Quam quidem ad rem nos, ut videmur, magnum attulimus adiumentum hominibus nostris, ut non modo Graecarum litterarum rudes, sed etiam docti aliquantum se arbitrentur adeptos et ad dicendum et ad iudicandum. Sed tamen nostra legens non multum a Peripateticis dissidentia, quoniam utrique Socratici et Platonici volumus esse, de rebus ipsis utere tuo iudicio — nihil enim impedio — orationem autem Latinam efficies profecto legendis nostris pleniorem. Nec vero hoc arroganter dictum existimari velim. Nam philosophandi scientiam concedens multis, quod est oratoris proprium, apte, distincte, ornate dicere, quoniam in eo studio aetatem consumpsi, si id mihi assumo, videor id meo iure quodam modo vindicare. Et id quidem nemini video Graecorum adhuc contigisse, ut idem utroque in genere elaboraret sequereturque et illud forense dicendi et hoc quietum disputandi genus, nisi forte Demetrius Phalereus in hoc numero haberi potest, disputator subtilis, orator parum vehemens, dulcis tamen, ut Theophrasti discipulum possis agnoscere.
|Published (Last):||19 January 2016|
|PDF File Size:||15.45 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||11.82 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
My dear son Marcus, you have now been studying a full year under Cratippus, and that too in Athens, and you should be fully equipped with the practical precepts and the principles of philosophy; so much at least one might expect from the pre-eminence not only of your teacher but also of the city; the former is able to enrich you with learning, the latter to supply you with models.
Nevertheless, just as I for my own improvement have always combined Greek and Latin studies — and I have done this not only in the study of philosophy but also in the practice of oratory — so I recommend that you should do the same, so that you may have equal command of both languages. And it is in this very direction that I have, if I mistake not, rendered a great service to our countrymen, so that not only those who are unacquainted with Greek literature but even the cultured consider that they have gained much both in oratorical power and in mental training.
For all that, if you will read my philosophical books, you will be helped; my philosophy is not very different from that of the Peripatetics for both they and I claim to be followers of Socrates and Plato. As to the conclusions you may reach, I leave that to your own judgment for I would put no hindrance in your way , but by reading my philosophical writings you will be sure to render your mastery of the Latin language more complete.
But I would by no means have you think that this is said boastfully. For while the orations exhibit a more vigorous style, yet the unimpassioned, restrained style of my philosophical productions is also worth cultivating. Moreover, for the same man to succeed in both departments, both in the forensic style and in that of calm philosophic discussion has not, I observe, been the good fortune of any one of the Greeks so far, unless, perhaps, Demetrius of Phalerum can be reckoned in that number — a clever reasoner, indeed, and, though rather a spiritless orator, he is yet charming, so that you can recognize in him the disciple of Theophrastus.
But let others judge how much I have accomplished in each pursuit; I have at least attempted both. I feel the same way about Aristotle and Isocrates, each of whom, engrossed in his own profession, undervalued that of the other. But since I have decided to write you a little now and a great deal by and by , I wish, if possible, to begin with a matter most suited at once to your years and to my position.
Although philosophy offers many problems, both important and useful, that have been fully and carefully discussed by philosophers, those teachings which have been handed down on the subject of moral duties seem to have the widest practical application. For no phase of life, whether public or private, whether in business or in the home, whether one is working on what concerns oneself alone or dealing with another, can be without its moral duty; on the discharge of such duties depends all that is morally right, and on their neglect all that is morally wrong in life.
But there are some schools that distort all notions of duty by the theories they propose touching the supreme good and the supreme evil. For he who posits the supreme good as having no connection with virtue and measures it not by a moral standard but by his own interests — if he should be consistent and not rather at times over-ruled by his better nature, he could value neither friendship nor justice nor generosity; and brave he surely cannot possibly be that counts pain the supreme evil, nor temperate he that holds pleasure to be the supreme good.
If, therefore these schools should claim to be consistent, they could not say anything about duty; and no fixed, invariable, natural rules of duty can be posited except by those who say that moral goodness is worth seeking solely or chiefly for its own sake.
Accordingly, the teaching of ethics is the peculiar right of the Stoics, the Academicians, and the Peripatetics; for the theories of Aristo, Pyrrho, and Erillus have been long since rejected; and vet they would have the right to discuss duty if they had left us any power of choosing between things, so that there might be a way of finding out what duty is. I shall, therefore, at this time and in this investigation follow chiefly the Stoics, not as a translator, but, as is my custom, I shall at my own option and discretion draw from those sources in such measure and in such manner as shall suit my purpose.
For every systematic development of any subject ought to begin with a definition, so that everyone may understand what the discussion is about. Every treatise on duty has two parts: one, dealing with the doctrine of the supreme good; the other with the practical rules by which daily life in all its bearings may be regulated.
The following questions are illustrative of the first part: whether all duties are absolute; whether one duty is more important than another; and so on. But as regards special duties for which positive rules are laid down, though they are affected by the doctrine of the supreme good, still the fact is not so obvious, because they seem rather to look to the regulation of everyday life; and it is these special duties that I propose to treat at length in the following books.
Absolute duty we may, I presume, call "right," for the Greeks call it katorqoma katorthoma , while the ordinary duty they call kaqekon kathekon. And the meaning of those terms they fix thus: whatever is right they define as "absolute" duty, but "mean" duty, they say, is duty for the performance of which an adequate reason may be rendered.
And then they examine and consider the question whether the action contemplated is or is not conducive to comfort and happiness in life, to the command of means and wealth, to influence, and to power, by which they may be able to help themselves and their friends; this whole matter turns upon a question of expediency.
The third type of question arises when that which seems to be expedient seems to conflict with that which is morally right; for when expediency seems to be pulling one way, while moral right seems to be calling back in the opposite direction, the result is that the mind is distracted in its inquiry and brings to it the irresolution that is born of deliberation.
Thus the question which Panaetius thought threefold ought, we find, to be divided into five parts. First, therefore, we must discuss the moral — and that, under two sub-heads; secondly, in the same manner, the expedient; and finally, the cases where they must be weighed against each other.
First of all, Nature has endowed every species of living creature with the instinct of self-preservation, of avoiding what seems likely to cause injury to life or limb, and of procuring and providing everything needful for life — food, shelter, and the like.
A common property of all creatures is also the reproductive instinct the purpose of which is the propagation of the species and also a certain amount of concern for their offspring. But the most marked difference between man and beast is this: the beast, just as far as it is moved by the senses and with very little perception of past or future, adapts itself to that alone which is present at the moment; while man — because he is endowed with reason, by which he comprehends the chain of consequences, perceives the causes of things, understands the relation of cause to effect and of effect to cause, draws analogies, and connects and associates the present and the future — easily surveys the course of his whole life and makes the necessary preparations for its conduct strangely tender love for his offspring.
And so, when we have leisure from the demands of business cares, we are eager to see, to hear, to learn something new, and we esteem a desire to know the secrets or wonders of creation as indispensable to a happy life. To this passion for discovering truth there is added a hungering, as it were, for independence, so that a mind well-moulded by Nature is unwilling to be subject to anybody save one who gives rules of conduct or is a teacher of truth or who, for the general good, rules according to justice and law.
And so no other animal has a sense of beauty, loveliness, harmony in the visible world; and Nature and Reason, extending the analogy of this from the world of sense to the world of spirit, find that beauty, consistency, order are far more to be maintained in thought and deed, and the same Nature and Reason are careful to do nothing in an improper or unmanly fashion, and in every thought and deed to do or think nothing capriciously.
It is from these elements that is forged and fashioned that moral goodness which is the subject of this inquiry — something that, even though it be not generally ennobled, is still worthy of all honour; and by its own nature, we correctly maintain, it merits praise even though it be praised by none. You see here, Marcus, my son, the very form and as it were the face of Moral Goodness; "and if," as Plato says, "it could be seen with the physical eye, it would awaken a marvellous love of wisdom.
For the more clearly anyone observes the most essential truth in any given case and the more quickly and accurately he can see and explain the reasons for it, the more understanding and wise he is generally esteemed, and justly so.
So, then, it is truth that is, as it were, the stuff with which this virtue has to deal and on which it employs itself. But orderly behaviour and consistency of demeanor and self-control and the like have their sphere in that department of things in which a certain amount of physical exertion, and not mental activity merely, is required. For if we bring a certain amount of propriety and order into the transactions of daily life, we shall be conserving moral rectitude and moral dignity.
Now, of the four divisions which we have made of the essential idea of moral goodness, the first, consisting in the knowledge of truth, touches human nature most closely. For we are all attracted and drawn to a zeal for learning and knowing; and we think it glorious to excel therein, while we count it base and immoral to fall into error, to wander from the truth, to be ignorant, to be led astray.
The other error is that some people devote too much industry and too deep study to matters that are obscure and difficult and useless as well.
If these errors are successfully avoided, all the labour and pains expended upon problems that are morally right and worth the solving will be fully rewarded. Such a worker in the field of astronomy, for example, was Gaius Sulpicius, of whom we have heard; in mathematics, Sextus Pompey, whom I have known personally; in dialectics, many; in civil law, still more.
All these professions are occupied with the search after truth; but to be drawn by study away from active life is contrary to moral duty. For the whole glory of virtue is in activity; activity, however, may often be interrupted, and many opportunities for returning to study are opened. Besides, the working of the mind, which is never at rest, can keep us busy in the pursuit of knowledge even without conscious effort on our part. Moreover, all our thought and mental activity will be devoted either to planning for things that are morally right and that conduce to a good and happy life, or to the pursuits of science and learning.
With this we close the discussion of the first source of duty. Of the three remaining divisions, the most extensive in its application is the principle by which society and what we may call its "common bonds" are maintained. Of this again there are two divisions — justice, in which is the crowning glory of the virtues and on the basis of which men are called "good men"; and, close akin to justice, charity, which may also be called kindness or generosity.
The first office of justice is to keep one man from doing harm to another, unless provoked by wrong; and the next is to lead men to use common possessions for the common interests, private property for their own.
On this principle the lands of Arpinum are said to belong to the Arpinates, the Tusculan lands to the Tusculans; and similar is the assignment of private property.
Therefore, inasmuch as in each case some of those things which by nature had been common property became the property of individuals, each one should retain possession of that which has fallen to his lot; and if anyone appropriates to himself anything beyond that, he will be violating the laws of human society.
There are, on the other hand, two kinds of injustice — the one, on the part of those who inflict wrong, the other on the part of those who, when they can, do not shield from wrong those upon whom it is being inflicted. For he who, under the influence of anger or some other passion, wrongfully assaults another seems, as it were, to be laying violent hands upon a comrade; but he who does not prevent or oppose wrong, if he can, is just as guilty of wrong as if he deserted his parents or his friends or his country.
But, for the most part, people are led to wrong-doing in order to secure some personal end; in this vice, avarice is generally the controlling motive. Again, men seek riches partly to supply the needs of life, partly to secure the enjoyment of pleasure.
With those who cherish higher ambitions, the desire for wealth is entertained with a view to power and influence and the means of bestowing favours; Marcus Crassus, for example, not long since declared that no amount of wealth was enough for the man who aspired to be the foremost citizen of the state, unless with the income from it he could maintain an army.
Fine establishments and the comforts of life in elegance and abundance also afford pleasure, and the desire to secure it gives rise to the insatiable thirst for wealth. Still, I do not mean to find fault with the accumulation of property, provided it hurts nobody, but unjust acquisition of it is always to be avoided.
For Ennius says: There is no fellowship inviolate, No faith is kept, when kingship is concerned; and the truth of his words has an uncommonly wide application. For whenever a situation is of such a nature that not more than one can hold preeminence in it, competition for it usually becomes so keen that it is an extremely difficult matter to maintain a "fellowship inviolate.
But the trouble about this matter is that it is in the greatest souls and in the most brilliant geniuses that we usually find ambitions for civil and military authority, for power, and for glory, springing; and therefore we must be the more heedful not to go wrong in that direction.
But enough has been said on the subject of inflicting injury.
My dear son Marcus, you have now been studying a full year under Cratippus, and that too in Athens, and you should be fully equipped with the practical precepts and the principles of philosophy; so much at least one might expect from the pre-eminence not only of your teacher but also of the city; the former is able to enrich you with learning, the latter to supply you with models. Nevertheless, just as I for my own improvement have always combined Greek and Latin studies — and I have done this not only in the study of philosophy but also in the practice of oratory — so I recommend that you should do the same, so that you may have equal command of both languages. And it is in this very direction that I have, if I mistake not, rendered a great service to our countrymen, so that not only those who are unacquainted with Greek literature but even the cultured consider that they have gained much both in oratorical power and in mental training. For all that, if you will read my philosophical books, you will be helped; my philosophy is not very different from that of the Peripatetics for both they and I claim to be followers of Socrates and Plato. As to the conclusions you may reach, I leave that to your own judgment for I would put no hindrance in your way , but by reading my philosophical writings you will be sure to render your mastery of the Latin language more complete. But I would by no means have you think that this is said boastfully. For while the orations exhibit a more vigorous style, yet the unimpassioned, restrained style of my philosophical productions is also worth cultivating.
Non parliamo forse di officium dei consoli, del senato, di un generale? Si sofferma in seguito a elencare le differenze tra uomini celebri e appartenenti a grandi famiglie e gli homines novi: i primi saranno conosciuti sin dalla nascita, e le loro azioni verranno continuamente monitorate da tutti, i secondi, invece, avranno bisogno di compiere grandi azioni per emergere. Infatti, mentre i due termini sembrano chiari in generale, nelle circostanze della vita, possono esserci numerosi dubbi e errori. Il discorso a proposito della iustitia si conclude con la differenza fra le leggi della natura, che sono proprie dei filosofi e che si impongono tramite la ragione, e le leggi dei popoli, che invece si impongono tramite la forza. Cicerone parla in seguito del rapporto con gli altri popoli e dei doveri verso tutti gli uomini; tratta inoltre del dovere di rispettare patti e promesse e di agire in buona fede.