preserve a presence of mind, and the exercise of reason, without departing from his purpose. And while this is the characteristic of a lofty spirit, so this also is that of a powerful intellect; namely, to anticipate futurity in thought, and to conclude beforehand what may happen on either side, and, upon that, what measures to pursue, and never be surprized so as to say, "I had not thought of that." Such are the operations of a genius, capacious and elevated; of such a one as relies on its own prudence and counsel; but to rush precipitately into the field, and to encounter an enemy with mere physical force has somewhat in it that is barbarous and brutal. When the occasion, however, and its necessity compel it, we should resist with force, and prefer death to slavery or dishonor.



Should I say that I am not distrest by the loss of Scipio, philosophers may determine with what propriety I should do so; but assuredly I should be guilty of falsehood. For I am distrest at being bereaved of such a friend, as no one, I consider, will ever be to me again, and, as I can confidently assert, no one ever was; but I am not destitute of a remedy. I comfort myself, and especially with this consolation, that I am free from that error by which most men, on the decease of friends, are wont to be tormented; for I feel that no evil has happened to Scipio; it has befallen myself, if indeed it has happened to any. Now to be above measure distrest at one's own troubles is characteristic of the man who loves not his friend, but himself. In truth, as far as he is concerned, who can deny that his end was glorious? for unless he had chosen to wish for immortality, of which he had not the slightest thought, what did he fail to obtain which it was lawful for a man to wish for? A man who, as soon as he grew up, by his transcendent merit far surpassed those sanguine hopes of his countrymen which they had conceived regarding him when a mere boy, who never stood for the consulship, yet was made Consul twice; on the first occasion, before his time; on the second, at the proper age as regarded himself, tho for the commonwealth almost too late; who, by overthrowing two cities,[29] most hostile to our empire, put an end not only to all present but all future wars. What shall I say of his most engaging manners; of his dutiful conduct to his mother; his generosity to his sisters; his kindness to his friends; his uprightness toward all? These are known to you; and how dear he was to the state was displayed by its mourning at his death....

The authority of the ancients has more weight with me, either that of our own ancestors, who paid such sacred honors to the dead, which surely they would not have done if they thought those honors did in no way affect them, or that of those who once lived in this country, and enlightened, by their institutions and instructions, Magna Graecia[30] (which now indeed is entirely destroyed, but then was flourishing), or of him who was pronounced by the oracle of Apollo to be the wisest of men, who did not say first one thing and then another, as is generally done, but always the same; namely, that the souls of men are divine, and that when they have departed from the body, a return to heaven is opened to them, and the speediest to the most virtuous and just. This same opinion was also held by Scipio; for he indeed, a very few days before his death, as if he had a presentiment of it, when Philus and Manilius were present, and many others, and you also, Scaevola, had gone with me, for three days descanted on the subject of government; of which discussion the last was almost entirely on the immortality of souls, which he said he had learned in sleep through a vision from Africanus. If this be the fact, that the spirit of the best man most easily flies away in death, as from the prison-house and chains of the body, whose passage to the gods can we conceive to have been readier than that of Scipio? Wherefore, to be afflicted at this his departure, I fear, would be the part rather of an envious person than of a friend....

But yet I so enjoy the recollection of our friendship that I seem to have lived happily because I lived with Scipio, with whom I had a common anxiety on public and private affairs, and with whom my life both at home and abroad was associated, and there existed that, wherein consists the entire strength of friendship, an entire agreement of inclinations, pursuits, and sentiments. That character for wisdom, therefore, which Fannius a little while ago mentioned does not so delight me, especially since it is undeserved, as the hope that the recollection of our friendship will last forever. And it is the more gratifying to me because scarcely in the history of the world are three or four pairs of friends mentioned by name; and I indulge in the hope that the friendship of Scipio and Laelius will be remembered....

I can only urge you to prefer friendship to all human possessions; for there is nothing so suited to our nature, so well adapted to prosperity or adversity. But first of all, I am of opinion that except among the virtuous friendship can not exist; I do not analyze this principle too closely, as they do who inquire with too great nicety into those things, perhaps with truth on their side, but with little general advantage; for they maintain that there is no good man but the wise man. Be it so, yet they define wisdom to be such as no mortal has ever attained to; whereas we ought to contemplate those things which exist in practise and in common life, and not the subjects of fictions or of our own wishes. I would never pretend to say that Caius Fabricius, Marius Curius, and Titus Coruncanius, whom our ancestors esteemed wise, were wise according to the standard of these moralists. Wherefore let them keep to themselves the name of wisdom, both invidious and unintelligible, and let them allow that these were good men—nay, they will not even do that; they will declare that this can not be granted except to a wise man.

Let us therefore proceed with our dull genius, as they say. Those who so conduct themselves and so live that their honor, their integrity, their justice, and liberality are approved; so that there is not in them any covetousness, or licentiousness, or boldness; and that they are of great consistency, as those men whom I have mentioned above—let us consider these worthy of the appellation of good men, as they have been accounted such, because they follow (as far as men are able) nature, which is the best guide of a good life. For I seem to myself to have this view, that we are so formed by nature that there should be a certain social tie among all; stronger, however, as each approaches nearer us. Accordingly, citizens are preferable to foreigners, and relatives to strangers; for with the last-named, Nature herself has created a friendly feeling, tho this has not sufficient strength. For in this respect friendship is superior to relationship, because from relationship benevolence can be withdrawn and from friendship it can not; for with the withdrawal of benevolence the very name of friendship is done away, while that of relationship remains. Now how great the power of friendship is may be best gathered from this consideration, that out of the boundless society of the human race, which Nature herself has joined together, friendship is a matter so contracted, and brought into so narrow a compass, that the whole of affection is confined to two, or at any rate to very few.

Now friendship is nothing else than a complete union of feeling on all subjects, divine and human, accompanied by kindly feeling and attachment, than which, indeed, I am not aware whether, with the exception of wisdom, anything better has been bestowed on man by the immortal gods. Some men prefer riches, others good health, others influence, others again honors, many prefer even pleasures; the last, indeed, is the characteristic of beasts; while the former are fleeting and uncertain, depending not so much on our own purpose as on the fickleness of fortune. Whereas those who place the supreme good in virtue, therein do admirably; but this very virtue itself both begets and constitutes friendship; nor without this virtue can friendship exist at all. Now let us define this virtue according to the usage of life and of our common language; and let us not measure it, as certain learned persons do, by pomp of language; and let us include among the good those who are so accounted—the Paulli, the Catos, the Galli, the Scipios, and the Phili; with these men ordinary life is content; and let us pass over those who are nowhere found to exist. Among men of this kind, therefore, friendship finds facilities so great that I can scarcely describe them.

In the first place—to whom can life be "worth living," as Ennius says, who does not repose on the mutual kind feeling of some friend? What can be more delightful than to have one to whom you can speak on all subjects just as to yourself? Where would be the great enjoyment in prosperity if you had not one to rejoice in it equally with yourself? And adversity would indeed be difficult to endure without some one who would bear it even with greater regret than yourself. In short, all other objects that are sought after are severally suited to some one single purpose—riches, that you may spend them; power that you may be courted; honors, that you may be extolled; pleasures, that you may enjoy them; good health, that you may be exempt from harm, and perform the functions of the body. Whereas friendship comprizes the greatest number of objects possible; wherever you turn yourself, it is at hand; shut out of no place, never out of season, never irksome; and therefore we do not use fire and water, as they say, on more occasions than we do friendship. And I am not now speaking of commonplace or ordinary friendship (tho even that brings delight and benefit), but of real and true friendship, such as belonged to those of whom very few are recorded; for prosperity, friendship renders more brilliant, and adversity more supportable, by dividing and communicating it.

And while friendship embraces very many and great advantages, she undoubtedly surpasses all in this, that she shines with a brilliant hope over the future, and never suffers the spirit to be weakened or to sink. Besides, he who looks on a true friend looks, as it were, upon a kind of image of himself; wherefore friends, tho absent, are still present; tho in poverty, they are rich; tho weak, yet in the enjoyment of health; and, what is still more difficult to assert, tho dead they are alive; so entirely does the honor, the memory, the regret of friends attend them; from which circumstance the death of the one seems to be happy, and the life of the other praiseworthy; nay, should you remove from nature the cement of kind feelings, neither a house nor a city will be able to stand; even the cultivation of the land will not continue. If it be not clearly perceived how great is the power of friendship and concord, it can be distinctly inferred from quarrels and dissensions; for what house is there so established, or what state so firmly settled, that may not utterly be overthrown by hatred and dissension? From which it may be determined how much advantage there is in friendship. They relate, indeed, that a certain learned man of Agrigentum[31] promulgated in Greek verses the doctrine that all things which cohere throughout the whole world, and all things that are the subjects of motion, are brought together by friendship, and are dispelled by discord; and this principle all men understand, and illustrate by their conduct. Therefore, if at any time any act of a friend has been exhibited, either in undergoing or in sharing dangers, who is there that does not extol such an act with the highest praise?...

Now if such be the influence of integrity, that we love it even in those whom we have never seen, and, what is much more, even in an enemy, what wonder if men's feelings are affected when they seem to discover the goodness and virtue of those with whom they may become connected by intercourse? altho love is confirmed by the reception of kindness, and by the discovery of an earnest sympathy, and by close familiarity, which things being added to the first emotion of the mind and the affections, there is kindled a large amount of kindly feeling. And if any imagine that this proceeds from a sense of weakness, so that there shall be secured a friend, by whom a man may obtain that which he wants, they leave to friendship a mean and, indeed, if I may so speak, anything but respectable origin, when they make her to be born of indigence and want; were this the case, then in proportion as a man judged that there were the least resources in himself, precisely in that degree would he be best qualified for friendship, whereas the fact is far otherwise. For just as a man has most confidence in himself, and as he is most completely fortified by worth and wisdom, so that he needs no one's assistance, and feels that all his resources reside in himself, in the same proportion he is most highly distinguished for seeking out and forming friendships. For what did Africanus want of me? Nothing whatever, nor indeed did I need aught from him; but I loved him from admiration of his excellence; he in turn perhaps was attached to me from some high opinion which he entertained of my character, and association fostered our affection. But altho many and great advantages ensued, yet it was not from any hope of these that the causes of our attachment sprang; for as we are beneficent and liberal not to exact favor in return (for we are not usurers in kind actions), but by nature are inclined to liberality, thus I think that friendship is to be desired, not attracted by the hope of reward, but because the whole of its profit consists in love only. From such opinions, they who, after the fashion of beasts, refer everything to pleasure, widely differ, and no great wonder, since they can not look up to anything lofty, magnificent, or divine who east all their thoughts on an object so mean and contemptible.

Therefore let us exclude such persons altogether from our discourse; and let us ourselves hold this opinion, that the sentiment of loving and the attachment of kind feelings are produced by nature when the evidence of virtue has been established; and they who have eagerly sought the last-named draw nigh and attach themselves to it, that they may enjoy the friendship and character of the individual they have begun to love, and that they may be commensurate and equal in affection, and more inclined to confer a favor than to claim any return. And let this honorable struggle be maintained between them; so not only will the greatest advantages be derived from friendship, but its origin from nature rather than from a sense of weakness will be at once more impressive and more true. For if it were expediency that cemented friendships, the same when changed would dissolve them; but because nature can never change, therefore true friendships are eternal....

Listen, then, my excellent friends, to the discussion which was very frequently held by me and Scipio on the subject of friendship; altho he indeed used to say that nothing was more difficult than that friendship should continue to the end of life; for it often happened either that the same course was not expedient to both parties or that they held different views of politics; he remarked also that the characters of men often changed, in some cases by adversity, in others by old age becoming oppressive; and he derived an authority for such notions from a comparison with early life, because the strongest attachments of boys are constantly laid aside with the praetexta; even if they should maintain it to manhood, yet sometimes it is broken off by rivalry, for a dowried wife, or some other advantage which they can not both attain. And even if men should be carried on still further in their friendship, yet that feeling is often undermined should they fall into rivalry for preferments; for there is no greater enemy to friendship than covetousness of money, in most men, and even in the best, an emulous desire of high offices and glory, in consequence of which the most bitter enmities have often arisen between the dearest friends. For great dissensions, and those in most instances justifiable, arise when some request is made of friends which is improper, as, for instance, that they should become either the ministers of their lust or their supporters in the perpetration of wrong; and they who refuse to do so, it matters not however virtuously, yet are accused of discarding the claims of friendship by those persons whom they are unwilling to oblige; but they who dare to ask anything of a friend, by their very request seem to imply that they would do anything for the sake of that friend; by the complaining of such persons, not only are long-established intimacies put an end to, but endless animosities are engendered. All these many causes, like so many fatalities, are ever threatening friendship, so that, he said, to escape them all seemed to him a proof not merely of wisdom, but even of good fortune....

Let this, therefore, be established as a primary law concerning friendship, that we expect from our friends only what is honorable, and for our friends' sake do what is honorable; that we should not wait till we are asked; that zeal be ever ready, and reluctance far from us; but that we take pleasure in freely giving our advice; that in our friendship, the influence of our friends, when they give good advice, should have great weight; and that this be employed to admonish not only candidly, but even severely, if the case shall require, and that we give heed to it when so employed; for, as to certain persons whom I understand to have been esteemed wise men in Greece, I am of opinion that some strange notions were entertained by them; but there is nothing which they do not follow up with too great subtlety; among the rest, that excessive friendships should be avoided, lest it should be necessary for one to feel anxiety for many; that every one has enough, and more than enough, of his own affairs; that to be needlessly implicated in those of other people is vexatious; that it was most convenient to hold the reins of friendship as loose as possible, so as either to tighten or slacken them when you please; for they argue that the main point toward a happy life is freedom from care, which the mind can not enjoy if one man be, as it were, in travail for others.

Nay, they tell us that some are accustomed to declare, still more unfeelingly (a topic which I have briefly touched upon just above), that friendships should be cultivated for the purpose of protection and assistance, and not for kind feeling or affection; and therefore the less a man possesses of independence and of strength, in the same degree he most earnestly desires friendships; that thence it arises that women seek the support of friendship more than men, and the poor more than the rich, and persons in distress rather than those who are considered prosperous. Admirable philosophy! for they seem to take away the sun from the world who withdraw friendship from life; for we receive nothing better from the immortal gods, nothing more delightful; for what is this freedom from care?—in appearances, indeed, flattering; but, in many eases, in reality to be disdained. Nor is it reasonable to undertake any honorable matter or action lest you should be anxious, or to lay it aside when undertaken; for if we fly from care, we must fly from virtue also; for it is impossible that she can, without some degree of distress, feel contempt and detestation for qualities opposed to herself; just as kind-heartedness for malice, temperance for profligacy, and bravery for cowardice. Accordingly, you see that upright men are most distrest by unjust actions; the brave with the cowardly; the virtuous with the profligate; and, therefore, this is the characteristic of a well-regulated mind, both to be well pleased with what is excellent and to be distrest with what is contrary. Wherefore, if trouble of mind befall a wise man (and assuredly it will, unless we suppose that all humanity is extirpated from his mind), what reason is there why we should altogether remove friendship from life, lest because of it we should take upon ourselves some troubles? for what difference is there (setting the emotions of the mind aside), I do not say between a man and a beast, but between a man and a stone, or log, or anything of that kind? For they do not deserve to be listened to who would have virtue to be callous and made of iron, as it were, which indeed is, as in other matters, so in friendship also, tender and susceptible; so that friends are loosened, as it were, by happy events, and drawn together by distresses.

Wherefore the anxiety which has often to be felt for a friend is not of such force that it should remove friendship from the world, any more than that the virtues, because they bring with them certain cares and troubles, should therefore be discarded. For when it produces friendship (as I said above), should any indication of virtue shine forth, to which a congenial mind may attach and unite itself—when this happens, affection must necessarily arise. For what is so unmeaning as to take delight in many vain things, such as preferments, glory, magnificent buildings, clothing and adornment of the body, and not to take an extreme delight in a soul endued with virtue, in such a soul as can either love or (so to speak) love in return? for there is nothing more delightful than the repayment of kindness and the interchange of devotedness and good offices. Now if we add this, which may with propriety be added, that nothing so allures and draws any object to itself as congeniality does friendship, it will of course be admitted as true that the good must love the good, and unite them to them selves, just as if connected by relationship and nature; for nothing is more apt to seek and seize on its like than nature. Wherefore this certainly is clear, Fannius and Scaevola (in my opinion), that among the good a liking for the good is, as it were, inevitable; and this indeed is appointed by Nature herself as the very fountain of friendship.

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