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Title: The Academic Questions, Treatise De Finibus, and Tusculan Disputations, of M.T. Cicero, With a Sketch of the Greek Philosophers Mentioned by Cicero
Author: Cicero, Marcus Tullius, 106 BC-43 BC
Language: English
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                         The Academic Questions,

                           Treatise De Finibus.


                          Tusculan Disputations


                               M. T. Cicero


         A Sketch of the Greek Philosophers Mentioned by Cicero.

                         Literally Translated by

                            C. D. Yonge, B.A.

                       London: George Bell and Sons

                               York Street

                              Covent Garden

                   Printed by William Clowes and Sons,

                    Stamford Street and Charing Cross.



A Sketch of the Greek Philosophers Mentioned by Cicero.
First Book Of The Academic Questions.
Second Book Of The Academic Questions.
A Treatise On The Chief Good And Evil.
   First Book Of The Treatise On The Chief Good And Evil.
   Second Book Of The Treatise On The Chief Good And Evil.
   Third Book Of The Treatise On The Chief Good And Evil.
   Fourth Book Of The Treatise On The Chief Good And Evil.
   Fifth Book Of The Treatise On The Chief Good And Evil.
The Tusculan Disputations.
   Book I. On The Contempt Of Death.
   Book II. On Bearing Pain.
   Book III. On Grief Of Mind.
   Book IV. On Other Perturbations Of The Mind.
   Book V. Whether Virtue Alone Be Sufficient For A Happy Life.


In the works translated in the present volume, Cicero makes such constant
references to the doctrines and systems of the ancient Greek Philosophers,
that it seems desirable to give a brief account of the most remarkable of
those mentioned by him; not entering at length into the history of their
lives, but indicating the principal theories which they maintained, and
the main points in which they agreed with, or differed from, each other.

The earliest of them was _Thales_, who was born at Miletus, about 640 B.C.
He was a man of great political sagacity and influence; but we have to
consider him here as the earliest philosopher who appears to have been
convinced of the necessity of scientific proof of whatever was put forward
to be believed, and as the originator of mathematics and geometry. He was
also a great astronomer; for we read in Herodotus (i. 74) that he
predicted the eclipse of the sun which happened in the reign of Alyattes,
king of Lydia, B.C. 609. He asserted that water is the origin of all
things; that everything is produced out of it, and everything is resolved
into it. He also asserted that it is the soul which originates all motion,
so much so, that he attributes a soul to the magnet. Aristotle also
represents him as saying that everything is full of Gods. He does not
appear to have left any written treatises behind him: we are uncertain
when or where he died, but he is said to have lived to a great age—to 78,
or, according to some writers, to 90 years of age.

_Anaximander_, a countryman of Thales, was also born at Miletus, about 30
years later; he is said to have been a pupil of the former, and deserves
especial mention as the oldest philosophical writer among the Greeks. He
did not devote himself to the mathematical studies of Thales, but rather
to speculations concerning the generation and origin of the world; as to
which his opinions are involved in some obscurity. He appears, however, to
have considered that all things were formed of a sort of matter, which he
called τὸ ἄπειρον, or The Infinite; which was something everlasting and
divine, though not invested with any spiritual or intelligent nature. His
own works have not come down to us; but, according to Aristotle, he
considered this “Infinite” as consisting of a mixture of simple,
unchangeable elements, from which all things were produced by the
concurrence of homogeneous particles already existing in it,—a process
which he attributed to the constant conflict between heat and cold, and to
affinities of the particles: in this he was opposed to the doctrine of
Thales, Anaximenes, and Diogenes of Apollonia, who agreed in deriving all
things from a single, not _changeable_, principle.

Anaximander further held that the earth was of a cylindrical form,
suspended in the middle of the universe, and surrounded by water, air, and
fire, like the coats of an onion; but that the interior stratum of fire
was broken up and collected into masses, from which originated the sun,
moon, and stars; which he thought were carried round by the three spheres
in which they were respectively fixed. He believed that the moon had a
light of her own, not a borrowed light; that she was nineteen times as
large as the earth, and the sun twenty-eight. He thought that all animals,
including man, were originally produced in water, and proceeded gradually
to become land animals. According to Diogenes Laertius, he was the
inventor of the gnomon, and of geographical maps; at all events, he was
the first person who introduced the use of the gnomon into Greece. He died
about 547 B.C.

_Anaximenes_ was also a Milesian, and a contemporary of Thales and
Anaximander. We do not exactly know when he was born, or when he died; but
he must have lived to a very great age, for he was in high repute as early
as B.C. 544, and he was the tutor of Anaxagoras, B.C. 480. His theory was,
that air was the first cause of all things, and that the other elements of
the universe were resolvable into it. From this infinite air, he imagined
that all finite things were formed by compression and rarefaction,
produced by motion, which had existed from all eternity; so that the earth
was generated out of condensed air, and the sun and other heavenly bodies
from the earth. He thought also that heat and cold were produced by
different degrees of density of this primal element, air; that the clouds
were formed by the condensing of the air; and that it was the air which
supported the earth, and kept it in its place. Even the human soul he
believed to be, like the body, formed of air. He believed in the eternity
of matter, and denied the existence of anything immaterial.

_Anaxagoras_, who, as has been already stated, was a pupil of Anaximenes,
was born at Clazomenæ, in Ionia, about B.C. 499. He removed to Athens at
the time of the Persian war, where he became intimate with Pericles, who
defended him, though unsuccessfully, when he was prosecuted for impiety:
he was fined five talents, and banished from the city; on which he retired
to Lampsacus, where he died at the age of 72. He differed from his
predecessors of the Ionic School, and sought for a higher cause of all
things than matter: this cause he considered to be νοῦς, _intelligence_,
or _mind_. Not that he thought this νοῦς to be the creator of the world,
but only that principle which arranged it, and gave it motion; for his
idea was, that matter had existed from all eternity, but that, before the
νοῦς arranged it, it was all in a state of chaotic confusion, and full of
an infinite number of homogeneous and heterogeneous parts; then the νοῦς
separated the homogeneous parts from the heterogeneous, and in this manner
the world was produced. This separation, however, he taught, was made in
such a manner that everything contains in itself parts of other things, or
heterogeneous elements; and is what it is only on account of certain
homogeneous parts which constitute its predominant and real character.

_Pythagoras_ was earlier than Anaxagoras, though this latter has been
mentioned before him to avoid breaking the continuity of the Ionic School.
His father’s name was Mnesarchus, and he was born at Samos about 570 B.C.,
though some accounts make him earlier. He is said by some writers to have
been a pupil of Thales, by others of Anaximander, or of Pherecydes of
Scyros. He was a man of great learning, as a geometrician, mathematician,
astronomer, and musician; a great traveller, having visited Egypt and
Babylon, and, according to some accounts, penetrated as far as India.

Many of his peculiar tenets are believed to have been derived from the
Tyrrhenian Pelasgians, with whom he is said to have been connected. His
contemporaries at Crotona in South Italy, where he lived, looked upon him
as a man peculiarly connected with the gods; and some of them even
identified him with the Hyperborean Apollo. He himself is said to have
laid claim to the gifts of divination and prophecy. The religious element
was clearly predominant in his character. Grote says of him, “In his
prominent vocation, analogous to that of Epimenides, Orpheus, or Melampus,
he appears as the revealer of a mode of life calculated to raise his
disciples above the level of mankind, and to recommend them to the favour
of the gods.” (Hist. of Greece, iv. p. 529.)

On his arrival at Crotona, he formed a school, consisting at first of
three hundred of the richest of the citizens, who bound themselves by a
sort of vow to himself and to each other, for the purpose of cultivating
the ascetic observances which he enjoined, and of studying his religious
and philosophical theories. All that took place in this school was kept a
profound secret; and there were gradations among the pupils themselves,
who were not all admitted, or at all events not at first, to a full
acquaintance with their master’s doctrines. They were also required to
submit to a period of probation. The statement of his forbidding his
pupils the use of animal food is denied by many of the best authorities,
and that of his insisting on their maintaining an unbroken silence for
five years, rests on no sufficient authority, and is incredible. It is
beyond our purpose at present to enter into the question of how far the
views of Pythagoras in founding his school or club of three hundred,
tended towards uniting in this body the idea of “at once a philosophical
school, a religious brotherhood, and a political association,” all which
characters the Bishop of St. David’s (Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. p. 148)
thinks were inseparably united in his mind; while Mr. Grote’s view of his
object (Hist. of Greece, vol. iv. p. 544) is very different. In a
political riot at Crotona, a temple, in which many of his disciples were
assembled, was burnt, and they perished, and some say that Pythagoras
himself was among them; though according to other accounts he fled to
Tarentum, and afterwards to Metapontum, where he starved himself to death.
His tomb (see Cic. de Fin. v. 2) was shown at Metapontum down to Cicero’s
time. Soon after his death his school was suppressed, and did not revive,
though the Pythagoreans continued to exist as a sect, the members of which
kept up the religious and scientific pursuits of their founder.

Pythagoras is said to have been the first who assumed the title of
φιλόσοφος; but there is great uncertainty as to the most material of his
philosophical and religious opinions. It is believed that he wrote nothing
himself, and that the earliest Pythagorean treatises were the work of
Philolaus, a contemporary of Socrates. It appears, however, that he
undertook to solve by reference to one single primary principle the
problem of the origin and constitution of the universe. His predilection
for mathematics led him to trace the origin of all things to _number_; for
“in _numbers_ he thought that they perceived many analogies of things that
exist and are produced, more than in fire, earth, or water: as, for
instance, they thought that a certain condition of numbers was justice;
another, soul and intellect, ... And moreover, seeing the conditions and
ratios of what pertains to harmony to consist in numbers, since other
things seemed in their entire nature to be formed in the likeness of
numbers, and in all nature numbers are the first, they supposed the
elements of numbers to be the elements of all things.” (Arist. Met. i. 5.)

Music and harmony too, played almost as important a part in the
Pythagorean system as mathematics, or numbers. His idea appears to be,
that order or harmony of relation is the regulating principle of the whole
universe. He drew out a list of ten pairs of antagonistic elements, and in
the octave and its different harmonic relations, he believed that he found
the ground of the connexion between them. In his system of the universe
_fire_ was the important element, occupying both the centre and the
remotest point of it; and being the vivifying principle of the whole.
Round the central fire the heavenly bodies he believed to move in a
regular circle; furthest off were the fixed stars; and then, in order, the
planets, the moon, the sun, the earth, and what he called ἀντίχθων, a sort
of other half of the earth, which was a distinct body from it, but moving
parallel to it.

The most distant region he called Olympus; the space between the fixed
stars and the moon he called κόσμος; the space between the moon and the
earth οὐρανός. He, or at least his disciples, taught that the earth
revolved on its axis, (though Philolaus taught that its revolutions were
not round its axis but round the central fire). The universe itself they
considered as a large sphere, and the intervals between the heavenly
bodies they thought were determined according to the laws and relations of
musical harmony. And from this theory arose the doctrine of the Music of
the Spheres; as the heavenly bodies in their motion occasioned a sort of
sound depending on their distances and velocities; and as these were
determined by the laws of harmonic intervals, the sounds, or notes, formed
a regular musical scale.

The light and heat of the central fire he believed that we received
through the sun, which he considered a kind of lens: and perfection, he
conceived to exist in direct ratio to the distance from the central fire.

The universe, itself, they looked upon as having subsisted from all
eternity, controlled by an eternal supreme Deity; who established both
limits and infinity; and whom they often speak of as the absolute μονὰς,
or unity. He pervaded (though he was distinct from) and presided over the
universe. Sometimes, too, he is called the absolute _Good_,—while the
origin of evil is attributed not to him, but to matter which prevented him
from conducting everything to the best end.

With respect to man, the doctrine of Pythagoras was that known by the name
of the Metempsychosis,—that the soul after death rested a certain time
till it was purified, and had acquired a forgetfulness of what had
previously happened to it; and then reanimated some other body. The ethics
of the Pythagoreans consisted more in ascetic practice and maxims for the
restraint of the passions, than in any scientific theories. Wisdom they
considered as superior to virtue, as being connected with the
contemplation of the upper and purer regions, while virtue was conversant
only with the sublunary part of the world. Happiness, they thought,
consisted in the science of the perfection of the soul; or in the perfect
science of numbers; and the main object of all the endeavours of man was
to be, to resemble the Deity as far as possible.

_Alcmæon_ of Crotona was a pupil of Pythagoras; but that is all that is
known of his history. He was a great natural philosopher; and is said to
have been the first who introduced the practice of dissection. He is said,
also, to have been the first who wrote on natural philosophy. Aristotle,
however, distinguishes between the principles of Alcmæon and Pythagoras,
though without explaining in what the difference consisted. He asserted
the immortality of the soul, and said that it partook of the divine
nature, because, like the heavenly bodies themselves, it contained in
itself the principle of motion.

_Xenophanes_, the founder of the Eleatic school, was a native of Colophon;
and flourished probably about the time of Pisistratus. Being banished from
his own country, he fled to the Ionian colonies in Sicily, and at last
settled in Elea, or Velia. His writings were chiefly poetical. He was
universally regarded by the ancients as the originator of the doctrine of
the oneness of the universe: he also maintained, it is said, the unity of
the Deity; and also his immortality and eternity; denounced the
transference of him into human form; and reproached Homer and Hesiod for
attributing to him human weaknesses. He represented him as endowed with
unwearied activity, and as the animating power of the universe.

_Heraclitus_ was an Ephesian, and is said to have been a pupil of
Xenophanes, though this statement is much doubted; others call him a pupil
of Hippasus the Pythagorean. He wrote a treatise on Nature; declaring that
the principle of all things was fire, from which he saw the world was
evolved by a natural operation; he further said that this fire was the
human life and soul, and therefore a rational intelligence guiding the
whole universe. In this primary fire he considered that there was a
perpetual longing to manifest itself in different forms: in its perfectly
pure state it is in heaven; but in order to gratify this longing it
descends, gradually losing the rapidity of its motion till it settles in
the earth. The earth, however, is not immovable, but only the slowest of
all moving bodies; while the soul of man, though dwelling in the lowest of
all regions, namely, in the earth, he considered a migrated portion of
fire in its pure state; which, in spite of its descent, had lost none of
its original purity. The _summum bonum_ he considered to be a contented
acquiescence in the decrees of the Deity. None of his writings are extant;
and he does not appear to have had many followers.

_Diogenes_ of Apollonia, (who must not be confounded with his Stoic or
Cynic namesake,) was a pupil of Anaximenes, and wrote a treatise on
Nature, of which Diogenes Laertius gives the following account: “He
maintained that air was the primary element of all things; that there was
an infinite number of worlds and an infinite vacuum; that air condensed
and rarefied produced the different members of the universe; that nothing
was generated from nothing, or resolved into nothing; that the earth was
round, supported in the centre, having received its shape from the
whirling round it of warm vapours, and its concrete nature and hardness
from cold.” He also imputed to air an intellectual energy, though he did
not recognise any difference between mind and matter.

_Parmenides_ was a native of Elea or Velia, and flourished about 460 B.C.,
soon after which time he came to Athens, and became acquainted with
Socrates, who was then very young. Theophrastus and Aristotle speak
doubtfully of his having been a pupil of Xenophanes. Some authors,
however, reckon him as one of the Pythagorean school; Plato and Aristotle
speak of him as the greatest of the Eleatics; and it is said that his
fellow-countrymen bound their magistrates every year to abide by the laws
which he had laid down. He, like Xenophanes, explained his philosophical
tenets in a didactic poem, in which he speaks of two primary forms, one
the fine uniform etherial fire of flame (φλόγος πῦρ), the other the cold
body of night, out of the intermingling of which everything in the world
is formed by the Deity who reigns in the midst. His cosmogony was carried
into minute detail, of which we possess only a few obscure fragments; he
somewhat resembled the Pythagoreans in believing in a spherical system of
the world, surrounded by a circle of pure light; in the centre of which
was the earth; and between the earth and the light was the circle of the
Milky Way, of the morning and evening star, of the sun, the planets, and
the moon. And the differences in perfection of organization, he attributed
to the different proportions in which the primary principles were
intermingled. The ultimate principle of the world was, in his view,
necessity, in which Empedocles appears to have followed him; he seems to
have been the only philosopher who recognised with distinctness and
precision that the Existent, τὸ ὄν, as such, is unconnected with all
separation or juxtaposition, as well as with all succession, all relation
to space or time, all coming into existence, and all change. It is,
however, a mistake to suppose that he recognised it as a Deity.

_Democritus_ was born at Abdera, B.C. 460. His father Hegesistratus had
been so rich as to be able to entertain Xerxes, when on his march against
Greece. He spent his inheritance in travelling into distant countries,
visiting the greater part of Asia, and, according to some authors,
extending his travels as far as India and Æthiopia. Egypt he certainly was
acquainted with. He lived to beyond the age of 100 years, and is said to
have died B.C. 357.

He was a man of vast and varied learning, and a most voluminous author,
though none of his works have come down to us;—in them he carried out the
theory of atoms which he had derived from Leucippus; insisting on the
reality of a vacuum and of motion, which he held was the eternal and
necessary consequence of the original variety of atoms in this vacuum.
These atoms, according to this theory, being in constant motion and
impenetrable, offer resistance to one another, and so create a whirling
motion which gives birth to worlds. Moreover, from this arise combinations
of distinct atoms which become real things and beings. The first cause of
all existence he called _chance_ (τύχη), in opposition to the νοῦς of
Anaxagoras. But Democritus went further; for he directed his
investigations especially to the discovery of causes.

Besides the infinite number of atoms, he likewise supposed the existence
of an infinite number of worlds, each being kept together by a sort of
shell or skin. He derived the four elements from the form, quality, and
proportionate magnitude of the atoms predominating in each; and in
deriving individual things from atoms, he mainly considered the qualities
of warm and cold; the soul he considered as derived from fire atoms; and
he did not consider mind as anything peculiar, or as a power distinct from
the soul or sensuous perception; but he considered knowledge derived from
reason to be a sensuous perception.

In his ethical philosophy, he considered (as we may see from the _de
Finibus_) the acquisition of peace of mind as the end and ultimate object
of all our actions, and as the last and best fruit of philosophical
inquiry. Temperance and moderation in prosperity and adversity were, in
his eyes, the principal means of acquiring this peace of mind. And he
called those men alone pious and beloved by the Gods who hate whatever is

_Empedocles_ was a Sicilian, who flourished about the time when
Thrasydæus, the son of Theron, was expelled from Agrigentum, to the
tyranny of which he had succeeded; in which revolution he took an active
part: it is even said that the sovereignty of his native city was offered
to and declined by him.

He was a man of great genius and extensive learning; it is not known whose
pupil he was, nor are any of his disciples mentioned except Gorgias. He
was well versed in the tenets of the Eleatic and Pythagorean schools; but
he did not adopt the fundamental principles of either; though he agreed
with Pythagoras in his belief in the metempsychosis, in the influence of
numbers, and in one or two other points; and with the Eleatics in
disbelieving that anything could be generated out of nothing. Aristotle
speaks of him as very much resembling in his opinions Democritus and
Anaxagoras. He was the first who established the number of four elements,
which had been previously pointed out one by one, partly as fundamental
substances, and partly as transitive changes of things coming into
existence. He first suggested the idea of two opposite directions of the
moving power, an attractive and a repelling one: and he believed that
originally these two coexisted in a state of repose and inactivity. He
also assumed a periodical change of the formation of the world; or
perhaps, like the philosophers of the pure Ionic school, a perpetual
continuance of pure fundamental substances; to which the parts of the
world that are tired of change return, and prepare the formation of the
sphere for the next period of the world. Like the Eleatics, he strove to
purify the notion of the Deity, saying that he, “being a holy infinite
spirit, not encumbered with limbs, passes through the world with rapid
thoughts.” At the same time he speaks of the eternal power of Necessity as
an ancient decree of the Gods, though it is not quite clear what he
understood by this term.

_Diagoras_ was a native of Melos, and a pupil of Democritus, and
flourished about B.C. 435. He is remarkable as having been regarded by all
antiquity as an Atheist. In his youth he had some reputation as a lyric
poet; so that he is sometimes classed with Pindar, Simonides, and
Bacchylides. Aristophanes, in the Clouds, alludes to him where he calls
Socrates “the Melian;” not that he was so, but he means to hint that
Socrates was an atheist as well as the Melian Diagoras. He lived at Athens
for many years till B.C. 411, when he fled from a prosecution instituted
against him for impiety, according to Diodorus, but probably for some
offence of a political nature; perhaps connected with the mutilation of
the Hermæ.

That he was an atheist, however, appears to have been quite untrue. Like
Socrates, he took new and peculiar views respecting the Gods and their
worship; and seems to have ridiculed the honours paid to their statues,
and the common notions which were entertained of their actions and
conduct. (See De Nat. Deor. iii. 37.) He is said also to have attacked
objects held in the greatest veneration at Athens, such as the Eleusinian
Mysteries, and to have dissuaded people from being initiated into them. He
appears also, in his theories on the divine nature, to have substituted in
some degree the active powers of nature for the activity of the Gods. In
his own conduct he was a man of strict morality and virtue. He died at
Corinth before the end of the century.

_Protagoras_ was a native of Abdera; the exact time of his birth is
unknown, but he was a little older than Socrates. He was the first person
who gave himself the title of σοφιστὴς, and taught for pay. He came to
Athens early in life, and gave to the settlers who left it for Thurium,
B.C. 445, a code of laws, or perhaps adapted the old laws of Charondas to
their use. He was a friend of Pericles. After some time he was impeached
for impiety in saying, That respecting the Gods he did not know whether
they existed or not; and banished from Athens (see De Nat. Deor. i. 23).
He was a very prolific author: his most peculiar doctrines excited Plato
to write the Theætetus to oppose them.

His fundamental principle was, that everything is motion, and that that is
the efficient cause of everything; that nothing _exists_, but that
everything is continually _coming into existence_. He divided motion
(besides numerous subordinate divisions) into active and passive; though
he did not consider either of these characteristics as permanent. From the
concurrence of two such motions he taught that sensations and perceptions
arose, according to the rapidity of the motion. Therefore he said that
there is or exists for each individual, only that of which he has a
sensation or perception; and that as sensation, like its objects, is
engaged in a perpetual change of motion, opposite assertions might exist
according to the difference of the perception respecting such object.
Moral worth he attributed to taking pleasure in the beautiful; and virtue
he referred to a certain sense of shame implanted in man by nature; and to
a certain conscious feeling of justice, which secures the bonds of
connexion in private and political life.

_Socrates_, the son of Sophroniscus, a statuary, and Phænarete, a midwife,
was born B.C. 468. He lived all his life at Athens, serving indeed as a
soldier at Potidæa, Amphipolis, and in the battle of Delium; but with
these exceptions he never left the city; where he lived as a teacher of
philosophy; not, however, founding a school or giving lectures, but
frequenting the market-place and all other places of public resort,
talking with every one who chose to address him, and putting questions to
every one of every rank and profession, so that Grote calls him “a public
talker for instruction.” He believed himself to have a special religious
mission from the Gods to bring his countrymen to knowledge and virtue. He
was at last impeached before the legal tribunals, on the ground of
“corrupting the youth of the city, and not worshipping the Gods whom the
city worshipped;” and disdaining to defend himself, or rather making a
justificatory defence of such a character as to exasperate the judges, he
was condemned to death, and executed by having hemlock administered to
him, B.C. 399.

From his disciples Plato and Xenophon we have a very full account of his
habits and doctrines; though it has been much disputed which of the two is
to be considered as giving the most accurate description of his opinions.
As a young man he had been to a certain extent a pupil of Archelaus (the
disciple of Anaxagoras), and derived his fondness for the dialectic style
of argument from Zeno the Eleatic, the favourite Pupil of Parmenides. He
differed, however, from all preceding philosophers in discarding and
excluding wholly from his studies all the abstruse sciences, and limiting
his philosophy to those practical points which could have influence on
human conduct. “He himself was always conversing about the affairs of
men,” is the description given of him by Xenophon. Astronomy he pronounced
to be one of the divine mysteries which it was impossible to understand
and madness to investigate; all that man wanted was to know enough of the
heavenly bodies to serve as an index to the change of seasons and as
guides for voyages, etc.; and that knowledge might, he said, easily be
obtained from pilots and watchmen. Geometry he reduced to its literal
meaning of land-measuring, useful to enable one to act with judgment in
the purchase or sale of land; but he looked with great contempt on the
study of complicated diagrams and mathematical problems. As to general
natural philosophy, he wholly discarded it; asking whether those who
professed to apply themselves to that study knew _human_ affairs so well
as to have time to spare for _divine_; was it that they thought that they
could influence the winds, rain, and seasons, or did they desire nothing
but the gratification of an idle curiosity? Men should recollect how much
the wisest of them who have attempted to prosecute these investigations
differ from one another, and how totally opposite and contradictory their
opinions are.

Socrates, then, looked at all knowledge from the point of view of human
practice. He first, as Cicero says, (Tusc. Dis. v. 4,) “called philosophy
down from heaven and established it in the cities, introduced it even into
private houses, and compelled it to investigate life, and manners, and
what was good and evil among men.” He was the first man who turned his
thoughts and discussions distinctly to the subject of Ethics. Deeply
imbued with sincere religious feeling, and believing himself to be under
the peculiar guidance of the Gods, who at all times admonished him by a
divine warning voice when he was in danger of doing anything unwise,
inexpedient, or improper, he believed that the Gods constantly manifested
their love of and care for all men in the most essential manner, in
replying through oracles, and sending them information by sacrificial
signs or prodigies, in cases of great difficulty; and he had no doubt that
if a man were diligent in learning all that the Gods permitted to be
learnt, and if besides he was assiduous in paying pious court to them and
in soliciting special information by way of prophecy, they would be
gracious to him and signify their purposes to him.

Such then being the capacity of man for wisdom and virtue, his object was
to impart that wisdom to them; and the first step necessary, he considered
to be eradicating one great fault which was a barrier to all improvement.
This fault he described as “the conceit of knowledge without the reality.”
His friend and admirer Chærephon had consulted the oracle at Delphi as to
whether any man was wiser than Socrates; to which the priestess replied
that no other man was wiser. Socrates affirms that he was greatly
disturbed at hearing this declaration from so infallible an authority;
till after conversing with politicians, and orators, and poets, and men of
all classes, he discovered not only that they were destitute of wisdom,
but that they believed themselves to be possessed of it; so that he was
wiser than they, though wholly ignorant, inasmuch as he was conscious of
his own ignorance. He therefore considered his most important duty to be
to convince men of their ignorance, and to excite them to remedy it, as
the indispensable preliminary to virtue; for virtue he defined as doing a
thing well, after having learnt it and practised it by the rational and
proper means; and whoever performed his duties best, whether he was a
ruler of a state or a husbandman, was the best and most useful man and the
most beloved by the Gods.

And if his objects were new, his method was no less so. He was the parent
of dialectics and logic. Aristotle says, “To Socrates we may
unquestionably assign two novelties—inductive discourses, and the
definitions of general terms.” Without any predecessor to copy, Socrates
fell as it were instinctively into that which Aristotle describes as the
double tract of the dialectic process, breaking up the one into the many,
and recombining the many into the one; though the latter or synthetical
process he did not often perform himself, but strove to stimulate his
hearer’s mind so as to enable him to do it for himself.

The fault of the Socratic theory is well remarked by Grote to be, that
while he resolved all virtue into knowledge or wisdom, and all vice into
ignorance or folly, he omitted to notice what is not less essential to
virtue, the proper condition of the passions, desires, &c., and limited
his views too exclusively to the intellect; still while laying down a
theory which is too narrow, he escaped the erroneous consequences of it by
a partial inconsistency. For no one ever insisted more emphatically on the
necessity of control over the passions and appetites, of enforcing good
habits, and on the value of that state of the sentiments and emotions
which such a course tended to form. He constantly pointed out that the
chief pleasures were such as inevitably arise from the performance of
one’s duty, and that as to happiness, a very moderate degree of good
fortune is sufficient as to external things, provided the internal man be
properly disciplined.

Grote remarks further, (and this remark is particularly worth remembering
in the reading of Cicero’s philosophical works,) that “Arcesilaus and the
New Academy thought that they were following the example of Socrates, (and
Cicero appears to have thought so too,) when they reasoned against
everything, and laid it down as a system, that against every affirmative
position an equal force of negative argument could be brought as a
counterpoise: now this view of Socrates is, in my judgment, not only
partial, but incorrect. He entertained no such doubts of the powers of the
mind to attain certainty. About physics he thought man could know nothing;
but respecting the topics which concern man and society, this was the
field which the Gods had expressly assigned, not merely to human practice,
but to human study and knowledge; and he thought that every man, not only
might know these things, but ought to know them; that he could not
possibly act well unless he did know them; and that it was his imperative
duty to learn them as he would learn a profession, otherwise he was
nothing better than a slave, unfit to be trusted as a free and accountable
being. He was possessed by the truly Baconian idea, that the power of
steady moral action depended upon, and was limited by, the rational
comprehension of moral ends and means.”

The system, then, of Socrates was animated by the truest spirit of
positive science, and formed an indispensable precursor to its attainment.
And we may form some estimate of his worth and genius if we recollect,
that while the systems and speculations of other ancient philosophers
serve only as curiosities to make us wonder, or as beacons to warn us into
what absurdities the ablest men may fall, the principles and the system of
Socrates and his followers, and of that school alone, exercise to this day
an important influence on all human argument and speculation.

_Aristippus_ (whom we will consider before Plato, that Aristotle may
follow Plato more immediately) came when a young man to Athens, for the
express purpose of becoming acquainted with Socrates, with whom he
remained almost till his death. He was, however, very different from his
master, being a person of most luxurious and sensual habits. He was also
the first of Socrates’ disciples who took money for teaching. He was the
founder of the Cyrenaic school of philosophy, which followed Socrates in
limiting all philosophical inquiries to ethics; though under this name
they comprehended a more varied range of subjects than Socrates did,
inasmuch as one of the parts into which they divided philosophy, referred
to the feelings; another to causes, which is rather a branch of physics;
and a third to proofs, which is clearly connected with logic.

He pronounced pleasure to be the chief good, and pain the chief evil; but
he denied that either of these was a mere negative inactive state,
considering them, on the contrary, both to be motions of the soul,—pain a
violent, and pleasure a moderate one.

As to actions, he asserted that they were all morally indifferent, that
men should only look to their results, and that law and custom are the
only authorities which make an action either good or bad. Whatever
conduces to pleasure, he thought virtue; in which he agreed with Socrates
that the mind has the principal share.

_Plato_, the greatest of all the disciples of Socrates, was the son of
Ariston and Perictione, and was born probably in the year B.C. 428, and
descended, on the side of his father, from Codrus, and on his mother’s
side related to Solon. At the age of twenty, he became a constant
attendant of Socrates, and lived at Athens till his death. After this
event, in consequence of the unpopularity of the very name of his master,
he retired to Megara, and subsequently to Sicily. He is said also to have
been at some part of his life, after the death of Socrates, a great
traveller. About twelve years after the death of Socrates he returned to
Athens, and began to teach in the Academy, partly by dialogue, and partly,
probably, by connected lectures. He taught gratuitously; and besides
Speusippus, Xenocrates, Aristotle, Heraclides Ponticus, and others, who
were devoted solely to philosophical studies, he is said to have
occasionally numbered Chabrias, Iphicrates, Timotheus, Phocion, Isocrates,
and (by some) Demosthenes among his hearers. He died at a great age, B.C.

His works have come down to us in a more complete form than those of any
other ancient author who was equally voluminous; and from them we get a
clear idea of the principal doctrines which he inculcated on his

Like Socrates, he was penetrated with the idea, that knowledge and wisdom
were the things most necessary to man, and the greatest goods assigned to
him by God. Wisdom he looked on as the great purifier of the soul; and as
any approach to wisdom presupposes an original communion with _Being_,
properly so called, this communion also presupposes the divine nature, and
consequent immortality of the soul, his doctrine respecting which was of a
much purer and loftier character than the usual theology of the ancients.
Believing that the world also had a soul, he considered the human soul as
similar to it in nature, and free from all liability to death, in spite of
its being bound up with the appetites, in consequence of its connexion
with the body, and as preserving power and consciousness after its
separation from the body. What he believed, however, to be its condition
after death is far less certain, as his ideas on this subject are
expressed in a mythical form.

The chief point, however, to which Plato directed his attention, was
ethics, which, especially in his system, are closely connected with
politics. He devotes the Protagoras, and several shorter dialogues, to
refute the sensual and selfish theories of some of his predecessors, in
order to adopt a more scientific treatment of the subject; and in these
dialogues he urges that neither happiness nor virtue are attainable by the
indulgence of our desires, but that men must bring these into proper
restraint, if they are desirous of either. He supposes an inward harmony,
the preservation of which is pleasure, while its disturbance is pain; and
as pleasure is always dependent on the activity from which it springs, the
more this activity is elevated the purer the pleasure becomes.

Virtue he considered the fitness of the soul for the operations that are
proper to it; and it manifests itself by means of its inward harmony,
beauty, and health. Different phases of virtue are distinguishable so far
as the soul is not pure spirit, but just as the spirit should rule both
the other elements of the soul, so also should wisdom, as the inner
development of the spirit, rule the other virtues.

Politics he considered an inseparable part of ethics, and the state as the
copy of a well-regulated individual life: from the three different
activities of the soul he deduced the three main elements of the state,
likening the working class to the appetitive element of the soul, both of
which equally require to be kept under control; the military order, which
answered, in his idea, to the emotive element, ought to develop itself in
thorough dependence on the reason; and from that the governing order,
answering to the rational faculty, must proceed. The right of passing from
a subordinate to a dominant position must depend on the individual
capacity and ability for raising itself. But from the difficulties of
realizing his theories, he renounces this absolute separation of ranks in
his book on Laws, limits the power of the governors, attempts to reconcile
freedom with unity and reason, and to mingle monarchy with democracy.

With respect to his theology, he appears to have agreed entirely with

_Aristotle_ was born at Stageira, B.C. 384. His father, Nicomachus, was
physician to Amyntas II., king of Macedon. At the age of seventeen he went
to Athens, in hopes to become a pupil of Plato; but Plato was in Sicily,
and did not return for three years, which time Aristotle applied to severe
study, and to cultivating the friendship of Heraclides Ponticus. When
Plato returned, he soon distinguished him above all his other pupils. He
remained at Athens twenty years, maintaining, however, his connexion with
Macedonia; but on the death of Plato, B.C. 347, which happened while
Aristotle was absent in Macedonia on an embassy, he quitted Athens,
thinking, perhaps, that travelling was necessary to complete his
education. After a short period, he accepted an invitation from Philip to
superintend the education of Alexander. He remained in Macedonia till B.C.
335, when he returned to Athens, where he found Xenocrates had succeeded
Speusippus as the head of the Academy. Here the Lyceum was appropriated to
him, in the shady walks (περίπατοι) of which he delivered his lectures to
a number of eminent scholars who flocked around him. From these walks the
name of Peripatetic was given to the School which he subsequently
established. Like several others of the Greek philosophers, he had a
select body of pupils, to whom he delivered his esoteric doctrines; and a
larger, more promiscuous, and less accomplished company, to whom he
delivered his exoteric lectures on less abstruse subjects. When he had
resided thirteen years at Athens, he found himself threatened with a
prosecution for impiety, and fled to Chalcis, in Eubœa, and died soon
after, B.C. 322.

His learning was immense, and his most voluminous writings embraced almost
every subject conceivable; but only a very small portion of them has come
down to us. Cicero, however, alludes to him only as a moral philosopher,
and occasionally as a natural historian; so that it may be sufficient here
for us to confine our view of him to his teaching on the Practical
Sciences; his Ethics, too, being one of his works which has come down to
us entire.

God he considered to be the highest and purest energy of eternal
intellect,—an absolute principle,—the highest reason, the object of whose
thought is himself; expanding and declaring, in a more profound manner,
the νοῦς of Anaxagoras. With respect to man, the object of all action, he
taught, was happiness: and this happiness he defines to be an energy of
the soul (or of life) according to virtue, existing by and for itself.
Virtue, again, he subdivided into moral and intellectual, according to the
distinction between the reasoning faculty and that quality in the soul
which obeys reason. Again, moral virtue is the proper medium between
excess and deficiency, and can only be acquired by practice; intellectual
virtue can be taught; and by the constant practice of moral virtue a man
becomes virtuous, but he can only practise it by a resolute determination
to do so. Virtue, therefore, is defined further as a habit accompanied by,
or arising out of, deliberate choice, and based upon free and conscious
action. From these principles, Aristotle is led to take a wider view of
virtue than other philosophers: he includes friendship under this head, as
one of the very greatest virtues, and a principal means for a steady
continuance in all virtue; and as the unrestricted exercise of each
species of activity directed towards the good, produces a feeling of
pleasure, he considers pleasure as a very powerful means of virtue.

Connected with Aristotle’s system of ethics was his system of politics,
the former being only a part, as it were, of the latter; the former aiming
at the happiness of individuals, the latter at that of communities; so
that the latter is the perfection and completion of the former. For
Aristotle looked upon man as a “political animal”—as a being, that is,
created by nature for the state, and for living in the state; which, as a
totality consisting of organically connected members, is by nature prior
to the individual or the family. The state he looked upon as a whole
consisting of mutually dependent and connected members, with reference as
well to imaginary as to actually existing constitutions. The constitution
is the arrangement of the powers in the state—the soul of the state, as it
were,—according to which the sovereignty is determined. The laws are the
determining principles, according to which the dominant body governs and
restrains those who would, and punishes those who do, transgress them. He
defines three kinds of constitutions, each of them having a corresponding
perversion:—a republic, arising from the principle of equality; this at
times degenerates into democracy; monarchy, and aristocracy, which arise
from principles of inequality, founded on the preponderance of external or
internal strength and wealth, and which are apt to degenerate into tyranny
and oligarchy. The education of youth he considers as a principal concern
of the state, in order that, all the individual citizens being trained to
a virtuous life, virtue may become predominant in all the spheres of
political life; and, accordingly, by means of politics the object is
realized of which ethics are the groundwork, namely, human happiness,
depending on a life in accordance with virtue.

_Heraclides_ Ponticus, as he is usually called, was, as his name denotes,
a native of Pontus. He migrated to Athens, where he became a disciple of
Plato, who, while absent in Sicily, entrusted him with the care of his

_Speusippus_ was the nephew of Plato, and succeeded him as President of
the Academy; but he continued so but a short time, and, within eight years
of the death of Plato, he died at Athens, B.C. 339. He refused to
recognise _the Good_ as the ultimate principle; but, going back to the
older theologians, maintained that the origin of the universe was to be
set down indeed as a cause of the Good and Perfect, but was not the Good
and Perfect itself; for that was the result of generated existence or
development, just as plants are of the seeds. When, with the Pythagoreans,
he reckoned _the One_ in the series of good things, he probably thought of
it only in opposition to _the Manifold_, and wished to point out that it
is from _the One_ that _the Good_ is to be derived. He appears, however,
(see De Nat. Deor. i. 13,) to have attributed vital activity to the
primordial unity, as inseparably belonging to it.

_Theophrastus_ was a native of Eresus, from whence he migrated to Athens,
where he became a follower of Plato, and afterwards of Aristotle, by whom,
when he quitted Athens for Chalcis, he was designated as his successor in
the presidency of the Lyceum; while in this position, he is said to have
had two thousand disciples, and among them the comic poet Menander. When,
B.C. 305, the philosophers were banished from Athens, he also left the
city, but returned the next year on the repeal of the law. He lived to a
great age, though the date of his birth is not certainly known.

He was a very voluminous writer on many subjects, but directed his chief
attention to continuing the researches into natural history which had been
begun by Aristotle. As, however, only a few fragments of his works have
come down to us, and these in a very corrupt state, we know but little
what peculiar views he entertained; though we learn from Cicero (De Inv.
i. 42-50) that he departed a good deal from the doctrines of Aristotle in
his principles of ethics, and also in his metaphysical and theological
speculations; and Cicero (De Nat. Deor. i. 13) complains that he did not
express himself with precision or with consistency about the Deity; and in
other places (Acad. i. 10, Tusc. Quæst. v. 9), that he appeared unable to
comprehend a happiness resting merely on virtue; so that he had attributed
to virtue a rank very inferior to its deserts.

_Xenocrates_ was a native of Chalcedon, born probably B.C. 396. He was a
follower of Plato, and accompanied him to Sicily. After his death, he
betook himself, with Aristotle, to the court of Hermias, tyrant of
Ptarneus, but soon returned to Athens, and became president of the Academy
when Speusippus, through ill health, was forced to abandon that post. He
died B.C. 314.

He was not a man of great genius, but of unwearied industry and the purest
virtue and integrity. None of his works have come down to us; but, from
the notices of other writers, we are acquainted with some of his peculiar
doctrines. He stood at the head of those who, regarding the universe as
imperishable and existing from eternity, looked upon the chronic
succession in the theory of Plato as a form in which to denote the
relations of conceptual succession. He asserted that the soul was a
self-moving member,—called Unity and Duality deities, considering the
former as the first male existence, ruling in heaven, father and Jupiter;
the latter as the female, as the mother of the Gods, and the soul of the
universe, which reigns over the mutable world under heaven. He
approximated to the Pythagoreans in considering Number as the principle of
consciousness, and consequently of knowledge; supplying, however, what was
deficient in the Pythagorean theory by the definition of Plato, that it is
only in as far as number reconciles the opposition between _the same_ and
the different, and can raise itself to independent motion, that it is

In his ethics he endeavoured to render the Platonic theory more complete,
and to give it a more direct applicability to human life; admitting,
besides the good and the bad, of something which is neither good nor bad,
and some of these intermediate things, such as health, beauty, fame, good
fortune, he would not admit to be absolutely worthless and indifferent. He
maintained, however, in the most decided manner, that virtue is the only
thing valuable in itself, and that the value of everything else is
conditional, (see Cic. de Fin. iv. 18, de Leg. i. 21, Acad. i. 6, Tusc.
Quæst. v. 10-18,) that happiness ought to coincide with the consciousness
of virtue. He did not allow that mere intellectual scientific wisdom was
the only true wisdom to be sought after as such by men: and in one point
he came nearer the precepts of Christianity than any of the ancients, when
he asserted the indispensableness of the morality of the thoughts to
virtue, and declared it to be the same thing, whether a person cast
longing eyes on the possessions of his neighbour, or attempted to possess
himself of them by force.

_Antisthenes_ was older than Plato; though the exact time of his birth is
uncertain: but he fought at the battle of Tanagra, B.C. 420, though then
very young. He became a disciple of Gorgias, and afterwards of Socrates,
at whose death he set up a school in the Cynosarges, a gymnasium for the
use of Athenians born of foreign mothers, near the temple of Hercules,
from which place of assembly his followers were called Cynics. He lived to
a great age, though the year of his death is not known, but he certainly
was alive after the battle of Leuctra, B.C. 371.

In his philosophical system, which was almost confined to ethics, he
appears to have aimed at novelty rather than truth or common sense. He
taught that in all that the wise man does he conforms to perfect virtue,
and that pleasure is so far from being necessary to man, that it is a
positive evil. He is reported also to have gone the length of pronouncing
pain and infamy blessings rather than evils, though when he spoke of
pleasure as worthless, he probably meant that pleasure which arises from
the gratification of sensual or artificial desires; for he praised that
which arises from the intellect, and from friendship. The _summum bonum_
he placed in a life according to virtue.

In a treatise in which he discussed the nature of the Gods he contended
for the unity of the Deity, and asserted that man is unable to know him by
any sensible representation, since he is unlike any being on earth; and
demonstrated the sufficiency of virtue for happiness, by the doctrine that
outward events are regulated by God so as to benefit the wise and good.

_Diogenes_, a native of Sinope in Pontus, who was born B.C. 412, was one
of his few disciples; he came at an early age to Athens, and became
notorious for the most frantic excesses of moroseness and self-denial. On
a voyage to Ægina he was taken by pirates and sold as a slave to Xeniades,
a Corinthian, over whom he acquired great influence, and was made tutor to
his children. His system consisted merely in teaching men to dispense with
even the simplest necessaries of civilized life: and he is said to have
taught that all minds are air, exactly alike, and composed of similar
particles; but that in beasts and in idiots they are hindered from
properly developing themselves by various humors and incapacities of their
bodies. He died B.C. 323, the same year that Epicurus came to Athens.

_Zeno_ was born at Citium, a city of Cyprus; but having been shipwrecked
near Cyprus, he settled in that city, where he devoted himself to severe
study for a great length of time, cultivating, it is said, the
acquaintance of the philosophers of the Megaric school, Diodorus and
Philo, and of the Academics, Xenocrates and Polemo. After he had completed
his studies, he opened a school himself in the porch, adorned with the
paintings of Polygnotus (Στοὰ ποικίλη), from which his followers were
called Stoics. The times of his birth and of his death are not known with
any exactness; but he is said to have reached a great age.

In speaking of the Stoic doctrines, it is not very clear how much of them
proceeded from Zeno himself, and how much from Chrysippus and other
eminent men of the school in subsequent years. In natural philosophy he
considered that there was a primary matter which was never increased or
diminished, and which was the foundation of everything which existed: and
which was brought into existence by the operative power,—that is, by the
Deity. He saw this operative power in fire and in æther as the basis of
all vital activity, (see Cic. Acad. i. 11, ii. 41; de Nat. Deor. ii. 9,
iii. 14,) and he taught that the universe comes into being when the
primary substance passing from fire through the intermediate stage of air
becomes liquefied, and then the thick portion becomes earth, the thinner
portion air, which is again rarefied till it becomes fire. This fire he
conceived to be identical with the Deity, (Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 22,) and
to be endowed with consciousness and foresight. At other times he defined
the Deity as that law of nature which ever accomplishes what is right, and
prevents the opposite, and identified it with unconditional necessity. The
soul of man he considered as being of the nature of fire, or of a warm
breath, (Cic. Tusc. Quæst. i. 9; de Nat. Deor. iii. 4,) and therefore as

In ethics he agreed with the Cynics in recognising the constitutional
nature of moral obligations, though he differed from them with respect to
things indifferent, and opposed their morose contempt for custom, though
he did not allow that the gratification of mere external wants, or that
external good fortune, had any intrinsic value. He comprised everything
which could make life happy in virtue alone (Cic. Acad. i. 10), and called
it the only good which deserved to be striven after and praised for its
own sake (Cic. de Fin. iii. 6, 8), and taught that the attainment of it
must inevitably produce happiness. But as virtue could, according to his
system, only subsist in conjunction with the perfect dominion of reason,
and vice only in the renunciation of the authority of reason, he inferred
that one good action could not be more virtuous than another, and that a
person who had one virtue had all, and that he who was destitute of one
was destitute of all.

_Cleanthes_ was born at Assos in the Troas, about 300 B.C.; he came to
Athens at an early age, and became the pupil of Zeno, whom at his death he
succeeded in his school. He differed from his master in regarding the soul
as immortal, and approximated to the Cynics in denying that pleasure was
agreeable to nature, or in any respect good. He died of voluntary
starvation at the age of eighty.

_Chrysippus_ was born B.C. 280, at Soli in Cilicia. He came at an early
age to Athens, and became a pupil of Cleanthes; and among the later Stoics
he was more regarded than either Zeno or Cleanthes. He died B.C. 207.

His doctrines do not appear to have differed from those of Zeno; only
that, from feeling the dangerous influence of the Epicurean principles, he
endeavoured to popularize the Stoic ethics.

_Epicurus_ was an Athenian of the Attic demos Gargettus, whence he is
sometimes simply called the Gargettian. He was, however, born at Samos,
B.C. 342, and did not come to Athens till the age of eighteen, when he
found Xenocrates at the head of the Academy, and by some authors is said
to have become his pupil, though he himself would not admit it (Cic. de
Nat. Deor. i. 26). At the outbreak of the Samian war he crossed over to
Colophon, where he collected a school. It is said that the first thing
that excited him to the study of philosophy was the perusal of the works
of Democritus while he resided at Colophon. From thence he went to
Mitylene and Lampsacus, and B.C. 306 he returned to Athens, and finally
established himself as a teacher of philosophy. His own life was that of a
man of simple, pure, and temperate habits. He died of the stone, B.C. 270,
and left Hermarchus of Mitylene as his successor in the management of his

None of his works have come down to us. With regard to his philosophical
system, in spite of his boast of being self-taught and having borrowed
from no one, he clearly derived the chief part of his natural philosophy
from Democritus, and of his moral philosophy from Aristippus and the
Cyrenaics. He considered human happiness the end of all philosophy, and
agreed with the Cyrenaics that pleasure constituted the greatest
happiness; still this theory in his hands acquired a far loftier
character; for pleasure, in his idea, was not a mere momentary and
transitory sensation, but something lasting and imperishable, consisting
in pure mental enjoyments, and in the freedom from pain and any other
influence which could disturb man’s peace of mind. And the _summum bonum_,
according to him, consisted in this peace of mind; which was based upon
correct wisdom (φρόνησις).

In his natural philosophy he embraced the atomic theories of Democritus
and Diagoras, carrying them even further than they themselves had done, to
such a degree that he drew upon himself the reproach of Atheism. He
regarded the Gods themselves as consisting of atoms, and our notions of
them as based upon the images (εἴδωλα) which are reflected from them, and
so pass into our minds. And he believed that they exercised no influence
whatever on the world, or on the actions or fortunes of man.

_Theodorus_ was a native of Cyrene, who flourished about B.C. 320. He was
of the Cyrenaic sect, and the founder of that branch of it which was
called after him, the Theodorean; though we scarcely know in what his
doctrines differed from those of Aristippus, unless they were, if
possible, of a still more lax character. He taught, for instance, that
there was nothing really wrong or disgraceful in theft, adultery, or
sacrilege; but that they were branded by public opinion to restrain fools.
He is also reproved with utter atheism; and Cicero classes him with
Diagoras, as a man who utterly denied the existence of any Gods at all.

_Pyrrho_ was a contemporary of Alexander the Great, whose expedition into
Asia he joined. He appears, as far as his philosophy went, to have been an
universal sceptic. He impeached, however, none of the chief principles of
morality, but, regarding Socrates as his model, directed all his
endeavours towards the production in his pupils of a firm well-regulated
moral character.

_Crantor_ was a native of Soli in Cilicia; we do not know when he was born
or when he died, but he came to Athens before B.C. 315. He was the first
of Plato’s followers who wrote commentaries on the works of his master. He
died of dropsy, and left Arcesilaus his heir.

_Arcesilaus_, or _Arcesilas_, flourished about B.C. 280; he was born at
Pitane, but came to Athens and became the pupil of Theophrastus and of
Crantor, and afterwards of some of the more sceptical philosophers. On the
death of Crantor he succeeded to the chair of the Academy, in the
doctrines of which he made so many innovations that he is called the
founder of the New Academy. What his peculiar views were is, however, a
matter of great uncertainty. Some give him the credit of having restored
the doctrines of Plato in an uncorrupted form; while, according to Cicero,
on the other hand, (Acad. i. 12,) he summed up all his opinions in the
statement that he knew nothing, not even his own ignorance. He, and the
New Academy, do not, however, seem to have doubted the existence of truth
in itself, but only the capacity of man for arriving at the knowledge of

_Carneades_ was born at Cyrene about B.C. 213. He went early to Athens,
and at first attended the lectures of the Stoics; but subsequently
attached himself to the Academy, and succeeded to the chair on the death
of Hegesinus. In the year B.C. 155, he came to Rome on an embassy, but so
offended Cato by speaking one day in praise of justice as a virtue, and
the next day, in answer to all his previous arguments, that he made a
motion in the senate, that he should be ordered to depart from Rome. He
died B.C. 129.

_Philo_ of Larissa, who is often mentioned by Cicero, was his own master,
having removed to Rome after the conquest of Athens by Mithridates, where
he settled as a teacher of philosophy and rhetoric. He would not admit
that there was any difference between the Old and New Academy, in which he
differed from his pupil Antiochus. The exact time of his birth or death is
not known; but he was not living when Cicero composed his Academics. (ii.

_Antiochus_ of Ascalon has been called by some writers the founder of the
Fifth Academy; he also was a teacher of Cicero during the time he studied
at Athens; he had also a school at Alexandria, and another in Syria, where
he died. He studied under Philo, but was so far from agreeing with him
that he wrote a treatise on purpose to refute what he considered as the
scepticism of the Academics. And undoubtedly the later philosophers of
that school had exaggerated the teaching of Plato, that the senses were
not in all cases trustworthy organs of perception, so as to infer from it
a denial of the certainty of any knowledge whatever. Antiochus professed
that his object was to revive the real doctrines of Plato in opposition to
the modern scepticism of Carneades and Philo. He appears to have
considered himself as an eclectic philosopher, combining the best parts of
the doctrines of the Academic, Peripatetic, and Stoic schools.

_Diodorus_ of Tyre flourished about B.C. 110. He lived at Athens, where he
succeeded Critolaus as the head of the Peripatetic school. Cicero,
however, denies that he was a genuine Peripatetic, and says that his
doctrine that the _summum bonum_ consisted in a combination of virtue with
the absence of pain was an attempt to reconcile the theory of the Stoics
with that of the Epicureans.

_Panætius_ was a native of Rhodes; his exact age is not known, but he was
a contemporary of Scipio Æmilianus, who died B.C. 129. He went to Athens
at an early age, where he is said to have been a pupil of Diogenes of
Babylon and Antipater of Tarsus, and also of Polemo Periegetes. He became
associated with P. Scipio Æmilianus, who valued him highly. The latter
part of his life he spent at Athens, where he had succeeded Antipater as
head of the Stoic school. He was the author of a treatise on “What is
Becoming,” which Cicero professes to have imitated, though carried rather
further, in his De Officiis. He softened down the harsher features of the
Stoic doctrines, approximating them in some degree to the opinions of
Xenocrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and made them attractive by the elegance
of his style; indeed, he modified the principles of the school so much,
that some writers called him a Platonist. In natural philosophy he
abandoned the Stoic doctrine of the conflagration of the world;
endeavoured to simplify the division of the faculties of the soul; and
doubted the reality of the science of divination. In ethics he followed
the method of Aristotle; and, in direct opposition to the earlier Stoics,
vindicated the claim of certain pleasurable sensations to be regarded as
in accordance with nature.

_Polemo_ was a pupil of Xenocrates, and succeeded him as the head of his
school. There is a story that he had been a very dissolute young man, and
that one day, at the head of a band of revellers, he burst into the school
of Xenocrates, when his attention was so arrested by the discourse of the
philosopher, which happened to be on the subject of temperance, that he
tore off his festive garland, remained till the end of the lecture, and
devoted himself to philosophy all the rest of his life. He does not appear
to have varied at all from the doctrines of his master. He died B.C. 273.

_Archytas_ was a native of Tarentum: his age is not quite certain, but he
is believed to have been a contemporary of Plato, and he is even said to
have saved his life by his interest with the tyrant Dionysius. He was a
great general and statesman, as well as a philosopher. In philosophy he
was a Pythagorean; and, like most of that school, a great mathematician;
and applied his favourite science not only to music, but also to
metaphysics. Aristotle is believed to have borrowed from him his System of

The limits of this volume forbid more than the preceding very brief sketch
of the chiefs of the ancient philosophy. For a more detailed account the
reader is referred to the Biographical Dictionary edited by Dr. Smith,
from which valuable work much of this sketch has been derived. The account
of Socrates has been principally derived from Mr. Grote’s admirable
history of Greece: in which attention has so successfully been devoted to
the history of philosophy and the sophists, that a correct idea of the
subject can hardly be acquired without a careful study of that work.

It was intended to subjoin a comparison of the systems of the different
sects, but it would take more space than can be spared; and it is moreover
unnecessary, as, the distinctive tenets of each having been explained, the
reader is supplied with sufficient materials to institute such a
comparison for himself. He will not wonder that men without the guidance
of revelation should at times have lost their way in speculations beyond
the reach of human faculties, but will the more admire that genius and
virtue which manifested itself in such men as Socrates, Plato, and Cicero,
for the perpetual enlightenment of the human race.


The following account of the two Books of the Academics is extracted from
the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, edited by Dr. W. Smith:—

“The history of this work, before it finally quitted the hands of its
author, is exceedingly curious and somewhat obscure; but must be clearly
understood before we can explain the relative position of those portions
of it which have been transmitted to modern times. By comparing carefully
a series of letters written to Atticus, in the course of B.C. 45 (Ep. ad
Att. xiii. 32;(1) 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 25, 35, 44), we find
that Cicero had drawn up a treatise upon the Academic Philosophy, in the
form of a dialogue between Catulus, Lucullus, and Hortensius; and that it
was comprised in two books, the first bearing the name of Catulus, the
second that of Lucullus. A copy was sent to Atticus; and, soon after it
reached him, two new Introductions were composed, the one in praise of
Catulus, the other in praise of Lucullus. Scarcely had this been done,
when Cicero, from a conviction that Catulus, Lucullus, and Hortensius,
although men of highly cultivated minds, and well acquainted with general
literature, were known to have been little conversant with the subtle
arguments of abstruse philosophy, determined to withdraw them altogether,
and accordingly substituted Cato and Brutus in their place. Immediately
after this change had been introduced, he received a communication from
Atticus, representing that Varro was much offended by being passed over in
the discussion of topics in which he was so deeply versed. Thereupon
Cicero, catching eagerly at the idea thus suggested, resolved to recast
the whole piece, and quickly produced, under the old title, a new and
highly improved edition, divided into four books instead of two,
dedicating the whole to Varro, to whom was assigned the task of defending
the tenets of Antiochus; while Cicero himself undertook to support the
views of Philo, Atticus also taking a share in the conversation.

“But, although these alterations had been effected with extreme rapidity,
the copy originally sent to Atticus had in the meantime been repeatedly
transcribed; hence both editions passed into circulation, and a part of
each has been preserved. One section, containing twelve chapters, is a
short fragment of the second or Varronian edition. The other, containing
forty-nine chapters, is the entire second book of the first edition; to
which is prefixed the new introduction, together with the proper title of
Lucullus. The scene of the _Catulus_ was the villa of that statesman, at
Cumæ; while the _Lucullus_ is supposed to have been held at the mansion of
Hortensius, near Bauli.

“The object proposed was to give an account of the rise and progress of
the Academic Philosophy, to point out the various modifications introduced
by successive professors, and to demonstrate the superiority of the
principles of the New Academy, as taught by Philo, over those of the old,
as advocated by Antiochus.”


I. When a short time ago my friend Atticus(2) was with me at my villa in
the district of Cumæ, news was sent us by Marcus(3) Varro, that he had
arrived in Rome the day before in the evening, and that if he had not
found himself too tired after his journey he should have proceeded at once
to see us. But when we heard this, we thought that we ought not to suffer
anything to delay our seeing a man so intimately connected with us by an
identity of studies, and by a very long standing intimacy and friendship.
And so we set out at once to go to see him; and when we were no great
distance from his villa we saw him coming towards us; and when we had
embraced him, as the manner of friends is, after some time we accompanied
him back to his villa. And as I was asking a few questions, and inquiring
what was the news at Rome, Never mind those things, said Atticus, which we
can neither inquire about nor hear of without vexation, but ask him rather
whether he has written anything new; for the muse of Varro has been silent
much longer than usual; though I rather suppose he is suppressing for a
time what he has written, than that he has been really idle. You are quite
wrong, said he; for I think it very foolish conduct in a man to write what
he wishes to have concealed. But I have a great work on hand; for I have
been a long time preparing a treatise which I have dedicated to my friend
here, (he meant me,) which is of great importance, and is being polished
up by me with a good deal of care.

I have been waiting to see it a long time, Varro, said I, but still I have
not ventured to ask for it. For I heard from our friend Libo, with whose
zeal you are well acquainted, (for I can never conceal anything of that
kind,) that you have not been slackening in the business, but are
expending a great deal of care on it, and in fact never put it out of your
hands. But it has never hitherto come into my mind to ask you about it;
however now, since I have begun to commit to a durable record those things
which I learnt in your company, and to illustrate in the Latin language
that ancient philosophy which originated with Socrates, I must ask you why
it is that, while you write on so many subjects, you pass over this one,
especially when you yourself are very eminent in it; and when that study,
and indeed the whole subject, is far superior in importance to all other
studies and arts.

II. You are asking me, he replied, about a matter on which I have often
deliberated and frequently revolved in my mind. And, therefore, I will
answer you without any hesitation; still, however, speaking quite
off-hand, because I have, as I said just now, thought over the subject
both deeply and frequently. For as I saw that philosophy had been
explained with great care in the Greek language, I thought that if any of
our countrymen were engrossed by the study of it, who were well versed in
Greek literature, they would be more likely to read Greek treatises than
Latin ones: but that those men who were averse to Greek science and to the
schools of the Greek philosophers would not care the least for such
matters as these, which could not be understood at all without some
acquaintance with Greek literature. And, therefore, I did not choose to
write treatises which unlearned men could not understand, and learned men
would not be at the trouble of reading. And you yourself are aware of
this. For you have learnt that we cannot resemble Amafanius(4) or
Rabirius,(5) who without any art discuss matters which come before the
eyes of every one in plain ordinary language, giving no accurate
definitions, making no divisions, drawing no inferences by well-directed
questions, and who appear to think that there is no such thing as any art
of speaking or disputing. But we, in obedience to the precepts of the
logicians and of orators also, as if they were positive laws, (since our
countrymen consider skill in each of these branches to be a virtue,) are
compelled to use words although they may be new ones; which learned men,
as I have said before, will prefer taking from the Greeks, and which
unlearned men will not receive even from us; so that all our labour may be
undertaken in vain. But now, if I approved of the doctrines of Epicurus,
that is to say, of Democritus, I could write of natural philosophy in as
plain a style as Amafanius. For what is the great difficulty when you have
put an end to all efficient causes, in speaking of the fortuitous
concourse of corpuscules, for this is the name he gives to atoms. You know
our system of natural philosophy, which depends upon the two principles,
the efficient cause, and the subject matter out of which the efficient
cause forms and produces what it does produce. For we must have recourse
to geometry, since, if we do not, in what words will any one be able to
enunciate the principles he wishes, or whom will he be able to cause to
comprehend those assertions about life, and manners, and desiring and
avoiding such and such things?

For those men are so simple as to think the good of a sheep and of a man
the same thing. While you know the character and extent of the accuracy
which philosophers of our school profess. Again, if you follow Zeno, it is
a hard thing to make any one understand what that genuine and simple good
is which cannot be separated from honesty; while Epicurus asserts that he
is wholly unable to comprehend what the character of that good may be
which is unconnected with pleasures which affect the senses. But if we
follow the doctrines of the Old Academy which, as you know, we prefer,
then with what accuracy must we apply ourselves to explain it; with what
shrewdness and even with what obscurity must we argue against the Stoics!
The whole, therefore, of that eagerness for philosophy I claim for myself,
both for the purpose of strengthening my firmness of conduct as far as I
can, and also for the delight of my mind. Nor do I think, as Plato says,
that any more important or more valuable gift has been given to men by the
gods. But I send all my friends who have any zeal for philosophy into
Greece; that is to say, I bid them study the Greek writers, in order to
draw their precepts from the fountain-head, rather than follow little
streams. But those things which no one had previously taught, and which
could not be learnt in any quarter by those who were eager on the subject,
I have laboured as far as I could (for I have no great opinion of anything
which I have done in this line) to explain to our fellow-countrymen. For
this knowledge could not be sought for among the Greeks, nor, after the
death of our friend Lucius Ælius,(6) among the Latins either. And yet in
those old works of ours which we composed in imitation of Menippus,(7) not
translating him, sprinkling a little mirth and sportiveness over the whole
subject, there are many things mingled which are drawn from the most
recondite philosophy, and many points argued according to the rules of
strict logic; but I added these lighter matters in order to make the whole
more easy for people of moderate learning to comprehend, if they were
invited to read those essays by a pleasing style, displayed in panegyrics,
and in the very prefaces of my books of antiquities. And this was my
object in adopting this style, however I may have succeeded in it.

III. The fact, I replied, is just as you say, Varro. For while we were
sojourners, as it were, in our own city, and wandering about like
strangers, your books have conducted us, as it were, home again, so as to
enable us at last to recognise who and where we were. You have discussed
the antiquity of our country, and the variety of dates and chronology
relating to it. You have explained the laws which regulate sacrifices and
priests; you have unfolded the customs of the city both in war and peace;
you have described the various quarters and districts; you have omitted
mentioning none of the names, or kinds, or functions, or causes of divine
or human things; you have thrown a great deal of light on our poets, and
altogether on Latin literature and on Latin expressions; you have yourself
composed a poem of varied beauties, and elegant in almost every point; and
you have in many places touched upon philosophy in a manner sufficient to
excite our curiosity, though inadequate to instruct us.

You allege, indeed, a very plausible reason for this. For, you say, those
who are learned men will prefer reading philosophical treatises in Greek,
and those who are ignorant of Greek will not read them even in Latin.
However, tell me now, do you really agree with your own argument? I would
rather say, those who are unable to read them in the one language will
read them in the other; and even those who can read them in Greek will not
despise their own language. For what reason can be imagined why men
learned in Greek literature should read the Latin poets, and not read the
Latin philosophers? Or again, if Ennius,(8) Pacuvius, Accius, and many
others who have given us, I will not say the exact expressions, but the
meaning of the Greeks, delight their readers; how much more will the
philosophers delight them, if, as the poets have imitated Æschylus,
Sophocles, and Euripides, they in like manner imitate Plato, Aristotle,
and Theophrastus? I see, too, that any orators among us are praised who
imitate Hyperides or Demosthenes.

But I, (for I will speak the plain truth,) as long as ambition and the
pursuit of public honours and the pleading of causes, and not a mere
regard for the republic, but even a certain degree of concern in its
government, entangled me in and hampered me with the numerous duties in
which those occupations involved me; I kept, I say, all these matters to
myself, and brushed them up, when I could, by reading, to prevent their
getting rusty. But now, having been stricken to the ground by a most
severe blow of fortune, and being discharged from all concern in the
republic, I seek a medicine for my sorrow in philosophy, and consider this
study the most honourable pastime for my leisure. For I may look upon it
as most suitable to my age, and most especially consistent with any
memorable exploits which I may have performed, and inferior to no other
occupation in its usefulness for the purpose of educating my
fellow-countrymen. Or even if this be too high a view to take of it, at
all events I see nothing else which I can do. My friend Brutus, indeed, a
man eminent for every kind of virtue, has illustrated philosophy in the
Latin language in such a way that he has left Greece nothing to wish for
on those subjects. And he adopts the same opinions that you do. For he was
for some time a pupil of Aristus, at Athens, whose brother Antiochus was
your own preceptor. And therefore do you also, I entreat you, apply
yourself to this kind of literature.

IV. Then he replied. I will indeed consider of these matters, but only in
your company. But still, said he, what is this which I hear about you
yourself? On what subject? said I. Why, that the old system is deserted by
you, and that you have espoused the principles of the new school. What of
that? said I. Why should Antiochus, my own intimate friend, be more at
liberty to return back again from the new school to the old, than I myself
to migrate to the new from the old? For certainly everything that is most
recent is corrected and amended in the highest degree; although Philo, the
master of Antiochus, a great man, as you yourself consider him, used to
deny in his books that there were two Academies (and we ourselves have
heard him assert the same things in his lectures); and he convicts those
who say that there are, of palpable mistake. It is as you say, said he,
but I do not imagine that you are ignorant of what Antiochus has written
in reply to the arguments of Philo. Certainly, said I, I am not, and I
should like to hear the whole cause of the Old Academy, from which I have
been so long absent, recapitulated by you, if it is not giving you too
much trouble; and let us sit down now, if you have no objection. That will
suit me very well, said he, for I am not at all strong. But let us
consider whether Atticus will be pleased with that compliance of mine,
which I see that you yourself are desirous of. Indeed I shall, said he;
for what could I prefer to being reminded of what I long ago heard from
Antiochus, and seeing at the same time whether those ideas can be
expressed with sufficient suitableness in Latin? So after this preface we
all sat down looking at one another. And Varro began as follows:—

Socrates appears to me, and indeed it is the universal opinion, to have
been the first person who drew philosophy away from matters of an abstruse
character, which had been shrouded in mystery by nature herself, and in
which all the philosophers before his time had been wholly occupied, and
to have diverted it to the objects of ordinary life; directing its
speculations to virtues and vices, and generally to whatever was good or
bad. And he thought that the heavenly bodies were either far out of the
reach of our knowledge, or that, even if we became ever so intimately
acquainted with them, they had no influence on living well. In nearly all
his discourses, which have been reported in great variety and very fully
by those who were his pupils, he argues in such a manner that he affirms
nothing himself, but refutes the assertions of others. He says that he
knows nothing, except that one fact, that he is ignorant; and that he is
superior to others in this particular, that they believe that they do know
what they do not, while he knows this one thing alone, that he knows
nothing. And it is on that account that he imagines he was pronounced by
Apollo the wisest of all men, because this alone is the whole of wisdom,
for a man not to think that he knows what he does not know. And as he was
always saying this, and persisting in the maintenance of this opinion, his
discourse was entirely devoted to the praise of virtue, and to encouraging
all men to the study of virtue; as may be plainly seen in the books of the
disciples of Socrates, and above all in those of Plato. But by the
influence of Plato, a man of vast and varied and eloquent genius, a system
of philosophy was established which was one and identical, though under
two names; the system namely of the Academics and Peripatetics. For these
two schools agreed in reality, and differed only in name. For when Plato
had left Speusippus, his sister’s son, the inheritor as it were of his
philosophy, and also two pupils most eminent for industry and genius,
Xenocrates of Chalcedon, and Aristotle the Stagirite; those who adhered to
Aristotle were called Peripatetics, because they disputed while walking(9)
in the Lyceum. And the others, who according to the fashion of Plato
himself were accustomed to hold their meetings and discussions in the
Academy, which is a second Gymnasium, took their name from the place where
they used to meet. But both these schools, being impregnated with the
copiousness of Plato, arranged a certain definite system of doctrine,
which was itself copious and luxuriant; but abandoned the Socratic plan of
doubting on every subject, and of discussing everything without ever
venturing on the assertion of a positive opinion. And thus there arose
what Socrates would have been far from approving of, a certain art of
philosophy, and methodical arrangement, and division of the school, which
at first, as I have already said, was one under two names. For there was
no real difference between the Peripatetics and the old Academy.
Aristotle, at least such is my opinion, was superior in a certain
luxuriance of genius; but both schools had the same source, and adopted
the same division of things which were to be desired and avoided. But what
am I about? said he, interrupting himself; am I in my senses while I am
explaining these things to you? for although it may not be exactly a case
of the pig teaching Minerva, still it is not very wise of any one to
attempt to impart instruction to that goddess.

V. I entreat you however, said Atticus, I entreat you to go on, Varro. For
I am greatly attached to my own countrymen and to their works; and those
subjects delight me beyond measure when they are treated in Latin, and in
such a manner as you treat them. And what, said I, do you think that I
must feel, who have already engaged to display philosophy to our nation?
Let us then, said he, continue the subject, since it is agreeable to you.

A threefold system of philosophising, then, was already received from
Plato. One, on the subject of life and morals. A second, on nature and
abstruse matters. The third, on discussion, and on what is true or false;
what is right or wrong in a discourse; what is consistent or inconsistent
in forming a decision.

And that first division of the subject, that namely of living well, they
sought in nature herself, and said that it was necessary to obey her; and
that that chief good to which everything was referred was not to be sought
in anything whatever except in nature. And they laid it down that the
crowning point of all desirable things, and the chief good, was to have
received from nature everything which is requisite for the mind, or the
body, or for life. But of the goods of the body, they placed some in the
whole, and others in the parts. Health, strength, and beauty in the whole.
In the parts, soundness of the senses, and a certain excellence of the
individual parts. As in the feet, swiftness; in the hands, strength; in
the voice, clearness; in the tongue, a distinct articulation of words. The
excellences of the mind they considered those which were suitable to the
comprehension of virtue by the disposition. And those they divided under
the separate heads of nature and morals. Quickness in learning and memory
they attributed to nature; each of which was described as a property of
the mind and genius. Under the head of “morals” they classed our studies,
and, I may say, our habits, which they formed, partly by a continuity of
practice, partly by reason. And in these two things was contained
philosophy itself, in which that which is begun and not brought to its
completion, is called a sort of advance towards virtue; but that which is
brought to completion is virtue, being a sort of perfection of nature and
of all things which they place in the mind; the one most excellent thing.
These things then are qualities of the mind.

The third division was that of life. And they said that those things which
had influence in facilitating the practice of virtue were connected with
this division. For virtue is discerned in some good qualities of the mind
and body, which are added not so much to nature as to a happy life. They
thought that a man was as it were a certain part of the state, and of the
whole human race, and that he was connected with other men by a sort of
human society. And this is the way in which they deal with the chief and
natural good. But they think that everything else is connected with it,
either in the way of increasing or of maintaining it; as riches, power,
glory, and influence. And thus a threefold division of goods is inferred
by them.

VI. And these are those three kinds which most people believe the
Peripatetics speak of: and so far they are not wrong; for this division is
the work of that school. But they are mistaken if they think that the
Academicians—those at least who bore this name at that time—are different
from the Peripatetics. The principle, and the chief good asserted by both
appeared to be the same—namely, to attain those things which were in the
first class by nature, and which were intrinsically desirable; the whole
of them, if possible, or, at all events, the most important of them. But
those are the most important which exist in the mind itself, and are
conversant about virtue itself. Therefore, all that ancient philosophy
perceived that a happy life was placed in virtue alone; and yet that it
was not the happiest life possible, unless the good qualities of the body
were added to it, and all the other things which have been already
mentioned, which are serviceable towards acquiring a habit of virtue. From
this definition of theirs, a certain principle of action in life, and of
duty itself, was discovered, which consisted in the preservation of those
things which nature might prescribe. Hence arose the avoidance of sloth,
and contempt of pleasures; from which proceeded the willingness to
encounter many and great labours and pains, for the sake of what was right
and honourable, and of those things which are conformable to the objects
of nature. Hence was generated friendship, and justice, and equity; and
these things were preferred to pleasure and to many of the advantages of
life. This was the system of morals recommended in their school, and the
method and design of that division which I have placed first.

But concerning nature (for that came next), they spoke in such a manner
that they divided it into two parts,—making one efficient, and the other
lending itself, as it were, to the first, as subject matter to be worked
upon. For that part which was efficient they thought there was power; and
in that which was made something by it they thought there was some matter;
and something of both in each. For they considered that matter itself
could have no cohesion, unless it were held together by some power; and
that power could have none without some matter to work upon; for that is
nothing which is not necessarily somewhere. But that which exists from a
combination of the two they called at once body, and a sort of quality, as
it were. For you will give me leave, in speaking of subjects which have
not previously been in fashion, to use at times words which have never
been heard of (which, indeed, is no more than the Greeks themselves do,
who have been long in the habit of discussing these subjects).

VII. To be sure we will, said Atticus. Moreover, you may even use Greek
words when you wish, if by chance you should be at a loss for Latin ones.
You are very kind; but I will endeavour to express myself in Latin, except
in the case of such words as these—_philosophia_, _rhetorica_, _physica_,
or _dialectica_, which, like many others, fashion already sanctions, as if
they were Latin. I therefore have called those things _qualitates_
(qualities), which the Greeks call ποιότητες—a word which, even among the
Greeks, is not one in ordinary use, but is confined to philosophers. And
the same rule applies to many other expressions. As for the Dialecticians,
they have no terms in common use: they use technical terms entirely. And
the case is the same with nearly every art; for men must either invent new
names for new things, or else borrow them from other subjects. And if the
Greeks do this, who have now been engaged in such matters for so many
ages, how much more ought this licence to be allowed to us, who are now
endeavouring to deal with these subjects for the first time? But, said I,
O Varro, it appears to me that you will deserve well of your
fellow-countrymen, if you enrich them, not only with an abundance of new
things, as you have done, but also of words. We will venture, then, said
he, to employ new terms, if it be necessary, armed with your authority and

Of these qualities, then, said he, some are principal ones, and others
arise out of them. The principal ones are of one character and simple; but
those which arise out of them are various, and, as it were, multiform.
Therefore, air (we use the Greek word ἀὴρ as Latin), fire, water, and
earth are principal ones; and out of them there arise the forms of living
creatures, and of those things which are produced out of the earth.
Therefore, those first are called principles and (to translate the Greek
word) elements: from which air and fire have the power of movement and
efficiency: the other divisions—I mean, water and the earth—have the power
of receiving, and, as it were, of suffering. The fifth class, from which
the stars and winds were formed, Aristotle considered to be a separate
essence, and different from those four which I have mentioned above.

But they think that there is placed under all of these a certain matter
without any form, and destitute of all quality (for we may as well, by
constant use, make this word more usual and notorious), from which all
things are sketched out and made; which can receive everything in its
entirety, and can be changed in every manner and in every part. And also
that it perishes, not so as to become nothing, but so as to be dissolved
with its component parts, which again are able to be cut up and divided,
_ad infinitum_; since there is absolutely nothing in the whole nature of
things which cannot be divided: and those things which are moved, are all
moved at intervals, which intervals again are capable of being infinitely
divided. And, since that power which we have called quality is moved in
this way, and is agitated in every direction, they think also that the
whole of matter is itself entirely changed, and so that those things are
produced which they call qualities, from which the world is made, in
universal nature, cohering together and connected with all its divisions;
and, out of the world, there is no such thing as any portion of matter or
any body.

And they say that the parts of the world are all the things which exist in
it, and which are maintained by sentient nature; in which perfect reason
is placed, which is also everlasting: for that there is nothing more
powerful which can be the cause of its dissolution. And this power they
call the soul of the world, and also its intellect and perfect wisdom. And
they call it God, a providence watching over everything subject to its
dominion, and, above all, over the heavenly bodies; and, next to them,
over those things on earth which concern men: which also they sometimes
call necessity, because nothing can be done in a manner different from
that in which it has been arranged by it in a destined (if I may so say)
and inevitable continuation of eternal order. Sometimes, too, they call it
fortune, because it brings about many unforeseen things, which have never
been expected by us, on account of the obscurity of their causes, and our
ignorance of them.

VIII. The third part of philosophy, which is next in order, being
conversant about reason and discussion, was thus handled by both schools.
They said that, although it originated in the senses, still the power of
judging of the truth was not in the senses. They insisted upon it that
intellect was the judge of things. They thought that the only thing
deserving of belief, because it alone discerned that which was always
simple and uniform, and which perceived its real character. This they call
_idea_, having already received this name from Plato; and we properly
entitle it _species_.

But they thought that all the senses were dull and slow, and that they did
not by any means perceive those things which appeared subjected to the
senses; which were either so small as to be unable to come under the
notice of sense, or so moveable and rapid that none of them was ever one
consistent thing, nor even the same thing, because everything was in a
continual state of transition and disappearance. And therefore they called
all this division of things one resting wholly on opinion. But they
thought that science had no existence anywhere except in the notions and
reasonings of the mind; on which account they approved of the definitions
of things, and employed them on everything which was brought under
discussion. The explanation of words also was approved of—that is to say,
the explanation of the cause why everything was named as it was; and that
they called etymology. Afterwards they used arguments, and, as it were,
marks of things, for the proof and conclusion of what they wished to have
explained; in which the whole system of dialectics—that is to say, of an
oration brought to its conclusion by ratiocination, was handed down. And
to this there was added, as a kind of second part, the oratorical power of
speaking, which consists in developing a continued discourse, composed in
a manner adapted to produce conviction.

IX. This was the first philosophy handed down to them by Plato. And if you
like I will explain to you those discussions which have originated in it.
Indeed, said I, we shall be glad if you will; and I can answer for Atticus
as well as for myself. You are quite right, said he; for the doctrine both
of the Peripatetics and of the old Academy is most admirably explained.

Aristotle, then, was the first to undermine the doctrine of species, which
I have just now mentioned, and which Plato had embraced in a wonderful
manner; so that he even affirmed that there was something divine in it.
But Theophrastus, a man of very delightful eloquence, and of such purity
of morals that his probity and integrity were notorious to all men, broke
down more vigorously still the authority of the old school; for he
stripped virtue of its beauty, and made it powerless, by denying that to
live happily depended solely on it. For Strato, his pupil, although a man
of brilliant abilities, must still be excluded entirely from that school;
for, having deserted that most indispensable part of philosophy which is
placed in virtue and morals, and having devoted himself wholly to the
investigation of nature, he by that very conduct departs as widely as
possible from his companions. But Speusippus and Xenocrates, who were the
earliest supporters of the system and authority of Plato,—and, after them,
Polemo and Crates, and at the same time Crantor,—being all collected
together in the Academy, diligently maintained those doctrines which they
had received from their predecessors. Zeno and Arcesilas had been diligent
attenders on Polemo; but Zeno, who preceded Arcesilas in point of time,
and argued with more subtilty, and was a man of the greatest acuteness,
attempted to correct the system of that school. And, if you like, I will
explain to you the way in which he set about that correction, as Antiochus
used to explain it. Indeed, said I, I shall be very glad to hear you do
so; and you see that Pomponius intimates the same wish.

X. Zeno, then, was not at all a man like Theophrastus, to cut through the
sinews of virtue; but, on the other hand, he was one who placed everything
which could have any effect in producing a happy life in virtue alone, and
who reckoned nothing else a good at all, and who called that honourable
which was single in its nature, and the sole and only good. But as for all
other things, although they were neither good nor bad, he divided them,
calling some according to, and others contrary to nature. There were
others which he looked upon as placed between these two classes, and which
he called intermediate. Those which were according to nature, he taught
his disciples, deserved to be taken, and to be considered worthy of a
certain esteem. To those which were contrary to nature, he assigned a
contrary character; and those of the intermediate class he left as
neutrals, and attributed to them no importance whatever. But of those
which he said ought to be taken, he considered some worthy of a higher
estimation and others of a less. Those which were worthy of a higher
esteem, he called _preferred_; those which were only worthy of a lower
degree, he called _rejected_. And as he had altered all these things, not
so much in fact as in name, so too he defined some actions as
intermediate, lying between good deeds and sins, between duty and a
violation of duty;—classing things done rightly as good actions, and
things done wrongly (that is to say, sins) as bad actions. And several
duties, whether discharged or neglected, he considered of an intermediate
character, as I have already said. And whereas his predecessors had not
placed every virtue in reason, but had said that some virtues were
perfected by nature, or by habit, he placed them all in reason; and while
they thought that those kinds of virtues which I have mentioned above
could be separated, he asserted that that could not be done in any manner,
and affirmed that not only the practice of virtue (which was the doctrine
of his predecessors), but the very disposition to it, was intrinsically
beautiful; and that virtue could not possibly be present to any one
without his continually practising it.

And while they did not entirely remove all perturbation of mind from man,
(for they admitted that man did by nature grieve, and desire, and fear,
and become elated by joy,) but only contracted it, and reduced it to
narrow bounds; he maintained that the wise man was wholly free from all
these diseases as they might be called. And as the ancients said that
those perturbations were natural, and devoid of reason, and placed desire
in one part of the mind and reason in another, he did not agree with them
either; for he thought that all perturbations were voluntary, and were
admitted by the judgment of the opinion, and that a certain unrestrained
intemperance was the mother of all of them. And this is nearly what he
laid down about morals.

XI. But about natures he held these opinions. In the first place, he did
not connect this fifth nature, out of which his predecessors thought that
sense and intellect were produced, with those four principles of things.
For he laid it down that fire is that nature which produces everything,
and intellect, and sense. But he differed from them again, inasmuch as he
thought it absolutely impossible for anything to be produced from that
nature which was destitute of body; which was the character attributed by
Xenocrates and his predecessors to the mind, and he would not allow that
that which produced anything, or which was produced by anything, could
possibly be anything except body.

But he made a great many alterations in that third part of his philosophy,
in which, first of all, he said some new things of the senses themselves:
which he considered to be united by some impulse as it were, acting upon
them from without, which he called φαντασία, and which we may term
_perception_. And let us recollect this word, for we shall have frequent
occasion to employ it in the remainder of our discourse; but to these
things which are perceived, and as it were accepted by the senses, he adds
the assent of the mind, which he considers to be placed in ourselves and
voluntary. He did not give credit to everything which is perceived, but
only to those which contain some especial character of those things which
are seen; but he pronounced what was seen, when it was discerned on
account of its own power, _comprehensible_—will you allow me this word?
Certainly, said Atticus, for how else are you to express καταληπτός? But
after it had been received and approved, then he called it
_comprehension_, resembling those things which are taken up
(_prehenduntur_) in the hand; from which verb also he derived this noun,
though no one else had ever used this verb with reference to such matters;
and he also used many new words, for he was speaking of new things. But
that which was comprehended by sense he called _felt_ (_sensum_,) and if
it was so comprehended that it could not be eradicated by reason, he
called it knowledge; otherwise he called it ignorance: from which also was
engendered opinion, which was weak, and compatible with what was false or
unknown. But between knowledge and ignorance he placed that comprehension
which I have spoken of, and reckoned it neither among what was right or
what was wrong, but said that it alone deserved to be trusted.

And from this he attributed credit also to the senses, because, as I have
said above, comprehension made by the senses appeared to him to be true
and trustworthy. Not because it comprehended all that existed in a thing,
but because it left out nothing which could affect it, and because nature
had given it to us to be as it were a rule of knowledge, and a principle
from which subsequently all notions of things might be impressed on our
minds, from which not only principles, but some broader paths to the
discovery of reason are found out. But error, and rashness, and ignorance,
and opinion, and suspicion, and in a word everything which was
inconsistent with a firm and consistent assent, he discarded from virtue
and wisdom. And it is in these things that nearly all the disagreement
between Zeno and his predecessors, and all his alteration of their system

XII. And when he had spoken thus—You have, said I, O Varro, explained the
principles both of the Old Academy and of the Stoics with brevity, but
also with great clearness. But I think it to be true, as Antiochus, a
great friend of mine, used to assert, that it is to be considered rather
as a corrected edition of the Old Academy, than as any new sect. Then
Varro replied—It is your part now, who revolt from the principles of the
ancients, and who approve of the innovations which have been made by
Arcesilas, to explain what that division of the two schools which he made
was, and why he made it; so that we may see whether that revolt of his was
justifiable. Then I replied—Arcesilas, as we understand, directed all his
attacks against Zeno, not out of obstinacy or any desire of gaining the
victory, as it appears to me, but by reason of the obscurity of those
things which had brought Socrates to the confession of ignorance, and even
before Socrates, Democritus, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, and nearly all the
ancients; who asserted that nothing could be ascertained, or perceived, or
known: that the senses of man were narrow, his mind feeble, the course of
his life short, and that truth, as Democritus said, was sunk in the deep;
that everything depended on opinions and established customs; that nothing
was left to truth. They said in short, that everything was enveloped in
darkness; therefore Arcesilas asserted that there was nothing which could
be known, not even that very piece of knowledge which Socrates had left
himself. Thus he thought that everything lay hid in secret, and that there
was nothing which could be discerned or understood; for which reasons it
was not right for any one to profess or affirm anything, or sanction
anything by his assent, but men ought always to restrain their rashness
and to keep it in check so as to guard it against every fall. For rashness
would be very remarkable when anything unknown or false was approved of;
and nothing could be more discreditable than for a man’s assent and
approbation to precede his knowledge and perception of a fact. And he used
to act consistently with these principles, so as to pass most of his days
in arguing against every one’s opinion, in order that when equally
important reasons were found for both sides of the same question, the
judgment might more naturally be suspended, and prevented from giving
assent to either.

This they call the New Academy, which however appears to me to be the old
one, if, at least, we reckon Plato as one of that Old Academy. For in his
books nothing is affirmed positively, and many arguments are allowed on
both sides of a question; everything is investigated, and nothing positive
affirmed. Still let the school whose principles I have explained, be
called the Old Academy, and this other the New; which, having continued to
the time of Carneades, who was the fourth in succession after Arcesilas,
continued in the same principles and system as Arcesilas. But Carneades,
being a man ignorant of no part of philosophy, and, as I have learnt from
those who had been his pupils, and particularly from Zeno the Epicurean,
who, though he greatly differed from him in opinion, still admired him
above all other men, was also a person of incredible abilities...

_The rest of this Book is lost._


I. Lucius Lucullus was a man of great genius, and very much devoted to the
study of the most important arts; every branch of liberal learning worthy
of a man of high birth, was thoroughly understood by him; but at the time
when he might have made the greatest figure in the forum, he was wholly
removed from all participation in the business of the city. For while he
was very young, he, uniting with his brother, a man of equal sense of duty
and diligence with himself, followed up the quarrel(10) bequeathed to him
by his father to his own exceeding credit; afterwards having gone as
quæstor into Asia, he there governed the province for many years with
great reputation. Subsequently he was made ædile in his absence, and
immediately after that he was elected prætor; for his services had been
rewarded by an express law authorizing his election at a period earlier
than usual. After that he was sent into Africa; from thence he proceeded
to the consulship, the duties of which he discharged in such a manner,
that every one admired his diligence, and recognised his genius.
Afterwards he was sent by the Senate to conduct the war against
Mithridates, and there he not only surpassed the universal expectation
which every one had formed of his valour, but even the glory of his
predecessors. And that was the more admirable in him, because great skill
as a general was not very much looked for in one who had spent his youth
in the occupations of the forum, and the duration of his quæstorship in
peace in Asia, while Murena was carrying on the war in Pontus. But the
incredible greatness of his genius did not require the aid of experience,
which can never be taught by precepts. Therefore, having devoted the whole
time occupied in his march and his voyage, partly to making inquiries of
those who were skilful in such matters, and partly in reading the accounts
of great achievements, he arrived in Asia a perfect general, though he had
left Rome entirely ignorant of military affairs. For he had an almost
divine memory for facts, though Hortensius had a better one for words. But
as in performing great deeds, facts are of more consequence than words,
this memory of his was the more serviceable of the two; and they say, that
the same quality was conspicuous in Themistocles, whom we consider beyond
all comparison the first man in Greece. And a story is told of him, that,
when some one promised to teach him the art of memory, which was then
beginning to be cultivated, he answered, that he should much prefer
learning to forget; I suppose, because everything which he had either
heard or seen stuck in his memory.

Lucullus having this great genius, added to it that study which
Themistocles had despised: therefore, as we write down in letters what we
wish to commit to monuments, he, in like manner, had the facts engraved in
his mind. Therefore, he was a general of such perfect skill in every kind
of war, in battles, and sieges, and naval fights, and in the whole
equipment and management of war, that that king, the greatest that has
ever lived since the time of Alexander, confessed, that he considered him
a greater general than any one of whom he had ever read. He also displayed
such great prudence in arranging and regulating the affairs of the
different cities, and such great justice too, that to this very day, Asia
is preserved by the careful maintenance of the regulations, and by
following as it were in the footsteps of Lucullus. But although it was
greatly to the advantage of the republic, still that great virtue and
genius was kept abroad at a distance from the eyes both of the forum and
the senate-house, for a longer time than I could have wished. Moreover,
when he had returned victorious from the war against Mithridates, owing to
the calumnies of his adversaries, he did not celebrate his triumph till
three years later than he ought to have done. For I may almost say, that I
myself when consul led into the city the chariot of that most illustrious
man, and I might enlarge upon the great advantage that his counsel and
authority were to me, in the most critical circumstances, if it were not
that to do so would compel me to speak of myself, which at this moment is
not necessary. Therefore, I will rather deprive him of the testimony due
to him, than mix it up now with a commendation of myself.

II. But as for those exploits of Lucullus, which were entitled to be
celebrated by the praises of the nation, they have been extolled both in
Greek and Latin writings. For those outward exploits of his are known to
us in common with the multitude; but his interior excellences (if I may so
call them) we and a few of his friends have learnt from himself. For
Lucullus used to apply himself to every kind of literature, and especially
to philosophy, with greater eagerness than those who were not acquainted
with him believed. And he did so, not only at his first entrance into
life, but also when he was proquæstor, as he was for several years, and
even during the time of war itself, a time when men are usually so fully
occupied with their military business, that very little leisure is left to
the general, even in his own tent. And as of all the philosophers of that
day, Antiochus, who had been a pupil of Philo, was thought to excel in
genius and learning, he kept him about him while he was quæstor, and some
years afterwards when he was general. And as he had that extraordinary
memory which I have mentioned already, by hearing frequently of things, he
arrived at a thorough acquaintance with them; as he recollected everything
that he had heard of only once. And he was wonderfully delighted in the
reading books of which he heard any one speak.

And I sometimes fear lest I may even diminish the glory of such characters
as his, even while wishing to enhance it; for there are many people who
are altogether averse to Greek literature, still more who have a dislike
to philosophy, and men in general, even though they do not positively
disapprove of them, still think the discussion of such matters not
altogether suitable for the chiefs of the state. But I, having heard that
Marcus Cato learnt Greek in his old age, and learning from history that
Panætius was above all other men the chosen companion of Publius
Africanus, in that noble embassy which he was employed on before he
entered on the censorship, think I have no need of any other instance to
justify his study of Greek literature or of philosophy.

It remains for me to reply to those men who disapprove of such dignified
characters being mixed up in discussions of this sort; as if the meetings
of illustrious men were bound to be passed in silence, or their
conversation to be confined to jesting, and all the topics to be drawn
from trifling subjects. In truth, if in any one of my writings I have
given philosophy its due praise, then surely its discussion is thoroughly
worthy of every excellent and honourable man; nor is anything else
necessary to be taken care of by us, whom the Roman people has placed in
our present rank, except that we do not devote to our private pursuits,
the time which ought to be bestowed on the affairs of the public. But if,
while we are bound to discharge our duties, we still not only never omit
to give our assistance in all public meetings, but never even write a
single word unconnected with the forum, who then will blame our leisure,
because even in that moment we are unwilling to allow ourselves to grow
rusty and stupid, but take pains rather to benefit as many people as

And I think, that not only is the glory of those men not diminished, but
that it is even increased by our adding to their popular and notorious
praises these also which are less known and less spoken of. Some people
also deny that those men who are introduced in our writings as disputants
had any knowledge of those affairs which are the subjects of discussion.
But they appear to me to be showing their envy, not only of the living but
also of the dead.

III. There remains one class of critics who disapprove of the general
principles of the Academy. Which we should be more concerned at if any one
approved of any school of philosophy except that which he himself
followed. But we, since we are in the habit of arguing against every one
who appears to himself to know anything, cannot object to others also
dissenting from us. Although our side of the question is an easier one,
since we wish to discover the truth without any dispute, and we seek for
that with the greatest anxiety and diligence. For although all knowledge
is beset with many difficulties, and there is that obscurity in the things
themselves and that infirmity in our own judgment, that it is not without
reason that the most learned and ancient philosophers have distrusted
their power of discovering what they wished; yet they have not been
deficient in any respect, nor do we allow ourselves to abandon the pursuit
of truth through fatigue; nor have our discussions ever any other object
except that of, by arguing on each side, eliciting, and as it were,
squeezing out something which may either be the truth itself, or may at
least come as near as possible to it. Nor is there any difference between
us and those people who fancy that they know something, except that they
do not doubt at all that those doctrines which they uphold are the truth,
while we account many things as probable which we can adopt as our belief,
but can hardly positively affirm.

And in this we are more free and unfettered than they are, because our
power of judging is unimpeached, and because we are not compelled by any
necessity to defend theories which are laid upon as injunctions, and, if I
may say so, as commands. For in the first place, those of the other
schools have been bound hand and foot before they were able to judge what
was best; and, secondly, before their age or their understanding had come
to maturity, they have either followed the opinion of some friend, or been
charmed by the eloquence of some one who was the first arguer whom they
ever heard, and so have been led to form a judgment on what they did not
understand, and now they cling to whatever school they were, as it were,
dashed against in a tempest, like sailors clinging to a rock. For as to
their statement that they are wholly trusting to one whom they judge to
have been a wise man, I should approve of that if that were a point which
they, while ignorant and unlearned, were able to judge of, (for to decide
who is a wise man appears to me most especially the task of one who is
himself wise.) But they have either formed their opinion as well as they
could from a hearing of all the circumstances, and also from a knowledge
of the opinions of philosophers of all the other schools; or else, having
heard the matter mentioned once, they have surrendered themselves to the
guidance of some one individual. But, I know not how it is, most people
prefer being in error, and defending with the utmost pugnacity that
opinion which they have taken a fancy to, to inquiring without any
obstinacy what is said with the greatest consistency.

And these subjects were very frequently and very copiously discussed by us
at other times, and once also in the villa of Hortensius, which is at
Bauli, when Catulus, and Lucullus, and I myself had arrived there the day
after we had been staying with Catulus. And we had come thither rather
early in the day, because we had intended, if the wind was fair, to set
sail, Lucullus for his villa near Naples, and I myself towards mine, in
the district of Pompeii. When, therefore, we had had a short conversation
on the terrace, we sat down where we were.

IV. Then Catulus said,—Although what we were inquiring into yesterday was
almost wholly explained in such a manner that nearly the whole question
appears to have been discussed, still I long to hear what you promised to
tell us, Lucullus, as being what you had learnt from Antiochus. I, indeed,
said Hortensius, did more than I intended, for the whole matter ought to
have been left untouched for Lucullus, and indeed, perhaps it was: for I
only said such things as occurred to me at the moment; but I hope to hear
something more recondite from Lucullus.

Lucullus rejoined, I am not much troubled, Hortensius, at your
expectation, although there is nothing so unfavourable for those who wish
to give pleasure; but still, as I am not very anxious about how far I can
prove to your satisfaction the arguments which I advance, I am the less
disturbed. For the arguments which I am going to repeat are not my own,
nor such that, if they are incorrect, I should not prefer being defeated
to gaining the victory; but, in truth, as the case stands at present,
although the doctrines of my school were somewhat shaken in yesterday’s
discussion, still they do seem to me to be wholly true. I will therefore
argue as Antiochus used to argue; for the subject is one with which I am
well acquainted. For I used to listen to his lectures with a mind quite
unengaged, and with great pleasure, and, moreover, he frequently discussed
the same subject over again; so that you have some grounds for expecting
more from me than you had from Hortensius a little while ago. When he had
begun in this manner we prepared to listen with great attention.

And he spoke thus:—When I was at Alexandria, as proquæstor, Antiochus was
with me, and before my arrival, Heraclitus, of Tyre, a friend of
Antiochus, had already settled in Alexandria, a man who had been for many
years a pupil of Clitomachus and of Philo, and who had a great and
deserved reputation in that school, which having been almost utterly
discarded, is now coming again into fashion; and I used often to hear
Antiochus arguing with him; but they both conducted their discussions with
great gentleness. And just at that time those two books of Philo which
were yesterday mentioned by Catulus had been brought to Alexandria, and
had for the first time come under the notice of Antiochus; and he, though
naturally a man of the mildest disposition, (nor indeed was it possible
for any one to be more peaceable than he was,) was nevertheless a little
provoked. I was surprised, for I had never seen him so before: but he,
appealing to the recollection of Heraclitus, began to inquire of him
whether he had seen those works of Philo, or whether he had heard the
doctrines contained in them, either from Philo or from any one else of the
Academic school? And he said that he had not; however, he recognised the
style of Philo, nor, indeed, could there be any doubt about it; for some
friends of mine, men of great learning, Publius and Caius Setilius, and
Tetrilius Rogus were present, who said that they heard Philo advance such
operations at Rome; and who said that they had written out those two books
from his dictation. Then Antiochus repeated what Catulus mentioned
yesterday, as having been said to Philo by his father, and many other
things besides; nor did he forbear even to publish a book against his own
master, which is called “Sosus.”

I therefore, then, as I was much interested in hearing Heraclitus arguing
against Antiochus, and Antiochus against the Academicians, paid great
attention to Antiochus, in order to learn the whole matter from him.
Accordingly, for many days, collecting together Heraclitus and several
learned men, and among them Aristus, the brother of Antiochus, and also
Ariston and Dion, men whom he considered only second to his brother in
genius, we devoted a great deal of time to that single discussion.

But we must pass over that part of it which was bestowed on refuting the
doctrines of Philo; for he is a less formidable adversary, who altogether
denies that the Academicians advance those arguments which were maintained
yesterday. For although he is quite wrong as to the fact, still he is a
less invincible adversary. Let us speak of Arcesilas and Carneades.

V. And having said this, he began again:—You appear to me, in the first
place, (and he addressed me by name,) when you speak of the old natural
philosophers, to do the same thing that seditious citizens are in the
habit of doing when they bring forward some illustrious men of the
ancients, who they say were friends of the people, in the hope of being
themselves considered like them. They go back to Publius Valerius, who was
consul the first year after the expulsion of the kings. They enumerate all
the other men who have passed laws for the advantage of the people
concerning appeals when they were consuls; and then they come down to
these better known men, Caius Flaminius, who, as tribune of the people,
passed an Agrarian law some years before the second Punic war, against the
will of the senate, and who was afterwards twice elected consul; to Lucius
Cassius and Quintus Pompeius; they are also in the habit of classing
Publius Africanus in the same list; and they assert that those two
brothers of infinite wisdom and exceeding glory, Publius Crassus and
Publius Scævola, were the advisers of Tiberius Gracchus, in the matter of
the laws which he proposed; the one, indeed, as we see, openly; the other,
as we suspect, in a more concealed manner. They add also Caius Marius; and
with respect to him they speak truly enough: then, having recounted the
names of so many illustrious men, they say that they are acting up to
their principles.

In like manner, you, when you are seeking to overturn a well-established
system of philosophy, in the same way as those men endeavoured to overturn
the republic, bring forward the names of Empedocles, Anaxagoras,
Democritus, Parmenides, Xenophanes, and even Plato and Socrates. But
Saturninus, (that I may name my own enemy rather than any one else,) had
nothing in him resembling those ancient men; nor are the ungrounded
accusations of Arcesilas to be compared to the modesty of Democritus. And
yet those natural philosophers, though very seldom, when they have any
very great difficulty, make loud and violent outcries, as if under the
influence of some great excitement, Empedocles, indeed, does so to such a
degree, that he appears to me at times to be mad, crying out that all
things are hidden, that we feel nothing, see nothing, and cannot find out
the true character of anything whatever. But for the most part all those
men appear to me to affirm some things rather too positively, and to
profess that they know more than they really do know. But if they then
hesitated while discussing new subjects, like children lately born, are we
for that reason to think that nothing has been explained in so many ages
by the greatest genius and the most untiring industry? May we not say
that, after the establishment of some wise and important schools of
philosophy, then, as Tiberius Gracchus arose in an excellent constitution,
for the purpose of throwing everything into confusion, so Arcesilas rose
up to overturn the established philosophy, and to shelter himself under
the authority of those men who asserted that nothing could be known or
perceived; in which number we ought not to include Plato or Socrates; the
one because he left behind him a most perfect school, namely, the
Peripatetics and Academics, differing in name, but agreeing in all
substantial matters: and from whom the Stoics themselves differ in words
rather than in opinions. But Socrates, who always disparaged himself in
arguing, attributed more knowledge to those whom he wished to refute. So,
as he was speaking differently from what he really thought, he was fond of
using that kind of dissimulation which the Greeks call εἰρωνεία; which
Fannius says Africanus also was in the habit of indulging in, and that
that ought not be considered a bad habit in him, as it was a favourite
practice of Socrates.

VI. But, however, we will allow, if you like, that all those things were
unknown to the ancients:—was nothing effected then, by their being
thoroughly investigated, after that Arcesilas, disparaging Zeno, (for that
is supposed to have been his object,) as discovering nothing new, but only
correcting previous changes of names, while seeking to upset his
definitions, had attempted to envelop the clearest possible matters in
darkness? And his system, which was at first not at all approved of,
although it was illustrated both by acute genius and by an admirable
wittiness of language, was in the next generation adopted by no one but
Lacydes; but subsequently it was perfected by Carneades, who was the
fourth in succession from Arcesilas; for he was the pupil of Hegesinus,
who had been the pupil of Evander, the disciple of Lacydes, and Lacydes
himself had been the pupil of Arcesilas; but Carneades maintained it for a
long time, for he lived ninety years; and those who had been his pupils
had a very high reputation, of whom Clitomachus displayed the most
industry, as the number of books which he composed testifies; nor was
there less brilliancy of genius in him than there was of eloquence in
Charmadas, or of sweetness in Melanthius of Rhodes. But Metrodorus of
Stratonice was thought to be the one who had the most thorough
understanding of Carneades. And your friend Philo attended the lectures of
Clitomachus for many years; but as long as Philo was alive the Academy was
never in want of a head.

But the business that we now propose to ourselves, of arguing against the
Academicians, appears to some philosophers, and those, too, men of no
ordinary calibre, to be a thing that ought not to be done at all; and they
think that there is no sense at all in, and no method of disputing with
men who approve of nothing; and they blame Antipater, the Stoic, who was
very fond of doing so, and say that there is no need of laying down exact
definitions of what knowledge is, or perception, or, if we want to render
word for word, comprehension, which they call κατάληψις; and they say that
those who wish to persuade men that there is anything which can be
comprehended and perceived, are acting ignorantly; because there is
nothing clearer than ἐνάργεια, as the Greeks call it, and which we may
call perspicuity, or evidentness if you like,—coining words, if you will
permit us to do so, that this fellow (meaning me) may not think that he is
the only person to whom such liberties are permitted. Still they thought
that no discourse could be found which should be more intelligible than
evidentness itself; and they thought that there was no need of defining
things which were so clear.

But others declared that they would never be the first to speak in behalf
of this evidentness; but they thought that a reply ought to be made to
those arguments which were advanced against it, to prevent any one being
deceived by them. There are also many men who do not disapprove of the
definitions of the evident things themselves, and who think the subject
one worthy of being inquired into, and the men worthy of being argued

But Philo, while he raises some new questions, because he was scarcely
able to withstand the things which were said against the obstinacy of the
Academicians, speaks falsely, without disguise, as he was reproached for
doing by the elder Catulus; and also, as Antiochus told him, falls into
the very trap of which he was afraid. For as he asserted that there was
nothing which could be comprehended, (for that is what we conceive to be
meant by ἀκατάληπτος,) if that was, as Zeno defined it, such a perception,
(for we have already spent time enough yesterday in beating out a word for
φαντασία,) then a perception was extracted and produced out of that from
which it originated, such as could be produced from that from which it did
not originate. And we say that this matter was most excellently defined by
Zeno; for how can anything be comprehended, so that you may feel
absolutely sure that it has been perceived and known, which is of such a
character that it is even possible that it may be false? Now when Philo
upsets and denies this, he takes away also all distinction between what is
known and unknown; from which it follows that nothing can be comprehended;
and so, without intending it, he is brought back to the point he least
intended. Wherefore, all this discourse against the Academy is undertaken
by us in order that we may retain that definition which Philo wished to
overturn; and unless we succeed in that, we grant that nothing can be

VII. Let us begin then with the senses—the judgments of which are so clear
and certain, that if an option were given to our nature, and if some god
were to ask of it whether it is content with its own unimpaired and
uncorrupted senses, or whether it desires something better, I do not see
what more it could ask for. Nor while speaking on this topic need you wait
while I reply to the illustration drawn from a bent oar, or the neck of a
dove; for I am not a man to say that everything which seems is exactly of
that character of which it seems to be. Epicurus may deal with this idea,
and with many others; but in my opinion there is the very greatest truth
in the senses, if they are in sound and healthy order, and if everything
is removed which could impede or hinder them. Therefore we often wish the
light to be changed, or the situation of those things which we are looking
at; and we either narrow or enlarge distances; and we do many things until
our sight causes us to feel confidence in our judgment. And the same thing
takes place with respect to sounds, and smell, and taste, so that there is
not one of us who, in each one of his senses, requires a more acute
judgment as to each sort of thing.

But when practice and skill are added, so that one’s eyes are charmed by a
picture, and one’s ears by songs, who is there who can fail to see what
great power there is in the senses? How many things do painters see in
shadows and in projections which we do not see? How many beauties which
escape us in music are perceived by those who are practised in that kind
of accomplishment? men who, at the first note of the flute-player,
say,—That is the Antiope, or the Andromache, when we have not even a
suspicion of it. There is no need for me to speak of the faculties of
taste or smell; organs in which there is a degree of intelligence, however
faulty it may be. Why should I speak of touch, and of that kind of touch
which philosophers call the inner one, I mean the touch of pleasure or
pain? in which alone the Cyrenaics think that there is any judgment of the
truth, because pleasure or pain are felt. Can any one then say that there
is no difference between a man who is in pain and a man who is in
pleasure? or can any one think that a man who entertains this opinion is
not flagrantly mad?

But such as those things are which we say are perceived by the senses,
such also are those things which are said to be perceived, not by the
senses themselves, but by the senses after a fashion; as these things—that
is white, this is sweet, that is tuneful, this is fragrant, that is rough.
We have these ideas already comprehended by the mind, not by the senses.
Again, this is a house, that is a dog. Then the rest of the series
follows, connecting the more important links; such as these, which
embrace, as it were, the full comprehension of things;—If he is a man, he
is a mortal animal partaking of reason:—from which class of arguments the
notions of things are impressed upon us, without which nothing can be
understood, nor inquired into, nor discussed. But if those notions were
false, (for you seemed to me to translate ἔννοιαι _notions_,) if, I say,
they were false, or impressed, or perceptions of such a kind as not to be
able to be distinguished from false ones; then I should like to know how
we were to use them? and how we were to see what was consistent with each
thing and what was inconsistent with it? Certainly no room at all is here
left for memory, which of all qualities is the one that most completely
contains, not only philosophy, but the whole practice of life, and all the
arts. For what memory can there be of what is false? or what does any one
remember which he does not comprehend and hold in his mind? And what art
can there be except that which consists not of one, nor of two, but of
many perceptions of the mind? and if you take these away, how are you to
distinguish the artist from the ignorant man? For we must not say at
random that this man is an artist, and deny that that man is; but we must
only do so when we see that the one retains the things which he has
perceived and comprehended, and that the other does not. And as some arts
are of that kind that one can only see the fact in one’s mind, others such
that one can design and effect something, how can a geometrician perceive
those things which have no existence, or which cannot be distinguished
from what is false? or how can he who plays on the lyre complete his
rhythm, and finish verses? And the same will be the case with respect to
similar arts, whose whole work consists in acting and in effecting
something. For what is there that can be effected by art, unless the man
who exercises the art has many perceptions?

VIII. And most especially does the knowledge of virtues confirm the
assertion that many things can be perceived and comprehended. And in those
things alone do we say that science exists; which we consider to be not a
mere comprehension of things, but one that is firm and unchangeable; and
we consider it also to be wisdom, the art of living which, by itself,
derives consistency from itself. But if that consistency has no perception
or knowledge about it, then I ask whence it has originated and how? I ask
also, why that good man who has made up his mind to endure every kind of
torture, to be torn by intolerable pain, rather than to betray his duty or
his faith, has imposed on himself such bitter conditions, when he has
nothing comprehended, perceived, known, or established, to lead him to
think that he is bound to do so? It cannot, then, by any possibility be
the case that any one should estimate equity and good faith so highly as
to shrink from no punishment for the sake of preserving them, unless he
has assented to those facts which cannot be false. But as to wisdom
itself, if it be ignorant of its own character, and if it does not know
whether it be wisdom or not, in the first place, how is it to obtain its
name of wisdom? Secondly, how will it venture to undertake any exploit, or
to perform it with confidence, when it has nothing certain to follow? But
when it doubts what is the chief and highest good, being ignorant to what
everything is referred, how can it be wisdom?

And that also is manifest, that it is necessary that there should be laid
down in the first place a principle which wisdom may follow when it begins
to act; and that principle must be adapted to nature. For otherwise, the
desire, (for that is how I translate ὁρμὴ,) by which we are impelled to
act, and by which we desire what has been seen, cannot be set in motion.
But that which sets anything in motion must first be seen and trusted,
which cannot be the case if that which is seen cannot be distinguished
from what is false. But how can the mind be moved to desire anything, if
it cannot be perceived whether that which is seen is adapted to nature or
inconsistent with it?

And again, if it does not occur to a man’s mind what his duty is, he will
actually never do anything, he will never be excited to any action, he
will never be moved. But if he ever is about to do anything, then it is
necessary that that which occurs to him must appear to him to be true.
What! But if those things are true, is the whole of reason, which is, as
it were, the light and illumination of life, put an end to? And still will
you persist in that wrong-headedness? For it is reason which has brought
men the beginning of inquiry, which has perfected virtue, after reason
herself had been confirmed by inquiry. But inquiry is the desire of
knowledge; and the end of inquiry is discovery. But no one can discover
what is false; nor can those things which continue uncertain be
discovered. But when those things which have, as it were, been under a
veil, are laid open, then they are said to be discovered; and so reason
contains the beginning of inquiry, and the end of perceiving and
comprehending. Therefore the conclusion of an argument, which in Greek is
called ἀπόδειξις, is thus defined:—Reason, which leads one from facts
which are perceived, to that which was not perceived.

IX. But if all things which are seen were of that sort that those men say
they are, so that they either could possibly be false, or that no
discernment could distinguish whether they were false or not, then how
could we say that any one had either formed any conclusion, or discovered
anything? Or what trust could be placed in an argument when brought to a
conclusion? And what end will philosophy itself have, which is bound to
proceed according to reason? And what will become of wisdom? which ought
not to doubt about its own character, nor about its decrees, which
philosophers call δόγματα; none of which can be betrayed without
wickedness. For when a decree is betrayed, the law of truth and right is
betrayed too. From which fault betrayals of friendships and of republics
often originate. It cannot, therefore be doubted, that no rule of wisdom
can possibly be false; and it ought not to be enough for the wise man that
it is not false, but it ought also to be steady, durable, and lasting;
such as no arguments can shake. But none can either be, or appear such,
according to the principle of those men who deny that those perceptions in
which all rules originate are in any respect different from false ones;
and from this assertion arose the demand which was repeated by Hortensius,
that you would at least allow that the fact that nothing can be perceived
has been perceived by the wise man. But when Antipater made the same
demand, and argued that it was unavoidable that the man who affirmed that
nothing could be perceived should nevertheless admit that this one thing
could be perceived,—namely, that nothing else could,—Carneades resisted
him with great shrewdness. For he said that this admission was so far from
being consistent with the doctrine asserted, that it was above all others
incompatible with it: for that a man who denied that there was anything
which could be perceived excepted nothing. And so it followed of
necessity, that even that very thing which was not excepted, could not be
comprehended and perceived in any possible manner.

Antiochus, on this topic, seems to press his antagonist more closely. For
since the Academicians adopted that rule, (for you understand that I am
translating by this word what they call δόγμα,) that nothing can be
perceived, he urged that they ought not to waver in their rule as in other
matters, especially as the whole of their philosophy consisted in it: for
that the fixing of what is true and false, known and unknown, is the
supreme law of all philosophy. And since they adopted this principle, and
wished to teach what ought to be received by each individual, and what
rejected, undoubtedly, said he, they ought to perceive this very thing
from which the whole judgment of what is true and false arises. He urged,
in short, that there were these two principal objects in philosophy, the
knowledge of truth, and the attainment of the chief good; and that a man
could not be wise who was ignorant of either the beginning of knowledge,
or of the end of desire, so as not to know either where to start from, or
whither to seek to arrive at. But that to feel in doubt on these points,
and not to have such confidence respecting them as to be unable to be
shaken, is utterly incompatible with wisdom.

In this manner, therefore, it was more fitting to demand of them that they
should at least admit that this fact was perceived, namely, that nothing
could be perceived. But enough, I imagine, has been said of the
inconsistency of their whole opinion, if, indeed, you can say that a man
who approves of nothing has any opinion at all.

X. The next point for discussion is one which is copious enough, but
rather abstruse; for it touches in some points on natural philosophy, so
that I am afraid that I may be giving the man who will reply to me too
much liberty and licence. For what can I think that he will do about
abstruse and obscure matters, who seeks to deprive us of all light? But
one might argue with great refinement the question,—with how much
artificial skill, as it were, nature has made, first of all, every animal;
secondly, man most especially;—how great the power of the senses is; in
what manner things seen first affect us; then, how the desires, moved by
these things, followed; and, lastly, in what manner we direct our senses
to the perception of things. For the mind itself, which is the source of
the senses, and which itself is sense, has a natural power, which it
directs towards those things by which it is moved. Therefore it seizes on
other things which are seen in such a manner as to use them at once;
others it stores up; and from these memory arises: but all other things it
arranges by similitudes, from which notions of things are engendered;
which the Greeks call, at one time ἔννοιαι, and at another προλήψεις. And
when to this there is added reason and the conclusion of the argument, and
a multitude of countless circumstances, then the perception of all those
things is manifest, and the same reason, being made perfect by these
steps, arrives at wisdom.

As, therefore, the mind of man is admirably calculated for the science of
things and the consistency of life, it embraces knowledge most especially.
And it loves that κατάληψις, (which we, as I have said, will call
_comprehension_, translating the word literally,) for its own sake, (for
there is nothing more sweet than the light of truth,) and also because of
its use; on which account also it uses the senses, and creates arts, which
are, as it were, second senses; and it strengthens philosophy itself to
such a degree that it creates virtue, to which single thing all life is
subordinate. Therefore, those men who affirm that nothing can be
comprehended, take away by their assertion all these instruments or
ornaments of life; or rather, I should say, utterly overturn the whole of
life, and deprive the animal itself of mind (_animo_), so that it is
difficult to speak of their rashness as the merits of the case require.

Nor can I sufficiently make out what their ideas or intentions really are.
For sometimes, when we address them with this argument,—that if the
doctrines which we are upholding are not true, then everything must be
uncertain: they reply,—Well, what is that to us? is that our fault? blame
nature, who, as Democritus says, has buried truth deep in the bottom of
the sea.

But others defend themselves more elegantly, who complain also that we
accuse them of calling everything uncertain; and they endeavour to explain
how much difference there is between what is uncertain and what cannot be
perceived, and to make a distinction between them. Let us, then, now deal
with those who draw this distinction, and let us abandon, as incurable and
desperate, those who say that everything is as uncertain as whether the
number of the stars be odd or even. For they contend, (and I noticed that
you were especially moved by this,) that there is something probable, and,
as I may say, likely; and that they adopt that likelihood as a rule in
steering their course of life, and in making inquiries and conducting

XI. But what rule can there be, if we have no notion whatever of true or
false, because it is impossible to distinguish one from the other? For, if
we have such a notion, then there must be a difference between what is
true and what is false, as there is between what is right and what is
wrong. If there is no difference, then there is no rule; nor can a man to
whom what is true and what is false appear under one common aspect, have
any means of judging of, or any mark at all by which he can know the
truth. For when they say, that they take away nothing but the idea of
anything being able to appear in such a manner that it cannot possibly
appear false in the same manner but that they admit everything else, they
are acting childishly. For though they have taken away that by which
everything is judged of, they deny that they take away the rest; just as
if a person were to deprive a man of his eyes, and then say that he has
not taken away from him those things which can be seen. For just as those
things are known by the eyes, so are the other things known by the
perceptions; but by a mark belonging peculiarly to truth, and not common
to what is true and false.

Wherefore, whether you bring forward a perception which is merely
probable, or one which is at once probable and free from all hindrance, as
Carneades contended, or anything else that you may follow, you will still
have to return to that perception of which we are treating. But in it, if
there be but one common characteristic of what is false and true, there
will be no judgment possible, because nothing peculiar can be noted in one
sign common to two things: but if there be no such community, then I have
got what I want; for I am seeking what appears to me to be so true, that
it cannot possibly appear false.

They are equally mistaken when, being convicted and overpowered by the
force of truth, they wish to distinguish between what is evident and what
is perceived, and endeavour to prove that there is something
evident,—being a truth impressed on the mind and intellect,—and yet that
it cannot be perceived and comprehended. For how can you say distinctly
that anything is white, when it may happen that that which is black may
appear white? Or how are we to call those things evident, or to say that
they are impressed faithfully on the mind, when it is uncertain whether it
is really moved or only in an illusory manner? And so there is neither
colour, nor body, nor truth, nor argument, nor sense, nor anything certain
left us. And, owing to this, it frequently happens that, whatever they
say, they are asked by some people,—Do you, then, perceive that? But they
who put this question to them are laughed at by them; for they do not
press them hard enough so as to prove that no one can insist upon any
point, or make any positive assertion, without some certain and peculiar
mark to distinguish that thing which each individual says that he is
persuaded of.

What, then, is this probability of yours? For if that which occurs to
every one, and which, at its first look, as it were, appears probable, is
asserted positively, what can be more trifling? But if your philosophers
say that they, after a certain degree of circumspection and careful
consideration, adopt what they have seen as such, still they will not be
able to escape from us. First of all, because credit is equally taken from
all these things which are seen, but between which there is no difference;
secondly, when they say that it can happen to a wise man, that after he
has done everything, and exercised the most diligent circumspection, there
may still be something which appears probable, and which yet is very far
removed from being true,—how can they then trust themselves, even if they
(to use their own expression) approach truth for the most part, or even if
they come as near to it as possible? For, in order to trust themselves,
the distinctive mark of truth ought to be thoroughly known to them; and if
that be obscure or concealed, what truth is there which they can seem to
themselves to arrive at? And what can be so absurd a thing to say as,—This
indeed is a sign of that thing, or a proof of it, and on that account I
follow it; but it is possible that that which is indicated may either be
false, or may actually have no existence at all?

XII. However, we have said enough about perception. For if any one wishes
to invalidate what has been said, truth will easily defend itself, even if
we are absent.

These things, then, which have now been explained, being sufficiently
understood, we will proceed to say a little on the subject of assent and
approbation, which the Greeks call συγκατάθεσις. Not that the subject
itself is not an extensive one, but because the foundations have been
already laid a little while ago. For when we were explaining what power
there was in the senses, this point was at the same time established, that
many things were comprehended and perceived by the senses, which is a
thing which cannot take place without assent. Secondly, as this is the
principal difference between an inanimate and an animated being, that the
inanimate being does nothing, but the animated one does something (for it
is impossible even to imagine what kind of animal that can be which does
nothing)—either sense must be taken from it, or else assent (which is
wholly in our own power) must be given. But mind is in some degree denied
to those beings whom they will not allow either to feel or to assent. For
as it is inevitable that one scale of a balance must be depressed when a
weight is put in it, so the mind, too, must yield to what is evident; for
just as it is impossible for any animal to forbear discerning what is
manifestly suited to its nature (the Greeks call that οἰκεῖον), so it is
equally impossible for it to withhold its assent to a manifest fact which
is brought under its notice.

Although, if those principles which we have been maintaining are true,
there is no advantage whatever in discussing assent. For he who perceives
anything, assents immediately. But these inferences also follow,—that
memory can have no existence without assent, no more can notions of things
or arts. And what is most important of all is, that, although some things
may be in our power, yet they will not be in the power of that man who
assents to nothing. Where, then, is virtue, if nothing depends on
ourselves? But it is above all things absurd that vices should be in the
power of the agents, and that no one should do wrong except by deliberate
consent to do so, and yet that this should not be the case with virtue;
all the consistency and firmness of which depends on the things to which
it has assented, and which it has approved. And altogether it is necessary
that something should be perceived before we act, and before we assent to
what is perceived; wherefore, he who denies the existence of perception or
assent, puts an end to all action in life.

XIII. Now let us examine the arguments which are commonly advanced by this
school in opposition to these principles. But, first of all, you have it
in your power to become acquainted with what I may call the foundations of
their system. They then, first of all, compound a sort of art of those
things which we call perceptions, and define their power and kinds; and at
the same time they explain what the character of that thing which can be
perceived and comprehended is, in the very same words as the Stoics. In
the next place, they explain those two principles, which contain, as it
were, the whole of this question; and which appear in such a manner that
even others may appear in the same, nor is there any difference between
them, so that it is impossible that some of them should be perceived, and
that others should not be perceived; but that it makes no difference, not
only if they are in every part of the same character, but even if they
cannot be distinguished.

And when these principles are laid down, then these men comprehend the
whole cause in the conclusion of one argument. But this conclusion, thus
compounded, runs in this way: “Of the things which are seen, some are true
and some are false; and what is false cannot be perceived, but that which
appears to be true is all of such a character that a thing of the same
sort may seem to be also false. And as to those things which are perceived
being of such a sort that there is no difference between them, it cannot
possibly happen that some of them can be perceived, and that others
cannot; there is, then, nothing seen which can really be perceived.”

But of the axioms which they assume, in order to draw the conclusions
which they desire, they think that two ought to be granted to them; for no
one objects to them. They are these: “That those perceptions which are
false, cannot really be perceived;” and the second is—“Of those
perceptions between which there is no difference, it is impossible that
some should be of such a character that they can be perceived, and others
of such a character that they cannot.”

But their other propositions they defend by numerous and varied arguments,
and they likewise are two in number. One is—“Of those things which appear,
some are true and others false;” the other is—“Every perception which
originates in the truth, is of such a character as it might be of, though
originating in what is false.” And these two propositions they do not pass
by, but they expand in such a manner as to show no slight degree of care
and diligence. For they divide them into parts, and those also large
parts; first of all into the senses, then into those things which are
derived from the senses, and from universal custom, the authority of which
they wish to invalidate. Then they come to the point of laying it down
that nothing can be perceived even by reason and conjecture. And these
universal propositions they cut up into more minute parts. For as in our
yesterday’s discussion you saw that they acted with respect to the senses,
so do they also act with respect to everything else. And in each separate
thing which they divide into the most minute parts, they wish to make out
that all these true perceptions have often false ones added to them, which
are in no respect different from the true ones; and that, as they are of
such a character, nothing can be comprehended.

XIV. Now all this subtlety I consider indeed thoroughly worthy of
philosophy, but still wholly unconnected with the case which they advocate
who argue thus. For definitions, and divisions, and a discourse which
employs these ornaments, and also similarities and dissimilarities, and
the subtle and fine-drawn distinctions between them, belong to men who are
confident that those arguments which they are upholding are true, and
firm, and certain; and not to men who assert loudly that those things are
no more true than false. For what would they do if, after they had defined
anything, some one were to ask them whether that definition could be
transferred to something else? If they said it could, then what reason
could they give why it should be a true definition? If they said no,—then
it must be confessed, since that definition of what is true cannot be
transferred to what is false, that that which is explained by that
definition can be perceived; which is the last thing they mean.

The same thing may be said on every article of the division. For if they
say that they see clearly the things about which they are arguing, and
they cannot be hindered by any similarity of appearance, then they will
confess that they are able to comprehend those things. But if they affirm
that true perceptions cannot be distinguished from false ones, how can
they go any further? For the same objections will be made to them which
have been made already; for an argument cannot be concluded, unless the
premises which are taken to deduce the conclusion from are so established
that nothing of the same kind can be false.

Therefore, if reason, relying on things comprehended and perceived, and
advancing in reliance on them, establishes the point that nothing can be
comprehended, what can be found which can be more inconsistent with
itself? And as the very nature of an accurate discourse professes that it
will develop something which is not apparent, and that, in order the more
easily to succeed in its object, it will employ the senses and those
things which are evident, what sort of discourse is that which is uttered
by those men who insist upon it that everything has not so much an
existence as a mere appearance?

But they are convicted most of all when they assume, as consistent with
each other, these two propositions which are so utterly incompatible:
first of all,—That there are some false perceptions;—and in asserting this
they declare also that there are some which are true: and secondly, they
add at the same time,—That there is no difference between true perceptions
and false ones. But you assumed the first proposition as if there were
some difference; and so the latter proposition is inconsistent with the
former, and the former with the latter.

But let us proceed further, and act so as in no respect to seem to be
flattering ourselves; and let us follow up what is said by them, in such a
manner as to allow nothing to be passed over.

In the first place, then, that evidentness which we have mentioned has
sufficiently great power of itself to point out to us the things which are
just as they are. But still, in order that we may remain with firmness and
constancy in our trust in what is evident, we have need of a greater
degree of either skill or diligence, in order not, by some sort of
juggling or trick, to be driven away from those things which are clear of
themselves. For Epicurus, who wished to remedy those errors, which seem to
perplex one’s knowledge of the truth, and who said that it was the duty of
a wise man to separate opinion from evident knowledge, did no good at all;
for he did not in the least remove the errors of opinion itself.

XV. Wherefore, as there are two causes which oppose what is manifest and
evident, it is necessary also to provide oneself with an equal number of
aids. For this is the first obstacle, that men do not sufficiently exert
and fix their minds upon those things which are evident, so as to be able
to understand how great the light is with which they are surrounded. The
second is, that some men, being deluded and deceived by fallacious and
captious interrogatories, when they cannot clear them up, abandon the
truth. It is right, therefore, for us to have those answers ready which
may be given in defence of the evidentness of a thing,—and we have already
spoken of them,—and to be armed, in order to be able to encounter the
questions of those people, and to scatter their captious objections to the
winds: and this is what I propose to do next.

I will, therefore, explain their arguments one by one; since even they
themselves are in the habit of speaking in a sufficiently lucid manner.

In the first place, they endeavour to show that many things can appear to
exist, which in reality have no existence; when minds are moved to no
purpose by things which do not exist, in the same manner as by things that
do. For when you say (say they) that some visions are sent by God, as
those, for instance, which are seen during sleep, and those also which are
revealed by oracles, and auspices, and the entrails of victims, (for they
say that the Stoics, against whom they are arguing, admit all these
things,) they ask how God can make those things probable which appear to
be false; and how it is that He cannot make those appear so which plainly
come as near as possible to truth? Or if He can likewise make those appear
probable, why He cannot make the others appear so too, which are only with
great difficulty distinguished from them? And if He can make these appear
so, then why He cannot also make those things appear so which are
absolutely different in no respect whatever?

In the next place, since the mind is moved by itself,—as those things
which we picture to ourselves in thought, and those which present
themselves to the sight of madmen or sleeping men declare,—is it not, say
they, probable that the mind is also moved in such a manner, that not only
it does not distinguish between the perceptions, as to whether they be
true or false, but that there really is no difference between them? As,
for instance, if any men of their own accord trembled and grew pale, on
account of some agitation of mind, or because some terrible object came
upon them from without, there would be no means of distinguishing one
trembling and paleness from the other, nor indeed would there be any
difference between the external and internal alarm which caused them.

Lastly, if no perceptions are probable which are false, then we must seek
for other principles; but if they are probable, then why may not one say
the same of such as are not easily distinguished from one another? Why not
also of such as have actually no difference at all between them?
Especially when you yourselves say that the wise man when enraged
withholds himself from all assent, because there is no distinction between
his perceptions which is visible to him.

XVI. Now on all these empty perceptions Antiochus brought forward a great
many arguments, and one whole day was occupied in the discussion of this
subject. But I do not think that I ought to adopt the same course, but
merely to give the heads of what he said.

And in the first place, they are blameable in this, that they use a most
captious kind of interrogation. And the system of adding or taking away,
step by step, minute items from a proposition, is a kind of argument very
little to be approved of in philosophy. They call it sorites,(11) when
they make up a heap by adding grain after grain; a very vicious and
captious style of arguing. For you mount up in this way:—If a vision is
brought by God before a man asleep of such a nature as to be probable
(_probabile_), why may not one also be brought of such a nature as to be
very like truth (_verisimile_)? If so, then why may not one be brought
which can hardly be distinguished from truth? If so, then why may there
not be one which cannot be distinguished at all? If so, then why may there
not be such that there is actually no difference between them?—If you come
to this point because I have granted you all the previous propositions, it
will be my fault; but if you advance thither of your own accord, it will
be yours. For who will grant to you either that God can do everything, or
that even if He could He would act in that manner? And how do you assume
that if one thing may be like another, it follows that it may also be
difficult to distinguish between them? And then, that one cannot
distinguish between them at all? And lastly, that they are identical? So
that if wolves are like dogs, you will come at last to asserting that they
are the same animals. And indeed there are some things not honourable,
which are like things that are honourable; some things not good, like
those that are good; some things proceeding on no system, like others
which are regulated by system. Why then do we hesitate to affirm that
there is no difference between all these things? Do we not even see that
they are inconsistent? For there is nothing that can be transferred from
its own genus to another. But if such a conclusion did follow, as that
there was no difference between perceptions of different genera, but that
some could be found which were both in their own genus and in one which
did not belong to them, how could that be possible?

There is then one means of getting rid of all unreal perceptions, whether
they be formed in the ideas, which we grant to be usually the case, or
whether they be owing to idleness, or to wine, or to madness. For we say
that clearness, which we ought to hold with the greatest tenacity, is
absent from all visions of that kind. For who is there who, when he
imagines something and pictures it to himself in his thoughts, does not,
as soon as he has stirred up himself, and recovered himself, feel how much
difference there is between what is evident and what is unreal? The case
of dreams is the same. Do you think that Ennius, when he had been walking
in his garden with Sergius Galba, his neighbour, said to himself,—I have
seemed to myself to be walking with Galba? But when he had a dream, he
related it in this way,—

    The poet Homer seem’d to stand before me.

And again in his Epicharmus he says—

    For I seem’d to be dreaming, and laid in the tomb.

Therefore, as soon as we are awakened, we despise those things which we
have seen, and do not regard them as we do the things which we have done
in the forum.

XVII. But while these visions are being beheld, they assume the same
appearance as those things which we see while awake. There is a good deal
of real difference between them; but we may pass over that. For what we
assert is, that there is not the same power or soundness in people when
asleep that there is in them while waking, either in intellect or in
sensation. What even drunken men do, they do not do with the same
deliberate approbation as sober men. They doubt, they hesitate, they check
themselves at times, and give but a feeble assent to what they see or
agree too. And when they have slept off their drunkenness, then they
understand how unreal their perceptions were. And the same thing is the
case with madmen; that when their madness is beginning, they both feel and
say that something appears to them to exist that has no real existence.
And when their frenzy abates, they feel and speak like Alcmæon;—

    But now my heart does not agree
    With that which with my eyes I see.

But even in madness the wise man puts restraint upon himself, so far as
not to approve of what is false as if it were true. And he does so often
at other times, if there is by chance any heaviness or slowness in his
senses, or if those things which are seen by him are rather obscure, or if
he is prevented from thoroughly examining them by the shortness of the
time. Although the whole of this fact, that the wise man sometimes
suspends his assent, makes against you. For if there were no difference
between his perceptions, he would either suspend it always or never.

But from the whole character of this discussion we may see the worthless
nature of the argument of those men who wish to throw everything into
confusion. We want judgment, marked with gravity, consistency, firmness,
and wisdom: and we use the examples of men dreaming, mad, or drunk. I
press this point, that in all this discussion we are speaking with great
inconsistency. For we should not bring forward men sunk in wine or sleep,
or deprived of sense, in such an absurd manner as at one time to say there
is a difference between the perceptions of men awake and sober and
sensible, and those of men in a different condition, and at other times
that there was no difference at all.

They do not even perceive that by this kind of argument they are making
out everything to be uncertain, which they do not wish to do. I call that
uncertain which the Greeks call ἄδηλον. For if the fact be that there is
no difference between the appearance that a thing presents to a madman and
to a person in his senses, then who can feel quite sure of his own sanity?
And to wish to produce such an effect as that is a proof of no ordinary
madness. But they follow up in a childish manner the likenesses of twins,
or of impressions of rings. For who of us denies that there are such
things as likenesses, when they are visible in numbers of things? But if
the fact of many things being like many other things is sufficient to take
away knowledge, why are you not content with that, especially as we admit
it? And why do you rather insist upon that assertion which the nature of
things will not suffer, that everything is not in its own kind of that
character of which it really is? and that there is a conformity without
any difference whatever in two or more things; so that eggs are entirely
like eggs, and bees like bees? What then are you contending for? or what
do you seek to gain by talking about twins? For it is granted that they
are alike; and you might be content with that. But you try to make them
out to be actually the same, and not merely alike; and that is quite

Then you have recourse to those natural philosophers who are so greatly
ridiculed in the Academy, but whom you will not even now desist from
quoting. And you tell us that Democritus says that there are a countless
number of worlds, and that there are some which are not only so like one
another, but so completely and absolutely equal in every point, that there
is no difference whatever between them, and that they are quite
innumerable; and so also are men. Then you require that, if the world be
so entirely equal to another world that there is absolutely not the
slightest difference between them, we should grant to you that in this
world of ours also there must be something exactly equal to something
else, so that there is no difference whatever or distinction between them.
For why, you will say, since there not only can be, but actually are
innumerable Quinti Lutatii Catuli formed out of those atoms, from which
Democritus affirms that everything is produced, in all the other worlds,
which are likewise innumerable,—why may not there be a second Catulus
formed in this identical world of ours, since it is of such a size as we
see it?

XVIII. First of all I reply, that you are bringing me to the arguments of
Democritus, with whom I do not agree. And I will the more readily refute
them, on account of that doctrine which is laid down very clearly by the
more refined natural philosophers, that everything has its own separate
property. For grant that those ancient Servilii who were twins were as
much alike as they are said to have been, do you think that that would
have made them the same? They were not distinguished from one another out
of doors, but they were at home. They were not distinguished from one
another by strangers, but they were by their own family. Do we not see
that this is frequently the case, that those people whom we should never
have expected to be able to know from one another, we do by practice
distinguish so easily that they do not appear to be even in the least

Here, however, you may struggle; I will not oppose you. Moreover, I will
grant that that very wise man who is the subject of all this discussion,
when things like one another come under his notice, in which he has not
remarked any special character, will withhold his assent, and will never
agree to any perception which is not of such a character as a false
perception can never assume. But with respect to all other things he has a
certain art by which he can distinguish what is true from what is false;
and with respect to those similitudes he must apply the test of
experience. As a mother distinguishes between twins by the constant
practice of her eyes, so you too will distinguish when you have become
accustomed to it. Do you not see that it has become a perfect proverb that
one egg is like another? and yet we are told that at Delos (when it was a
flourishing island) there were many people who used to keep large numbers
of hens for the sake of profit; and that they, when they had looked upon
an egg, could tell which hen had laid it. Nor does that fact make against
our argument; for it is sufficient for us to be able to distinguish
between the eggs. For it is impossible for one to assent to the
proposition that this thing is that thing more, than by admitting that
there is actually no difference at all between the two. For I have laid it
down as a rule, to consider all perceptions true which are of such a
character as those which are false cannot be. And from this I may not
depart one finger’s breadth, as they say, lest I should throw everything
into confusion. For not only the knowledge of what is true and false, but
their whole nature too, will be destroyed if there is no difference
between one and the other. And that must be very absurd which you
sometimes are in the habit of saying, when perceptions are imprinted on
the mind, that what you say is, not that there is no difference between
the impressions, but only that there is none between certain appearances
and forms which they assume. As if perceptions were not judged of by their
appearance, which can deserve or obtain no credit if the mark by which we
are to distinguish truth from falsehood be taken away.

But that is a monstrous absurdity of yours, when you say that you follow
what is probable when you are not hindered by anything from doing so. In
the first place, how can you avoid being hindered, when what is false does
not differ from what is true? Secondly, what judgment can be formed of
what is true, when what is true is undistinguishable from what is false?
From these facts there springs unavoidably ἐποχὴ, that is to say, a
suspension of assent: for which Arcesilas is more consistent, if at least
the opinions which some people entertain of Carneades are correct. For if
nothing can be perceived, as they both agree in thinking, then all assent
is taken away. For what is so childish as to talk of approving of what is
not known? But even yesterday we heard that Carneades was in the habit, at
times, of descending to say that a wise man would be guided by opinion,
that is to say, would do wrong. To me, indeed, it is not so certain that
there is anything which can be comprehended, a question which I have now
spent too much time in discussing, as that a wise man is never guided by
opinion, that is to say, never assents to anything which is either false
or unknown.

There remains this other statement of theirs, that for the sake of
discovering the truth, one ought to speak against every side, and in
favour of every side. I wish then to see what they have discovered. We are
not in the habit, says he, of showing that. What then is the object of all
this mystery? or why do you conceal your opinion as something
discreditable? In order, says he, that those who hear us may be influenced
by reason rather than led by authority. What if they are influenced by
both? would there be any harm in that? However, they do not conceal one of
their theories, namely, that there is nothing which can be conceived. Is
authority no hindrance to entertaining this opinion? It seems to me to be
a great one. For who would ever have embraced so openly and undisguisedly
such perverse and false principles, if there had not been such great
richness of ideas and power of eloquence in Arcesilas, and, in a still
greater degree, in Carneades?

XIX. These are nearly the arguments which Antiochus used to urge at
Alexandria, and many years afterwards, with much more positiveness too, in
Syria, when he was there with me, a little before he died. But, as my case
is now established, I will not hesitate to warn you, as you are my dearest
friend, (he was addressing me,) and one a good deal younger than myself.

Will you, then, after having extolled philosophy with such panegyrics, and
provoked our friend Hortensius, who disagrees with us, now follow that
philosophy which confounds what is true with what is false, deprives us of
all judgment, strips us of the power of approval, and robs us of all our
senses? Even the Cimmerians, to whom some god, or nature, or the foulness
of the country that they inhabited, had denied the light of the sun, had
still some fires which they were permitted to avail themselves of as if
they were light. But those men whom you approve of, after having enveloped
us in such darkness, have not left us a single spark to enable us to look
around by. And if we follow them, we become bound with such chains that we
cannot move. For when assent is taken away, they take away at the same
time all motion of our minds, and all our power of action; which not only
cannot be done rightly, but which cannot possibly be done at all. Beware,
also, lest you become the only person who is not allowed to uphold that
opinion. Will you, when you have explained the most secret matters and
brought them to light, and said on your oath that you have discovered
them, (which, indeed, I could swear to also, since I learnt them from
you,)—will you, I say, assert that there is nothing which can be known,
comprehended, or perceived? Beware, I entreat you, lest the authority of
those most beautiful actions be diminished by your own conduct.

And having said this he stopped. But Hortensius, admiring all he said very
greatly, (so much, indeed, that all the time that Lucullus was speaking he
kept lifting up his hands; and it was no wonder, for I do not believe that
an argument had ever been conducted against the Academy with more
acuteness,) began to exhort me, either jestingly or seriously, (for that
was a point that I was not quite sure about,) to abandon my opinions.
Then, said Catulus, if the discourse of Lucullus has had such influence
over you,—and it has been a wonderful exhibition of memory, accuracy, and
ingenuity,—I have nothing to say; nor do I think it my duty to try and
deter you from changing opinion if you choose. But I should not think it
well for you to be influenced merely by his authority. For he was all but
warning you, said he, jestingly, to take care that no worthless tribune of
the people, of whom you know what a number there will always be, seize
upon you, and ask of you in the public assembly how you are consistent
with yourself, when at one time you assert that nothing certain can be
discovered, and at another time affirm that you yourself have discovered
something. I entreat you, do not let him terrify you. But I would rather
have you disagree with him on the merits of the case itself. But if you
give in to him, I shall not be greatly surprised; for I recollect that
Antiochus himself, after he had entertained such opinions for many years,
abandoned them as soon as he thought it desirable. When Catulus had said
this, they all began to fix their eyes on me.

XX. Then I, being no less agitated than I usually am when pleading
important causes, began to speak something after this fashion:—

The discourse of Lucullus, O Catulus, on the matter itself, moved me a
good deal, being the discourse of a learned and ingenious and quick-witted
man, and of one who passes over nothing which can be said for his side;
but still I am not afraid but that I may be able to answer him. But no
doubt such authority as his would have influenced me a good deal, if you
had not opposed your own to it, which is of equal weight. I will
endeavour, therefore, to reply to him after I have said a few words in
defence of my own reputation, as it were.

If it is by any desire of display, or any zeal for contentious disputes,
that I have been chiefly led to rank myself as an adherent of this school
of philosophy, I should think not only my folly, but also my disposition
and nature deserving of severe censure; for if obstinacy is found fault
with in the most trifling matters, and if also calumny is repressed,
should I choose to contend with others in a quarrelsome manner about the
general condition and conduct of my whole life, or to deceive others and
also my own self? Therefore, if I did not think it foolish in such a
discussion to do what, when one is discussing affairs of state, is
sometimes done, I would swear by Jupiter and my household gods, that I am
inflamed with a desire of discovering the truth, and that I do truly feel
what I say. For how can I avoid wishing to discover the truth, when I
rejoice if I have discovered anything resembling the truth? But although I
consider to see the truth a most beautiful thing, so also do I think it a
most disgraceful one to approve of what is false as if it were true. Not,
indeed, that I am myself a man who never approve of anything false, who
never give assent to any such thing, and am never guided by opinion; but
we are speaking of a wise man. But I myself am very apt to adopt opinions,
for I am not a wise man, and I direct my thoughts, steering not to that
little Cynosura,

    The nightly star, which shining not in vain,
    Guides the Phœnician sailor o’er the main,

as Aratus says;—and those mariners steer in a more direct course because
they keep looking at the constellation,

    Which in its inner course and orbit brief
    Surely revolves;—

but looking rather towards Helice, and the bright north star, that is to
say, to these reasons of a more expansive kind, not polished away to a
point; and therefore I roam and wander about in a freer course. However,
the question, as I said just now, is not about myself, but about a wise
man. For when these perceptions have made a violent impression on the
intellect and senses, I admit them, and sometimes I even assent to them,
but still I do not perceive them: for I do not think that anything can be
perceived. I am not a wise man, therefore I submit to perceptions and
cannot resist them: but Arcesilas, being on this point in agreement with
Zeno, thinks that this is the most important part of the power of a wise
man, that he can guard against being entangled, and provide against being
deceived. For there is nothing more incompatible with the idea which we
have of the gravity of a wise man than error, levity, and temerity. Why,
then, need I speak of the firmness of a wise man? whom even you too,
Lucullus, admit to be never guided by mere opinion. And since this is
sanctioned by you, (if I am dealing irregularly with you at this moment, I
will soon return to the proper order of your arguments,) just consider
what force this first conclusion has.

XXI. If the wise man ever assents to anything, he will likewise sometimes
form opinions: but he never will form opinions: therefore he will never
assent to anything. This conclusion was approved of by Arcesilas, for it
confirmed both his first and second proposition. But Carneades sometimes
granted that minor premiss, that the wise man did at times assent: then it
followed that he also was at times guided by opinion; which you will not
allow; and you are right, as it seems to me: but the first proposition,
that the wise man, if he expresses assent, must also be guided by opinion,
is denied by the Stoics and their follower on this point, Antiochus.

For they say that they can distinguish what is false from what is true,
and what cannot be perceived from what can. But, in the first place, even
if anything can be perceived, still the very custom of expressing assent
appears to us to be perilous and unsure. Wherefore, as it is plain that is
so faulty a proceeding, to assent to anything that is either false or
unknown, all assent must rather be removed, lest it should rush on into
difficulties if it proceeds rashly. For what is false is so much akin to
what is true, and the things which cannot be perceived to those which can,
(if, indeed, there are any such, for we shall examine that point
presently,) that a wise man ought not to trust himself in such a hazardous

But if I assume that there is actually nothing which can be perceived, and
if I also take what you grant me, that a wise man is never guided by
opinion, then the consequence will be that the wise man will restrain all
assent on his part; so that you must consider whether you would rather
have it so, or let the wise man sometimes form opinions. You do not
approve of either, you will say. Let us, then, endeavour to prove that
nothing can be perceived; for that is what the whole controversy turns

XXII. But first I must say a few words to Antiochus; who under Philo
learnt this very doctrine which I am now defending, for such a length of
time, that it is certain that no one was ever longer studying it; and who
wrote on these subjects with the greatest acuteness, and who yet attacked
it in his old age with no less energy than he had defended it in his
youth. Although therefore he may have been a shrewd arguer, as indeed he
was, still his authority is diminished by his inconsistency. For what day,
I should like to know, will ever dawn, which shall reveal to him that
distinctive characteristic of what is true and what is false, of which for
so many years he denied the existence? Has he devised anything new? He
says the same that the Stoics say. Does he repent of having held such an
opinion? Why did he not cross over to some other school, and especially to
the Stoics? for this disagreement with the Academy was peculiarly theirs.
What? did he repent of Mnesarchus or Dardanus, who at that time were the
chiefs of the Stoics at Athens? He never deserted Philo till after the
time when he himself began to have pupils.

But from whence was the Old Academy on a sudden recalled? He appears to
have wished to preserve the dignity of the name, after he had given up the
reality; which however some people said, that he did from a view to his
own glory, and that he even hoped that those who followed him might be
called Antiochians. But to me it seems, that he could not stand that
concourse of all the philosophers. In truth, there are among them all,
some common principles on the other points; but this doctrine is peculiar
to the Academicians, and not one of the other philosophers approves of it.
Therefore, he quitted it; and, like those men who, where the new shops
stand, cannot bear the sun, so he, when he was hot, took refuge under the
shade of the Old Academicians, as those men do under the shade of the old
shops near the pillar of Mænius. There was also an argument which he was
in the habit of employing, when he used to maintain that nothing could be
perceived; namely, asking whether Dionysius of Heraclea had comprehended
the doctrine which he had espoused for many years, because he was guided
by that certain characteristic, and whether he believed the doctrine of
his master Zeno, that whatever was honourable was the only good; or,
whether he adopted the assertion which he defended subsequently, that the
name of honourableness is a mere phantom, and that pleasure is the chief
good: for from this change of opinion on his part he wished to prove, that
nothing can be so stamped on our minds by the truth, that it cannot also
be impressed on them in the same manner by falsehood; and so he took care
that others should derive from his own conduct the same argument which he
himself had derived from Dionysius.

XXIII. But we will argue this point more at length another time; at
present we will turn what has been said, Lucullus, to you. And in the
first place, let us examine the assertion which you made at the beginning,
and see what sort of assertion it is; namely, that we spoke of the ancient
philosophers in a manner similar to that in which seditious men were in
the habit of speaking of illustrious men, who were however friends of the
people. These men do not indeed pursue good objects, but still wish to be
considered to resemble good men; but we say that we hold those opinions,
which you yourselves confess to have been entertained by the most
illustrious philosophers. Anaxagoras said, that snow was black: would you
endure me if I were to say the same? You would not bear even for me to
express a doubt on the subject. But who is this man? is he a Sophist? for
by that name were those men called, who used to philosophize for the sake
of display or of profit. The glory of the gravity and genius of that man
was great. Why should I speak of Democritus? Who is there whom we can
compare with him for the greatness, not merely of his genius, but also of
his spirit? a man who dared to begin thus: “I am going to speak of
everything.” He excepts nothing, so as not to profess a knowledge of it.
For indeed, what could there possibly be beyond everything? Who can avoid
placing this philosopher before Cleanthes, or Chrysippus, or all the rest
of his successors? men who, when compared with him, appear to me to be in
the fifth class.

But he does not say this, which we, who do not deny that there is some
truth, declare cannot be perceived: he absolutely denies that there is any
truth. He says that the senses are not merely dim, but utterly dark; for
that is what Metrodorus of Chios, who was one of his greatest admirers,
says of them, at the beginning of his book on Nature. “I deny,” says he,
“that we know whether we know anything or whether we know nothing; I say
that we do not even know what is ignorance and knowledge; and that we have
no knowledge whether anything exists or whether nothing does.”

Empedocles appears to you to be mad; but to me he seems to utter words
very worthy of the subjects of which he speaks. Does he then blind us, or
deprive us of our senses, if he thinks that there is but little power in
them to judge of those things which are brought under their notice?
Parmenides and Xenophanes blame, as if they were angry with them, though
in no very poetical verses, the arrogance of those people who, though
nothing can be known, venture to say that they know something. And you
said that Socrates and Plato were distinct from these men. Why so? Are
there any men of whom we can speak more certainly? I indeed seem to myself
to have lived with these men; so many of their discourses have been
reported, from which one cannot possibly doubt that Socrates thought that
nothing could be known. He excepted one thing only, asserting that he did
know that he knew nothing; but he made no other exception. What shall I
say of Plato? who certainly would never have followed up these doctrines
in so many books if he had not approved of them; for there was no object
in going on with the irony of the other, especially when it was so

XXIV. Do I not seem to you, not, like Saturninus, to be content with
naming illustrious men, but also sometimes even to imitate them, though
never unless they are really eminent and noble? And I might have opposed
to you men who are annoying to you, but yet disputants of great accuracy;
Stilpo, Diodorus, and Alexinus: men who indulged in far-fetched and
pointed sophisms; for that was the name given usually to fallacious
conclusions. But why need I enumerate them, when I have Chrysippus, who is
considered to be the great support of the portico of the Stoics? How many
of the arguments against the senses, how many against everything which is
approved by ordinary practice, did he not refute! It is true that I do not
think very much of his refutations; but still, let us grant that he did
refute them. Certainly he would never have collected so many arguments to
deceive us with their excessive probability, unless he saw that it was not
easily possible to resist them.

What do you think of the Cyrenaic School? philosophers far from
contemptible, who affirm that there is nothing which can be perceived
externally; and that they perceive those things alone which they feel by
their inmost touch, such as pain, or pleasure. And that they do not know
what colour anything is of, or what sound it utters; but only feel that
they themselves are affected in a certain manner.

We have said enough about authors: although you had asked me whether I did
not think that since the time of those ancient philosophers, in so many
ages, the truth might have been discovered, when so many men of genius and
diligence were looking for it? What was discovered we will consider
presently, and you yourself shall be the judge. But it is easily seen that
Arcesilas did not contend with Zeno for the sake of disparaging him; but
that he wished to discover the truth. No one, I say, of preceding
philosophers had said positively, no one had even hinted that it was
possible for man never to form opinions: and that for a wise man it was
not only possible, but indispensable. The opinion of Arcesilas appeared
not only true, but honourable and worthy of a wise man.

Perhaps he asked of Zeno what would happen if a wise man could not
possibly perceive anything, and if to form mere opinion was unworthy of a
wise man? He answered, I suppose, that the wise man never would form mere
opinion, since there were things which admitted of being perceived. What
then were they? Perceptions, I suppose. What sort of perceptions then? In
reply to this he gave a definition, That it was such as is impressed and
stamped upon and figured in us, according to and conformably to something
which exists. Afterwards the question was asked, whether, if such a
perception was true, it was of the same character as one that was false?
Here Zeno saw clearly enough that there was no perception that could be
perceived at all, if the perception derived from that which is, could
possibly resemble that which is derived from that which is not.

Arcesilas was quite right in admitting this. An addition was made to the
definition; namely, That nothing false could be perceived; nor anything
true either, if it was of such a character as that which was false. But he
applied himself diligently to these discussions, in order to prove that no
perception originated in what was true of such a kind that there might not
be a similar one originating in what was false. And this is the one
subject of controversy which has lasted to this day. For the other
doctrine, that the wise man would never assent to anything, had nothing to
do with this question. For it was quite possible for a man to perceive
nothing, and nevertheless to be guided at times by opinion; which is said
to have been admitted by Carneades. I, indeed, trusting rather to
Clitomachus than to Philo or Metrodorus, believe that he argued this point
rather than that he admitted it.

XXV. However, let us say no more about this. Undoubtedly, when opinion and
perception are put an end to, the retention of every kind of assent must
follow; as, if I prove that nothing can be perceived, you would then grant
that a philosopher would never assent to anything. What is there then that
can be perceived, if even the senses do not warn us of the truth? But you,
O Lucullus, defend them by a common topic; and to prevent you from being
able to do so it was, that I yesterday, when it was not otherwise
necessary, said so much against the senses. But you say that you are not
at all moved by “the broken oar” or “the dove’s neck.” In the first place,
I will ask why?—for in the case of the oar, I feel that that which appears
to be the case, is not really so; and that in the dove’s neck there appear
to be many colours, but are not in reality more than one. Have we, then,
said nothing more than this? Let all our arguments stand: that man is
tearing his cause to pieces; he says that his senses are voracious.
Therefore you have always one backer who will plead the cause at his own
risk: for Epicurus brings the matter down to this point, that if once in a
man’s life one of his senses has decided wrongly, none of them is ever to
be trusted. This is what he calls being true, and confiding in his own
witnesses, and urging his proofs to their just conclusion; therefore
Timagoras the Epicurean declares, that when he had twisted his eye with
his hand, he had never seen two flames appear out of one candle: for that
the error was one of opinion, and not one of his eyes; just as if the
question were what the fact is, and not what it appears to be. However, he
is just like his predecessors. But as for you, who say that of the things
perceived by your senses, some are true and some false, how do you
distinguish between them? Cease, I beg of you, to employ common topics: we
have plenty of them at home.

If any god were to ask you, while your senses are sound and unimpaired,
whether you desire anything further, what would you answer? I wish,
indeed, he would ask me! You should hear how ill he treats us: for how far
are we to look in order to see the truth? I can see the Cumæan villa of
Catulus from this place, but not his villa near Pompeii; not that there is
any obstacle interposed, but my eyesight cannot extend so far. What a
superb view! We see Puteoli, but we do not see our friend Avianus, though
he may perhaps be walking in the portico of Neptune; there was, however,
some one or other who is often spoken of in the Schools who could see
things that were a thousand and eighty furlongs off; and some birds can
see further still. I should therefore answer your god boldly, that I am
not at all contented with these eyes of mine. He will tell me, perhaps,
that I can see better than some fishes; which are not seen by us, and
which even now are beneath our eyes, and yet they cannot look up far
enough to see us: therefore, as water is shed around them, so a dense air
is around us. But we desire nothing better. What? do you suppose that a
mole longs for light?—nor would he complain to the god that he could not
see far, but rather that he saw incorrectly. Do you see that ship? It
appears to us to be standing still; but to those who are in that ship,
this villa appears to be moving. Seek for the reason why it seems so, and
if you discover it ever so much, and I do not know whether you may not be
able to, still you will have proved, not that you have a trustworthy
witness, but that he has not given false evidence without sufficient

XXVI. What need had I to speak of the ship? for I saw that what I said
about the oar was despised by you; perhaps you expect something more
serious. What can be greater than the sun, which the mathematicians affirm
to be more than eighteen times as large as the earth? How little does it
appear to us! To me, indeed, it seems about a foot in diameter; but
Epicurus thinks it possible that it may be even less than it seems, but
not much; nor does he think that it is much greater, but that it is very
near the size it seems to be: so that our eyes are either quite correct,
or, at all events, not very incorrect. What becomes then of the exception,
“If once...?” However, let us leave this credulous man, who does not
believe that the senses are ever wrong,—not even now, when that sun, which
is borne along with such rapidity that it is impossible even to conceive
how great its velocity is, nevertheless seems to us to be standing still.

However, to abridge the controversy, consider, I pray you, within what
narrow bounds you are confined. There are four principles which conduct
you to the conclusion that there is nothing which can be known, or
perceived, or comprehended;—and it is about this that the whole dispute
is. The first principle is, that some perceptions are false; the second,
that such cannot be perceived; the third, that of perceptions between
which there is no difference, it is not possible that some of them can be
perceived and that others cannot; the fourth, that there is no true
perception proceeding from the senses, to which there is not some other
perception opposed which in no respect differs from it, and which cannot
be perceived. Now of these four principles, the second and third are
admitted by every one. Epicurus does not admit the first, but you, with
whom we are now arguing, admit that one too,—the whole contest is about
the fourth.

The man, then, who saw Publius Servilius Geminus, if he thought that he
saw Quintus, fell into a perception of that kind that could not be
perceived; because what was true was distinguished by no characteristic
mark from what was false: and if this distinctive mark were taken away,
what characteristic of the same kind could he have by which to recognise
Caius Cotta, who was twice consul with Geminus, which could not possibly
be false? You say that such a likeness as that is not in the nature of
things. You fight the question vigorously, but you are fighting a
peaceably disposed adversary. Grant, then, that it is not; at all events,
it is possible that it should seem to be so; therefore it will deceive the
senses. And if one likeness deceives them, it will have made everything
doubtful; for when that judgment is once taken away by which alone things
can be known, then, even if the person whom you see, be really the person
whom he appears to you to be, still you will not judge by that
characteristic which you say you ought, being of such a character that one
of the same kind cannot be false. If, therefore, it is possible that
Publius Geminus may appear to you to be Quintus, what certainty have you
that he may not appear to you to be Cotta though he is not, since some
things do appear to you to be what they are not? You say that everything
has its own peculiar genus; that there is nothing the same as something
else. That is a stoic doctrine, and one not very credible, for they say
that there is not a single hair or a single grain in every respect like
another hair or grain. These things could all be refuted, but I do not
wish to be contentious; for it has nothing in the world to do with the
question whether the things which are seen do not differ at all in any
part, or whether they cannot be distinguished from another even though
they do differ. But, granting that there cannot be such a likeness between
men, can there not be such between statues? Tell me, could not Lysippus,
using the same brass, the same composition of metals, the same atmosphere,
water, and all other appliances, have made a hundred Alexanders exactly
alike? How then could you distinguish between them? Again; if I, with this
ring, make a hundred impressions on the same piece of wax, is it possible
that there should be any difference to enable you to distinguish one from
the other?—or, shall you have to seek out some ring engraver, since you
have already found us a Delian poulterer who could recognise his eggs?

XXVII. But you have recourse to art, which you call in to the aid of the
senses. A painter sees what we do not see; and as soon as a flute-player
plays a note the air is recognised by a musician. Well? Does not this
argument seem to tell against you, if, without great skill, such as very
few persons of our class attain to, we can neither see nor hear? Then you
give an excellent description of the skill with which nature has
manufactured our senses, and intellect, and the whole construction of man,
in order to prevent my being alarmed at rashness of opinions. Can you
also, Lucullus, affirm that there is any power united with wisdom and
prudence which has made, or, to use your own expression, manufactured man?
What sort of a manufacture is that? Where is it exercised? when? why? how?
These points are all handled ingeniously, they are discussed even
elegantly. Let it be said even that they appear likely; only let them not
be affirmed positively. But we will discuss natural philosophy hereafter,
and, indeed, we will do so that you, who said a little while ago that I
should speak of it, may appear not to have spoken falsely.

However, to come to what is clearer, I shall now bring forward general
facts on which whole volumes have been filled, not only by those of our
own School, but also by Chrysippus. But the Stoics complain of him, that,
while he studiously collected every argument which could be brought
forward against the senses and clearness, and against all custom, and
against reason, when he came to reply to himself, he was inferior to what
he had been at first; and therefore that, in fact, he put arms into the
hands of Carneades. Those arguments are such as have been ingeniously
handled by you. You said that the perceptions of men asleep, or drunk, or
mad, were less vigorous than those of men awake, sober, and sane. How do
you prove that? because, when Ennius had awakened, he would not say that
he had seen Homer, but only that Homer had seemed to be present. And
Alcmæon says—

    My heart distrusts the witness of my eyes.

And one may say the same of men who are drunk. As if any one denied that
when a man has awakened he ceases to think his dreams true; and that a man
whose frenzy has passed away, no longer conceives those things to be real
which appeared so to him during his madness. But that is not the question:
the question is, how those things appear to us, at the time when they do
appear. Unless, indeed, we suppose that Ennius heard the whole of that

    O piety of the soul....

(if, indeed, he did dream it), just as he would have heard it if he had
been awake. For when awake, he was able to think those things phantoms—as,
in fact, they were—and dreams. But while he was asleep, he felt as sure of
their reality as if he had been awake. Again, Iliona, in that dream of
hers, where she hears—

    Mother, I call on you....

does she not believe that her son has spoken, just as she would have
believed it if she had been awake? On which account she adds—

    Come now, stand here, remain, and hear my words,
    And once again repeat those words to me.

Does she here seem to place less trust in what she has seen than people do
when awake?

XXVIII. Why should I speak of madmen?—such as your relation Tuditanus was,
Catulus. Does any man, who may be ever so much in his senses, think the
things which he sees as certain as he used to think those that appeared to
him? Again, the man who cries out—

    I see you now, I see you now alive,
    Ulysses, while such sight is still allow’d me;

does he not twice cry out that he is seeing what he never sees at all?
Again, when Hercules, in Euripides, shot his own sons with his arrows,
taking them for the sons of Eurystheus,—when he slew his wife,—when he
endeavoured even to slay his father,—was he not worked upon by false
ideas, just as he might have been by true ones? Again, does not your own
Alcmæon, who says that his heart distrusts the witness of his eyes, say in
the same place, while inflamed by frenzy—

    Whence does this flame arise?

And presently afterwards—

    Come on; come on; they hasten, they approach;
    They seek for me.

Listen, how he implores the good faith of the virgin:—

    O bring me aid; O drive this pest away;
    This fiery power which now doth torture me;
    See, they advance, dark shades, with flames encircled,
    And stand around me with their blazing torches.

Have you any doubt here that he appears to himself to see these things?
And then the rest of his speech:—

    See how Apollo, fair-hair’d God,
    Draws in and bends his golden bow;
    While on the left fair Dian waves her torch.

How could he have believed these things any more if they had really
existed than he did when they only seemed to exist? For it is clear that
at the moment his heart was not distrusting his eyes. But all these
instances are cited in order to prove that than which nothing can be more
certain, namely, that between true and false perceptions there is no
difference at all, as far as the assent of the mind is concerned. But you
prove nothing when you merely refute those false perceptions of men who
are mad or dreaming, by their own recollection. For the question is not
what sort of recollection those people usually have who have awakened, or
those who have recovered from madness, but what sort of perception madmen
or dreamers had at the moment when they were under the influence of their
madness or their dream. However, we will say no more about the senses.

What is there that can be perceived by reason? You say that Dialectics
have been discovered, and that that science is, as it were, an arbiter and
judge of what is true and false. Of what true and false?—and of true and
false on what subject? Will a dialectician be able to judge, in geometry,
what is true and false, or in literature, or in music? He knows nothing
about those things. In philosophy, then? What is it to him how large the
sun is? or what means has he which may enable him to judge what the chief
good is? What then will he judge of? Of what combination or disjunction of
ideas is accurate,—of what is an ambiguous expression,—of what follows
from each fact, or what is inconsistent with it? If the science of
dialectics judges of these things, or things like them, it is judging of
itself. But it professed more. For to judge of these matters is not
sufficient for the resolving of the other numerous and important questions
which arise in philosophy. But, since you place so much importance in that
art, I would have you to consider whether it was not invented for the
express purpose of being used against you. For, at its first opening, it
gives an ingenious account of the elements of speaking, and of the manner
in which one may come to an understanding of ambiguous expressions, and of
the principles of reasoning: then, after a few more things, it comes to
the sorites, a very slippery and hazardous topic, and a class of argument
which you yourself pronounced to be a vicious one.

XXIX. What then, you will say; are we to be blamed for that viciousness?
The nature of things has not given us any knowledge of ends, so as to
enable us, in any subject whatever, to say how far we can go. Nor is this
the case only in respect of the heap of wheat, from which the name is
derived, but in no matter whatever where the argument is conducted by
minute questions: for instance, if the question be whether a man is rich
or poor, illustrious or obscure,—whether things be many or few, great or
small, long or short, broad or narrow,—we have no certain answer to give,
how much must be added or taken away to make the thing in question either
one or the other.

But the sorites is a vicious sort of argument:—crush it, then, if you can,
to prevent its being troublesome; for it will be so, if you do not guard
against it. We have guarded against it, says he. For Chrysippus’s plan is,
when he is interrogated step by step (by way of giving an instance),
whether there are three, or few, or many, to rest a little before he comes
to the “many;” that is to say, to use their own language, ἡσυχάζειν. Rest
and welcome, says Carneades; you may even snore, for all I care. But what
good does he do? For one follows who will waken you from sleep, and
question you in the same manner:—Take the number, after the mention of
which you were silent, and if to that number I add one, will there be
many? You will again go on, as long as you think fit. Why need I say more?
for you admit this, that you cannot in your answers fix the last number
which can be classed as “few,” nor the first, which amounts to “many.” And
this kind of uncertainty extends so widely, that I do not see any bounds
to its progress.

Nothing hurts me, says he; for I, like a skilful driver, will rein in my
horses before I come to the end, and all the more if the ground which the
horses are approaching is precipitous. And thus, too, says he, I will
check myself, and not reply any more to one who addresses me with captious
questions. If you have a clear answer to make, and refuse to make it, you
are giving yourself airs; if you have not, even you yourself do not
perceive it. If you stop, because the question is obscure, I admit that it
is so; but you say that you do not proceed as far as what is obscure. You
stop, then, where the case is still clear. If then all you do is to hold
your tongue, you gain nothing by that. For what does it matter to the man
who wishes to catch you, whether he entangles you owing to your silence or
to your talking? Suppose, for instance, you were to say, without
hesitation, that up to the number nine, is “few,” but were to pause at the
tenth; then you would be refusing your assent to what is certain and
evident, and yet you will not allow me to do the same with respect to
subjects which are obscure.

That art, therefore, does not help you against the sorites; inasmuch as it
does not teach a man, who is using either the increasing or diminishing
scale, what is the first point, or the last. May I not say that that same
art, like Penelope undoing her web, at last undoes all the arguments which
have gone before? Is that your fault, or ours? In truth, it is the
foundation of dialectics, that whatever is enunciated (and that is what
they call ἀξίωμα, which answers to our word _effatum_,) is either true or
false. What, then, is the case? Are these true or false? If you say that
you are speaking falsely, and that that is true, you are speaking falsely
and telling the truth at the same time. This, forsooth, you say is
inexplicable; and that is more odious than our language, when we call
things uncomprehended, and not perceived.

XXX. However, I will pass over all this. I ask, if those things cannot be
explained, and if no means of judging of them is discovered, so that you
can answer whether they are true or false, then what has become of that
definition,—“That a proposition (_effatum_) is something which is either
true or false?” After the facts are assumed I will add, that of them some
are to be adopted, others impeached, because they are contrary to the
first. What then do you think of this conclusion,—“If you say that the sun
shines, and if you speak truth, therefore the sun does shine?” At all
events you approve of the kind of argument, and you say that the
conclusion has been most correctly inferred. Therefore, in teaching, you
deliver that as the first mood in which to draw conclusions. Either,
therefore, you will approve of every other conclusion in the same mood, or
that art of yours is good for nothing. Consider, then, whether you are
inclined to approve of this conclusion;—“If you say that you are a liar,
and speak the truth, then you are a liar. But you do say that you are a
liar, and you do speak the truth, therefore you are a liar.” How can you
avoid approving of this conclusion, when you approved of the previous one
of the same kind?

These are the arguments of Chrysippus, which even he himself did not
refute. For what could he do with such a conclusion as this,—“If it
shines, it shines: but it does shine, therefore it does shine?” He must
give in; for the principle of the connexion compels you to grant the last
proposition after you have once granted the first. And in what does this
conclusion differ from the other,—“If you lie, you lie; but you do lie,
therefore you do lie?” You assert that it is impossible for you either to
approve or disapprove of this: if so, how can you any more approve or
disapprove of the other? If the art, or the principle, or the method, or
the force of the one conclusion avails, they exist in exactly the same
degree in both.

This, however, is their last resource. They demand that one should make an
exception with regard to these points which are inexplicable. I give my
vote for their going to some tribune of the people; for they shall never
obtain this exception from me. In truth, when they cannot prevail on
Epicurus, who despises and ridicules the whole science of dialectics, to
grant this proposition to be true, which we may express thus—“Hermachus
will either be alive to-morrow or he will not;” when the dialecticians lay
it down that every disjunctive proposition, such as “either yes or no” is
not only true but necessary; you may see how cautious he is, whom they
think slow. For, says he, if I should grant that one of the two
alternatives is necessary, it will then be necessary either that Hermachus
should be alive to-morrow, or not. But there is no such necessity in the
nature of things. Let the dialecticians then, that is to say, Antiochus
and the Stoics, contend with him, for he upsets the whole science of

For if a disjunctive proposition made up of contraries, (I call those
propositions contraries when one affirms and the other denies,) if, I say,
such a disjunctive can be false, then no one is ever true. But what
quarrel have they with me who am following their system? When anything of
that kind happened, Carneades used to joke in this way:—“If I have drawn
my conclusion correctly, I gain the cause: if incorrectly, Diogenes shall
pay back a mina;” for he had learnt dialectics of that Stoic, and a mina
was the pay of the dialecticians.

I, therefore, follow that system which I learnt from Antiochus; and I find
no reason why I should judge “If it does shine, it does shine” to be true,
because I have learnt that everything which is connected with itself is
true; and yet not judge “If you lie, you lie,” to be connected with itself
in the same manner. Either, therefore, I must judge both this and that to
be true, or, if I may not judge this to be true, then I cannot judge that
to be.

XXXI. However, to pass over all those prickles, and all that tortuous kind
of discussion, and to show what we are:—after having explained the whole
theory of Carneades, all the quibbles of Antiochus will necessarily fall
to pieces. Nor will I say anything in such a way as to lead any one to
suspect that anything is invented by me. I will take what I say from
Clitomachus, who was with Carneades till his old age, a man of great
shrewdness, (indeed, he was a Carthaginian,) and very studious and
diligent. And he has written four books on the subject of withholding
assent; but what I am going to say is taken out of the first.

Carneades asserts that there are two kinds of appearances; and that the
first kind may be divided into those which can be perceived and those
which cannot; and the other into those which are probable and those which
are not. Therefore, those which are pronounced to be contrary to the
senses and contrary to evidentness belong to the former division; but that
nothing can be objected to those of the second kind. Wherefore his opinion
is, that there is no appearance of such a character that perception will
follow it, but many such as to draw after them probability. Indeed, it
would be contrary to nature if nothing were probable; and that entire
overturning of life, which you were speaking of, Lucullus, would ensue.
Therefore there are many things which may be proved by the senses; only
one must recollect that there is not in them anything of such a character
that there may not also be something which is false, but which in no
respect differs from it in appearance; and so, whatever happens which is
probable in appearance, if nothing offers itself which is contrary to that
probability, the wise man will use it; and in this way the whole course of
life will be regulated.

And, in truth, that wise man whom you are bringing on the stage, is often
guided by what is probable, not being comprehended, nor perceived, nor
assented to, but only likely; and unless a man acts on such circumstances
there is an end to the whole system of life. For what must happen? Has the
wise man, when he embarks on board ship, a positive comprehension and
perception in his mind that he will have a successful voyage? How can he?
But suppose he goes from this place to Puteoli, thirty furlongs, in a
seaworthy vessel, with a good pilot, and in fine weather like this, it
appears probable that he will arrive there safe. According to appearances
of this kind, then, he will make up his mind to act or not to act; and he
will be more willing to find the snow white than Anaxagoras, who not only
denied that fact, but who affirmed, because he knew that water, from which
snow was congealed, was of a dark colour, that snow did not even look
white. And he will be influenced by anything which affects him in such a
way that the appearance is probable, and not interfered with by any
obstacle. For such a man is not cut out of stone or hewn out of oak. He
has a body, he has a mind, he is influenced by intellect, he is influenced
by his senses, so that many things appear to him to be true, and yet not
to have conspicuous and peculiar characteristics by which to be perceived.
And therefore the wise man does not assent to them, because it is possible
that something false may exist of the same kind as this true thing. Nor do
we speak against the senses differently from the Stoics, who say that many
things are false, and are very different from the appearance which they
present to the senses.

XXXII. But if this is the case, that one false idea can be entertained by
the senses, you will find some one in a moment who will deny that anything
can be perceived by the senses. And so, while we are silent, all
perception and comprehension is done away with by the two principles laid
down, one by Epicurus and the other by you. What is Epicurus’s maxim?—If
anything that appears to the senses be false, then nothing can be
perceived. What is yours?—The appearances presented to the senses are
false.—What is the conclusion? Even if I hold my tongue, it speaks for
itself, that nothing can be perceived. I do not grant that, says he, to
Epicurus. Argue then with him, as he is wholly at variance with you, but
leave me alone, who certainly agree with you so far, that the senses are
liable to error. Although nothing appears so strange to me, as that such
things should be said, especially by Antiochus, to whom the propositions
which I have just mentioned were thoroughly known. For although, if he
pleases, any one may find fault with this, namely with our denying that
anything can be perceived; at all events it is not a very serious reproof
that we can have to endure. But as for our statement that some things are
probable, this does not seem to you to be sufficient. Grant that it is
not. At least we ought to escape the reproaches which are incessantly
bandied about by you, “Can you, then, see nothing? can you hear nothing?
is nothing evident to you?”

I explained just now, on the testimony of Clitomachus, in what manner
Carneades intended those statements to be taken. Hear now, how the same
things are stated by Clitomachus in that book which he dedicated to Caius
Lucilius, the poet, after he had written on the same subject to Lucius
Censorinus, the one, I mean, who was consul with Marcus Manilius; he then
used almost these very words; for I am well acquainted with them, because
the first idea and arrangement of those very matters which we are now
discussing is contained in that book. He then uses the following language—

“The philosophers of the Academy are of opinion that there are differences
between things of such a kind that some appear probable, and others the
contrary. But that it is not a sufficient reason for one’s saying that
some of these can be perceived and that others cannot, because many things
which are false are probable; but nothing false can be perceived and
known. Therefore, says he, those men are egregiously wrong who say that
the Academics deny the existence of the senses; for they have never said
that there is no such thing as colour, or taste, or sound; the only point
they argue for is, that there is not in them that peculiar characteristic
mark of truth and certainty which does not exist anywhere else.”

And after having explained this, he adds, that there are two senses in
which the wise man may be said to suspend his assent: one, when it is
understood that he, as a general rule, assents to nothing; the other, when
he forbears answering, so as to say that he approves or disapproves of
anything, or, so as to deny or affirm anything. This being the case, he
approves of the one sense, so as never to assent to anything; and adheres
to the other, so as to be able to answer yes, or no, following probability
whenever it either occurs or is wanting. And that one may not be
astonished at one, who in every matter withholds himself from expressing
his assent, being nevertheless agitated and excited to action, he leaves
us perceptions of the sort by which we are excited to action, and those
owing to which we can, when questioned, answer either way, being guided
only by appearances, as long as we avoid expressing a deliberate assent.
And yet we must look upon all appearances of that kind as probable, but
only those which have no obstacles to counteract them. If we do not induce
you to approve of these ideas, they may perhaps be false, but they
certainly do not deserve odium. For we are not depriving you of any light;
but with reference to the things which you assert are perceived and
comprehended, we say, that if they be only probable, they appear to be

XXXIII. Since, therefore, what is probable, is thus inferred and laid
down, and at the same time disencumbered of all difficulties, set free and
unrestrained, and disentangled from all extraneous circumstances; you see,
Lucullus, that that defence of perspicuity which you took in hand is
utterly overthrown. For this wise man of whom I am speaking will survey
the heaven and earth and sea with the same eyes as your wise man; and will
feel with the same senses all those other things which fall under each
respective sense. That sea, which now, as the west wind is rising over it,
appears purple to us, will appear so too to our wise man, but nevertheless
he will not sanction the appearance by his assent; because, to us
ourselves it appeared just now blue, and in the morning it appeared
yellow; and now, too, because it sparkles in the sun, it is white and
dimpled, and quite unlike the adjacent continent; so that, even if you
could give an account why it is so, still you could not establish the
truth of the appearance that is presented to the eyes.

Whence then,—for this was the question which you asked,—comes memory, if
we perceive nothing, since we cannot recollect anything which we have seen
unless we have comprehended it? What? Did Polyænus, who is said to have
been a great mathematician, after he had been persuaded by Epicurus to
believe all geometry to be false, forget all the knowledge which he had
previously possessed? But that which is false cannot be comprehended as
you yourselves assert. If, therefore, memory is conversant only with
things which have been perceived and comprehended, then it retains as
comprehended and perceived all that every one remembers. But nothing false
can be comprehended; and Scyron recollects all the dogmas of Epicurus;
therefore they are all true. For all I care, they may be; but you also
must either admit that they are so, and that is the last thing in your
thoughts, or else you must allow me memory, and grant that there is plenty
of room for it, even if there be no comprehension or perception.

What then is to become of the arts? Of what arts? of those, which of their
own accord confess that they proceed on conjecture more than on knowledge;
or of those which only follow what appears to them, and are destitute of
that art which you possess to enable them to distinguish between truth and

But there are two lights which, more than any others, contain the whole
case; for, in the first place, you deny the possibility of any man
invariably withholding his assent from everything. But that is quite
plain; since Panætius, almost the greatest man, in my opinion, of all the
Stoics, says that he is in doubt as to that matter, which all the Stoics
except him think absolutely certain, namely as to the truth of the
auspices taken by soothsayers, and of oracles, and dreams, and prophecies;
and forbears to express any assent respecting them. And why, if he may
pursue this course concerning those matters, which the men of whom he
himself learnt considered unquestionable, why may not a wise man do so too
in all other cases? Is there any position which a man may either approve
or disapprove of after it has been asserted, but yet may not doubt about?
May you do so with respect to the sorites whenever you please, and may not
he take his stand in the same manner in other cases, especially when
without expressing his assent he may be able to follow a probability which
is not embarrassed by anything?

The second point is that you declare that man incapable of action who
withholds his assent from everything. For first of all we must see in what
assent consists. For the Stoics say that the senses themselves are
assents; that desire comes after them, and action after desire. But that
every thing is at an end if we deny perception.

XXXIV. Now on this subject many things have been said and written on both
sides, but the whole matter may be summed up in a few words. For although
I think it a very great exploit to resist one’s perceptions, to withstand
one’s vague opinions, to check one’s propensity to give assent to
propositions,—and though I quite agree with Clitomachus, when he writes
that Carneades achieved a Herculean labour when, as if it had been a
savage and formidable monster, he extracted assent, that is to say, vague
opinion and rashness, from our minds,—yet, supposing that part of the
defence is wholly omitted, what will hinder the action of that man who
follows probability, without any obstacle arising to embarrass him? This
thing of itself, says he, will embarrass him,—that he will lay it down,
that even the thing he approves of cannot be perceived. And that will
hinder you, also, in sailing, in planting, in marrying a wife, in becoming
the parent of children, and in many things in which you follow nothing
except what is probable.

And, nevertheless, you bring up again that old and often repudiated
objection, to employ it not as Antipater did, but, as you say, in a closer
manner. For you tell us that Antipater was blamed for saying, that it was
consistent in a man who affirmed that nothing could be comprehended, to
say that at least this fact of that impossibility could be comprehended;
which appeared even to Antiochus to be a stupid kind of assertion, and
contradictory to itself. For that it cannot be said with any consistency
that nothing can be comprehended, if it is asserted at the same time that
the fact of the impossibility can be comprehended. He thinks that
Carneades ought rather to be pressed in this way:—As the wise man admits
of no dogma except such as is comprehended, perceived, and known, he must
therefore confess that this very dogma of the wise man, “that nothing can
be perceived,” is perceived; as if the wise man had no other maxim
whatever, and as if he could pass his life without any. But as he has
others, which are probable, but not positively perceived, so also has he
this one, that nothing can be perceived. For if he had on this point any
characteristic of certain knowledge, he would also have it on all other
points; but since he has it not, he employs probabilities. Therefore he is
not afraid of appearing to be throwing everything into confusion, and
making it uncertain. For it is not admissible for a person to say that he
is ignorant about duty, and about many other things with which he is
constantly mixed up and conversant; as he might say, if he were asked
whether the number of the stars is odd or even. For in things uncertain,
nothing is probable; but as to those matters in which there is
probability, in those the wise man will not be at a loss what to do, or
what answer to give.

Nor have you, O Lucullus, omitted that other objection of Antiochus (and,
indeed, it is no wonder, for it is a very notorious one,) by which he used
to say that Philo was above all things perplexed. For when one proposition
was assumed, that some appearances were false, and a second one that there
was no difference between them and true ones, he said that that school
omitted to take notice that the former proposition had been granted by
him, because there did appear to be some difference between appearances;
but that that was put an end to by the second proposition, which asserted
that there was no difference between false and true ones; for that no two
assertions could be more contradictory. And this objection would be
correct if we altogether put truth out of the question: but we do not; for
we see both true appearances and false ones. But there is a show of
probability in them, though of perception we have no sign whatever.

XXXV. And I seem to myself to be at this moment adopting too meagre an
argument; for, when there is a wide plain, in which our discourse may rove
at liberty, why should we confine it within such narrow straits, and drive
it into the thickets of the Stoics? For if I were arguing with a
Peripatetic, who said “that everything could be perceived which was an
impression originating in the truth,” and who did not employ that
additional clause,—“in such a way as it could not originate in what was
false,” I should then deal plainly with a plain man, and should not be
very disputatious. And even if, when I said that nothing could be
comprehended, he was to say that a wise man was sometimes guided by
opinion, I should not contradict him; especially as even Carneades is not
very hostile to this idea. As it is, what can I do? For I am asking what
there is that can be comprehended; and I am answered, not by Aristotle, or
Theophrastus, or even Xenocrates or Polemo, but by one who is of much
later date than they,—“A truth of such a nature as what is false cannot
be.” I find nothing of the sort. Therefore I will, in truth, assent to
what is unknown;—that is to say, I will be guided by opinion. This I am
allowed to do both by the Peripatetics and by the Old Academy; but you
refuse me such indulgence, and in this refusal Antiochus is the foremost,
who has great weight with me, either because I loved the man, as he did
me, or because I consider him the most refined and acute of all the
philosophers of our age.

And, first of all, I will ask him how it is that he is a follower of that
Academy to which he professes to belong? For, to pass over other points,
who is there, either of the Old Academy or of the Peripatetics, who has
ever made these two assertions which are the subject of discussion,—either
that that alone could be perceived which was a truth of such a nature, as
what was false could not be; or that a wise man was never guided by
opinion? Certainly no one of them ever said so. Neither of these
propositions was much maintained before Zeno’s time. But I consider both
of them true; and I do not say so just to serve the present turn, but it
is my honest opinion.

XXXVI. This is what I cannot bear. When you forbid me to assent to what I
do not know, and say such a proceeding is most discreditable, and full of
rashness,—when you, at the same time, arrogate so much to yourself, as to
take upon yourself to explain the whole system of wisdom, to unfold the
nature of all things, to form men’s manners, to fix the limits of good and
evil, to describe men’s duties, and also to undertake to teach a complete
rule and system of disputing and understanding, will you be able to
prevent me from never tripping while embracing all those multitudinous
branches of knowledge? What, in short, is that school to which you would
conduct me, after you have carried me away from this one? I fear you will
be acting rather arrogantly if you say it is your own. Still you must
inevitably say so. Nor, indeed, are you the only person who would say such
a thing, but every one will try and tempt me to his own. Come; suppose I
resist the Peripatetics, who say that they are closely connected with the
orators, and that illustrious men who have been instructed by them have
often governed the republic;—suppose that I withstand the Epicureans, so
many of whom are friends of my own,—excellent, united, and affectionate
men;—what am I to do with respect to Deodotus the Stoic, of whom I have
been a pupil from my youth,—who has been living with me so many years,—who
dwells in my house,—whom I admire and love, and who despises all those
theories of Antiochus? Our principles, you will say, are the only true
ones. Certainly the only true ones, if they are true at all; for there
cannot be many true principles incompatible with one another. Are we then
shameless who are unwilling to make mistakes; or they arrogant who have
persuaded themselves that they are the only people who know everything? I
do not, says he, assert that I, but that the wise man knows everything.
Exactly so; that he knows those things which are the principles of your
school. Now, in the first place, what an assertion it is that wisdom
cannot be explained by a wise man.—But let us leave off speaking of
ourselves; let us speak of the wise man, about whom, as I have often said
before, the whole of this discussion is.

Wisdom, then, is distributed by most people, and indeed by us, into three
parts. First therefore, if you please, let us consider the researches that
have been made into the nature of things. Is there any one so puffed up
with a false opinion of himself as to have persuaded himself that he knows
those things? I am not asking about those reasons which depend on
conjecture, which are dragged every way by discussions, and which do not
admit any necessity of persuasion. Let the geometricians look to that, who
profess not to persuade men to believe them, but to compel them to do so;
and who prove to you everything that they describe. I am not asking these
men for those principles of the mathematicians, which, if they be not
granted, they cannot advance a single step; such as that a point is a
thing which has no magnitude,—that an extremity or levelness, as it were,
is a space which has no thickness,—that a line is length without breadth.
Though I should grant that all these axioms are true, if I were to add an
oath, do you think a wise man would swear that the sun is many degrees
greater than the earth, before Archimedes had, before his eyes, made out
all those calculations by which it is proved? If he does, then he will be
despising the sun which he considers a god. But if he will not believe the
mathematical calculations which employ a sort of constraint in
teaching,—as you yourselves say,—surely he will be very far from believing
the arguments of philosophers; or, if he does believe any such, which
school will he believe? One may explain all the principles of natural
philosophers, but it would take a long time: I ask, however, whom he will
follow? Suppose for a moment that some one is now being made a wise man,
but is not one yet,—what system and what school shall he select above all
others? For, whatever one he selects, he will select while he is still
unwise. But grant that he is a man of godlike genius, which of all the
natural philosophers will he approve of above all others? For he cannot
approve of more than one. I will not pursue an infinite number of
questions; only let us see whom he will approve of with respect to the
elements of things of which all things are composed; for there is a great
disagreement among the greatest men on this subject.

XXXVII. First of all, Thales, one of the seven, to whom they say that the
other six yielded the preeminence, said that everything originated out of
water; but he failed to convince Anaximander, his countryman and
companion, of this theory; for his idea was that there was an infinity of
nature from which all things were produced. After him, his pupil,
Anaximenes, said that the air was infinite, but that the things which were
generated from it were finite; and that the earth, and water, and fire,
were generated, and that from them was produced everything else.
Anaxagoras said that matter was infinite; but that from it were produced
minute particles resembling one another; that at first they were confused,
but afterwards brought into order by divine intellect. Xenophanes, who was
a little more ancient still, asserted that all things were only one single
being, and that that being was immutable and a god, not born, but
everlasting, of a globular form. Parmenides considered that it is fire
that moves the earth, which is formed out of it. Leucippus thought that
there was a _plenum_, and a _vacuum_; Democritus resembled him in this
idea, but was more copious on other matters: Empedocles adopts the theory
of the four ordinary and commonly known elements. Heraclitus refers
everything to fire; Melissus thinks that what exists is infinite,
immutable, always has existed, and always will. Plato thinks that the
world was made by God, so as to be eternal, out of matter which collects
everything to itself. The Pythagoreans affirm that everything proceeds
from numbers, and from the principles of mathematicians.

Now of all these different teachers the wise man will, I imagine, select
some one to follow; all the rest, numerous, and great men as they are,
will be discarded by him and condemned; but whichever doctrine he approves
of he will retain in his mind, being comprehended in the same manner as
those things which he comprehends by means of the senses; nor will he feel
any greater certainty of the fact of its now being day, than, since he is
a Stoic, of this world being wise, being endowed with intellect, which has
made both itself and the world, and which regulates, sets in motion, and
governs everything. He will also be persuaded that the sun, and moon, and
all the stars, and the earth, and sea, are gods, because a certain animal
intelligence pervades and passes through them all: but nevertheless that
it will happen some day or other that all this world will be burnt up with

XXXVIII. Suppose that all this is true: (for you see already that I admit
that something is true,) still I deny that these things are comprehended
and perceived. For when that wise Stoic of yours has repeated all that to
you, syllable by syllable, Aristotle will come forward pouring forth a
golden stream of eloquence, and pronounce him a fool; and assert that the
world has never had a beginning, because there never existed any beginning
of so admirable a work from the adoption of a new plan: and that the world
is so excellently made in every part that no power could be great enough
to cause such motion, and such changes; nor could any time whatever be
long enough to produce an old age capable of causing all this beauty to
decay and perish. It will be indispensable for you to deny this, and to
defend the former doctrine as you would your own life and reputation; may
I not have even leave to entertain a doubt on the matter? To say nothing
about the folly of people who assent to propositions rashly, what value am
I to set upon a liberty which will not allow to me what is necessary for
you? Why did God, when he was making everything for the sake of man, (for
this is your doctrine,) make such a multitude of water-serpents and
vipers? Why did he scatter so many pernicious and fatal things over the
earth? You assert that all this universe could not have been made so
beautifully and so ingeniously without some godlike wisdom; the majesty of
which you trace down even to the perfection of bees and ants; so that it
would seem that there must have been a Myrmecides(12) among the gods; the
maker of all animated things.

You say that nothing can have any power without God. Exactly opposite is
the doctrine of Strato of Lampsacus, who gives that God of his exemption
from all important business. But as the priests of the gods have a
holiday, how much more reasonable is it that the gods should have one
themselves? He then asserts that he has no need of the aid of the gods to
account for the making of the world. Everything that exists, he says, was
made by Nature: not agreeing with that other philosopher who teaches, that
the universe is a concrete mass of rough and smooth, and hooked and
crooked bodies, with the addition of a vacuum: this he calls a dream of
Democritus, and says that he is here not teaching, but wishing;—but he
himself, examining each separate part of the world, teaches that whatever
exists, and whatever is done, is caused, or has been caused, by natural
weights and motions. In this way he releases God from a great deal of hard
work, and me from fear; for who is there who, (when he thinks that he is
an object of divine care,) does not feel an awe of the divine power day
and night? And who, whenever any misfortunes happen to him (and what man
is there to whom none happen?) feels a dread lest they may have befallen
him deservedly—not, indeed, that I agree with that; but neither do I with
you: at one time I think one doctrine more probable, and at other times I
incline to the other.

XXXIX. All these mysteries, O Lucullus, lie concealed and enveloped in
darkness so thick that no human ingenuity has a sight sufficiently
piercing to penetrate into heaven, and dive into the earth. We do not
understand our own bodies: we do not know what is the situation of their
different parts, or what power each part has: therefore, the physicians
themselves, whose business it was to understand these things, have opened
bodies in order to lay those parts open to view. And yet empirics say that
they are not the better known for that; because it is possible that, by
being laid open and uncovered, they may be changed. But is it possible for
us, in the same manner, to anatomize, and open, and dissect the natures of
things, so as to see whether the earth is firmly fixed on its foundations
and sticks firm on its roots, if I may so say, or whether it hangs in the
middle of a vacuum? Xenophanes says that the moon is inhabited, and that
it is a country of many cities and mountains. These assertions seem
strange, but the man who has made them could not take his oath that such
is the case; nor could I take mine that it is not the case. You also say
that, opposite to us, on the contrary side of the earth, there are people
who stand with their feet opposite to our feet, and you call them
Antipodes. Why are you more angry with me, who do not despise these
theories, than with those who, when they hear them, think that you are
beside yourselves?

Hiretas of Syracuse, as Theophrastus tells us, thinks that the sun, and
moon, and stars, and all the heavenly bodies, in short, stand still; and
that nothing in the world moves except the earth; and, as that turns and
revolves on its own axis with the greatest rapidity, he thinks that
everything is made to appear by it as if it were the heaven which is moved
while the earth stands still. And, indeed, some people think that Plato,
in the Timæus, asserts this, only rather obscurely. What is your opinion,
Epicurus? Speak. Do you think that the sun is so small?—Do I? Do you
yourselves think it so large? But all of you are ridiculed by him, and you
in your turn mock him. Socrates, then, is free from this ridicule, and so
is Ariston of Chios, who thinks that none of these matters can be known.

But I return to the mind and body. Is it sufficiently known by us what is
the nature of the sinews and of the veins? Do we comprehend what the mind
is?—where it is?—or, in short, whether it exists at all, or whether, as
Dicæarchus thinks, there is no such thing whatever? If there is such a
thing, do we know whether it has three divisions, as Plato thought; those
of reason, anger, and desire?—or whether it is single and uniform? If it
is single and uniform, do we know whether it is fire, or breath, or
blood?—or, as Xenocrates says, number without a body?—though, what sort of
thing that is, is not very easy to understand. And whatever it is, do we
know whether it is mortal or eternal? For many arguments are alleged on
both sides.

XL. Some of these theories seem certain to your wise man: but ours does
not even see what is most probable; so nearly equal in weight are the
opposite arguments in most cases. If you proceed more modestly, and
reproach me, not because I do not assent to your reasoning, but because I
do not assent to any, I will not resist any further: but I will select
some one with whom I may agree. Whom shall I choose?—whom? Democritus?
for, as you know, I have always been a favourer of noble birth. I shall be
at once overwhelmed with the reproaches of your whole body. Can you think,
they will say to me, that there is any vacuum, when everything is so
filled and close packed that whenever any body leaves its place and moves,
the place which it leaves is immediately occupied by some other body? Or
can you believe that there are any atoms to which whatever is made by
their combination is entirely unlike? or that any excellent thing can be
made without intellect? And, since this admirable beauty is found in one
world, do you think that there are also innumerable other worlds, above,
below, on the right hand and on the left, before, and behind, some unlike
this one, and some of the same kind? And, as we are now at Bauli, and are
beholding Puteoli, do you think that there are in other places like these
a countless host of men, of the same names and rank, and exploits, and
talents, and appearances, and ages, arguing on the same subjects? And if
at this moment, or when we are asleep, we seem to see anything in our
mind, do you think that those images enter from without, penetrating into
our minds through our bodies? You can never adopt such ideas as these, or
give your assent to such preposterous notions. It is better to have no
ideas at all than to have such erroneous ones as these.

Your object, then, is not to make me sanction anything by my assent. If it
were, consider whether it would not be an impudent, not to say an arrogant
demand, especially as these principles of yours do not seem to me to be
even probable. For I do not believe that there is any such thing as
divination, which you assent to; and I also despise fate, by which you say
that everything is regulated. I do not even believe that this world was
formed by divine wisdom; or, I should rather say, I do not know whether it
was so formed or not.

XLI. But why should you seek to disparage me? May I not confess that I do
not understand what I really do not? Or may the Stoics argue with one
other, and may I not argue with them? Zeno, and nearly all the rest of the
Stoics, consider Æther as the Supreme God, being endued with reason, by
which everything is governed. Cleanthes, who we may call a Stoic, _Majorum
Gentium_, the pupil of Zeno, thinks that the Sun has the supreme rule over
and government of everything. We are compelled, therefore, by the
dissensions of these wise men, to be ignorant of our own ruler, inasmuch
as we do not know whether we are subjects of the Sun or of Æther. But the
great size of the sun, (for this present radiance of his appears to be
looking at me,) warns me to make frequent mention of him. Now you all
speak of his magnitude as if you had measured it with a ten-foot rule,
(though I refuse credit to your measurement, looking on you as but bad
architects.) Is there then any room for doubt, which of us, to speak as
gently as possible, is the more modest of the two? Not, however, that I
think those questions of the natural philosophers deserving of being
utterly banished from our consideration; for the consideration and
contemplation of nature is a sort of natural food, if I may say so, for
our minds and talents. We are elevated by it, we seem to be raised above
the earth, we look down on human affairs; and by fixing our thoughts on
high and heavenly things we despise the affairs of this life, as small and
inconsiderable. The mere investigation of things of the greatest
importance, which are at the same time very secret, has a certain pleasure
in it. And when anything meets us which appears likely, our minds are
filled with pleasure thoroughly worthy of a man. Both your wise man and
ours, then, will inquire into these things; but yours will do so in order
to assent, to feel belief, to express affirmation; ours, with such
feelings that he will fear to yield rashly to opinion, and will think that
he has succeeded admirably if in matters of this kind he has found out
anything which is likely.

Let us now come to the question of the knowledge of good and evil. But we
must say a few words by way of preface. It appears to me that they who
speak so positively about those questions of natural philosophy, do not
reflect that they are depriving themselves of the authority of those ideas
which appear more clear. For they cannot give a clearer assent to, or a
more positive approval of the fact that it is now daylight, than they do,
when the crow croaks, to the idea that it is commanding or prohibiting
something. Nor will they affirm that that statue is six feet high more
positively after they have measured it, than that the sun, which they
cannot measure, is more than eighteen times as large as the earth. From
which this conclusion arises: if it cannot be perceived how large the sun
is, he who assents to other things in the same manner as he does to the
magnitude of the sun, does not perceive them. But the magnitude of the sun
cannot be perceived. He, then, who assents to a statement about it, as if
he perceived it, perceives nothing. Suppose they were to reply that it is
possible to perceive how large the sun is; I will not object as long as
they admit that other things too can be perceived and comprehended in the
same manner. For they cannot affirm that one thing can be comprehended
more or less than another, since there is only one definition of the
comprehension of everything.

XLII. However, to go back to what I had begun to say—What have we in good
and bad certainly ascertained? (we must, of course, fix boundaries to
which the sum of good and evil is to be referred;) what subject, in fact,
is there about which there is a greater disagreement between the most
learned men? I say nothing about those points which seem now to be
abandoned; or about Herillus, who places the chief good in knowledge and
science: and though he had been a pupil of Zeno, you see how far he
disagrees with him, and how very little he differs from Plato. The school
of the Megaric philosophers was a very celebrated one; and its chief, as I
see it stated in books, was Xenophanes, whom I mentioned just now. After
him came Parmenides and Zeno; and from them the Eleatic philosophers get
their name. Afterwards came Euclid of Megara, a pupil of Socrates, from
whom that school got the name of Megaric. And they defined that as the
only good which was always one, alike, and identical. They also borrowed a
great deal from Plato. But the Eretrian philosophers, who were so called
from Menedumus, because he was a native of Eretria, placed all good in the
mind, and in that acuteness of the mind by which the truth is discerned.
The Megarians say very nearly the same, only that they, I think, develop
their theory with more elegance and richness of illustration. If we now
despise these men, and think them worthless, at all events we ought to
show more respect for Ariston, who, having been a pupil of Zeno, adopted
in reality the principles which he had asserted in words; namely, that
there was nothing good except virtue, and nothing evil except what was
contrary to virtue; and who denied altogether the existence of those
influences which Zeno contended for as being intermediate, and neither
good nor evil. His idea of the chief good, is being affected in neither
direction by these circumstances; and this state of mind he calls
ἀδιαφορία; but Pyrrho asserts that the wise man does not even feel them;
and that state is called ἀπάθεια.

To say nothing, then, of all these opinions, let us now examine those
others which have been long and vigorously maintained. Some have accounted
pleasure the chief good; the chief of whom was Aristippus, who had been a
pupil of Socrates, and from whom the Cyrenaic school spring. After him
came Epicurus, whose school is now better known, though he does not
exactly agree with the Cyrenaics about pleasure itself. But Callipho
thought that pleasure and honour combined made up the chief good.
Hieronymus placed it in being free from all annoyance; Diodorus in this
state when combined with honour. Both these last men were Peripatetics. To
live honourably, enjoying those things which nature makes most dear to
man, was the definition both of the Old Academy, (as we may learn from the
writings of Polemo, who is highly approved of by Antiochus,) and of
Aristotle, and it is the one to which his friends appear now to come
nearest. Carneades also introduced a definition, (not because he approved
of it himself, but for the sake of opposition to the Stoics,) that the
chief good is to enjoy those things which nature has made man consider as
most desirable. But Zeno laid it down that that honourableness which
arises from conformity to nature is the chief good. And Zeno was the
founder and chief of the Stoic school.

XLIII. This now is plain enough, that all these chief goods which I have
mentioned have a chief evil corresponding to them, which is their exact
opposite. I now put it to you, whom shall I follow? only do not let any
one make me so ignorant and absurd a reply as, Any one, provided only that
you follow some one or other. Nothing more inconsiderate can be said: I
wish to follow the Stoics. Will Antiochus, (I do not say Aristotle, a man
almost, in my opinion, unrivalled as a philosopher, but will Antiochus)
give me leave? And he was called an Academic; but he would have been, with
very little alteration, something very like a Stoic. The matter shall now
be brought to a decision. For we must either give the wise man to the
Stoics or to the Old Academy. He cannot belong to both; for the contention
between them is not one about boundaries, but about the whole territory.
For the whole system of life depends on the definition of the chief good;
and those who differ on that point, differ about the whole system of life.
It is impossible, therefore, that those of both these schools should be
wise, since they differ so much from one another: but one of them only can
be so. If it be the disciple of Polemo, then the Stoic is wrong, who
assents to an error: and you say that nothing is so incompatible with the
character of a wise man as that. But if the principles of Zeno be true,
then we must say the same of the Old Academics and of the Peripatetics;
and as I do not know which is the more wise of the two, I give my assent
to neither. What? when Antiochus in some points disagrees with the Stoics
whom he is so fond of, does he not show that these principles cannot be
approved of by a wise man?

The Stoics assert that all offences are equal: but Antiochus energetically
resists this doctrine. At least, let me consider before I decide which
opinion I will embrace. Cut the matter short, says he, do at last decide
on something. What? The reasons which are given appear to me to be both
shrewd and nearly equal: may I not then be on my guard against committing
a crime? for you called it a crime, Lucullus, to violate a principle; I,
therefore, restrain myself, lest I should assent to what I do not
understand; and this principle I have in common with you.

Here, however, is a much greater difference.—Zeno thinks that a happy life
depends on virtue alone. What says Antiochus? He admits that this is true
of a happy life, but not of the happiest possible life. The first is a
god, who thinks that nothing can be wanting to virtue; the latter is a
miserable man, who thinks that there are many things besides virtue, some
of which are dear to a man, and some even necessary. But I am afraid that
the former may be attributing to virtue more than nature can bear;
especially since Theophrastus has said many things with eloquence and
copiousness on this subject; and I fear that even he may not be quite
consistent with himself. For though he admits that there are some evils
both of body and fortune, he nevertheless thinks that a man may be happy
who is afflicted by them all, provided he is wise. I am perplexed here; at
one time the one opinion appears to me to be more probable, and at another
time the other does. And yet, unless one or the other be true, I think
virtue must be entirely trampled under foot.

XLIV. However, they differ as to this principle. What then? Can we
approve, as true, of those maxims on which they agree; namely, that the
mind of the wise man is never influenced by either desire or joy? Come,
suppose this opinion is a probable one, is this other one so too; namely,
that it never feels either alarm or grief? Cannot the wise fear? And if
his country be destroyed, cannot he grieve? That seems harsh, but Zeno
thinks it inevitable; for he considers nothing good except what is
honourable. But you do not think it true in the least, Antiochus. For you
admit that there are many good things besides honour, and many evils
besides baseness; and it is inevitable that the wise man must fear such
when coming, and grieve when they have come. But I ask when it was decided
by the Old Academy that they were to deny that the mind of the wise man
could be agitated or disturbed? They approved of intermediate states, and
asserted that there was a kind of natural mean in every agitation. We have
all read the treatise on Grief, by Crantor, a disciple of the Old Academy.
It is not large, but it is a golden book, and one, as Panætius tells
Tubero, worth learning by heart. And these men used to say that those
agitations were very profitably given to our minds by nature; fear, in
order that we may take care; pity and melancholy they called the whetstone
of our clemency; and anger itself that of our courage. Whether they were
right or wrong we may consider another time. How it was that those stern
doctrines of yours forced their way into the Old Academy I do not know,
but I cannot bear them; not because they have anything in them
particularly disagreeable to me; for many of the marvellous doctrines of
the Stoics, which men call παράδοξα, are derived from Socrates. But where
has Xenocrates or where has Aristotle touched these points? For you try to
make out the Stoics to be the same as these men. Would they ever say that
wise men were the only kings, the only rich, the only handsome men? that
everything everywhere belonged to the wise man? that no one was a consul,
or prætor, or general, or even, for aught I know, a quinquevir, but the
wise man? lastly, that he was the only citizen, the only free man? and
that all who are destitute of wisdom are foreigners, exiles, slaves, or
madmen? last of all, that the writings of Lycurgus and Solon and our
Twelve Tables are not laws? that there are even no cities or states except
those which are peopled by wise men? Now these maxims, O Lucullus, if you
agree with Antiochus, your own friend, must be defended by you as
zealously as the bulwarks of your city; but I am only bound to uphold them
with moderation, just as much as I think fit.

XLV. I have read in Clitomachus, that when Carneades and Diogenes the
Stoic were standing in the capitol before the senate, Aulus Albonus (who
was prætor at the time, in the consulship of Publius Scipio and Marcus
Marcellus, the same Albonus who was consul, Lucullus, with your own
grandfather, a learned man, as his own history shows, which is written in
Greek) said jestingly to Carneades—“I do not, O Carneades, seem to you to
be prætor because I am not wise, nor does this seem to be a city, nor do
the inhabitants seem to be citizens, for the same reason.” And he
answered—“That is the Stoic doctrine.” Aristotle or Xenocrates, whom
Antiochus wished to follow, would have had no doubt that he was prætor,
and Rome a city, and that it was inhabited by citizens. But our friend is,
as I said before, a manifest Stoic, though he talks a little nonsense.

But you are all afraid for me, lest I should descend to opinions, and
adopt and approve of something that I do not understand; which you would
be very sorry for me to do. What advice do you give me? Chrysippus often
testifies that there are three opinions only about the chief good which
can be defended; he cuts off and discards all the rest. He says that
either honour is the chief good, or pleasure, or both combined. For that
those who say that the chief good is to be free from all annoyance, shun
the unpopular name of pleasure, but hover about its neighbourhood. And
those also do the same who combine that freedom from annoyance with
honour. And those do not much differ from them who unite to honour the
chief advantages of nature. So he leaves three opinions which he thinks
may be maintained by probable arguments.

Be it so. Although I am not easily to be moved from the definition of
Polemo and the Peripatetics, and Antiochus, nor have I anything more
probable to bring forward. Still, I see how sweetly pleasure allures our
senses. I am inclined to agree with Epicurus or Aristippus. But virtue
recalls me, or rather leads me back with her hand; says that these are the
feelings of cattle, and that man is akin to the Deity. I may take a middle
course; so that, since Aristippus, as if we had no mind, defends nothing
but the body, and Zeno espouses the cause of the mind alone, as if we were
destitute of body, I may follow Callipho, whose opinion Carneades used to
defend with such zeal, that he appeared wholly to approve of it; although
Clitomachus affirmed that he never could understand what Carneades
approved of. But if I were to choose to follow him, would not truth
itself, and all sound and proper reason, oppose me? Will you, when honour
consists in despising pleasure, unite honour to pleasure, joining, as it
were, a man to a beast?

XLVI. There is now, then, only one pair of combatants left—pleasure and
honour; between which Chrysippus, as far as I can see, was not long in
perplexity how to decide. If you follow the one, many things are
overthrown, especially the fellowship of the human race, affection,
friendship, justice, and all other virtues, none of which can exist at all
without disinterestedness: for the virtue which is impelled to action by
pleasure, as by a sort of wages, is not really virtue, but only a
deceitful imitation and pretence of virtue. Listen, on the contrary, to
those men who say that they do not even understand the name of honour,
unless we call that honourable which is accounted reputable by the
multitude; that the source of all good is in the body; that this is the
law, and rule, and command of nature; and that he who departs from it will
never have any object in life to follow. Do you think, then, that I am not
moved when I hear these and innumerable other statements of the same kind?
I am moved as much as you are, Lucullus; and you need not think me less a
man than yourself. The only difference is that you, when you are agitated,
acquiesce, assent, and approve; you consider the impression which you have
received true, certain, comprehended, perceived, established, firm, and
unalterable; and you cannot be moved or driven from it by any means
whatever. I think that there is nothing of such a kind that, if I assent
to it, I shall not often be assenting to what is false; since there is no
distinct line of demarcation between what is true and what is false,
especially as the science of dialectics has no power of judging on this

I come now to the third part of philosophy. There is an idea advanced by
Protagoras, who thinks that that is true to each individual which seems so
to him; and a completely different one put forward by the Cyrenaics, who
think that there is no such thing as certain judgment about anything
except the inner feelings: and a third, different from either, maintained
by Epicurus, who places all judgment in the senses, and in our notions of
things, and in pleasure. But Plato considered that the whole judgment of
truth, and that truth itself, being abstracted from opinions and from the
senses, belonged to the province of thought and of the intellect. Does our
friend Antiochus approve of any of these principles? He does not even
approve of those who may be called his own ancestors in philosophy: for
where does he follow Xenocrates, who has written a great many books on the
method of speaking, which are highly esteemed?—or Aristotle himself, than
whom there is no more acute or elegant writer? He never goes one step
without Chrysippus.

XLVII. Do we then, who are called Academics, misuse the glory of this
name? or why are we to be compelled to follow those men who differ from
one another? In this very thing, which the dialecticians teach among the
elements of their art, how one ought to judge whether an argument be true
or false which is connected in this manner, “If it is day, it shines,” how
great a contest there is;—Diodorus has one opinion, Philo another,
Chrysippus a third. Need I say more? In how many points does Chrysippus
himself differ from Cleanthes, his own teacher? Again, do not two of the
very princes of the dialecticians, Antipater and Archidemus, men most
devoted to hypothesis, disagree in numbers of things? Why then, Lucullus,
do you seek to bring me into odium, and drag me, as it were, before the
assembly? And why, as seditious tribunes often do, do you order all the
shops to be shut? For what is your object when you complain that all
trades are being suppressed by us, if it be not to excite the artisans?
But, if they all come together from all quarters, they will be easily
excited against you; for, first of all, I will cite all those unpopular
expressions of yours when you called all those, who will then be in the
assembly, exiles, and slaves, and madmen: and then I will come to those
arguments which touch not the multitude, but you yourselves who are here
present. For Zeno and Antiochus both deny that any of you know anything.
How so? you will say; for we allege, on the other hand, that even a man
without wisdom comprehends many things. But you affirm that no one except
a wise man knows one single thing. And Zeno professed to illustrate this
by a piece of action; for when he stretched out his fingers, and showed
the palm of his hand, “Perception,” said he, “is a thing like this.” Then,
when he had a little closed his fingers, “Assent is like this.”
Afterwards, when he had completely closed his hand, and held forth his
fist, that, he said, was comprehension. From which simile he also gave
that state a name which it had not before, and called it κατάληψις. But
when he brought his left hand against his right, and with it took a firm
and tight hold of his fist, knowledge, he said, was of that character; and
that was what none but a wise man possessed. But even those who are
themselves wise men do not venture to say so, nor any one who has ever
lived and been a wise man. According to that theory, you, Catulus, do not
know that it is daylight; and you, Hortensius, are ignorant that we are
now in your villa.

Now, are these arguments less formidable than yours? They are not,
perhaps, very refined; and those others show more acuteness. But, just as
you said, that if nothing could be comprehended, all the arts were
destroyed at once, and would not grant that mere probability was a
sufficient foundation for art; so I now reply to you, that art cannot
exist without knowledge. Would Zeuxis, or Phidias, or Polycletus allow
that they knew nothing, when they were men of such marvellous skill? But
if any one had explained to them how much power knowledge was said to
have, they would cease to be angry; they would not even be offended with
us, when they had learnt that we were only putting an end to what did not
exist anywhere; but that we left them what was quite sufficient for them.

And this doctrine is confirmed also by the diligence of our ancestors, who
ordained, in the first place, that every one should swear “according to
the opinion of his own mind;” secondly, that he should be accounted guilty
“if he knowingly swore falsely,” because there was a great deal of
ignorance in life; thirdly, that the man who was giving his evidence
should say that “he thought,” even in a case where he was speaking of what
he had actually seen himself. And that when the judges were giving their
decision on their evidence, they should say, not that such and such a
thing had been done, but that such and such a thing appeared to them.

XLVIII. But since the sailor is making signals, and the west wind is
showing us too, by its murmur, that it is time for us, Lucullus, to set
sail, and since I have already said a great deal, I must now conclude. But
hereafter, when we inquire into these subjects, we will discuss the great
disagreements between the most eminent on the subject of the obscurity of
nature, and the errors of so many philosophers who differ from one another
about good and evil so widely, that, as more than one of their theories
cannot be true, it is inevitable that many illustrious schools must fall
to the ground, rather than the theories about the false impressions of the
eyes and the other senses, and sorites, or false syllogism,—rods which the
Stoics have made to beat themselves with.

Then Lucullus replied, I am not at all sorry that we have had this
discussion; for often, when we meet again, especially in our Tusculan
villas, we can examine other questions which seem worth investigation.
Certainly, said I; but what does Catulus think? and Hortensius? I? said
Catulus. I return to my father’s opinion, which he used to say was derived
from Carneades, and think that nothing can be perceived; but still I
imagine that a wise man will assent to what is not actually perceived—that
is to say, will form opinions: being, however, aware at the same time that
they are only opinions, and knowing that there is nothing which can be
comprehended and perceived. And, practising that ἐποχὴ so as to take
probability for a guide in all things, I altogether assent to that other
doctrine, that nothing can be perceived. I see your meaning, said I; and I
do not very much object to it. But what is your opinion, Hortensius? He
laughed, and said, I suspend my judgment. I understand, said I; for that
is the peculiar principle of the Academy.

So, after we had finished our discourse, Catulus remained behind, and we
went down to the shore to embark in our vessels.



The following treatise was composed by Cicero a little before the
publication of his Tusculan Disputations. It consists of a series of
Dialogues, in which the opinions of the different schools of Greek
philosophy, especially the Epicureans, Stoics, and Peripatetics, on the
Supreme Good, as the proper object or end (_finis_) of our thoughts and
actions, are investigated and compared. It is usually reckoned one of the
most highly finished and valuable of his philosophical works; though from
the abstruse nature of some of the topics dwelt upon, and the subtlety of
some of the arguments adduced, it is unquestionably the most difficult.

He gives an account himself of the work and of his design and plan in the
following terms. (Epist. ad Att. xiii. 19.) “What I have lately written is
in the manner of Aristotle, where the conversation is so managed that he
himself has the principal part. I have finished the five books De Finibus
Bonorum et Malorum, so as to give the Epicurean doctrine to Lucius
Torquatus, the Stoic to Marcus Cato, and the Peripatetic to Marcus Cato.
For I considered that their being dead would preclude all jealousy.” He
does not, however, maintain the unity of scene or character throughout the
five books. In the first book he relates a discussion which is represented
as having taken place in his villa near Cumæ, in the presence of Caius
Valerius Triarius, between himself and Lucius Manlius Torquatus, who is
spoken of as being just about to enter his office as prætor, a
circumstance which fixes the date of this imaginary discussion to B.C. 50,
a time agreeing with the allusion (B. ii. 18,) to the great power of
Pompey. In the first book he attacks the doctrines of the Epicurean
school, and Torquatus defends them, alleging that they had been generally
misunderstood; and in the second book Cicero enumerates the chief
arguments with which the Stoics assailed them.

In the third book the scene is laid in the library of Lucullus, where
Cicero had accidentally met Cato; and from conversing on the books by
which they were surrounded they proceeded to discuss the difference
between the ethics of the Stoics, and those of the Old Academy and the
Peripatetics; Cicero insisting that the disagreement was merely verbal and
not real, and that Zeno was wrong in leaving Plato and Aristotle and
establishing a new school; but Cato asserts, on the other hand, that the
difference is a real one, and that the views held by the Stoics of the
Supreme Good are of a much loftier and purer character than those which
had been previously entertained. In the fourth book Cicero gives us the
arguments with which the philosophers of the New Academy assailed the
Stoics. And this conversation is supposed to have been held two years
before that in the first book: for at the beginning of Book IV. there is a
reference to the law for limiting the length of the speeches of counsel
passed in the second consulship of Pompey, B.C. 55, as being only just

In the fifth book we are carried back to B.C. 79, and the scene is laid at
Athens, where Cicero was at that time under Antiochus and Demetrius. He
and his brother Quintus, Lucius Cicero his cousin, Pomponius Atticus, and
Marcus Pupius Piso are represented as meeting in the Academia; and Piso,
at the request of his companions, lays open the precepts inculcated by
Aristotle and his school on the subject of the Summum Bonum; after which
Cicero states the objections of the Stoics to the Peripatetic system, and
Piso replies. While giving the opinions of these above-named sects with
great fairness and impartiality Cicero abstains throughout from
pronouncing any judgment of his own.

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

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

For, if it be possible that men should arrive at wisdom, then it must not
only be acquired by us, but even enjoyed. Or if this be difficult, still
there is no limit to the way in which one is to seek for truth except one
has found it; and it is base to be wearied in seeking a thing, when what
we do seek for is the most honourable thing possible. In truth, if we are
amused when we are writing, who is so envious as to wish to deny us that
pleasure? If it is a labour to us, who will fix a limit to another
person’s industry? For as the Chremes(14) of Terence does not speak from a
disregard of what is due to men when he does not wish his new neighbour

    To dig, or plough, or any toil endure:

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

II. It is more difficult to satisfy those men who allege that they despise
Latin writings. But, first of all, I may express my wonder at their not
being pleased with their native language in matters of the highest
importance, when they are fond enough of reading fables in Latin,
translated word for word from the Greek. For what man is such an enemy (as
I may almost call it) to the Roman name, as to despise or reject the Medea
of Ennius, or the Antiope of Pacuvius? and to express a dislike of Latin
literature, while at the same time he speaks of being pleased with the
plays of Euripides? “What,” says such an one, “shall I rather read the
Synephebi of Cæcilius,(15) or the Andria of Terence, than either of these
plays in the original of Menander?” But I disagree with men of these
opinions so entirely, that though Sophocles has composed an Electra in the
most admirable manner possible, still I think the indifferent translation
of it by Atilius(16) worth reading too, though Licinius calls him an iron
writer; with much truth in my opinion; still he is a writer whom it is
worth while to read. For to be wholly unacquainted with our own poets is a
proof either of the laziest indolence, or else of a very superfluous

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

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

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

III. Although if I were to translate Plato or Aristotle in as bold a
manner as our poets have translated the Greek plays, then, I suppose, I
should not deserve well at the hands of my fellow-countrymen, for having
brought those divine geniuses within their reach. However, that is not
what I have hitherto done, though I do not consider myself interdicted
from doing so. Some particular passages, if I think it desirable, I shall
translate, especially from those authors whom I have just named, when
there is an opportunity of doing so with propriety; just as Ennius often
translates passages from Homer, and Afranius(22) from Menander. Nor will
I, like Lucilius, make any objection to everybody reading my writings. I
should be glad to have that Persius(23) for one of my readers; and still
more to have Scipio and Rutilius; men whose criticism he professed to
fear, saying that he wrote for the people of Tarentum, and Consentia, and
Sicily. That was all very witty of him, and in his usual style; but still,
people at that time were not so learned as to give him cause to labour
much before he could encounter their judgment, and his writings are of a
lightish character, showing indeed, a high degree of good breeding, but
only a moderate quantity of learning. But whom can I fear to have read my
works when I ventured to address a book to you, who are not inferior to
the Greeks themselves in philosophical knowledge? Although I have this
excuse for what I am doing, that I have been challenged by you, in that to
me most acceptable book which you sent me “On Virtue.”

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

    You have preferr’d, Albucius, to be call’d
    A Greek much rather than a Roman citizen
    Or Sabine, countryman of Pontius,
    Tritannius, and the brave centurions
    And standard-bearers of immortal fame.
    So now at Athens, I, the prætor, thus
    Salute you as you wish, whene’er I see you,
    With Greek address, ὦ χαῖρε noble Titus,
    Ye lictors, and attendants χαίρετε.
    ὦ χαῖρε noble Titus. From this day
    The great Albucius was my enemy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On this he began to speak;—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. On this, when both of them fixed their eyes on me, and showed that they
were ready to listen to me:—In the first place, said I, I intreat you not
to fancy that I, like a professed philosopher, am going to explain to you
the doctrines of some particular school; a course which I have never much
approved of when adopted by philosophers themselves. For when did
Socrates, who may fairly be called the parent of philosophy, ever do
anything of the sort? That custom was patronized by those who at that time
were called Sophists, of which number Georgias of Leontium was the first
who ventured in an assembly to demand a question,—that is to say, to
desire any one in the company to say what he wished to hear discussed. It
was a bold proceeding; I should call it an impudent one, if this fashion
had not subsequently been borrowed by our own philosophers. But we see
that he whom I have just mentioned, and all the other Sophists, (as may be
gathered from Plato,) were all turned into ridicule by Socrates; for he,
by questioning and interrogating them, was in the habit of eliciting the
opinions of those with whom he was arguing, and then, if he thought it
necessary, of replying to the answers which they had given him. And as
that custom had not been preserved by those who came after him, Arcesilaus
re-introduced it, and established the custom, that those who wished to
become his pupils were not to ask him questions, but themselves to state
their opinions; and then, when they had stated them, he replied to what
they had advanced; but those who came to him for instruction defended
their own opinions as well as they could.

But with all the rest of the philosophers the man who asks the question
says no more; and this practice prevails in the Academy to this day. For
when he who wishes to receive instruction has spoken thus, “Pleasure
appears to me to be the chief good,” they argue against this proposition
in an uninterrupted discourse; so that it may be easily understood that
they who say that they entertain such and such an opinion, do not of
necessity really entertain it, but wish to hear the arguments which may be
brought against it. We follow a more convenient method, for not only has
Torquatus explained what his opinions are, but also why he entertains
them: but I myself think, although I was exceedingly delighted with his
uninterrupted discourse, that still, when you stop at each point that
arises, and come to an understanding what each party grants, and what he
denies, you draw the conclusion you desire from what is admitted with more
convenience, and come to an end of the discussion more readily. For when a
discourse is borne on uninterruptedly, like a torrent, although it hurries
along in its course many things of every kind, you still can take hold of
nothing, and put your hand on nothing, and can find no means of
restraining that rapid discourse.

II. But every discourse which is concerned in the investigation of any
matter, and which proceeds on any system and principle, ought first to
establish the rule (as is done in lawsuits, where one proceeds according
to set formulas), in order that it may be agreed between the parties to
the discussion, what the subject of the discussion really is. This rule
was approved by Epicurus, as it was laid down by Plato in his “Phædrus,”
and he considered that it ought to be adopted in every controversy. But he
did not perceive what was the necessary consequence of it, for he asserts
that the subject ought not to be defined; but if this be not done, it is
sometimes impossible that the disputants should agree what the matter is
that is the subject of discussion, as in this very case which we are
discussing now, for we are inquiring into the End of Good. How can we know
what the character of this is, if, when we have used the expression the
End of Good, we do not compare with one another our ideas of what is meant
by the End, and of what the Good itself is?

And this laying open of things covered up, as it were, when it is once
explained what each thing is, is the definition of it; which you sometimes
used without being aware of it; for you defined this very thing, whether
it is to be called the End, or the extremity, or the limit, to be that to
which everything which was done rightly was referred, and which was itself
never referred to anything. So far was very well said; and, perhaps, if it
had been necessary, you would also have defined the Good itself, and told
us what that was; making it to be that which is desirable by nature, or
that which is profitable, or that which is useful, or that which is
pleasant: and now, since you have no general objections to giving
definitions, and do it when you please, if it is not too much trouble, I
should be glad if you would define what is pleasure, for that is what all
this discussion relates to.

As if, said he, there were any one who is ignorant what pleasure is, or
who is in need of any definition to enable him to understand it better.

I should say, I replied, that I myself am such a man, if I did not seem to
myself to have a thorough acquaintance with, and an accurate idea and
notion of, pleasure firmly implanted in my mind. But, at present, I say
that Epicurus himself does not know, and that he is greatly in error on
this subject; and that he who mentions the subject so often ought to
explain carefully what the meaning of the words he uses is, but that he
sometimes does not understand what the meaning of this word pleasure is,
that is to say, what the idea is which is contained under this word.

III. Then he laughed, and said,—This is a capital idea, indeed, that he
who says that pleasure is the end of all things which are to be desired,
the very extreme point and limit of Good, should be ignorant of what it
is, and of what is its character. But, I replied, either Epicurus is
ignorant of what pleasure is, or else all the rest of the world are. How
so? said he.

Because all men feel that this is pleasure which moves the senses when
they receive it, and which has a certain agreeableness pervading it
throughout. What then, said he, is Epicurus ignorant of that kind of
pleasure? Not always, I replied; for sometimes he is even too well
acquainted with it, inasmuch as he declares that he is unable even to
understand where it is, or what any good is, except that which is enjoyed
by the instrumentality of meat or drink, or the pleasure of the ears, or
sensual enjoyment: is not this what he says? As if, said he, I were
ashamed of these things, or as if I were unable to explain in what sense
these things are said. I do not doubt, I replied, that you can do so
easily; nor is there any reason why you need be ashamed of arguing with a
wise man, who is the only man, as far as I know, who has ever ventured to
profess himself a wise man. For they do not think that Metrodorus himself
professed this, but only that, when he was called wise by Epicurus, he was
unwilling to reject such an expression of his goodwill. But the Seven had
this name given to them, not by themselves, but by the universal suffrage
of all nations. However, in this place, I will assume that Epicurus, by
these expressions, certainly meant to intimate the same kind of pleasure
that the rest do; for all men call that pleasing motion by which the
senses are rendered cheerful, ἡδονὴ in Greek, and _voluptas_ in Latin.

What is it, then, that you ask? I will tell you, said I, and that for the
sake of learning rather than of finding fault with either you or Epicurus.
I too, said he, should be more desirous to learn of you, if you can impart
anything worth learning, than to find fault with you.

Well, then, said I, you are aware of what Hieronymus(25) of Rhodes says is
the chief good, to which he thinks that everything ought to be referred? I
know, said he, that he thinks that the great end is freedom from pain.
Well, what are his sentiments respecting pleasure? He affirms, he replied,
that it is not to be sought for its own sake; for he thinks that rejoicing
is one thing, and being free from pain another. And indeed, continued he,
he is in this point greatly mistaken, for, as I proved a little while ago,
the end of increasing pleasure is the removal of all pain. I will examine,
said I, presently, what the meaning of the expression, freedom from pain,
is; but unless you are very obstinate, you must admit that pleasure is a
perfectly distinct thing from mere freedom from pain. You will, however,
said he, find that I am obstinate in this; for nothing can be more real
than the identity between the two. Is there, now, said I, any pleasure
felt by a thirsty man in drinking? Who can deny it? said he. Is it, asked
I, the same pleasure that he feels after his thirst is extinguished? It
is, replied he, another kind of pleasure; for the state of extinguished
thirst has in it a certain stability of pleasure, but the pleasure of
extinguishing it is pleasure in motion. Why, then, said I, do you call
things so unlike one another by the same name? Do not you recollect, he
rejoined, what I said just now,—that when all pain is banished, pleasure
is varied, not extinguished? I recollect, said I; but you spoke in
admirable Latin, indeed, but yet not very intelligibly; for _varietas_ is
a Latin word, and properly applicable to a difference of colour, but it is
applied metaphorically to many differences: we apply the adjective,
_varias_, to poems, orations, manners, and changes of fortune; it is
occasionally predicated also of pleasure, when it is derived from many
things unlike one another, which cause pleasures which are similarly
unlike. Now, if that is the variety you mean, I should understand you, as,
in fact, I do understand you, without your saying so: but still, I do not
see clearly what that variety is, because you say, that when we are free
from pain we are then in the enjoyment of the greatest pleasure; but when
we are eating those things which cause a pleasing motion to the senses,
then there is a pleasure in the emotion which causes a variety in the
pleasure; but still, that that pleasure which arises from the freedom from
pain is not increased;—and why you call that pleasure I do not know.

IV. Is it possible, said he, for anything to be more delightful than
freedom from pain? Well, said I, but grant that nothing is preferable to
that, (for that is not the point which I am inquiring about at present,)
does it follow on that account, that pleasure is identical with what I may
call painlessness? Undoubtedly it is identical with it, said he; and that
painlessness is the greatest of pleasures which no other can possibly
exceed. Why, then, said I, do you hesitate, after you have defined the
chief good in this manner, to uphold, and defend, and maintain the
proposition, that the whole of pleasure consists in freedom from pain? For
what necessity for your introducing pleasure among the council of the
virtues, any more than for bringing in a courtezan to an assembly of
matrons? The very name of pleasure is odious, infamous, and a just object
of suspicion: therefore, you are all in the constant habit of saying that
we do not understand what Epicurus means when he speaks of pleasure. And
whenever such an assertion is made to me,—and I hear it advanced pretty
often,—although I am usually a very peaceful arguer, still I do on such
occasions get a little angry. Am I to be told that I do not know what that
is which the Greeks call ἡδονὴ, and the Latins _voluptas_? Which language
is it, then, that I do not understand? Then, too, how comes it about that
I do not understand, though every one else does, who chooses to call
himself an Epicurean? when the disciples of your school argue most
excellently, that there is no need whatever for a man, who wishes to
become a philosopher, to be acquainted with literature. Therefore, just as
our ancestors tore Cincinnatus away from his plough to make him Dictator,
in like manner you collect from among the Greeks all those men, who may in
truth be respectable men enough, but who are certainly not over-learned.

Do they then understand what Epicurus means, and do I not understand it?
However, that you may know that I do understand, first of all I tell you
that _voluptas_ is the same thing that he calls ἡδονὴ. And, indeed, we
often have to seek for a Latin word equivalent to, and exactly equipollent
to a Greek one; but here we had nothing to seek for: for no word can be
found which will more exactly express in Latin what ἡδονὴ does in Greek,
than _voluptas_. Now every man in the world who understands Latin,
comprehends under this word two things,—joy in the mind, and an agreeable
emotion of pleasantness in the body. For when the man in Trabea(26) calls
an excessive pleasure of the mind joy, (_lætitia_,) he says much the same
as the other character in Cæcilius’s play, who says that he is joyful with
every sort of joy.

However, there is this difference, that pleasure is also spoken of as
affecting the mind; which is wrong, as the Stoics think, who define it
thus: “An elation of the mind without reason, when the mind has an idea
that it is enjoying some great good.” But the words _lætitia_ (gladness),
and _gaudium_ (joy), do not properly apply to the body. But the word
_voluptas_ (pleasure) is applied to the body by the usage of all people
who speak Latin, whenever that pleasantness is felt which moves any one of
the senses. Now transfer this pleasantness, if you please, to the mind;
for the verb _juvo_ (to please) is applied both to body and mind, and the
word _jucundus_ is derived from it; provided you understand that between
the man who says,

    I am transported with gladness now
    That I am scarce myself....

and him who says,

    Now then at length my mind’s on fire, ...

one of whom is beside himself with joy, and the other is being tormented
with anguish, there is this intermediate person, whose language is,

    Although this our acquaintance is so new,

who feels neither gladness nor anguish. And, in the same manner, between
the man who is in the enjoyment of the pleasures of the body, which he has
been wishing for, and him who is being tormented with extreme anguish,
there is a third man, who is free alike from pleasure and from pain.

V. Do I not, then, seem to you sufficiently to understand the meaning of
words, or must I at this time of life be taught how to speak Greek, and
even Latin? And yet I would have you consider, whether if I, who, as I
think, understand Greek very fairly, do still not understand what Epicurus
means, it it may not be owing to some fault of his for speaking so as not
to be intelligible. And this sometimes happens in two ways, without any
blame; either if you do so on purpose, as Heraclitus did, who got the
surname of σκοτεινὸς,(27) because he spoke with too much obscurity about
natural philosophy; or when the obscurity of the subject itself, not of
the language, prevents what is said from being clearly understood, as is
the case in the Timæus of Plato. But Epicurus, as I imagine, is both
willing, if it is in his power, to speak intelligibly, and is also
speaking, not of an obscure subject like the natural philosophers, nor of
one depending on precise rules, as the mathematicians are, but he is
discussing a plain and simple matter, which is a subject of common
conversation among the common people. Although you do not deny that we
understand the usual meaning of the word _voluptas_, but only what he
means by it: from which it follows, not that we do not understand what is
the meaning of that word, but that he follows his own fashion, and
neglects our usual one; for if he means the same thing that Hieronymus
does, who thinks that the chief good is to live without any annoyance, why
does he prefer using the term “pleasure” rather than freedom from pain, as
Hieronymus does, who is quite aware of the force of the words which he
employs? But, if he thinks that he ought to add, that pleasure which
consists in motion, (for this is the distinction he draws, that this
agreeable pleasure is pleasure in motion, but the pleasure of him who is
free from pain is a state of pleasure,) then why does he appear to aim at
what is impossible, namely, to make any one who knows himself—that is to
say, who has any proper comprehension of his own nature and
sensations—think freedom from pain, and pleasure, the same thing?

This, O Torquatus, is doing violence to one’s senses; it is wresting out
of our minds the understanding of words with which we are imbued; for who
can avoid seeing that these three states exist in the nature of things:
first, the state of being in pleasure; secondly, that of being in pain;
thirdly, that of being in such a condition as we are at this moment, and
you too, I imagine, that is to say, neither in pleasure nor in pain; in
such pleasure, I mean, as a man who is at a banquet, or in such pain as a
man who is being tortured. What! do you not see a vast multitude of men
who are neither rejoicing nor suffering, but in an intermediate state
between these two conditions? No, indeed, said he; I say that all men who
are free from pain are in pleasure, and in the greatest pleasure too. Do
you, then, say that the man who, not being thirsty himself, mingles some
wine for another, and the thirsty man who drinks it when mixed, are both
enjoying the same pleasure?

VI. Then, said he, a truce, if you please, to all your questions; and,
indeed, I said at the beginning that I would rather have none of them, for
I had a provident dread of these captious dialectics. Would you rather,
then, said I, that we should argue rhetorically than dialectically? As if,
said he, a continuous discourse belonged solely to orators, and not to
philosophers also! I will tell you, said I, what Zeno the Stoic said; he
said, as Aristotle had said before him, that all speaking was divided into
two kinds, and that rhetoric resembled the open palm, dialectics the
closed fist, because orators usually spoke in a rather diffuse, and
dialecticians in a somewhat compressed style. I will comply, then, with
your desires, and will speak, if I can, in an oratorical style, but still
with the oratory of the philosophers, and not that which we use in the
forum; which is forced at times, when it is speaking so as to suit the
multitude, to submit to a very ordinary style. But while Epicurus, O
Torquatus, is expressing his contempt for dialectics, an art which by
itself contains the whole science both of perceiving what the real subject
is in every question, and also of judging what the character of each thing
is, by its system and method of conducting the argument, he goes on too
fast, as it seems to me, and does not distinguish with any skill at all
the different points which he is intent upon proving, as in this very
instance which we were just now speaking of.

Pleasure is pronounced to be the chief good. We must then open the
question, What is pleasure? for otherwise, the thing which we are seeking
for cannot be explained. But, if he had explained it, he would not
hesitate; for either he would maintain that same definition of pleasure
which Aristippus did, namely, that it is that feeling by which the senses
are agreeably and pleasantly moved, which even cattle, if they could
speak, would call pleasure; or else, if he chose rather to speak in his
own style, than like

    All the Greeks from high Mycenæ,
    All Minerva’s Attic youth,

and the rest of the Greeks who are spoken of in these anapæsts, then he
would call this freedom from pain alone by the name of pleasure, and would
despise the definition of Aristippus; or, if he thought both definitions
good, as in fact he does, he would combine freedom from pain with
pleasure, and would employ the two extremes in his own definition: for
many, and they, too, great philosophers, have combined these extremities
of goods, as, for instance, Aristotle, who united in his idea the practice
of virtue with the prosperity of an entire life. Callipho(28) added
pleasure to what is honourable. Diodorus, in his definition, added to the
same honourableness, freedom from pain. Epicurus would have done so too,
if he had combined the opinion which was held by Hieronymus, with the
ancient theory of Aristippus. For those two men disagree with one another,
and on this account they employ separate definitions; and, while they both
write the most beautiful Greek, still, neither does Aristippus, who calls
pleasure the chief good, ever speak of freedom from pain as pleasure; nor
does Hieronymus, who lays it down that freedom from pain is the chief
good, ever use the word “pleasure” for that painlessness, inasmuch as he
never even reckons pleasure at all among the things which are desirable.

VII. They are also two distinct things, that you may not think that the
difference consists only in words and names. One is to be without pain,
the other to be with pleasure. But your school not only attempt to make
one name for these two things which are so exceedingly unlike, (for I
would not mind that so much,) but you endeavour also to make one thing out
of the two, which is utterly impossible. But Epicurus, who admits both
things, ought to use both expressions, and in fact he does divide them in
reality, but still he does not distinguish between them in words. For
though he in many places praises that very pleasure which we all call by
the same name, he ventures to say that he does not even suspect that there
is any good whatever unconnected with that kind of pleasure which
Aristippus means; and he makes this statement in the very place where his
whole discourse is about the chief good. But in another book, in which he
utters opinions of the greatest weight in a concise form of words, and in
which he is said to have delivered oracles of wisdom, he writes in those
words which you are well acquainted with, O Torquatus. For who is there of
you who has not learnt the κύριαι δόξαι of Epicurus, that is to say, his
fundamental maxims? because they are sentiments of the greatest gravity
intended to guide men to a happy life, and enunciated with suitable
brevity. Consider, therefore, whether I am not translating this maxim of
his correctly. “If those things which are the efficient causes of
pleasures to luxurious men were to release them from all fear of the gods,
and of death, and of pain, and to show them what are the proper limits to
their desires, we should have nothing to find fault with; as men would
then be filled with pleasures from all quarters, and have on no side
anything painful or melancholy, for all such things are evil.”

On this Triarius could restrain himself no longer. I beg of you,
Torquatus, said he, to tell me, is this what Epicurus says?—because he
appeared to me, although he knew it himself, still to wish to hear
Torquatus admit it. But he was not at all put out, and said with great
confidence, Indeed, he does, and in these identical words; but you do not
perceive what he means. If, said I, he says one thing and means another,
then I never shall understand what he means, but he speaks plainly enough
for me to see what he says. And if what he says is that luxurious men are
not to be blamed if they are wise men, he talks absurdly; just as if he
were to say that parricides are not to be found fault with if they are not
covetous, and if they fear neither gods, nor death, nor pain. And yet,
what is the object of making any exception as to the luxurious, or of
supposing any people, who, while living luxuriously, would not be reproved
by that consummate philosopher, provided only they guard against all other
vices. Still, would not you, Epicurus, blame luxurious men for the mere
fact of their living in such a manner as to pursue every sort of pleasure;
especially when, as you say, the chief pleasure of all is to be free from
pain? But yet we find some debauched men so far from having any religious
scruples, that they will eat even out of the sacred vessels; and so far
from fearing death that they are constantly repeating that passage out of
the Hymnis,(29)—

    Six months of life for me are quite sufficient,
    The seventh may be for the shades below,—

and bringing up that Epicurean remedy for pain, as if they were taking it
out of a medicine chest: “If it is bitter, it is of short duration; if it
lasts a long time, it must be slight in degree.” There is one thing which
I do not understand, namely, how a man who is devoted to luxury can
possibly have his appetites under restraint.

VIII. What then is the use of saying, I should have nothing to reproach
them with if they only set bounds to their appetites? This is the same as
saying, I should not blame debauched men if they were not debauched men.
In the same way one might say, I should not blame even wicked men if they
were virtuous. This man of strict morality does not think luxury of itself
a thing to be blamed. And, indeed, O Torquatus, to speak the truth, if
pleasure is the chief good, he is quite right not to think so. For I
should be sorry to picture to myself, (as you are in the habit of doing,)
men so debauched as to vomit over the table and be carried away from
banquets, and then the next day, while still suffering from indigestion,
gorge themselves again; men who, as they say, have never in their lives
seen the sun set or rise, and who, having devoured their patrimony, are
reduced to indigence. None of us imagine that debauched men of that sort
live pleasantly. You, however, rather mean to speak of refined and elegant
_bons vivans_, men who, by the employment of the most skilful cooks and
bakers, and by carefully culling the choicest products of fishermen,
fowlers, and hunters, avoid all indigestion—

    Men who draw richer wines from foaming casks.

As Lucilius says, men who

    So strain, so cool the rosy wine with snow,
    That all the flavour still remains uninjured—

and so on—men in the enjoyment of luxuries such that, if they are taken
away, Epicurus says that he does not know what there is that can be called
good. Let them also have beautiful boys to attend upon them; let their
clothes, their plate, their articles of Corinthian _vertu_, the
banqueting-room itself, all correspond, still I should never be induced to
say that these men so devoted to luxury were living either well or
happily. From which it follows, not indeed that pleasure is not pleasure,
but that pleasure is not the chief good. Nor was Lælius, who, when a young
man, was a pupil of Diogenes the Stoic, and afterwards of Panætius, called
a wise man because he did not understand what was most pleasant to the
taste, (for it does not follow that the man who has a discerning heart
must necessarily have a palate destitute of discernment,) but because he
thought it of but small importance.

    O sorrel, how that man may boast himself,
    By whom you’re known and valued! Proud of you,
    That wise man Lælius would loudly shout,
    Addressing all our epicures in order.

And it was well said by Lælius, and he may be truly called a wise man,—

    You Publius, Gallonius, you whirlpool,
    You are a miserable man; you never
    In all your life have really feasted well,
    Though spending all your substance on those prawns,
    And overgrown huge sturgeons.

The man who says this is one who, as he attributes no importance to
pleasure himself, denies that the man feasts well who refers everything to
pleasure. And yet he does not deny that Gallonius has at times feasted as
he wished: for that would be speaking untruly: he only denies that he has
ever feasted well. With such dignity and severe principle does he
distinguish between pleasure and good. And the natural inference is, that
all who feast well feast as they wish, but that it does not follow that
all who feast as they wish do therefore feast well. Lælius always feasted
well. How so? Lucilius shall tell you—

    He feasted on well season’d, well arranged—

what? What was the chief part of his supper?

    Converse of prudent men,—

Well, and what else?

    with cheerful mind.

For he came to a banquet with a tranquil mind, desirous only of appeasing
the wants of nature. Lælius then is quite right to deny that Gallonius had
ever feasted well; he is quite right to call him miserable; especially as
he devoted the whole of his attention to that point. And yet no one
affirms that he did not sup as he wished. Why then did he not feast well?
Because feasting well is feasting with propriety, frugality, and good
order; but this man was in the habit of feasting badly, that is, in a
dissolute, profligate, gluttonous, unseemly manner. Lælius, then, was not
preferring the flavour of sorrel to Gallonius’s sturgeon, but merely
treating the taste of the sturgeon with indifference; which he would not
have done if he had placed the chief good in pleasure.

IX. We must then discard pleasure, not only in order to follow what is
right, but even to be able to talk becomingly. Can we then call that the
chief good in life, which we see cannot possibly be so even in a banquet?

But how is it that this philosopher speaks of three kinds of
appetites,—some natural and necessary, some natural but not necessary, and
others neither natural nor necessary? In the first place, he has not made
a neat division; for out of two kinds he has made three. Now this is not
dividing, but breaking in pieces. If he had said that there are two kinds
of appetites, natural and superfluous ones, and that the natural appetites
might be also subdivided into two kinds, necessary and not necessary, he
would have been all right. And those who have learnt what he despises do
usually say so. For it is a vicious division to reckon a part as a genus.
However, let us pass over this, for he despises elegance in arguing; he
speaks confusedly. We must submit to this as long as his sentiments are
right. I do not, however, approve, and it is as much as I can do to
endure, a philosopher speaking of the necessity of setting bounds to the
desires. Is it possible to set bounds to the desires? I say that they must
be banished, eradicated by the roots. For what man is there in whom
appetites(30) dwell, who can deny that he may with propriety be called
appetitive? If so, he will be avaricious, though to a limited extent; and
an adulterer, but only in moderation; and he will be luxurious in the same
manner. Now what sort of a philosophy is that which does not bring with it
the destruction of depravity, but is content with a moderate degree of
vice? Although in this division I am altogether on his side as to the
facts, only I wish he would express himself better. Let him call these
feelings the wishes of nature; and let him keep the name of desire for
other objects, so as, when speaking of avarice, of intemperance, and of
the greatest vices, to be able to indict it as it were on a capital
charge. However, all this is said by him with a good deal of freedom, and
is often repeated; and I do not blame him, for it is becoming in so great
a philosopher, and one of such a great reputation, to defend his own
degrees fearlessly.

But still, from the fact of his often appearing to embrace that pleasure,
(I mean that which all nations call by this name,) with a good deal of
eagerness, he is at times in great difficulties, so that, if he could only
pass undetected, there is nothing so shameful that it does not seem likely
that he would do it for the sake of pleasure. And then, when he has been
put to the blush, (for the power of nature is very great,) he takes refuge
in denying that any addition can possibly be made to the pleasure of the
man who is free from pain. But that state of freedom from pain is not
called pleasure. I do not care, says he, about the name. But what do you
say about the thing being utterly different?—I will find you many men, or
I may say an innumerable host, not so curious nor so embarrassing as you
are, whom I can easily convince of whatever I choose. Why then do we
hesitate to say that, if to be free from pain is the highest degree of
pleasure, to be destitute of pleasure is the highest degree of pain?
Because it is not pleasure which is the contrary to pain, but the absence
of pain.

X. But this he does not see, that it is a great proof that at the very
moment when he says that if pleasure be once taken away he has no idea at
all what remaining thing can be called good, (and he follows up this
assertion with the statement that he means such pleasure as is perceptible
by the palate and by the ears, and adds other things which decency ought
to forbid him to mention,) he is, like a strict and worthy philosopher,
aware that this which he calls the chief good is not even a thing which is
worth desiring for its own sake, that he himself informs us that we have
no reason to wish for pleasure at all, if we are free from pain. How
inconsistent are these statements! If he had learnt to make correct
divisions or definitions of his subject, if he had a proper regard to the
usages of speaking and the common meaning of words, he would never have
fallen into such difficulties. But as it is, you see what it is he is
doing. That which no one has ever called pleasure at all, and that also
which is real active pleasure, which are two distinct things, he makes but
one. For he calls them agreeable and, as I may say, sweet-tasted
pleasures. At times he speaks so lightly of them that you might fancy you
were listening to Marcus Curius. At times he extols them so highly that he
says he cannot form even the slightest idea of what else is good—a
sentiment which deserves not the reproof of a philosopher, but the brand
of the censor. For vice does not confine itself to language, but
penetrates also into the manners. He does not find fault with luxury
provided it to be free from boundless desires and from fear. While
speaking in this way he appears to be fishing for disciples, that men who
wish to become debauchees may become philosophers first.

Now, in my opinion, the origin of the chief good is to be sought in the
first origin of living animals. As soon as an animal is born it rejoices
in pleasure, and seeks it as a good; it shuns pain as an evil. And
Epicurus says that excellent decisions on the subject of the good and the
evil are come to by those animals which are not yet depraved. You, too,
have laid down the same position, and these are your own words. How many
errors are there in them! For by reference to which kind of pleasure will
a puling infant judge of the chief good; pleasure in stability or pleasure
in motion?—since, if the gods so will, we are learning how to speak from
Epicurus. If it is from pleasure as a state, then certainly nature desires
to be exempt from evil herself; which we grant; if it is from pleasure in
motion, which, however, is what you say, then there will be no pleasure so
discreditable as to deserve to be passed over. And at the same time that
just-born animal you are speaking of does not begin with the highest
pleasure; which has been defined by you to consist in not being in pain.

However, Epicurus did not seek to derive this argument from infants, or
even from beasts, which he looks upon as mirrors of nature as it were; so
as to say that they, under the guidance of nature, seek only this pleasure
of being free from pain. For this sort of pleasure cannot excite the
desires of the mind; nor has this state of freedom from pain any impulse
by which it can act upon the mind. Therefore Hieronymus blunders in this
same thing. For that pleasure only acts upon the mind which has the power
of alluring the senses. Therefore Epicurus always has recourse to this
pleasure when wishing to prove that pleasure is sought for naturally;
because that pleasure which consists in motion both allures infants to
itself, and beasts; and this is not done by that pleasure which is a state
in which there is no other ingredient but freedom from pain. How then can
it be proper to say that nature begins with one kind of pleasure, and yet
to put the chief good in another?

XI. But as for beasts, I do not consider that they can pronounce any
judgment at all. For although they are not depraved, it is still possible
for them to be wrong. Just as one stick may be bent and crooked by having
been made so on purpose, and another may be so naturally; so the nature of
beasts is not indeed depraved by evil education, but is wrong naturally.
Nor is it correct to say that nature excites the infant to desire
pleasure, but only to love itself and to desire to preserve itself safe
and unhurt. For every animal the moment that it is born loves itself, and
every part of itself, and above all does it love its two principal parts,
namely its mind and body, and afterwards it proceeds to love the separate
parts of each. For there are in the mind and also in the body some parts
of especial consequence; and as soon as it has got a slight perception of
this fact, it then begins to make distinctions, so as to desire those
things which are by nature given to it as its principal goods, and to
reject the contrary. Now it is a great question whether among these
primary natural goods, pleasure has any place or not. But to think that
there is nothing beyond pleasure, no limbs, no sensations, no emotions of
the mind, no integrity of the body, no health, appears to me to be a token
of the greatest ignorance. And on this the whole question of good and evil
turns. Now Polemo and also Aristotle thought those things which I
mentioned just now the greatest of goods. And from this originated that
opinion of the Old Academy and of the Peripatetic School, which led them
to say that the greatest good was to live in accordance with nature—that
is to say, to enjoy the chief good things which are given by nature, with
the accompaniment of virtue. Callipho added nothing to virtue except
pleasure; Diodorus nothing except freedom from pain. And all these men
attach the idea of the greatest good to some one of these things which I
have mentioned. Aristippus thought it was simple pleasure. The Stoics
defined it to be agreeing with nature, which they say can only be living
virtuously, living honourably. And they interpret it further thus—to live
with an understanding of those things which happen naturally, selecting
those which are in accordance with nature, and rejecting the contrary. So
there are three definitions, all of which exclude honesty:—one, that of
Aristippus or Epicurus; the second, that of Hieronymus; the third, that of
Carneades: three in which honesty is admitted with some qualifying
additions; those, namely, of Polemo, Callipho, and Diodorus: one single
one, of which Zeno is the author, which is wholly referred to what is
becoming; that is to say, to honesty. For Pyrrho, Aristo, and Herillus,
have long since sunk into oblivion. The rest have been consistent with
themselves, so as to make their ends agree with their beginnings; so that
Aristippus has defined it to be pleasure; Hieronymus, freedom from pain;
and Carneades, the enjoyment of what are pointed out by nature as the
principal goods.

XII. But when Epicurus had given pleasure the highest rank, if he meant
the same pleasure that Aristippus did he ought to have adopted the same
thing as the chief good that he did; if he meant the same that Hieronymus
did, he would then have been assigning the first rank to Hieronymus’s
pleasure, and not to that of Aristippus.

For, as to what he says, that it is decided by the senses themselves that
pleasure is a good and that pain is an evil, he has attributed more weight
to the senses than the laws allow them. We are the judges of private
actions, but we cannot decide anything which does not legally come under
the cognisance of our tribunal; and, in such a case, it is to no purpose
that judges are in the habit, when they pronounce sentence, of adding, “if
the question belongs to my jurisdiction;” for, if the matter did not come
under their jurisdiction, this additional form of words would not any the
more give validity to their decision. Now, what is it that the senses are
judges of? Whether a thing is sweet or bitter, soft or hard, near or far
off; whether it is standing still or moving; whether it is square or
round. What sentence, then, will reason pronounce, having first of all
called in the aid of the knowledge of divine and human affairs, which is
properly called wisdom; and having, after that, associated to itself the
virtues which reason points out as the mistresses of all things, but which
you make out to be only the satellites and handmaidens of pleasures? The
sentence, however, of all these qualities, will pronounce first of all,
respecting pleasure, that there is no room for it; not only no room for
its being placed by itself in the rank of the chief good, which is what we
are looking for, but no room even for its being placed in connexion even
with what is honourable.

The same sentence will be passed upon freedom from pain; Carneades also
will be disregarded; nor will any definition of the chief good be approved
of, which has any close connexion with pleasure, or freedom from pain, or
which is devoid of what is honourable. And so it will leave two, which it
will consider over and over again; for it will either lay down the maxim,
that nothing is good except what is honourable, nothing evil except what
is disgraceful; that everything else is either of no consequence at all,
or, at all events, of only so much, that it is neither to be sought after
nor avoided, but only selected or rejected; or else, it will prefer that
which it shall perceive to be the most richly endowed with what is
honourable, and enriched, at the same time, with the primary good things
of nature, and with the perfection of the whole life; and it will do so
all the more clearly, if it comes to a right understanding whether the
controversy between them is one of facts, or only of words.

XIII. I now, following the authority of this man, will do the same as he
has done; for, as far as I can, I will diminish the disputes, and will
regard all their simple opinions in which there is no association of
virtue, as judgments which ought to be utterly removed to a distance from
philosophy. First of all, I will discard the principles of Aristippus, and
of all the Cyrenaics,—men who were not afraid to place the chief good in
that pleasure which especially excited the senses with its sweetness,
disregarding that freedom from pain. These men did not perceive that, as a
horse is born for galloping, and an ox for ploughing, and a dog for
hunting, so man, also, is born for two objects, as Aristotle says, namely,
for understanding and for acting as if he were a kind of mortal god. But,
on the other hand, as a slow moving and languid sheep is born to feed, and
to take pleasure in propagating his species, they fancied also that this
divine animal was born for the same purposes; than which nothing can
appear to me more absurd; and all this is in opposition to Aristippus, who
considers that pleasure not only the highest, but also the only one, which
all the rest of us consider as only one of the pleasures.

You, however, think differently; but he, as I have already said, is
egregiously wrong,—for neither does the figure of the human body, nor the
admirable reasoning powers of the human mind, intimate that man was born
for no other end than the mere enjoyment of pleasure; nor must we listen
to Hieronymus, whose chief good is the same which you sometimes, or, I
might say, too often call so, namely, freedom from pain; for it does not
follow, because pain is an evil, that to be free from that evil is
sufficient for living well. Ennius speaks more correctly, when he says,—

    The man who feels no evil, does
    Enjoy too great a good.

Let us define a happy life as consisting, not in the repelling of evil,
but in the acquisition of good; and let us seek to procure it, not by
doing nothing, whether one is feeling pleasure, as Aristippus says, or
feeling no pain, as Hieronymus insists, but by doing something, and giving
our mind to thought. And all these same things may be said against that
chief good which Carneades calls such; which he, however, brought forward,
not so much for the purpose of proving his position, as of contradicting
the Stoics, with whom he was at variance: and this good of his is such,
that, when added to virtue, it appears likely to have some authority, and
to be able to perfect a happy life in a most complete manner, and it is
this that the whole of this present discussion is about; for they who add
to virtue pleasure, which is the thing which above all others virtue
thinks of small importance, or freedom from pain, which, even if it be a
freedom from evil, is nevertheless not the chief good, make use of an
addition which is not very easily recommended to men in general, and yet I
do not understand why they do it in such a niggardly and restricted
manner: for, as if they had to bring something to add to virtue, first of
all they add things of the least possible value; afterwards they add
things one by one, instead of uniting everything which nature had approved
of as the highest goods, to pleasure. And as all these things appeared to
Aristo and to Pyrrho absolutely of no consequence at all, so that they
said that there was literally no difference whatever between being in a
most perfect state of health, and in a most terrible condition of disease,
people rightly enough have long ago given up arguing against them; for,
while they insisted upon it that everything was comprised in virtue alone,
to such a degree as to deprive it of all power of making any selection of
external circumstances, and while they gave it nothing from which it could
originate, or on which it could rely, they in reality destroyed virtue
itself, which they were professing to embrace. But Herillus, who sought to
refer everything to knowledge, saw, indeed, that there was one good, but
what he saw was not the greatest possible good, nor such an one that life
could be regulated by it; therefore, he also has been discarded a long
time ago, for, indeed, there has been no one who has argued against him
since Chrysippus.

XIV. Your school, then, is now the only one remaining to be combated; for
the contest with the Academicians is an uncertain one, for they affirm
nothing, and, as if they despaired of arriving at any certain knowledge,
wish to follow whatever is probable. But we have more trouble with
Epicurus, because he combines two kinds of pleasure, and because he and
his friends, and many others since, have been advocates of that opinion;
and somehow or other, the people, who, though they have the least
authority, have nevertheless the greatest power, are on his side; and,
unless we refute them, all virtue, and all reputation, and all true glory,
must be abandoned. And so, having put aside the opinions of all the rest,
there remains a contest, not between Torquatus and me, but between virtue
and pleasure; and this contest Chrysippus, a man of great acuteness and
great industry, is far from despising; and he thinks that the whole
question as to the chief good is at stake in this controversy: but I
think, if I show the reality of what is honourable, and that it is a thing
to be sought for by reason of its own intrinsic excellence, and for its
own sake, that all your arguments are at once overthrown; therefore, when
I have once established what its character is, speaking briefly, as the
time requires, I shall approach all your arguments, O Torquatus, unless my
memory fails me.

We understand, then, that to be honourable which is such that, leaving all
advantage out of the question, it can be deservedly praised by itself,
without thinking of any reward or profit derived from it. And what its
character is may be understood, not so much by the definition which I have
employed, (although that may help in some degree,) as by the common
sentiments of all men, and by the zeal and conduct of every virtuous man;
for such do many things for this sole reason, because they are becoming,
because they are right, because they are honourable, even though they do
not perceive any advantage likely to result from them: for men differ from
beasts in many other things indeed, but especially in this one particular,
that they have reason and intellect given to them by nature, and a mind,
active, vigorous, revolving many things at the same time with the greatest
rapidity, and, if I may so say, sagacious to perceive the causes of
things, and their consequences and connexions, and to use metaphors, and
to combine things which are unconnected, and to connect the future with
the present, and to embrace in its view the whole course of a consistent
life. The same reason has also made man desirous of the society of men,
and inclined to agree with them by nature, and conversation, and custom;
so that, setting out with affection for his friends and relations, he
proceeds further, and unites himself in a society, first of all of his
fellow-countrymen, and subsequently of all mortals; and as Plato wrote to
Archytas, recollects that he has been born, not for himself alone, but for
his country and his family; so that there is but a small portion of
himself left for himself. And since the same nature has implanted in man a
desire of ascertaining the truth, which is most easily visible when, being
free from all cares, we wish to know what is taking place, even in the
heavens; led on from these beginnings we love everything that is true,
that is to say, that is faithful, simple, consistent, and we hate what is
vain, false and deceitful, such as fraud, perjury, cunning and injustice.

The same reason has in itself something large and magnificent, suited for
command rather than for obedience; thinking all events which can befal a
man not only endurable, but insignificant; something lofty and sublime,
fearing nothing, yielding to no one, always invincible. And, when these
three kinds of the honourable have been noticed, a fourth follows, of the
same beauty and suited to the other three, in which order and moderation
exist; and when the likeness of it to the others is perceived in the
beauty and dignity of all their separate forms, we are transported across
to what is honourable in words and actions; for, in consequence of these
three virtues which I have already mentioned, a man avoids rashness, and
does not venture to injure any one by any wanton word or action, and is
afraid either to do or to say anything which may appear at all unsuited to
the dignity of a man.

XV. Here, now, O Torquatus, you have a picture of what is honourable
completely filled in and finished; and it is contained wholly in these
four virtues which you also mentioned. But your master Epicurus says that
he knows nothing whatever of it, and does not understand what, or what
sort of quality those people assert it to be, who profess to measure the
chief good by the standard of what is honourable. For if everything is
referred to that, and if they say that pleasure has no part in it, then he
says that they are talking idly, (these are his very words,) and do not
understand or see what real meaning ought to be conveyed under this word
honourable; for, as custom has it, he says that that alone is honourable
which is accounted glorious by common report; and that, says he, although
it is often more pleasant than some pleasures, still is sought for the
sake of pleasure. Do you not see how greatly these two parties differ? A
noble philosopher, by whom not only Greece and Italy, but all the
countries of the barbarians are influenced, says that he does not
understand what honourableness is, if it be not in pleasure, unless,
perchance, it is that thing which is praised by the common conversation of
the populace. But my opinion is, that this is often even dishonourable,
and that real honourableness is not called so from the circumstance of its
being praised by the many, but because it is such a thing that even if men
were unacquainted with it, or if they said nothing about it, it would
still be praiseworthy by reason of its own intrinsic beauty and

And so he again, being forced to yield to the power of nature, which is
always irresistible, says in another place what you also said a little
while ago,—that a man cannot live pleasantly unless he also lives
honourably. Now then, what is the meaning of honourably? does it mean the
same as pleasantly? If so, this statement will come to this, that a man
cannot live honourably unless he lives honourably. Is it honourably
according to public report? Therefore he affirms that a man cannot live
pleasantly without he has public report in his favour. What can be more
shameful than for the life of a wise man to depend on the conversation of
fools? What is it, then, that in this place he understands by the word
honourable? Certainly nothing except what can be deservedly praised for
its own sake; for if it be praised for the sake of pleasure, then what
sort of praise, I should like to know, is that which can be sought for in
the shambles? He is not a man, while he places honourableness in such a
rank that he affirms it to be impossible to live pleasantly without it, to
think that honourable which is popular, and to affirm that one cannot live
pleasantly without popularity; or to understand by the word honourable
anything except what is right, and deservedly to be praised by itself and
for itself, from a regard to its own power and influence and intrinsic

XVI. Therefore, Torquatus, when you said that Epicurus asserted loudly
that a man could not live pleasantly if he did not also live honourably,
and wisely, and justly, you appeared to me to be boasting yourself. There
was such energy in your words, on account of the dignity of those things
which were indicated by those words, that you became taller, that you rose
up, and fixed your eyes upon us as if you were giving a solemn testimony
that honourableness and justice are sometimes praised by Epicurus. How
becoming was it to you to use that language, which is so necessary for
philosophers, that if they did not use it we should have no great need of
philosophy at all! For it is out of love for those words, which are very
seldom employed by Epicurus—I mean wisdom, fortitude, justice, and
temperance—that men of the most admirable powers of mind have betaken
themselves to the study of philosophy.

“The sense of our eyes,” says Plato, “is most acute in us; but yet we do
not see wisdom with them. What a vehement passion for itself would it
excite if it could be beheld by the eyes!” Why so? Because it is so
ingenious as to be able to devise pleasures in the most skilful manner.
Why is justice extolled? or what is it that has given rise to that old and
much-worn proverb, “He is a man with whom you may play(31) in the dark.”
This, though applied to only one thing, has a very extensive application;
so that in every case we are influenced by the facts, and not by the

For those things which you were saying were very weak and powerless
arguments,—when you urged that the wicked were tormented by their own
consciences, and also by fear of punishment, which is either inflicted on
them, or keeps them in constant fear that it will be inflicted. One ought
not to imagine a man timid, or weak in his mind, nor a good man, who,
whatever he has done, keeps tormenting himself, and dreads everything; but
rather let us fancy one, who with great shrewdness refers everything to
usefulness—an acute, crafty, wary man, able with ease to devise plans for
deceiving any one secretly, without any witness, or any one being privy to
it. Do you think that I am speaking of Lucius Tubulus?—who, when as prætor
he had been sitting as judge upon the trial of some assassins, took money
to influence his decision so undisguisedly, that the next year Publius
Scævola, being tribune of the people, made a motion before the people,
that an inquiry should be made into the case. In accordance with which
decree of the people, Cnæus Cæpio, the consul, was ordered by the senate
to investigate the affair. Tubulus immediately went into banishment, and
did not dare to make any reply to the charge, for the matter was

XVII. We are not, therefore, inquiring about a man who is merely wicked,
but about one who mingles cunning with his wickedness, (as Quintus
Pompeius(32) did when he repudiated the treaty of Numantia,) and yet who
is not afraid of everything, but who has rather no regard for the stings
of conscience, which it costs him no trouble at all to stifle; for a man
who is called close and secret is so far from informing against himself,
that he will even pretend to grieve at what is done wrong by another; for
what else is the meaning of the word crafty (_versutus_)? I recollect on
one occasion being present at a consultation held by Publius Sextilius
Rufus, when he reported the case on which he asked advice to his friends
in this manner: That he had been left heir to Quintus Fadius Gallus; in
whose will it had been written that he had entreated Sextilius to take
care that what he left behind him should come to his daughter. Sextilius
denied that he had done so. He could deny it with impunity, for who was
there to convict him? None of us believed him; and it was more likely that
he should tell a lie whose interest it was to do so, than he who had set
down in his will that he had made the request which he ought to have made.
He added, moreover, that having sworn to comply with the Voconian(33) law,
he did not dare to violate it, unless his friends were of a contrary
opinion. I myself was very young when I was present on this occasion, but
there were present also many men of the highest character, not one of whom
thought that more ought to be given to Fadia than could come to her under
the provisions of the Voconian law. Sextilius retained a very large
inheritance; of which, if he had followed the opinion of those men who
preferred what was right and honourable to all profit and advantage, he
would never have touched a single penny. Do you think that he was
afterwards anxious and uneasy in his mind on that account? Not a bit of
it: on the contrary, he was a rich man, owing to that inheritance, and he
rejoiced in his riches, for he set a great value on money which was
acquired not only without violating the laws, but even by the law. And
money is what you also think worth seeking for, even with great risk, for
it is the efficient cause of many and great pleasures. As, therefore,
every danger appears fit to be encountered for the sake of what is
becoming and honourable, by those who decide that what is right and
honourable is to be sought for its own sake; so the men of your school,
who measure everything by pleasure, must encounter every danger in order
to acquire great pleasures, if any great property or any important
inheritance is at stake, since numerous pleasures are procured by money.
And your master Epicurus must, if he wishes to pursue what he himself
considers the chief of all good things, do the same that Scipio did, who
had a prospect of great glory before him if he could compel Annibal to
return into Africa. And with this view, what great dangers did he
encounter! for he measured the whole of his enterprise by the standard of
honour, not of pleasure. And in like manner, your wise man, being excited
by the prospect of some advantage, will fight(34) courageously, if it
should be necessary. If his exploits are undiscovered, he will rejoice; if
he is taken, he will despise every kind of punishment, for he will be
thoroughly armed for a contempt of death, banishment, and even of pain,
which you indeed represent as intolerable when you hold it out to wicked
men as a punishment, but as endurable when you argue that a wise man has
always more good than evil in his fortune.

XVIII. But picture to yourself a man not only cunning, so as to be
prepared to act dishonestly in any circumstances that may arise, but also
exceedingly powerful; as, for instance, Marcus Crassus was, who, however,
always exercised his own natural good disposition; or as at this day our
friend Pompeius is, to whom we ought to feel grateful for his virtuous
conduct; for, although he is inclined to act justly, he could be unjust
with perfect impunity. But how many unjust actions can be committed which
nevertheless no one could find any ground for attacking! Suppose your
friend, when dying, has entreated you to restore his inheritance to his
daughter, and yet has never set it down in his will, as Fadius did, and
has never mentioned to any one that he has done so, what will you do? You
indeed will restore it. Perhaps Epicurus himself would have restored it;
just as Sextus Peducæus the son of Sextus did; he who has left behind him
a son, our intimate friend, a living image of his own virtue and honesty,
a learned person, and the most virtuous and upright of all men; for he,
though no one was aware that he had been entreated by Caius Plotius, a
Roman knight of high character and great fortune, of the district of
Nursia, to do so, came of his own accord to his widow, and, though she had
no notion of the fact, detailed to her the commission which he had
received from her husband, and made over the inheritance to her. But I ask
you (since you would certainly have acted in the same manner yourself), do
you not understand that the power of nature is all the greater, inasmuch
as you yourselves, who refer everything to your own advantage, and, as you
yourselves say, to pleasure, still perform actions from which it is
evident that you are guided not by pleasure, but by principles of duty,
and that your own upright nature has more influence over you than any
vicious reasoning?

If you knew, says Carneades, that a snake was lying hid in any place, and
that some one was going ignorantly to sit down upon it whose death would
bring you some advantage, you would be acting wickedly if you did not warn
him not to sit down there; and yet you could not be punished, for who
could possibly convict you? However, I am dwelling too long on this point;
for it is evident, unless equity, good faith and justice proceed from
nature, and if all these things are referred to advantage, that a good man
cannot possibly be found. But on this subject we have put a sufficient
number of arguments into the mouth of Lælius, in our books on a Republic.

XIX. Now apply the same arguments to modesty, or temperance, which is a
moderation of the appetites, in subordination to reason. Can we say that a
man pays sufficient regard to the dictates of modesty, who indulges his
lusts in such a manner as to have no witnesses of his conduct? or is there
anything which is intrinsically flagitious, even if no loss of reputation
ensues? What do brave men do? Do they enter into an exact calculation of
pleasure, and so enter the battle, and shed their blood for their country?
or are they excited rather by a certain ardour and impetuosity of courage?
Do you think, O Torquatus, that that imperious ancestor of yours, if he
could hear what we are now saying, would rather listen to your sentiments
concerning him, or to mine, when I said that he had done nothing for his
own sake, but everything for that of the republic; and you, on the
contrary, affirm that he did nothing except with a view to his own
advantage? But if you were to wish to explain yourself further, and were
to say openly that he did nothing except for the sake of pleasure, how do
you think that he would bear such an assertion?

Be it so. Let Torquatus, if you will, have acted solely with a view to his
own advantage, for I would rather employ that expression than pleasure,
especially when speaking of so eminent a man,—did his colleague too,
Publius Decius, the first man who ever was consul in that family, did he,
I say, when he was devoting himself, and rushing at the full speed of his
horse into the middle of the army of the Latins, think at all of his own
pleasures? For where or when was he to find any, when he knew that he
should perish immediately, and when he was seeking that death with more
eager zeal than Epicurus thinks even pleasure deserving to be sought with?
And unless this exploit of his had been deservedly extolled, his son would
not have imitated it in his fourth consulship; nor, again, would his son,
when fighting against Pyrrhus, have fallen in battle when he was consul,
and so offered himself up for the sake of the republic as a third victim
in an uninterrupted succession from the same family. I will forbear giving
any more examples. I might get a few from the Greeks, such as Leonidas,
Epaminondas, and three or four more perhaps. And if I were to begin
hunting up our own annals for such instances, I should soon establish my
point, and compel Pleasure to give herself up, bound hand and foot, to
virtue. But the day would be too short for me. And as Aulus Varius, who
was considered a rather severe judge, was in the habit of saying to his
colleague, when, after some witnesses had been produced, others were still
being summoned, “Either we have had witnesses enough, or I do not know
what is enough;” so I think that I have now brought forward witnesses

For, what will you say? Was it pleasure that worked upon you, a man
thoroughly worthy of your ancestors, while still a young man, to rob
Publius Sylla of the consulship? And when you had succeeded in procuring
it for your father, a most gallant man, what a consul did he prove, and
what a citizen at all times, and most especially after his consulship!
And, indeed, it was by his advice that we ourselves behaved in such a
manner as to consult the advantage of the whole body of the citizens
rather than our own.

But how admirably did you seem to speak, when on the one side you drew a
picture of a man loaded with the most numerous and excessive pleasures,
with no pain, either present or future; and on the other, of a man
surrounded with the greatest torments affecting his whole body, with no
pleasure, either present or hoped for; and asked who could be more
miserable than the one, or more happy than the other? and then concluded,
that pain was the greatest evil, and pleasure the greatest good.

XX. There was a man of Lanuvium, called Lucius Thorius Balbus, whom you
cannot remember; he lived in such a way that no pleasure could be imagined
so exquisite, that he had not a superfluity of it. He was greedy of
pleasure, a critical judge of every species of it, and very rich. So far
removed from all superstition, as to despise the numerous sacrifices which
take place, and temples which exist in his country; so far from fearing
death, that he was slain in battle fighting for the republic. He bounded
his appetites, not according to the division of Epicurus, but by his own
feelings of satiety. He took sufficient exercise always to come to supper
both thirsty and hungry. He ate such food as was at the same time nicest
in taste and most easy of digestion; and selected such wine as gave him
pleasure, and was, at the same time, free from hurtful qualities. He had
all those other means and appliances which Epicurus thinks so necessary,
that he says that if they are denied, he cannot understand what is good.
He was free from every sort of pain; and if he had felt any, he would not
have borne it impatiently, though he would have been more inclined to
consult a physician than a philosopher. He was a man of a beautiful
complexion, of perfect health, of the greatest influence, in short, his
whole life was one uninterrupted scene of every possible variety of
pleasures. Now, you call this man happy. Your principles compel you to do
so. But as for me, I will not, indeed, venture to name the man whom I
prefer to him—Virtue herself shall speak for me, and she will not hesitate
to rank Marcus Regulus before this happy man of yours. For Virtue asserts
loudly that this man, when, of his own accord, under no compulsion, except
that of the pledge which he had given to the enemy, he had returned to
Carthage, was, at the very moment when he was being tortured with
sleeplessness and hunger, more happy than Thorius while drinking on a bed
of roses.

Regulus had had the conduct of great wars; he had been twice consul; he
had had a triumph; and yet he did not think those previous exploits of his
so great or so glorious as that last misfortune which he incurred, because
of his own good faith and constancy; a misfortune which appears pitiable
to us who hear of it, but was actually pleasant to him who endured it. For
men are happy, not because of hilarity, or lasciviousness, or laughter, or
jesting, the companion of levity, but often even through sorrow endured
with firmness and constancy. Lucretia, having been ravished by force by
the king’s son, called her fellow-citizens to witness, and slew herself.
This grief of hers, Brutus being the leader and mover of the Roman people,
was the cause of liberty to the whole state. And out of regard for the
memory of that woman, her husband and her father were made consuls(35) the
first year of the republic. Lucius Virginius, a man of small property and
one of the people, sixty years after the reestablishment of liberty, slew
his virgin daughter with his own hand, rather than allow her to be
surrendered to the lust of Appius Claudius, who was at that time invested
with the supreme power.

XXI. Now you, O Torquatus, must either blame all these actions, or else
you must abandon the defence of pleasure. And what a cause is that, and
what a task does the man undertake who comes forward as the advocate of
pleasure, who is unable to call any one illustrious man as evidence in her
favour or as a witness to her character? For as we have awakened those men
from the records of our annals as witnesses, whose whole life has been
consumed in glorious labours; men who cannot bear to hear the very name of
pleasure: so on your side of the argument history is dumb. I have never
heard of Lycurgus, or Solon, Miltiades, or Themistocles, or Epaminondas
being mentioned in the school of Epicurus; men whose names are constantly
in the mouth of all the other philosophers. But now, since we have begun
to deal with this part of the question, our friend Atticus, out of his
treasures, will supply us with the names of as many great men as may be
sufficient for us to bring forward as witnesses. Is it not better to say a
little of these men, than so many volumes about Themista?(36) Let these
things be confined to the Greeks: although we have derived philosophy and
all the liberal sciences from them, still there are things which may be
allowable for them to do, but not for us. The Stoics are at variance with
the Peripatetics. One sect denies that anything is good which is not also
honourable: the other asserts that it allows great weight, indeed, by far
the most weight, to what is honourable, but still affirms that there are
in the body also, and around the body, certain positive goods. It is an
honourable contest and a splendid discussion. For the whole question is
about the dignity of virtue.

But when one is arguing with philosophers of your school, one is forced to
hear a great deal about even the obscure pleasures which Epicurus himself
continually mentions. You cannot then, Torquatus, believe me, you cannot
uphold those principles, if you examine into yourself, and your own
thoughts and studies. You will, I say, be ashamed of that picture which
Cleanthes was in the habit of drawing with such accuracy in his
description. He used to desire those who came to him as his pupils, to
think of Pleasure painted in a picture, clad in beautiful robes, with
royal ornaments, and sitting on a throne. He represented all the Virtues
around her, as her handmaidens, doing nothing else, and thinking nothing
else their duty, but to minister to Pleasure, and only just to whisper in
her ear (if, indeed, that could be made intelligible in a picture) a
warning to be on her guard to do nothing imprudent, nothing to offend the
minds of men, nothing from which any pain could ensue. We, indeed, they
would say, we Virtues are only born to act as your slaves; we have no
other business.

XXII. But Epicurus (for this is your great point) denies that any man who
does not live honourably can live agreeably; as if I cared what he denies
or what he affirms. What I inquire is, what it is consistent for that man
to say who places the chief good in pleasure. What reason do you allege
why Thorius, why Chius, why Postumius, why the master of all these men,
Orata, did not live most agreeably? He himself, as I have already said,
asserts that the life of men devoted to luxury is not deserving of blame,
unless they are absolute fools, that is to say, unless they abandon
themselves to become slaves to their desires or to their fears. And when
he promises them a remedy for both these things, he, in so doing, offers
them a licence for luxury. For if you take away these things, then he says
that he cannot find anything in the life of debauched men which deserves
blame. You then, who regulate everything by the standard of pleasure,
cannot either defend or maintain virtue. For he does not deserve to be
accounted a virtuous or a just man who abstains from injustice in order to
avoid suffering evil. You know the line, I suppose—

    He’s not a pious man whom fear constrains
    To acts of piety ... a man—

And nothing can be more true. For a man is not just while he is in a state
of alarm. And certainly when he ceases to be in fear, he will not be just.
But he will not be afraid if he is able to conceal his actions, or if he
is able, by means of his great riches and power, to support what he has
done. And he will certainly prefer being regarded as a good man, though he
is not one, to being a good man and not being thought one. And so, beyond
all question, instead of genuine and active justice, you give us only an
effigy of justice, and you teach us, as it were, to disregard our own
unvarying conscience, and to go hunting after the fleeting vagabond
opinions of others.

And the same may be said of the other virtues also; the foundation of all
which you place in pleasure, which is like building on water. For what are
we to say? Can we call that same Torquatus a brave man? For I am
delighted, though I cannot, as you say, bribe you; I am delighted with
your family and with your name. And, in truth, I have before my eyes Aulus
Torquatus,(37) a most excellent man, and one greatly attached to me; and
both of you must certainly be aware how great and how eminent his zeal in
my behalf was in those times which are well known to every one. And that
conduct of his would not have been delightful to me, who wish both to be,
and to be considered, grateful, if I did not see clearly that he was
friendly to me for my own sake, not for his own; unless, indeed, you say,
it was for his own sake, because it is for the interest of every one to
act rightly. If you say that, we have gained our point. For what we are
aiming at, what we are contending for, is, that duty itself is the reward
of duty. But that master of yours will not admit this, and requires
pleasure to result from every action as a sort of wages.

However, I return to him. If it was for the sake of pleasure that
Torquatus, when challenged, fought with the Gaul on the Anio, and out of
his spoils took his chain and earned his surname, or if it was for any
other reason but that he thought such exploits worthy of a man, then I do
not account him brave. And, indeed, if modesty, and decency, and chastity,
and, in one word, temperance, is only upheld by the fear of punishment or
infamy, and not out of regard to their own sanctity, then what lengths
will adultery and debauchery and lust shrink from proceeding to, if there
is a hope either of escaping detection, or of obtaining impunity or

What shall I say more? What is your idea, O Torquatus, of this?—that you,
a man of your name, of your abilities, of your high reputation, should not
dare to allege in a public assembly what you do, what you think, what you
contend for, the standard to which you refer everything, the object for
the sake of which you wish to accomplish what you attempt, and what you
think best in life. For what can you claim to deserve, when you have
entered upon your magistracy, and come forward to the assembly, (for then
you will have to announce what principles you intend to observe in
administering the law, and perhaps, too, if you think fit, you will, as is
the ancient custom, say something about your ancestors and
yourself,)—what, I say, can you claim as your just desert, if you say that
in that magistracy you will do everything for the sake of pleasure? and
that you have never done anything all your life except with a view to
pleasure? Do you think, say you, that I am so mad as to speak in that way
before ignorant people? Well, say it then in the court of justice, or if
you are afraid of the surrounding audience, say it in the senate: you will
never do so. Why not, except that such language is disgraceful? Do you
then think Triarius and me fit people for you to speak before in a
disgraceful manner?

XXIII. However, be it so. The name of pleasure certainly has no dignity in
it, and perhaps we do not exactly understand what is meant by it; for you
are constantly saying that we do not understand what you mean by the word
pleasure: no doubt it is a very difficult and obscure matter. When you
speak of atoms, and spaces between worlds, things which do not exist, and
which cannot possibly exist, then we understand you; and cannot we
understand what pleasure is, a thing which is known to every sparrow? What
will you say if I compel you to confess that I not only do know what
pleasure is (for it is a pleasant emotion affecting the senses), but also
what you mean by the word? For at one time you mean by the word the very
same thing which I have just said, and you give it the description of
consisting in motion, and of causing some variety: at another time you
speak of some other highest pleasure, which is susceptible of no addition
whatever, but that it is present when every sort of pain is absent, and
you call it then a state, not a motion: let that, then, be pleasure. Say,
in any assembly you please, that you do everything with a view to avoid
suffering pain: if you do not think that even this language is
sufficiently dignified, or sufficiently honourable, say that you will do
everything during your year of office, and during your whole life, for the
sake of your own advantage; that you will do nothing except what is
profitable to yourself, nothing which is not prompted by a view to your
own interest. What an uproar do you not suppose such a declaration would
excite in the assembly, and what hope do you think you would have of the
consulship which is ready for you? And can you follow these principles,
which, when by yourself, or in conversation with your dearest friends, you
do not dare to profess and avow openly? But you have those maxims
constantly in your mouth which the Peripatetics and Stoics profess. In the
courts of justice and in the senate you speak of duty, equity, dignity,
good faith, uprightness, honourable actions, conduct worthy of power,
worthy of the Roman people; you talk of encountering every imaginable
danger in the cause of the republic—of dying for one’s country. When you
speak in this manner we are all amazed, like a pack of blockheads, and you
are laughing in your sleeve: for, among all those high-sounding and
admirable expressions, pleasure has no place, not only that pleasure which
you say consists in motion, and which all men, whether living in cities or
in the country, all men, in short, who speak Latin, call pleasure, but
even that stationary pleasure, which no one but your sect calls pleasure
at all.

XXIV. Take care lest you find yourselves obliged to use our language,
though adhering to your own opinions. But if you were to put on a feigned
countenance or gait, with the object of appearing more dignified, you
would not then be like yourself; and yet are you to use fictitious
language, and to say things which you do not think, or, as you have one
dress to wear at home, and another in which you appear in court, are you
to disguise your opinions in a similar manner, so as to make a parade with
your countenance, while you are keeping the truth hidden within? Consider,
I intreat you, whether this is proper. My opinion is that those are
genuine sentiments which are honourable, which are praiseworthy, which are
creditable; which a man is not ashamed to avow in the senate, before the
people, in every company and every assembly, so that he will be ashamed to
think what he is ashamed to say.

But what room can there be for friendship, or who can be a friend to any
one whom he does not love for his own sake? And what is loving, from which
verb (_amo_) the very name of friendship (_amicitia_) is derived, but
wishing a certain person to enjoy the greatest possible good fortune, even
if none of it accrues to oneself? Still, you say, it is a good thing for
me to be of such a disposition. Perhaps it may be so; but you cannot be so
if it is not really your disposition; and how can you be so unless love
itself has seized hold of you? which is not usually generated by any
accurate computation of advantage, but is self-produced, and born
spontaneously from itself. But, you will say, I am guided by prospects of
advantage. Friendship, then, will remain just as long as any advantage
ensues from it; and if it be a principle of advantage which is the
foundation of friendship, the same will be its destruction. But what will
you do, if, as is often the case, advantage takes the opposite side to
friendship? Will you abandon it? what sort of friendship is that? Will you
preserve it? how will that be expedient for you? For you see what the
rules are which you lay down respecting friendship which is desirable only
for the sake of one’s own advantage:—I must take care that I do not incur
odium if I cease to uphold my friend. Now, in the first place, why should
such conduct incur odium, except because it is disgraceful? But, if you
will not desert your friend lest you should incur any disadvantage from so
doing, still you will wish that he was dead, to release you from being
bound to a man from whom you get no advantage. But suppose he not only
brings you no advantage, but you even incur loss of property for his sake,
and have to undertake labours, and to encounter danger of your life; will
you not, even then, show some regard for yourself, and recollect that
every one is born for himself and for his own pleasures? Will you go bail
to a tyrant for your friend in a case which may affect your life, as that
Pythagorean(38) did when he became surety to the Tyrant of Sicily? or,
when you are Pylades, will you affirm that you are Orestes, that you may
die for your friend? or, if you were Orestes, would you contradict
Pylades, and give yourself up? and, if you could not succeed then, would
you intreat that you might be both put to death together?

XXV. You, indeed, O Torquatus, would do all these things. For I do not
think that there is anything deserving of great praise, which you would be
likely to shrink from out of fear of death or pain: nor is it the question
what is consistent with your nature, but with the doctrines of your
school—that philosophy which you defend, those precepts which you have
learnt, and which you profess to approve of, utterly overthrow
friendship—even though Epicurus should, as indeed he does, extol it to the
skies. Oh, you will say, but he himself cultivated friendship. As if any
one denied that he was a good, and courteous, and kind-hearted man; the
question in these discussions turns on his genius, and not on his morals.
Grant that there is such perversity in the levity of the Greeks, who
attack those men with evil speaking with whom they disagree as to the
truth of a proposition. But, although he may have been courteous in
maintaining friendships, still, if all this is true, (for I do not affirm
anything myself), he was not a very acute arguer. Oh, but he convinced
many people. And perhaps it was quite right that he should; still, the
testimony of the multitude is not of the greatest possible weight; for in
every art, or study, or science, as in virtue itself, whatever is most
excellent is also most rare. And to me, indeed, the very fact of he
himself having been a good man, and of many Epicureans having also been
such, and being to this day faithful in their friendships, and consistent
throughout their whole lives, and men of dignified conduct, regulating
their lives, not by pleasure, but by their duty, appears to show that the
power of what is honourable is greater, and that of pleasure smaller. For
some men live in such a manner that their language is refuted by their
lives; and as others are considered to speak better than they act, so
these men seem to me to act better than they speak.

XXVI. However, all this is nothing to the purpose. Let us just consider
those things which have been said by you about friendship, and among them
I fancied that I recognized one thing as having been said by Epicurus
himself, namely, that friendship cannot be separated from pleasure, and
that it ought on that account to be cultivated, because without it men
could not live in safety, and without fear, nor even with any kind of
pleasantness. Answer enough has been given to this argument. You also
brought forward another more humane one, invented by these more modern
philosophers, and never, as far as I know, advanced by the master himself,
that at first, indeed, a friend is sought out with a view to one’s own
advantage, but that when intimacy has sprung up, then the man is loved for
himself, all hope or idea of pleasure being put out of the question. Now,
although this argument is open to attack on many accounts, still I will
accept what they grant; for it is enough for me, though not enough for
them: for they admit that it is possible for men to act rightly at times,
without any expectation of, or desire to acquire pleasure.

You also affirmed that some people say that wise men make a kind of treaty
among themselves, that they shall have the same feelings towards their
friends that they entertain for themselves, and that that is possible, and
is often the case, and that it has especial reference to the enjoyment of
pleasures. If they could make this treaty, they at the same time make that
other to love equity, moderation, and all the virtues for their own sake,
without any consideration of advantage. But if we cultivate friendships
for the sake of their profits, emoluments, and advantages which may be
derived from them, if there is to be no affection which may make the
friendship desirable for its own sake, on its own account, by its own
influences, by itself and for itself, is there any doubt at all that in
such a case we must prefer our farms and estates to our friends? And here
you may again quote those panegyrics which have been uttered in most
eloquent language by Epicurus himself, on the subject of friendship. I am
not asking what he says, but what he can possibly say which shall be
consistent with his own system and sentiments.

Friendship has been sought for the sake of advantage; do you, then, think
that my friend Triarius, here, will be more useful to you than your
granaries at Puteol? Think of all the circumstances which you are in the
habit of recollecting; the protection which friends are to a man. You have
sufficient protection in yourself, sufficient in the laws, sufficient also
in moderate friendships. As it is, you cannot be looked upon with
contempt; but you will easily avoid odium and unpopularity, for precepts
on that subject are given by Epicurus. And yet you, by employing such
large revenues in purposes of liberality, even without any Pyladean
friendship, will admirably defend and protect yourself by the goodwill of
numbers. But with whom, then, is a man to share his jests, his serious
thoughts, as people say, and all his secrets and hidden wishes? With you,
above all men; but if that cannot be, why with some tolerably intimate
friend. However, grant that all these circumstances are not unreasonable;
what comparison can there be between them and the utility of such large
sums of money? You see, then, if you measure friendship by the affection
which it engenders, that nothing is more excellent; if by the advantage
that is derived from it, then you see that the closest intimacies are
surpassed by the value of a productive farm. You must therefore love me,
myself, and not my circumstances, if we are to be real friends.

XXVII. But we are getting too prolix in the most self-evident matters;
for, as it has been concluded and established that there is no room
anywhere for either virtues or friendships if everything is referred to
pleasure, there is nothing more which it is of any great importance should
be said. And yet, that I may not appear to have passed over any topic
without a reply, I will, even now, say a few words on the remainder of
your argument.

Since, then, the whole sum of philosophy is directed to ensure living
happily, and since men, from a desire of this one thing, have devoted
themselves to this study; but different people make happiness of life to
consist in different circumstances; you, for instance, place it in
pleasure; and, in the same manner you, on the other hand, make all
unhappiness to consist in pain: let us consider, in the first place, what
sort of thing this happy life of yours is. But you will grant this, I
think, that if there is really any such thing as happiness, it ought to be
wholly in the power of a wise man to secure it; for, if a happy life can
be lost, it cannot be happy. For who can feel confident that a thing will
always remain firm and enduring in his case, which is in reality fleeting
and perishable? But the man who distrusts the permanence of his good
things, must necessarily fear that some day or other, when he has lost
them, he will become miserable; and no man can be happy who is in fear
about most important matters. No one, then, can be happy; for a happy life
is usually called so, not in some part only, but in perpetuity of time;
and, in fact, life is not said to be happy at all till it is completed and
finished. Nor is it possible for any man to be sometimes happy and
sometimes miserable; for he who thinks it possible that he may become
miserable, is certainly not happy. For, when a happy life is once
attained, it remains as long as the maker of the happy life herself,
namely, wisdom; nor does it wait till the last period of a man’s
existence, as Herodotus says that Crœsus was warned by Solon.

But, as you yourself were saying, Epicurus denies that length of time has
any influence on making life happy, and that no less pleasure can be felt
in a short time than would be the case if the pleasure were everlasting.
Now these statements are most inconsistent. For, when he places the chief
good in pleasure, he denies that pleasure can be greater in infinite time,
than it can in a finite and moderate period. The man who places all good
in virtue, has it in his power to say that a happy life is made so by the
perfection of virtue; for he consistently denies that time can bring any
increase to his chief good. But he who thinks that life is made happy by
pleasure, must surely be inconsistent with himself if he denies that
pleasure is increased by length of time: if so, then pain is not either.
Shall we, then, say that all pain is most miserable in proportion as it is
most lasting, and yet that duration does not make pleasure more desirable?
Why, then, is it that Epicurus always speaks of God as happy and eternal?
For, if you only take away his eternity, Jupiter is in no respect more
happy than Epicurus; for each of them is in the enjoyment of the chief
good, namely, pleasure. Oh, but Epicurus is also liable to pain. That does
not affect him at all; for he says that if he were being burnt, he would
say, “How pleasant it is.” In what respect, then, is he surpassed by the
God, if he is not surpassed by him because of his eternity? For what good
has the God, except the highest degree of pleasure, and that, too,
everlasting! What, then, is the good of speaking so pompously, if one does
not speak consistently? Happiness of life is placed in pleasure of body,
(I will add of mind also, if you please, as long as that pleasure of the
mind is derived from the pleasure of the body.) What? who can secure this
pleasure to a wise man in perpetuity? For the circumstances by which
pleasures are generated are not in the power of a wise man; for happiness
does not consist in wisdom itself, but in those things which wisdom
provides for the production of pleasure. And all these circumstances are
external; and what is external is liable to accident. And thus fortune is
made the mistress of happiness in life,—Fortune, which, Epicurus says, has
but little to do with a wise man.

XXVIII. But you will say, Come, these things are trifles. Nature by
herself enriches the wise man; and, indeed, Epicurus has taught us that
the riches of nature are such as can be acquired. This is well said, and I
do not object to it; but still these same assertions are inconsistent with
one another. For Epicurus denies there is less pleasure derived from the
poorest food, from the most despised kinds of meat and drink, than from
feasting on the most delicious dishes. Now if he were to assert that it
makes no difference as to the happiness of life what food a man ate, I
would grant it, I would even praise him for saying so; for he would be
speaking the truth; and I know that Socrates, who ranked pleasure as
nothing at all, said the same thing, namely, that hunger was the best
seasoning for meat, and thirst for drink. But I do not comprehend how a
man who refers everything to pleasure, lives like Gallonius, and yet talks
like that great man Frugi Piso; nor, indeed, do I believe that what he
says is his real opinion. He has said that natural riches can be acquired,
because nature is contented with a little. Certainly, unless you estimate
pleasure at a great value. No less pleasure, says he, is derived from the
most ordinary things than from the most valuable. Now to say this, is not
only not to have a heart, but not to have even a palate. For they who
despise pleasure itself, may be allowed to say that they do not prefer a
sturgeon to a herring. But the man who places his chief good in pleasure,
must judge of everything by his sensations, not by his reason, and must
pronounce those things best which are most pleasant.

However, be it so. Let him acquire the greatest possible pleasures, not
only at a cheap rate, but, as far as I am concerned, for nothing at all,
if he can manage it. Let there be no less pleasure in eating a nasturtium,
which Xenophon tells us the Persians used to eat, than in those Syracusan
banquets which are so severely blamed by Plato. Let, I say, the
acquisition of pleasure be as easy as you say it is. What shall we say of
pain? the torments of which are so great that, if at least pain is the
greatest of evils, a happy life cannot possibly exist in company with it.
For Metrodorus himself, who is almost a second Epicurus, describes a happy
man in these words. When his body is in good order, and when he is quite
certain that it it will be so for the future. Is it possible for any one
to be certain in what condition his body will be, I do not say a year
hence, but even this evening? Pain, therefore, which is the greatest of
evils, will always be dreaded even if it is not present. For it will
always be possible that it may be present. But how can any fear of the
greatest possible evil exist in a happy life?

Oh, says he, Epicurus has handed down maxims according to which we may
disregard pain. Surely, it is an absurdity to suppose that the greatest
possible evil can be disregarded. However, what is the maxim? The greatest
pain, says he, is short-lived. Now, first of all, what do you call
short-lived? And, secondly, what do you call the greatest pain? For what
do you mean? Cannot extreme pain last for many days? Aye, and for many
months? Unless, indeed, you intend to assert that you mean such pain as
kills a man the moment it seizes on him. Who is afraid of that pain? I
would rather you would lessen that pain by which I have seen that most
excellent and kind-hearted man, Cnæus Octavius, the son of Marcus
Octavius, my own intimate friend, worn out, and that not once, or for a
short time, but very often, and for a long period at once. What agonies, O
ye immortal gods, did that man use to bear, when all his limbs seemed as
if they were on fire. And yet he did not appear to be miserable, (because
in truth pain was not the greatest of evils,) but only afflicted. But if
he had been immersed in continued pleasure, passing at the same time a
vicious and infamous life, then he would have been miserable.

XXIX. But when you say that great pains last but a short time, and that if
they last long they are always light, I do not understand the meaning of
your assertion. For I see that some pains are very great, and also very
durable. And there is a better principle which may enable one to endure
them, which however you cannot adopt, who do not love what is honourable
for its own sake. There are some precepts for, and I may almost say laws
of, fortitude, which forbid a man to behave effeminately in pain.
Wherefore it should be accounted disgraceful, I do not say to grieve, (for
that is at times unavoidable,) but to make those rocks of Lemnos
melancholy with such outcries as those of Philoctetes—

    Who utters many a tearful note aloud,
    With ceaseless groaning, howling, and complaint.

Now let Epicurus, if he can, put himself in the place of that man—

    Whose veins and entrails thus are racked with pain
    And horrid agony, while the serpent’s bite
    Spreads its black venom through his shuddering frame.

Let Epicurus become Philoctetes. If his pain is sharp it is short. But in
fact he has been lying in his cave for ten years. If it lasts long it is
light, for it grants him intervals of relaxation. In the first place it
does not do so often; and in the second place what sort of relaxation is
it when the memory of past agony is still fresh, and the fear of further
agony coming and impending is constantly tormenting him. Let him die, says
he. Perhaps that would be the best thing for him; but then what becomes of
the argument, that the wise man has always more pleasure than pain? For if
that be the case I would have you think whether you are not recommending
him a crime, when you advise him to die. Say to him rather, that it is a
disgraceful thing for a man to allow his spirit to be crushed and broken
by pain, that it is shameful to yield to it. For as for your maxim, if it
is violent it is short, if it lasts long it is slight, that is mere empty
verbiage. The only real way to mitigate pain is by the application of
virtue, of magnanimity, of patience, of courage.

XXX. Listen, that I may not make too wide a digression, to the words of
Epicurus when dying; and take notice how inconsistent his conduct is with
his language. “Epicurus to Hermarchus greeting. I write this letter,” says
he, “while passing a happy day, which is also the last day of my life. And
the pains of my bladder and bowels are so intense that nothing can be
added to them which can make them greater.” Here is a man miserable, if
pain is the greatest possible evil. It cannot possibly be denied. However,
let us see how he proceeds. “But still I have to balance this a joy in my
mind, which I derive from the recollection of my philosophical principles
and discoveries. But do you, as becomes the goodwill which from your youth
upwards you have constantly discovered for me and for philosophy, protect
the children of Metrodorus.” After reading this, I do not consider the
death of Epaminondas or Leonidas preferable to his. One of whom defeated
the Lacedæmonians at Mantinea,(39) and finding that he had been rendered
insensible by a mortal wound, when he first came to himself, asked whether
his shield was safe? When his weeping friends had answered him that it
was, he then asked whether the enemy was defeated? And when he received to
this question also the answer which he wished, he then ordered the spear
which was sticking in him to be pulled out. And so, losing quantities of
blood, he died in the hour of joy and victory.

But Leonidas, the king of the Lacedæmonians, put himself and those three
hundred men, whom he had led from Sparta, in the way of the enemy of
Thermopylæ,(40) when the alternative was a base flight, or a glorious
death. The deaths of generals are glorious, but philosophers usually die
in their beds. But still Epicurus here mentions what, when dying, he
considered great credit to himself. “I have,” says he, “a joy to
counterbalance these pains.” I recognise in these words, O Epicurus, the
sentiments of a philosopher, but still you forgot what you ought to have
said. For, in the first place, if those things be true, in the
recollection of which you say you rejoice, that is to say, if your
writings and discoveries are true, then you cannot rejoice. For you have
no pleasure here which you can refer to the body. But you have constantly
asserted that no one ever feels joy or pain except with reference to his
body. “I rejoice,” says he, “in the past.” In what that is past? If you
mean such past things as refer to the body, then I see that you are
counterbalancing your agonies with your reason, and not with your
recollection of pleasures which you have felt in the body. But if you are
referring to your mind, then your denial of there being any joy of the
mind which cannot be referred to some pleasure of the body, must be false.
Why, then, do you recommend the children of Metrodorus to Hermarchus? In
that admirable exercise of duty, in that excellent display of your good
faith, for that is how I look upon it, what is there that you refer to the

XXXI. You may twist yourself about in every direction as you please,
Torquatus, but you will not find in this excellent letter anything written
by Epicurus which is in harmony and consistent with the rules he laid
down. And so he is convicted by himself, and his writings are upset by his
own virtue and goodness. For that recommendation of those children, that
recollection of them, and affectionate friendship for them, that attention
to the most important duties at the last gasp, indicates that honesty
without any thought of personal advantage was innate in the man; that it
did not require the invitation of pleasure, or the allurements of
mercenary rewards. For what greater evidence can we require that those
things which are honourable and right are desirable of themselves for
their own sake, than the sight of a dying man so anxious in the discharge
of such important duties? But, as I think that letter deserving of all
commendation of which I have just given you a literal translation,
(although it was in no respect consistent with the general system of that
philosopher,) so also I think that his will is inconsistent not only with
the dignity of a philosopher, but even with his own sentiments. For he
wrote often, and at great length, and sometimes with brevity and suitable
language, in that book which I have just named, that death had nothing to
do with us; for that whatever was dissolved was void of sensation, and
whatever was void of sensation had nothing whatever to do with us. Even
this might have been expressed better and more elegantly. For when he lays
down the position that what has been dissolved is void of sensation, that
is such an expression that it is not very plain what he means by the word
dissolved. However, I understand what he really does mean. But still I ask
why, when every sensation is extinguished by dissolution, that is to say,
by death, and when there is nothing else whatever that has any connexion
with us, he should still take such minute and diligent care to enjoin
Amynomachus and Timocrates, his heirs, to furnish every year what in the
opinion of Hermarchus shall be enough to keep his birthday in the month
Gamelion, with all proper solemnity. And also, shall every month, on the
twentieth day of the month, supply money enough to furnish a banquet for
those men who have studied philosophy with him, in order that his memory,
and that of Metrodorus, may be duly honoured. Now I cannot deny that these
injunctions are in keeping with the character of a thoroughly accomplished
and amiable man; but still I utterly deny that it is inconsistent with the
wisdom of a philosopher, especially of a natural philosopher, which is the
character he claims for himself, to think that there is such a day as the
birthday of any one. What? Can any day which has once passed recur over
again frequently. Most indubitably not; or can any day like it recur? Even
that is impossible, unless it may happen after an interval of many
thousand years, that there may be a return of all the stars at the same
moment to the point from which they set out. There is, therefore, no such
thing as anybody’s birthday. But still it is considered that there is. As
if I did not know that. But even if there be, is it to be regarded after a
man’s death? And is a man to give injunctions in his will that it shall be
so, after he has told you all, as if with the voice of an oracle, that
there is nothing which concerns us at all after death? These things are
very inconsistent in a man who, in his mind, had travelled over
innumerable worlds and boundless regions, which were destitute of all
limits and boundaries. Did Democritus ever say such a thing as this? I
will pass over every one else, and call him only as a witness whom
Epicurus himself followed to the exclusion of others.

But if a day did deserve to be kept, which was it more fitting to observe,
the day on which a man was born, or that on which he became wise? A man,
you will say, could not have become wise unless he had been born. And, on
the same principle, he could not if his grandmother had never been born.
The whole business, Torquatus, is quite out of character for a learned man
to wish to have the recollection of his name celebrated with banquets
after his death. I say nothing of the way in which you keep these days,
and to how many jokes from witty men you expose yourselves. There is no
need of quarrelling. I only say that it would have been more becoming in
you to keep Epicurus’s birthday, than in him to leave injunctions in his
will that it should be kept.

XXXII. However, to return to our subject, (for while we were talking of
pain we digressed to that letter of his,) we may now fairly come to this
conclusion. The man who is in the greatest evil, while he is in it, is not
happy. But the wise man is always happy, and is also occasionally in pain.
Therefore, pain is not the greatest evil. What kind of doctrine, then, is
this, that goods which are past are not lost to a wise man, but that he
ought not to remember past evils. First of all, is it in our power to
decide what we will remember. When Simonides, or some one else, offered to
Themistocles to teach him the art of memory, “I would rather,” said he,
“that you would teach me that of forgetfulness; for I even now recollect
what I would rather not; but I cannot forget what I should like to.” This
was a very sensible answer. But still the fact is that it is the act of a
very arbitrary philosopher to forbid a man to recollect. It seems to me a
command very much in the spirit of your ancestor, Manlius, or even worse,
to command what it is impossible for me to do. What will you say if the
recollection of past evils is even pleasant? For some proverbs are more
true than your dogmas. Nor does Euripides speak all when he says, I will
give it you in Latin, if I can, but you all know the Greek line—

    Sweet is the memory of sorrows past.(41)

However, let us return to the consideration of past goods. And if you were
to utter such maxims as might be capable of consoling Caius Marius, and
enabling him when banished, indigent, and up to his neck in a marsh, to
relieve his anguish by the recollection of his past trophies, I would
listen to you, and approve of all you could say. Nor, indeed, can the
happiness of a philosopher be complete or continue to the end, if all the
admirable discoveries which he has made, and all his virtuous actions, are
to be lost by his own forgetfulness. But, in your case, you assert that
the recollection of pleasures which have been felt makes life happy, and
of such pleasures too, as affect the body. For if there are any other
pleasures, then it is incorrect to say that all the pleasures of the mind
originate in its connexion with the body.

But if pleasures felt by the body, even when they are past, can give
pleasure, then I do not understand why Aristotle should turn the
inscription on the tomb of Sardanapalus into so much ridicule; in which
the king of Assyria boasts that he has taken with him all his lascivious
pleasures. For, says Aristotle, how could those things which even while he
was alive he could not feel a moment longer than while he was actually
enjoying them, possibly remain to him after he was dead? The pleasure,
then, of the body is lost, and flies away at the first moment, and oftener
leaves behind reasons for repenting of it than for recollecting it.
Therefore, Africanus is happier when addressing his country in this

    Cease, Rome, to dread your foes....

And in the rest of his admirable boast—

    For you have trophies by my labour raised.

He is rejoicing here in his labours which are past. But you would bid him
exult in past pleasures. He traces back his feelings to things which had
never had any reference to his body. You cling to the body to the
exclusion of everything else.

XXXIII. But how can that proposition possibly be maintained which you
urge, namely, that all the pleasures and pains of the mind are connected
inseparably with the pleasures and pains of the body? Is there, then,
nothing which ever delights you, (I know whom I am addressing,) is there
nothing, O Torquatus, which ever delights you for its own sake? I say
nothing about dignity, honourableness, the beauty of virtue, which I have
mentioned before. I will put all these things aside as of less
consequence. But is there anything when you are writing, or reading a
poem, or an oration, when you are investigating the history of exploits or
countries, or anything in a statue, or picture, or pleasant place; in
sports, in hunting, or in a villa of Lucullus, (for if I were to say of
your own, you would have a loophole to escape through, saying that that
had connexion with your body,) is there any of all these things, I say,
which you can refer to your body, or do they not please you, if they
please you at all, for their own sake?

You must either be the most obstinate of men, if you persist in referring
these things, which I have just mentioned, to the body, or else you must
abandon Epicurus’s whole theory of pleasure, if you admit that they have
no connexion with it.

But as for your argument, that the pleasures and pains of the mind are
greater than those of the body, because the mind is a partaker of three
times,(42) but nothing but what is present is felt by the body; how can it
possibly be allowed that a man who rejoices for my sake rejoices more than
I do myself? The pleasure of the mind originates in the pleasure of the
body, and the pleasure of the mind is greater than that of the body. The
result, then, is, that the party who congratulates the other is more
rejoiced than he whom he congratulates. But while you are trying to make
out the wise man to be happy, because he is sensible of the greatest
pleasures in his mind, and, indeed, of pleasures which are in all their
parts greater than those which he is sensible of in his body, you do not
see what really happens. For he will also feel the pains of the mind to be
in every respect greater than those of the body. And so he must
occasionally be miserable, whom you endeavour to represent as being always
happy. Nor, indeed, will it be possible for you ever to fill up the idea
of perfect and uninterrupted happiness while you refer everything to
pleasure and pain.

On which account, O Torquatus, we must find out something else which is
the chief good of man. Let us grant pleasure to the beasts, to whom you
often appeal as witnesses on the subject of the chief good. What will you
say, if even the beasts do many things under the guidance of their various
natures, partly out of indulgence to other beasts, and at the cost of
their own labour, as, for instance, it is very visible in bringing forth
and rearing their young, that they have some other object in view besides
their own pleasure? and partly, too, when they rejoice in running about
and travelling; and some assemble in herds, in such a manner as to imitate
in some degree a human state. In some species of birds we see certain
indications of affection, knowledge, and memory; in many we see what even
looks like a regular system of action. Shall there, then, be in beasts
some images of human virtues, quite unconnected with pleasure, and shall
there be no virtue in man except for the sake of pleasure? and though he
is as superior as can be to all the other animals, shall we still affirm
that he has no peculiar attributes given to him by nature?

XXXIV. But we, if indeed all things depend on pleasure, are greatly
surpassed by beasts, for which the earth, of her own accord, produces
various sorts of food, in every kind of abundance, without their taking
any trouble about it; while the same necessaries are scarcely (sometimes I
may even use stronger language still) supplied to us, when we seek them
with great labour. Nor is it possible that I should ever think that the
chief good was the same in the case of a beast and a man. For what can be
the use of having so many means and appliances for the carrying out of the
most excellent arts,—what can be the use of such an assemblage of most
honourable pursuits, of such a crowd of virtues, if they are all got
together for no other end but pleasure? As if, when Xerxes, with such vast
fleets, such countless troops of both cavalry and infantry, had bridged
over the Hellespont and dug through Mount Athos, had walked across the
sea, and sailed(43) over the land, if, when he had invaded Greece with
such irresistible violence, any one had asked him for the cause of
collecting so vast an army, and waging so formidable a war, and he had
replied that he wished to get some honey from Hymettus, certainly he would
have been thought to have undertaken such an enterprise for an
insufficient cause. And in like manner, if we were to say that a wise man,
furnished and provided with numerous and important virtues and
accomplishments, not, indeed, travelling like him over sea on foot, and
over mountains with his fleet, but embracing the whole heaven, all the
earth, and the universal sea with his mind, had nothing in view but
pleasure, we might say that he, too, was taking a great deal of trouble
for a little honey.

Believe me, Torquatus, we were born for more lofty and noble ends; and you
may see this, not only by considering the parts of the mind, in which
there is the recollection of a countless number of things, (and from
thence proceed infinite conjectures as to the consequences of them, not
very far differing from divination; there is also in them shame, which is
the regulator of desire, and the faithful guardianship of justice, so
necessary to human society, and a firm enduring contempt for pain and
death, shown in the enduring of labours and the encountering of dangers.)
All these things, I say, are in the mind. But I would have you consider
also the limbs and the senses, which, like the other parts of the body,
will appear to you to be not only the companions of the virtues, but also
their slaves. What will you say, if many things in the body itself appear
to deserve to be preferred to pleasure? such as strength, health,
activity, beauty? And if this is the case, how many qualities of the mind
will likewise seem so? For in the mind, the old philosophers—those most
learned men—thought that there was something heavenly and divine. But if
the chief good consisted in pleasure, as you say, then it would be natural
that we should wish to live day and night in the midst of pleasure,
without any interval or interruption, while all our senses were, as it
were, steeped in and influenced wholly by pleasure. But who is there, who
is worthy of the name of a man, who would like to spend even the whole of
one day in that kind of pleasure? The Cyrenaic philosophers, indeed, would
not object. Your sect is more modest in this respect, though their’s is
perhaps the more sincere.

However, let us contemplate with our minds, not, indeed, these most
important arts, which are so valuable, that those who were ignorant of
them were accounted useless by our ancestors; but I ask you whether you
think that (I will not say Homer, or Archilochus, or Pindar, but) Phidias,
or Polycletus, or Zeuxis directed the whole of their skill to cause more
pleasure. Shall, then, an artist propose to himself a higher aim, with
reference to the beauty of figures, than a virtuous citizen with reference
to the nobleness of action? But what other cause can there be for such a
blunder being so widely and extensively diffused, except that he who
determines that pleasure is the chief good, deliberates not with that part
of his mind in which reason and wisdom dwell, but with his desires, that
is to say, with the most trifling portion of his mind. For I put the
question to you yourself, if there are gods, as you think that there are,
how have they the power of being happy, when they are not able to feel any
pleasure in their bodies? or if they are happy, though destitute of that
kind of pleasure, why do you refuse to recognize the possibility of a
similar exertion of intellect on the part of a wise man?

XXXV. Read, O Torquatus, the panegyrics, not of those men who have been
praised by Homer, not the encomiums passed on Cyrus, or Agesilaus, or
Aristides, or Themistocles, or Philip, or Alexander; but read the praises
of our own fellow-countrymen, of the heroes of your own family. You will
not find any one praised on the ground of having been a cunning contriver,
or procurer, of pleasure. The eulogies on their monuments signify no such
thing; like this one which is at one of our gates, “In whose favour many
nations unanimously agree that he was the noblest man of the nation.” Do
we think that many nations judged of Calatinus, that he was the noblest
man of the nation, because he was the most skilful in the devising of
pleasures? Shall we, then, say that there is great hope and an excellent
disposition in those young men whom we think likely to consult their own
advantage, and to see what will be profitable to themselves? Do we not see
what a great confusion of everything would ensue? what great disorder?
Such a doctrine puts an end to all beneficence, to all gratitude, which
are the great bonds of agreement. For if you do good to any one for your
own sake, that is not to be considered a kindness, but only usury; nor
does any gratitude appear due to the man who has benefited another for his
own sake.

But if pleasure is the dominant power, it is inevitable that all the
virtues must be trampled under foot. For there are many kinds of base
conduct, which, unless honourableness is naturally to have the most
influence, must, or at least it is not easy to explain why they should
not, overcome a wise man; and, not to go hunting for too many instances,
it is quite clear, that virtue deservedly praised, must cut off all the
approaches of pleasure.

Do not, now, expect any more arguments from me. Look, Torquatus, yourself,
into your own mind; turn the question over in all your thoughts; examine
yourself, whether you would prefer to pass your life in the enjoyment of
perpetual pleasure, in that tranquillity which you have often felt, free
from all pain, with the addition also of that blessing which you often
speak of as an addition, but which is, in fact, an impossible one, the
absence of all fear; or, while deserving well of all nations, and bearing
assistance and safety to all who are in need of it, to encounter even the
distresses of Hercules. For so our ancestors, even in the case of a god,
called labours which were unavoidable by the most melancholy name,
distresses.(44) I would require you, and compel you to answer me, if I
were not afraid that you might say that Hercules himself performed those
exploits, which he performed with the greatest labour for the safety of
nations, for the sake of pleasure.

And when I had said this,—I know, said Torquatus, who it is that I have to
thank for this; and although I might be able to do something myself, yet I
am still more glad to find my friends better prepared than I am.

I suppose you mean Syro and Philodemus, excellent citizens and most
learned men. You are right, said he. Come, then, said I. But it would be
more fair for Triarius to give some opinion on this discussion of ours.
Indeed, said he smiling, it would be very unfair, at least on this
subject: for you manage the question more gently; but this man attacks us
after the fashion of the Stoics. Then Triarius said, Hereafter I will
speak more boldly still: for I shall have all these arguments which I have
just heard ready to my hand; and I will not begin before I see you
equipped by those philosophers whom you mention.

And when this had been said, we made an end both of our walk and of our

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

I. I think, Brutus, that Pleasure, if she were to speak for herself, and
had not such pertinacious advocates, would yield to Virtue, as having been
vanquished in the preceding book. In truth, she would be destitute of
shame if she were to resist Virtue any longer, or persist in preferring
what is pleasant to what is honourable, or were to contend that a tickling
pleasure, as it were, of the body, and the joy arising out of it, is of
more importance than dignity of mind and consistency. So that we may
dismiss Pleasure, and desire her to confine herself within her own
boundaries, so that the strictness of our discussions may not be hindered
by her allurements and blandishments. For we have now to inquire what that
chief good is which we are anxious to discover; since pleasure is quite
unconnected with it, and since nearly the same arguments can be urged
against those who have considered freedom from pain as the greatest of

Nor, indeed, can anything be admitted to be the chief good which is
destitute of virtue, to which nothing can be superior. Therefore, although
in that discourse which was held with Torquatus we were not remiss, still
we have now a much sharper contest before us with the Stoics. For the
statements which are made about pleasure are not expressed with any great
acuteness or refinement. For they who defend it are not skilful in
arguing, nor have those who take the opposite side a very difficult cause
to oppose. Even Epicurus himself says, that one ought not even to argue
about pleasure, because the decision respecting it depends on the
sensations, so that it is sufficient for us to be warned respecting it,
and quite unnecessary for us to be instructed. And on this account, that
previous discussion of ours was a simple one on both sides; for there was
nothing involved or intricate in the discourse of Torquatus, and my own
language, as it seems to me, was very clear. But you are not ignorant what
a subtle, or I might rather say, thorny kind of arguing it is which is
employed by the Stoics. And if it is so among the Greeks, much more so is
it among us, who are forced even to invent words, and to give new names to
new things. And this is what no one who is even moderately learned will
wonder at, when he considers that in every art which is not in common and
ordinary use, there is a great variety of new names, as appellations are
forced to be given to everything about which each art is conversant.
Therefore, both dialecticians and natural philosophers use those words
which are not common in the ordinary conversation of the Greeks; and
geometricians, musicians, and grammarians, all speak after a peculiar
fashion of their own. And even the rhetoricians, whose art is a forensic
one, and wholly directed to the people, still in giving their lessons use
words which are, as it were, their peculiar private property.

II. And, without dwelling on the case of these liberal and gentlemanly
professions, even artisans would not be capable of exercising their trades
properly if they did not use technical words, which are not understood by
us, though in common use among them. Agriculture, also, which is as
distant as can be from all polite refinement, still marks those matters
with which it is conversant by new names. And much more is this course
allowable in a philosopher; for philosophy is the art of life, and a man
who is discussing that cannot borrow his language from the forum,—although
there is no school of philosophers which has made so many innovations as
the Stoics. Zeno too, their chief, was not so much a discoverer of new
things as of new words. But if, even in that language which most people
consider richer than our own, Greece has permitted the most learned men to
use words not in ordinary use about subjects which are equally unusual,
how much more ought the same licence to be granted to us, who are now
venturing to be the very first of our countrymen to touch on such matters?
And though we have often said,—and that, too, in spite of some complaints
not only of the Greeks, but of those men also who would prefer being
accounted Greeks to being thought our own countrymen,—that we are so far
from being surpassed by the Greeks in the richness and copiousness of our
language, that we are even superior to them in that particular; we must
labour to establish this point, not only in our own national arts, but in
those too which we have derived from them. Although, since they have
become established by habit, we may fairly consider those words as our own
which, in accordance with ancient custom, we use as Latin words; such as
_philosophia_ itself, _rhetorica_, _dialectica_, _grammatica_,
_geometria_, _musica_,—although they could, no doubt, be translated into
more genuine Latin.

Enough, however, of the names of things. But with respect to the things
themselves, I am often afraid, Brutus, that I may be blamed when I am
writing to you, who have made so much progress, not only in philosophy,
but in the most excellent kind of philosophy. And if I wrote as if I were
giving you any instruction, I should deserve to be blamed; but such
conceit is far from me. Nor do I send letters to you under the idea of
making you acquainted with what is thoroughly known to you before; but
because I am fond of supporting myself by your name, and because also I
consider you the most candid critic and judge of those studies which both
you and I apply ourselves to in common. I know, therefore, that you will
pay careful attention to what I write, as is your wont, and that you will
decide on the dispute which took place between your uncle—a most
heavenly-minded and admirable man—and myself.

For when I was at my villa near Tusculum, and was desirous to make use of
some books in the library of the young Lucullus, I went one day to his
house, in order to take away (as I was in the habit of doing) the books
which I wanted. And when I had arrived there, I found Marcus Cato, whom I
did not know to be there, sitting in the library, surrounded by a number
of the books of the Stoics. For he had, as you know, a boundless desire
for reading, one which was quite insatiable,—so much so, indeed, that he
was not afraid of the causeless reproaches of the common people, but was
accustomed to continue reading even in the senate-house itself, while the
senate was assembling, without, however, at all relaxing in his attention
to the affairs of the republic. And now, being in the enjoyment of
complete leisure, and being surrounded by a great abundance of such
treasures, he appeared to be completely gorging himself with books, if I
may use such an expression about so respectable a subject. And as it so
happened that neither of us expected to see the other, he at once rose up
on my entrance; and, after the first salutations which are usual at such a
meeting, What object has brought you here? said he; for I presume you are
come from your own villa, and if I had known that you had been there, I
should have come myself to see you. I only, said I, left the city
yesterday after the commencement of the games, and got home in the
evening. But my object in coming here was to take some books away with me;
and it will be a pity, Cato, if our friend Lucullus does not some day or
other become acquainted with all these treasures; for I would rather have
him take delight in these books than in all the rest of the furniture of
the villa. For he is a youth I am very anxious about; although, indeed, it
is more peculiarly your business to take care that he shall be so educated
as to do credit to his father, and to our friend Cæpio, and to you who are
such a near relation of his.(45) But I myself have some right to feel an
interest in him; for I am influenced by my recollection of his
grandfather,—and you well know what a regard I had for Cæpio, who, in my
opinion, would now be one of the first men of the city if he were alive;
and I also have Lucullus himself always before my eyes,—a man not only
excelling in every virtue, but connected with me both by friendship and a
general resemblance of inclination and sentiment. You do well, said he, to
retain a recollection of those persons, both of whom recommended their
children to your care by their wills, and you are right too to be attached
to this youth. And as for your calling it my peculiar business, I will not
decline the office, but I claim you for my partner in the duty. I will say
this also, that the boy has already shown me many indications both of
modesty and of ability; but you see how young he is as yet. To be sure I
do, said I; but even now he ought to receive a tincture of those
accomplishments which, if he drinks of them now while he is young, will
hereafter make him more ready for more important business. And so we will
often talk over this matter anxiously together, and we will act in
concert. However, let us sit down, says he, if you please. So we sat down.

III. Then Cato said: But now, what books in the world are they that you
are looking for here, when you have such a library at home? I want, said
I, some of the Aristotelian Commentaries, which I know are here; and I
came to carry them off, to read when I have leisure, which is not, as you
know, very often the case with me. How I wish, said he, that you had an
inclination towards our Stoic sect; for certainly it is natural for you,
if it ever was so for any one, to think nothing a good except virtue. May
I not, I replied, rejoin that it would be natural for you, as your opinion
in reality is the same as mine, to forbear giving new names to things? for
our principles are the same,—it is only our language that is at variance.
Indeed, said he, our principles are not the same at all; for I can never
agree to your calling anything desirable except what is honourable, and to
your reckoning such things among the goods,—and, by so doing,
extinguishing honourableness, which is, as it were, the light of virtue,
and utterly upsetting virtue herself. Those are all very fine words, said
I, O Cato; but do you not see that all those pompous expressions are
shared by you in common with Pyrrho and Aristo, who think all things
equal? And I should like to know what your opinion of them is. Mine? said
he; do you want to know what I think of them? I think that those men whom
we have either heard of from our ancestors, or seen ourselves, to be good,
brave, just, and moderate in the republic,—those who, following nature
herself, without any particular learning or system, have done many
praiseworthy actions, have been educated by nature herself better than
they could have been educated by philosophy, if they had adopted any other
philosophy except that which ranks nothing whatever among the goods except
what is honourable, and nothing among the evils except what is
disgraceful. As for all other systems of philosophy, they differ entirely
in their estimate of good and evil; but still I consider no one of them
which classes anything destitute of virtue among either the goods or the
evils, as being of any use to men, or as uttering any sentiment by which
we may become better; but I think that they all tend rather to deprave
nature herself. For if this point be not conceded, that that alone is good
which is honourable, it follows that it must be impossible to prove that
life is made happy by virtue. And if that be the case, then I do not see
why any attention should be bestowed on philosophy; for if a wise man can
be miserable, then of a truth I do not consider that virtue, which is
accounted so glorious and memorable a thing, of any great value.

IV. All that you have been saying, Cato, I replied, you might say if you
agreed with Pyrrho or Aristo; for you are not ignorant that they consider
that honourableness not only the chief good, but also (as you yourself
maintain) the only good. And if this is the case, the consequence which I
see you aim at follows necessarily, that all wise men are always happy. Do
you then praise these men, and do you think that we ought to follow their
opinion? By no means, said he; for as this is a peculiar attribute of
virtue to make its selection of those things which are in accordance with
nature, those who have made all things equal in such a manner as to
consider all things on either side perfectly indifferent, so as to leave
no room for any selection, have utterly put an end to virtue. You say
right, said I; but I ask you whether you, too, must not do the same thing,
when you say that there is nothing good which is not right and honourable,
and so put an end to all the difference between other things? That would
be the case, said he, if I did put an end to it; but I deny the fact—I
leave it. How so, said I? If virtue alone,—if that thing alone which you
call honourable, right, praiseworthy, and creditable, (for it will be more
easily seen what is the character that you ascribe to it, if it be pointed
out by many words tending to the same point,)—if, I say, that is the sole
good, what else will there be for you to follow? And, on the other hand,
if nothing is evil except what is disgraceful, dishonourable, unbecoming,
wrong, flagitious, and base, (to make this also manifest by giving it many
names,) what else will there be which you can say ought to be avoided?

I will not, said he, reply to each point of your question, as you are not,
as I suspect, ignorant of what I am going to say, but seeking rather to
find something to carp at in my brief answer: I will rather, since we have
plenty of time, explain to you, unless you think it foreign to the
subject, the whole opinion of Zeno and the Stoics on the matter. Very far
from foreign to the subject, said I; indeed, your explanations will be of
great service in elucidating to me the points about which I am inquiring.
Let us try, then, said he, although this system of the Stoics has in it
something rather difficult and obscure; for, as formerly, when these
matters were discussed in the Greek language, the very names of things
appeared strange which have now become sanctioned by daily use, what do
you think will be the case when we are discussing them in Latin? Still,
said I, we must do so; for if Zeno might take the liberty when he had
discovered anything not previously common, to fix on it a name that was
likewise unprecedented, why may not Cato take the same? Nor will it be
necessary for you to render what he has said word for word, as translators
are in the habit of doing who have no command of language of their own,
whenever there is a word in more ordinary use which has the same meaning.
I indeed myself am in the habit, if I cannot manage it any other way, of
using many words to express what the Greeks have expressed in one; and yet
I think that we ought to be allowed to use a Greek word on occasions when
we cannot find a Latin one, and to employ such terms as _proegmena_ and
_apoproegmena_, just as freely as we say _ephippia_ and _acratophori_,
though it may be sufficient to translate these two particular words by
_preferred_ and _rejected_. I am much obliged to you, said he, for your
hint; and I will in preference use those Latin terms which you have just
mentioned; and in other cases, too, you shall come to my assistance if you
see me in difficulties. I will do so, said I, with great goodwill; but
fortune favours the bold. So make the attempt, I beg of you; for what more
divine occupation can we have?

V. Those philosophers, said he, whose system I approve of, consider that
as soon as an animal is born, (for this is where we must begin,) he is
instinctively induced and excited to preserve himself and his existing
condition, and to feel attachment to those things which have a tendency to
preserve that condition; and to feel an abhorrence of dissolution, and of
those circumstances which appear to be pregnant with dissolution. And they
prove that this is the case, because, before either pleasure or pain has
affected it, even while it is very little, it seeks what is salutary, and
shuns the contrary: and this would not be the case if they were not fond
of their condition, and afraid of dissolution; and it would not be
possible for them to seek any particular thing if they had not some sense
of themselves, and if that did not influence them to love themselves and
what belongs to them. From which it ought to be understood that it is from
the animal itself that the principle of self-love in it is derived. But
among these natural principles of self-love most of the Stoics do not
admit that pleasure ought to be classed; and I entirely agree with them,
to avoid the many discreditable things which must ensue if nature should
appear to have placed pleasure among those things which are the first
objects of desire. But it appears to be proof enough why we naturally love
those things which are by nature placed in the first rank, that there is
no one, who, when either alternative is equally in his power, would not
prefer to have all the parts of his body in a suitable and entire
condition, rather than impaired by use, or in any particular distorted or

But as for the knowledge of things—or if you do not so much approve of
this word _cognitio_, or find it less intelligible, we will call it
κατάληψις—that we think is naturally to be acquired for its own sake,
because it contains something which has, as it were, embraced and seized
upon truth. And this is perceptible even in infants; whom we see amused if
they have succeeded in finding out anything themselves by reason, even
though it may be of no service whatever to them. And moreover, we consider
arts worth attending to on their own account, both because there is in
them something worth acceptance, and also because they depend upon
knowledge, and contain in themselves something which proceeds on system
and method. But I think that we are more averse to assent on false grounds
than to anything else which is contrary to nature. Now of the limbs, that
is to say, of the parts of the body, some appear to have been given to us
by nature because of the use which, they are of to us, as, for instance,
the hands, legs, and feet, and also those internal organs of the body, of
which I may leave it to the physicians to explain the exceeding
usefulness; but others with no view to utility, but for ornament as it
were, as the tail is given to the peacock, plumage of many colours to the
dove, breasts and a beard to man. Perhaps you will say this is but a dry
enumeration; for these things are, as it were, the first elements of
nature, which cannot well have any richness of language employed upon
them; nor indeed am I thinking of displaying any; but when one is speaking
of more important matters, then the subject itself hurries on the
language: and then one’s discourse is at the same time more impressive and
more ornate. It is as you say, said I; but still everything which is said
in a lucid manner about a good subject appears to me to be said well. And
to wish to speak of subjects of that kind in a florid style is childish;
but to be able to explain them with clearness and perspicuity, is a token
of a learned and intelligent man.

VI. Let us then proceed, said he, since we have digressed from these first
principles of nature, which everything which follows ought to be in
harmony with. But this is the first division of the subject. A thing is
said to be estimable: for so we may, I think, call that which is either
itself in accordance with nature, or else which is the efficient cause of
something of such a character that it is worthy of being selected because
it has in it some weight worth appreciating, which he calls ἀχία; and, on
the other hand, something not estimable, which is the contrary of the
preceding. The first principles, therefore, being laid down, that those
things which are according to nature are to be chosen for their own sakes,
and those which are contrary to it are in like manner to be rejected; the
first duty (for that is how I translate the word καθῆκον) is, for a man to
preserve himself in his natural condition; next to that, to maintain those
things which are in accordance with nature, and reject what is opposite to
it; and when this principle of selection and rejection has been
discovered, then follows selection in accordance with duty; and then that
third kind, which is perpetual, and consistent to the end, and
corresponding to nature, in which there first begins to be a proper
understanding of what there is which can be truly called good. For the
first attraction of man is to those things which are according to nature.
But as soon as he has received that intelligence, or perhaps I should say,
notion, which they call ἔννοια, and has seen the order and, if I may so
say, the harmony in which things are to be done, he then estimates it at a
higher value than all the things which he loved at first; and by this
knowledge, and by reasoning, he comes to such a conclusion that he decides
that the chief good of man, which deserves to be praised and desired for
its own sake, is placed in what the Stoics call ὁμολογία, and we
agreement, if you approve of this translation of the term; as therefore it
is in this that that good is placed to which all things [which are done
honourably] are to be referred, and honour itself, which is reckoned among
the goods, although it is only produced subsequently, still this alone
deserves to be sought for on account of its intrinsic power and worth; but
of those things which are the principal natural goods there is not one
which is to be sought for its own sake.

But as those things which I have called duties proceed from the first
principles of nature, they must necessarily be referred to them; so that
it may be fairly said that all duties are referred to this end, of
arriving at the principles of nature; not, however, that this is the
highest of all goods, because there is no such thing as honourable action
in the first attractions of nature; for that is what follows, and arises
subsequently, as I have said before. But still it is according to nature,
and encourages us to desire itself much more than all those things which
have been previously mentioned. But, first of all, we must remove a
mistake, that no one may think that it follows that there are two supreme
goods. For as, if it were the purpose of any one to direct an arrow or a
spear straight at any object, just as we have said that there is an
especial point to be aimed at in goods,—the archer ought to do all in his
power to aim straight at the target, and the other man ought also to do
his endeavour to hit the mark, and gain the end which he has proposed to
himself: let this then which we call the chief good in life be, as it
were, his mark; and his endeavour to hit it must be furthered by careful
selection, not by mere desire.

VII. But as all duties proceed from the first principles of nature, it
follows inevitably that wisdom itself must proceed from the same source.
But as it often happens, that he who has been recommended to any one
considers him to whom he has been recommended of more importance than him
who recommended him; so it is not at all strange that in the first
instance we are recommended to wisdom by the principles of nature, but
that subsequently wisdom herself becomes dearer to us than the starting
place from which we arrive at it. And as limbs have been given to us in
such a way that it is plain they have been given for some purpose of life;
so that appetite of the mind which in Greek is called ὁρμὴ, appears to
have been given to us, not for any particular kind of life, but rather for
some especial manner of living: and so too is system and perfect method.
For as an actor employs gestures, and a dancer motions, not practising any
random movement, but a regular systematic action; so life must be passed
according to a certain fixed kind, and not any promiscuous way, and that
certain kind we call a suitable and harmonious one. Nor do we think wisdom
similar to the art of navigation or medicine, but rather to that kind of
action which I have spoken of, and to dancing; I mean, inasmuch as the
ultimate point, that is to say, the production of the art, lies in the art
itself, and is not sought for from foreign sources. And yet there are
other points in which there is a difference between wisdom and those arts;
because in those arts those things which are done properly do nevertheless
not comprise all the parts of the arts of which they consist. But the
things which we call right, or rightly done, if you will allow the
expression, and which they call κατορθώματα, contain in them the whole
completeness of virtue. For wisdom is the only thing which is contained
wholly in itself; and this is not the case with the other arts.

And it is only out of ignorance that the object of the art of medicine or
navigation is compared with the object of wisdom; for wisdom embraces
greatness of mind and justice, and judges all the accidents which befal
mankind beneath itself: and this too is not the case in the other arts.
But no one will be able to maintain those very virtues of which I have
just made mention, unless he lays down a rule that there is nothing which
is of any importance, nothing which differs from anything else, except
what is honourable or disgraceful.

VIII. Let us see now how admirably these rules follow from those
principles which I have already laid down. For as this is the ultimate
(_extremum_) point, (for you have noticed, I dare say, that I translate
what the Greek philosopher calls τέλος, sometimes by the word _extremum_,
sometimes by _ultimum_, and sometimes by _summum_, and instead of
_extremum_ or _ultimum_, I may also use the word _finis_,)—as, then, this
is the ultimate point, to live in a manner suitable to and harmonising
with nature; it follows of necessity that all wise men do always live
happily, perfectly, and fortunately; that they are hindered by nothing,
embarrassed by nothing; that they are in want of nothing. And that which
holds together not more that school of which I am speaking than our lives
and fortunes, that is to say, the principle of accounting what is
honourable to be the sole good, may indeed easily be embellished and
enlarged upon at great length, with great richness of illustration, with
great variety of carefully chosen expressions, and with the most pompous
sentiments in a rhetorical manner; but I prefer the brief, acute,
conclusive arguments of the Stoics. Now their conclusions are arrived at
in this manner: “Everything which is good is praiseworthy; but everything
which is praiseworthy is honourable;—therefore, everything which is good
is honourable.” Does not this appear properly deduced? Undoubtedly;—for
the result which was obtained from the two premises which were assumed,
you see was contained in them. But of the two premises from which the
conclusion was inferred it is only the major one which can be
contradicted—if you say that it is not the case, that everything which is
good is praiseworthy: for it is granted that whatever is praiseworthy is
honourable. But it is utterly absurd to say, that there is anything good
which is not to be sought for; or, that there is anything which ought to
be sought for which is not pleasing; or, that if it is pleasing it ought
not likewise to be loved. Then it ought also to be approved of. Then it is
praiseworthy. But what is praiseworthy is honourable. And so the result
is, that whatever is good is also honourable. In the next place, I ask,
who can boast of a life which is miserable; or avoid boasting of one which
is happy?—therefore men boast only of a life which is happy. From which
the consequence follows, that a happy life deserves to be boasted of; but
this cannot properly be predicated of any life which is not an honourable
one. From this it follows, that a happy life must be an honourable one.
And since the man to whom it happens to be deservedly praised has some
eminent qualities tending to credit and glory, so that he may rightly be
called happy on account of such important qualities; the same thing is
properly predicated of the life of such a man. And so, if a happy life is
discerned by its honourableness, then what is honourable ought to be
considered the sole good. And, as this cannot possibly be denied, what man
do we say can ever exist of a stable and firm and great mind,—whom, in
fact, can we ever call brave,—unless the point is established, that pain
is not an evil? For as it is impossible that the man who ranks death among
evils should not fear it, so in every case it is impossible for a man to
disregard what he judges to be an evil, and to despise it. And when this
point has been laid down, and ratified by universal assent, this is
assumed next, that the man who is of a brave and magnanimous spirit
despises and utterly disregards every accident which can befal a man. And
as this is the case, the consequence is, that there is nothing evil which
is not disgraceful. And that man of lofty and excellent spirit,—that
magnanimous and truly brave man, who considers all human accidents beneath
his notice,—the man I mean whom we wish to make so, whom at all events we
are looking for,—ought to confide in himself, and in his own life both
past and to come, and to form a favourable judgment of himself, laying
down as a principle, that no evil can happen to a wise man. From which
again the same result follows, that the sole good is that which is
honourable; and that to live happily is to live honourably, that is,

IX. Not that I am ignorant that the opinions of philosophers have been
various, of those I mean who have placed the chief good, that which I call
the end, in the mind. And although some people have followed them very
incorrectly, still I prefer their theory, not only to that of the three
sects who have separated virtue from the chief good, while ranking either
pleasure, or freedom from pain, or the original gifts of nature among
goods, but also to the other three who have thought that virtue would be
crippled without some reinforcement, and on that account have each added
to it one of those other particulars which I have just enumerated. I,
however, as I said, prefer to all these the men, whoever they may be, who
have described the chief good as consisting in the mind and in virtue. But
nevertheless, those also are extremely absurd who have said that to live
with knowledge is the highest good, and who have asserted that there is no
difference between things, and so, that a wise man will surely be a happy
one, never at any moment of his life preferring one thing to another: as
some of the Academics are said to have laid it down, that the highest good
and the chief duty of a wise man is to resist appearances, and firmly to
withhold his assent from them.

Now people often make very lengthy replies to each of these assertions;
yet what is very clear ought not to be long. But what is more evident
than, if there be no selection made, discarding those things which are
contrary to nature, and selecting those which are according to nature, all
that prudence which is so much sought after and extolled would be done
away with? If, then, we discard those sentiments which I have mentioned,
and all others which resemble them, it remains that the chief good must be
to live, exercising a knowledge of those things which happen by nature,
selecting what is according to nature, and rejecting any which are
contrary to nature; that is to say, to live in a manner suitable and
corresponding to nature.

But in other arts, when anything is said to have been done according to
the rules of art, there is something to be considered which is subsequent
and follows upon such compliance; which they call ἐπιγεννηματικόν. But
when we say in any matter that a thing has been done wisely, that same
thing is from the first said also to have been done most properly; for
whatever proceeds from a wise man must at once be perfect in all its
parts: for in him is placed that quality which we say is to be desired.
For as it is a sin to betray one’s country, to injure one’s parents, to
plunder temples, which are all sins of commission; so it is likewise a sin
to be afraid, to grieve, to be under the dominion of lust, even if no
overt act follows these feelings. But, as these are sins, not in their
later periods and consequences, but at once from the first moment; so
those actions which proceed from virtue are to be considered right at the
first moment that they are undertaken, and not only when they are

X. But it may be as well to give an explanation and definition of the word
good, which, has been so often employed in this discourse. But the
definitions of those philosophers differ a good deal from one another, and
yet have all reference to the same facts. I myself agree with Diogenes,
who has defined good to be that which in its nature is perfect. But that
which follows, that which is profitable (for so we may translate his
ὼφέλημα), he considered to be a motion, or a state, arising out of the
nature of the perfect. And as the notions of things arise in the mind, if
anything has become known either by practice, or by combination, or by
similitude, or by the comparison of reason; then by this fourth means,
which I have placed last, the knowledge of good is arrived at. For when,
by a comparison of the reason, the mind ascends from those things which
are according to reason, then it arrives at a notion of good. And this
good we are speaking of, we both feel to be and call good, not because of
any addition made to it, nor from its growth, nor from comparing it with
other things, but because of its own proper power. For as honey, although
it is very sweet, is still perceived to be sweet by its own peculiar kind
of taste, and not by comparison with other things; so this good, which we
are now treating of, is indeed to be esteemed of great value; but that
valuation depends on kind and not on magnitude. For as estimation, which
is called ἀξί, is not reckoned among goods, nor, on the other hand, among
evils, whatever you add to it will remain in its kind. There is,
therefore, another kind of estimation proper to virtue, which is of weight
from its character, and not because of its increasing. Nor, indeed, are
the perturbations of the mind, which make the lives of the unwise bitter
and miserable, and which the Greeks call πάθη, (I might translate the word
itself by the Latin _morbi_, but it would not suit all the meanings of the
Greek word; for who ever calls pity, or even anger, a disease—_morbus_)?
but the Greeks do call such a feeling πάθος. Let us then translate it
perturbation, which is by its very name pointed out to be something
vicious. Nor are these perturbations, I say, excited by any natural force;
and they are altogether in kind four, but as to their divisions they are
more numerous. There is melancholy, fear, lust, and that feeling which the
Stoics call by the common name which they apply to both mind and body,
ἡδονὴ, and which I prefer translating joy (_lætitia_), rather than a
pleasurable elation of an exulting mind. But perturbations are not excited
by any force of nature; and all those feelings are judgments and opinions
proceeding from light-mindedness; and, therefore, the wise man will always
be free from them.

XI. But that everything which is honourable is to be sought for its own
sake, is an opinion common to us with many other schools of philosophers.
For, except the three sects which exclude virtue from the chief good, this
opinion must be maintained by all philosophers, and above all by us, who
do not rank anything whatever among goods except what is honourable. But
the defence of this opinion is very easy and simple indeed; for who is
there, or who ever was there, of such violent avarice, or of such
unbridled desires as not infinitely to prefer that anything which he
wishes to acquire, even at the expense of any conceivable wickedness,
should come into his power without crime, (even though he had a prospect
of perfect impunity,) than through crime? and what utility, or what
personal advantage do we hope for, when we are anxious to know whether
those bodies are moving whose movements are concealed from us, and owing
to what causes they revolve through the heavens? And who is there that
lives according to such clownish maxims, or who has so rigorously hardened
himself against the study of nature, as to be averse to things worthy of
being understood, and to be indifferent to and disregard such knowledge,
merely because there is no exact usefulness or pleasure likely to result
from it? or, who is there who—when he comes to know the exploits, and
sayings, and wise counsels of our forefathers, of the Africani, or of that
ancestor of mine whom you are always talking of, and of other brave men,
and citizens of pre-eminent virtue—does not feel his mind affected with
pleasure? and who that has been brought up in a respectable family, and
educated as becomes a freeman, is not offended with baseness as such,
though it may not be likely to injure him personally? Who can keep his
equanimity while looking on a man who, he thinks, lives in an impure and
wicked manner? Who does not hate sordid, fickle, unstable, worthless men?
But what shall we be able to say, (if we do not lay it down that baseness
is to be avoided for its own sake), is the reason why men do not seek
darkness and solitude, and then give the rein to every possible infamy,
except that baseness of itself detects them by reason of its own intrinsic
foulness? Innumerable arguments may be brought forward to support this
opinion; but it is needless, for there is nothing which can be less a
matter of doubt than that what is honourable ought to be sought for its
own sake; and, in the same manner, what is disgraceful ought to be

But after that point is established, which we have previously mentioned,
that what is honourable is the sole good; it must unavoidably be
understood that that which is honourable, is to be valued more highly than
those intermediate goods which we derive from it. But when we say that
folly, and rashness, and injustice, and intemperance are to be avoided on
account of those things which result from them, we do not speak in such a
manner that our language is at all inconsistent with the position which
has been laid down, that that alone is evil which is dishonourable.
Because those things are not referred to any inconvenience of the body,
but to dishonourable actions, which arise out of vicious propensities
(_vitia_). For what the Greeks call κακία I prefer translating by _vitium_
rather than by _malitia_.

XII. Certainly; Cato, said I, you are employing very admirable language,
and such as expresses clearly what you mean; and, therefore, you seem to
me to be teaching philosophy in Latin, and, as it were, to be presenting
it with the freedom of the city. For up to this time she has seemed like a
stranger at Rome, and has not put herself in the way of our conversation;
and that, too, chiefly because of a certain highly polished thinness of
things and words. For I am aware that there are some men who are able to
philosophise in any language, but who still employ no divisions and no
definitions; and who say themselves that they approve of those things
alone to which nature silently assents. Therefore, they discuss, without
any great degree of labour, matters which are not very obscure. And, on
this account, I am now prepared to listen eagerly to you, and to commit to
memory all the names which you give to those matters to which this
discussion refers. For, perhaps, I myself may some day have reason to
employ them too.

You, then, appear to me to be perfectly right, and to be acting in strict
accordance with our usual way of speaking, when you lay it down that there
are vices the exact opposites of virtues; for that which is blameable
(_vituperabile_) for its own sake, I think ought, from that very fact, to
be called a vice; and perhaps this verb, _vitupero_, is derived from
_vitium_. But if you had translated κακία by _malitia_,(46) then the usage
of the Latin language would have limited us to one particular vice; but,
as it is, all vice is opposed to all virtue by one generic opposite name.

XIII. Then he proceeded:—After these things, therefore, are thus laid
down, there follows a great contest, which has been handled by the
Peripatetics somewhat too gently, (for their method of arguing is not
sufficiently acute, owing to their ignorance of dialectics;) but your
Carneades has pressed the matter with great vigour and effect, displaying
in reference to it a most admirable skill in dialectics, and the most
consummate eloquence; because he has never ceased to contend throughout
the whole of this discussion, which turns upon what is good and what is
bad, that the controversy between the Stoics and Peripatetics is not one
of things, but only of names. But, to me, nothing appears so evident as
that the opinions of these two schools differ from one another far more as
to facts than to names; I mean to say, that there is much greater
difference between the Stoics and Peripatetics in principle than in
language. Forasmuch as the Peripatetics assert that everything which they
themselves call good, has a reference to living happily; but our school
does not think that a happy life necessarily embraces everything which is
worthy of any esteem.

But can anything be more certain than that, according to the principles of
those men who rank pain among the evils, a wise man cannot be happy when
he is tormented on the rack? While the principles of those who do not
consider pain among the evils, certainly compels us to allow that a happy
life is preserved to a wise man among all torments. In truth, if those men
endure pain with greater fortitude who suffer it in the cause of their
country, than those who do so for any slighter object; then it is plain
that it is opinion, and not nature, which makes the force of pain greater
or less. Even that opinion of the Peripatetics is more than I can agree
to, that, as there are three kinds of goods, as they say, each individual
is the happier in proportion as he is richer in the goods of the body or
external goods, so that we must be forced also to approve of this
doctrine, that that man is happier who has a greater quantity of those
things which are accounted of great value as affecting the body. For they
think that a happy life is made complete by bodily advantages; but there
is nothing which our philosophers can so little agree to. For, as our
opinion is that life is not even made in the least more happy by an
abundance of those goods which we call goods of nature, nor more
desirable, nor deserving of being more highly valued, then certainly a
multitude of bodily advantages can have still less effect on making life
happy. In truth, if to be wise be a desirable thing, and to be well be so
too, then both together must be more desirable than wisdom by itself; but
it does not follow, if each quality deserves to be esteemed, that
therefore, the two taken together deserve to be esteemed more highly than
wisdom does by itself. For we who consider good health worthy of any
esteem, and yet do not rank it among the goods, think, at the same time,
that the esteem to which it is entitled is by no means such as that it
ought to be preferred to virtue. But this is not the doctrine of the
Peripatetics; and they ought to tell us, that that which is an honourable
action and unaccompanied by pain, is more to be desired than the same
action would be if it were attended with pain. We think not: whether we
are right or wrong may be discussed hereafter; but can there possibly be a
greater disagreement respecting facts and principles?

XIV. For as the light of a candle is obscured and put out by the light of
the sun; and as a drop of brine is lost in the magnitude of the Ægæan sea;
or an addition of a penny amid the riches of Crœsus; or as one step is of
no account in a march from here to India; so, if that is the chief good
which the Stoics affirm is so, then, all the goods which depend on the
body must inevitably be obscured and overwhelmed by, and come to nothing
when placed by the side of the splendour and importance of virtue. And
since opportunity, (for that is how we may translate εὐκαιρία,) is not
made greater by extending the time, (for whatever is said to be opportune
has its own peculiar limit;) so a right action, (for that is how I
translate κατόρθωσις, and a right deed I call κατόρθωμα,)—a right action,
I say, and suitableness, and, in short, the good itself, which depends on
the fact of its being in accordance with nature, has no possibility of
receiving any addition or growth. For as that opportunity is not made
greater by the extension of time, so neither are these things which I have
mentioned. And, on that account, a happy life does not seem to the Stoics
more desirable or more deserving of being sought after, if it is long than
if it is short; and they prove this by a simile:—As the praise of a buskin
is to fit the foot exactly, and as many buskins are not considered to fit
better than few, and large ones are not thought better than small ones;
so, in the case of those the whole good of which depends upon its
suitableness and fitness; many are not preferred to few, nor what is
durable to what is short-lived. Nor do they exhibit sufficient acuteness
when they say, if good health is more to be esteemed when it lasts long
than when it lasts only a short time, then the longest possible enjoyment
of wisdom must clearly be of the greatest value. They do not understand
that the estimate of good health is formed expressly with reference to its
duration; of virtue with reference to its fitness of time; so that men who
argue in this manner, seem as if they would speak of a good death, or a
good labour, and call one which lasted long, better than a short one. They
do not perceive that some things are reckoned of more value in proportion
to their brevity; and some in proportion to their length. Therefore, it is
quite consistent with what has been said, that according to the principles
of those who think that that end of goods which we call the extreme or
chief good, is susceptible of growth, they may also think that one man can
be wiser than another; and, in like manner then, one man may sin more, or
act more rightly than another. But such an assertion is not allowable to
us, who do not think the end of goods susceptible of growth. For as men
who have been submerged under the water, cannot breathe any more because
they are at no great depth below the surface, (though they may on this
account be able at times to emerge,) than if they were at the bottom, nor
can the puppy who is nearly old enough to see, as yet see any more than
one who is but this moment born; so the man who has made some progress
towards the approach to virtue, is no less in a state of misery than he
who has made no such advance at all.

XV. I am aware that all this seems very strange. But as unquestionably the
previous propositions are true and uncontrovertible, and as these others
are in harmony with, and are the direct consequences of them; we cannot
question their truth also. But although some people deny that either
virtues or vices are susceptible of growth, still they believe that each
of them is in some degree diffused, and as it were extended. But Diogenes
thinks that riches have not only such power, that they are, as it were,
guides to pleasure and to good health, but that they even contain them:
but that they have not the same power with regard to virtue, or to the
other arts to which money may indeed be a guide, but which it cannot
contain. Therefore, if pleasure or if good health be among the goods,
riches also must be classed among the goods; but if wisdom be a good, it
does not follow that we are also to call riches a good; nor can that which
is classed among the goods be contained by anything which is not placed in
the same classification. And on that account, because the knowledge and
comprehension of those things by which arts are produced, excite a desire
for them, as riches are not among the goods, therefore no art can be
contained in riches.

But if we grant this to be true with respect to arts, still it is not to
follow that the same rule holds good with respect to virtue; because
virtue requires a great deal of meditation and practice, and this is not
always the case with arts; and also because virtue embraces the stability,
firmness, and consistency of the entire life; and we do not see that the
same is the case with arts.

After this, we come to explain the differences between things. And if we
were to say that there is none, then all life would be thrown into
confusion, as it is by Aristo. Nor could any office or work be found for
wisdom, if there were actually no difference between one thing and
another, and if there were no power of selection at all requisite to be
exerted. Therefore, after it had been sufficiently established that that
alone was good which was honourable, and that alone evil which was
disgraceful, they asserted that there were some particulars in which those
things which had no influence on the misery or happiness of life, differed
from one another, so that some of them deserved to be esteemed, some to be
despised, and others were indifferent. But as to those things which
deserved to be esteemed, some of them had in themselves sufficient reason
for being preferred to others, as good health, soundness of the senses,
freedom from pain, glory, riches, and similar things. But others were not
of this kind. And in like manner, as to those things which were worthy of
no esteem at all, some had cause enough in themselves why they should be
rejected, such as pain, disease, loss of senses, poverty, ignominy, and
things like them, and some had not. And thus, from this distinction, came
what Zeno called προηγμένον, and on the other hand what he called
ἀποπροηγμένον, as though writing in so copious a language, he chose to
employ new terms of his own invention; a license which is not allowed to
us in this barren language of ours; although you often insist that it is
richer than the Greek. But it is not foreign to our present subject, in
order that the meaning of the word may be more easily understood, to
explain the principle on which Zeno invented these terms.

XVI. For as, says he, no one in a king’s palace says that the king is, as
it were, led forward towards his dignity (for that is the real meaning of
the word προηγμένον, but the term is applied to those who are of some rank
whose order comes next to his, so as to be second to the kingly dignity);
so in life too, it is not those things which are in the first rank, but
those which are in the second which are called προηγμένα, or led forward.
And we may translate the Greek by _productum_ (this will be a strictly
literal translation), or we may call it and its opposite _promotum_ and
_remotum_, or as we have said before, we may call προηγμένον, _præpositum_
or _præcipuum_, and its opposite _rejectum_. For when the thing is
understood, we ought to be very ductile as to the words which we employ.

But since we say that everything which is good holds the first rank, it
follows inevitably that this which we call _præcipuum_ or _præpositum_,
must be neither good nor bad. And therefore we define it as something
indifferent, attended with a moderate esteem. For that which they call
ἀδιάφορον, it occurs to me to translate _indifferens_. Nor, indeed, was it
at all possible that there should be nothing left intermediate, which was
either according to nature or contrary to it; nor, when that was left,
that there should be nothing ranked in this class which was tolerably
estimable; nor, if this position were once established, that there should
not be some things which are preferred. This distinction, then, has been
made with perfect propriety, and this simile is employed by them to make
the truth more easily seen. For as, say they, if we were to suppose this
to be, as it were, the end and greatest of goods, to throw a die in such a
manner that it should stand upright, then the die which is thrown in such
a manner as to fall upright, will have some particular thing preferred as
its end, and _vice versâ_. And yet that preference of the die will have no
reference to the end of which I have been speaking. So those things which
have been preferred are referred indeed to the end, but have no reference
at all to its force or nature.

Next comes that division, that of goods some have reference to that end
(for so I express those which they call τελικὰ, for we must here, as we
have said before, endure to express in many words, what we cannot express
by one so as to be thoroughly intelligible,) some are efficient causes,
and some are both together. But of those which have reference to that end,
nothing is good except honourable actions; of those which are efficient
causes, nothing is good except a friend. But they assert that wisdom is
both a referential and an efficient good. For, because wisdom is suitable
action, it is of that referential character which I have mentioned; but
inasmuch as it brings and causes honourable actions, it may be so far
called efficient.

XVII. Now these things which we have spoken of as preferred, are preferred
some for their own sake, some because they effect something else, and some
for both reasons. Some are preferred for their own sake, such as some
particular appearance or expression of countenance, some particular kind
of gait, or motion, in which there are some things which may well be
preferred, and some which may be rejected. Others are said to be preferred
because they produce something, as money; and others for a combination of
both reasons, as soundness of the senses, or good health. But respecting
good reputation, (for what they call εὐδοξία is more properly called, in
this place, good reputation than glory,) Chrysippus and Diogenes denied
its whole utility, and used to say that one ought not even to put forth a
finger for the sake of it, with whom I entirely and heartily agree. But
those who came after them, being unable to withstand the arguments of
Carneades, said that this good reputation, as I call it, was preferred for
its own sake, and ought to be chosen for its own sake, and that it was
natural for a man of good family, who had been properly brought up, to
wish to be praised by his parents, his relations, and by good men in
general, and that too for the sake of the praise itself, and not of any
advantage which might ensue from it. And they say, too, that as we wish to
provide for our children, even for such as may be posthumous children, for
their own sake, so we ought also to show a regard for posthumous fame
after our death, for its own sake, without any thought of gain or

But as we assert that what is honourable is the only good, still it is
consistent with this assertion to discharge one’s duty, though we do not
class duty among either the goods or the evils. For there is in these
things some likelihood, and that of such a nature that reasons can be
alleged for there being such; and therefore of such a nature, that
probable reasons may be adduced for adopting such a line of conduct. From
which it follows that duty is a sort of neutral thing, which is not to be
classed either among the goods or among the opposites of goods. And since,
in those things which are neither ranked among the virtues nor among the
vices, there is still something which may be of use; that is not to be
destroyed. For there is a certain action of that sort, and that too of
such a character that reason requires one to do and perform it. But that
which is done in obedience to reason we call duty; duty, then, is a thing
of that sort, that it must not be ranked either among the goods or among
the opposites of goods.

XVIII. And this also is evident, that in these natural things the wise man
is not altogether inactive. He therefore, when he acts, judges that that
is his duty; and because he is never deceived in forming his judgment,
duty must be classed among neutral things; and this is proved also by this
conclusion of reason. For since we see that there is something which we
pronounce to have been rightly done (for that is duty when accomplished),
there must also be something which is rightly begun: as, if to restore
what has been justly deposited belongs to the class of right actions, then
it must be classed among the duties to restore a deposit; and the addition
of the word “justly” makes the duty to be rightly performed: but the mere
fact of restoring is classed as a duty. And since it is not doubtful, that
in those things which we call intermediate or neutral, some ought to be
chosen and others rejected, whatever is done or said in this manner comes
under the head of ordinary duty. And from this it is understood, since all
men naturally love themselves, that a fool is as sure as a wise man to
choose what is in accordance with nature, and to reject what is contrary
to it; and so there is one duty in common both to wise men and to fools;
from which it follows that duty is conversant about those things which we
call neutral. But since all duties proceed from these things, it is not
without reason that it is said that all our thoughts are referred to these
things, and among them our departure from life, and our remaining in life.

For he in whom there are many things which are in accordance with nature,
his duty it is to remain in life; but as to the man in whom there either
is or appears likely to be a preponderance of things contrary to nature,
that man’s duty is to depart from life. From which consideration it is
evident, that it is sometimes the duty of a wise man to depart from life
when he is happy, and sometimes the duty of a fool to remain in life
though he is miserable. For that good and that evil, as has been often
said, comes afterwards. But those principal natural goods, and those which
hold the second rank, and those things which are opposite to them, all
come under the decision of, and are matters for the reflection of the wise
man; and are, as it were, the subject matter of wisdom. Therefore the
question of remaining in life, or of emigrating from it, is to be measured
by all those circumstances which I have mentioned above; for death is not
to be sought for by those men who are retained in life by virtue, nor by
those who are destitute of virtue. But it is often the duty of a wise man
to depart from life, when he is thoroughly happy, if it is in his power to
do so opportunely; and that is living in a manner suitable to nature, for
their maxim is, that living happily depends upon opportunity. Therefore a
rule is laid down by wisdom, that if it be necessary a wise man is even to
leave her herself.

Wherefore, as vice has not such power as to afford a justifying cause for
voluntary death, it is evident that it is the duty even of fools, and of
those too who are miserable, to remain in life, if they are surrounded by
a preponderance of those things which we call according to nature. And
since such a man is equally miserable, whether departing from life, or
abiding in it, and since the duration of misery is not any the more a
cause for fleeing from life, therefore it is not a causeless assertion,
that those men who have the power of enjoying the greatest number of
natural goods, ought to abide in life.

XIX. But they think it is very important with reference to this subject,
that it should be understood that it is the work of nature, that children
are beloved by their parents; and that this is the first principle from
which we may trace the whole progress of the common society of the human
race. And that this may be inferred, in the first place, from the figure
and members of the body, which of themselves declare that a due regard for
everything connected with generation has been exhibited by nature; nor can
these two things possibly be consistent with one another, that nature
should desire that offspring should be propagated, and yet take no care
that what is propagated should be loved. But even in beasts the power of
nature may be discerned; for when we see such labour bestowed upon the
bringing forth and bearing of their offspring, we seem to be hearing the
voice of nature herself. Wherefore, as it is evident that we are by nature
averse to pain; so also it is clear that we are impelled by nature herself
to love those whose existence we have caused. And from this it arises that
there is such a recommendation by nature of one man to another, that one
man ought never to appear unfriendly to another, for the simple reason
that he is a man.

For as among the limbs some appear to be created for themselves as it
were, as the eyes and ears; others assist the rest of the limbs, as the
legs and hands; so there are some monstrous beasts born for themselves
alone: but that fish which floats in an open shell and is called the
pinna, and that other which swims out of the shell, and, because it is a
guard to the other, is called the pinnoteres, and when it has withdrawn
within the shell again, is shut up in it, so that it appears that it has
given it warning to be on its guard; and also ants, and bees, and storks,
do something for the sake of others. Much more is this the case with
reference to the union of men. And therefore we are by nature adapted for
companionship, for taking counsel together, for forming states. But they
think that this world is regulated by the wisdom of the gods, and that it
is, as it were, a common city and state of men and gods, and that every
individual of us is a part of the world. From which that appears to follow
by nature, that we should prefer the general advantage to our own. For as
the laws prefer the general safety to that of individuals, so a good and
wise man, and one who obeys the laws and who is not ignorant of his duty
as a citizen, consults the general advantage rather than that of any
particular individual, or even than his own. Nor is a betrayer of his
country more to be blamed, than one who deserts the general advantage or
the general safety on account of his own private advantage or safety. From
which it also follows, that that man deserves to be praised who encounters
death voluntarily for the sake of the republic, because it is right that
the republic should be dearer to us than ourselves. And since it is said
to be a wicked thing, and contrary to human nature, for a man to say that
he would not care if, after his own death, a general conflagration of the
whole world were to happen, which is often uttered in a Greek(47) verse;
so it is certainly true that we ought to consult the interests of those
who are to come after us, for the sake of the love which we bear them.

XX. It is in this disposition of mind that wills, and the recommendations
of dying persons, have originated. And because no one would like to pass
his life in solitude, not even if surrounded with an infinite abundance of
pleasures, it is easily perceived that we are born for communion and
fellowship with man, and for natural associations. But we are impelled by
nature to wish to benefit as many persons as possible, especially by
instructing them and delivering them precepts of prudence. Therefore, it
is not easy to find a man who does not communicate to some other what he
knows himself; so prone are we not only to learn, but also to teach. And
as the principle is by nature implanted in bulls to fight in behalf of
their calves with the greatest vigour and earnestness, even against lions;
so those who are rich or powerful, and are able to do so, are excited by
nature to preserve the race of mankind, as we have heard by tradition was
the case with Hercules and Libera. And also when we call Jupiter
all-powerful and all-good, and likewise when we speak of him as the
salutary god, the hospitable god, or as Stator, we mean it to be
understood that the safety of men is under his protection. But it is very
inconsistent, when we are disregarded and despised by one another, to
entreat, that we may be dear to and beloved by the immortal gods. As,
therefore, we make use of our limbs before we have learnt the exact
advantage with a view to which we are endowed with them, so also we are
united and associated by nature in a community of fellow-citizens. And if
this were not the case, there would be no room for either justice or

And as men think that there are bonds of right which connect man with man,
so also there is no law which connects man with the beasts. For well did
Chrysippus say, that all other animals have been born for the sake of men
and of the gods; but that men and gods have been born only for the sake of
their own mutual communion and society, so that men might be able to use
beasts for their own advantage without any violation of law or right. And
since the nature of man is such that he has, as it were, a sort of right
of citizenship connecting him with the whole human race, a man who
maintains that right is just, and he who departs from it is unjust.

But as, although a theatre is publicly open, still it may be fairly said
that the place which each individual has occupied belongs to him; so in a
city, or in the world, which is likewise common to all, there is no
principle of right which hinders each individual from having his own
private property. But since we see that man has been born for the purpose
of defending and preserving men, so it is consistent with this nature that
a wise man should wish to manage and regulate the republic; and, in order
to live in compliance with nature, to marry a wife and beget children. Nor
do philosophers think virtuous love inconsistent with a wise man. But
others say that the principles and life of the Cynics are more suited to a
wise man; if, indeed, any chance should befal him which might compel him
to act in such a manner; while others wholly deny it.

XXI. But in order that the society, and union, and affection between man
and man may be completely preserved, they have laid it down that all
benefits and injuries, which they call ὠφελήματα and βλάμματα, are
likewise common; of which the former are advantageous, and the latter
injurious. Nor have they been contented with calling them common, but they
have also asserted their equality. But as for disadvantages and
advantages, (by which words I translate εὐχρηστήματα and δυσχρηστήματα,)
those they assert to be common, but they deny that they are equal. For
those things which profit or which injure are either good or evil; and
they must necessarily be equal. But advantages and disadvantages are of
that kind which we have already called things preferred or rejected; and
they cannot be equal. But advantages are said to be common; but things
done rightly, and sins, are not considered common. But they think that
friendship is to be cultivated because it is one of that class of things
which is profitable. But although, in friendship, some people assert that
the interest of a man’s friend is as dear to him as his own; others, on
the other hand, contend that every man has a greater regard for his own.
Yet these latter confess that it is inconsistent with justice, for which
we seem to be born, to take anything from another for the purpose of
appropriating it to oneself. But philosophers of this school which I am
speaking of, never approve of either friendship or justice being exercised
or sanctioned for the sake of its usefulness: for they say that the same
principles of usefulness may, at times, undermine or overturn them. In
truth, neither justice nor friendship can have any existence at all,
unless they be sought for their own sake. They contend also that all
right, which has any pretence to the name and appellation, is so by
nature; and that it is inconsistent with the character of a wise man, not
only to do any injustice to any one, but even to do him any damage. Nor is
it right to make such a league with one’s friends as to share in all their
good deeds, or to become a partner in every act of injustice; and they
argue, with the greatest dignity and truth, that justice can never be
separated from usefulness: and that whatever is just and equitable is also
honourable; and, reciprocally, that whatever is honourable must be also
just and equitable.

And to those virtues which we have discussed, they also add dialectics and
natural philosophy; and they call both these sciences by the name of
virtues: one, because it has reason, so as to prevent our assenting to any
false proposition, or being even deceived by any plausible probability;
and to enable us to maintain and defend what we were saying about good and
evil. For without this act they think that any one may be led away from
the truth and deceived; accordingly, if rashness and ignorance is in every
case vicious, this power which removes them is properly named virtue.

XXII. The same honour is also attributed to natural philosophy, and not
without reason, because the man who wishes to live in a manner suitable to
nature, must begin by studying the universal world, and the laws which
govern it. Nor can any one form a correct judgment of good and evil
without being acquainted with the whole system of nature, and of the life
of the gods also, and without knowing whether or not the nature of man
agrees with universal nature. He must also have learnt the ancient rules
of those wise men who bid men yield to the times, and obey God, and know
oneself, and shun every kind of excess. Now, without a knowledge of
natural philosophy, no man can see what great power these rules have; and
it is as great as can be: and also this is the only knowledge which can
teach a man how greatly nature assists in the cultivation of justice, in
the maintenance of friendship and the rest of the affections. Nor can
piety towards the Gods, nor the gratitude which is due to them, be
properly understood and appreciated without a correct understanding of the
laws of nature.

But I feel now that I have advanced further than I had intended, or than
the subject before me required. But the admirable arrangement of the Stoic
doctrine, and the incredible beauty of the system, drew me on. And, in the
name of the immortal gods! can you forbear to admire it? For what is there
in all nature—though nothing is better or more accurately adapted to its
ends than that—or what can be found in any work made by the hand, so well
arranged, and united, and put together? What is there which is posterior,
which does not agree with what has preceded it? What is there which
follows, and does not correspond to what has gone before? What is there
which is not connected with something else in such a manner, that if you
only move one letter the whole will fall to pieces? Nor, indeed, is there
anything which can be moved.

But what a grand and magnificent and consistent character is that of the
wise man which is drawn by them! For he, after reason has taught him that
that which is honourable is alone good, must inevitably be always happy,
and must have a genuine right to those names which are often ridiculed by
the ignorant. For he will be more properly called king than Tarquin, who
was able to govern neither himself nor his family; he will deserve to be
called the master of the people more than Sylla, who was only the master
of three pestiferous vices, luxury, avarice, and cruelty; he will be
called rich more properly than Crassus, who would never have desired to
cross the Euphrates without any legitimate cause for war, if he had not
been in want of something. Everything will be properly said to belong to
that man, who alone knows how to make use of everything. He will also
rightly be called beautiful, for the features of the mind are more
beautiful than those of the body: he will deservedly be called the only
free man, who is neither subject to the domination of any one, nor
subservient to his own passions. He will fairly be called invincible, on
whose mind, even though his body be bound with chains, no fetters can ever
be imposed. Nor will he wait till the last period of his life, so as to
have it decided whether he has been happy or not, after he has come to the
last day of life and closed his eyes in death, in the spirit of the
warning which one of the wise men gave to Crœsus, without showing much
wisdom in so doing. For if he had ever been happy, then he would have
borne his happy life with him, even as far as the funeral pile built for
him by Cyrus.

But if it be true that no one except a good man is happy, and that all
good men are happy, then what deserves to be cultivated more than
philosophy, or what is more divine than virtue?

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

I. And when he had made an end of saying these things, I replied, Truly, O
Cato, you have displayed a wonderful memory in explaining to us such a
number of things, and in laying such obscure things so clearly before us.
So that we must either give up having any meaning or wish contrary to what
you have said, or else we must take time to deliberate: for it is not easy
to learn thoroughly the principles of a school which has not only had its
foundation laid, but which has even been built up with such diligence,
although perhaps with some errors as to its truth, (which, however, I will
not as yet dare to affirm,) but at all events with such care and accuracy.
Then, said he, is that what you say, when I have seen you, in obedience to
this new law, reply to the prosecutor on the same day on which he has
brought forward his charge, and sum up for three hours; and then do you
think that I am going to allow an adjournment in this cause? which,
however, will not be conducted by you better than those which are at times
entrusted to you. Wherefore, I desire that you will now apply yourself to
this one, especially as it has been handled by others, and also by
yourself several times; so that you cannot be at a loss for arguments or

I replied, I do not, in truth, venture to argue inconsiderately against
the Stoics, not because I agree with them in any great degree, but I am
hindered by shame; because they say so much that I hardly understand. I
confess, said he, that some of our arguments are obscure; not that we make
them so on purpose, but because there is some obscurity in the subjects
themselves. Why, then, said I, when the Peripatetics discuss the same
subjects, does not a single word occur which is not well understood? Do
they discuss the same subjects? said he; or have I failed to prove to you
that the Stoics differ from the Peripatetics, not in words only, but in
the whole of the subject, and in every one of their opinions? But, said I,
if, O Cato, you can establish that, I will allow you to carry me over,
body and soul, to your school. I did think, said he, that I had said
enough on that point; wherefore answer me on that head first, if you
please; and afterwards you can advance what arguments you please. I do not
think it too much, said I, if I claim to answer you on that topic as I
myself please. As you will, said he; for although the other way would have
been more common, yet it is only fair to allow every one to adopt his own

II. I think, then, said I, O Cato, that those ancient pupils of Plato,
Speusippus, Aristotle and Xenocrates, and afterwards their pupils, Polemo
and Theophrastus, had a system laid down with sufficient richness and
eloquence of language; so that Zeno had no reason, after having been a
pupil of Polemo, for deserting him and his predecessors who had
established this school. And in this school I should like you to observe
what you think ought to be changed, and not to wait while I am replying to
everything which has been said by you. For I think that I must contend
with the whole of their system, against the whole of yours.

And as these men said that we are born with the view of being generally
well adapted to those virtues which are well known and conspicuous, I mean
justice and temperance, and others of the same kind, all which resemble
the other arts, and differ only for the better in their subject matter and
way of handling;—and as they saw that we desired those very virtues in a
somewhat magnificent and ardent spirit; and that we had also a certain
instruction, or, I should rather say, innate desire of knowledge; and that
we were born for companionship with men, and for society and communion
with the human race, and that these qualities are most conspicuous in the
greatest geniuses;—they divided all philosophy into three parts; and we
see that this same division was retained by Zeno: and as one of these
parts is that by which the manners are thought to be formed, I postpone
the consideration of that part, which is, as it were, the foundation of
this question. For what is the chief good I will discuss presently; but at
this moment I only say that that topic which I think we shall be right in
calling the civil one, and which the Greeks call πολιτικὸς, has been
treated of in a dignified and copious manner by the ancient Peripatetics
and Academicians who, agreeing in parts, differed from one another only in

III. How many books have these men written on the republic! how many on
laws! How many precepts in art, and, more than that, how many instances of
good speaking in orations have they bequeathed to us! For, in the first
place, they said with the greatest degree of polish and fitness those very
things which were to be argued in a subtle manner, laying down both
definitions and divisions: as your friends have also done: but you have
done it in a more shabby manner; while you see how brilliant their
language is. In the second place, with what splendid language have they
adorned that part of the subject which required ornate and impressive
eloquence! how gloriously have they illustrated it! discussing justice,
and fortitude, and friendship, and the method of passing life, and
philosophy, and the government of the state, and temperance, not like men
picking out thorns, like the Stoics, or laying bare the bones, but like
men who knew how to handle great subjects elegantly, and lesser ones
clearly. What, therefore, are their consolations? What are their
exhortations? What also are their warnings and advice written to the most
eminent men? For their practice in speaking was, like the nature of the
things themselves, of a two-fold character. For whatever is made a
question of, contains a controversy either as to the genus itself, without
reference to persons or times; or else, with these additions, a dispute as
to the fact, or the right, or the name. And therefore, they exercised
themselves in both kinds; and that discipline it was which produced that
great copiousness of eloquence among them in both kinds of argumentation.
Now Zeno, and those who imitated him, were either unable to do much in
this kind of argument, or else were unwilling, or at all events they did
not do it. Although Cleanthes wrote a treatise on the art of rhetoric, and
so too did Chrysippus, but still in such a manner, that if any one were to
wish to be silent, he ought to read nothing else. Therefore you see how
they speak. They invent new words—they abandon old established terms.

But what great attempts do they make? They say that this universal world
is our town; accordingly, this excites those who hear such a statement.
You see, now, how great a business you are undertaking; to make a man who
lives at Circeii believe that this universal world is merely a town for
himself to live in. What will be the end of this? Shall he set fire to it?
He will rather extinguish it, if he has received it on fire. The next
thing said is that list of titles which you briefly enumerated,—king,
dictator, rich man, the only wise man; words poured out by you decorously
and roundly: they well might be, for you have learnt them from the
orators. But how vague and unsubstantial are those speeches about the
power of virtue! which they make out to be so great that it can, by
itself, secure the happiness of man. They prick us with narrow little bits
of questions as with pins; and those who assent to them are not at all
changed in their minds, and go away the same as they came: for matters
which are perhaps true, and which certainly are important, are not handled
as they ought to be, but in a more minute and petty manner.

IV. The next thing is the principle of arguing, and the knowledge of
nature. For we will examine the chief good presently, as I said before,
and apply the whole discussion to the explanation of it. There was, then,
in those two parts nothing which Zeno wished to alter. For the whole
thing, in both its divisions, is in an excellent state; for what has been
omitted by the ancients in that kind of argument which is of influence in
discussion? For they have both given many definitions, and have bequeathed
to us titles for defining; and that important addition to definition, I
mean the dividing of the subject into parts, is both done by them, and
they have also left us rules to enable us to do so too; and I may say the
same of contraries; from which they came to genera, and to the forms of
genera. Now, they make those things which they call evident, the beginning
of an argument concluded by reason: then they follow an orderly
arrangement; and the conclusion at last shows what is true in the separate
propositions. But what a great variety of arguments, which lead to
conclusions according to reason, do they give us, and how dissimilar are
they to captious questions! What shall we say of their denouncing, as it
were, in many places, that we ought neither entirely to trust our senses
when unsupported by reason, nor reason when unsupported by our senses; but
that, at the same time, we ought to keep the line between the two clearly
marked? What shall I say more? Were not all the precepts which the
dialecticians now deliver and teach, originally discovered and established
by them? And although they were very much elaborated by Chrysippus, still
they were much less practised by Zeno than by the ancients. And there were
several things in which he did not improve on the ancients; and some which
he never touched at all. And as there are two arts by which reason and
oratory are brought to complete perfection, one that of discovering, the
other that of arguing,—both the Stoics and Peripatetics have handed us
down this latter, but the Peripatetics alone have given us rules for the
former, while the Stoics have altogether avoided it. For the men of your
school never even suspected the places from which arguments might be drawn
as out of magazines; but the Peripatetics taught a regular system and

And the consequence is, that it is not necessary for one now to be always
repeating a sort of dictated lesson on the same subject, or to be afraid
to go beyond one’s note-books: for he who knows where everything is
placed, and how he can arrive at it, even if anything be completely
buried, will be able to dig it up, and will always have his wits about him
in every discussion. And although men who are endowed with great
abilities, attain to a certain copiousness of eloquence without any
definite principles of oratory, still art is a surer guide than nature.
For it is one thing to pour out words after the fashion of poets, and
another to distinguish on settled principles and rules all that you say.

V. Similar things may be said about the explanation of natural philosophy,
which both the Peripatetics and Stoics apply themselves to; and that not
on two accounts only, as Epicurus thinks, namely, to get rid of the fears
of death and of religion; but besides this, the knowledge of heavenly
things imparts some degree of modesty to those who see what great
moderation and what admirable order there is likewise among the gods: it
inspires them also with magnanimity when they contemplate the arts and
works of the gods; and justice, too, when they come to know how great is
the power and wisdom, and what the will is also, of the supreme ruler and
master of the world, whose reason, in accordance with nature, is called by
philosophers the true and supreme law. There is in the same study of
nature, an insatiable kind of pleasure derived from the knowledge of
things; the only pleasure in which, when all our necessary actions are
performed, and when we are free from business, we can live honourably, and
as becomes free men. Therefore, in the whole of this ratiocination on
subjects of the very highest importance, the Stoics have for the most part
followed the Peripatetics; so far at all events as to admit that there are
gods, and to assert that everything consists of one of four elements. But
when an exceedingly difficult question was proposed, namely, whether there
did not seem to be a sort of fifth nature from which reason and
intelligence sprang; (in which question another was involved respecting
the mind, as to what class that belonged to;) Zeno said that it was fire;
and then he said a few more things—very few, in a novel manner; but
concerning the most important point of all, he spoke in the same way,
asserting that the universal world, and all its most important parts, were
regulated by the divine intellect and nature of the gods. But as for the
matter and richness of facts, we shall find the Stoics very poorly off,
but the Peripatetics very rich.

What numbers of facts have been investigated and accumulated by them with
respect to the genus, and birth, and limbs, and age of all kinds of
animals! and in like manner with respect to those things which are
produced out of the earth! How many causes have they developed, and in
what numerous cases, why everything is done, and what numerous
demonstrations have they laid open how everything is done! And from this
copiousness of theirs most abundant and undeniable arguments are derived
for the explanation of the nature of everything. Therefore, as far as I
understand, there is no necessity at all for any change of name. For it
does not follow that, though he may have differed from the Peripatetics in
some points, he did not arise out of them. And I, indeed, consider
Epicurus, as far as his natural philosophy is concerned, as only another
Democritus: he alters very few of his doctrines; and I should think him so
even if he had changed more: but in numerous instances, and certainly on
all the most important points, he coincides with him exactly. And though
the men of your school do this, they do not show sufficient gratitude to
the original discoverers.

VI. But enough of this. Let us now, I beg, consider the chief good, which
contains all philosophy, and see whether Zeno has brought forward any
reason for dissenting from the original discoverers and parents of it, as
I may call them. While speaking, then, on this topic—although, Cato, this
summit of goods, which contains all philosophy, has been carefully
explained by you, and though you have told us what is considered so by the
Stoics, and in what sense it is called so—yet I also will give my
explanation, in order that we may see clearly, if we can, what new
doctrine has been introduced into the question by Zeno. For as preceding
philosophers, and Polemo most explicitly of all, had said that the chief
good was to live according to nature, the Stoics say that three things are
signified by these words: one, that a man should live exercising a
knowledge of those things which happen by nature; and they say that this
is the chief good of Zeno, who declares, as has been said by you, that it
consists in living in a manner suitable to nature: the second meaning is
much the same as if it were said that a man ought to live attending to
all, or nearly all, the natural and intermediate duties. But this, when
explained in this manner, is different from the former. For the former is
right, which you called κατόρθωμα, and it happens to the wise man alone;
but this is only a duty which is begun and not perfected, and this may
happen to some who are far from being wise: the third is that a man should
live, enjoying all things, or at least all the most important things which
are according to nature; but this does not always depend on ourselves, for
it is perfected both out of that kind of life which is bounded by virtue,
and out of those things which are according to nature, and which are not
in our own power.

But this chief good, which is understood in the third signification of the
definition, and that life which is passed in conformity with that good,
can happen to the wise man alone, because virtue is connected with it. And
that summit of good, as we see it expressed by the Stoics themselves, was
laid down by Xenocrates and by Aristotle; and so that first arrangement of
the principles of nature, with which you also began, is explained by them
in almost these very words.

VII. All nature desires to be a preserver of itself, in order that it may
be both safe itself, and that it may be preserved in its kind. They say
that for this end arts have been invented to assist nature, among which
that is accounted one of the most important which is the art of living so
as to defend what has been given by nature, and to acquire what is
wanting; and, at the same time, they have divided the nature of man into
mind and body. And, as they said that each of these things was desirable
for its own sake, so also they said that the virtues of each of them were
desirable for their own sake. But when they extolled the mind with
boundless praises, and preferred it to the body, they at the same time
preferred the virtues of the mind to the goods of the body.

But, as they asserted that wisdom was the guardian and regulator of the
entire man, being the companion and assistant of nature, they said that
the especial office of wisdom was to defend the being who consisted of
mind and body,—to assist him and support him in each particular. And so,
the matter being first laid down simply, pursuing the rest of the argument
with more subtlety, they thought that the goods of the body admitted of an
easy explanation, but they inquired more accurately into those of the
mind. And, first of all, they found out that they contained the seeds of
justice; and they were the first of all philosophers to teach that the
principle that those which were the offspring should be beloved by their
parents, was implanted in all animals by nature; and they said, also, that
that which precedes the birth of offspring, in point of time,—namely, the
marriage of men and women,—was a bond of union suggested by nature, and
that this was the root from which the friendships between relations
sprang. And, beginning with these first principles, they proceeded to
investigate the origin and progress of all the virtues; by which course a
great magnanimity was engendered, enabling them easily to resist and
withstand fortune, because the most important events were in the power of
the wise man; and a life conducted according to the precepts of the
ancient philosophers was easily superior to all the changes and injuries
of fortune.

But when these foundations had been laid by nature, certain great
increases of good were produced,—some arising from the contemplation of
more secret things, because there is a love of knowledge innate in the
mind, in which also the fondness for explaining principles and for
discussing them originates; and because man is the only animal which has
any share of shame or modesty; and because he also covets union and
society with other men, and takes pains in everything which he does or
says, that he may do nothing which is not honourable and becoming;—these
foundations being, as I have said, implanted in us by nature like so many
seeds, temperance, and modesty, and justice, and all virtue, was brought
to complete perfection.

VIII. You here, O Cato, have a sketch of the philosophers of whom I am
speaking; and, now that I have given you this, I wish to know what reason
there is why Zeno departed from their established system; and which of all
their doctrines it was that he disapproved of? Did he object to their
calling all nature a preserver of itself?—or to their saying that every
animal was naturally fond of itself, so as to wish to be safe and
uninjured in its kind?—or, as the end of all arts is to arrive at what
nature especially requires, did he think that the same principle ought to
be laid down with respect to the art of the entire life?—or, since we
consist of mind and body, did he think that these and their excellences
ought to be chosen for their own sakes?—or was he displeased with the
preeminence which is attributed by the Peripatetics to the virtue of the
mind?—or did he object to what they said about prudence, and the knowledge
of things, and the union of the human race, and temperance, and modesty,
and magnanimity, and honourableness in general? The Stoics must confess
that all these things were excellently explained by the others, and that
they gave no reason to Zeno for deserting their school. They must allege
some other excuse.

I suppose they will say that the errors of the ancients were very great,
and that he, being desirous of investigating the truth, could by no means
endure them. For what can be more perverse—what can be more intolerable,
or more stupid, than to place good health, and freedom from all pain, and
soundness of the eyes and the rest of the senses, among the goods, instead
of saying that there is no difference at all between them and their
contraries? For that all those things which the Peripatetics called goods,
were only things preferable, not good. And also that the ancients had been
very foolish when they said that these excellences of the body were
desirable for their own sake: they were to be accepted, but not to be
desired. And the same might be said of all the other circumstances of
life, which consists of nothing but virtue alone,—that that life which is
rich also in the other things which are according to nature is not more to
be desired on that account, but only more to be accepted; and, though
virtue itself makes life so happy that a man cannot be happier, still
something is wanting to wise men, even when they are most completely
happy; and that they labour to repel pain, disease, and debility.

IX. Oh, what a splendid force is there in such genius, and what an
excellent reason is this for setting up a new school! Go on; for it will
follow,—and, indeed, you have most learnedly adopted the principle,—that
all folly, and all injustice, and all other vices are alike, and that all
errors are equal; and that those who have made great progress, through
natural philosophy and learning, towards virtue, if they have not arrived
at absolute perfection in it, are completely miserable, and that there is
no difference between their life and that of the most worthless of men,—as
Plato, that greatest of men, if he was not thoroughly wise, lived no
better, and in no respect more happily, than the most worthless of men.
This is, forsooth, the Stoic correction and improvement of the old
philosophy; but it can never find any entrance into the city, or the
forum, or the senate-house. For who could endure to hear a man, who
professed to be a teacher of how to pass life with dignity and wisdom,
speaking in such a manner—altering the names of things; and though he was
in reality of the same opinion as every one else, still giving new names
to the things to which he attributed just the same force that others did,
without proposing the least alteration in the ideas to be entertained of
them? Would the advocate of a cause, when summing up for a defendant, deny
that exile or the confiscation of his client’s property was an evil?—that
these things were to be rejected, though not to be fled from?—or would he
say that a judge ought not to be merciful?

But if he were speaking in the public assembly,—if Hannibal had arrived at
the gates and had driven his javelin into the wall, would he deny that it
was an evil to be taken prisoner, to be sold, to be slain, to lose one’s
country? Or could the senate, when it was voting a triumph to Africanus,
have expressed itself,—Because by his virtue and good fortune ... if there
could not properly be said to be any virtue or any good fortune except in
a wise man? What sort of a philosophy, then, is that which speaks in the
ordinary manner in the forum, but in a peculiar style of its own in books?
especially when, as they intimate themselves in all they say, no
innovations are made by them in the facts,—none of the things themselves
are changed, but they remain exactly the same, though in another manner.
For what difference does it make whether you call riches, and power, and
health goods, or only things preferred, as long as the man who calls them
goods attributes no more to them than you do who call them things
preferred? Therefore, Panætius—a noble and dignified man, worthy of the
intimacy which he enjoyed with Scipio and Lælius—when he was writing to
Quintus Tubero on the subject of bearing pain, never once asserted, what
ought to have been his main argument, if it could have been proved, that
pain was not an evil; but he explained what it was, and what its character
was, and what amount of disagreeableness there was in it, and what was the
proper method of enduring it; and (for he, too, was a Stoic) all that
preposterous language of the school appears to me to be condemned by these
sentiments of his.

X. But, however, to come, O Cato, more closely to what you have been
saying, let us treat this question more narrowly, and compare what you
have just said with those assertions which I prefer to yours. Now, those
arguments which you employ in common with the ancients, we may make use of
as admitted. But let us, if you please, confine our discussion to those
which are disputed. I do please, said he: I am very glad to have the
question argued with more subtlety, and, as you call it, more closely; for
what you have hitherto advanced are mere popular assertions, but from you
I expect something more elegant. From me? said I. However, I will try;
and, if I cannot find arguments enough, I will not be above having
recourse to those which you call popular.

But let me first lay down this position, that we are so recommended to
ourselves by nature, and that we have this principal desire implanted in
us by nature, that our first wish is to preserve ourselves. This is
agreed. It follows, that we must take notice what we are, that so we may
preserve ourselves in that character of which we ought to be. We are,
therefore, men: we consist of mind and body,—which are things of a
particular description,—and we ought, as our first natural desire
requires, to love these parts of ourselves, and from them to establish
this summit of the chief and highest good, which, if our first principles
are true, must be established in such a way as to acquire as many as
possible of those things which are in accordance with nature, and
especially all the most important of them. This, then, is the chief good
which they aimed at. I have expressed it more diffusely,—they call it
briefly, living according to nature. This is what appears to them to be
the chief good.

XI. Come, now let them teach us, or rather do so yourself, (for who is
better able?) in what way you proceed from these principles, and prove
that to live honourably (for that is the meaning of living according to
virtue, or in a manner suitable to nature) is the chief good; and in what
manner, or in what place, you on a sudden get rid of the body, and leave
all those things which, as they are according to nature, are out of our
own power; and, lastly, how you get rid of duty itself.

I ask, therefore, how it is that all these recommendations, having
proceeded from nature, are suddenly abandoned by wisdom? But if it were
not the chief good of man that we were inquiring into, but only that of
some animal, and if he were nothing except mind (for we may make such a
supposition as that, in order more easily to discover the truth), still
this chief good of yours would not belong to that mind. For it would wish
for good health, for freedom from pain; it would also desire the
preservation of itself, and the guardianship of these qualities, and it
would appoint as its own end to live according to nature, which is, as I
have said, to have those things which are according to nature, either all
of them, or most of them, and all the most important ones. For whatever
kind of animal you make him out, it is necessary, even though he be
incorporeal, as we are supposing him, still that there must be in the mind
something like those qualities which exist in the body; so that the chief
good cannot possibly be defined in any other manner but that which I have

But Chrysippus, when explaining the differences between living creatures,
says, that some excel in their bodies, others in their minds, some in
both. And then he argues that there ought to be a separate chief good for
each description of creature. But as he had placed man in such a class
that he attributed to him excellence of mind, he determined that his chief
good was not that he appeared to excel in mind, but that he appeared to be
nothing else but mind.

XII. But in one case the chief good might rightly be placed in virtue
alone, if there were any animal which consisted wholly of mind; and that,
too, in such a manner that that mind had in itself nothing that was
according to nature, as health is. But it cannot even be imagined what
kind of thing that is, so as not to be inconsistent with itself. But if he
says that some things are obscure, and are not visible because they are
very small, we also admit that; as Epicurus says of pleasure, that those
pleasures which are very small are often obscured and overwhelmed. But
that kind has not so many advantages of body, nor any which last so long,
or are so great. Therefore, in those in which obscuration follows because
of their littleness, it often happens that we confess that it makes no
difference to us whether they exist at all or not; just as when the sun is
out, as you yourself said, it is of no consequence to add the light of a
candle, or to add a penny to the riches of Crœsus. But in those matters in
which so great an obscuration does not take place, it may still be the
case, that the matter which makes a difference is of no great consequence.
As if, when a man had lived ten years agreeably, an additional month’s
life of equal pleasantness were given to him, it would be good, because
any addition has some power to produce what is agreeable; but if that is
not admitted, it does not follow that a happiness of life is at once put
an end to.

But the goods of the body are more like this instance which I have just
mentioned. For they admit of additions worthy of having pains taken about
them; so that on this point the Stoics appear to me sometimes to be
joking, when they say that, if a bottle or a comb were given as an
addition to a life which is being passed with virtue, a wise man would
rather choose that life, because these additions were given to it, but yet
that he would not be happier on that account. Now, is not this simile to
be upset by ridicule rather than by serious discourse? For who would not
be deservedly ridiculed, if he were anxious whether he had another bottle
or not? But if any one relieves a person from any affection of the limbs,
or from the pain of any disease, he will receive great gratitude. And if
that wise man of yours is put on the rack of torture by a tyrant, he will
not display the same countenance as if he had lost his bottle; but, as
entering upon a serious and difficult contest, seeing that he will have to
fight with a capital enemy, namely, pain, he will summon up all his
principles of fortitude and patience, by whose assistance he will proceed
to face that difficult and important battle, as I have called it.

We will not inquire, then, what is obscured, or what is destroyed, because
it is something very small; but what is of such a character as to complete
the whole sum of happiness. One pleasure out of many may be obscured in
that life of pleasure; but still, however small an one it may be, it is a
part of that life which consists wholly of pleasure. One coin is lost of
the riches of Crœsus, still it is a part of his riches. Wherefore those
things, too, which we say are according to nature, may be obscured in a
happy life, still they must be parts of the happy life.

XIII. But if, as we ought to agree, there is a certain natural desire
which longs for those things which are according to nature, then, when
taken altogether, they must be considerable in amount. And if this point
is established, then we may be allowed to inquire about those things at
our leisure, and to investigate the greatness of them, and their
excellence, and to examine what influence each has on living happily, and
also to consider the very obscurations themselves, which, on account of
their smallness, are scarcely ever, or I may say never, visible.

What should I say about that as to which there is no dispute? For there is
no one who denies that that which is the standard to which everything is
referred resembles every nature, and that is the chief thing which is to
be desired. For every nature is attached to itself. For what nature is
there which ever deserts itself, or any portion of itself, or any one of
its parts or faculties, or, in short, any one of those things, or motions,
or states which are in accordance with nature? And what nature has ever
been forgetful of its original purpose and establishment? There has never
been one which does not observe this law from first to last. How, then,
does it happen that the nature of man is the only one which ever abandons
man, which forgets the body, which places the chief good, not in the whole
man, but in a part of man? And how, as they themselves admit, and as is
agreed upon by all, will it be preserved, so that that ultimate good of
nature, which is the subject of our inquiry, shall resemble every nature?
For it would resemble them, if in other natures also there were some
ultimate point of excellence. For then that would seem to be the chief
good of the Stoics. Why, then, do you hesitate to alter the principles of
nature? For why do you say that every animal, the moment that it is born,
is prone to feel love for itself, and is occupied in its own preservation?
Why do you not rather say that every animal is inclined to that which is
most excellent in itself, and is occupied in the guardianship of that one
thing, and that the other natures do nothing else but preserve that
quality which is the best in each of them? But how can it be the best, if
there is nothing at all good besides? But if the other things are to be
desired, why, then, is not that which is the chief of all desirable things
inferred from the desire of all those things, or of the most numerous and
important of them? as Phidias can either begin a statue from the
beginning, and finish it, or he can take one which has been begun by
another, and complete that.

Now wisdom is like this: for wisdom is not herself the parent of man, but
she has received him after he has been commenced by nature. And without
regard to her, she ought to complete that work of her’s, as an artist
would complete a statue. What kind of man, then, is it that nature has
commenced? and what is the office and task of wisdom? What is it that
ought to be finished and completed by her? If there is nothing to be made
further in man, except some kind of motion of the mind, that is to say,
reason, then it follows, that the ultimate object is to mould the life
according to virtue. For the perfection of reason is virtue. If there is
nothing but body, then the chief goods must be good health, freedom from
pain, beauty, and so on. The question at this moment is about the chief
good of man.

XIV. Why do we hesitate, then, to inquire as to his whole nature, what has
been done? For as it is agreed by all, that the whole duty and office of
wisdom is to be occupied about the cultivation of man, some (that you may
not think that I am arguing against none but the Stoics) bring forward
opinions in which they place the chief good among things of a kind which
are wholly out of our own power, just as if they were speaking of one of
the brute beasts; others, on the contrary, as if man had no body at all,
so entirely exclude everything from their consideration except the mind,
(and this, too, while the mind itself, in their philosophy, is not some
unintelligible kind of vacuum, but something which exists in some
particular species of body,) that even that is not content with virtue
alone, but requires freedom from pain. So that both these classes do the
same thing, as if they neglected the left side of a man, and took care
only of the right; or as if they (as Herillus did) attended only to the
knowledge of the mind itself, and passed over all action. For it is but a
crippled system which all those men set up who pass over many things, and
select some one in particular to adhere to. But that is a perfect and full
system which those adopt who, while inquiring about the chief good of man,
pass over in their inquiry no part either of his mind or body, so as to
leave it unprotected. But your school, O Cato, because virtue holds, as we
all admit, the highest and most excellent place in man, and because we
think those who are wise men, perfect and admirable men, seeks entirely to
dazzle the eyes of our minds with the splendour of virtue. For in every
living creature there is some one principal and most excellent thing, as,
for instance, in horses and dogs; but those must be free from pain and in
good health. Therefore, you do not seem to me to pay sufficient attention
to what the general path and progress of nature is. For it does not pursue
the same course in man that it does in corn, (which, when it has advanced
it from the blade to the ear, it leaves and considers the stubble as
nothing,) and leave him as soon as it has conducted him to a state of
reason. For it is always taking something additional, without ever
abandoning what it has previously given. Therefore, it has added reason to
the senses; and when it has perfected his reason, it still does not
abandon the senses.

As if the culture of the vine, the object of which is to cause the vine,
with all its parts, to be in the best possible condition, (however that is
what we understand it to be, for one may, as you often do yourselves,
suppose anything for the purpose of illustration,) if, then, that culture
of the vine be in the vine itself, it would, I presume, desire everything
else which concerns the cultivation of the vine, to be as it has been
before. But it would prefer itself to every separate part of the vine, and
it would feel sure that nothing in the vine was better than itself. In
like manner sense, when it has been added to nature, protects it indeed,
but it also protects itself. But when reason is also added, then it is
placed in a position of such predominant power, that all those first
principles of nature are put under its guardianship. Therefore it does not
abandon the care of those things over which it is so set, that its duty is
to regulate the entire life: so that we cannot sufficiently marvel at
their inconsistency. For they assert that the natural appetite, which they
call ὁρμὴ, and also duty, and even virtue herself, are all protectors of
those things which are according to nature. But when they wish to arrive
at the chief good, they overleap everything, and leave us two tasks
instead of one—namely, to choose some things and desire others, instead of
including both under one head.

XV. But now you say that virtue cannot properly be established, if those
things which are external to virtue have any influence on living happily.
But the exact contrary is the case. For virtue cannot possibly be
introduced, unless everything which it chooses and which it neglects is
all referred to one general end. For if we entirely neglect ourselves, we
then fall into the vices and errors of Ariston, and shall forget the
principles which we have attributed to virtue itself. But if we do not
neglect those things, and yet do not refer them to the chief good, we
shall not be very far removed from the trivialities of Herillus. For we
shall have to adopt two different plans of conduct in life: for he makes
out that there are two chief goods unconnected with each other; but if
they were real goods, they ought to be united; but at present they are
separated, so that they never can be united. But nothing can be more
perverse than this. Therefore, the fact is exactly contrary to your
assertion: for virtue cannot possibly be established firmly, unless it
maintains those things which are the principles of nature as having an
influence on the object. For we have been looking for a virtue which
should preserve nature, not for one which should abandon it. But that of
yours, as you represent it, preserves only one part, and abandons the

And, indeed, if the custom of man could speak, this would be its language.
That its first beginnings were, as it were, beginnings of desire that it
might preserve itself in that nature in which it had been born. For it had
not yet been sufficiently explained what nature desired above all things.
Let it therefore be explained. What else then will be understood but that
no part of nature is to be neglected? And if there is nothing in it
besides reason, then the chief good must be in virtue alone. But if there
is also body, then will that explanation of nature have caused us to
abandon the belief which we held before the explanation. Is it, then,
being in a manner suitable to nature to abandon nature? As some
philosophers do, when having begun with the senses they have seen
something more important and divine, and then abandoned the senses; so,
too, these men, when they had beheld the beauty of virtue developed in its
desire for particular things, abandoned everything which they had seen for
the sake of virtue herself, forgetting that the whole nature of desirable
things was so extensive that it remained from beginning to end; and they
do not understand that they are taking away the very foundations of these
beautiful and admirable things.

XVI. Therefore, all those men appear to me to have made a blunder who have
pronounced the chief good to be to live honourably. But some have erred
more than others,—Pyrrho above all, who, having fixed on virtue as the
chief good, refuses to allow that there is anything else in the world
deserving of being desired; and, next to him, Aristo, who did not, indeed,
venture to leave nothing else to be desired, but who introduced influence,
by which a wise man might be excited, and desire whatever occurred to his
mind, and whatever even appeared so to occur. He was more right than
Pyrrho, inasmuch as he left man some kind of desire; but worse than the
rest, inasmuch as he departed wholly from nature: but the Stoics, because
they place the chief good in virtue alone, resemble these men: but
inasmuch as they seek for a principle of duty, they are superior to
Pyrrho; and as they do not admit the desire of those objects which offer
themselves to the imagination, they are more correct than Aristo; but,
inasmuch as they do not add the things which they admit to be adopted by
nature, and to be worthy of being chosen for their own sakes, to the chief
good, they here desert nature, and are in some degree not different from
Aristo: for he invented some strange kinds of occurrences; but these men
recognise, indeed, the principles of nature, but still they disconnect
them from the perfect and chief good; and when they put them forward, so
that there may be some selection of things, they appear to follow nature;
but when they deny that they have any influence in making life happy, they
again abandon nature.

And hitherto I have been showing how destitute Zeno was of any good reason
for abandoning the authority of previous philosophers: now let us consider
the rest of his arguments; unless, indeed, O Cato, you wish to make any
reply to what I have been saying, or unless we are getting tedious.
Neither, said he; for I wish this side of the question to be completely
argued by you; nor does your discourse seem to me to be at all tedious. I
am glad to hear it, I replied; for what can be more desirable for me than
to discuss the subject of virtue with Cato, who is the most virtuous of
men in every point? But, first of all, remark that that imposing sentiment
of yours, which brings a whole family after it, namely, that what is
honourable is the only good, and that to live honourably is the chief
good, will be shared in common with you by all who define the chief good
as consisting in virtue alone; and, as to what you say, that virtue cannot
be formed if anything except what is honourable is included in the
account, the same statement will be made by those whom I have just named.
But it appeared to me to be fairer, advancing from one common beginning,
to see where Zeno, while disputing with Polemo, from whom he had learnt
what the principles of nature were, first took his stand, and what the
original cause of the controversy was; and not to stand on their side, who
did not even allow that their own chief good was derived from nature, and
to employ the same arguments which they did, and to maintain the same

XVII. But I am very far from approving this conduct of yours, that when
you have proved, as you imagine, that that alone is good which is
honourable, then say again that it is necessary that beginnings should be
put forward which are suitable and adapted to nature; by a selection from
which virtue might be called into existence. For virtue ought not to have
been stated to consist in selection, so that that very thing which was
itself the chief good, was to acquire something besides itself; for all
things which are to be taken, or chosen, or desired, ought to exist in the
chief good, so that he who has attained that may want nothing more. Do you
not see how evident it is to those men whose chief good consists in
pleasure, what they ought to do and what they ought not? so that no one of
them doubts what all their duties ought to regard, what they ought to
pursue, or avoid. Let this, then, be the chief good which is now defended
by me; it will be evident in a moment what are the necessary duties and
actions. But you, who set before yourselves another end except what is
right and honourable, will not be able to find out where your principle of
duty and action is to originate.

Therefore you are all of you seeking for this, and so are those who say
that they pursue whatever comes into their mind and occurs to them; and
you return to nature. But nature will fairly reply to you, that it is not
true that the chief happiness of life is to be sought in another quarter,
but the principles of action in herself: for that there is one system
only, in which both the principles of action and the chief good too is
contained; and that, as the opinion of Aristo is exploded, when he says
that one thing does not differ from another, and that there is nothing
except virtue and vice in which there was any difference whatever; so,
too, Zeno was in the wrong, who affirmed that there was no influence in
anything, except virtue or vice, of the very least power to assist in the
attainment of the chief good: and as that had no influence on making life
happy, but only in creating a desire for things, he said that there was
some power of attraction in them: just as if this desire had no reference
to the acquisition of the chief good. But what can be less consistent than
what they say, namely, that when they have obtained the knowledge of the
chief good they then return to nature, in order to seek in it the
principle of action, that is to say, of duty? For it is not the principle
of action or duty which impels them to desire those things which are
according to nature; but desire and action are both set in motion by those

XVIII. Now I come to those brief statements of yours which you call
conclusions; and first of all to that—than which, certainly, nothing can
be more brief—that "everything good is praiseworthy; but everything
praiseworthy is honourable; therefore everything good is honourable." Oh,
what a leaden dagger!—for who will grant you your first premises? And if
it should be granted to you, then you have no need of the second: for if
everything good is praiseworthy, so is everything honourable; who, then,
will grant you this, except Pyrrho, Aristo, and men like them?—whom you do
not approve of. Aristotle, Xenocrates, and all that school, will not grant
it; inasmuch as they call health, strength, riches, glory, and many other
things good, but not praiseworthy; and they therefore do not think that
the chief good is contained in virtue alone, though still they do prefer
virtue to everything else. What do you think that those men will do who
have utterly separated virtue from the chief good, Epicurus, Hieronymus,
and those too, if indeed there are any such, who wish to defend the
definition of the chief good given by Carneades? And how will Callipho and
Diodorus be able to grant you what you ask, men who join to honourableness
something else which is not of the same genus?—Do you, then, think it
proper, Cato, after you have assumed premises which no one will grant to
you, to derive whatever conclusion you please from them? Take this
sorites, than which you think nothing can be more faulty: “That which is
good is desirable; that which is desirable ought to be sought for; that
which ought to be sought for is praiseworthy,” and so on through all the
steps. But I will stop here, for in the same manner no one will grant to
you that whatever ought to be sought is therefore praiseworthy; and that
other argument of theirs is far from a legitimate conclusion, but a most
stupid assertion, “that a happy life is one worthy of being boasted of.”
For it can never happen that a person may reasonably boast, without
something honourable in the circumstances. Polemo will grant this to Zeno;
and so will his master, and the whole of that school, and all the rest
who, preferring virtue by far to everything else, still add something
besides to it in their definition of the chief good. For, if virtue be a
thing worthy of being boasted of, as it is, and if it is so far superior
to all other things that it can scarcely be expressed how much better it
is; then a man may, possibly, be happy if endowed with virtue alone, and
destitute of everything else; and yet he will never grant to you that
nothing whatever is to be classed among goods, except virtue.

But those men whose chief good has no virtue in it, will perhaps not grant
to you that a happy life has anything in it of which a man can rightly
boast, although they also, at times, represent virtues as subjects for
boasting. You see, therefore, that you are either assuming propositions
which are not admitted, or else such as, even if they are granted, will do
you no good.

XIX. In truth, in all these conclusions, I should think this worthy both
of philosophy and of ourselves,—and that, too, most especially so when we
were inquiring into the chief good,—that our lives, and designs, and
wishes should be corrected, and not our expressions. For who, when he has
heard those brief and acute arguments of yours which, as you say, give you
so much pleasure, can ever have his opinion changed by them? For when men
fix their attention on them, and wish to hear why pain is not an evil,
they tell him that to be in pain is a bitter, annoying, odious, unnatural
condition, and one difficult to be borne; but, because there is in pain no
fraud, or dishonesty, or malice, or fault, or baseness, therefore it is
not an evil. Now, the man who hears this said, even if he does not care to
laugh, will still depart without being a bit more courageous as to bearing
pain than he was when he came. But you affirm that no one can be
courageous who thinks pain an evil. Why should he be more courageous if he
thinks it—what you yourself admit it to be—bitter and scarcely endurable?
For timidity is generated by things, and not by words. And you say, that
if one letter is moved, the whole system of the school will be undermined.
Do I seem, then, to you to be moving a letter, or rather whole pages? For
although the order of things, which is what you so especially extol, may
be preserved among them, and although everything may be well joined and
connected together, (for that is what you said,) still we ought not to
follow them too far, if arguments, having set out from false principles,
are consistent with themselves, and do not wander from the end they
propose to themselves.

Accordingly, in his first establishment of his system, your master, Zeno,
departed from nature; and as he had placed the chief good on that
superiority of disposition which we call virtue, and had affirmed that
there was nothing whatever good which was not honourable, and that virtue
could have no real existence if in other things there were things of which
one was better or worse than another; having laid down these premises, he
naturally maintained the conclusions. You say truly; for I cannot deny it.
But the conclusions which follow from his premises are so false that the
premises from which they are deduced cannot be true. For the
dialecticians, you know, teach us that if the conclusions which follow
from any premises are false, the premises from which they follow cannot be
true. And so that conclusion is not only true, but so evident that even
the dialecticians do not think it necessary that any reasons should be
given for it—“If that is the case, this is; but this is not; therefore
that is not.” And so, by denying your consequence, your premise is
contradicted. What follows, then?—“All who are not wise are equally
miserable; all wise men are perfectly happy: all actions done rightly are
equal to one another; all offences are equal.” But, though all these
propositions at first appear to be admirably laid down, after a little
consideration they are not so much approved of. For every man’s own
senses, and the nature of things, and truth itself, cried out, after a
fashion, that they could never be induced to believe that there was no
difference between those things which Zeno asserted to be equal.

XX. Afterwards that little Phœnician of yours (for you know that the
people of Citium, your clients, came from Phœnicia), a shrewd man, as he
was not succeeding in his case, since nature herself contradicted him,
began to withdraw his words; and first of all he granted in favour of
those things which we consider good, that they might be considered fit,
and useful, and adapted to nature; and he began to confess that it was
more advantageous for a wise—that is to say for a perfectly happy—man, to
have those things which he does not venture indeed to call goods, but yet
allows to be well adapted to nature. And he denies that Plato, if he were
not a wise man, would be in the same circumstances as the tyrant
Dionysius; for that to die was better for the one, because he despaired of
attaining wisdom, but to live was better for the other, because of his
hope of doing so. And he asserts that of offences some are tolerable, and
some by no means so, because many men passed by some offences, and there
are others which very few people pass by, on account of the number of
duties violated. Again, he said that some men are so foolish as to be
utterly unable ever to arrive at wisdom; but that there are others who, if
they had taken pains, might have attained to it. Now, in this he expressed
himself differently from any one else, but he thought just the same as all
the rest. Nor did he think those things deserving of being valued less
which he himself denied to be goods, than they did who considered them as
goods. What, then, did he wish to effect by having altered these names? At
least he would have taken something from their weight, and would have
valued them at rather less than the Peripatetics, in order to appear to
think in some respects differently from them, and not merely to speak so.

What more need I say? What do you say about the happy life to which
everything is referred? You affirm that it is not that life which is
filled with everything which nature requires; and you place it entirely in
virtue alone. And as every controversy is usually either about a fact or a
name, both kinds of dispute arise if either the fact is not understood or
if a mistake is made as to the name; and if neither of these is the case,
we must take care to use the most ordinary language possible, and words as
suitable as can be,—that is, such as make the subject plain. Is it, then,
doubtful that if the former philosophers have not erred at all as to the
fact itself, they certainly express themselves more conveniently? Let us,
then, examine their opinions, and then return to the question of names.

XXI. They say that the desire of the mind is excited when anything appears
to it to be according to nature; and that all things which are according
to nature are worthy of some esteem; and that they deserve to be esteemed
in proportion to the weight that there is in each of them: and that of
those things which are according to nature, some have in themselves
nothing of that appetite of which we have already frequently spoken, being
neither called honourable nor praiseworthy; and some, again, are
accompanied by pleasure in the case of every animal, and in the case of
man also with reason. And those of them which are suitable are honourable,
beautiful, and praiseworthy; but the others, mentioned before, are
natural, and, when combined with those which are honourable, make up and
complete a perfectly happy life. But they say, too, that of all these
advantages—to which those people do not attribute more importance who say
that they are goods, than Zeno does, who denies it—by far the most
excellent is that which is honourable and praiseworthy; but that if two
honourable things are both set before one, one accompanied with good
health and the other with sickness, it is not doubtful to which of them
nature herself will conduct us: but, nevertheless, that the power of
honourableness is so great, and that it is so far better than, and
superior to, everything else, that it can never be moved by any
punishments or by any bribes from that which it has decided to be right;
and that everything which appears hard, difficult, or unfortunate, can be
dissipated by those virtues with which we have been adorned by nature; not
because they are trivial or contemptible—or else where would be the merit
of the virtues?—but that we might infer from such an event, that it was
not in them that the main question of living happily or unhappily

In short, the things which Zeno has called estimable, and worth choosing,
and suitable to nature, they call goods; but they call that a happy life
which consists of those things which I have mentioned, or, if not of all,
at least of the greatest number of them, and of the most important. But
Zeno calls that the only good which has some peculiar beauty of its own to
make it desirable; and he calls that life alone happy which is passed with

XXII. If we are to discuss the reality of the case, then there cannot
possibly, Cato, be any disagreement between you and me: for there is
nothing on which you and I have different opinions; let us only compare
the real circumstances, after changing the names. Nor, indeed, did he fail
to see this; but he was delighted with the magnificence and splendour of
the language: and if he really felt what he said, and what his words
intimate, then what would be the difference between him and Pyrrho or
Aristo? But if he did not approve of them, then what was his object in
differing in language with those men with whom he agreed in reality?

What would you do if these Platonic philosophers, and those, too, who were
their pupils, were to come to life again, and address you thus:—“As, O
Marcus Cato, we heard that you were a man exceedingly devoted to
philosophy, a most just citizen, an excellent judge, and a most
conscientious witness, we marvelled what the reason was why you preferred
the Stoics to us; for they, on the subject of good and evil things,
entertain those opinions which Zeno learnt from Polemo; and use those
names which, when they are first heard, excite wonder, but when they are
explained, move only ridicule. But if you approved those doctrines so
much, why did you not maintain them in their own proper language? If
authority had influence with you, how was it that you preferred some
stranger to all of us and to Plato himself? especially while you were
desirous to be a chief man in the republic, and might have been
accomplished and equipped by us in a way to enable you to defend it to
your own great increase of dignity. For the means to such an end have been
investigated, described, marked down, and enjoined by us; and we have
written detailed accounts of the government of all republics, and their
descriptions, and constitutions, and changes,—and even of the laws, and
customs, and manners of all states. Moreover, how much eloquence, which is
the greatest ornament to leading men,—in which, indeed, we have heard that
you are very eminent,—might you have learnt, in addition to that which is
natural to you, from our records!” When they had said this, what answer
could you have made to such men? I would have entreated you, said he, who
had dictated their speech to them, to speak likewise for me, or else
rather to give me a little room to answer them myself, only that now I
prefer listening to you; and yet at another time I should be likely to
reply to them at the same time that I answer you.

XXIII. But if you were to answer truly, Cato, you would be forced to say
this—That you do not approve of those men, men of great genius and great
authority as they are. But that you have noticed that the things which, by
reason of their antiquity they have failed to see, have been thoroughly
comprehended by the Stoics, and that these latter have discussed the same
matters with more acuteness, and have also entertained more dignified and
courageous sentiments, inasmuch as, in the first place, they deny that
good health is to be desired, though they admit that it may be chosen; not
because to be well is a good, but because it is not to be utterly
disregarded, and yet that it does not appear to them of more value that it
does to those who do not hesitate to call it a good. And that you could
not endure that those ancients, those bearded men (as we are in the habit
of calling our own ancestors), should believe that the life of that man
who lived honourably, if he had also good health and a good reputation,
and was rich, was more desirable, better, and more to be sought for, than
that of him who was equally a good man in many respects, like the Alcmæon
of Ennius—

    Surrounded by disease, and exile sad,
    And cruel want.

Those ancients, then, must have been far from clever, to think that life
more desirable, better, and happier. But the Stoics think it only to be
preferred if one has a choice; not because this life is happier, but
because it is better adapted to nature; and they think that all who are
not wise are equally miserable. The Stoics, forsooth, thought this; but it
had entirely escaped the perception of those philosophers who preceded
them, for they thought that men stained with all sorts of parricide and
wickedness were not at all more miserable than those who, though they
lived purely and uprightly, had not yet attained complete wisdom.

And while on this topic, you brought forth those similes which they are in
the habit of employing, which are, in truth, no similes at all. For who is
ignorant that, if many men should choose to emerge from the deep, those
would be nearer breathing who came close to the surface, but still would
not be actually able to breathe any more than those who are at the bottom?
Therefore, on your principles, it is of no avail to make progress and
advancement in virtue, in order to be less utterly miserable before you
have actually arrived at it, since it is of no use in the case of men in
the water. And since puppies who are on the point of opening their eyes,
are just as blind as those that are but this moment born; it is plain also
that Plato, as he had not yet seen wisdom, was as blind in his intellect
as Phalaris.

XXIV. These cases are not alike, Cato. For in these instances, though you
may have made a good deal of progress, still you are in exactly the same
evil from which you wish to be free, till you have entirely escaped. For a
man does not breathe till he has entirely emerged, and puppies are just as
blind till they have opened their eyes, as if they were never going to
open them. I will give you some instances that really are like. One man’s
eyes are bad, another is weak in his body; these men are both gradually
relieved by the daily application of remedies. The one gets better every
day, and the other sees better. Now these men resemble all those who study
virtue. They are relieved of their vices; they are relieved of their
errors. Unless, perchance, you think that Tiberius Gracchus, the father,
was not happier than his son, when the one laboured to establish the
republic, and the other to subvert it. And yet he was not a wise man. For
who taught him wisdom? or when? or where? or whence did he learn it?
Still, because he consulted his twin glory and dignity, he had made great
progress in virtue.

But I will compare your grandfather, Drusus, with Caius Gracchus, who was
nearly his contemporary. He healed the wounds which the other inflicted on
the republic. But there is nothing which makes men so miserable as impiety
and wickedness. Grant that all those who are unwise are miserable, as, in
fact, they are; still he is not equally miserable who consults the
interest of his country with him who wishes for its destruction.
Therefore, those men are already a great deal relieved from their vices
who have made any considerable advance towards virtue. But the men of your
school admit that advance towards virtue can be made, but yet assert that
no relief from vices takes place in consequence.

But it is worth while to consider on what arguments acute men rely for
proving this point. Those arts, say they, of which the perfection can be
increased, show that the completeness of their contraries can likewise be
increased. But no addition can be made to the perfection of virtue.
Therefore, also, vices will not be susceptible of any increase, for they
are the contraries of virtues. Shall we say, then, that things which are
doubtful are made plain by things which are evident, or that things which
are evident are obscured by things that are doubtful? But this is evident,
that different vices are greater in different people. This is doubtful,
whether any addition can be made to that which you call the chief good.
But you, while what you ought to do is to try and illustrate what is
doubtful by what is evident, endeavour to get rid of what is evident by
what is doubtful. And, therefore, you will find yourself hampered by the
same reasoning which I used just now. For if it follows that some vices
are not greater than others, because no addition can be made to that chief
good which you describe, since it is quite evident that the vices of all
men are not equal, you must change your definition of the chief good. For
we must inevitably maintain this rule, that when a consequence is false,
the premises from which the consequence proceeds cannot be true.

XXV. What, then, is the cause of these difficulties? A vain-glorious
parade in defining the chief good. For when it is positively asserted that
what is honourable is the sole good, all care for one’s health, all
attention to one’s estate, all regard for the government of the republic,
all regularity in transacting business, all the duties of life, in short,
are put an end to. Even that very honourableness, in which alone you
assert that everything is comprised, must be abandoned. All which
arguments are carefully urged against Ariston by Chrysippus. And from that
embarrassment it is that all those fallaciously speaking wiles, as Attius
calls them, have arisen. For because wisdom had no ground on which to rest
her foot, when all the duties were taken away, (and duties were taken away
when all power of selection and discrimination was denied; for what
choice, or what discrimination could there be when all things were so
completely equal that there was no difference whatever between them?) from
these difficulties there arose worse errors than even those of Aristo. For
his arguments were at all events simple; those of your school are full of

For suppose you were to ask Aristo whether these things, freedom from
pain, riches, and good health, appear to him to be goods? He would deny
it. What next? Suppose you ask him whether the contraries of these things
are bad? He would deny that equally. Suppose you were to ask Zeno the same
question? He would give you the same answer, word for word. Suppose
further, that we, being full of astonishment, were to ask them both how it
will be possible for us to live, if we think that it makes not the least
difference to us whether we are well or sick; whether we are free from
pain or tormented by it; whether we are able or unable to endure cold and
hunger? You will live, says Aristo, magnificently and excellently, doing
whatever seems good to you. You will never be vexed, you will never desire
anything, you will never fear anything. What will Zeno say? He says that
all these ideas are monstrous, and that it is totally impossible for any
one to live on these principles; but that there is some extravagant, some
immense difference between what is honourable and what is base; that
between other things, indeed, there is no difference at all. He will also
say—(listen to what follows, and do not laugh, if you can help it)—all
those intermediate things, between which there is no difference, are
nevertheless such that some of them are to be chosen, others rejected, and
others utterly disregarded; that is to say, that you may wish for some,
wish to avoid others, and be totally indifferent about others. But you
said just now, O Zeno, that there was no difference whatever between these
things. And now I say the same, he replies; and that there is no
difference whatever as respects virtues and vices. Well, I should like to
know who did not know that?

XXVI. However, let us hear a little more. Those things, says he, which you
have mentioned, to be well, to be rich, to be free from pain, I do not
call goods; but I will call them in Greek προηγμένα (which you may
translate by the Latin _producta_, though I prefer _præposita_ or
_præcipua_, for they are more easily comprehended and more applicable
terms). And again, the contraries, want, sickness, and pain, I do not call
evils, though I have no objection to styling them (if you wish) things to
be rejected. And, therefore, I do not say that I seek for them first, but
that I choose them; not that I wish for them, but that I accept them. And
so, too, I do not say that I flee from the contraries; but that I, as it
were, keep aloof from them. What says Aristotle and the rest of the
disciples of Plato? Why, that they call everything good which is according
to nature; and that whatever is contrary to nature they call evil.

Do you not see, then, that your master Zeno agrees with Aristo in words,
but differs from him as to facts; but that he agrees with Aristotle and
those other philosophers as to facts, but differs from them only in words?
Why, then, when we are agreed as to facts, do we not prefer speaking in
the ordinary manner? Let him teach me either that I shall be more prepared
to despise money, if I reckon it only among things preferred, than if I
count it among goods; and that I shall have more fortitude to endure pain
if I call it bitter, and difficult to bear, and contrary to nature, than
if I pronounce it an evil. Marcus Piso, my intimate, also was a very witty
man, and used to ridicule the Stoics for their language on this topic: for
what was he used to say? “You deny that riches are a good, but call them
something to be preferred. What good do you do by that? do you diminish
avarice? But if we mind words, then, in the first place, your expression,
to be preferred, is longer than good.” “That has nothing to do with the
matter.” “I dare say it has not, but still it is a more difficult
expression. For I do not know what the word good is derived from; but the
word preferred I suppose means that it is preferred to other things. That
appears to me to be important.” Therefore, he insisted upon it, that more
consequence was attributed to riches by Zeno, who placed them among things
preferred, than by Aristotle, who admitted that they were a good. Still he
did not say that they were a great good, but rather such an one as was to
be despised and scorned in comparison of what was right and honourable,
and never one to be greatly sought after. And altogether, he argued in
this way, about all those expressions which had been altered by Zeno, both
as to what he denied to be goods, and as to those things to which he
referred the name of evil; saying that the first received from him a more
joyful title than they did from us; and the latter a more gloomy one.

XXVII. Piso, then—a most excellent man, and, as you well know, a great
friend of yours—used to argue in this manner. And now let us make an end
of this, after we have just said a few additional words. For it would take
a long time to reply to all your assertions.

For from the same tricks with words, originate all those kingdoms, and
commands, and riches, and universal dominion which you say belong to the
wise man. You say besides, that he alone is handsome, he alone is free, he
alone is a citizen; and that everything which is the contrary of all these
things belongs to the foolish man, who is also insane, as you assert they
call these assertions παράδοξα; we may call them marvellous. And yet what
marvel is there in them when you come nearer to them? I will just examine
the matter with you, and see what meaning you affix to each word; there
shall be no dispute between us. You say that all offences are equal. I
will not speak to you now, as I spoke on the same subject when I was
defending Lucius Murena, whom you prosecuted; then I was addressing an
unphilosophical audience; something too was to be directed to the
bystanders in court; at present, we must proceed more precisely. In what
way can all offences be called equal? Because nothing is more honourable
than what is honourable; nothing more base than what is base. Go on a
little further, for there is a great dispute as to this point; let us
examine those arguments, which are especially your own, why all offences
are equal. As, says he, in many lyres, if not one of them is so well in
tune as to be able to preserve the harmony, all are equally out of tune;
so because offences differ from what is right, they will differ equally;
therefore they are equal: now here we are being mocked with an ambiguous
expression. For it equally happens to all the lyres to be out of tune, but
not to them all to be equally out of tune. Therefore, that comparison does
not help you at all. For it would not follow if we were to say that every
avarice is equally avarice, that therefore every case of avarice was
equal. Here is another simile which is no simile; for as, says he, a pilot
blunders equally if he wrecks a ship loaded with straw, as if he wrecks
one loaded with gold; so, too, he sins equally who beats his parent, with
him who beats a slave unjustly. This is not seeing that it has no
connexion with the art of the pilot what cargo the ship carries: and
therefore that it makes no difference with respect to his steering well or
ill, whether his freight is straw or gold. But it can and ought to be
understood what the difference is between a parent and a slave; therefore
it makes no difference with respect to navigation, but a great deal with
respect to duty, what the description of thing may be which is affected by
the blunder. And if, in navigation, a ship has been wrecked through
carelessness, the offence then becomes more serious if gold is lost, than
if it is only straw. For in all arts we insist upon the exercise of what
is called common prudence; which all men who have the management of any
business entrusted to them are bound to possess. And so even in this
instance offences are not equal.

XXVIII. However, they press on, and relax nothing. Since, say they, every
offence is one of imbecility and inconsistency, and since these vices are
equally great in all fools, it follows necessarily that offences are
equal: as if it were admitted that vices are equally great in all fools,
and that Lucius Tubulus was a man of the same imbecility and inconsistency
as Publius Scævola, on whose motion he was condemned; and as if there were
no difference at all between the things themselves which are the subject
of the offences; so that, in proportion as they are more or less
important, the offences committed in respect of them are so too.

Therefore, for I may now bring this discourse to an end, your Stoics seem
to me to be most especially open to this charge, that they fancy they can
support two opposite propositions. For what is so inconsistent as for the
same person to say that what is honourable is the only good, and also that
the desire of things adapted for human life proceeds from nature? But when
they wish to maintain the arguments which are suitable for the former
propositions, they agree with Aristo; when they avoid that, they in
reality are upholding the same doctrines as the Peripatetics; they cling
to words with great tenacity; and as they cannot bear to have them taken
from them one after another, they become more fierce, and rough, and
harsher both in their language and manners. But Panætius, wishing to avoid
their moroseness and asperity, would not approve of either the bitterness
of their sentiments, or their captious way of arguing: and so in one
respect he was more gentle, and in the other more intelligible. And he was
always quoting Plato, and Aristotle, and Xenocrates, and Theophrastus, and
Dicæarchus, as his own writings show. And indeed, I feel very sure that it
would do you a great deal of good if you too were to study those authors
with care and diligence.

But since it is getting towards evening, and I must return to my villa, we
will stop this discussion at this point, but we will often return to it on
other occasions. Indeed we will, said he, for what can we do better? And
indeed I shall require of you to give me a hearing while I refute what you
have said; but recollect that you approve of all our opinions, charging us
only with using words incorrectly; but that we do not approve of one
single one of your ideas. You are throwing a stone at me as I depart, said
I; however, we shall see. And when we had thus spoken we separated.

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

I. One day when I had been hearing Antiochus lecture, as I was in the
habit of doing, O Brutus, in company with Marcus Piso, in that gymnasium
which is called Ptolemy’s, my brother Quintus being with me, and Titus
Pomponius, and Lucius Cicero, our cousin on the father’s side as to
relationship, but our own brother as to affection, we determined to take
our afternoon’s walk in the Academy, principally because at that time of
day that place was free from any crowd. Accordingly, at the appointed time
we all met at Piso’s house, and from thence we walked half-a-dozen
furlongs from the Dipylus to the Academy, beguiling the road with
discourse on various subjects; and when we had arrived at the deservedly
celebrated space of the Academy, we there found the solitude which we
desired. Then said Piso—Shall I say that this is implanted in us by
nature, or by some mistake, that when we see those places which we have
heard that men who deserve to be had in recollection have much frequented,
we are more moved than when we hear even of their actual deeds, or than
when we read some one of their writings?—just as I am affected now. For
the remembrance of Plato comes into my mind, whom we understand to have
been the first person who was accustomed to dispute in this place; and
whose neighbouring gardens not only recal him vividly to my recollection,
but seem even to place the man himself before my eyes. Here Speusippus,
here Xenocrates, here his pupil Polemo used to walk; and the latter used
to sit in the very spot which is now before us. There is our senate-house
(I mean the Curia Hostilia,(48) not this new one, which always seems to me
smaller, though in fact it is larger): whenever I have looked upon that I
have always thought of Scipio, and Cato, and Lælius, and more especially
of my own grandfather. So great a power of reminding one of circumstances
exists in the places themselves, that it is not without reason that some
people have built up a system of memory in them. Then Quintus said—It is
just as you say, Piso: for as I was coming here just now, that district of
Colonos drew my attention to itself, whose inhabitant, Sophocles, was
brought at once before my eyes: for you know how I admire, and how I
delight in him: and accordingly a sort of appearance moved me, an
unsubstantial one indeed, but still it did move me to a more vivid
recollection of Œdipus coming hither, and asking in most melodious verse
what all these places were. Then Pomponius said—I whom you all are always
attacking as devoted to Epicurus, am often with Phædrus, who is a
particular friend of mine, as you know, in the gardens of Epicurus, which
we passed by just this moment; but, according to the warning of the old
proverb, I remember the living; still I may not forget Epicurus, even if
were to wish to do so, whose likeness our friends have not only in
pictures, but even on their goblets and rings.

II. On this I chimed in:—Our friend Pomponius, said I, appears to be
joking, and perhaps he has a right to do so; for he has established
himself at Athens in such a way that he has almost become an Athenian, and
indeed so as to seem likely to earn such a surname. But I, Piso, agree
with you that we do get into a habit of thinking a good deal more
earnestly and deeply on illustrious men in consequence of the warnings of
place. For you know that once I went with you to Metapontum, and did not
turn into the house of my entertainer until I had seen the very place
where Pythagoras passed his life, and his house; and at this present time,
although all over Athens there are many traces of eminent men in the
places themselves, still I am greatly affected by this seat which is
before me. For here Charmadas lately sat,—a man whom I seem to see, for
his likeness is well known to me, and I can fancy that his voice is
regretted by the very seat itself, deprived as it is now of such a
brilliant genius. Then Piso said—Since, now, we have all said something,
what does our friend Lucius think? is he glad to visit that spot where
Demosthenes and Æschines used to contend together? for every one is
chiefly attracted by his own particular study. And he blushed, and
answered—Do not ask me, who went down even to the harbour of Phalerum,
where they say that Demosthenes used to declaim to the waves, in order to
accustom himself to outvoice the roaring of the sea. I turned aside also
out of the road, a little to the right, to approach the tomb of Pericles;
although, indeed, such records are countless in this city, for wherever we
step we place our foot on some history.

Then Piso continued:—But, Cicero, said he, those inclinations are the
inclinations of clever men, if they lead to the imitation of great men;
but if they only tend to bringing up again the traces of ancient
recollections, that is mere curiosity. But we all exhort you,—though you
of your own accord, as I hope, are running that way,—to imitate those men
whom you wish that you had known. Although, I replied, our friend Piso
here does, as you see, what you recommended, still your exhortation is
pleasing to me. Then said he, in a most friendly manner, as was his
wont,—Let all of us, then, contribute every assistance to his youth,
especially urging him to devote some of his studies to philosophy, either
for the sake of imitating you whom he loves, or else of being able to do
what he is desirous to do with more elegance. But do you, O Lucius, said
he, require to be exhorted by us, or are you inclined that way of your own
accord? You appear, indeed, to me to be very assiduous in your attendance
on Antiochus, whose pupil you are. Then replied he, timidly,—or, I ought
rather to say, modestly,—I am indeed; but did you not just now hear
Charmadas’s name mentioned? I am attracted in that direction, but
Antiochus drags me back again; nor is there any one else whose lectures it
would be possible to attend.

III. Piso replied—Although, while our friend here (meaning me) is present,
this matter will perhaps not be quite so easy; yet I will endeavour to
call you back from this New Academy to that ancient one, in which (as you
used to hear Antiochus say) those men are not alone reckoned who are
called Academics,—Speusippus, Xenocrates, Polemo, Crantor, and the rest;
but the old Peripatetics also, the chief of whom was Aristotle, whom, next
to Plato, I think I may fairly call the prince of philosophers. Turn
yourself, therefore, I entreat you, to those men; for from their writings
and systems all liberal learning, all history, all elegance of language,
may be derived; and also, so great is the variety of arts of which they
were masters, that no one can come properly armed for any business of
importance and credit without being tolerably versed in their writings. It
is owing to them that men have turned out orators, generals, and
statesmen; and, to descend to less important matters, it is from this
Academy, as from a regular magazine of all the arts, that mathematicians,
poets, musicians, aye, and physicians too, have proceeded.

I replied—You know well, O Piso, that my opinion is the same: but still
the mention of it by you was very seasonable; for my relation Cicero is
anxious to hear what was the doctrine of that Old Academy which you have
been speaking of, and of the Peripatetics, about the chief good; and we
think that you can very easily explain it to us, because you entertained
Staseas the Neapolitan in your house for many years, and because, too, we
are aware that you have been many months at Athens, investigating these
very things, as a pupil of Antiochus. And he said, with a laugh, Come,
come,—for you have very cleverly drawn me in to begin the discussion,—let
us explain it to the young man if we can; for this solitude gives us the
opportunity: but, even if a god had told me so, I would never have
believed that I should be disputing in the Academy, like a philosopher.
However, I hope I shall not annoy the rest of you while complying with his
request. Annoy me, said I, who asked you? Quintus and Pomponius also said
that they entertained the same wish; so he began. And I beg of you,
Brutus, to consider whether what he said appears to you to sufficiently
embrace the doctrines of Antiochus, which I know you, who were a constant
attendant on the lectures of his brother Aristus, approve of highly. Thus
he spoke:—

IV. What great elegance there is in the Peripatetic system I have
explained a little time ago, as briefly as I could. But the form of the
system, as is the case with most of the other schools, is threefold: one
division being that of nature; the second, that of arguing; the third,
that of living. Nature has been investigated by them so thoroughly that
there is no part of heaven, or earth, or sea (to speak like a poet), which
they have passed over. Moreover, after having treated of the origin of
things, and of the universal world, so as to prove many points not only by
probable arguments, but even by the inscrutable demonstrations of
mathematicians, they brought from the subjects which they had investigated
abundant materials to assist in attaining to the knowledge of secret
things. Aristotle investigated the birth, and way of living, and figure of
every animal; Theophrastus examined the causes, and principles, and
natures of plants, and of almost everything which is produced out of the
earth; by which knowledge the investigation of the most secret things is
rendered easier. Also, they have given rules for arguing, not only
logically, but oratorically; and a system of speaking in both these
manners, on every subject, has been laid down by Aristotle, their chief;
so that he did not always argue against everything, as Arcesilas did; and
yet he furnished one on every subject with arguments to be used on both
sides of it.

But, as the third division was occupied about the rules of living well, it
was also brought back by those same people, not only to the system of
private life, but also to the direction of affairs of state. For from
Aristotle we have acquired a knowledge of the manners, and customs, and
institutions of almost every state, not of Greece only, but also of the
Barbarians; and from Theophrastus we have learnt even their laws: and each
of them taught what sort of man a leader in a state ought to be, and also
wrote at great length to explain what was the best constitution for a
state. But Theophrastus also detailed very copiously what were the natural
inclinations of affairs, and what the influences of opportunities which
required regulating as occasion might demand. And as for living, a quiet
method of life appeared to them to be the best, passed in the
contemplation and knowledge of things; which, inasmuch as it had the
greatest resemblance to the life of the gods, appeared to them to be most
worthy of a wise man; and on these subjects they held very lofty and
dignified language.

V. But respecting the chief good, because there are two kinds of
books,—one addressed to the people, which they used to call ἐξωτερικὸν,
the other written in a more polished style, which they left behind in
commentaries,—they appear not always to say the same thing; and yet in
their ultimate conclusion there is no variety in the language of the men
whom I have named, nor is there any disagreement between them. But, as a
happy life is the object of search, and as that is the only thing which
philosophy ought to pursue and regard, there never appears to be the least
difference or doubt in their writings, as to whether happiness is wholly
in the power of the wise man, or whether it can be undermined or taken
from him by adversity. And this point is the especial subject of the book
of Theophrastus, on a Happy Life; in which a great deal is attributed to
fortune: and if that theory is correct, then wisdom cannot make life
happy. Now, this seems to me rather too tender (if I may say so) and
delicate a doctrine, more so than the power and importance of virtue can
sanction. Wherefore let us rather hold with Aristotle, and his son
Nicomachus,—whose admirably written books on Morals are said, indeed, to
be Aristotle’s; but I do not see why the son may not have been like his
father; but, in most cases, let us apply to Theophrastus, as long as we
attribute a little more firmness and strength to virtue than he did.

Let us, then, be content with these guides; for their successors are wiser
men, indeed, in my opinion, than the philosophers of other schools: but
still they degenerate so from these great men, that they seem to me rather
to have arisen from themselves than from them. In the first place, Strato,
the pupil of Theophrastus, called himself a natural philosopher: and
though, in truth, he is an eminent man in that line, still most of what he
said was novel; and he said very little about morals. His pupil Lyco was
rich in eloquence, but very meagre in matter. Then his pupil Aristo was a
neat and elegant writer, but still he had not that dignity which we look
for in a great philosopher: he wrote a great deal, certainly, and in a
polished style; but, somehow or other, his writings do not carry any
weight. I pass over several, and among them that learned man and pleasant
writer, Hieronymus; and I do not know why I should call him a Peripatetic,
for he defined the chief good to be freedom from pain: and he who
disagrees with me about the chief good, disagrees with me about the whole
principle of philosophy. Critolaus wished to copy the ancients; and,
indeed, he comes nearest to them in dignity, and his eloquence is
preeminent: still he adheres to the ancient doctrine. Diodorus, his pupil,
adds to honourableness freedom from pain: he, too, clings to a theory of
his own; and, as he disagrees from them about the chief good, he is hardly
entitled to be called a Peripatetic. But my friend Antiochus seems to me
to pursue the opinions of the ancients with the greatest care; and he
shows that they coincided with the doctrines of Aristotle and Polemo.

VI. My young friend Lucius, therefore, acts prudently when he wishes
chiefly to be instructed about the chief good; for when this point is once
settled in philosophy, everything is settled. For in other matters, if
anything is passed over, or if we are ignorant of anything, the
inconvenience thus produced is no greater than the importance the matter
is of in which the omission has taken place; but if one is ignorant of
what is the chief good, one must necessarily be ignorant of the true
principles of life; and from this ignorance such great errors ensue that
they cannot tell to what port to betake themselves. But when one has
acquired a knowledge of the chief ends,—when one knows what is the chief
good and the chief evil,—then a proper path of life, and a proper
regulation of all the duties of life, is found out.

There is, therefore, an object to which everything may be referred; from
which a system of living happily, which is what every one desires, may be
discovered and adopted. But since there is a great division of opinion as
to what that consists in, we had better employ the division of Carneades,
which our friend Antiochus prefers, and usually adopts. He therefore saw
not only how many different opinions of philosophers on the subject of the
chief good there were, but how many there could be. Accordingly, he
asserted that there was no art which proceeded from itself; for, in truth,
that which is comprehended by an art is always exterior to the art. There
is no need of prolonging this argument by adducing instances; for it is
evident that no art is conversant about itself, but that the art itself is
one thing, and the object which is proposed to be attained by the art
another. Since, therefore, prudence is the art of living, just as medicine
is of health, or steering of navigation, it follows unavoidably that that
also must have been established by, and must proceed from, something else.
But it is agreed among almost all people, that that object with which
prudence is conversant, and which it wishes to arrive at, ought to be
fitted and suited to nature, and to be of such a character as by itself to
invite and attract that desire of the mind which the Greeks call ὁρμή. But
as to what it is which causes this excitement, and which is so greatly
desired by nature from its first existence, it is not agreed; and, indeed,
there is a great dissension on the subject among philosophers whenever the
chief good is the subject of investigation: for the source of this whole
question which is agitated as to the chief good and evil, when men inquire
what is the extreme and highest point of either, must be traced back, and
in that will be found the primitive inducements of nature; and when it is
found, then the whole discussion about the chief good and evil proceeds
from it as from a spring.

VII. Some people consider the first desire to be a desire of pleasure, and
the first thing which men seek to ward off to be pain: others think that
the first thing wished for is freedom from pain, and the first thing
shunned, pain; and from these men others proceed, who call the first goods
natural ones; among which they reckon the safety and integrity of all
one’s parts, good health, the senses unimpaired, freedom from pain,
strength, beauty, and other things of the same sort, the images of which
are the first things in the mind, like the sparks and seeds of the
virtues. And of these three, as there is some one thing by which nature is
originally moved to feel desire, or to repel something, and as it is
impossible that there should be anything except these three things, it
follows unavoidably that every duty, whether of avoiding or of pursuing
anything, is referred to some one of these things; so that that prudence,
which we have called the art of life, is always conversant about some one
of these three things from which it derives the beginning of the whole
life: and from that which it has pronounced to be the original cause by
which nature is excited, the principle of what is right and honourable
arises; which can agree with some one of these three divisions; so that it
is honourable to do everything for the sake of pleasure, even if you do
not obtain it; or else for the sake of avoiding pain, though you may not
be able to compass that; or else of getting some one of those things which
are according to nature. And thus it comes about that there is as much
difference between the chief good and the chief evil as there is in their
natural principles. Others again, starting from the same beginning, refer
everything either to pleasure or to freedom from pain, or else to the
attainment of those primary goods which are according to nature.

Now then that we have detailed six opinions about the chief good, these
are the chief advocates of the three last-mentioned opinions,—Aristippus,
the advocate of pleasure; Hieronymus, of freedom from pain; and Carneades,
of the enjoyment of those things which we have called the principal things
in accordance with nature (though he, indeed, was not the author of this
theory, but only its advocate, for the sake of maintaining a debate). Now,
the three former were such as might possibly be true, though only one of
them was defended, and that was vehemently maintained. For no one says,
that to do everything for the sake of pleasure, or that, even though we
obtain nothing, still the very design of acting so is of itself desirable,
and honourable, and the only good; no one ever even placed the avoidance
of pain (not even if it could be avoided) among things intrinsically
desirable; but to do everything with a view to obtain the things which are
according to nature, even though we do not succeed in obtaining them, the
Stoics do affirm to be honourable, and the only thing to be desired for
its own sake, and the only good.

VIII. These, then, are six plain opinions about the chief good and the
chief evil,—two having no advocate, but four being defended. But of united
and twofold explanations of the chief good there were in all three; nor
could there be more if you examine the nature of things thoroughly. For
either pleasure can be added to honourableness, as Callipho and Dinomachus
thought; or freedom from pain, as Diodorus asserted; or the first gifts of
nature, as the ancients said, whom we call at the same time Academics and
Peripatetics. But, since everything cannot be said at once, at present
these things ought to be known, that pleasure ought to be excluded; since,
as it will presently appear, we have been born for higher purposes; and
nearly the same may be said of freedom from pain as of pleasure. Since
then we have discussed pleasure with Torquatus, and honourableness (in
which alone every good was to consist) with Cato; in the first place, the
arguments which were urged against pleasure are nearly equally applicable
to freedom from pain. Nor, indeed, need we seek for any others to reply to
that opinion of Carneades; for in whatever manner the chief good is
explained, so as to be unconnected with honourableness, in that system
duty, and virtue, and friendship, can have no place. But the union of
either pleasure or freedom from pain with honourableness, makes that very
honourableness which it wishes to embrace dishonourable; for to refer what
you do to those things, one of which asserts the man who is free from evil
to be in the enjoyment of the chief good, while the other is conversant
with the most trifling part of our nature, is rather the conduct of a man
who would obscure the whole brilliancy of honourableness—I might almost
say, who would pollute it.

The Stoics remain, who after they had borrowed everything from the
Peripatetics and Academics, pursued the same objects under different
names. It is better to reply to them all separately. But let us stick to
our present subject; we can deal with those men at a more convenient
season. But the “security” of Democritus, which is as it were a sort of
tranquillity of the mind which they all εὐθυμία, deserved to be separated
from this discussion, because that tranquillity of the mind is of itself a
happy life. What we are inquiring, however, is not what it is, but whence
it is derived. The opinions of Pyrrho, Aristo, and Herillus, have long ago
been exploded and discarded, as what can never be applicable to this
circle of discussion to which we limit ourselves, and which had no need to
have been ever mentioned; for as the whole of this inquiry is about the
chief, and what I may call the highest good and evil, it ought to start
from that point which we call suitable and adapted to nature, and which is
sought of itself for itself. Now this is wholly put out of the question by
those who deny that in those things in which there is nothing either
honourable or dishonourable, there is any reason why one thing should be
preferred to another, and who think that there is actually no difference
whatever between those things. And Herillus, if he thought that nothing
was good except knowledge, put an end to all reason for taking counsel,
and to all inquiry about duty. Thus, after we have got rid of the opinions
of the rest, as there can be no other, this doctrine of the ancients must
inevitably prevail.

IX. Therefore, after the fashion of the ancients, which the Stoics also
adopt, let us make this beginning:—Every animal loves itself, and as soon
as it is born labours to preserve itself, because this is the first desire
given to it by nature, to regulate its whole life, to preserve itself, and
to be so disposed as it best may in accordance with nature. At the
beginning it has such a confused and uncertain kind of organization that
it can only just take care of itself, whatever it is; but it does not
understand either what it is, or what its powers are, or what its nature
is. But when it has advanced a little, and begins to perceive how far
anything touches it, or has reference to it, then it begins gradually to
improve, and to comprehend itself, and to understand for what cause it has
that appetite of the mind which I have spoken of; and begins also to
desire those things which it feels to be suited to its nature, and to keep
off the contrary. Therefore, in the case of every animal, what it wishes
is placed in that thing which is adapted to its nature. And so the chief
good is to live according to nature, with the best disposition and the
most suitable to nature that can be engendered.

But since every animal has his own peculiar nature, it is plain that the
object of each must be to have his nature satisfied. For there is no
hindrance to there being some things in common to all other animals, and
some common both to men and beasts, since the nature of all is common. But
that highest and chief good and evil which we are in search of, is
distributed and divided among the different kinds of animals, each having
its own peculiar good and evil, adapted to that end which the nature of
each class of animal requires. Wherefore, when we say that the chief good
to all animals is to live according to nature, this must be understood as
if we said that they had all the same chief good. But as it may truly be
said to be common to all arts to be conversant about some science, and
that there is a separate science belonging to each art, so we may say that
it is common to all animals to live according to nature, but that there
are different natures; so that the horse has by nature one chief good, the
ox another, man another; and yet in all there is one common end; and that
is the case too, not only in animals, but also in all those things which
nature nourishes, causes to grow, and protects; in which we see that those
things which are produced out of the earth, somehow or other by their own
energy create many things for themselves which have influence on their
life and growth, and so each in their own kind they arrive at the chief
good. So that we may now embrace all such in one comprehensive statement;
and I need not hesitate to say, that every nature is its own preserver;
and has for its object, as its end and chief good, to protect itself in
the best possible condition that its kind admits of; so that it follows
inevitably that all things which flourish by nature have a similar but
still not the same end. And from this it should be understood, that the
chief and highest good to man is to live according to nature which we may
interpret thus,—to live according to that nature of a man which is made
perfect on all sides, and is in need of nothing. These things then we must
explain; and if our explanation is rather minute, you will excuse it; for
we are bound to consider the youth of our hearer, and the fact that he is
now perhaps listening to such a discourse for the first time. Certainly,
said I; although what you have said hitherto might be very properly
addressed to hearers of any age.

X. Since then, said he, we have explained the limit of those things which
are to be desired, we must next show why the facts are as I have stated
them. Wherefore, let us set out from the position which I first laid down,
which is also in reality the first, so that we may understand that every
animal loves itself. And though there is no doubt of this, (for it is a
principle fixed deep in nature itself, and is comprehended by the sense of
every one, in such a degree that if any one wished to argue against it, he
would not be listened to,) yet, that I may not pass over anything, I think
it as well to adduce some reasons why this is the case. Although, how can
any one either understand or fancy that there is any animal which hates
itself? It would be a contradiction of facts; for when that appetite of
the mind has begun designedly to attract anything to itself which is an
hindrance to it, because it is an enemy to itself,—when it does that for
its own sake, it will both hate itself and love itself, which is
impossible. It is unavoidable that, if any one is an enemy to himself, he
must think those things bad which are good, and, on the other hand, those
things good which are bad; that he must avoid those things which he ought
to seek, and seek what he ought to avoid; all which habits are indubitably
the overturning of life. For even if some people are found who seek for
halters or other modes of destruction, or, like the man in Terence, who
determined “for such a length of time to do less injury to his son,” (as
he says himself,) “until he becomes miserable,” it does not follow that
they are to be thought enemies to themselves. But some are influenced by
pain, others by desire; many again are carried away by passion, and while
they knowingly run into evils, still fancy that they are consulting their
own interests most excellently; and, therefore, they unhesitatingly say—

    That is my way; do you whate’er you must—

like men who have declared war against themselves, who like to be tortured
all day and tormented all night, and who yet do not accuse themselves of
having omitted to consult their own interests; for this is a complaint
made by those men who are dear to and who love themselves.

Wherefore, whenever a man is said to be but little obliged to himself, to
be a foe and enemy to himself, and in short to flee from life, it should
be understood that there is some cause of that kind lying beneath the
surface; so that it may be understood from that very instance that every
one is dear to himself. Nor is it sufficient that there has never been any
one who hated himself; but we must understand also that there is no one
who thinks that it is a matter of indifference to him in what condition he
is; for all desire of the mind will be put an end to if, as in those
things between which there is no difference we are not more inclined to
either side, so also, in the case of our own selves, we think it makes no
difference to us in what way we are affected.

XI. And this also would be a very absurd thing if any one were to say it,
namely, that a man is loved by himself in such a manner that that vehement
love is referred to some other thing, and not to that very man who loves
himself. Now when this is said in the case of friendship, of duty, or of
virtue, however it is said, it is still intelligible what is meant by it;
but in regard to our own selves, it cannot even be understood that we
should love ourselves for the sake of something else, or in a word, for
the sake of pleasure. For it is for our sakes that we love pleasure, and
not for the sake of pleasure that we love ourselves; although what can be
more evident than that every one is not only dear, but excessively dear to
himself? For who is there, or at all events how few are there, who when
death approaches, does not find

    His heart’s blood chill’d with sudden fear,
    His cheek grow pale?

and if it is a vice to dread the dissolution of nature so excessively,
(and the same thing on the same principle may be asserted of our aversion
to pain,) still the fact that nearly every one is affected in this manner,
is a sufficient proof that nature abhors destruction. And though some men
show this dread or aversion to such a degree that they are deservedly
blamed for it, still this may show us that such feelings would not be so
excessive in some people, if a moderate degree of them were not implanted
in mankind by nature.

Nor, indeed, do I mean that fear of death which is shown by those men who,
because they think that they are being deprived of the goods of life, or
because they fear some terrible events after death, or who, because they
are afraid of dying in pain, therefore shun death; for in the case of
children, who can have no such ideas or apprehensions, they often show
fear if, when playing with them, we threaten to throw them down from any
place; and even beasts, as Pacuvius says,

    Who have no cunning, or prophetic craft
    To ward off danger ere it come,

shudder when the fear of death comes before them. And, indeed, who
entertains a different opinion of the wise man himself? who, even when he
has decided that he must die, still is affected by the departure from his
family, and by the fact that he must leave the light of day. And above all
is the power of nature visible in the human race, since many endure
beggary to preserve life, and men worn out with old age are tortured with
the idea of the approach of death, and endure such things as we see
Philoctetes in the play suffer, who, while he was kept in torture by
intolerable pains, nevertheless preserved his life by the game which he
could kill with his arrows.

    He, though slow, o’ertook the swift,
    He stood and slew the flying—

as Attius says, and made himself coverings for his body by plaiting the
feathers together. I am speaking of mankind, and, indeed, generally of all
animals, though plants and trees have nearly the same nature, whether, as
is the opinion of some most learned men, because some predominant and
divine cause has implanted this power in them, or whether it is
accidental. We see those things which the earth produces preserved in
vigour by their bark and roots, which happens to animals by the
arrangement of their senses, and a certain compact conformation of limb.
And with reference to this subject, although I agree with those men who
think that all these things are regulated by nature, and that if nature
neglected to regulate them, the animals themselves could not exist, still
I grant that those who differ on this subject may think what they please,
and may either understand that when I say the nature of man I mean man
(for it makes no difference); for a man will be able to depart from
himself sooner than he can lose the desire of those things which are
advantageous to him. Rightly, therefore, have the most learned
philosophers sought the principle of the chief good in nature, and thought
that that appetite for things adapted to nature is implanted in all men,
for they are kept together by that recommendation of nature in obedience
to which they love themselves.

XII. The next thing which we must examine is, what is the nature of man,
since it is sufficiently evident that every one is dear to himself by
nature; for that is the thing which we are really inquiring about. But it
is evident that man consists of mind and body, and that the first rank
belongs to the mind, and the second to the body. In the next place we see,
also, that his body is so formed as to excel that of other animals, and
that his mind is so constituted as to be furnished with senses, and to
have excellence of intellect which the whole nature of man obeys, in which
there is a certain admirable force of reason, and knowledge, and science,
and all kinds of virtues; for the things which are parts of the body have
no authority to be compared with that possessed by the parts of the mind;
and they are more easily known. Therefore, let us begin with them.

It is evident, now, how suitable to nature are the parts of our body, and
the whole general figure, form, and stature of it; nor is there any doubt
what kind of face, eyes, ears and other features are peculiar to man. But
certainly it is necessary for them to be in good health and vigorous, and
to have all their natural movements and uses; so that no part of them
shall be absent, or disordered, or enfeebled; for nature requires
soundness. For there is a certain action of the body which has all its
motions and its general condition in a state of harmony with nature, in
which if anything goes wrong through any distortion or depravity, either
by any irregular motion or disordered condition,—as if, for instance, a
person were to walk on his hands, or to walk not forwards but
backwards,—then he would evidently appear to be flying from himself, and
to be putting off his manhood, and to hate his own nature. On which
account, also, some ways of sitting down, and some contorted and abrupt
movements, such as wanton or effeminate men at times indulge in, are
contrary to nature. So that even if that should happen through any fault
of the mind, still the nature of the man would seem to be changed in his
body. Therefore, on the contrary, moderate and equal conditions, and
affections, and habits of the body, seem to be suitable to nature. But now
the mind must not only exist, but must exist in a peculiar manner, so as
to have all its parts sound, and to have no virtue wanting: but each sense
has its own peculiar virtue, so that nothing may hinder each sense from
performing its office in the quick and ready perception of those things
which come under the senses.

XIII. But there are many virtues of the mind, and of that part of the mind
which is the chief, and which is called the intellect; but these virtues
are divided into two principal classes: one, consisting of those which are
implanted by nature, and are called involuntary; the other, of those which
depend on the will, and are more often spoken of by their proper name of
virtues; whose great excellence is attributed to the mind as a subject of
praise. Now in the former class are docility, memory, and others, nearly
all of which are called by the one name of _ingenium_, and those who
possess them are called _ingeniosi_. The other class consists of those
which are great and real virtues; which we call voluntary, such as
prudence, temperance, fortitude, justice, and others of the same kind. And
this was what might be said briefly of both mind and body; and this
statement supplies a sort of sketch of what the nature of man
requires:—and from this it is evident, since we are beloved by ourselves,
and since we wish everything both in our minds and bodies to be perfect,
that those qualities are dear to us for their own sakes, and that they are
of the greatest influence towards our living well. For he to whom
self-preservation is proposed as an object, must necessarily feel an
affection for all the separate parts of himself; and a greater affection
in proportion as they are more perfect and more praiseworthy in their
separate kinds. For that kind of life is desired which is full of the
virtues of the mind and body; and in that the chief good must unavoidably
be placed, since it ought to be of such a character as to be the highest
of all desirable things. And when we have ascertained that, there ought to
be no doubt entertained, that as men are dear to themselves for their own
sake, and of their own accord, so, also, the parts of the body and mind,
and of those things which are in the motion and condition of each, are
cultivated with a deserved regard, and are sought for their own sakes. And
when this principle has been laid down, it is easy to conjecture that
those parts of us are most desirable which have the most dignity; so that
the virtue of each most excellent part which is sought for its own sake,
is also deserving of being principally sought after. And the consequence
will be, that the virtue of the mind is preferred to the virtue of the
body, and that the voluntary virtues of the mind are superior to the
involuntary; for it is the voluntary ones which are properly called
virtues, and which are much superior to the others, as being the offspring
of reason; than which there is nothing more divine in man. In truth, the
chief good of all those qualities which nature creates and maintains, and
which are either unconnected or nearly so with the body, is placed in the
mind; so that it appears to have been a tolerably acute observation which
was made respecting the sow, that that animal had a soul given it instead
of salt to keep it from getting rotten.

XIV. But there are some beasts in which there is something resembling
virtue, such as lions, dogs, and horses; in which we see movements not of
the body only, as we do in pigs, but to a certain extent we may discern
some movements of mind. But in man the whole dominant power lies in the
mind; and the dominant power of the mind is reason: and from this proceeds
virtue, which is defined as the perfection of reason: which they think is
to be gradually developed day by day. Those things, too, which the earth
produces have a sort of gradual growth towards perfection, not very unlike
what we see in animals. Therefore we say that a vine lives, and dies; we
speak of a tree as young, or old; being in its prime, or growing old. And
it is therefore not inconsistent to speak, as in the case of animals, of
some things in plants, too, being conformable to nature, and some not: and
to say that there is a certain cultivation of them, nourishing, and
causing them to grow, which is the science and art of the farmer, which
prunes them, cuts them in, raises them, trains them, props them, so that
they may be able to extend themselves in the direction which nature points
out; in such a manner that the vines themselves, if they could speak,
would confess that they ought to be managed and protected in the way they
are. And now indeed that which protects it (that I may continue to speak
chiefly of the vine) is external to the vine: for it has but very little
power in itself to keep itself in the best possible condition, unless
cultivation is applied to it. But if sense were added to the vine, so that
it could feel desire and be moved by itself, what do you think it would
do? Would it do those things which were formerly done to it by the
vine-dresser, and of itself attend to itself? Do you not see that it would
also have the additional care of preserving its senses, and its desire for
all those things, and its limbs, if any were added to it? And so too, to
all that it had before, it will unite those things which have been added
to it since: nor will it have the same object that its dresser had, but it
will desire to live according to that nature which has been subsequently
added to it: and so its chief good will resemble that which it had before,
but will not be identical with it; for it will be no longer seeking the
good of a plant, but that of an animal. And suppose that not only the
senses are given it, but also the mind of a man, does it not follow
inevitably that those former things will remain and require to be
protected, and that among them these additions will be far more dear to it
than its original qualities? and that each portion of the mind which is
best is also the dearest? and that its chief good must now consist in
satisfying its nature, since intellect and reason are by far the most
excellent parts of it? And so the chief of all the things which it has to
desire, and that which is derived from the original recommendation of
nature, ascends by several steps, so as at last to reach the summit;
because it is made up of the integrity of the body, and the perfect reason
of the intellect.

XV. As, therefore, the form of nature is such as I have described it, if,
as I said at the beginning, each individual as soon as he is born could
know himself, and form a correct estimate of what is the power both of his
entire nature and of its separate parts, he would see immediately what
this was which we are in search of, namely, the highest and best of all
the things which we desire: nor would it be possible for him to make a
mistake in anything. But now nature is from the very beginning concealed
in a wonderful manner, nor can it be perceived nor comprehended. But as
our age advances, we gradually, or I should rather say slowly, come to a
kind of knowledge of ourselves. Therefore, that original recommendation
which is given to us by our nature, is obscure and uncertain; and that
first appetite of the mind only goes the length of wishing to secure our
own safety and soundness. But when we begin to look around us, and to feel
what we are, and in what we differ from all the other animals, then we
begin to pursue the objects for which we were born. And we see a similar
thing take place in beasts, who at first do not move from the place in
which they were born; but afterwards all move, influenced by some desire
of their own. And so we see snakes crawl, ducks swim, blackbirds fly, oxen
use their horns, scorpions their stings; and we see nature a guide to each
animal in its path of life.

And the case is similar with the human race. For infants at their first
birth lie as if they were utterly devoid of mind; but when a little
strength has been added to them, they use both their mind and their
senses, and endeavour to raise themselves up and to use their hands; and
they recognise those by whom they are being brought up; and afterwards
they are amused with those of their own age, and gladly associate with
them, and give themselves up to play, and are attracted by hearing
stories, and are fond of pleasing others with their own superfluities; and
take curious notice of what is done at home, and begin to make remarks,
and to learn; and do not like to be ignorant of the names of those whom
they see; and in their sports and contests with their fellows, they are
delighted if they win, and if they are beaten they are dejected and lose
their spirits. And we must not think that any of these things happen
without reason; for the power of man is produced in such a way by nature,
that it seems made for a perception of all excellence: and on that account
children, even without being taught, are influenced by likeness of those
virtues of which they have the seeds in themselves; for they are the
original elements of nature: and when they have acquired growth, then the
whole work of nature is accomplished. For as we have been born and created
so as to contain in ourselves the principles of doing something, and of
loving somebody, and of liberality, and of gratitude; and so as to have
minds adapted for knowledge, prudence, and fortitude, and averse to their
opposites; it is not without cause that we see in children those sparks,
as it were, of virtue which I have mentioned, by which the reason of a
philosopher ought to be kindled to follow that guide as if it were a god,
and so to arrive at the knowledge of the object of nature.

For, as I have often said already, the power of nature is discerned
through a cloud while we are of a weak age and feeble intellect; but when
our mind has made progress and acquired strength, then it recognises the
power of nature, but still in such a way that it can make more progress
still, and that it must derive the beginning of that progress from itself.

XVI. We must therefore enter into the nature of things, and see thoroughly
what it demands; for otherwise we cannot arrive at the knowledge of
ourselves. And because this precept was too important an one to be
discerned by a man, it has on that account been attributed to God. The
Pythian Apollo, then, enjoins us to know ourselves: but this knowledge is
to know the power of our mind and body, and to follow that course of life
which enjoys the circumstances in which it is placed. And since that
desire of the mind to have all the things which I have mentioned in the
most perfect manner in which nature could provide them, existed from the
beginning, we must admit, when we have obtained what we desired, that
nature consists in that as its extreme point, and that that is the chief
good: which certainly must in every case be sought for spontaneously for
its own sake, since it has already been proved, that even all its separate
parts are to be desired for their own sake. But if, in enumerating the
advantages of the body, any one should think that we have passed over
pleasure, that question may be postponed till another opportunity; for it
makes no difference with regard to the present subject of our discussion,
whether pleasure consists in those things which we have called the chief
things in accordance with nature, or whether it does not. For if, as I
indeed think, pleasure is not the crowning good of nature, it has been
properly passed over: but if that crowning good does exist in pleasure, as
some assert, then the fact does not at all hinder this idea of ours of the
chief good from being the right one. For, if to those things which are the
principal goods of nature, pleasure is added, then there will have been
added just one advantage of the body; but no change will have been made in
the original definition of the chief good which was laid down at first.

XVII. And hitherto, indeed, reason has advanced with us in such a way as
to be wholly derived from the original recommendation of nature. But now
we must pursue another kind of argument, namely, that we are moved in
these matters of our own exceeding goodwill, not only because we love
ourselves, but because there is both in the body and in the mind a
peculiar power belonging to each part of nature. And, (to begin with the
body,) do you not see that if there is anything in their limbs deformed,
or weak, or deficient, men conceal it? and take pains, and labour
earnestly, if they can possibly contrive it, to prevent that defect of the
body from being visible, or else to render it as little visible as
possible? and that they submit to great pain for the sake of curing any
such defect? in order that, even though the actual use of the limb, after
the application of the remedy, be likely to be not greater, but even less,
still the appearance of the limb may be restored to the ordinary course of
nature. In truth, as all men fancy that they are altogether desirable by
nature, and that too, not on any other account, but for their own sakes,
it follows inevitably that each part of them should be desired for its own
sake, because the whole body is sought for its own sake. What more need I
say? Is there nothing in the motion and condition of the body which nature
herself decides ought to be noticed? for instance, how a person walks or
sits, what the expression of his countenance is, what his features are; is
there nothing in all these things which we think worthy or unworthy of a
free man, as the case may be? Do we not think many men deserving of
hatred, who appear by some motion or condition to have despised the laws
and moderation of nature? And since these things are derived from the
body, what is the reason why beauty also may not fairly be said to be a
thing to be desired for its own sake?

For if we consider distortion or disfigurement of the body a thing to be
avoided for its own sake, why should we not also, and perhaps still more,
cultivate dignity of form for its own sake? And if we avoid what is
unseemly, both in the condition and motion of the body, why may we not on
the other hand pursue beauty? And we also desire health, strength, and
freedom from pain, not merely because of their utility, but also for their
own sakes. For since nature wishes to be made complete in all her parts,
she desires this condition of the body, which is most according to nature,
for its own sake: but nature is put into complete confusion if the body is
either sick, or in pain, or destitute of strength.

XVIII. Let us consider the parts of the mind, the appearance of which is
more noble; for in proportion as they are more sublime, they give a more
clear indication of their nature. So vehement a love, then, of knowledge
and science is innate in us, that no one can doubt that the nature of man
is drawn to them without being attracted by any external gain. Do we not
see how boys cannot be deterred even by stripes from the consideration and
investigation of such and such things? how, though they may be beaten,
they still pursue their inquiries, and rejoice in having acquired some
knowledge? how they delight in telling others what they have learnt? how
they are attracted by processions, and games, and spectacles of that kind,
and will endure even hunger and thirst for such an object? Can I say no
more? Do we not see those who are fond of liberal studies and arts regard
neither their health nor their estate? and endure everything because they
are charmed with the intrinsic beauty of knowledge and science? and that
they put the pleasures which they derive from learning in the scale
against the greatest care and labour? And Homer himself appears to me to
have had some such feeling as this, which he has developed in what he has
said about the songs of the Sirens: for they do not seem to have been
accustomed to attract those who were sailing by with the sweetness of
their voices, or with any novelty or variety in their song, but the
profession which they made of possessing great knowledge; so that men
clung to their rocks from a desire of learning. For thus they invite
Ulysses, (for I have translated several passages of Homer, and this among

    Oh stay, O pride of Greece! Ulysses, stay!
    Oh, cease thy course, and listen to our lay!
    Blest is the man ordain’d our voice to hear:
    Our song instructs the soul and charms the ear.
    Approach, thy soul shall into raptures rise;
    Approach, and learn new wisdom from the wise.
    We know whate’er the kings of mighty name
    Achieved at Ilium in the field of fame;
    Whate’er beneath the sun’s bright journey lies—
    Oh stay, and learn new wisdom from the wise.(49)

Homer saw that the story would not be probable if he represented so great
a man as caught by mere songs; so they promise him knowledge, which it was
not strange that a man desirous of wisdom should consider dearer than his
country. And, indeed, to wish to know everything of every kind, is natural
to the curious; but, to be attracted by the contemplation of greater
objects, to entertain a general desire for knowledge, ought to be
considered a proof of a great man.

XIX. What ardour for study do you not suppose there must have been in
Archimedes, who was so occupied in drawing some mathematical figures in
the sand, that he was not aware that his city was taken? And what a mighty
genius was that of Aristoxenus which, we see, was devoted to music? What
fondness, too, for study, must have inspired Aristophanes, to dedicate his
whole life to literature! What shall we say of Pythagoras? Why should I
speak of Plato and of Democritus, by whom, we see, that the most distant
countries were travelled over, on account of their desire for learning?
And those who are blind to this have never loved anything very worthy of
being known. And here I may say, that those who say that those studies
which I have mentioned are cultivated for the sake of the pleasures of the
mind, do not understand that they are desirable for their own sakes,
because the mind is delighted by them, without the interruption of any
ideas of utility, and rejoices in the mere fact of knowledge, even though
it may possibly produce inconvenience. But why need we seek for more
instances to prove what is so evident? For let us examine our own selves,
and inquire how the motions of the stars, and the contemplation of the
heavenly bodies, and the knowledge of all those things which are hidden
from us by the obscurity of nature, affect us; and why history, which we
are accustomed to trace back as far as possible, delights us; in the
investigation of which we go over again all that has been omitted, and
follow up all that we have begun. Nor, indeed, am I ignorant that there is
a use, and not merely pleasure, in history. What, however, will be said,
with reference to our reading with pleasure imaginary fables, from which
no utility can possibly be derived? Or to our wishing that the names of
those who have performed any great exploits, and their family, and their
country, and many circumstances besides, which are not at all necessary,
should be known to us? How shall we explain the fact, that men of the
lowest rank, who have no hope of ever performing great deeds themselves,
artisans in short, are fond of history; and that we may see that those
persons also are especially fond of hearing and reading of great
achievements, who are removed from all hope of ever performing any, being
worn out with old age?

It must, therefore, be understood, that the allurements are in the things
themselves which are learnt and known, and that it is they themselves
which excite us to learning and to the acquisition of information. And,
indeed, the old philosophers, in their fictitious descriptions of the
islands of the blessed, intimate the kind of life which the wise pass,
whom they imagine to be free from all care, requiring no cultivation or
appointments of life as necessary, and doing, and about to do nothing else
but devote their whole time to inquiring and learning and arriving at a
knowledge of nature. But we see that that is not only the delight of a
happy life, but also a relief from misery. Therefore, many men while in
the power of enemies or tyrants, many while in prison or in exile, have
relieved their sorrow by the study of literature. A great man of this
city, Demetrius Phalereus, when he had been unjustly banished from his
country, fled to Alexandria, to king Ptolemy; and, as he was very eminent
for his knowledge of this philosophy to which we are exhorting you, and
had been a pupil of Theophrastus, he wrote many admirable treatises during
the time of that unfortunate leisure of his, not, indeed, for any utility
to himself, for that was out of his reach, but the cultivation of his mind
was to him a sort of sustenance for his human nature.

I, indeed, have often heard Cnæus Aufidius, a man of prætorian rank, of
great learning, but blind, say that he was affected more by a regret for
the loss of light, than of any actual benefit which he derived from his
eyes. Lastly, if sleep did not bring us rest to our bodies, and a sort of
medicine after labour, we should think it contrary to nature, for it
deprives us of our senses, and takes away our power of action. Therefore,
if either nature were in no need of rest, or if it could obtain it by any
other means, we should be glad, since even now we are in the habit of
doing without sleep, in a manner almost contrary to nature, when we want
to do or to learn something.

XX. But there are tokens supplied by nature, still clearer, or, I may say,
entirely evident and indubitable,—more especially, indeed, in man, but
also in every animal,—that the mind is always desirous to be doing
something, and can in no condition endure perpetual rest. It is easy to
see this in the earliest age of children; for although I fear that I may
appear prolix on this subject, still all the ancient philosophers, and
especially those of our own country, have recourse to the cradle for
illustrations, because they think that in childhood they can most easily
detect the will of nature. We see, then, that even infants cannot rest;
but, when they have advanced a little, then they are delighted with even
laborious sports, so that they cannot be deterred from them even by
beating: and that desire for action grows with their growth. Therefore, we
should not like to have the slumber of Endymion given to us, not even if
we expected to enjoy the most delicious dreams; and if it were, we should
think it like death. Moreover, we see that even the most indolent men, men
of a singular worthlessness, are still always in motion both in mind and
body; and when they are not hindered by some unavoidable circumstance,
that they demand a dice-box or some game of some kind, or conversation;
and, as they have none of the liberal delights of learning, seek circles
and assemblies. Even beasts, which we shut up for our own amusement,
though they are better fed than if they were free, still do not willingly
endure being imprisoned, but pine for the free and unrestrained movements
given to them by nature. Therefore, in proportion as every one is born and
prepared for the best objects, he would be unwilling to live at all if,
being excluded from action, he were able only to enjoy the most abundant

For men wish either to do something as individuals, or those who have
loftier souls undertake the affairs of the state, and devote themselves to
the attainment of honours and commands, or else wholly addict themselves
to the study of learning; in which path of life they are so far from
getting pleasures, that they even endure care, anxiety and sleeplessness,
enjoying only that most excellent portion of man which may be accounted
divine in us, I mean the acuteness of the genius and intellect, and they
neither seek for pleasure nor shun labour. Nor do they intermit either
their admiration of the discoveries of the ancients, or their search after
new ones; and, as they are insatiable in their pursuit of such, they
forget everything else, and admit no low or grovelling thoughts; and such
great power is there in those studies, that we see even those who have
proposed to themselves other chief goods, which they measure by advantage
or pleasure, still devote their lives to the investigation of things, and
to the explanation of the mysteries of nature.

XXI. This, then, is evident, that we were born for action. But there are
several kinds of action, so that the lesser are thrown into the shade by
those more important. But those of most consequence are, first of all, as
it appears to me, and to those philosophers whose system we are at present
discussing, the consideration and knowledge of the heavens, and of those
things which are hidden and concealed by nature, but into which reason can
still penetrate. And, next to them, the management of state affairs, or a
prudent, temperate, courageous principle of government and knowledge, and
the other virtues, and such actions as are in harmony with those virtues,
which we, embracing them all in one word, call honourable; to the
knowledge and practice of which we are led by nature herself, who goes
before us as our guide, we having been already encouraged to pursue it.
For the beginnings of all things are small, but, as they proceed, they
increase in magnitude, and that naturally: for, at their first birth,
there is in them a certain tenderness and softness, so that they cannot
see or do what is best. For the light of virtue and of a happy life, which
are the two principal things to be desired, appears rather later; and much
later still in such a way that it can be plainly perceived of what
character they are.

For, admirably does Plato say, “That man is happy to whom, even in his old
age, it is allowed to arrive at wisdom and correctness of judgment.”
Wherefore, since we have said enough of the first advantages of nature, we
will now examine those which are more important, and which are later in
point of time.

Nature, then, has made and fashioned the body of man in such a manner,
that it makes some parts of him perfect at his first birth, and forms
others as he advances in age; and, at the same time, does not employ many
external or adventitious aids. But she has filled up the perfection of the
mind in the same way as that of the body; for she has adorned it with
senses suitable for the effecting of its purposes, so that it is not in
the least, or not much, in want of any assistance for strengthening
itself. But that which is most excellent and important in man it has
abandoned: although it has given him an intellect able to receive every
kind of virtue, and has implanted in him, even without instruction, a
slight knowledge of the most important things, and has begun, as it were,
to teach him, and has led him on to those elements as I may call them, of
virtue which existed in him. But it has only begun virtue itself, nothing
more. Therefore it belongs to us,—when I say to us, I mean to our art,—to
trace back the consequences to those principles which we have received,
until we have accomplished our object, which is indeed of a good deal more
consequence, and a good deal more to be desired for its own sake, than
either the senses, or those parts of the body which we have mentioned;
which the excellent perfection of the mind is so far superior to, that it
can scarcely be imagined how great the difference is. Therefore, all
honour, all admiration, all study is referred to virtue, and to those
actions which are consistent with virtue; and all those things which are
either in our minds in that state, or are done in that manner, are called
by one common name—honourable. And we shall presently see what knowledge
we have of all these things, and what is meant by the different names, and
what the power and nature of each is.

XXII. But at present we need only explain that these things which I call
honourable, (besides the fact of our living ourselves on their account,)
are also by their own nature deserving of being sought for their own sake.
Children show this, in whom nature is perceived as in a mirror. What
eagerness is there in them when contending together! how vigorous are
their contests! how elated are those who win! how ashamed those who are
beaten! how unwilling are they to be blamed! how eager to be praised! what
labours will they not endure to surpass their fellows! what a recollection
have they of those who are kind to them! how anxious are they to prove
their gratitude! and these qualities are most visible in the best
dispositions; in which all these honourable qualities which we appreciate
are filled up as it were by nature. But in children they are only

Again, in more mature age, who is so unlike a man as not to be moved to a
dislike of baseness and approval of what is honourable? Who is there who
does not loathe a libidinous and licentious youth? who, on the contrary,
does not love modesty and constancy in that age, even though his own
interest is not at all concerned? Who does not detest Pullus Numitorius,
of Fregellæ, the traitor, although he was of use to our own republic? who
does not praise Codrus, the saviour of his city, and the daughters of
Erectheus? Who does not detest the name of Tubulus? and love the dead
Aristides? Do we forget how much we are affected at hearing or reading
when we are brought to the knowledge of anything which has been done in a
pious, or friendly, or magnanimous spirit? Why should I speak of men like
ourselves, who have been born and brought up and trained to praise and
glory? What shouts of the common people and of the unlettered crowd are
excited in the theatres when this sentence is uttered—

    I am Orestes:

and when, on the other hand, the other actor says—

    No; it is I, ’tis I who am Orestes.

But when one of them is allowed to depart by the perplexed and bewildered
king, and they demand to die together, is this scene ever acted without
being accompanied by the most violent expressions of admiration? There is
no one, then, who does not approve of and praise this disposition of mind;
by which not only no advantage is sought, but good faith is preserved even
at the expense of one’s advantage. And not only are imaginary fables, but
true histories also, and especially those of our country, full of such
instances: for we selected our most virtuous citizen to receive the Idæan
sacred vessels; we have sent guardians to kings; our generals have devoted
their lives for the safety of the republic; our consuls have warned a king
who was our greatest enemy, when he was actually approaching our walls, to
beware of poison. In our republic, a woman has been found to expiate, by a
voluntary death, a violation which was inflicted on her by force; and a
man to kill his daughter to save her from being ravished. All which
instances, and a countless host of others, prove to the comprehension of
every one that those who performed those deeds were induced to do so by
the brilliancy of virtue, forgetful of their own advantage, and that we,
when we praise those actions, are influenced by nothing but their
honourable character.

XXIII. And having briefly explained these matters, (for I have not sought
to adduce the number of examples which I might have done, because there
was no doubt on the subject,) it is shown sufficiently by these facts that
all the virtues, and that honourableness which arises from these virtues,
and clings to them, are worthy to be sought for their own sake. But in the
whole of this honourableness of which we are speaking, there is nothing so
eminent, nor so extensive in its operation, as the union of man with man,
and a certain partnership in and communication of advantages, and the
affection itself of the human race; which originating in that first
feeling according to which the offspring is loved by the parent, and the
whole house united by the bonds of wedlock and descent, creeps gradually
out of doors, first of all to one’s relations, then to one’s connexions,
then to one’s friends and neighbours, then to one’s fellow-countrymen, and
to the public friends and allies of one’s country; then it embraces the
whole human race: and this disposition of mind, giving every one his due,
and protecting with liberality and equity this union of human society
which I have spoken of, is called justice, akin to which are piety,
kindness, liberality, benevolence, courtesy, and all other qualities of
the same kind. But these, though peculiarly belonging to justice, are also
common to the other virtues.

For as the nature of man has been created such that it has a sort of
innate principle of society and citizenship, which the Greeks call
πολιτικὸν, whatever each virtue does will not be inconsistent with that
principle of common union, and that human affection and society which I
have spoken of; and justice, as she founds herself in practice on the
other virtues, will also require them, for justice cannot be maintained
except by a courageous and wise man. Honourableness itself, then, is a
thing of the same character as all this conspiracy and agreement of the
virtues which I have been speaking of; since it is either virtue itself,
or an action virtuously performed. And a life acting in harmony and
consistency with this system, and with virtue, may fairly be thought
upright and honourable, and consistent, and natural. And this union and
combination of virtues is nevertheless divided by philosophers on some
principle of their own. For though they are so joined and connected as to
be all partners with one another, and to be unable to be separated from
one another, yet each has its peculiar sphere of duty; as, for instance,
fortitude is discerned in labour and danger; temperance, in the disregard
of pleasures; prudence, in the choice of good and evil; justice, in giving
every one his due. Since, then, there is in every virtue a certain care
which turns its eyes abroad, as it were, and which is anxious about and
embraces others, the conclusion is, that friends, and brothers, and
relations, and connexions, and fellow-countrymen, and in short everybody,
since we wish the society of all mankind to be one, are to be sought after
for their own sakes. But still, of all these things and people there is
nothing of such a kind that it can be accounted the chief good. And from
this it follows, that there are found to be two kinds of goods which are
to be sought for their own sake. One kind which exists in those things in
which that chief good is brought to perfection: and they are qualities of
either the mind or body. But these things which are external, that is to
say, which are in neither mind nor body, such as friends, parents,
children, relations, or one’s country, are indeed dear to me for their own
sake, but still are not of the same class as the other kind. Nor, indeed,
could any one ever arrive at the chief good, if all those things which are
external, although desirable, were contained in the chief good.

XXIV. How then, you will say, can it be true that everything is referred
to the chief good, if friendship, and relationship, and all other external
things are not contained in the chief good? Why, on this
principle,—because we protect those things which are external with those
duties which arise from their respective kinds of virtue. For the
cultivation of the regard of a friend or a parent, which is the discharge
of a duty, is advantageous in the actual fact of its being such, inasmuch
as to discharge a duty is a good action; and good actions spring from
virtues; and wise men attend to them, using nature as a kind of guide.

But men who are not perfect, though endued with admirable talents and
dispositions, are often excited by glory, which has the form and likeness
of honourableness. But if they were to be thoroughly acquainted with the
nature of that honourableness which is wholly complete and perfect, that
one thing which is the most admirable of all things, and the most
praiseworthy, with what joy would they be filled, when they are so greatly
delighted at its outline and bare idea! For who that is given up to
pleasure, and inflamed with the conflagration of desire in the enjoyment
of those things which he has most eagerly wished for, can we imagine to be
full of such joy as the elder Africanus after he had conquered Hannibal,
or the younger one after he had destroyed Carthage? What man was there who
was so much elated with the way in which all the people flocked to the
Tiber on that day of festivity as Lucius Paullus, when he was leading in
triumph king Perses as his prisoner, who was conveyed down on the same

Come now, my friend Lucius, build up in your mind the lofty excellence of
virtue, and you will not doubt that the men who are possessed of it, and
who live with a magnanimous and upright spirit, are always happy; men who
are aware that all the movements of fortune, all the changes of affairs
and circumstances, must be insignificant and powerless if ever they come
to a contest with virtue. For those things which are considered by us as
goods of the body, do indeed make up a happy life, but still not without
leaving it possible for a life to be happy without them. For so slight and
inconsiderable are those additions of goods, that as stars in the orbit of
the sun are not seen, so neither are those qualities, but they are lost in
the brilliancy of virtue. And as it is said with truth that the influence
of the advantages of the body have but little weight in making life happy,
so on the other hand it is too strong an assertion to say that they have
no weight at all: for those who argue thus appear to me to forget the
principles of nature which they themselves have contended for.

We must, therefore, allow these things some influence: provided only that
we understand how much we ought to allow them. It is, however, the part of
a philosopher, who seeks not so much for what is specious as for what is
true, neither utterly to disregard those things which those very boastful
men used to admit to be in accordance with nature; and at the same time to
see that the power of virtue, and the authority, if I may say so, of
honourableness, is so great that all those other things appear to be, I
will not say nothing, but so trivial as to be little better than nothing.
This is the language natural to a man who, on the one hand, does not
despise everything except virtue, and who, at the same time, honours
virtue with the praises which it deserves. This, in short, is a full and
perfect explanation of the chief good; and as the others have attempted to
detach different portions from the main body of it, each individual among
them has wished to appear to have established his own theory as the
victorious one.

XXV. The knowledge of things has been often extolled in a wonderful manner
by Aristotle and Theophrastus for its own sake. And Herillus, being
allured by this single fact, maintained that knowledge was the chief good,
and that there was no other thing whatever that deserved to be sought for
its own sake. Many things have been said by the ancients on the subject of
despising and contemning all human affairs. This was the one principle of
Aristo; he declared that there was nothing which ought to be avoided or
desired except vice and virtue. And our school has placed freedom from
pain among those things which are in accordance with nature. Hieronymus
has said that this is the chief good: but Callipho, and Diodorus after
him, one of whom was devoted to pleasure, and the other to freedom from
pain, could neither of them allow honourableness to be left out, which has
been especially praised by our countrymen. Moreover, even the advocates of
pleasure seek for subterfuges, and are talking of virtue whole days
together; and say that pleasure is at first only wished for; that
afterwards it, through custom, becomes a second nature, by which men are
excited to do many things without at all seeking pleasure.

The Stoics remain to be mentioned. They, indeed, have borrowed not one
idea or another from us, but have appropriated our whole system of
philosophy. And as other thieves alter the marks on the things which they
have stolen, so they, in order to be able to use our opinions as their
own, have changed the names which are like the private marks on things.
And so this school alone remains worthy of those men who study the liberal
arts, worthy of the learned, worthy of eminent men, worthy of princes,
worthy of kings.

And when he had said this, and then stopped to take breath for a while;
What is the matter? said he; do I not seem to have said enough in your
presence for my own defence? I replied,—Indeed, O Piso, as has often been
the case before, you have seemed to-day to have so thorough an
acquaintance with all these things, that, if we could always have the
advantage of your company, I should not think that we had much reason to
have recourse to the Greeks. Which, indeed, I have been the more pleased
with, because I recollect that Staseas, the Neapolitan, your preceptor, a
very illustrious Peripatetic, was at times accustomed to discuss these
points differently, agreeing with those men who attributed a great deal of
weight to prosperity and adversity, and to the good or evil qualities of
the body. It is as you say, he replied: but these points are argued with
much more accuracy and impressiveness by my friend Antiochus than they
used to be by Staseas. Although I do not ask what I have proved to your
satisfaction, but what I have proved to the satisfaction of this friend of
mine, the young Cicero, a pupil whom I wish to seduce from you.

XXVI. Then Lucius said,—Indeed, I quite agree with what you have said, and
I think my brother does too. Then said Piso to me: Is it so? Do you pardon
the youth? or would you rather that he should learn these things which,
when he has learnt thoroughly, he will know nothing at all? I give him
leave, said I. But do not you recollect that I am allowed to express my
approval or disapproval of what has been said by you? For who can avoid
approving of what appears to him to be probable? Can any, we said, approve
of anything of which he has not a thorough perception, comprehension, and
knowledge? There is, said I, no great dispute between us, Piso; for there
is no other reason why it appears to me that nothing can be perceived
except that the faculty of perceiving is defined in such a manner by the
Stoics that they affirm that nothing can be perceived except what is so
true that it cannot possibly be false. Therefore there is a dispute
between us and the Stoics, but none between us and the Peripatetics.
However, we may pass over this, for it would open the door to a long and
sufficiently bitter dispute.

It seemed to me that it was too hasty an assertion of yours that all wise
men were always happy. I know not how such a sentence escaped you; but
unless it is proved, I fear that the assertion which Theophrastus made
with respect to fortune, and pain, and bodily torture be true, with which
he did not consider that a happy life could possibly be joined, must be
true. For it is exceedingly inconsistent that the same person should be
happy, and afflicted with many misfortunes; and how these things can be
reconciled, I do not at all understand. Which assertion then, said he, is
it that you object to? Do you deny that the power of virtue is so great
that she can by herself be sufficient for happiness? or, if you admit
that, do you think it impossible that those persons who are possessed of
virtue may be happy, even if they are afflicted with some evils? I,
indeed, I replied, wish to attribute as much power as possible to virtue;
however, we may discuss at another time how great her power is; at present
the only question is, whether she has so much power as this, if anything
external to virtue is reckoned among the goods. But, said he, if you grant
to the Stoics that virtue alone, if it be present, makes life happy, you
grant it also to the Peripatetics; for those things which they do not
venture to call evils, but which they admit to be unpleasant and
inconvenient, and to be rejected, and odious to nature we call evils, but
slight, and, indeed, exceedingly trifling ones. Wherefore, if that man can
be happy who is among disagreeable things which ought to be rejected, he
also may be so who is among slight evils. And I say, O Piso, if there is
any one who in causes is used to have a clear insight into what the real
question is, you are the man: wherefore I beg of you to take notice; for,
hitherto, owing perhaps to my fault, you do not perceive what it is that I
am seeking. I am attending, said he; and I am waiting to see what answer
you will make to the questions that I ask.

XXVII. I will answer, said I, that I am not inquiring at present what
virtue can effect, but what is said consistently on the subject, and why
the assertions are at variance with one another. How so? said he. Because,
said I, when this pompous assertion is uttered by Zeno, as if he were an
oracle,—“Virtue requires nothing beyond herself to enable a man to live
happily”—why? said he—“Because there is no other good except what is
honourable.” I do not ask now whether that is true; I only say that what
he says is admirably consistent. Epicurus will say the same thing—“that
the wise man is always happy;” which, indeed, he is in the habit of
spouting out sometimes. And he says that this wise man, when he is being
torn to pieces with the most exquisite pains, will say, “How pleasant it
is! how I disregard it!” I will not argue with the man as to why there is
so much power in nature; I will only urge that he does not understand what
he ought to say, after he has said that pain is the greatest evil.

Now I will address the same language to you. You say that all the goods
and evils are the same that those men pronounce them to be who have never
even seen a philosopher in a picture, as the saying is—namely, health,
strength, stature, beauty, the soundness of all a man’s nails, you call
good—deformity, disease, weakness you call evils. These are all externals;
do not go on any more; but at all events you will reckon these things
among the goods, as the goods of the body which help to compose them,
namely, friends, children, relations, riches, honour, power. Take notice
that I say nothing against this. If those are evils into which a wise man
can fall, then it follows that to be a wise man is not sufficient to
secure a happy life. Indeed, said he, it is very little towards securing a
perfectly happy one, but enough for securing a tolerably happy one.

I have noticed, said he, that you made this distinction a little while
ago, and I know that our friend Antiochus used to speak in this manner.
But what can be less approved of than the idea of a person being happy,
and yet not happy enough? For when anything is enough, then whatever is
added to that is excess: and no one is too happy: and no one is happier
than a happy man. Therefore, said he, was not Quintus Metellus, who saw
three of his sons consuls, one of whom was also censor and celebrated a
triumph, and a fourth prætor; and who left them all in safety behind him,
and who saw his three daughters married, having been himself consul,
censor and augur, and having celebrated a triumph; was he not, I say, in
your opinion, (supposing him to have been a wise man,) happier than
Regulus, who being in the power of the enemy, was put to death by
sleeplessness and hunger, though he may have been equally wise?

XXVIII. Why do you ask me that? said I; ask the Stoics. What answer, then,
said he, do you suppose they will make? They will say that Metellus was in
no respect more happy than Regulus. Let us, then, said he, hear what they
have got to say. But, said I, we are wandering from our subject; for I am
not asking what is true, but what each person ought to say. I wish,
indeed, that they would say that one man is happier than another: you
should see the ruin I would make of them. For, as the chief good consists
in virtue alone, and in honourableness; and as neither virtue, as they
say, nor honourableness is capable of growth, and as that alone is good
which makes him who enjoys it necessarily happy, as that in which alone
happiness is placed cannot be increased, how is it possible that one
person can be happier than another? Do you not see how all these things
agree together? And, in truth, (for I must avow what I feel,) the mutual
dependence of all these things on one another is marvellous: the last part
corresponds to the first, the middle to each extremity, and each extremity
to the other. They see all that follows from, or is inconsistent with
them. In geometry, if you grant the premises the conclusion follows. Grant
that there is nothing good except what is honourable, and you must grant
that happiness is placed in virtue alone. Try it the other way. If you
grant this conclusion, you must grant the premises; but this is not the
case with the arguments of your school. There are three kinds of goods.
The assertions go trippingly on: he comes to the conclusion: he sticks
fast: he is in a difficulty; for he wishes to say, that nothing can be
wanting to a wise man to complete his happiness—a very honourable
sentiment, one worthy of Socrates, or even of Plato. Well, I do venture to
assert that, says he. It is impossible, unless you remodel your premises:
if poverty is an evil, no beggar can be happy be he ever so wise. But Zeno
ventured to call such a man not only happy, but also rich.

To be in pain is an evil; the man who is fastened to a cross cannot be
happy. Children are a good; childlessness is an evil. One’s country is a
good; exile is an evil. Health is a good; disease is an evil. Vigour of
body is a good; feebleness is an evil. Clear sight is a good; blindness is
an evil. But, though a man may be able to alleviate any single one of
these evils by consolation, how will he be able to endure them all? For,
suppose one person were blind, feeble, afflicted with grievous sickness,
banished, childless, in indigence, and put to the torture; what will you
call him, Zeno? Happy, says he. Will you call him most perfectly happy? To
be sure I will, says he, when I have taught him that happiness does not
admit of degrees any more than virtue, the mere possession of which makes
him happy. This seems to you incredible that he can call him perfectly
happy. What is your own doctrine? is that credible? For if you appeal to
the people, you will never convince them that a man in such a condition is
happy. If you appeal to prudent men, perhaps they will doubt as to one
point, namely, whether there is so much force in virtue that men endued
with that can be happy, even in Phalaris’s bull; but they will not doubt
at all that the Stoic language is consistent with itself and that yours is

Do you then, says he, approve of the book of Theophrastus on a happy life?
We are wandering from our subject; and that I may not be too tedious—if,
said I, Piso, those things are evils, I wholly approve of it. Do not they
then, said he, seem to you to be evils? Do you ask that? said I; whatever
answer I give you, you will find yourself in embarrassment. How so? said
he. Because, if they are evils, a man who is affected with them cannot be
happy. If they are not evils, there is an end to the whole system of the
Peripatetics. And he laughing replied, I see what you are at; you are
afraid I shall carry off your pupil. You may carry him off, said I, if he
likes to follow you; for he will still be with me if he is with you.

XXIX. Listen then, said he, O Lucius; for, as Theophrastus says, I must
direct my discourse to you,—the whole authority of philosophy consists in
making life happy; for we are all inflamed with a desire of living
happily. This, both your brother and I agree upon. Wherefore we must see
whether the system of the philosophers can give us this. It promises to do
so certainly: for, unless it made that promise, why did Plato travel over
Egypt, to learn numbers and knowledge of the heavenly mysteries from
barbarian priests? Why afterwards did he go to Tarentum to Archytas; and
to the other Pythagoreans of Locri, Echecrates, Timæus, and Acrion; in
order, after he had drained Socrates to the dregs, to add the doctrine of
the Pythagoreans to his, and to learn in addition those things which
Socrates rejected? Why did Pythagoras himself travel over Egypt, and visit
the Persian Magi; why did he go on foot over so many countries of the
barbarians, and make so many voyages? Why did Democritus do the same? who,
(whether it is true or false, we will not stop to inquire,) is said to
have put out his own eyes; certainly, in order that his mind might be
abstracted from contemplation as little as possible; he neglected his
patrimony, and left his lands uncultivated, and what other object could he
have had except a happy life? And if he placed that in the knowledge of
things, still from that investigation of natural philosophy he sought to
acquire equanimity; for he called the summum bonum εὐθυμία, and very often
ἀθαμβία, that is to say, a mind free from alarm. But, although this was
well said, it was not very elegantly expressed; for he said very little
about virtue, and even what he did say, he did not express very clearly.
For it was not till after his death that these subjects were discussed in
this city, first by Socrates, and from Socrates they got entrance into the
Academy. Nor was there any doubt that all hope of living well and also
happily was placed in virtue: and when Zeno had learnt this from our
school, he began to express himself on the same subject in another manner,
as lawyers do on trials. And now you approve of this conduct in him. Will
you then say that he by changing the names of things escaped the charge of
inconsistency, and yet not allow us to do so too?

He asserts that the life of Metellus was not happier than that of Regulus,
but admits that it was preferable to it; he says it was not more to be
sought after, but still to be taken in preference; and that if one had a
choice, one would choose the life of Metellus, and reject that of Regulus.
What then he calls preferable, and worthy to be chosen in preference, I
call happier; and yet I do not attribute more importance to that sort of
life than the Stoics do. For what difference is there between us, except
that I call well-known things by well-known names, and that they seek for
new terms to express the same ideas? And so, as there is always some one
in the senate who wants an interpreter, we, too, must listen to them with
an interpreter. I call that good which is in accordance with nature; and
whatever is contrary to nature I call evil. Nor do I alone use the
definition; you do also, O Chrysippus, in the forum and at home; but in
the school you discard it. What then? Do you think that men in general
ought to speak in one way, and philosophers in another, as to the
importance of which everything is? that learned men should hold one
language, and unlearned ones another? But as learned men are agreed of how
much importance everything is, (if they were men, they would speak in the
usual fashion,) why, as long as they leave the facts alone, they are
welcome to mould the names according to their fancy.

XXX. But I come now to the charge of inconsistency, that you may not
repeat that I am making digressions; which you think exist only in
language, but which I used to consider depended on the subject of which
one was speaking. If it is sufficiently perceived (and here we have most
excellent assistance from the Stoics), that the power of virtue is so
great, that if everything else were put on the opposite side, it would not
be even visible, when all things which they admit at least to be
advantages, and to deserve to be taken, and chosen, and preferred, and
which they define as worthy of being highly estimated; when, I say, I call
these things goods which have so many names given them by the Stoics, some
of which are new, and invented expressly for them, such as _producta_ and
_reducta_, and some of which are merely synonymous; (for what difference
can it make whether you wish for a thing or choose it? that which is
chosen, and on which deliberate choice is exercised, appears to me to be
the better) still, when I have called all these things goods, the question
is merely how great goods I call them; when I say they deserved to be
wished for, the question is,—how eagerly?

But, if I do not attribute more importance to them when I say that they
deserve to be wished for, than you do who say they only deserve to be
chosen, and if I do not value them more highly when I call them _bona_,
than you, when you speak of them as _producta_; then all these things must
inevitably be involved in obscurity, and put out of sight, and lost amid
the rays of virtue like stars in the sunbeams. But that life in which
there is any evil cannot be happy. Then a corn-field full of thick and
heavy ears of corn is not a corn-field if you see any tares anywhere; nor
is traffic gainful if, amid the greatest gains, you incur the most
trifling loss. Do we ever act on different principles in any circumstances
of life; and will you not judge of the whole from its greatest part? or is
there any doubt that virtue is so much the most important thing in all
human affairs, that it throws all the rest into the shade?

I will venture, then, to call the rest of the things which are in
accordance with nature, goods, and not to cheat them of their ancient
title, rather than go and hunt for some new name for them; and the dignity
of virtue I will put, as it were, in the other scale of the balance.
Believe me, that scale will outweigh both earth and sea; for the whole
always has its name from that which embraces its largest part, and is the
most widely diffused. We say that one man lives merrily. Is there, then,
an end of this merry life of his if he is for a moment a little poor?

But, in the case of that Marcus Crassus, who, Lucilius says, laughed once
in his life, the fact of his having done so did not deliver him from being
called ἀγέλαστος. They call Polycrates of Samos happy. Nothing had ever
happened to him which he did not like, except that he had thrown into the
sea a ring which he valued greatly; therefore he was unhappy as to that
one annoyance; but subsequently he was happy again when that same ring was
found in the belly of a fish. But he, if he was unwise (which he certainly
was, since he was a tyrant), was never happy; if he was wise he was not
miserable, even at the time when he was crucified by Orœtes, the
lieutenant of Darius. But he had great evils inflicted on him. Who denies
that?—but those evils were overcome by the greatness of his virtue.

XXXI. Do you not grant even this to the Peripatetics, that they may say
that the life of all good, that is, of all wise men, and of men adorned
with every virtue, has in all its parts more good than evil? Who says
this? The Stoics may say so. By no means. But do not those very men who
measure everything by pleasure and pain, say loudly that the wise man has
always more things which he likes than dislikes? When, then, these men
attribute so much to virtue, who confess that they would not even lift a
finger for the sake of virtue, if it did not bring pleasure with it, what
ought we to do, who say that ever so inconsiderable an excellence of mind
is so superior to all the goods of the body, that they are put wholly out
of sight by it? For who is there who can venture to say, that it can
happen to a wise man (even if such a thing were possible) to discard
virtue for ever, with a view of being released from all pain? Who of our
school, who are not ashamed to call those things evils which the Stoics
call only bitter, would say that it was better to do anything
dishonourably with pleasure than honourably with pain? To us, indeed,
Dionysius of Heraclea appears to have deserted the Stoics in a shameful
manner, on account of the pain of his eyes; as if he had learnt from Zeno
not to be in pain when he was in pain. He had heard, but he had not
learnt, that it was not an evil, because it was not dishonourable, and
because it might be borne by a man. If he had been a Peripatetic he would,
I suppose, have adhered to his opinion, since they say that pain is an
evil. And with respect to bearing its bitterness, they give the same
precepts as the Stoics; and, indeed, your friend Arcesilas, although he
was a rather pertinacious arguer, was still on our side; for he was a
pupil of Polemo; and when he was suffering under the pain of the gout, and
Carneades, a most intimate friend of Epicurus, had come to see him, and
was going away very melancholy, said, “Stay awhile, I entreat you, friend
Carneades; for the pain does not reach here,” showing his feet and his
breast. Still he would have preferred being out of pain.

XXXII. This, then, is our doctrine, which appears to you to be
inconsistent, since, by reason of a certain heavenly, divine, and
inexpressible excellence of virtue, so great, that wherever virtue and
great, desirable, and praiseworthy exploits done by virtue are, there
misery and grief cannot be, but nevertheless labour and annoyance can be,
I do not hesitate to affirm that all wise men are always happy, but still,
that it is possible that one man may be more happy than another.

But this is exactly the assertion, Piso, said I, which you are bound to
prove over and over again; and if you establish it, then you may take with
you not only my young Cicero here, but me too. Then, said Quintus, it
appears to me that this has been sufficiently proved. I am glad, indeed,
that philosophy, the treasures of which I have been used to value above
the possession of everything else (so rich did it appear to me, that I
could ask of it whatever I desired to know in our studies),—I rejoice,
therefore, that it has been found more acute than all other arts, for it
was in acuteness that some people asserted that it was deficient. Not a
mite more so than ours, surely, said Pomponius, jestingly. But, seriously,
I have been very much pleased with what you have said; for what I did not
think could be expressed in Latin has been expressed by you, and that no
less clearly than by the Greeks, and in not less well adapted language.
But it is time to depart, if you please; and let us go to my house.

And when he had said this, as it appeared that we had discussed the
subject sufficiently, we all went into the town to the house of Pomponius.



In the year A.U.C. 708, and the 62d year of Cicero’s age, his daughter,
Tullia, died in childbed; and her loss afflicted Cicero to such a degree
that he abandoned all public business, and, leaving the city, retired to
Asterra, which was a country house that he had near Antium; where, after a
while, he devoted himself to philosophical studies, and, besides other
works, he published his Treatise de Finibus, and also this Treatise called
the Tusculan Disputations, of which Middleton gives this concise

“The first book teaches us how to contemn the terrors of death, and to
look upon it as a blessing rather than an evil;

“The second, to support pain and affliction with a manly fortitude;

“The third, to appease all our complaints and uneasinesses under the
accidents of life;

“The fourth, to moderate all our other passions;

“And the fifth explains the sufficiency of virtue to make men happy.”

It was his custom in the opportunities of his leisure to take some friends
with him into the country, where, instead of amusing themselves with idle
sports or feasts, their diversions were wholly speculative, tending to
improve the mind and enlarge the understanding. In this manner he now
spent five days at his Tusculan villa in discussing with his friends the
several questions just mentioned. For, after employing the mornings in
declaiming and rhetorical exercises, they used to retire in the afternoon
into a gallery, called the Academy, which he had built for the purpose of
philosophical conferences, where, after the manner of the Greeks, he held
a school as they called it, and invited the company to call for any
subject that they desired to hear explained, which being proposed
accordingly by some of the audience became immediately the argument of
that day’s debate. These five conferences or dialogues he collected
afterwards into writing in the very words and manner in which they really
passed; and published them under the title of his Tusculan Disputations,
from the name of the villa in which they were held.

Book I. On The Contempt Of Death.

I. At a time when I had entirely, or to a great degree, released myself
from my labours as an advocate, and from my duties as a senator, I had
recourse again, Brutus, principally by your advice, to those studies which
never had been out of my mind, although neglected at times, and which
after a long interval I resumed: and now since the principles and rules of
all arts which relate to living well depend on the study of wisdom, which
is called philosophy, I have thought it an employment worthy of me to
illustrate them in the Latin tongue: not because philosophy could not be
understood in the Greek language, or by the teaching of Greek masters; but
it has always been my opinion, that our countrymen have, in some
instances, made wiser discoveries than the Greeks, with reference to those
subjects which they have considered worthy of devoting their attention to,
and in others have improved upon their discoveries, so that in one way or
other we surpass them on every point: for, with regard to the manners and
habits of private life, and family and domestic affairs, we certainly
manage them with more elegance, and better than they did; and as to our
republic, that our ancestors have, beyond all dispute, formed on better
customs and laws. What shall I say of our military affairs; in which our
ancestors have been most eminent in valour, and still more so in
discipline? As to those things which are attained not by study, but
nature, neither Greece, nor any nation, is comparable to us: for what
people has displayed such gravity, such steadiness, such greatness of
soul, probity, faith—such distinguished virtue of every kind, as to be
equal to our ancestors. In learning, indeed, and all kinds of literature,
Greece did excel us, and it was easy to do so where there was no
competition; for while amongst the Greeks the poets were the most ancient
species of learned men,—since Homer and Hesiod lived before the foundation
of Rome, and Archilochus(50) was a contemporary of Romulus,—we received
poetry much later. For it was about five hundred and ten years after the
building of Rome before Livius(51) published a play in the consulship of
C. Claudius, the son of Cæcus, and M. Tuditanus, a year before the birth
of Ennius, who was older than Plautus and Nævius.

II. It was, therefore, late before poets were either known or received
amongst us; though we find in Cato de Originibus that the guests used, at
their entertainments, to sing the praises of famous men to the sound of
the flute; but a speech of Cato’s shows this kind of poetry to have been
in no great esteem, as he censures Marcus Nobilior, for carrying poets
with him into his province: for that consul, as we know, carried Ennius
with him into Ætolia. Therefore the less esteem poets were in, the less
were those studies pursued: though even then those who did display the
greatest abilities that way, were not very inferior to the Greeks. Do we
imagine that if it had been considered commendable in Fabius,(52) a man of
the highest rank, to paint, we should not have had many Polycleti and
Parrbasii. Honour nourishes art, and glory is the spur with all to
studies; while those studies are always neglected in every nation, which
are looked upon disparagingly. The Greeks held skill in vocal and
instrumental music as a very important accomplishment, and therefore it is
recorded of Epaminondas, who, in my opinion, was the greatest man amongst
the Greeks, that he played excellently on the flute; and Themistocles some
years before was deemed ignorant because at an entertainment he declined
the lyre when it was offered to him. For this reason musicians flourished
in Greece; music was a general study; and whoever was unacquainted with
it, was not considered as fully instructed in learning. Geometry was in
high esteem with them, therefore none were more honourable than
mathematicians; but we have confined this art to bare measuring and

III. But on the contrary, we early entertained an esteem for the orator;
though he was not at first a man of learning, but only quick at speaking;
in subsequent times he became learned; for it is reported that Galba,
Africanus, and Lælius, were men of learning; and that even Cato, who
preceded them in point of time, was a studious man: then succeeded the
Lepidi, Carbo, and Gracchi, and so many great orators after them, down to
our own times, that we were very little, if at all, inferior to the
Greeks. Philosophy has been at a low ebb even to this present time, and
has had no assistance from our own language, and so now I have undertaken
to raise and illustrate it, in order that, as I have been of service to my
countrymen, when employed on public affairs, I may, if possible, be so
likewise in my retirement; and in this I must take the more pains, because
there are already many books in the Latin language which are said to be
written inaccurately, having been composed by excellent men, only not of
sufficient learning: for indeed it is possible that a man may think well,
and yet not be able to express his thoughts elegantly; but for any one to
publish thoughts which he can neither arrange skilfully nor illustrate so
as to entertain his reader, is an unpardonable abuse of letters and
retirement: they, therefore, read their books to one another, and no one
ever takes them up but those who wish to have the same licence for
careless writing allowed to themselves. Wherefore, if oratory has acquired
any reputation from my industry, I shall take the more pains to open the
fountains of philosophy, from which all my eloquence has taken its rise.

IV. But, as Aristotle,(53) a man of the greatest genius, and of the most
various knowledge, being excited by the glory of the rhetorician
Isocrates,(54) commenced teaching young men to speak, and joined
philosophy with eloquence: so it is my design not to lay aside my former
study of oratory, and yet to employ myself at the same time in this
greater and more fruitful art; for I have always thought, that to be able
to speak copiously and elegantly on the most important questions, was the
most perfect philosophy. And I have so diligently applied myself to this
pursuit that I have already ventured to have a school like the Greeks. And
lately when you left us, having many of my friends about me, I attempted
at my Tusculan villa what I could do in that way; for as I formerly used
to practise declaiming, which nobody continued longer than myself, so this
is now to be the declamation of my old age. I desired any one to propose a
question which he wished to have discussed: and then I argued that point
either sitting or walking, and so I have compiled the scholæ, as the
Greeks call them, of five days, in as many books. We proceeded in this
manner: when he who had proposed the subject for discussion had said what
he thought proper, I spoke against him; for this is, you know, the old and
Socratic method of arguing against another’s opinion; for Socrates thought
that thus the truth would more easily be arrived at. But to give you a
better notion of our disputations, I will not barely send you an account
of them, but represent them to you as they were carried on; therefore let
the introduction be thus:—

V. _A._ To me death seems to be an evil.

_M._ What to those who are already dead? or to those who must die?

_A._ To both.

_M._ It is a misery then, because an evil?

_A._ Certainly.

_M._ Then those who have already died, and those who have still got to
die, are both miserable?

_A._ So it appears to me.

_M._ Then all are miserable?

_A._ Every one.

_M._ And, indeed, if you wish to be consistent, all that are already born,
or ever shall be, are not only miserable, but always will be so; for
should you maintain those only to be miserable, you would not except any
one living, for all must die; but there should be an end of misery in
death. But seeing that the dead are miserable, we are born to eternal
misery, for they must of consequence be miserable who died a hundred
thousand years ago; or rather, all that have ever been born.

_A._ So, indeed, I think.

_M._ Tell me, I beseech you, are you afraid of the three-headed Cerberus
in the shades below, and the roaring waves of Cocytus, and the passage
over Acheron, and Tantalus expiring with thirst, while the water touches
his chin; and Sisyphus,

    Who sweats with arduous toil in vain
    The steepy summit of the mount to gain?

Perhaps, too, you dread the inexorable judges, Minos and Rhadamanthus;
before whom neither L. Crassus, nor M. Antonius can defend you; and where,
since the cause lies before Grecian judges, you will not even be able to
employ Demosthenes: but you must plead for yourself before a very great
assembly. These things perhaps you dread, and therefore look on death as
an eternal evil.

VI. _A._ Do you take me to be so imbecile as to give credit to such

_M._ What? do you not believe them?

_A._ Not in the least.

_M._ I am sorry to hear that.

_A._ Why, I beg?

_M._ Because I could have been very eloquent in speaking against them.

_A._ And who could not on such a subject? or, what trouble is it to refute
these monstrous inventions of the poets and painters?(55)

_M._ And yet you have books of philosophers full of arguments against

_A._ A great waste of time, truly! for, who is so weak as to be concerned
about them?

_M._ If, then, there is no one miserable in the infernal regions, there
can be no one there at all.

_A._ I am altogether of that opinion.

_M._ Where, then, are those you call miserable? or what place do they
inhabit? for, if they exist at all, they must be somewhere?

_A._ I, indeed, am of opinion that they are nowhere.

_M._ Then they have no existence at all.

_A._ Even so, and yet they are miserable for this very reason, that they
have no existence.

_M._ I had rather now have you afraid of Cerberus, than speak thus

_A._ In what respect?

_M._ Because you admit him to exist whose existence you deny with the same
breath. Where now is your sagacity? when you say any one is miserable, you
say that he who does not exist, does exist.

_A._ I am not so absurd as to say that.

_M._ What is it that you do say, then?

_A._ I say, for instance, that Marcus Crassus is miserable in being
deprived of such great riches as his by death; that Cn. Pompey is
miserable, in being taken from such glory and honour; and in short, that
all are miserable who are deprived of this light of life.

_M._ You have returned to the same point, for to be miserable implies an
existence; but you just now denied that the dead had any existence; if,
then, they have not, they can be nothing; and if so, they are not even

_A._ Perhaps I do not express what I mean, for I look upon this very
circumstance, not to exist after having existed, to be very miserable.

_M._ What, more so than not to have existed at all? therefore, those who
are not yet born, are miserable because they are not; and we ourselves, if
we are to be miserable after death, were miserable before we were born:
but I do not remember that I was miserable before I was born; and I should
be glad to know, if your memory is better, what you recollect of yourself
before you were born.

VII. _A._ You are pleasant; as if I had said that those men are miserable
who are not born, and not that they are so who are dead.

_M._ You say, then, that they are so?

_A._ Yes, I say that because they no longer exist after having existed,
they are miserable.

_M._ You do not perceive, that you are asserting contradictions; for what
is a greater contradiction, than that they should be not only miserable,
but should have any existence at all, which does not exist? When you go
out at the Capene gate and see the tombs of the Calatini, the Scipios,
Servilii, and Metelli, do you look on them as miserable?

_A._ Because you press me with a word, henceforward I will not say they
are miserable absolutely, but miserable on this account, because they have
no existence.

_M._ You do not say, then, “M. Crassus is miserable,” but only “Miserable
M. Crassus.”

_A._ Exactly so.

_M._ As if it did not follow, that whatever you speak of in that manner,
either is or is not. Are you not acquainted with the first principles of
logic? for this is the first thing they lay down, Whatever is asserted,
(for that is the best way that occurs to me, at the moment, of rendering
the Greek term, ἀξίομα, if I can think of a more accurate expression
hereafter I will use it,) is asserted as being either true or false. When,
therefore, you say, “Miserable M. Crassus,” you either say this, “M.
Crassus is miserable,” so that some judgment may be made whether it is
true or false, or you say nothing at all.

_A._ Well, then, I now own that the dead are not miserable, since you have
drawn from me a concession, that they who do not exist at all, cannot be
miserable. What then? we that are alive, are we not wretched, seeing we
must die? for what is there agreeable in life, when we must night and day
reflect that, at some time or other, we must die?

VIII. _M._ Do you not, then, perceive how great is the evil from which you
have delivered human nature?

_A._ By what means?

_M._ Because, if to die were miserable to the dead, to live would be a
kind of infinite and eternal misery: now, however, I see a goal, and when
I have reached it, there is nothing more to be feared; but you seem to me
to follow the opinion of Epicharmus,(56) a man of some discernment, and
sharp enough for a Sicilian.

_A._ What opinion? for I do not recollect it.

_M._ I will tell you if I can in Latin, for you know I am no more used to
bring in Latin sentences in a Greek discourse, than Greek in a Latin one.

_A._ And that is right enough: but what is that opinion of Epicharmus?


    I would not die, but yet
    Am not concerned that I shall be dead.

_A._ I now recollect the Greek, but since you have obliged me to grant
that the dead are not miserable, proceed to convince me that it is not
miserable to be under a necessity of dying.

_M._ That is easy enough, but I have greater things in hand.

_A._ How comes that to be so easy? and what are those things of more

_M._ Thus: because, if there is no evil after death, then even death
itself can be none; for that which immediately succeeds that is a state
where you grant that there is no evil; so that even to be obliged to die
can be no evil; for that is only the being obliged to arrive at a place
where we allow that no evil is.

_A._ I beg you will be more explicit on this point, for these subtle
arguments force me sooner to admissions than to conviction. But what are
those more important things about which you say that you are occupied?

_M._ To teach you, if I can, that death is not only no evil, but a good.

_A._ I do not insist on that, but should be glad to hear you argue it, for
even though you should not prove your point, yet you will prove that death
is no evil: but I will not interrupt you, I would rather hear a continued

_M._ What, if I should ask you a question, would you not answer?

_A._ That would look like pride; but I would rather you should not ask but
where necessity requires.

IX. _M._ I will comply with your wishes, and explain as well as I can,
what you require; but not with any idea that, like the Pythian Apollo,
what I say must needs be certain and indisputable; but as a mere man,
endeavouring to arrive at probabilities by conjecture, for I have no
ground to proceed further on than probability. Those men may call their
statements indisputable who assert that what they say can be perceived by
the senses, and who proclaim themselves philosophers by profession.

_A._ Do as you please, we are ready to hear you.

_M._ The first thing, then, is to inquire what death, which seems to be so
well understood, really is; for some imagine death to be the departure of
the soul from the body; others think that there is no such departure, but
that soul and body perish together, and that, the soul is extinguished
with the body. Of those who think that the soul does depart from the body,
some believe in its immediate dissolution; others fancy that it continues
to exist for a time; and others believe that it lasts for ever. There is
great dispute even what the soul is, where it is, and whence it is
derived: with some, the heart itself (cor) seems to be the soul, hence the
expressions, _excordes_, _vecordes_, _concordes_; and that prudent Nasica,
who was twice consul, was called Corculus, _i.e._ wise-heart; and Ælius
Sextus is described as _Egregie cordatus homo, catus Æliu’ Sextus_—that
great _wise-hearted_ man, sage Ælius. Empedocles imagines the blood, which
is suffused over the heart, to be the soul; to others, a certain part of
the brain seems to be the throne of the soul; others neither allow the
heart itself, nor any portion of the brain, to be the soul; but think
either that the heart is the seat and abode of the soul; or else that the
brain is so. Some would have the soul, or spirit, to be the _anima_, as
our schools generally agree; and indeed the name signifies as much, for we
use the expressions _animam agere_, to live; _animam efflare_, to expire;
_animosi_, men of spirit; _bene animati_, men of right feeling; _exanimi
sententia_, according to our real opinion—and the very word _animus_ is
derived from _anima_. Again, the soul seems to Zeno the Stoic to be fire.

X. But what I have said as to the heart, the blood, the brain, air, or
fire being the soul, are common opinions: the others are only entertained
by individuals; and indeed there were many amongst the ancients who held
singular opinions on this subject, of whom the latest was Aristoxenus, a
man who was both a musician and a philosopher; he maintained a certain
straining of the body, like what is called harmony in music, to be the
soul; and believed that, from the figure and nature of the whole body,
various motions are excited, as sounds are from an instrument. He adhered
steadily to his system, and yet he said something, the nature of which,
whatever it was, had been detailed and explained a great while before by
Plato. Xenocrates denied that the soul had any figure, or anything like a
body; but said it was a number, the power of which, as Pythagoras had
fancied, some ages before, was the greatest in nature: his master, Plato,
imagined a three-fold soul; a dominant portion of which, that is to say,
reason, he had lodged in the head, as in a tower; and the other two parts,
namely, anger and desire, he made subservient to this one, and allotted
them distinct abodes, placing anger in the breast, and desire under the
præcordia. But Dicæarchus, in that discourse of some learned disputants,
held at Corinth, which he details to us in three books; in the first book
introduces many speakers; and in the other two he introduces a certain
Pherecrates, an old man of Phthia, who, as he said, was descended from
Deucalion; asserting, that there is in fact no such thing at all as a
soul; but that it is a name, without a meaning; and that it is idle to use
the expression, “animals,” or “animated beings;” that neither men nor
beasts have minds or souls; but that all that power, by which we act or
perceive, is equally infused into every living creature, and is
inseparable from the body, for if it were not, it would be nothing; nor is
there anything whatever really existing except body, which is a single and
simple thing, so fashioned, as to live and have its sensations in
consequence of the regulations of nature. Aristotle, a man superior to all
others, both in genius and industry (I always except Plato), after having
embraced these four known sorts of principles, from which all things
deduce their origin, imagines that there is a certain fifth nature, from
whence comes the soul; for to think, to foresee, to learn, to teach, to
invent anything, and many other attributes of the same kind, such as, to
remember, to love, to hate, to desire, to fear, to be pleased or
displeased; these, and others like them, exist, he thinks, in none of
those first four kinds: on such account he adds a fifth kind, which has no
name, and so by a new name he calls the soul ἐνδελέχια, as if it were a
certain continued and perpetual motion.

XI. If I have not forgotten anything unintentionally, these are the
principal opinions concerning the soul. I have omitted Democritus, a very
great man indeed, but one who deduces the soul from the fortuitous
concourse of small, light, and round substances; for, if you believe men
of his school, there is nothing which a crowd of atoms cannot effect.
Which of these opinions is true, some god must determine. It is an
important question for us, which has the most appearance of truth. Shall
we, then, prefer determining between them, or shall we return to our

_A._ I could wish both, if possible; but it is difficult to mix them;
therefore, if without a discussion of them we can get rid of the fears of
death, let us proceed to do so; but if this is not to be done without
explaining the question about souls, let us have that now, and the other
at another time.

_M._ I take that plan to be the best, which I perceive you are inclined
to; for reason will demonstrate that, whichever of the opinions which I
have stated is true, it must follow, then, that death cannot be an evil;
or that it must rather be something desirable, for if either the heart, or
the blood, or the brain, is the soul, then certainly the soul, being
corporeal, must perish with the rest of the body; if it is air, it will
perhaps be dissolved; if it is fire, it will be extinguished; if it is
Aristoxenus’s harmony, it will be put out of tune. What shall I say of
Dicæarchus, who denies that there is any soul? In all these opinions,
there is nothing to affect any one after death; for all feeling is lost
with life, and where there is no sensation, nothing can interfere to
affect us. The opinions of others do indeed bring us hope; if it is any
pleasure to you to think that souls, after they leave the body, may go to
heaven as to a permanent home.

_A._ I have great pleasure in that thought, and it is what I most desire;
and even if it should not be so, I should still be very willing to believe

_M._ What occasion have you, then, for my assistance? am I superior to
Plato in eloquence? Turn over carefully his book that treats of the soul,
you will have there all that you can want.

_A._ I have, indeed, done that, and often; but, I know not how it comes to
pass, I agree with it whilst I am reading it, but when I have laid down
the book, and begin to reflect with myself on the immortality of the soul,
all that agreement vanishes.

_M._ How comes that? do you admit this, that souls either exist after
death, or else that they also perish at the moment of death?

_A._ I agree to that. And if they do exist, I admit that they are happy;
but if they perish, I cannot suppose them to be unhappy, because, in fact,
they have no existence at all. You drove me to that concession but just

_M._ How, then, can you, or why do you, assert that you think that death
is an evil, when it either makes us happy, in the case of the soul
continuing to exist, or, at all events, not unhappy, in the case of our
becoming destitute of all sensation.

XII. _A._ Explain, therefore, if it is not troublesome to you, first, if
you can, that souls do exist after death; secondly, should you fail in
that, (and it is a very difficult thing to establish,) that death is free
from all evil; for I am not without my fears that this itself is an evil;
I do not mean the immediate deprivation of sense, but the fact that we
shall hereafter suffer deprivation.

_M._ I have the best authority in support of the opinion you desire to
have established, which ought, and generally has, great weight in all
cases. And first, I have all antiquity on that side, which the more near
it is to its origin and divine descent, the more clearly, perhaps, on that
account did it discern the truth in these matters. This very doctrine,
then, was adopted by all those ancients, whom Ennius calls in the Sabine
tongue, Casci, namely, that in death there was a sensation, and that, when
men departed this life, they were not so entirely destroyed as to perish
absolutely. And this may appear from many other circumstances, and
especially from the pontifical rites and funeral obsequies, which men of
the greatest genius would not have been so solicitous about, and would not
have guarded from any injury by such severe laws, but from a firm
persuasion that death was not so entire a destruction as wholly to abolish
and destroy everything, but rather a kind of transmigration, as it were,
and change of life, which was, in the case of illustrious men and women,
usually a guide to heaven, while in that of others, it was still confined
to the earth, but in such a manner as still to exist. From this, and the
sentiments of the Romans,

    In heaven Romulus with Gods now lives;

as Ennius saith, agreeing with the common belief; hence, too Hercules is
considered so great and propitious a god amongst the Greeks, and from them
he was introduced among us, and his worship has extended even to the very
ocean itself. This is how it was that Bacchus was deified, the offspring
of Semele; and from the same illustrious fame we receive Castor and Pollux
as gods, who are reported not only to have helped the Romans to victory in
their battles, but to have been the messengers of their success. What
shall we say of Ino, the daughter of Cadmus? is she not called Leucothea
by the Greeks, and Matuta by us? Nay more; is not the whole of heaven (not
to dwell on particulars) almost filled with the offspring of men?

Should I attempt to search into antiquity, and produce from thence what
the Greek writers have asserted, it would appear that even those who are
called their principal gods, were taken from among men up into heaven.

XIII. Examine the sepulchres of those which are shown in Greece;
recollect, for you have been initiated, what lessons are taught in the
mysteries; then will you perceive how extensive this doctrine is. But they
who were not acquainted with natural philosophy, (for it did not begin to
be in vogue till many years later,) had no higher belief than what natural
reason could give them; they were not acquainted with the principles and
causes of things; they were often induced by certain visions, and those
generally in the night, to think that those men, who had departed from
this life, were still alive. And this may further be brought as an
irrefragable argument for us to believe that there are gods,—that there
never was any nation so barbarous, nor any people in the world so savage,
as to be without some notion of gods: many have wrong notions of the gods,
for that is the nature and ordinary consequence of bad customs, yet all
allow that there is a certain divine nature and energy. Nor does this
proceed from the conversation of men, or the agreement of philosophers; it
is not an opinion established by institutions or by laws; but, no doubt,
in every case the consent of all nations is to be looked on as a law of
nature. Who is there, then, that does not lament the loss of his friends,
principally from imagining them deprived of the conveniences of life? Take
away this opinion, and you remove with it all grief; for no one is
afflicted merely on account of a loss sustained by himself. Perhaps we may
be sorry, and grieve a little; but that bitter lamentation, and those
mournful tears, have their origin in our apprehensions that he whom we
loved is deprived of all the advantages of life, and is sensible of his
loss. And we are led to this opinion by nature, without any arguments or
any instruction.

XIV. But the greatest proof of all is, that nature herself gives a silent
judgment in favour of the immortality of the soul, inasmuch as all are
anxious, and that to a great degree, about the things which concern

    One plants what future ages shall enjoy,

as Statius saith in his Synephebi. What is his object in doing so, except
that he is interested in posterity? Shall the industrious husbandman,
then, plant trees the fruit of which he shall never see? and shall not the
great man found laws, institutions, and a republic? What does the
procreation of children imply—and our care to continue our names—and our
adoptions—and our scrupulous exactness in drawing up wills—and the
inscriptions on monuments, and panegyrics, but that our thoughts run on
futurity? There is no doubt but a judgment may be formed of nature in
general, from looking at each nature in its most perfect specimens; and
what is a more perfect specimen of a man, than those are who look on
themselves as born for the assistance, the protection, and the
preservation of others? Hercules has gone to heaven; he never would have
gone thither, had he not, whilst amongst men, made that road for himself.
These things are of old date, and have, besides, the sanction of universal

XV. What will you say? what do you imagine that so many and such great men
of our republic, who have sacrificed their lives for its good, expected?
Do you believe that they thought that their names should not continue
beyond their lives? None ever encountered death for their country, but
under a firm persuasion of immortality! Themistocles might have lived at
his ease; so might Epaminondas; and, not to look abroad and amongst the
ancients for instances, so might I myself. But, somehow or other, there
clings to our minds a certain presage of future ages; and this both exists
most firmly and appears most clearly, in men of the loftiest genius and
greatest souls. Take away this, and who would be so mad as to spend his
life amidst toils and dangers? I speak of those in power. What are the
poet’s views but to be ennobled after death? What else is the object of
these lines—

    Behold old Ennius here, who erst
    Thy fathers’ great exploits rehearsed?

He is challenging the reward of glory from those men whose ancestors he
himself had ennobled by his poetry. And in the same spirit he says in
another passage—

    Let none with tears my funeral grace, for I
    Claim from my works an immortality.

Why do I mention poets? the very mechanics are desirous of fame after
death. Why did Phidias include a likeness of himself in the shield of
Minerva, when he was not allowed to inscribe his name on it? What do our
philosophers think on the subject? do not they put their names to those
very books which they write on the contempt of glory? If, then, universal
consent is the voice of nature, and if it is the general opinion
everywhere, that those who have quitted this life are still interested in
something; we also must subscribe to that opinion. And if we think that
men of the greatest abilities and virtue see most clearly into the power
of nature, because they themselves are her most perfect work; it is very
probable that, as every great man is especially anxious to benefit
posterity, there is something of which he himself will be sensible after

XVI. But as we are led by nature to think there are gods, and as we
discover, by reason, of what description they are, so, by the consent of
all nations, we are induced to believe that our souls survive; but where
their habitation is, and of what character they eventually are, must be
learned from reason. The want of any certain reason on which to argue has
given rise to the idea of the shades below, and to those fears, which you
seem, not without reason, to despise: for as our bodies fall to the
ground, and are covered with earth (_humus_), from whence we derive the
expression to be interred (_humari_), that has occasioned men to imagine
that the dead continue, during the remainder of their existence, under
ground; which opinion has drawn after it many errors, which the poets have
increased; for the theatre, being frequented by a large crowd, among which
are women and children, is wont to be greatly affected on hearing such
pompous verses as these—

    Lo! here I am, who scarce could gain this place,
    Through stony mountains and a dreary waste;
    Through cliffs, whose sharpen’d stones tremendous hung,
    Where dreadful darkness spread itself around:

and the error prevailed so much, though indeed at present it seems to me
to be removed, that although men knew that the bodies of the dead had been
burned, yet they conceived such things to be done in the infernal regions
as could not be executed or imagined without a body; for they could not
conceive how disembodied souls could exist; and, therefore, they looked
out for some shape or figure. This was the origin of all that account of
the dead in Homer. This was the idea that caused my friend Appius to frame
his Necromancy; and this is how there got about that idea of the lake of
Avernus, in my neighbourhood,—

    From whence the souls of undistinguish’d shape,
    Clad in thick shade, rush from the open gate
    Of Acheron, vain phantoms of the dead.

And they must needs have these appearances speak, which is not possible
without a tongue, and a palate, and jaws, and without the help of lungs
and sides, and without some shape or figure; for they could see nothing by
their mind alone, they referred all to their eyes. To withdraw the mind
from sensual objects, and abstract our thoughts from what we are
accustomed to, is an attribute of great genius: I am persuaded, indeed,
that there were many such men in former ages: but Pherecydes(57) the
Syrian is the first on record who said that the souls of men were
immortal; and he was a philosopher of great antiquity in the reign of my
namesake Tullus. His disciple Pythagoras greatly confirmed this opinion,
who came into Italy in the reign of Tarquin the Proud: and all that
country which is called Great Greece was occupied by his school, and he
himself was held in high honour, and had the greatest authority: and the
Pythagorean sect was for many ages after in such great credit, that all
learning was believed to be confined to that name.

XVII. But I return to the ancients. They scarcely ever gave any reason for
their opinion but what could be explained by numbers or definitions. It is
reported of Plato, that he came into Italy to make himself acquainted with
the Pythagoreans; and that when there, amongst others, he made an
acquaintance with Archytas(58) and Timæus,(59) and learned from them all
the tenets of the Pythagoreans; and that he not only was of the same
opinion with Pythagoras concerning the immortality of the soul, but that
he also brought reasons in support of it; which, if you have nothing to
say against it, I will pass over, and say no more at present about all
this hope of immortality.

_A._ What, will you leave me when you have raised my expectations so high?
I had rather, so help me Hercules! be mistaken with Plato, whom I know how
much you esteem, and whom I admire myself from what you say of him, than
be in the right with those others.

_M._ I commend you; for, indeed, I could myself willingly be mistaken in
his company. Do we, then, doubt, as we do in other cases, (though I think
here is very little room for doubt in this case, for the mathematicians
prove the facts to us,) that the earth is placed in the midst of the
world, being as it were a sort of point, which they call a κέντρον,
surrounded by the whole heavens; and that such is the nature of the four
principles, which are the generating causes of all things, that they have
equally divided amongst them the constituents of all bodies; moreover that
earthy and humid bodies are carried at equal angles, by their own weight
and ponderosity, into the earth and sea; that the other two parts consist
one of fire and the other of air? As the two former are carried by their
gravity and weight into the middle region of the world; so these, on the
other hand, ascend by right lines into the celestial regions; either
because, owing to their intrinsic nature, they are always endeavouring to
reach the highest place, or else because lighter bodies are naturally
repelled by heavier; and as this is notoriously the case, it must
evidently follow, that souls, when once they have departed from the body,
whether they are animal, (by which term I mean capable of breathing,) or
of the nature of fire, must mount upwards: but if the soul is some number,
as some people assert, speaking with more subtlety than clearness, or if
it is that fifth nature, for which it would be more correct to say that we
have not given a name to, than that we do not correctly understand
it—still it is too pure and perfect, not to go to a great distance from
the earth. Something of this sort, then, we must believe the soul to be,
that we may not commit the folly of thinking that so active a principle
lies immerged in the heart or brain; or, as Empedocles would have it, in
the blood.

XVIII. We will pass over Dicæarchus,(60) with his contemporary and
fellow-disciple Aristoxenus,(61) both indeed men of learning. One of them
seems never even to have been affected with grief, as he could not
perceive that he had a soul; while the other is so pleased with his
musical compositions, that he endeavours to show an analogy betwixt them
and souls. Now, we may understand harmony to arise from the intervals of
sounds, whose various compositions occasion many harmonies; but I do not
see how a disposition of members, and the figure of a body without a soul,
can occasion harmony; he had better, learned as he is, leave these
speculations to his master Aristotle, and follow his own trade, as a
musician; good advice is given him in that Greek proverb,—

    Apply your talents where you best are skill’d.

I will have nothing at all to do with that fortuitous concourse of
individual light and round bodies, notwithstanding Democritus insists on
their being warm, and having breath, that is to say, life. But this soul,
which is compounded of either of the four principles from which we assert
that all things are derived, is of inflamed air, as seems particularly to
have been the opinion of Panætius, and must necessarily mount upwards; for
air and fire have no tendency downwards, but always ascend; so should they
be dissipated, that must be at some distance from the earth; but should
they remain, and preserve their original state, it is clearer still that
they must be carried heavenward; and this gross and concrete air, which is
nearest the earth, must be divided and broken by them; for the soul is
warmer, or rather hotter than that air, which I just now called gross and
concrete; and this may be made evident from this consideration,—that our
bodies, being compounded of the earthy class of principles, grow warm by
the heat of the soul.

XIX. We may add, that the soul can the more easily escape from this air,
which I have often named, and break through it; because nothing is swifter
than the soul; no swiftness is comparable to the swiftness of the soul;
which, should it remain uncorrupt and without alteration, must necessarily
be carried on with such velocity as to penetrate and divide all this
atmosphere, where clouds, and rain, and winds are formed; which, in
consequence of the exhalations from the earth, is moist and dark; but,
when the soul has once got above this region, and falls in with, and
recognises a nature like its own, it then rests upon fires composed of a
combination of thin air and a moderate solar heat, and does not aim at any
higher flight. For then, after it has attained a lightness and heat
resembling its own, it moves no more, but remains steady, being balanced,
as it were, between two equal weights. That, then, is its natural seat
where it has penetrated to something like itself; and where, wanting
nothing further, it may be supported and maintained by the same aliment
which nourishes and maintains the stars.

Now, as we are usually incited to all sorts of desires by the stimulus of
the body, and the more so, as we endeavour to rival those who are in
possession of what we long for, we shall certainly be happy when, being
emancipated from that body, we at the same time get rid of these desires
and this rivalry: and, that which we do at present, when, dismissing all
other cares, we curiously examine and look into anything, we shall then do
with greater freedom; and we shall employ ourselves entirely in the
contemplation and examination of things; because there is naturally in our
minds a certain insatiable desire to know the truth; and the very region
itself where we shall arrive, as it gives us a more intuitive and easy
knowledge of celestial things, will raise our desires after knowledge. For
it was this beauty of the heavens, as seen even here upon earth, which
gave birth to that national and hereditary philosophy, (as Theophrastus
calls it,) which was thus excited to a desire of knowledge. But those
persons will in a most especial degree enjoy this philosophy, who, while
they were only inhabitants of this world and enveloped in darkness, were
still desirous of looking into these things with the eye of their mind.

XX. For, if those men now think that they have attained something who have
seen the mouth of the Pontus, and those straits which were passed by the
ship called Argo, because,

    From Argos she did chosen men convey,
    Bound to fetch back the golden fleece, their prey;

or those who have seen the straits of the ocean,

    Where the swift waves divide the neighbouring shores
    Of Europe, and of Afric.

What kind of sight do you imagine that will be, when the whole earth is
laid open to our view? and that, too, not only in its position, form, and
boundaries, nor those parts of it only which are habitable, but those also
that lie uncultivated, through the extremities of heat and cold to which
they are exposed; for not even now is it with our eyes that we view what
we see, for the body itself has no senses; but (as the naturalists, aye,
and even the physicians assure us, who have opened our bodies, and
examined them), there are certain perforated channels from the seat of the
soul to the eyes, ears, and nose; so that frequently, when either
prevented by meditation, or the force of some bodily disorder, we neither
hear nor see, though our eyes and ears are open, and in good condition; so
that we may easily apprehend that it is the soul itself which sees and
hears, and not those parts which are, as it were, but windows to the soul;
by means of which, however, she can perceive nothing, unless she is on the
spot, and exerts herself. How shall we account for the fact, that by the
same power of thinking we comprehend the most different things; as colour,
taste, heat, smell, and sound? which the soul could never know by her five
messengers, unless everything was referred to her, and she were the sole
judge of all. And we shall certainly discover these things in a more clear
and perfect degree when the soul is disengaged from the body, and has
arrived at that goal to which nature leads her; for at present,
notwithstanding nature has contrived, with the greatest skill, those
channels which lead from the body to the soul, yet are they, in some way
or other, stopped up with earthy and concrete bodies; but when we shall be
nothing but soul, then nothing will interfere to prevent our seeing
everything in its real substance, and in its true character.

XXI. It is true, I might expatiate, did the subject require it, on the
many and various objects with which the soul will be entertained in those
heavenly regions; when I reflect on which, I am apt to wonder at the
boldness of some philosophers, who are so struck with admiration at the
knowledge of nature, as to thank, in an exulting manner, the first
inventor and teacher of natural philosophy, and to reverence him as a God:
for they declare that they have been delivered by his means from the
greatest tyrants, a perpetual terror, and a fear that molested them by
night and day. What is this dread—this fear? what old woman is there so
weak as to fear these things, which you, forsooth, had you not been
acquainted with natural philosophy, would stand in awe of?

    The hallow’d roofs of Acheron, the dread
    Of Orcus, the pale regions of the dead.

And does it become a philosopher to boast that he is not afraid of these
things, and that he has discovered them to be false? And from this we may
perceive how acute these men were by nature, who, if they had been left
without any instruction would have believed in these things. But now they
have certainly made a very fine acquisition in learning that when the day
of their death arrives they will perish entirely; and, if that really is
the case, for I say nothing either way, what is there agreeable or
glorious in it? Not that I see any reason why the opinion of Pythagoras
and Plato may not be true: but even although Plato were to have assigned
no reason for his opinion (observe how much I esteem the man), the weight
of his authority would have borne me down; but he has brought so many
reasons, that he appears to me to have endeavoured to convince others, and
certainly to have convinced himself.

XXII. But there are many who labour on the other side of the question, and
condemn souls to death, as if they were criminals capitally convicted; nor
have they any other reason to allege why the immortality of the soul
appears to them to be incredible, except that they are not able to
conceive what sort of thing the soul can be when disentangled from the
body; just as if they could really form a correct idea as to what sort of
thing it is, even when it is in the body; what its form, and size, and
abode are; so that were they able to have a full view of all that is now
hidden from them in a living body, they have no idea whether the soul
would be discernible by them, or whether it is of so fine a texture that
it would escape their sight. Let those consider this, who say that they
are unable to form any idea of the soul without the body, and then they
will see whether they can form any adequate idea of what it is when it is
in the body. For my own part, when I reflect on the nature of the soul, it
appears to me a far more perplexing and obscure question to determine what
is its character while it is in the body, a place which, as it were, does
not belong to it, than to imagine what it is when it leaves it, and has
arrived at the free æther, which is, if I may so say, its proper, its own
habitation. For unless we are to say that we cannot apprehend the
character or nature of anything which we have never seen, we certainly may
be able to form some notion of God, and of the divine soul when released
from the body. Dicæarchus, indeed, and Aristoxenus, because it was hard to
understand the existence, and substance, and nature of the soul, asserted
that there was no such thing as a soul at all. It is, indeed, the most
difficult thing imaginable, to discern the soul by the soul. And this,
doubtless, is the meaning of the precept of Apollo, which advises every
one to know himself. For I do not apprehend the meaning of the god to have
been, that we should understand our members, our stature, and form; for we
are not merely bodies; nor, when I say these things to you, am I
addressing myself to your body: when, therefore, he says, “Know yourself,”
he says this, “Inform yourself of the nature of your soul;” for the body
is but a kind of vessel, or receptacle of the soul, and whatever your soul
does is your own act. To know the soul, then, unless it had been divine,
would not have been a precept of such excellent wisdom, as to be
attributed to a god; but even though the soul should not know of what
nature itself is, will you say that it does not even perceive that it
exists at all, or that it has motion? on which is founded that reason of
Plato’s, which is explained by Socrates in the Phædrus, and inserted by
me, in my sixth book of the Republic.

XXIII. “That which is always moved is eternal; but that which gives motion
to something else, and is moved itself by some external cause, when that
motion ceases, must necessarily cease to exist. That, therefore, alone,
which is self-moved, because it is never forsaken by itself, can never
cease to be moved. Besides, it is the beginning and principle of motion to
everything else; but whatever is a principle has no beginning, for all
things arise from that principle, and it cannot itself owe its rise to
anything else; for then it would not be a principle did it proceed from
anything else. But if it has no beginning, it never will have any end; for
a principle which is once extinguished, cannot itself be restored by
anything else, nor can it produce anything else from itself; inasmuch as
all things must necessarily arise from some first cause. And thus it comes
about, that the first principle of motion must arise from that thing which
is itself moved by itself; and that can neither have a beginning nor an
end of its existence, for otherwise the whole heaven and earth would be
overset, and all nature would stand still, and not be able to acquire any
force, by the impulse of which it might be first set in motion. Seeing,
then, that it is clear, that whatever moves itself is eternal, can there
be any doubt that the soul is so? For everything is inanimate which is
moved by an external force; but everything which is animate is moved by an
interior force, which also belongs to itself. For this is the peculiar
nature and power of the soul; and if the soul be the only thing in the
whole world which has the power of self-motion, then certainly it never
had a beginning, and therefore it is eternal.”

Now, should all the lower order of philosophers, (for so I think they may
be called, who dissent from Plato and Socrates and that school,) unite
their force, they never would be able to explain anything so elegantly as
this, nor even to understand how ingeniously this conclusion is drawn. The
soul, then, perceives itself to have motion, and at the same time that it
gets that perception, it is sensible that it derives that motion from its
own power, and not from the agency of another; and it is impossible that
it should ever forsake itself; and these premises compel you to allow its
eternity, unless you have something to say against them.

_A._ I should myself be very well pleased not to have even a thought arise
in my mind against them, so much am I inclined to that opinion.

XXIV. _M._ Well then, I appeal to you, if the arguments which prove that
there is something divine in the souls of men are not equally strong? but
if I could account for the origin of these divine properties, then I might
also be able to explain how they might cease to exist; for I think I can
account for the manner in which the blood, and bile, and phlegm, and
bones, and nerves, and veins, and all the limbs, and the shape of the
whole body, were put together and made; aye, and even as to the soul
itself, were there nothing more in it than a principle of life, then the
life of a man might be put upon the same footing as that of a vine or any
other tree, and accounted for as caused by nature; for these things, as we
say, live. Besides, if desires and aversions were all that belonged to the
soul, it would have them only in common with the beasts; but it has, in
the first place, memory, and that, too, so infinite, as to recollect an
absolute countless number of circumstances, which Plato will have to be a
recollection of a former life; for in that book which is inscribed Menon,
Socrates asks a child some questions in geometry, with reference to
measuring a square; his answers are such as a child would make, and yet
the questions are so easy, that while answering them, one by one, he comes
to the same point as if he had learned geometry. From whence Socrates
would infer, that learning is nothing more than recollection; and this
topic he explains more accurately, in the discourse which he held the very
day he died; for he there asserts that any one who seeming to be entirely
illiterate, is yet able to answer a question well that is proposed to him,
does in so doing manifestly show that he is not learning it then, but
recollecting it by his memory. Nor is it to be accounted for in any other
way, how children come to have notions of so many and such important
things, as are implanted, and as it were sealed up in their minds, (which
the Greeks call ἔννοιαι,) unless the soul before it entered the body had
been well stored with knowledge. And as it had no existence at all, (for
this is the invariable doctrine of Plato, who will not admit anything to
have a real existence which has a beginning and an end; and who thinks
that that alone does really exist which is of such a character as what he
calls εἴδεα, and we species,) therefore, being shut up in the body, it
could not while in the body discover what it knows: but it knew it before,
and brought the knowledge with it, so that we are no longer surprised at
its extensive and multifarious knowledge: nor does the soul clearly
discover its ideas at its first resort to this abode to which it is so
unaccustomed, and which is in so disturbed a state; but after having
refreshed and recollected itself, it then by its memory recovers them;
and, therefore, to learn implies nothing more than to recollect. But I am
in a particular manner surprised at memory; for what is that faculty by
which we remember? what is its force? what its nature? I am not inquiring
how great a memory Simonides(62) may be said to have had, or
Theodectes,(63) or that Cineas,(64) who was sent to Rome as ambassador
from Pyrrhus, or in more modern times Charmadas;(65) or very lately,
Metrodorus,(66) the Scepsian, or our own contemporary Hortensius:(67) I am
speaking of ordinary memory, and especially of those men who are employed
in any important study or art, the great capacity of whose minds it is
hard to estimate, such numbers of things do they remember.

XXV. Should you ask what this leads to, I think we may understand what
that power is, and whence we have it. It certainly proceeds neither from
the heart, nor from the blood, nor from the brain, nor from atoms; whether
it be air or fire, I know not, nor am I, as those men are, ashamed in
cases where I am ignorant, to own that I am so. If in any other obscure
matter I were able to assert anything positively, then I would swear that
the soul, be it air or fire, is divine. Just think, I beseech you,—can you
imagine this wonderful power of memory to be sown in, or to be a part of
the composition of the earth, or of this dark and gloomy atmosphere?
Though you cannot apprehend what it is, yet you see what kind of thing it
is, or if you do not quite see that, yet you certainly see how great it
is. What then? shall we imagine that there is a kind of measure in the
soul, into which, as into a vessel, all that we remember is poured? that
indeed is absurd; for how shall we form any idea of the bottom, or of the
shape or fashion of such a soul as that? and again how are we to conceive
how much it is able to contain? Shall we imagine the soul to receive
impressions like wax, and memory to be marks of the impressions made on
the soul? What are the characters of the words, what of the facts
themselves? and what again is that prodigious greatness which can give
rise to impressions of so many things? What, lastly, is that power which
investigates secret things, and is called invention and contrivance? Does
that man seem to be compounded of this earthly, mortal, and perishing
nature, who first invented names for everything, which, if you will
believe Pythagoras, is the highest pitch of wisdom? or he, who collected
the dispersed inhabitants of the world, and united them, in the bonds of
social life? or he, who confined the sounds of the voice, which used to
seem infinite, to the marks of a few letters? or he who first observed the
courses of the planets, their progressive motions, their laws? These were
all great men; but they were greater still, who invented food, and
raiment, and houses; who introduced civilization amongst us, and armed us
against the wild beasts; by whom we were made sociable and polished, and
so proceeded from the necessaries of life to its embellishments. For we
have provided great entertainments for the ears, by inventing and
modulating the variety and nature of sounds; we have learnt to survey the
stars, not only those that are fixed, but also those which are improperly
called wandering; and the man who has acquainted himself with all their
revolutions and motions, is fairly considered to have a soul resembling
the soul of that Being who has created those stars in the heavens: for
when Archimedes described in a sphere the motions of the moon, sun, and
five planets, he did the very same thing as Plato’s God, in his Timæus,
who made the world; causing one revolution to adjust motions differing as
much as possible in their slowness and velocity. Now, allowing that what
we see in the world could not be effected without a God, Archimedes could
not have imitated the same motions in his sphere without a divine soul.

XXVI. To me, indeed, it appears that even those studies which are more
common and in greater esteem are not without some divine energy: so that I
do not consider that a poet can produce a serious and sublime poem,
without some divine impulse working on his mind; nor do I think that
eloquence, abounding with sonorous words and fruitful sentences, can flow
thus, without something beyond mere human power. But as to philosophy,
that is the parent of all the arts, what can we call that but, as Plato
says, a gift, or as I express it, an invention of the Gods? This it was
which first taught us the worship of the Gods; and then led us on to
justice, which arises from the human race being formed into society: and
after that it imbued us with modesty, and elevation of soul. This it was
which dispersed darkness from our souls, as it is dispelled from our eyes,
enabling us to see all things that are above or below, the beginning, end,
and middle of every thing. I am convinced entirely, that that which could
effect so many and such great things must be a divine power. For what is
memory of words and circumstances? what, too, is invention? Surely they
are things than which nothing greater can be conceived in a God! for I do
not imagine the Gods to be delighted with nectar and ambrosia, or with
Juventas presenting them with a cup; nor do I put any faith in Homer, who
says that Ganymede was carried away by the Gods, on account of his beauty,
in order to give Jupiter his wine. Too weak reasons for doing Laomedon
such injury! These were mere inventions of Homer, who gave his Gods the
imperfections of men. I would rather that he had given men the perfections
of the Gods! those perfections, I mean, of uninterrupted health, wisdom,
invention, memory. Therefore the soul (which is, as I say, divine,) is, as
Euripides more boldly expresses it, a God. And thus, if the divinity be
air or fire, the soul of man is the same: for as that celestial nature has
nothing earthly or humid about it, in like manner the soul of man is also
free from both these qualities: but if it is of that fifth kind of nature,
first introduced by Aristotle, then both Gods and souls are of the same.

XXVII. As this is my opinion, I have explained it in these very words, in
my book on Consolation.(68) The origin of the soul of man is not to be
found upon earth, for there is nothing in the soul of a mixed or concrete
nature, or that has any appearance of being formed or made out of the
earth; nothing even humid, or airy, or fiery: for what is there in natures
of that kind which has the power of memory, understanding, or thought?
which can recollect the past; foresee the future; and comprehend the
present? for these capabilities are confined to divine beings; nor can we
discover any source from which men could derive them, but from God. There
is therefore a peculiar nature and power in the soul, distinct from those
natures which are more known and familiar to us. Whatever, then, that is
which thinks, and which has understanding, and volition, and a principle
of life, is heavenly and divine, and on that account must necessarily be
eternal: nor can God himself, who is known to us, be conceived to be
anything else except a soul free and unembarrassed, distinct from all
mortal concretion, acquainted with everything, and giving motion to
everything, and itself endued with perpetual motion.

XXVIII. Of this kind and nature is the intellect of man. Where, then, is
this intellect seated, and of what character is it? where is your own, and
what is its character? are you able to tell? If I have not faculties for
knowing all that I could desire to know, will you not even allow me to
make use of those which I have? The soul has not sufficient capacity to
comprehend itself; yet, the soul, like the eye, though it has no distinct
view of itself, sees other things: it does not see (which is of least
consequence) its own shape; perhaps not, though it possibly may; but we
will pass that by: but it certainly sees that it has vigour, sagacity,
memory, motion, and velocity; these are all great, divine, eternal
properties. What its appearance is, or where it dwells, it is not
necessary even to inquire. As when we behold, first of all, the beauty and
brilliant appearance of the heavens; secondly, the vast velocity of its
revolutions, beyond power of our imagination to conceive; then the
vicissitudes of nights and days; the four-fold division of the seasons, so
well adapted to the ripening of the fruits of the earth, and the
temperature of our bodies; and after that we look up to the sun, the
moderator and governor of all these things; and view the moon, by the
increase and decrease of its light, marking, as it were, and appointing
our holy days; and see the five planets, borne on in the same circle,
divided into twelve parts, preserving the same course with the greatest
regularity, but with utterly dissimilar motions amongst themselves; and
the nightly appearance of the heaven, adorned on all sides with stars;
then, the globe of the earth, raised above the sea, and placed in the
centre of the universe, inhabited and cultivated in its two opposite
extremities; one of which, the place of our habitation, is situated
towards the north pole, under the seven stars:—

    Where the cold northern blasts, with horrid sound,
    Harden to ice the snowy cover’d ground,—

the other, towards the south pole, is unknown to us; but is called by the
Greeks ἀντίχθονα: the other parts are uncultivated, because they are
either frozen with cold, or burnt up with heat; but where we dwell, it
never fails in its season,

    To yield a placid sky, to bid the trees
    Assume the lively verdure of their leaves:
    The vine to bud, and, joyful in its shoots,
    Foretell the approaching vintage of its fruits:
    The ripen’d corn to sing, whilst all around
    Full riv’lets glide; and flowers deck the ground:—

then the multitude of cattle, fit part for food, part for tilling the
ground, others for carrying us, or for clothing us; and man himself, made
as it were on purpose to contemplate the heavens and the Gods, and to pay
adoration to them; lastly, the whole earth, and wide extending seas, given
to man’s use. When we view these, and numberless other things, can we
doubt that they have some being who presides over them, or has made them
(if, indeed, they have been made, as is the opinion of Plato, or if, as
Aristotle thinks, they are eternal), or who at all events is the regulator
of so immense a fabric and so great a blessing to men? Thus, though you
see not the soul of man, as you see not the Deity, yet, as by the
contemplation of his works you are led to acknowledge a God, so you must
own the divine power of the soul, from its remembering things, from its
invention, from the quickness of its motion, and from all the beauty of
virtue. Where, then, is it seated, you will say?

XXIX. In my opinion it is seated in the head, and I can bring you reasons
for my adopting that opinion. At present, let the soul reside where it
will, you certainly have one in you. Should you ask what its nature is? It
has one peculiarly its own; but admitting it to consist of fire, or air,
it does not affect the present question; only observe this, that as you
are convinced there is a God, though you are ignorant where he resides,
and what shape he is of; in like manner you ought to feel assured that you
have a soul, though you cannot satisfy yourself of the place of its
residence, nor its form. In our knowledge of the soul, unless we are
grossly ignorant of natural philosophy, we cannot but be satisfied that it
has nothing but what is simple, unmixed, uncompounded, and single; and if
this is admitted, then it cannot be separated, nor divided, nor dispersed,
nor parted, and therefore it cannot perish; for to perish implies a
parting asunder, a division, a disunion of those parts which, whilst it
subsisted, were held together by some band; and it was because he was
influenced by these and similar reasons that Socrates neither looked out
for anybody to plead for him when he was accused, nor begged any favour
from his judges, but maintained a manly freedom, which was the effect not
of pride, but of the true greatness of his soul: and on the last day of
his life, he held a long discourse on this subject; and a few days before,
when he might have been easily freed from his confinement, he refused to
be so, and when he had almost actually hold of that deadly cup, he spoke
with the air of a man not forced to die, but ascending into heaven.

XXX. For so indeed he thought himself, and thus he spoke:—“That there were
two ways, and that the souls of men, at their departure from the body,
took different roads, for those which were polluted with vices, that are
common to men, and which had given themselves up entirely to unclean
desires, and had become so blinded by them as to have habituated
themselves to all manner of debauchery and profligacy, or to have laid
detestable schemes for the ruin of their country, took a road wide of that
which led to the assembly of the Gods: but they who had preserved
themselves upright and chaste, and free from the slightest contagion of
the body, and had always kept themselves as far as possible at a distance
from it, and whilst on earth, had proposed to themselves as a model the
life of the Gods, found the return to those beings from whom they had come
an easy one.” Therefore he argues, that all good and wise men should take
example from the swans, who are considered sacred to Apollo, not without
reason, but particularly because they seem to have received the gift of
divination from him, by which, foreseeing how happy it is to die, they
leave this world with singing and joy. Nor can any one doubt of this,
unless it happens to us who think with care and anxiety about the soul,
(as is often the case with those who look earnestly at the setting sun,)
to lose the sight of it entirely: and so the mind’s eye viewing itself,
sometimes grows dull, and for that reason we become remiss in our
contemplation. Thus our reasoning is borne about, harassed with doubts and
anxieties, not knowing how to proceed, but measuring back again those
dangerous tracts which it has passed, like a boat tossed about on the
boundless ocean. But these reflections are of long standing, and borrowed
from the Greeks. But Cato left this world in such a manner, as if he were
delighted that he had found an opportunity of dying; for that God who
presides in us, forbids our departure hence without his leave. But when
God himself has given us a just cause, as formerly he did to Socrates, and
lately to Cato, and often to many others,—in such a case, certainly every
man of sense would gladly exchange this darkness, for that light: not that
he would forcibly break from the chains that held him, for that would be
against the law; but like a man released from prison by a magistrate, or
some lawful authority, so he too would walk away, being released and
discharged by God. For the whole life of a philosopher is, as the same
philosopher says, a meditation on death.

XXXI. For what else is it that we do, when we call off our minds from
pleasure, that is to say, from our attention to the body, from the
managing our domestic estate, which is a sort of handmaid and servant of
the body, or from duties of a public nature, or from all other serious
business whatever? What else is it, I say, that we do, but invite the soul
to reflect on itself? oblige it to converse with itself, and, as far as
possible, break off its acquaintance with the body? Now to separate the
soul from the body, is to learn to die, and nothing else whatever.
Wherefore take my advice; and let us meditate on this, and separate
ourselves as far as possible from the body, that is to say, let us
accustom ourselves to die. This will be enjoying a life like that of
heaven even while we remain on earth; and when we are carried thither and
released from these bonds, our souls will make their progress with more
rapidity: for the spirit which has always been fettered by the bonds of
the body, even when it is disengaged, advances more slowly, just as those
do who have worn actual fetters for many years: but when we have arrived
at this emancipation from the bonds of the body, then indeed we shall
begin to live, for this present life is really death, which I could say a
good deal in lamentation for if I chose.

_A._ You have lamented it sufficiently in your book on Consolation; and
when I read that, there is nothing which I desire more than to leave these
things: but that desire is increased a great deal by what I have just

_M._ The time will come, and that soon, and with equal certainty whether
you hang back or press forward; for time flies. But death is so far from
being an evil, as it lately appeared to you, that I am inclined to
suspect, not that there is no other thing which is an evil to man, but
rather that there is nothing else which is a real good to him; if, at
least, it is true, that we become thereby either Gods ourselves, or
companions of the Gods. However, this is not of so much consequence, as
there are some of us here who will not allow this. But I will not leave
off discussing this point till I have convinced you that death can, upon
no consideration whatever, be an evil.

_A._ How can it, after what I now know?

_M._ Do you ask how it can? There are crowds of arguers who contradict
this; and those not only Epicureans, whom I regard very little, but, some
how or other, almost every man of letters; and, above all, my favourite
Dicæarchus is very strenuous in opposing the immortality of the soul: for
he has written three books, which are entitled Lesbiacs, because the
discourse was held at Mitylene, in which he seeks to prove that souls are
mortal. The Stoics, on the other hand, allow us as long a time for
enjoyment as the life of a raven; they allow the soul to exist a great
while, but are against its eternity.

XXXII. Are you willing to hear then why, even allowing this, death cannot
be an evil?

_A._ As you please; but no one shall drive me from my belief in mortality.

_M._ I commend you indeed, for that; though we should not be too confident
in our belief of anything; for we are frequently disturbed by some subtle
conclusion; we give way and change our opinions even in things that are
more evident than this; for in this there certainly is some obscurity.
Therefore, should anything of this kind happen, it is well to be on our

_A._ You are right in that, but I will provide against any accident.

_M._ Have you any objection to our dismissing our friends the Stoics?
those, I mean, who allow that the souls exist after they have left the
body, but yet deny that they exist for ever.

_A._ We certainly may dismiss the consideration of those men who admit
that which is the most difficult point in the whole question, namely, that
a soul can exist independently of the body, and yet refuse to grant that,
which is not only very easy to believe, but which is even the natural
consequence of the concession which they have made, that if they can exist
for a length of time, they most likely do so for ever.

_M._ You take it right; that is the very thing: shall we give, therefore,
any credit to Panætius, when he dissents from his master, Plato? whom he
everywhere calls divine, the wisest, the holiest of men, the Homer of
philosophers; and whom he opposes in nothing except this single opinion of
the soul’s immortality: for he maintains what nobody denies, that
everything which has been generated will perish; and that even souls are
generated, which he thinks appears from their resemblance to those of the
men who begot them; for that likeness is as apparent in the turn of their
minds as in their bodies. But he brings another reason; that there is
nothing which is sensible of pain which is not also liable to disease; but
whatever is liable to disease must be liable to death; the soul is
sensible of pain, therefore it is liable to perish.

XXXIII. These arguments may be refuted; for they proceed from his not
knowing that while discussing the subject of the immortality of the soul,
he is speaking of the intellect, which is free from all turbid motion; but
not of those parts of the mind in which those disorders, anger and lust,
have their seat, and which he whom he is opposing, when he argues thus,
imagines to be distinct and separate from the mind. Now this resemblance
is more remarkable in beasts, whose souls are void of reason. But the
likeness in men consists more in the configuration of the bodies; and it
is of no little consequence in what bodies the soul is lodged; for there
are many things which depend on the body that give an edge to the soul,
many which blunt it. Aristotle indeed, says, that all men of great genius
are melancholy; so that I should not have been displeased to have been
somewhat duller than I am. He instances many, and, as if it were matter of
fact, brings his reasons for it: but if the power of those things that
proceed from the body be so great as to influence the mind, (for they are
the things, whatever they are, that occasion this likeness,) still that
does not necessarily prove why a similitude of souls should be generated.
I say nothing about cases of unlikeness. I wish Panætius could be here; he
lived with Africanus; I would inquire of him which of his family the
nephew of Africanus’s brother was like? Possibly he may in person have
resembled his father; but in his manners, he was so like every profligate
abandoned man, that it was impossible to be more so. Who did the grandson
of P. Crassus, that wise, and eloquent, and most distinguished man
resemble? Or the relations and sons of many other excellent men, whose
names there is no occasion to mention? But what are we doing? Have we
forgotten that our purpose was, when we had sufficiently spoken on the
subject of the immortality of the soul, to prove that, even if the soul
did perish, there would be, even then, no evil in death?

_A._ I remembered it very well; but I had no dislike to your digressing a
little from your original design, whilst you were talking of the soul’s

_M._ I perceive you have sublime thoughts, and are eager to mount up to

XXXIV. I am not without hopes myself that such may be our fate. But admit
what they assert; that the soul does not continue to exist after death.

_A._ Should it be so, I see that we are then deprived of the hopes of a
happier life.

_M._ But what is there of evil in that opinion? For let the soul perish as
the body: is there any pain, or indeed any feeling at all in the body
after death? No one, indeed, asserts that; though Epicurus charges
Democritus with saying so; but the disciples of Democritus deny it. No
sense, therefore, remains in the soul; for the soul is nowhere; where,
then, is the evil? for there is nothing but these two things. Is it
because the mere separation of the soul and body cannot be effected
without pain? but even should that be granted, how small a pain must that
be! Yet I think that it is false; and that it is very often unaccompanied
by any sensation at all, and sometimes even attended with pleasure: but
certainly the whole must be very trifling, whatever it is, for it is
instantaneous. What makes us uneasy, or rather gives us pain, is the
leaving all the good things of life. But just consider, if I might not
more properly say, leaving the evils of life; only there is no reason for
my now occupying myself in bewailing the life of man, and yet I might,
with very good reason; but what occasion is there, when what I am
labouring to prove is that no one is miserable after death, to make life
more miserable by lamenting over it? I have done that in the book which I
wrote, in order to comfort myself as well as I could. If, then, our
inquiry is after truth, death withdraws us from evil, not from good. This
subject is indeed so copiously handled by Hegesias, the Cyrenaic
philosopher, that he is said to have been forbid by Ptolemy from
delivering his lectures in the schools, because some who heard him made
away with themselves. There is too, an epigram of Callimachus,(69) on
Cleombrotus of Ambracia; who, without any misfortune having befallen him,
as he says, threw himself from a wall into the sea, after he had read a
boot of Plato’s. The book I mentioned of that Hegesias, is called
Ἀποκαρτερῶν, or “A Man who starves himself,” in which a man is represented
as killing himself by starvation, till he is prevented by his friends, in
reply to whom he reckons up all the miseries of human life: I might do the
same, though not so fully as he, who thinks it not worth any man’s while
to live. I pass over others. Was it even worth my while to live, for, had
I died before I was deprived of the comforts of my own family, and of the
honours which I received for my public services, would not death have
taken me from the evils of life, rather than from its blessings?

XXXV. Mention, therefore, some one, who never knew distress; who never
received any blow from fortune. The great Metellus had four distinguished
sons; but Priam had fifty, seventeen of which were born to him by his
lawful wife: Fortune had the same power over both, though she exercised it
but on one: for Metellus was laid on his funeral pile by a great company
of sons and daughters, grandsons, and grandaughters; but Priam fell by the
hand of an enemy, after having fled to the altar, and having seen himself
deprived of all his numerous progeny. Had he died before the death of his
sons and the ruin of his kingdom,

    With all his mighty wealth elate,
    Under rich canopies of state;

would he then have been taken from good or from evil? It would indeed, at
that time, have appeared that he was being taken away from good; yet
surely, it would have turned out advantageous for him; nor should we have
had these mournful verses,—

    Lo! these all perish’d in one flaming pile;
    The foe old Priam did of life beguile,
    And with his blood, thy altar, Jove, defile.

As if anything better could have happened to him at that time, than to
lose his life in that manner; but yet, if it had befallen him sooner, it
would have prevented all those consequences; but even as it was it
released him from any further sense of them. The case of our friend
Pompey(70) was something better: once, when he had been very ill at
Naples, the Neapolitans on his recovery put crowns on their heads, as did
those of Puteoli; the people flocked from the country to congratulate
him;—it is a Grecian custom, and a foolish one; still it is a sign of good
fortune. But the question is, had he died, would he have been taken from
good, or from evil? Certainly from evil. He would not have been engaged in
a war with his father-in-law;(71) he would not have taken up arms before
he was prepared; he would not have left his own house, nor fled from
Italy; he would not, after the loss of his army, have fallen unarmed into
the hands of slaves, and been put to death by them; his children would not
have been destroyed; nor would his whole fortune have come into the
possession of the conquerors. Did not he, then, who, if he had died at
that time would have died in all his glory, owe all the great and terrible
misfortunes into which he subsequently fell to the prolongation of his
life at that time?

XXXVI. These calamities are avoided by death, for even though they should
never happen, there is a possibility that they may; but it never occurs to
a man, that such a disaster may befal him himself. Every one hopes to be
as happy as Metellus: as if the number of the happy exceeded that of the
miserable; or as if there were any certainty in human affairs; or again,
as if there were more rational foundation for hope than fear. But should
we grant them even this, that men are by death deprived of good things,
would it follow that the dead are therefore in need of the good things of
life, and are miserable on that account? Certainly they must necessarily
say so. Can he who does not exist, be in need of anything? To be in need
of, has a melancholy sound, because it in effect amounts to this,—he had,
but he has not; he regrets, he looks back upon, he wants. Such are, I
suppose, the distresses of one who is in need of. Is he deprived of eyes?
to be blind is misery. Is he destitute of children? not to have them is
misery. These considerations apply to the living, but the dead are neither
in need of the blessings of life, nor of life itself. But when I am
speaking of the dead I am speaking of those who have no existence. But
would any one say of us, who do exist, that we want horns or wings?
Certainly not. Should it be asked, why not? the answer would be, that not
to have what neither custom nor nature has fitted you for, would not imply
a want of them, even though you were sensible that you had them not. This
argument should be pressed over and over again, after that point has once
been established, which if souls are mortal there can be no dispute
about—I mean, that the destruction of them by death is so entire, as to
remove even the least suspicion of any sense remaining. When, therefore,
this point is once well grounded and established, we must correctly define
what the term, to want, means; that there may be no mistake in the word.
To want, then, signifies this; to be without that which you would be glad
to have: for inclination for a thing is implied in the word want;
excepting when we use the word in an entirely different sense, as we do
when we say that a fever is wanting to any one. For it admits of a
different interpretation, when you are without a certain thing, and are
sensible that you are without it, but yet can easily dispense with having
it. “To want,” then, is an expression which you cannot apply to the dead,
nor is the mere fact of wanting something necessarily lamentable. The
proper expression ought to be, “that they want a good,” and that is an

But a living man does not want a good, unless he is distressed without it;
and yet, we can easily understand how any man alive can be without a
kingdom. But this cannot be predicated of you with any accuracy: it might
have been asserted of Tarquin, when he was driven from his kingdom: but
when such an expression is used respecting the dead it is absolutely
unintelligible. For to want, implies to be sensible; but the dead are
insensible; therefore the dead can be in no want.

XXXVII. But what occasion is there to philosophize here, in a matter with
which we see that philosophy is but little concerned? How often have not
only our generals, but whole armies, rushed on certain death! but if it
had been a thing to be feared, L. Brutus would never have fallen in fight,
to prevent the return of that tyrant whom he had expelled; nor would
Decius the father have been slain in fighting with the Latins; nor would
his son, when engaged with the Etruscans, nor his grandson with Pyrrhus,
have exposed themselves to the enemy’s darts. Spain would never have seen,
in one campaign, the Scipios fall fighting for their country; nor would
the plains of Cannæ have witnessed the death of Paulus and Geminus; or
Venusia, that of Marcellus: nor would the Latins have beheld the death of
Albinus; nor the Lucanians, that of Gracchus. But are any of these
miserable now? nay, they were not so even at the first moment after they
had breathed their last: nor can any one be miserable after he has lost
all sensation. Oh, but the mere circumstance of being without sensation is
miserable. It might be so if being without sensation were the same thing
as wanting it; but as it is evident there can be nothing of any kind in
that which has no existence, what can there be afflicting to that which
can neither feel want, nor be sensible of anything? We might be said to
have repeated this over too often, only that here lies all that the soul
shudders at, from the fear of death. For whoever can clearly apprehend
that which is as manifest as the light, that when both soul and body are
consumed, and there is a total destruction, then that which was an animal,
becomes nothing; will clearly see, that there is no difference between a
Hippocentaur, which never had existence, and king Agamemnon; and that M.
Camillus is no more concerned about this present civil war, than I was at
the sacking of Rome, when he was living.

XXXVIII. Why, then, should Camillus be affected with the thoughts of these
things happening three hundred and fifty years after his time? And why
should I be uneasy if I were to expect that some nation might possess
itself of this city, ten thousand years hence? Because so great is our
regard for our country, as not to be measured by our own feeling, but by
its own actual safety.

Death, then, which threatens us daily from a thousand accidents, and
which, by reason of the shortness of life, can never be far off, does not
deter a wise man from making such provision for his country and his
family, as he hopes may last for ever; and from regarding posterity, of
which he can never have any real perception, as belonging to himself.
Wherefore a man may act for eternity, even though he be persuaded that his
soul is mortal; not, indeed, from a desire of glory, which he will be
insensible of, but from a principle of virtue, which glory will inevitably
attend, though that is not his object. The process, indeed, of nature is
this; that just in the same manner as our birth was the beginning of
things with us, so death will be the end; and as we were no ways concerned
with anything before we were born, so neither shall we be after we are
dead; and in this state of things where can the evil be? since death has
no connexion with either the living or the dead; the one have no existence
at all, the other are not yet affected by it. They who make the least of
death consider it as having a great resemblance to sleep; as if any one
would choose to live ninety years on condition that, at the expiration of
sixty, he should sleep out the remainder. The very swine would not accept
of life on those terms, much less I: Endymion, indeed, if you listen to
fables, slept once on a time, on Latmus, a mountain of Caria, and for such
a length of time that I imagine he is not as yet awake. Do you think that
he is concerned at the Moon’s being in difficulties, though it was by her
that he was thrown into that sleep, in order that she might kiss him while
sleeping; for what should he be concerned for who has not even any
sensation? You look on sleep as an image of death, and you take that on
you daily; and have you, then, any doubt that there is no sensation in
death, when you see there is none in sleep, which is its near resemblance?

XXXIX. Away, then, with those follies which are little better than the old
women’s dreams, such as that it is miserable to die before our time. What
time do you mean? That of nature? But she has only lent you life, as she
might lend you money, without fixing any certain time for its repayment.
Have you any grounds of complaint, then, that she recals it at her
pleasure? for you received it on these terms. They that complain thus,
allow, that if a young child dies the survivors ought to bear his loss
with equanimity; that if an infant in the cradle dies, they ought not even
to utter a complaint; and yet nature has been more severe with them in
demanding back what she gave. They answer by saying, that such have not
tasted the sweets of life; while the other had begun to conceive hopes of
great happiness, and indeed had begun to realize them. Men judge better in
other things, and allow a part to be preferable to none; why do they not
admit the same estimate in life? Though Callimachus does not speak amiss
in saying, that more tears had flowed from Priam than his son; yet they
are thought happier who die after they have reached old age. It would be
hard to say why; for I do not apprehend that any one, if a longer life
were granted to him, would find it happier. There is nothing more
agreeable to a man than prudence, which old age most certainly bestows on
a man, though it may strip him of everything else; but what age is long?
or what is there at all long to a man? Does not

    Old age, though unregarded, still attend
    On childhood’s pastimes, as the cares of men?

But because there is nothing beyond old age, we call that long; all these
things are said to be long or short, according to the proportion of time
they were given us for. Aristotle saith, there is a kind of insect near
the river Hypanis, which runs from a certain part of Europe into the
Pontus, whose life consists but of one day; those that die at the eighth
hour, die in full age; those who die when the sun sets are very old,
especially when the days are at the longest. Compare our longest life with
eternity and we shall be found almost as short-lived as those little

XL. Let us, then, despise all these follies—for what softer name can I
give to such levities?—and let us lay the foundation of our happiness in
the strength and greatness of our minds, in a contempt and disregard of
all earthly things, and in the practice of every virtue. For at present we
are enervated by the softness of our imaginations, so that, should we
leave this world before the promises of our fortune-tellers are made good
to us, we should think ourselves deprived of some great advantages, and
seem disappointed and forlorn. But if, through life, we are in continual
suspense, still expecting, still desiring, and are in continual pain and
torture, good Gods! how pleasant must that journey be which ends in
security and ease! How pleased am I with Theramenes! of how exalted a soul
does he appear! For, although we never read of him without tears, yet that
illustrious man is not to be lamented in his death, who, when he had been
imprisoned by the command of the thirty tyrants, drank off, at one
draught, as if he had been thirsty, the poisoned cup, and threw the
remainder out of it with such force, that it sounded as it fell; and then,
on hearing the sound of the drops, he said, with a smile, “I drink this to
the most excellent Critias,” who had been his most bitter enemy; for it is
customary among the Greeks, at their banquets, to name the person to whom
they intend to deliver the cup. This celebrated man was pleasant to the
last, even when he had received the poison into his bowels, and truly
foretold the death of that man whom he named when he drank the poison, and
that death soon followed. Who that thinks death an evil, could approve of
the evenness of temper in this great man at the instant of dying? Socrates
came, a few years after, to the same prison and the same cup, by as great
iniquity on the part of his judges as the tyrants displayed when they
executed Theramenes. What a speech is that which Plato makes him deliver
before his judges, after they had condemned him to death!

XLI. “I am not without hopes, O judges, that it is a favourable
circumstance for me that I am condemned to die; for one of these two
things must necessarily happen, either that death will deprive me entirely
of all sense, or else, that by dying I shall go from hence into some other
place; wherefore, if all sense is utterly extinguished, and if death is
like that sleep which sometimes is so undisturbed as to be even without
the visions of dreams—in that case, O ye good Gods! what gain is it to
die! or what length of days can be imagined which would be preferable to
such a night? And if the constant course of future time is to resemble
that night, who is happier than I am? But if, on the other hand, what is
said be true, namely, that death is but a removal to those regions where
the souls of the departed dwell, then that state must be more happy still,
to have escaped from those who call themselves judges, and to appear
before such as are truly so, Minos, Rhadamanthus, Æacus, Triptolemus, and
to meet with those who have lived with justice and probity!(72) Can this
change of abode appear otherwise than great to you? What bounds can you
set to the value of conversing with Orpheus, and Musæus, and Homer, and
Hesiod? I would even, were it possible, willingly die often, in order to
prove the certainty of what I speak of. What delight must it be to meet
with Palamedes, and Ajax, and others, who have been betrayed by the
iniquity of their judges! Then, also, should I experience the wisdom of
even that king of kings, who led his vast troops to Troy, and the prudence
of Ulysses and Sisyphus: nor should I then be condemned for prosecuting my
inquiries on such subjects in the same way in which I have done here on
earth. And even you, my judges, you, I mean, who have voted for my
acquittal, do not you fear death, for nothing bad can befal a good man,
whether he be alive or dead; nor are his concerns ever overlooked by the
Gods, nor in my case either has this befallen me by chance; and I have
nothing to charge those men with who accused or condemned me, but the fact
that they believed that they were doing me harm.” In this manner he
proceeded: there is no part of his speech which I admire more than his
last words: “But it is time,” says he, “for me now to go hence, that I may
die; and for you, that you may continue to live. Which condition of the
two is the best, the immortal Gods know; but I do not believe that any
mortal man does.”

XLII. Surely I would rather have had this man’s soul, than all the
fortunes of those who sat in judgment on him; although that very thing
which he says no one except the Gods knows, namely, whether life or death
is most preferable, he knows himself, for he had previously stated his
opinion on it; but he maintained to the last that favourite maxim of his,
of affirming nothing. And let us, too, adhere to this rule of not thinking
anything an evil, which is a general provision of nature: and let us
assure ourselves, that if death is an evil, it is an eternal evil, for
death seems to be the end of a miserable life; but if death is a misery,
there can be no end of that. But why do I mention Socrates, or Theramenes,
men distinguished by the glory of virtue and wisdom? when a certain
Lacedæmonian, whose name is not so much as known, held death in such
contempt, that, when led to it by the ephori, he bore a cheerful and
pleasant countenance; and, when he was asked by one of his enemies whether
he despised the laws of Lycurgus? “On the contrary,” answered he, “I am
greatly obliged to him, for he has amerced me in a fine which I can pay
without borrowing, or taking up money at interest.” This was a man worthy
of Sparta! and I am almost persuaded of his innocence because of the
greatness of his soul. Our own city has produced many such. But why should
I name generals, and other men of high rank, when Cato could write, that
legions have marched with alacrity to that place from whence they never
expected to return? With no less greatness of soul fell the Lacedæmonians
at Thermopylæ, on whom Simonides wrote the following epitaph:—

    Go, stranger, tell the Spartans, here we lie,
    Who to support their laws durst boldly die.(73)

What was it that Leonidas, their general, said to them? “March on with
courage, my Lacedæmonians; to-night, perhaps, we shall sup in the regions
below.” This was a brave nation whilst the laws of Lycurgus were in force.
One of them, when a Persian had said to him in conversation, “We shall
hide the sun from your sight by the number of our arrows and darts;”
replied, “We shall fight then in the shade.” Do I talk of their men? how
great was that Lacedæmonian woman, who had sent her son to battle, and
when she heard that he was slain, said, “I bore him for that purpose, that
you might have a man who durst die for his country.” However, it is a
matter of notoriety that the Spartans were bold and hardy, for the
discipline of a republic has great influence.

XLIII. What, then, have we not reason to admire Theodorus the Cyrenean, a
philosopher of no small distinction? who, when Lysimachus threatened to
crucify him, bade him keep those menaces for his courtiers: “to Theodorus
it makes no difference whether he rot in the air or under ground.” By
which saying of the philosopher I am reminded to say something of the
custom of funerals and sepulture, and of funeral ceremonies, which is,
indeed, not a difficult subject, especially if we recollect what has been
before said about insensibility. The opinion of Socrates respecting this
matter is clearly stated in the book which treats of his death; or which
we have already said so much; for when he had discussed the immortality of
the soul, and when the time of his dying was approaching rapidly, being
asked by Criton how he would be buried, “I have taken a great deal of
pains," saith he, "my friends, to no purpose, for I have not convinced our
Criton, that I shall fly from hence, and leave no part of me behind:
notwithstanding, Criton, if you can overtake me, wheresoever you get hold
of me, bury me as you please: but believe me, none of you will be able to
catch me when I have flown away from hence.” That was excellently said,
inasmuch as he allows his friend to do as he pleased, and yet shows his
indifference about anything of this kind. Diogenes was rougher, though of
the same opinion, but in his character of a Cynic, he expressed himself in
a somewhat harsher manner; he ordered himself to be thrown anywhere
without being buried. And when his friends replied, “What, to the birds
and beasts?” “By no means,” saith he; “place my staff near me, that I may
drive them away.” “How can you do that,” they answer, “for you will not
perceive them?” “How am I then injured by being torn by those animals, if
I have no sensation?” Anaxagoras, when he was at the point of death, at
Lampsacus, and was asked by his friends, whether, if anything should
happen to him, he would not choose to be carried to Clazomenæ, his
country, made this excellent answer,—“There is,” says he, “no occasion for
that, for all places are at an equal distance from the infernal regions.”
There is one thing to be observed with respect to the whole subject of
burial, that it relates to the body, whether the soul live or die. Now
with regard to the body, it is clear that whether the soul live or die,
that has no sensation.

XLIV. But all things are full of errors. Achilles drags Hector, tied to
his chariot; he thinks, I suppose, he tears his flesh, and that Hector
feels the pain of it; therefore, he avenges himself on him, as he
imagines; but Hecuba bewails this as a sore misfortune—

    I saw (a dreadful sight!) great Hector slain,
    Dragg’d at Achilles’ car along the plain.

What Hector? or how long will he be Hector? Accius is better in this, and
Achilles, too, is sometimes reasonable—

    I Hector’s body to his sire convey’d,
    Hector I sent to the infernal shade.

It was not Hector that you dragged along, but a body that had been
Hector’s. Here another starts from underground, and will not suffer his
mother to sleep—

    To thee I call, my once loved parent, hear,
    Nor longer with thy sleep relieve thy care;
    Thine eye which pities not is closed—arise,
    Ling’ring I wait the unpaid obsequies.

When these verses are sung with a slow and melancholy tune, so as to
affect the whole theatre with sadness, one can scarce help thinking those
unhappy that are unburied—

    Ere the devouring dogs and hungry vultures ...

He is afraid he shall not have the use of his limbs so well if they are
torn to pieces, but is under no such apprehensions if they are burned—

    Nor leave my naked bones, my poor remains,
    To shameful violence, and bloody stains.

I do not understand what he could fear who could pour forth such excellent
verses to the sound of the flute. We must, therefore, adhere to this, that
nothing is to be regarded after we are dead, though many people revenge
themselves on their dead enemies. Thyestes pours forth several curses in
some good lines of Ennius, praying, first of all, that Atreus may perish
by a shipwreck, which is certainly a very terrible thing, for such a death
is not free from very grievous sensations. Then follow these unmeaning

    On the sharp rock his mangled carcase lie,
    His entrails torn, to hungry birds a prey;
    May he convulsive writhe his bleeding side,
    And with his clotted gore the stones be dyed.

The rocks themselves were not more destitute of feeling than he who was
hanging to them by his side; though Thyestes imagines he is wishing him
the greatest torture. It would be torture indeed, if he were sensible; but
as he is not, it can be none; then how very unmeaning is this!

    Let him, still hovering o’er the Stygian wave,
    Ne’er reach the body’s peaceful port, the grave.

You see under what mistaken notions all this is said. He imagines the body
has its haven, and that the dead are at rest in their graves. Pelops was
greatly to blame in not having informed and taught his son what regard was
due to everything.

XLV. But what occasion is there to animadvert on the opinions of
individuals, when we may observe whole nations to fall into all sorts of
errors? The Egyptians embalm their dead, and keep them in their houses;
the Persians dress them over with wax, and then bury them, that they may
preserve their bodies as long as possible. It is customary with the Magi,
to bury none of their order, unless they have been first torn by wild
beasts. In Hyrcania, the people maintain dogs for the public use, the
nobles have their own; and we know that they have a good breed of dogs;
but every one, according to his ability, provides himself with some, in
order to be torn by them; and they hold that to be the best kind of
interment. Chrysippus, who is curious in all kinds of historical facts,
has collected many other things of this kind, but some of them are so
offensive as not to admit of being related. All that has been said of
burying, is not worth our regard with respect to ourselves, though it is
not to be neglected as to our friends, provided we are thoroughly aware
that the dead are insensible; but the living, indeed, should consider what
is due to custom and opinion, only they should at the same time consider
that the dead are no ways interested in it. But death truly is then met
with the greatest tranquillity, when the dying man can comfort himself
with his own praise. No one dies too soon who has finished the course of
perfect virtue. I myself have known many occasions when I have seemed in
danger of immediate death; oh! how I wish it had come to me, for I have
gained nothing by the delay. I had gone over and over again the duties of
life; nothing remained but to contend with fortune. If reason, then,
cannot sufficiently fortify us to enable us to feel a contempt for death,
at all events, let our past life prove that we have lived long enough, and
even longer than was necessary; for notwithstanding the deprivation of
sense, the dead are not without that good which peculiarly belongs to
them, namely, the praise and glory which they have acquired, even though
they are not sensible of it. For although there be nothing in glory to
make it desirable, yet it follows virtue as its shadow. And the genuine
judgment of the multitude on good men, if ever they form any, is more to
their own praise, than of any real advantage to the dead; yet I cannot
say, however it may be received, that Lycurgus and Solon have no glory
from their laws, and from the political constitution which they
established in their country; or that Themistocles and Epaminondas have
not glory from their martial virtue.

XLVI. For Neptune shall sooner bury Salamis itself with his waters, than
the memory of the trophies gained there; and the Bœotian Leuetra shall
perish, sooner than the glory of that great battle. And longer still shall
fame be before it deserts Curius, and Fabricius, and Calatinus, and the
two Scipios, and the two Africani, and Maximus, and Marcellus, and Paulus,
and Cato, and Lælius, and numberless other heroes; and whoever has caught
any resemblance of them, not estimating it by common fame, but by the real
applause of good men, may with confidence, when the occasion requires,
approach death, on which we are sure that even if the chief good is not
continued, at least no evil is. Such a man would even wish to die, whilst
in prosperity; for all the favours that could be heaped on him, would not
be so agreeable to him, as the loss of them would be painful. That speech
of the Lacedæmonian seems to have the same meaning, who, when Diagoras the
Rhodian, who had himself been a conqueror at the Olympic games, saw two of
his own sons conquerors there on the same day, approached the old man, and
congratulating him, said, “You should die now, Diagoras, for no greater
happiness can possibly await you.” The Greeks look on these as great
things; perhaps they think too highly of them, or rather they did so then.
And so he who said this to Diagoras, looking on it as something very
glorious, that three men out of one family should have been conquerors
there, thought it could answer no purpose to him, to continue any longer
in life, where he could only be exposed to a reverse of fortune.

I might have given you a sufficient answer, as it seems to me, on this
point, in a few words, as you had allowed the dead were not exposed to any
positive evil; but I have spoken at greater length on the subject for this
reason, because this is our greatest consolation in the losing and
bewailing of our friends. For we ought to bear with moderation any grief
which arises from ourselves, or is endured on our own account, lest we
should seem to be too much influenced by self-love. But should we suspect
our departed friends to be under those evils, which they are generally
imagined to be and to be sensible of them, then such a suspicion would
give us intolerable pain; and accordingly I wished, for my own sake, to
pluck up this opinion by the roots, and on that account I have been
perhaps somewhat more prolix than was necessary.

XLVII. _A._ More prolix than was necessary? certainly not, in my opinion.
For I was induced by the former part of your speech, to wish to die; but,
by the latter, sometimes not to be unwilling, and at others to be wholly
indifferent about it. But the effect of your whole argument is, that I am
convinced that death ought not to be classed among the evils.

_M._ Do you, then, expect that I am to give you a regular peroration, like
the rhetoricians, or shall I forego that art?

_A._ I would not have you give over an art which you have set off to such
advantage; and you were in the right to do so, for, to speak the truth, it
also has set you off. But what is that peroration? for I should be glad to
hear it, whatever it is.

_M._ It is customary in the schools, to produce the opinions of the
immortal gods on death; nor are these opinions the fruits of the
imagination alone of the lecturers, but they have the authority of
Herodotus and many others. Cleobis and Biton are the first they mention,
sons of the Argive priestess; the story is a well-known one. As it was
necessary that she should be drawn in a chariot to a certain annual
sacrifice, which was solemnized at a temple some considerable distance
from the town, and the cattle that were to draw the chariot had not
arrived, those two young men whom I have just mentioned, pulling off their
garments, and anointing their bodies with oil, harnessed themselves to the
yoke. And in this manner the priestess was conveyed to the temple; and
when the chariot had arrived at the proper place, she is said to have
entreated the goddess to bestow on them, as a reward for their piety, the
greatest gift that a God could confer on man. And the young men, after
having feasted with their mother, fell asleep; and in the morning they
were found dead. Trophonius and Agamedes are said to have put up the same
petition, for they having built a temple to Apollo at Delphi, offered
supplications to the god, and desired of him some extraordinary reward for
their care and labour, particularizing nothing, but asking for whatever
was best for men. Accordingly, Apollo signified to them that he would
bestow it on them in three days, and on the third day at daybreak they
were found dead. And so they say that this was a formal decision
pronounced by that god, to whom the rest of the deities have assigned the
province of divining with an accuracy superior to that of all the rest.

XLVIII. There is also a story told of Silenus, who, when taken prisoner by
Midas, is said to have made him this present for his ransom; namely, that
he informed him(74) that never to have been born, was by far the greatest
blessing that could happen to man; and that the next best thing was, to
die very soon; which very opinion Euripides makes use of in his
Cresphontes, saying,—

    When man is born, ’tis fit, with solemn show,
    We speak our sense of his approaching woe,
    With other gestures, and a different eye,
    Proclaim our pleasure when he’s bid to die.(75)

There is something like this in Crantor’s Consolation; for he says, that
Terinæus of Elysia, when he was bitterly lamenting the loss of his son,
came to a place of divination to be informed why he was visited with so
great affliction, and received in his tablet these three verses,—

    Thou fool, to murmur at Euthynous’ death
    The blooming youth to fate resigns his breath:
    The fate, whereon your happiness depends,
    At once the parent and the son befriends.(76)

On these and similar authorities they affirm that the question has been
determined by the Gods. Nay more; Alcidamas, an ancient rhetorician of the
very highest reputation, wrote even in praise of death, which he
endeavoured to establish by an enumeration of the evils of life; and his
Dissertation has a great deal of eloquence in it, but he was unacquainted
with the more refined arguments of the philosophers. By the orators,
indeed, to die for our country is always considered not only as glorious,
but even as happy; they go back as far as Erechtheus,(77) whose very
daughters underwent death, for the safety of their fellow-citizens: they
instance Codrus, who threw himself into the midst of his enemies, dressed
like a common man, that his royal robes might not betray him; because the
oracle had declared the Athenians conquerors, if their king was slain.
Menœceus(78) is not overlooked by them, who, in compliance with the
injunctions of an oracle, freely shed his blood for his country. Iphigenia
ordered herself to be conveyed to Aulis, to be sacrificed, that her blood
might be the cause of spilling that of her enemies.

XLIX. From hence they proceed to instances of a fresher date. Harmodius
and Aristogiton are in everybody’s mouth; the memory of Leonidas the
Lacedæmonian, and Epaminondas the Theban, is as fresh as ever. Those
philosophers were not acquainted with the many instances in our country—to
give a list of whom would take up too much time—who, we see, considered
death desirable as long as it was accompanied with honour. But,
notwithstanding this is the correct view of the case, we must use much
persuasion, speak as if we were endued with some higher authority, in
order to bring men to begin to wish to die, or cease to be afraid of
death. For if that last day does not occasion an entire extinction, but a
change of abode only, what can be more desirable? and if it on the other
hand destroys, and absolutely puts an end to us, what can be preferable to
the having a deep sleep fall on us, in the midst of the fatigues of life,
and being thus overtaken, to sleep to eternity? And, should this really be
the case, then Ennius’s language is more consistent with wisdom than
Solon’s; for our Ennius says—

    Let none bestow upon my passing bier
    One needless sigh or unavailing tear.

But the wise Solon says—

    Let me not unlamented die, but o’er my bier
    Burst forth the tender sigh, the friendly tear.(79)

But let us, if indeed it should be our fate to know the time which is
appointed by the Gods for us to die, prepare ourselves for it, with a
cheerful and grateful mind, thinking ourselves like men who are delivered
from a jail, and released from their fetters, for the purpose of going
back to our eternal habitation, which may be more emphatically called our
own; or else to be divested of all sense and trouble. If, on the other
hand, we should have no notice given us of this decree, yet let us
cultivate such a disposition as to look on that formidable hour of death
as happy for us, though shocking to our friends; and let us never imagine
anything to be an evil, which is an appointment of the immortal Gods, or
of nature, the common parent of all. For it is not by hazard or without
design that we have been born and situated as we have. On the contrary,
beyond all doubt there is a certain power, which consults the happiness of
human nature; and this would neither have produced nor provided for a
being, which after having gone through the labours of life was to fall
into eternal misery by death. Let us rather infer, that we have a retreat
and haven prepared for us, which I wish we could crowd all sail and arrive
at; but though the winds should not serve, and we should be driven back,
yet we shall to a certainty arrive at that point eventually, though
somewhat later. But how can that be miserable for one which all must of
necessity undergo? I have given you a peroration, that you might not think
I had overlooked or neglected anything.

_A._ I am persuaded you have not; and, indeed, that peroration has
confirmed me.

_M._ I am glad it has had that effect; but it is now time to consult our
health; to-morrow, and all the time we continue in this Tusculan villa,
let us consider this subject; and especially those portions of it which
may ease our pain, alleviate our fears, and lessen our desires, which is
the greatest advantage we can reap from the whole of philosophy.

Book II. On Bearing Pain.

I. Neoptolemus, in Ennius, indeed, says, that the study of philosophy was
expedient for him; but that it required limiting to a few subjects, for
that to give himself up entirely to it, was what he did not approve of.
And for my part, Brutus, I am perfectly persuaded that it is expedient for
me to philosophize; for what can I do better, especially as I have no
regular occupation? but I am not for limiting my philosophy to a few
subjects, as he does; for philosophy is a matter in which it is difficult
to acquire a little knowledge without acquainting yourself with many, or
all its branches, nor can you well take a few subjects without selecting
them out of a great number; nor can any one, who has acquired the
knowledge of a few points, avoid endeavouring with the same eagerness to
understand more. But still, in a busy life, and in one mainly occupied
with military matters, such as that of Neoptolemus was at that time, even
that limited degree of acquaintance with philosophy may be of great use,
and may yield fruit, not perhaps so plentiful as a thorough knowledge of
the whole of philosophy, but yet such as in some degree may at times
deliver us from the dominion of our desires, our sorrows, and our fears;
just as the effect of that discussion which we lately maintained in my
Tusculan villa seemed to be, that a great contempt of death was
engendered; which contempt is of no small efficacy towards delivering the
mind from fear; for whoever dreads what cannot be avoided, can by no means
live with a quiet and tranquil mind. But he who is under no fear of death,
not only because it is a thing absolutely inevitable, but also because he
is persuaded that death itself hath nothing terrible in it, provides
himself with a very great resource towards a happy life. However, I am not
ignorant, that many will argue strenuously against us; and, indeed, that
is a thing which can never be avoided, except by abstaining from writing
at all. For if my Orations, which were addressed to the judgment and
approbation of the people, (for that is a popular art, and the object of
oratory is popular applause,) have been criticised by some people who are
inclined to withhold their praise from every thing but what they are
persuaded they can attain to themselves, and who limit their ideas of good
speaking by the hopes which they conceive of what they themselves may
attain to, and who declare, when they are overwhelmed with a flow of words
and sentences, that they prefer the utmost poverty of thought and
expression to that plenty and copiousness; (from which arose the Attic
kind of oratory, which they who professed it were strangers to, though
they have now been some time silenced, and laughed out of the very courts
of justice;) what may I not expect, when at present I cannot have the
least countenance from the people, by whom I used to be upheld before? For
philosophy is satisfied with a few judges, and of her own accord
industriously avoids the multitude, who are jealous of it, and utterly
displeased with it; so that, should any one undertake to cry down the
whole of it, he would have the people on his side; while, if he should
attack that school which I particularly profess, he would have great
assistance from those of the other philosophers.

II. But I have answered the detractors of philosophy in general, in my
Hortensius. And what I had to say in favour of the Academics, is, I think,
explained with sufficient accuracy in my four books of the Academic

But yet I am so far from desiring that no one should write against me,
that it is what I most earnestly wish; for philosophy would never have
been in such esteem in Greece itself, if it had not been for the strength
which it acquired from the contentions and disputations of the most
learned men; and therefore I recommend all men who have abilities to
follow my advice, to snatch this art also from declining Greece, and to
transport it to this city; as our ancestors by their study and industry
have imported all their other arts, which were worth having. Thus the
praise of oratory, raised from a low degree, is arrived at such
perfection, that it must now decline, and, as is the nature of all things,
verge to its dissolution in a very short time. Let philosophy then derive
its birth in Latin language from this time, and let us lend it our
assistance, and bear patiently to be contradicted and refuted; and
although those men may dislike such treatment who are bound and devoted to
certain predetermined opinions, and are under such obligations to maintain
them that they are forced, for the sake of consistency, to adhere to them
even though they do not themselves wholly approve of them; we, on the
other hand, who pursue only probabilities, and who cannot go beyond that
which seems really likely, can confute others without obstinacy, and are
prepared to be confuted ourselves without resentment. Besides, if these
studies are ever brought home to us, we shall not want even Greek
libraries, in which there is an infinite number of books, by reason of the
multitude of authors among them;—for it is a common practice with many to
repeat the same things which have been written by others, which serves no
purpose, but to stuff their shelves: and this will be our case, too, if
many apply themselves to this study.

III. But let us excite those, if possible, who have had a liberal
education, and are masters of an elegant style, and who philosophize with
reason and method.

For there is a certain class of them who would willingly be called
philosophers, whose books in our language are said to be numerous, and
which I do not despise, for indeed I never read them: but still because
the authors themselves declare that they write without any regularity, or
method, or elegance, or ornament, I do not care to read what must be so
void of entertainment. There is no one in the least acquainted with
literature, who does not know the style and sentiments of that school;
wherefore, since they are at no pains to express themselves well, I do not
see why they should be read by anybody except by one another: let them
read them, if they please, who are of the same opinions: for in the same
manner as all men read Plato, and the other Socratics, with those who
sprung from them, even those who do not agree with their opinions, or are
very indifferent about them; but scarcely any one except their own
disciples, take Epicurus, or Metrodorus, into their hands; so they alone
read these Latin books, who think that the arguments contained in them are
sound. But, in my opinion, whatever is published, should be recommended to
the reading of every man of learning; and though we may not succeed in
this ourselves, yet nevertheless we must be sensible that this ought to be
the aim of every writer. And on this account I have always been pleased
with the custom of the Peripatetics, and Academics, of disputing on both
sides of the question; not solely from its being the only method of
discovering what is probable on every subject, but also because it affords
the greatest scope for practising eloquence; a method that Aristotle first
made use of, and afterward all the Aristotelians; and in our own memory
Philo, whom we have often heard, appointed one time to treat of the
precepts of the rhetoricians, and another for philosophical discussion, to
which custom I was brought to conform by my friends at my Tusculum; and
accordingly our leisure time was spent in this manner. And therefore, as
yesterday before noon, we applied ourselves to speaking; and in the
afternoon went down into the Academy: the discussions which were held
there I have acquainted you with, not in the manner of a narration, but in
almost the very same words which were employed in the debate.

IV. The discourse, then, was introduced in this manner, whilst we were
walking, and it was commenced by some such an opening as this.

_A._ It is not to be expressed how much I was delighted, or rather
edified, by your discourse of yesterday. For although I am conscious to
myself that I have never been too fond of life, yet at times, when I have
considered that there would be an end to this life, and that I must some
time or other part with all its good things, a certain dread and
uneasiness used to intrude itself on my thoughts; but now, believe me, I
am so freed from that kind of uneasiness, that there is nothing that I
think less worth any regard.

_M._ I am not at all surprised at that, for it is the effect of
philosophy, which is the medicine of our souls; it banishes all groundless
apprehensions, frees us from desires, and drives away fears: but it has
not the same influence over all men; it is of very great influence when it
falls in with a disposition well adapted to it. For not only does Fortune,
as the old proverb says, assist the bold, but reason does so in a still
greater degree; for it, by certain precepts, as it were, strengthens even
courage itself. You were born naturally great and soaring, and with a
contempt for all things which pertain to man alone; therefore a discourse
against death took easy possession of a brave soul. But do you imagine
that these same arguments have any force with those very persons who have
invented, and canvassed, and published them, excepting indeed some very
few particular persons? For how few philosophers will you meet with, whose
life and manners are conformable to the dictates of reason! who look on
their profession, not as a means of displaying their learning, but as a
rule for their own practice! who follow their own precepts, and comply
with, their own decrees! You may see some of such levity, and such vanity,
that it would have been better for them to have been ignorant; some
covetous of money, some others eager for glory, many slaves to their
lusts; so that their discourses and their actions are most strangely at
variance; than which nothing in my opinion can be more unbecoming: for
just as if one who professed to teach grammar, should speak with
impropriety; or a master of music sing out of tune; such conduct has the
worse appearance in these men, because they blunder in the very particular
with which they profess that they are well acquainted: so a philosopher,
who errs in the conduct of his life, is the more infamous, because he is
erring in the very thing which he pretends to teach, and whilst he lays
down rules to regulate life by, is irregular in his own life.

V. _A._ Should this be the case, is it not to be feared that you are
dressing up philosophy in false colours? for what stronger argument can
there be that it is of little use, than that some very profound
philosophers live in a discreditable manner?

_M._ That, indeed, is no argument at all, for as all the fields which are
cultivated are not fruitful, (and this sentiment of Accius is false, and
asserted without any foundation,

    The ground you sow on, is of small avail;
    To yield a crop good seed can never fail:)

it is not every mind which has been properly cultivated that produces
fruit;—and to go on with the comparison, as a field, although it may be
naturally fruitful cannot produce a crop, without dressing, so neither can
the mind, without education; such is the weakness of either without the
other. Whereas philosophy is the culture of the mind: this it is which
plucks up vices by the roots; prepares the mind for the receiving of
seeds, commits them to it, or, as I may say, sows them, in the hope that,
when come to maturity, they may produce a plentiful harvest. Let us
proceed, then, as we begun; say, if you please, what shall be the subject
of our disputation.

_A._ I look on pain to be the greatest of all evils.

_M._ What, even greater than infamy?

_A._ I dare not indeed assert that, and I blush to think I am so soon
driven from my ground.

_M._ You would have had greater reason for blushing had you persevered in
it; for what is so unbecoming—what can appear worse to you, than disgrace,
wickedness, immorality? To avoid which, what pain is there which we ought
not (I will not say to avoid shirking, but even) of our own accord to
encounter, and undergo, and even to court?

_A._ I am entirely of that opinion; but notwithstanding that pain is not
the greatest evil, yet surely it is an evil.

_M._ Do you perceive, then, how much of the terror of pain you have given
up on a small hint?

_A._ I see that plainly; but I should be glad to give up more of it.

_M._ I will endeavour to make you do so, but it is a great undertaking,
and I must have a disposition on your part, which is not inclined to offer
any obstacles.

_A._ You shall have such: for as I behaved yesterday, so now I will follow
reason wherever she leads.

VI. _M._ First, then, I will speak of the weakness of many philosophers,
and those too of various sects; the head of whom, both in authority and
antiquity, was Aristippus, the pupil of Socrates, who hesitated not to
say, that pain was the greatest of all evils. And after him Epicurus
easily gave into this effeminate and enervated doctrine. After him
Hieronymus, the Rhodian, said, that to be without pain was the chief good,
so great an evil did pain appear to him to be. The rest, with the
exceptions of Zeno, Aristo, Pyrrho, were pretty much of the same opinion
that you were of just now, that it was indeed an evil, but that there were
many worse. When then nature herself and a certain generous feeling of
virtue at once prevents you from persisting in the assertion that pain is
the chief evil, and when you were driven from such an opinion when
disgrace was contrasted with pain, shall philosophy, the preceptress of
life, cling to this idea for so many ages? What duty of life, what praise,
what reputation would be of such consequence that a man should be desirous
of gaining it at the expense of submitting to bodily pain, when he has
persuaded himself that pain is the greatest evil? On the other side, what
disgrace, what ignominy, would he not submit to, that he might avoid pain,
when persuaded that it was the greatest of evils? Besides, what person, if
it be only true that pain is the greatest of evils, is not miserable, not
only when he actually feels pain, but also whenever he is aware that it
may befal him? And who is there whom pain may not befal? so that it is
clear that there is absolutely no one who can possibly be happy.
Metrodorus, indeed, thinks that man perfectly happy, whose body is free
from all disorders, and who has an assurance that it will always continue
so; but who is there who can be assured of that?

VII. But Epicurus, indeed, says such things that it should seem that his
design was only to make people laugh; for he affirms somewhere, that if a
wise man were to be burned, or put to the torture,—you expect, perhaps,
that he is going to say he would bear it, he would support himself under
it with resolution! he would not yield to it, and that, by Hercules! would
he very commendable, and worthy of that very Hercules whom I have just
invoked: but even this will not satisfy Epicurus, that robust and hardy
man! No; his wise man, even if he were in Phalaris’s bull, would say, How
sweet it is! how little do I regard it! What sweet? is it not sufficient,
if it is not disagreeable? But those very men who deny pain to be an evil,
are not in the habit of saying that it is agreeable to any one to be
tormented; they rather say, that it is cruel, or hard to bear, afflicting,
unnatural, but still not an evil: while this man who says that it is the
only evil, and the very worst of all evils, yet thinks that a wise man
would pronounce it sweet. I do not require of you to speak of pain in the
same words which Epicurus uses—a man, as you know, devoted to pleasure: he
may make no difference, if he pleases, between Phalaris’s bull, and his
own bed: but I cannot allow the wise man to be so indifferent about pain.
If he bears it with courage, it is sufficient; that he should rejoice in
it, I do not expect; for pain is, beyond all question, sharp, bitter,
against nature, hard to submit to, and to bear. Observe Philoctetes: We
may allow him to lament, for he saw Hercules himself groaning loudly
through extremity of pain on mount Œta: the arrows with which Hercules
presented him, were then no consolation to him, when

    The viper’s bite, impregnating his veins
    With poison, rack’d him with its bitter pains.

And therefore he cries out, desiring help, and wishing to die,

    Oh! that some friendly hand its aid would lend,
    My body from this rock’s vast height to send
    Into the briny deep! I’m all on fire,
    And by this fatal wound must soon expire.

It is hard to say that the man who was obliged to cry out in this manner,
was not oppressed with evil, and great evil too.

VIII. But let us observe Hercules himself, who was subdued by pain at the
very time when he was on the point of attaining immortality by death. What
words does Sophocles here put in his mouth, in his Trachiniæ? who, when
Deianira had put upon him a tunic dyed in the centaur’s blood, and it
stuck to his entrails, says,

    What tortures I endure no words can tell,
    Far greater these, than those which erst befel
    From the dire terror of thy consort, Jove;
    E’en stern Eurystheus’ dire command above;
    This of thy daughter, Œneus, is the fruit,
    Beguiling me with her envenom’d suit,
    Whose close embrace doth on my entrails prey,
    Consuming life; my lungs forbid to play;
    The blood forsakes my veins, my manly heart
    Forgets to beat; enervated, each part
    Neglects its office, whilst my fatal doom
    Proceeds ignobly from the weaver’s loom.
    The hand of foe ne’er hurt me, nor the fierce
    Giant issuing from his parent earth.
    Ne’er could the Centaur such a blow enforce,
    No barbarous foe, nor all the Grecian force;
    This arm no savage people could withstand,
    Whose realms I traversed to reform the land.
    Thus, though I ever bore a manly heart,
    I fall a victim to a woman’s art.

    IX. Assist, my son, if thou that name dost hear,
    My groans preferring to thy mother’s tear;
    Convey her here, if, in thy pious heart,
    Thy mother shares not an unequal part:
    Proceed, be bold, thy father’s fate bemoan,
    Nations will join, you will not weep alone.
    O what a sight is this same briny source,
    Unknown before, through all my labours’ course!
    That virtue, which could brave each toil but late,
    With woman’s weakness now bewails its fate.
    Approach, my son; behold thy father laid,
    A wither’d carcase that implores thy aid;
    Let all behold; and thou, imperious Jove,
    On me direct thy lightning from above:
    Now all its force the poison doth assume,
    And my burnt entrails with its flame consume.
    Crest-fallen, unembraced I now let fall
    Listless, those hands that lately conquer’d all;
    When the Nemæan lion own’d their force,
    And he indignant fell a breathless corse:
    The serpent slew, of the Lernean lake,
    As did the Hydra of its force partake:
    By this, too, fell the Erymanthian boar:
    E’en Cerberus did his weak strength deplore.
    This sinewy arm did overcome with ease
    That dragon, guardian of the golden fleece.
    My many conquests let some others trace;
    It’s mine to say, I never knew disgrace.(80)

Can we, then, despise pain, when we see Hercules himself giving vent to
his expressions of agony with such impatience?

IX. Let us see what Æschylus says, who was not only a poet, but a
Pythagorean philosopher, also, for that is the account which you have
received of him; how doth he make Prometheus bear the pain he suffered for
the Lemnian theft, when he clandestinely stole away the celestial fire,
and bestowed it on men, and was severely punished by Jupiter for the
theft. Fastened to mount Caucasus, he speaks thus:

    Thou heav’n-born race of Titans here fast bound,
    Behold thy brother! As the sailors sound
    With care the bottom, and their ships confine
    To some safe shore, with anchor and with line:
    So, by Jove’s dread decree the god of fire
    Confines me here the victim of Jove’s ire.
    With baneful art his dire machine he shapes;
    From such a god what mortal e’er escapes?
    When each third day shall triumph o’er the night,
    Then doth the vulture, with his talons light,
    Seize on my entrails; which, in rav’nous guise,
    He preys on! then with wing extended flies
    Aloft, and brushes with his plumes the gore:
    But when dire Jove my liver doth restore,
    Back he returns impetuous to his prey,
    Clapping his wings, he cuts th’ ethereal way.
    Thus do I nourish with my blood this pest,
    Confined my arms, unable to contest;
    Entreating only, that in pity Jove
    Would take my life, and this cursed plague remove.
    But endless ages past, unheard my moan,
    Sooner shall drops dissolve this very stone.(81)

And therefore it scarcely seems possible to avoid calling a man who is
suffering, miserable; and if he is miserable, then pain is an evil.

XI. _A._ Hitherto you are on my side; I will see to that by-and-by; and,
in the meanwhile, whence are those verses? I do not remember them.

_M._ I will inform you, for you are in the right to ask. Do you see that I
have much leisure?

_A._ What then?

_M._ I imagine, when you were at Athens, you attended frequently at the
schools of the philosophers.

_A._ Yes, and with great pleasure.

_M._ You observed then, that, though none of them at that time were very
eloquent, yet they used to mix verses with their harangues.

_A._ Yes, and particularly Dionysius, the Stoic, used to employ a great

_M._ You say right; but they were quoted without any appropriateness or
elegance. But our friend Philo used to give a few select lines and well
adapted; and in imitation of him, ever since I took a fancy to this kind
of elderly declamation, I have been very fond of quoting our poets, and
where I cannot be supplied from them, I translate from the Greek, that the
Latin language may not want any kind of ornament in this kind of

But do you not see how much harm is done by poets? They introduce the
bravest men lamenting over their misfortunes: they soften our minds, and
they are besides so entertaining, that we do not only read them, but get
them by heart. Thus the influence of the poets is added to our want of
discipline at home, and our tender and delicate manner of living, so that
between them they have deprived virtue of all its vigour and energy. Plato
therefore was right in banishing them from his commonwealth, where he
required the best morals, and the best form of government. But we, who
have all our learning from Greece, read and learn these works of theirs
from our childhood; and look on this as a liberal and learned education.

XII. But why are we angry with the poets? we may find some philosophers,
those masters of virtue, who have taught that pain was the greatest of
evils. But you, young man, when you said but just now that it appeared so
to you, upon being asked by me what appeared greater than infamy, gave up
that opinion at a word. Suppose I ask Epicurus the same question. He will
answer, that a trifling degree of pain is a greater evil than the greatest
infamy; for that there is no evil in infamy itself, unless attended with
pain. What pain then attends Epicurus, when he says this very thing, that
pain is the greatest evil; and yet nothing can be a greater disgrace to a
philosopher than to talk thus. Therefore, you allowed enough when you
admitted that infamy appeared to you to be a greater evil than pain. And
if you abide by this admission, you will see how far pain should be
resisted: and that our inquiry should be not so much whether pain be an
evil; as how the mind may be fortified for resisting it. The Stoics infer
from some petty quibbling arguments, that it is no evil, as if the dispute
was about a word, and not about the thing itself. Why do you impose upon
me, Zeno? for when you deny what appears very dreadful to me to be an
evil; I am deceived, and am at a loss to know why that which appears to me
to be a most miserable thing, should be no evil. The answer is, that
nothing is an evil but what is base and vicious. You return to your
trifling, for you do not remove what made me uneasy. I know that pain is
not vice,—you need not inform me of that: but show me, that it makes no
difference to me whether I am in pain or not. It has never anything to do,
say you, with a happy life, for that depends upon virtue alone; but yet
pain is to be avoided. If I ask, why? it is disagreeable, against nature,
hard to bear, woful and afflicting.

XIII. Here are many words to express that by so many different forms,
which we call by the single word, evil. You are defining pain, instead of
removing it, when you say, it is disagreeable, unnatural, scarcely
possible to be endured or borne: nor are you wrong in saying so; but the
man who vaunts himself in such a manner should not give way in his
conduct, if it be true that nothing is good but what is honest, and
nothing evil but what is disgraceful. This would be wishing, not
proving.—This argument is a better one, and has more truth in it, that all
things which nature abhors are to be looked upon as evil; that those which
she approves of, are to be considered as good: for when this is admitted,
and the dispute about words removed, that which they with reason embrace,
and which we call honest, right, becoming, and sometimes include under the
general name of virtue, appears so far superior to everything else, that
all other things which are looked upon as the gifts of fortune, or the
good things of the body, seem trifling and insignificant: and no evil
whatever, nor all the collective body of evils together, appears to be
compared to the evil of infamy. Wherefore, if, as you granted in the
beginning, infamy is worse than pain, pain is certainly nothing; for while
it appears to you base and unmanly to groan, cry out, lament, or faint
under pain—while you cherish notions of probity, dignity, honour, and
keeping your eye on them, refrain yourself—pain will certainly yield to
virtue, and by the influence of imagination, will lose its whole
force.—For you must either admit that there is no such thing as virtue, or
you must despise every kind of pain. Will you allow of such a virtue as
prudence, without which no virtue whatever can even be conceived? What
then? will that suffer you to labour and take pains to no purpose? Will
temperance permit you to do anything to excess? Will it be possible for
justice to be maintained by one who through the force of pain discovers
secrets, or betrays his confederates, or deserts many duties of life? Will
you act in a manner consistently with courage, and its attendants,
greatness of soul, resolution, patience, and contempt for all worldly
things? Can you hear yourself called a great man, when you lie groveling,
dejected, and deploring your condition, with a lamentable voice; no one
would call you even a man, while in such a condition: you must therefore
either abandon all pretensions to courage, or else pain must be put out of
the question.

XIV. You know very well, that even though part of your Corinthian
furniture were gone, the remainder might be safe without that; but if you
lose one virtue (though virtue in reality cannot be lost), still if, I
say, you should acknowledge that you were deficient in one, you would be
stripped of all. Can you, then, call yourself a brave man, of a great
soul, endued with patience and steadiness above the frowns of fortune? or
Philoctetes? for I choose to instance him, rather than yourself, for he
certainly was not a brave man, who lay in his bed, which was watered with
his tears,

    Whose groans, bewailings, and whose bitter cries,
    With grief incessant rent the very skies.

I do not deny pain to be pain; for were that the case, in what would
courage consist? but I say it should be assuaged by patience, if there be
such a thing as patience: if there be no such thing, why do we speak so in
praise of philosophy? or why do we glory in its name? Does pain annoy us?
let it sting us to the heart: if you are without defensive armour, bare
your throat to it; but if you are secured by Vulcanian armour, that is to
say by resolution, resist it; should you fail to do so, that guardian of
your honour, your courage, will forsake and leave you.—By the laws of
Lycurgus, and by those which were given to the Cretans by Jupiter, or
which Minos established under the direction of Jupiter, as the poets say,
the youths of the state are trained by the practice of hunting, running,
enduring hunger and thirst, cold and heat. The boys at Sparta are scourged
so at the altars, that blood follows the lash in abundance, nay,
sometimes, as I used to hear when I was there, they are whipped even to
death; and yet not one of them was ever heard to cry out, or so much as
groan. What then? shall men not be able to bear what boys do? and shall
custom have such great force, and reason none at all?

XV. There is some difference betwixt labour and pain; they border upon one
another, but still there is a certain difference between them. Labour is a
certain exercise of the mind or body, in some employment or undertaking of
serious trouble and importance; but pain is a sharp motion in the body,
disagreeable to our senses.—Both these feelings, the Greeks, whose
language is more copious than ours, express by the common name of Πόνος;
therefore they call industrious men, pains-taking, or rather fond of
labour; we, more conveniently, call them laborious; for labouring is one
thing and enduring pain another. You see, O Greece, your barrenness of
words, sometimes, though you think you are always so rich in them. I say,
then, that there is a difference betwixt labouring and being in pain. When
Caius Marius had an operation performed for a swelling in his thigh, he
felt pain; when he headed his troops in a very hot season, he laboured.
Yet these two feelings bear some resemblance to one another; for the
accustoming ourselves to labour makes the endurance of pain more easy to
us.—And it was because they were influenced by this reason, that the
founders of the Grecian form of government provided that the bodies of
their youth should be strengthened by labour, which custom the Spartans
transferred even to their women, who in other cities lived more
delicately, keeping within the walls of their houses, but it was otherwise
with the Spartans.

    The Spartan women, with a manly air,
    Fatigues and dangers with their husbands share:
    They in fantastic sports have no delight,
    Partners with them in exercise and fight.

And in these laborious exercises pain interferes sometimes; they are
thrown down, receive blows, have bad falls, and are bruised, and the
labour itself produces a sort of callousness to pain.

XVI. As to military service, (I speak of our own, not of that of the
Spartans, for they used to march slowly to the sound of the flute, and
scarce a word of command was given without an anapæst;) you may see in the
first place whence the very name of an army (Exercitus)(82) is derived;
and secondly, how great the labour is of an army on its march; then
consider that they carry more than a fortnight’s provision, and whatever
else they may want: that they carry the burthen of the stakes,(83) for as
to shield, sword, or helmet, they look on them as no more encumbrance than
their own limbs, for they say that arms are the limbs of a soldier, and
those indeed they carry so commodiously, that when there is occasion they
throw down their burdens, and use their arms as readily as their limbs.
Why need I mention the exercises of the legions? and how great the labour
is which is undergone in the running, encounters, shouts! Hence it is,
that their minds are worked up to make so light of wounds in action. Take
a soldier of equal bravery, but undisciplined, and he will seem a woman.
Why is it that there is this sensible difference betwixt a raw recruit and
a veteran soldier? The age of the young soldiers is for the most part in
their favour, but it is practice only that enables men to bear labour, and
despise wounds. Moreover, we often see, when the wounded are carried off
the field, the raw untried soldier, though but slightly wounded, cries out
most shamefully; but the more brave experienced veteran only inquires for
some one to dress his wounds, and says,

    Patroclus, to thy aid I must appeal
    Ere worse ensue, my bleeding wounds to heal;
    The sons of Æsculapius are employ’d,
    No room for me, so many are annoy’d.

XVII. This is certainly Eurypylus himself. What an experienced man!—Whilst
his friend is continually enlarging on his misfortunes, you may observe
that he is so far from weeping, that he even assigns a reason why he
should bear his wounds with patience.

    Who at his enemy a stroke directs,
    His sword to light upon himself expects.

Patroclus, I suppose, will lead him off to his chamber to bind up his
wounds, at least if he be a man: but not a word of that; he only inquires
how the battle went.

    Say how the Argives bear themselves in fight?—

And yet no words can show the truth as well as those, your deeds and
visible sufferings.

    Peace! and my wounds bind up;

but though Eurypylus could bear these afflictions, Æsopus could not,

    Where Hector’s fortune press’d our yielding troops;

and he explains the rest, though in pain; so unbounded is military glory
in a brave man! Shall, then, a veteran soldier be able to behave in this
manner, and shall a wise and learned man not be able? Surely the latter
might be able to bear pain better, and in no small degree either: at
present, how ever, I am confining myself to what is engendered practice
and discipline. I am not yet come to speak of reason and philosophy. You
may often hear of old women living without victuals for three or four
days: but take away a wrestler’s provisions but for one day, and he will
implore the aid of Jupiter Olympius, the very God for whom he exercises
himself: he will cry out that he cannot endure it. Great is the force of
custom! Sportsmen will continue whole nights in the snow: they will bear
being almost frozen upon the mountains. From practice boxers will not so
much as utter a groan, however bruised by the cestus. But what do you
think of those to whom a victory in the Olympic games seemed almost on a
par with the ancient consulships of the Roman people? What wounds will the
gladiators bear, who are either barbarians, or the very dregs of mankind!
How do they, who are trained to it, prefer being wounded to basely
avoiding it! How often do they prove that they consider nothing but the
giving satisfaction to their masters or to the people! for when covered
with wounds, they send to their masters to learn their pleasure; if it is
their will, they are ready to lie down and die. What gladiator, of even
moderate reputation, ever gave a sigh? who ever turned pale? who ever
disgraced himself either in the actual combat, or even when about to die?
who that had been defeated ever drew in his neck to avoid the stroke of
death? So great is the force of practice, deliberation, and custom! Shall
this, then, be done by

    A Samnite rascal, worthy of his trade;

and shall a man born to glory have so soft a part in his soul as not to be
able to fortify it by reason and reflection? The sight of the gladiators’
combats is by some looked on as cruel and inhuman, and I do not know, as
it is at present managed, but it may be so; but when the guilty fought, we
might receive by our ears perhaps (but certainly by our eyes we could not)
better training to harden us against pain and death.

XVIII. I have now said enough about the effects of exercise, custom, and
careful meditation; proceed we now to consider the force of reason, unless
you have something to reply to what has been said.

_A._ That I should interrupt you! by no means; for your discourse has
brought me over to your opinion. Let the Stoics, then, think it their
business to determine whether pain be an evil or not, while they endeavour
to show by some strained and trifling conclusions, which are nothing to
the purpose, that pain is no evil. My opinion is, that whatever it is, it
is not so great as it appears; and I say, that men are influenced to a
great extent by some false representations and appearance of it, and that
all which is really felt is capable of being endured. Where shall I begin,
then? shall I superficially go over what I said before, that my discourse
may have a greater scope?

This, then, is agreed upon by all, and not only by learned men, but also
by the unlearned, that it becomes the brave and magnanimous, those that
have patience and a spirit above this world, not to give way to pain. Nor
has there ever been any one who did not commend a man who bore it in this
manner. That, then, which is expected from a brave man, and is commended
when it is seen, it must surely be base in any one to be afraid of at its
approach, or not to bear when it comes. But I would have you consider
whether, as all the right affections of the soul are classed under the
name of virtues, the truth is that this is not properly the name of them
all, but that they all have their name from that leading virtue which is
superior to all the rest: for the name, “virtue,” comes from _vir_, a man,
and courage is the peculiar distinction of a man: and this virtue has two
principal duties, to despise death and pain. We must, then, exert these,
if we would be men of virtue, or rather, if we would be men, because
virtue (_virtus_) takes its very name from _vir_, man.

XIX. You may inquire, perhaps, how? and such an inquiry is not amiss, for
philosophy is ready with her assistance. Epicurus offers himself to you, a
man far from a bad, or, I should rather say, a very good man; he advises
no more than he knows. “Despise pain,” says he. Who is it saith this? Is
it the same man who calls pain the greatest of all evils? It is not,
indeed, very consistent in him. Let us hear what he says:—“If the pain is
excessive it must needs be short.” I must have that over again, for I do
not apprehend what you mean exactly by “excessive” or “short.” That is
excessive, than which nothing can be greater; that is short, than which
nothing is shorter. I do not regard the greatness of any pain from which,
by reason of the shortness of its continuance, I shall be delivered almost
before it reaches me. But, if the pain be as great as that of Philoctetes,
it will appear great indeed to me, but yet not the greatest that I am
capable of bearing; for the pain is confined to my foot: but my eye may
pain me, I may have a pain in the head, or sides, or lungs, or in every
part of me. It is far, then, from being excessive; therefore, says he,
pain of a long continuance has more pleasure in it than uneasiness. Now I
cannot bring myself to say so great a man talks nonsense; but I imagine he
is laughing at us. My opinion is that the greatest pain (I say the
greatest, though it may be ten atoms less than another) is not therefore
short, because acute; I could name to you a great many good men who have
been tormented many years with the acutest pains of the gout. But this
cautious man doth not determine the measure of that greatness or of
duration, so as to enable us to know what he calls excessive, with regard
to pain, or short, with respect to its continuance. Let us pass him by,
then, as one who says just nothing at all; and let us force him to
acknowledge, notwithstanding he might behave himself somewhat boldly under
his cholic and his strangury, that no remedy against pain can be had from
him who looks on pain as the greatest of all evils. We must apply, then,
for relief elsewhere, and nowhere better (if we seek for what is most
consistent with itself) than to those who place the chief good in honesty,
and the greatest evil in infamy. You dare not so much as groan, or
discover the least uneasiness in their company, for virtue itself speaks
to you through them.

XX. Will you, when you may observe children at Lacedæmon, and young men at
Olympia, and barbarians in the amphitheatre, receive the severest wounds,
and bear them without once opening their mouths,—will you, I say, if any
pain should by chance attack you, cry out like a woman? will you not
rather bear it with resolution and constancy? and not cry, It is
intolerable, nature cannot bear it. I hear what you say,—Boys bear this
because they are led thereto by glory: some bear it through shame, many
through fear, and yet are we afraid that nature cannot bear what is borne
by many, and in such different circumstances? Nature not only bears it,
but challenges it, for there is nothing with her preferable, nothing which
she desires more, than credit, and reputation, and praise, and honour, and
glory. I choose here to describe this one thing under many names, and I
have used many that you may have the clearer idea of it; for what I mean
to say is, that whatever is desirable of itself, proceeding from virtue,
or placed in virtue, and commendable on its own account, (which I would
rather agree to call the only good than deny it to be the chief good,) is
what men should prefer above all things. And as we declare this to be the
case with respect to honesty, so we speak in the contrary manner of
infamy; nothing is so odious, so detestable, nothing so unworthy of a man:
and if you are thoroughly convinced of this (for, at the beginning of this
discourse, you allowed that there appeared to you more evil in infamy than
in pain), it follows that you ought to have the command over yourself,
though I scarcely know how this expression may seem an accurate one, which
appears to represent man as made up of two natures, so that one should be
in command and the other be subject to it.

XXI. Yet this division does not proceed from ignorance; for the soul
admits of a two-fold division, one of which partakes of reason, the other
is without it; when, therefore, we are ordered to give a law to ourselves,
the meaning is, that reason should restrain our rashness. There is in the
soul of every man, something naturally soft, low, enervated in a manner,
and languid. Were there nothing besides this, men would be the greatest of
monsters; but there is present to every man reason, which presides over,
and gives laws to all; which, by improving itself, and making continual
advances, becomes perfect virtue. It behoves a man, then, to take care
that reason shall have the command over that part which is bound to
practise obedience. In what manner? you will say. Why, as a master has
over his slave, a general over his army, a father over his son. If that
part of the soul which I have called soft behaves disgracefully, if it
gives itself up to lamentations and womanish tears, then let it be
restrained, and committed to the care of friends and relations, for we
often see those persons brought to order by shame, whom no reasons can
influence. Therefore, we should confine those feelings, like our servants,
in safe custody, and almost with chains. But those who have more
resolution, and yet are not utterly immovable, we should encourage with
our exhortations, as we would good soldiers, to recollect themselves, and
maintain their honour. That wisest man of all Greece, in the Niptræ, does
not lament too much over his wounds, or rather, he is moderate in his

    Move slow, my friends, your hasty speed refrain,
    Lest by your motion you increase my pain.

Pacuvius is better in this than Sophocles, for in the one Ulysses bemoans
his wounds too vehemently; for the very people who carried him after he
was wounded, though his grief was moderate, yet, considering the dignity
of the man, did not scruple to say,

    And thou, Ulysses, long to war inured,
    Thy wounds, though great, too feebly hast endured.

The wise poet understood that custom was no contemptible instructor how to
bear pain. But the same hero complains with more decency, though in great

    Assist, support me, never leave me so;
    Unbind my wounds, oh! execrable woe!

He begins to give way, but instantly checks himself:—

    Away, begone, but cover first the sore;
    For your rude hands but make my pains the more.

Do you observe how he constrains himself; not that his bodily pains were
less, but because he checks the anguish of his mind? Therefore, in the
conclusion of the Niptræ, he blames others, even when he himself is

    Complaints of fortune may become the man,
    None but a woman will thus weeping stand.

And so that soft place in his soul obeys his reason, just as an abashed
soldier does his stern commander.

XXII. The man, then, in whom absolute wisdom exists (such a man, indeed,
we have never as yet seen, but the philosophers have described in their
writings what sort of man he will be, if he should exist); such a man, or
at least that perfect and absolute reason which exists in him, will have
the same authority over the inferior part as a good parent has over his
dutiful children, he will bring it to obey his nod, without any trouble or
difficulty. He will rouse himself, prepare and arm himself to oppose pain
as he would an enemy. If you inquire what arms he will provide himself
with, they will be contention, encouragement, discourse with himself; he
will say thus to himself, Take care that you are guilty of nothing base,
languid, or unmanly. He will turn over in his mind all the different kinds
of honour. Zeno of Elea will occur to him, who suffered everything rather
than betray his confederates in the design of putting an end to the
tyranny. He will reflect on Anaxarchus, the pupil of Democritus, who
having fallen into the hands of Nicocreon king of Cyprus, without the
least entreaty for mercy, or refusal, submitted to every kind of torture.
Calanus the Indian will occur to him, an ignorant man and a barbarian,
born at the foot of Mount Caucasus, who committed himself to the flames by
his own free, voluntary act. But we, if we have the tooth-ache, or a pain
in the foot, or if the body be any ways affected, cannot bear it. For our
sentiments of pain, as well as pleasure, are so trifling and effeminate,
we are so enervated and relaxed by luxuries, that we cannot bear the sting
of a bee without crying out. But Caius Marius, a plain country-man, but of
a manly soul, when he had an operation performed on him, as I mentioned
above, at first refused to be tied down; and he is the first instance of
any one’s having had an operation performed on him without being tied
down. Why, then, did others bear it afterwards? Why, from the force of
example. You see, then, that pain exists more in opinion than in nature,
and yet the same Marius gave a proof that there is something very sharp in
pain, for he would not submit to have the other thigh cut. So that he bore
his pain with resolution as a man; but, like a reasonable person, he was
not willing to undergo any greater pain without some necessary reason. The
whole, then, consists in this, that you should have command over yourself.
I have already told you what kind of command this is; and by considering
what is most consistent with patience, fortitude, and greatness of soul, a
man not only restrains himself, but somehow or other mitigates even pain

XXIII. Even as in a battle, the dastardly and timorous soldier throws away
his shield on the first appearance of an enemy, and runs as fast as he
can, and on that account loses his life sometimes, though he has never
received even one wound, when he who stands his ground has nothing of the
sort happen to him; so, they who cannot bear the appearances of pain,
throw themselves away, and give themselves up to affliction and dismay;
but they that oppose it, often come off more than a match for it. For the
body has a certain resemblance to the soul: as burdens are more easily
borne the more the body is exerted, while they crush us if we give way; so
the soul by exerting itself resists the whole weight that would oppress
it; but if it yields, it is so pressed, that it cannot support itself. And
if we consider things truly, the soul should exert itself in every
pursuit, for that is the only security for its doing its duty. But this
should be principally regarded in pain, that we must not do anything
timidly, or dastardly, or basely, or slavishly, or effeminately, and above
all things we must dismiss and avoid that Philoctetean sort of outcry. A
man is allowed sometimes to groan, but yet seldom; but it is not
permissible even in a woman to howl; for such a noise as this is
forbidden, by the twelve tables, to be used even at funerals. Nor does a
wise or brave man ever groan, unless when he exerts himself to give his
resolution greater force, as they who run in the stadium make as much
noise as they can. The wrestlers, too, do the same when they are training;
and the boxers, when they aim a blow with the cestus at their adversary,
give a groan, not because they are in pain, or from a sinking of their
spirits, but because their whole body is put upon the stretch by the
throwing out of these groans, and the blow comes the stronger.

XXIV. What! they who would speak louder than ordinary, are they satisfied
with working their jaws, sides, or tongue, or stretching the common organs
of speech and utterance? the whole body and every muscle is at full
stretch, if I may be allowed the expression, every nerve is exerted to
assist their voice. I have actually seen the knees of Marcus Antonius
touch the ground when he was speaking with vehemence for himself, with
relation to the Varian law. For as the engines you throw stones or darts
with, throw them out with the greater force the more they are strained and
drawn back; so it is in speaking, running, or boxing, the more people
strain themselves, the greater their force. Since, therefore, this
exertion has so much influence—if in a moment of pain groans help to
strengthen the mind, let us use them; but if they be groans of
lamentation, if they be the expression of weakness or abjectness, or
unmanly weeping, then I should scarcely call him a man who yielded to
them. For even supposing that such groaning could give any ease, it still
should be considered, whether it were consistent with a brave and resolute
man. But, if it does not ease our pain, why should we debase ourselves to
no purpose? for what is more unbecoming in a man than to cry like a woman?
But this precept which is laid down with respect to pain is not confined
to it; we should apply this exertion of the soul to everything else. Is
anger inflamed? is lust excited? we must have recourse to the same
citadel, and apply to the same arms; but since it is pain which we are at
present discussing, we will let the other subjects alone. To bear pain,
then, sedately and calmly, it is of great use to consider with all our
soul, as the saying is, how noble it is to do so, for we are naturally
desirous (as I said before, but it cannot be too often repeated) and very
much inclined to what is honourable, of which, if we discover but the
least glimpse, there is nothing which we are not prepared to undergo and
suffer to attain it. From this impulse of our minds, this desire for
genuine glory and honourable conduct, it is that such dangers are
supported in war, and that brave men are not sensible of their wounds in
action, or if they are sensible of them, prefer death to the departing but
the least step from their honour. The Decii saw the shining swords of
their enemies when they were rushing into the battle. But the honourable
character and the glory of the death which they were seeking, made all
fear of death of little weight. Do you imagine that Epaminondas groaned
when he perceived that his life was flowing out with his blood? No; for he
left his country triumphing over the Lacedæmonians, whereas he had found
it in subjection to them. These are the comforts, these are the things
that assuage the greatest pain.

XXV. You may ask, how the case is in peace? what is to be done at home?
how we are to behave in bed? You bring me back to the philosophers, who
seldom go to war. Among these, Dionysius of Heraclea, a man certainly of
no resolution, having learned fortitude of Zeno, quitted it on being in
pain; for, being tormented with a pain in his kidneys, in bewailing
himself he cried out, that those things were false which he had formerly
conceived of pain. And when his fellow-disciple, Cleanthes, asked him why
he had changed his opinion, he answered, “That the case of any man who had
applied so much time to philosophy, and yet was unable to bear pain, might
be a sufficient proof that pain is an evil. That he himself had spent many
years at philosophy, and yet could not bear pain. It followed, therefore,
that pain was an evil.” It is reported that Cleanthes on that struck his
foot on the ground, and repeated a verse out of the Epigonæ—

    Amphiaraus, hear’st thou this below?

He meant Zeno: he was sorry the other had degenerated from him.

But it was not so with our friend Posidonius, whom I have often seen
myself, and I will tell you what Pompey used to say of him: that when he
came to Rhodes, after his departure from Syria, he had a great desire to
hear Posidonius, but was informed that he was very ill of a severe fit of
the gout; yet he had great inclination to pay a visit to so famous a
philosopher. Accordingly, when he had seen him, and paid his compliments,
and had spoken with great respect of him, he said he was very sorry that
he could not hear him lecture. But indeed you may, replied the other, nor
will I suffer any bodily pain to occasion so great a man to visit me in
vain. On this Pompey relates that, as he lay on his bed, he disputed with
great dignity and fluency on this very subject—That nothing was good but
what was honest; and that in his paroxysms he would often say, “Pain, it
is to no purpose, notwithstanding you are troublesome, I will never
acknowledge you an evil.” And in general all celebrated and notorious
afflictions become endurable by disregarding them.

XXVI. Do we not observe, that where those exercises called gymnastic are
in esteem, those who enter the lists never concern themselves about
dangers: that where the praise of riding and hunting is highly esteemed,
they who practise these arts decline no pain. What shall I say of our own
ambitious pursuits, or desire of honours? What fire have not candidates
run through to gain a single vote? Therefore Africanus had always in his
hands Xenophon, the pupil of Socrates, being particularly pleased with his
saying, that the same labours were not equally heavy to the general and to
the common man, because the honour itself made the labour lighter to the
general. But yet, so it happens, that even with the illiterate vulgar, an
idea of honour is of great influence, though they cannot understand what
it is. They are led by report and common opinion to look on that as
honourable, which has the general voice. Not that I would have you, should
the multitude be ever so fond of you, rely on their judgment, nor approve
of everything which they think right; you must use your own judgment. If
you are satisfied with yourself when you have approved of what is right,
you will not only have the mastery over yourself, (which I recommend to
you just now,) but over everybody, and everything. Lay this down, then, as
a rule, that a great capacity, and lofty elevation of soul, which
distinguishes itself most by despising and looking down with contempt on
pain, is the most excellent of all things, and the more so, if it does not
depend on the people, and does not aim at applause, but derives its
satisfaction from itself. Besides, to me indeed everything seems the more
commendable the less the people are courted, and the fewer eyes there are
to see it. Not that you should avoid the public, for every generous action
loves the public view; yet no theatre for virtue is equal to a
consciousness of it.

XXVII. And let this be principally considered, that this bearing of pain,
which I have often said is to be strengthened by an exertion of the soul,
should be the same in everything. For you meet with many who, through a
desire of victory, or for glory, or to maintain their rights, or their
liberty, have boldly received wounds, and borne themselves up under them;
and yet those very same persons, by relaxing that intenseness of their
minds, were unequal to bearing the pain of a disease. For they did not
support themselves under their former sufferings by reason or philosophy,
but by inclination and glory. Therefore some barbarians and savage people
are able to fight very stoutly with the sword, but cannot bear sickness
like men: but the Grecians, men of no great courage, but as wise as human
nature will admit of, cannot look an enemy in the face, yet the same will
bear to be visited with sickness tolerably, and with a sufficiently manly
spirit; and the Cimbrians and Celtiberians are very alert in battle, but
bemoan themselves in sickness; for nothing can be consistent which has not
reason for its foundation. But when you see those who are led by
inclination or opinion, not retarded by pain in their pursuits, nor
hindered by it from succeeding in them, you may conclude, either that pain
is no evil, or that, notwithstanding you may choose to call an evil
whatever is disagreeable and contrary to nature, yet it is so very
trifling an evil, that it may so effectually be got the better of by
virtue as quite to disappear. And I would have you think of this night and
day; for this argument will spread itself, and take up more room sometime
or other, and not be confined to pain alone; for if the motives to all our
actions are to avoid disgrace and acquire honour, we may not only despise
the stings of pain, but the storms of fortune, especially if we have
recourse to that retreat which was pointed out in our yesterday’s
discussion: for as, if some God had advised a man who was pursued by
pirates to throw himself overboard, saying, There is something at hand to
receive you; either a dolphin will take you up, as it did Arion of
Methymna; or those horses sent by Neptune to Pelops (who are said to have
carried chariots so rapidly as to be borne up by the waves) will receive
you, and convey you wherever you please; cast away all fear: so, though
your pains be ever so sharp and disagreeable, if the case is not such that
it is worth your while to endure them, you see whither you may betake
yourself. I think this will do for the present. But perhaps you still
abide by your opinion.

_A._ Not in the least, indeed; and I hope I am freed by these two days’
discourses from the fear of two things that I greatly dreaded.

_M._ To-morrow then for rhetoric, as we were saying; but I see we must not
drop our philosophy.

_A._ No, indeed, we will have the one in the forenoon, and this at the
usual time.

_M._ It shall be so, and I will comply with your very laudable

Book III. On Grief Of Mind.

I. What reason shall I assign, O Brutus, why, as we consist of mind and
body, the art of curing and preserving the body should be so much sought
after, and the invention of it, as being so useful, should be ascribed to
the immortal Gods; but the medicine of the mind should not have been so
much the object of inquiry, whilst it was unknown, nor so much attended to
and cultivated after its discovery, nor so well received or approved of by
some, and accounted actually disagreeable, and looked upon with an envious
eye by many? Is it because we, by means of the mind, judge of the pains
and disorders of the body, but do not, by means of the body, arrive at any
perception of the disorders of the mind? Hence it comes that the mind only
judges of itself, when that very faculty by which it is judged is in a bad
state. Had nature given us faculties for discerning and viewing herself,
and could we go through life by keeping our eye on her—our best
guide—there would be no reason certainly why any one should be in want of
philosophy or learning: but, as it is, she has furnished us only with some
feeble rays of light, which we immediately extinguish so completely by
evil habits and erroneous opinions, that the light of nature is nowhere
visible. The seeds of virtues are natural to our constitutions, and, were
they suffered to come to maturity, would naturally conduct us to a happy
life; but now, as soon as we are born and received into the world, we are
instantly familiarized with all kinds of depravity and perversity of
opinions; so that we may be said almost to suck in error with our nurse’s
milk. When we return to our parents, and are put into the hands of tutors
and governors, we are imbued with so many errors, that truth gives place
to falsehood, and nature herself to established opinion.

II. To these we may add the poets; who, on account of the appearance they
exhibit of learning and wisdom, are heard, read, and got by heart, and
make a deep impression on our minds. But when to these are added the
people, who are as it were one great body of instructors, and the
multitude, who declare unanimously for what is wrong, then are we
altogether overwhelmed with bad opinions, and revolt entirely from nature;
so that they seem to deprive us of our best guide, who have decided that
there is nothing better for man, nothing more worthy of being desired by
him, nothing more excellent than honours and commands, and a high
reputation with the people; which indeed every excellent man aims at; but
whilst he pursues that only true honour, which nature has in view above
all other objects, he finds himself busied in arrant trifles, and in
pursuit of no conspicuous form of virtue, but only some shadowy
representation of glory. For glory is a real and express substance, not a
mere shadow. It consists in the united praise of good men, the free voice
of those who form a true judgment of preeminent virtue; it is, as it were,
the very echo of virtue; and being generally the attendant on laudable
actions, should not be slighted by good men. But popular fame, which would
pretend to imitate it, is hasty and inconsiderate, and generally commends
wicked and immoral actions, and throws discredit upon the appearance and
beauty of honesty, by assuming a resemblance of it. And it is owing to
their not being able to discover the difference between them that some
men, ignorant of real excellence, and in what it consists, have been the
destruction of their country and of themselves. And thus the best men have
erred, not so much in their intentions, as by a mistaken conduct. What, is
no cure to be attempted to be applied to those who are carried away by the
love of money, or the lust of pleasures, by which they are rendered little
short of madmen, which is the case of all weak people? or is it because
the disorders of the mind are less dangerous than those of the body? or
because the body will admit of a cure, while there is no medicine whatever
for the mind?

III. But there are more disorders of the mind than of the body, and they
are of a more dangerous nature; for these very disorders are the more
offensive, because they belong to the mind, and disturb it; and the mind,
when disordered, is, as Ennius says, in a constant error; it can neither
bear nor endure anything, and is under the perpetual influence of desires.
Now, what disorders can be worse to the body than these two distempers of
the mind (for I overlook others), weakness and desire? But how, indeed,
can it be maintained that the mind cannot prescribe for itself, when she
it is who has invented the medicines for the body, when, with regard to
bodily cures, constitution and nature have a great share, nor do all, who
suffer themselves to be cured, find that effect instantly; but those minds
which are disposed to be cured, and submit to the precepts of the wise,
may undoubtedly recover a healthy state? Philosophy is certainly the
medicine of the soul, whose assistance we do not seek from abroad, as in
bodily disorders, but we ourselves are bound to exert our utmost energy
and power in order to effect our cure. But as to philosophy in general, I
have, I think, in my “Hortensius,” sufficiently spoken of the credit and
attention which it deserves: since that, indeed, I have been continually
either disputing or writing on its most material branches: and I have laid
down in these books all the discussions which took place between myself
and my particular friends at my Tusculan Villa: but as I have spoken in
the two former of pain and death, this book shall be devoted to the
account of the third day of our disputations.

We came down into the Academy when the day was already declining towards
afternoon, and I asked one of those who were present to propose a subject
for us to discourse on; and then the business was carried on in this

IV. _A._ My opinion is, that a wise man is subject to grief.

_M._ What, and to the other perturbations of mind, as fears, lusts, anger?
For these are pretty much like what the Greeks call πάθη. I might call
them diseases, and that would be a literal translation, but it is not
agreeable to our way of speaking. For envy, delight, and pleasure, are all
called by the Greeks diseases, being affections of the mind not in
subordination to reason: but we, I think, are right, in calling the same
motions of a disturbed soul perturbations, and in very seldom using the
term diseases; though, perhaps, it appears otherwise to you.

_A._ I am of your opinion.

_M._ And do you think a wise man subject to these?

_A._ Entirely, I think.

_M._ Then that boasted wisdom is but of small account, if it differs so
little from madness?

_A._ What? does every commotion of the mind seem to you to be madness?

_M._ Not to me only; but I apprehend, though I have often been surprised
at it, that it appeared so to our ancestors many ages before Socrates:
from whom is derived all that philosophy which relates to life and morals.

_A._ How so?

_M._ Because the name madness(84) implies a sickness of the mind and
disease, that is to say an unsoundness, and an unhealthiness of mind,
which they call madness. But the philosophers call all perturbations of
the soul diseases, and their opinion is that no fool is ever free from
these: but all that are diseased are unsound; and the minds of all fools
are diseased; therefore all fools are mad. For they held that soundness of
the mind depends on a certain tranquillity and steadiness; and a mind
which was destitute of these qualities they called insane, because
soundness was inconsistent with a perturbed mind just as much as with a
disordered body.

V. Nor were they less ingenious in calling the state of the soul devoid of
the light of the mind, “a being out of one’s mind,” “a being beside
oneself.” From whence we may understand, that they who gave these names to
things were of the same opinion with Socrates, that all silly people were
unsound, which the Stoics have carefully preserved as being derived from
him; for whatever mind is distempered, (and as I just now said, the
philosophers call all perturbed motions of the mind distempers,) is no
more sound than a body is when in a fit of sickness. Hence it is, that
wisdom is the soundness of the mind, folly a sort of unsoundness, which is
insanity, or a being out of one’s mind: and these are much better
expressed by the Latin words than the Greek; which you will find the case
also in many other topics. But we will discuss that point elsewhere: let
us now attend to our present subject. The very meaning of the word
describes the whole thing about which we are inquiring, both as to its
substance and character. For we must necessarily understand by “sound,”
those whose minds are under no perturbation from any motion as if it were
a disease. They who are differently affected we must necessarily call
“unsound.” So that nothing is better than what is usual in Latin, to say,
that they who are run away with by their lust or anger, have quitted the
command over themselves; though anger includes lust, for anger is defined
to be the lust of revenge. They, then, who are said not to be masters of
themselves, are said to be so because they are not under the government of
reason, to which is assigned by nature the power over the whole soul. Why
the Greeks should call this μανία, I do not easily apprehend; but we
define it much better than they, for we distinguish this madness
(_insania_), which, being allied to folly, is more extensive, from what we
call _furor_, or raving. The Greeks indeed would do so too, but they have
no one word that will express it: what we call _furor_, they call
μελαγχολία, as if the reason were affected only by a black bile, and not
disturbed as often by a violent rage, or fear, or grief. Thus we say
Athamas, Alcmæon, Ajax, and Orestes, were raving (_furere_): because a
person affected in this manner was not allowed, by the twelve tables, to
have the management of his own affairs; therefore the words are not, if he
is mad (_insanus_), but, if he begins to be raving (_furiosus_). For they
looked upon madness to be an unsettled humour, that proceeded from not
being of sound mind; yet such a person might perform his ordinary duties,
and discharge the usual and customary requirements of life: but they
considered one that was raving as afflicted with a total blindness of the
mind, which, notwithstanding it is allowed to be greater than madness, is
nevertheless of such a nature, that a wise man may be subject to raving
(_furor_), but cannot possibly be afflicted by insanity (_insania_). But
this is another question: let us now return to our original subject.

VI. I think you said that it was your opinion that a wise man was liable
to grief.

_A._ And so, indeed, I think.

_M._ It is natural enough to think so, for we are not the offspring of
flints: but we have by nature something soft and tender in our souls,
which may be put into a violent motion by grief, as by a storm; nor did
that Crantor, who was one of the most distinguished men that our Academy
has ever produced, say this amiss: “I am by no means of their opinion who
talk so much in praise of I know not what insensibility, which neither can
exist, nor ought to exist: I would choose,” says he, “never to be ill; but
should I be so, still I should choose to retain my sensation, whether
there was to be an amputation, or any other separation of anything from my
body. For that insensibility cannot be but at the expense of some
unnatural ferocity of mind, or stupor of body.” But let us consider
whether to talk in this manner be not allowing that we are weak, and
yielding to our softness. Notwithstanding, let us be hardy enough, not
only to lop off every arm of our miseries, but even to pluck up every
fibre of their roots: yet still something perhaps may be left behind, so
deep does folly strike its roots: but whatever may be left, it will be no
more than is necessary. But let us be persuaded of this, that unless the
mind be in a sound state, which philosophy alone can effect, there can be
no end of our miseries. Wherefore, as we begun, let us submit ourselves to
it for a cure; we shall be cured if we choose to be. I shall advance
something further. I shall not treat of grief alone, though that indeed is
the principal thing; but, as I originally proposed, of every perturbation
of the mind, as I termed it, disorder, as the Greeks call it: and first,
with your leave, I shall treat it in the manner of the Stoics, whose
method is to reduce their arguments into a very small space; afterwards I
shall enlarge more in my own way.

VII. A man of courage is also full of faith; I do not use the word
confident, because, owing to an erroneous custom of speaking, that word
has come to be used in a bad sense, though it is derived from confiding,
which is commendable. But he who is full of faith, is certainly under no
fear; for there is an inconsistency between faith and fear. Now whoever is
subject to grief is subject to fear; for whatever things we grieve at when
present, we dread when hanging over us and approaching. Thus it comes
about, that grief is inconsistent with courage: it is very probable,
therefore, that whoever is subject to grief, is also liable to fear, and
to a broken kind of spirits and sinking. Now whenever these befal a man,
he is in a servile state, and must own that he is overpowered: for whoever
admits these feelings, must admit timidity and cowardice. But these cannot
enter into the mind of a man of courage; neither therefore can grief: but
the man of courage is the only wise man; therefore grief cannot befal the
wise man. It is besides necessary, that whoever is brave, should be a man
of great soul; that whoever is a man of a great soul, should be
invincible: whoever is invincible looks down with contempt on all things
here, and considers them beneath him. But no one can despise those things
on account of which he may be affected with grief: from whence it follows,
that a wise man is never affected with grief: for all wise men are brave;
therefore a wise man is not subject to grief. And as the eye, when
disordered, is not in a good condition for performing its office properly;
and as the other parts, and the whole body itself, when unsettled, cannot
perform their office and business; so the mind, when disordered, is but
ill-fitted to perform its duty. The office of the mind is to use its
reason well; but the mind of a wise man is always in condition to make the
best use of his reason, and therefore is never out of order. But grief is
a disorder of the mind; therefore a wise man will be always free from it.

VIII. And from these considerations we may get at a very probable
definition of the temperate man, whom the Greeks call σώφρων, and they
call that virtue σωφροσύνην, which I at one time call temperance, at
another time moderation, and sometimes even modesty; but I do not know
whether that virtue may not be properly called frugality, which has a more
confined meaning with the Greeks; for they call frugal men χρησίμους,
which implies only that they are useful: but our name has a more extensive
meaning; for all abstinence, all innocency, (which the Greeks have no
ordinary name for, though they might use the word ἀβλάβεια, for innocency
is that disposition of mind which would offend no one,) and several other
virtues, are comprehended under frugality; but, if this quality were of
less importance, and confined in as small a compass as some imagine, the
surname of Piso(85) would not have been in so great esteem. But as we
allow him not the name of a frugal man (_frugi_), who either quits his
post through fear, which is cowardice; or who reserves to his own use what
was privately committed to his keeping, which is injustice; or who fails
in his military undertakings through rashness, which is folly; for that
reason the word frugality takes in these three virtues of fortitude,
justice, and prudence, though it is indeed common to all virtues, for they
are all connected and knit together. Let us allow, then, frugality itself
to be another and fourth virtue; for its peculiar property seems to be, to
govern and appease all tendencies to too eager a desire after anything, to
restrain lust, and to preserve a decent steadiness in everything. The vice
in contrast to this is called prodigality (_nequitia_). Frugality, I
imagine, is derived from the word _fruge_, the best thing which the earth
produces; _nequitia_ is derived (though this is perhaps rather more
strained, still let us try it; we shall only be thought to have been
trifling if there is nothing in what we say) from the fact of everything
being to no purpose (_nequicquam_) in such a man; from which circumstance
he is called also _Nihil_, nothing. Whoever is frugal, then, or, if it is
more agreeable to you, whoever is moderate and temperate, such a one must
of course be consistent; whoever is consistent, must be quiet; the quiet
man must be free from all perturbation, therefore from grief likewise: and
these are the properties of a wise man; therefore a wise man must be free
from grief.

IX. So that Dionysius of Heraclea is right when, upon this complaint of
Achilles in Homer—

    Well hast thou spoke, but at the tyrant’s name
    My rage rekindles, and my soul’s in flame:
    ’Tis just resentment, and becomes the brave,
    Disgraced, dishonour’d like the vilest slave(86)—

he reasons thus: Is the hand as it should be, when it is affected with a
swelling? or is it possible for any other member of the body, when swollen
or enlarged, to be in any other than a disordered state? Must not the
mind, then, when it is puffed up, or distended, be out of order? But the
mind of a wise man is always free from every kind of disorder; it never
swells, never is puffed up: but the mind when in anger is in a different
state. A wise man therefore is never angry; for when he is angry, he lusts
after something; for whoever is angry naturally has a longing desire to
give all the pain he can to the person who he thinks has injured him; and
whoever has this earnest desire must necessarily be much pleased with the
accomplishment of his wishes; hence he is delighted with his neighbour’s
misery; and as a wise man is not capable of such feelings as these, he is
therefore not capable of anger. But should a wise man be subject to grief,
he may likewise be subject to anger; for as he is free from anger, he must
likewise be free from grief. Again, could a wise man be subject to grief,
he might also be liable to pity, or even might be open to a disposition
towards envy (_invidentia_); I do not say to envy (_invidia_), for that
can only exist by the very act of envying: but we may fairly form the word
_invidentia_ from _invidendo_, and so avoid the doubtful name _invidia_;
for this word is probably derived from _in_ and _video_, looking too
closely into another’s fortune; as it is said in the Melanippus,

    Who envies me the flower of my children?

where the Latin is _invidit florem_. It may appear not good Latin, but it
is very well put by Accius; for as _video_ governs an accusative case, so
it is more correct to say _invideo florem_ than _flori_. We are debarred
from saying so by common usage: the poet stood in his own right, and
expressed himself with more freedom.

X. Therefore compassion and envy are consistent in the same man; for
whoever is uneasy at any one’s adversity, is also uneasy at another’s
prosperity: as Theophrastus while he laments the death of his companion
Callisthenes, is at the same time disturbed at the success of Alexander;
and therefore he says, that Callisthenes met with a man of the greatest
power and good fortune, but one who did not know how to make use of his
good fortune. And as pity is an uneasiness which arises from the
misfortunes of another, so envy is an uneasiness that proceeds from the
good success of another: therefore whoever is capable of pity, is capable
of envy. But a wise man is incapable of envy, and consequently incapable
of pity. But were a wise man used to grieve, to pity also would be
familiar to him; therefore to grieve, is a feeling which cannot affect a
wise man. Now, though these reasonings of the Stoics, and their
conclusions, are rather strained and distorted, and ought to be expressed
in a less stringent and narrow manner, yet great stress is to be laid on
the opinions of those men who have a peculiarly bold and manly turn of
thought and sentiment. For our friends the Peripatetics, notwithstanding
all their erudition, gravity, and fluency of language, do not satisfy me
about the moderation of these disorders and diseases of the soul which
they insist upon; for every evil, though moderate, is in its nature great.
But our object is to make out that the wise man is free from all evil; for
as the body is unsound if it is ever so slightly affected, so the mind
under any moderate disorder loses its soundness: therefore the Romans
have, with their usual accuracy of expression, called trouble, and
anguish, and vexation, on account of the analogy between a troubled mind
and a diseased body, disorders. The Greeks call all perturbation of mind
by pretty nearly the same name; for they name every turbid motion of the
soul πάθος, that is to say, a distemper. But we have given them a more
proper name; for a disorder of the mind is very like a disease of the
body. But lust does not resemble sickness; neither does immoderate joy,
which is an elated and exulting pleasure of the mind. Fear, too, is not
very like a distemper, though it is akin to grief of mind, but properly,
as is also the case with sickness of the body, so too sickness of mind has
no name separated from pain. And therefore I must explain the origin of
this pain, that is to say, the cause that occasions this grief in the
mind, as if it were a sickness of the body. For as physicians think they
have found out the cure, when they have discovered the cause of the
distemper; so we shall discover the method of curing melancholy, when the
cause of it is found out.

XI. The whole cause, then, is in opinion; and this observation applies not
to this grief alone, but to every other disorder of the mind, which are of
four sorts, but consisting of many parts. For as every disorder or
perturbation is a motion of the mind, either devoid of reason, or in
despite of reason, or in disobedience to reason, and as that motion is
excited by an opinion of either good or evil; these four perturbations are
divided equally into two parts: for two of them proceed from an opinion of
good, one of which is an exulting pleasure, that is to say, a joy elated
beyond measure, arising from an opinion of some present great good; the
other is a desire which may fairly be called even a lust, and is an
immoderate inclination after some conceived great good, without any
obedience to reason. Therefore these two kinds, the exulting pleasure, and
the lust, have their rise from an opinion of good, as the other two, fear
and grief, have from an opinion of evil. For fear is an opinion of some
great evil impending over us, and grief is an opinion of some great evil
present; and, indeed, it is a freshly conceived opinion of an evil so
great, that to grieve at it seems right: it is of that kind, that he who
is uneasy at it thinks he has good reason to be so. Now we should exert
our utmost efforts to oppose these perturbations—which are, as it were, so
many furies let loose upon us, and urged on by folly—if we are desirous to
pass this share of life that is allotted to us with ease and satisfaction.
But of the other feelings I shall speak elsewhere; our business at present
is to drive away grief if we can, for that shall be the object of our
present discussion, since you have said that it was your opinion that a
wise man might be subject to grief, which I can by no means allow of; for
it is a frightful, miserable, and detestable thing, which we should fly
from with our utmost efforts—with all our sails and oars, as I may say.

XII. That descendant of Tantalus, how does he appear to you? he who sprung
from Pelops, who formerly stole Hippodamia from her father-in-law, king
Œnomaus, and married her by force? He who was descended from Jupiter
himself, how broken-hearted and dispirited does he not seem!—

    Stand off, my friends, nor come within my shade,
    That no pollutions your sound hearts pervade,
    So foul a stain my body doth partake.

Will you condemn yourself, Thyestes, and deprive yourself of life, on
account of the greatness of another’s crime? What do you think of that son
of Phœbus? do you not look upon him as unworthy of his own father’s light?

    Hollow his eyes, his body worn away,
    His furrow’d cheeks his frequent tears betray;
    His beard neglected, and his hoary hairs
    Rough and uncomb’d, bespeak his bitter cares.

O foolish Æetes, these are evils which you yourself have been the cause
of, and are not occasioned by any accidents with which chance has visited
you; and you behaved as you did, even after you had been inured to your
distress, and after the first swelling of the mind had subsided! whereas
grief consists (as I shall show) in the notion of some recent evil; but
your grief, it is very plain, proceeded from the loss of your kingdom, not
of your daughter, for you hated her, and perhaps with reason, but you
could not calmly bear to part with your kingdom. But surely it is an
impudent grief which preys upon a man for not being able to command those
that are free. Dionysius, it is true, the tyrant of Syracuse, when driven
from his country taught a school at Corinth; so incapable was he of living
without some authority. But what could be more impudent than Tarquin? who
made war upon those who could not bear his tyranny; and when he could not
recover his kingdom by the aid of the forces of the Veientians and the
Latins, is said to have betaken himself to Cuma, and to have died in that
city, of old age and grief!

XIII. Do you, then, think that it can befal a wise man to be oppressed
with grief, that is to say, with misery? for, as all perturbation is
misery, grief is the rack itself. Lust is attended with heat, exulting joy
with levity, fear with meanness, but grief with something greater than
these; it consumes, torments, afflicts, and disgraces a man; it tears him,
preys upon his mind, and utterly destroys him: if we do not so divest
ourselves of it as to throw it completely off, we cannot be free from
misery. And it is clear that there must be grief where anything has the
appearance of a present sore and oppressing evil. Epicurus is of opinion,
that grief arises naturally from the imagination of any evil; so that
whosoever is eye-witness of any great misfortune, if he conceives that the
like may possibly befal himself, becomes sad instantly from such an idea.
The Cyrenaics think that grief is not engendered by every kind of evil,
but only by unexpected, unforeseen evil; and that circumstance is, indeed,
of no small effect on the heightening of grief; for whatsoever comes of a
sudden appears more formidable. Hence these lines are deservedly

    I knew my son, when first he drew his breath,
    Destined by fate to an untimely death;
    And when I sent him to defend the Greeks,
    War was his business, not your sportive freaks.

XIV. Therefore, this ruminating beforehand upon future evils which you see
at a distance, makes their approach more tolerable; and on this account,
what Euripides makes Theseus say, is much commended. You will give me
leave to translate them, as is usual with me—

    I treasured up what some learn’d sage did tell,
    And on my future misery did dwell;
    I thought of bitter death, of being drove
    Far from my home by exile, and I strove
    With every evil to possess my mind,
    That, when they came, I the less care might find.(87)

But Euripides says that of himself, which Theseus said he had heard from
some learned man, for the poet had been a pupil of Anaxagoras, who, as
they relate, on hearing of the death of his son, said, “I knew that my son
was mortal;” which speech seems to intimate that such things afflict those
men who have not thought on them before. Therefore, there is no doubt but
that all those things which are considered evils are the heavier from not
being foreseen. Though, notwithstanding this is not the only circumstance
which occasions the greatest grief, still, as the mind, by foreseeing and
preparing for it, has great power to make all grief the less, a man should
at all times consider all the events that may befal him in this life; and
certainly the excellence and divine nature of wisdom consists in taking a
near view of, and gaining a thorough acquaintance with, all human affairs,
in not being surprised when anything happens, and in thinking, before the
event, that there is nothing but what may come to pass.

            Wherefore ev’ry man,
    When his affairs go on most swimmingly,
    E’en then it most behoves to arm himself
    Against the coming storm: loss, danger, exile,
    Returning ever, let him look to meet;
    His son in fault, wife dead, or daughter sick:
    All common accidents, and may have happen’d,
    That nothing shall seem new or strange. But if
    Aught has fall’n out beyond his hopes, all that
    Let him account clear gain.(88)

XV. Therefore, as Terence has so well expressed what he borrowed from
philosophy, shall not we, from whose fountains he drew it, say the same
thing in a better manner, and abide by it with more steadiness? Hence came
that steady countenance, which, according to Xantippe, her husband
Socrates always had; so that she said that she never observed any
difference in his looks when he went out, and when he came home. Yet the
look of that old Roman, M. Crassus, who, as Lucilius says, never smiled
but once in his lifetime, was not of this kind, but placid and serene, for
so we are told. He, indeed, might well have had the same look at all times
who never changed his mind, from which the countenance derives its
expression. So that I am ready to borrow of the Cyrenaics those arms
against the accidents and events of life, by means of which, by long
premeditation, they break the force of all approaching evils; and at the
same time, I think that those very evils themselves arise more from
opinion than nature, for, if they were real, no forecast could make them
lighter. But I shall speak more particularly on these matters after I have
first considered Epicurus’s opinion, who thinks that all people must
necessarily be uneasy who believe themselves to be in any evils, let them
be either foreseen and expected, or habitual to them; for, with him, evils
are not the less by reason of their continuance, nor the lighter for
having been foreseen; and it is folly to ruminate on evils to come, or
such as, perhaps, never may come; every evil is disagreeable enough when
it does come; but he who is constantly considering that some evil may
befal him, is loading himself with a perpetual evil, and even should such
evil never light on him, he voluntarily takes upon himself unnecessary
misery, so that he is under constant uneasiness, whether he actually
suffers any evil, or only thinks of it. But he makes the alleviation of
grief depend on two things, a ceasing to think on evil, and a turning to
the contemplation of pleasure. For he thinks that the mind may possibly be
under the power of reason, and follow her directions; he forbids us,
therefore, to mind trouble, and calls us off from sorrowful reflections:
he throws a mist over our eyes to hinder us from the contemplation of
misery. Having sounded a retreat from this statement, he drives our
thoughts on again, and encourages them to view and engage the whole mind
in the various pleasures with which he thinks the life of a wise man
abounds, either from reflecting on the past, or from the hope of what is
to come. I have said these things in my own way, the Epicureans have
theirs: however, let us examine what they say; how they say it is of
little consequence.

XVI. In the first place, they are wrong in forbidding men to premeditate
on futurity, and blaming their wish to do so; for there is nothing that
breaks the edge of grief and lightens it more, than considering, during
one’s whole life, that there is nothing which it is impossible should
happen; or, than considering what human nature is, on what conditions life
was given, and how we may comply with them. The effect of which is, that
we are always grieving, but that we never do so; for whoever reflects on
the nature of things, the various turns of life, and the weakness of human
nature, grieves, indeed, at that reflection; but while so grieving he is,
above all other times, behaving as a wise man: for he gains these two
things by it; one, that while he is considering the state of human nature
he is performing the especial duties of philosophy, and is provided with a
triple medicine against adversity: in the first place, because he has long
reflected that such things might befal him, and this reflection by itself
contributes much towards lessening and weakening all misfortunes; and,
secondly, because he is persuaded that we should bear all the accidents
which can happen to a man, with the feelings and spirit of a man; and
lastly, because he considers that what is blameable is the only evil; but
it is not your fault that something has happened to you which it was
impossible for man to avoid. For that withdrawing of our thoughts which he
recommends when he calls us off from contemplating our misfortunes, is an
imaginary action; for it is not in our power to dissemble or to forget
those evils which lie heavy on us; they tear, vex, and sting us—they burn
us up, and leave no breathing-time; and do you order us to forget them,
(for such forgetfulness is contrary to nature,) and at the same time
deprive us of the only assistance which nature affords, the being
accustomed to them? for that, though it is but a slow medicine (I mean
that which is brought by lapse of time), is still a very effectual one.
You order me to employ my thoughts on something good, and forget my
misfortunes. You would say something worthy a great philosopher, if you
thought those things good which are best suited to the dignity of human

XVII. Should Pythagoras, Socrates, or Plato, say to me, Why are you
dejected, or sad? Why do you faint, and yield to fortune, which, perhaps,
may have power to harass and disturb you, but should not quite unman you?
There is great power in the virtues; rouse them if they chance to droop.
Take fortitude for your guide, which will give you such spirits, that you
will despise everything that can befal man, and look on it as a trifle.
Add to this temperance, which is moderation, and which was just now called
frugality, which will not suffer you to do anything base or bad—for what
is worse or baser than an effeminate man? Not even justice will suffer you
to act in this manner, though she seems to have the least weight in this
affair; but still, notwithstanding, even she will inform you that you are
doubly unjust when you both require what does not belong to you, inasmuch
as though you who have been born mortal, demand to be placed in the
condition of the immortals, and at the same time you take it much to heart
that you are to restore what was lent you. What answer will you make to
prudence, who informs you that she is a virtue sufficient of herself both
to teach you a good life, and also to secure you a happy one? And, indeed,
if she were fettered by external circumstances, and dependent on others,
and if she did not originate in herself and return to herself, and also
embrace everything in herself, so as to seek no adventitious aid from any
quarter, I cannot imagine why she should appear deserving of such lofty
panegyrics, or of being sought after with such excessive eagerness. Now,
Epicurus, if you call me back to such goods as these, I will obey you, and
follow you, and use you as my guide, and even forget, as you order me, all
my misfortunes; and I will do this the more readily from a persuasion that
they are not to be ranked amongst evils at all. But you are for bringing
my thoughts over to pleasure. What pleasures? pleasures of the body, I
imagine, or such as are recollected or imagined on account of the body. Is
this all? Do I explain your opinion rightly? for your disciples are used
to deny that we understand at all what Epicurus means. This is what he
says, and what that subtle fellow, old Zeno, who is one of the sharpest of
them, used, when I was attending lectures at Athens, to enforce and talk
so loudly of; saying that he alone was happy who could enjoy present
pleasure, and who was at the same time persuaded that he should enjoy it
without pain, either during the whole or the greatest part of his life; or
if, should any pain interfere, if it was very sharp, then it must be
short; should it be of longer continuance, it would have more of what was
sweet than bitter in it; that whosoever reflected on these things would be
happy, especially if satisfied with the good things which he had already
enjoyed, and if he were without fear of death, or of the Gods.

XVIII. You have here a representation of a happy life according to
Epicurus, in the words of Zeno, so that there is no room for contradiction
in any point. What then? Can the proposing and thinking of such a life
make Thyestes grief the less, or Æetes’s, of whom I spoke above, or
Telamon’s, who was driven from his country to penury and banishment? in
wonder at whom men exclaimed thus:—

    Is this the man surpassing glory raised?
    Is this that Telamon so highly praised
    By wondering Greece, at whose sight, like the sun,
    All others with diminish’d lustre shone?

Now, should any one, as the same author says, find his spirits sink with
the loss of his fortune, he must apply to those grave philosophers of
antiquity for relief, and not to these voluptuaries: for what great
abundance of good do they promise? Suppose that we allow that to be
without pain is the chief good? yet that is not called pleasure. But it is
not necessary at present to go through the whole: the question is, to what
point are we to advance in order to abate our grief? Grant that to be in
pain is the greatest evil; whosoever, then, has proceeded so far as not to
be in pain, is he, therefore, in immediate possession of the greatest
good? Why, Epicurus, do we use any evasions, and not allow in our own
words the same feeling to be pleasure, which you are used to boast of with
such assurance? Are these your words or not? This is what you say in that
book which contains all the doctrine of your school; for I will perform,
on this occasion, the office of a translator, lest any one should imagine
that I am inventing anything. Thus you speak: “Nor can I form any notion
of the chief good, abstracted from those pleasures which are perceived by
taste, or from what depends on hearing music, or abstracted from ideas
raised by external objects visible to the eye, or by agreeable motions, or
from those other pleasures which are perceived by the whole man by means
of any of his senses; nor can it possibly be said that the pleasures of
the mind are excited only by what is good; for I have perceived men’s
minds to be pleased with the hopes of enjoying those things which I
mentioned above, and with the idea that it should enjoy them without any
interruption from pain.” And these are his exact words, so that any one
may understand what were the pleasures with which Epicurus was acquainted.
Then he speaks thus, a little lower down: “I have often inquired of those
who have been called wise men, what would be the remaining good if they
should exclude from consideration all these pleasures, unless they meant
to give us nothing but words? I could never learn anything from them; and
unless they choose that all virtue and wisdom should vanish and come to
nothing, they must say with me, that the only road to happiness lies
through those pleasures which I mentioned above.” What follows is much the
same, and his whole book on the chief good everywhere abounds with the
same opinions. Will you, then, invite Telamon to this kind of life to ease
his grief? and should you observe any one of your friends under
affliction, would you rather prescribe him a sturgeon than a treatise of
Socrates? or advise him to listen to the music of a water-organ rather
than to Plato? or lay before him the beauty and variety of some garden,
put a nosegay to his nose, burn perfumes before him, and bid him crown
himself with a garland of roses and woodbines? Should you add one thing
more, you would certainly wipe out all his grief.

XIX. Epicurus must admit these arguments; or he must take out of his book
what I just now said was a literal translation; or rather he must destroy
his whole book, for it is crammed full of pleasures. We must inquire,
then, how we can ease him of his grief, who speaks in this manner:—

    My present state proceeds from fortune’s stings;
    By birth I boast of a descent from kings;
    Hence may you see from what a noble height
    I’m sunk by fortune to this abject plight.

What! to ease his grief, must we mix him a cup of sweet wine, or something
of that kind? Lo! the same poet presents us with another sentiment
somewhere else:—

    I, Hector, once so great, now claim your aid.

We should assist her, for she looks out for help.

    Where shall I now apply, where seek support?
    Where hence betake me, or to whom resort?
    No means remain of comfort or of joy,
    In flames my palace, and in ruins Troy;
    Each wall, so late superb, deformed nods,
    And not an altar’s left t’ appease the gods.

You know what should follow, and particularly this:—

    Of father, country, and of friends bereft,
    Not one of all these sumptuous temples left;
    Which, whilst the fortune of our house did stand,
    With rich-wrought ceilings spoke the artist’s hand.

O excellent poet! though despised by those who sing the verses of
Euphorion. He is sensible that all things which come on a sudden are
harder to be borne. Therefore, when he had set off the riches of Priam to
the best advantage, which had the appearance of a long continuance, what
does he add?—

    Lo, these all perish’d in one blazing pile;
    The foe old Priam of his life beguiled,
    And with his blood, thy altar, Jove, defiled.

Admirable poetry! There is something mournful in the subject, as well as
in the words and measure. We must drive away this grief of her’s: how is
that to be done? Shall we lay her on a bed of down: introduce a singer;
shall we burn cedar, or present her with some pleasant liquor, and provide
her something to eat? Are these the good things which remove the most
afflicting grief? for you but just now said you knew of no other good. I
should agree with Epicurus that we ought to be called off from grief to
contemplate good things, if we could only agree upon what was good.

XX. It may be said, What! do you imagine Epicurus really meant this, and
that he maintained anything so sensual? Indeed I do not imagine so, for I
am sensible that he has uttered many excellent things and sentiments, and
delivered maxims of great weight. Therefore, as I said before, I am
speaking of his acuteness, not of his morals. Though he should hold those
pleasures in contempt, which he just now commended, yet I must remember
wherein he places the chief good. For he was not contented with barely
saying this, but he has explained what he meant: he says, that taste, and
embraces, and sports, and music, and those forms which affect the eyes
with pleasure, are the chief good. Have I invented this? have I
misrepresented him? I should be glad to be confuted; for what am I
endeavouring at, but to clear up truth in every question? Well, but the
same man says, that pleasure is at its height where pain ceases, and that
to be free from all pain is the very greatest pleasure. Here are three
very great mistakes in a very few words. One is, that he contradicts
himself; for, but just now, he could not imagine anything good, unless the
senses were in a manner tickled with some pleasure; but now he says that
to be free from pain is the highest pleasure. Can any one contradict
himself more? The next mistake is, that where there is naturally a
threefold division, the first, to be pleased; next, to be in pain; the
last, to be affected neither by pleasure nor pain: he imagines the first
and the last to be the same, and makes no difference betwixt pleasure and
a cessation of pain. The last mistake he falls into in common with some
others; which is this: that as virtue is the most desirable thing, and as
philosophy has been investigated with a view to the attainment of it, he
has separated the chief good from virtue. But he commends virtue, and that
frequently; and indeed C. Gracchus, when he had made the largest
distributions of the public money, and had exhausted the treasury,
nevertheless spoke much of defending the treasury. What signifies what men
say, when we see what they do? That Piso, who was surnamed Frugal, had
always harangued against the law that was proposed for distributing the
corn, but when it had passed, though a man of consular dignity, he came to
receive the corn. Gracchus observed Piso standing in the court, and asked
him, in the hearing of the people, how it was consistent for him to take
corn by a law he had himself opposed? “It was,” said he, “against your
distributing my goods to every man as you thought proper; but, as you do
so, I claim my share.” Did not this grave and wise man sufficiently show
that the public revenue was dissipated by the Sempronian law? Read
Gracchus’s speeches, and you will pronounce him the advocate of the
treasury. Epicurus denies that any one can live pleasantly who does not
lead a life of virtue; he denies that fortune has any power over a wise
man: he prefers a spare diet to great plenty, and maintains that a wise
man is always happy. All these things become a philosopher to say, but
they are not consistent with pleasure. But the reply is, that he doth not
mean _that_ pleasure: let him mean any pleasure, it must be such a one as
makes no part of virtue. But suppose we are mistaken as to his pleasure,
are we so too as to his pain? I maintain therefore the impropriety of
language which that man uses when talking of virtue, who would measure
every great evil by pain?

XXI. And indeed the Epicureans, those best of men, for there is no order
of men more innocent, complain, that I take great pains to inveigh against
Epicurus. We are rivals, I suppose, for some honour or distinction. I
place the chief good in the mind, he in the body; I in virtue, he in
pleasure; and the Epicureans are up in arms, and implore the assistance of
their neighbours, and many are ready to fly to their aid. But, as for my
part, I declare that I am very indifferent about the matter, and that I
consider the whole discussion which they are so anxious about at an end.
For what! is the contention about the Punic war? on which very subject,
though M. Cato and L. Lentulus were of different opinions, still there was
no difference betwixt them. But these men behave with too much heat,
especially as the opinions which they would uphold are no very spirited
ones, and such as they dare not plead for either in the senate, or before
the assembly of the people, or before the army, or the censors: but,
however, I will argue with them another time, and with such a disposition
that no quarrel shall arise between us; for I shall be ready to yield to
their opinions when founded on truth. Only I must give them this advice:
That were it ever so true, that a wise man regards nothing but the body;
or, to express myself with more decency, never does anything except what
is expedient, and views all things with exclusive reference to his own
advantage; as such things are not very commendable, they should confine
them to their own breasts, and leave off talking with that parade of them.

XXII. What remains is the opinion of the Cyrenaics, who think that men
grieve when anything happens unexpectedly. And that is, indeed, as I said
before, a great aggravation of a misfortune; and I know that it appeared
so to Chrysippus, “Whatever falls out unexpected is so much the heavier.”
But the whole question does not turn on this; though the sudden approach
of an enemy sometimes occasions more confusion than it would if you had
expected him, and a sudden storm at sea throws the sailors into a greater
fright than one which they have foreseen; and it is the same in many other
cases. But when you carefully consider the nature of what was expected,
you will find nothing more, than that all things which come on a sudden
appear greater; and this upon two accounts: first of all, because you have
not time to consider how great the accident is; and secondly, because you
are probably persuaded that you could have guarded against it had you
foreseen it, and therefore the misfortune, having been seemingly
encountered by your own fault, makes your grief the greater. That it is
so, time evinces; which, as it advances, brings with it so much
mitigation, that though the same misfortunes continue, the grief not only
becomes the less, but in some cases is entirely removed. Many
Carthaginians were slaves at Rome, and many Macedonians when Perseus their
king was taken prisoner. I saw, too, when I was a young man, some
Corinthians in the Peloponnesus. They might all have lamented with

    All these I saw...;

but they had perhaps given over lamenting themselves, for by their
countenances, and speech, and other gestures, you might have taken them
for Argives or Sicyonians. And I myself was more concerned at the ruined
walls of Corinth, than the Corinthians themselves were, whose minds by
frequent reflection and time had become callous to such sights. I have
read a book of Clitomachus, which he sent to his fellow-citizens, who were
prisoners, to comfort them after the destruction of Carthage; there is in
it a treatise written by Carneades, which, as Clitomachus says, he had
inserted into his book; the subject was, “That it appeared probable that a
wise man would grieve at the state of subjection of his country,” and all
the arguments which Carneades used against this proposition are set down
in the book. There the philosopher applies such a strong medicine to a
fresh grief, as would be quite unnecessary in one of any continuance; nor,
if this very book had been sent to the captives some years after, would it
have found any wounds to cure, but only scars; for grief, by a gentle
progress and slow degrees, wears away imperceptibly. Not that the
circumstances which gave rise to it are altered, or can be, but that
custom teaches what reason should, that those things which before seemed
to be of some consequence, are of no such great importance after all.

XXIII. It may be said, What occasion is there to apply to reason, or to
any sort of consolation such as we generally make use of, to mitigate the
grief of the afflicted? For we have this argument always at hand, that
nothing ought to appear unexpected. But how will any one be enabled to
bear his misfortunes the better by knowing that it is unavoidable that
such things should happen to man? Saying this subtracts nothing from the
sum of the grief: it only asserts that nothing has fallen out but what
might have been anticipated; and yet this manner of speaking has some
little consolation in it, though I apprehend not a great deal. Therefore
those unlooked-for things have not so much force as to give rise to all
our grief; the blow perhaps may fall the heavier, but whatever happens
does not appear the greater on that account; no, it is the fact of its
having happened lately, and not of its having befallen us unexpectedly,
that makes it seem the greater. There are two ways then of discerning the
truth, not only of things that seem evil, but of those that have the
appearance of good. For we either inquire into the nature of the thing, of
what description, and magnitude, and importance it is,—as sometimes with
regard to poverty, the burden of which we may lighten when by our
disputations we show how few things nature requires, and of what a
trifling kind they are,—or, without any subtle arguing, we refer them to
examples, as here we instance a Socrates, there a Diogenes, and then again
that line in Cæcilius,

    Wisdom is oft conceal’d in mean attire.

For as poverty is of equal weight with all, what reason can be given, why
what was borne by Fabricius should be spoken of by any one else as
unsupportable when it falls upon themselves? Of a piece with this is that
other way of comforting, which consists in pointing out that nothing has
happened but what is common to human nature; for this argument doth not
only inform us what human nature is, but implies that all things are
tolerable which others have borne and are bearing.

XXIV. Is poverty the subject? they tell you of many who have submitted to
it with patience. Is it the contempt of honours? they acquaint you with
some who never enjoyed any, and were the happier for it; and of those who
have preferred a private retired life to public employment, mentioning
their names with respect; they tell you of the verse(89) of that most
powerful king, who praises an old man, and pronounces him happy, because
he was unknown to fame, and seemed likely to arrive at the hour of death
in obscurity and without notice. Thus too they have examples for those who
are deprived of their children; they who are under any great grief are
comforted by instances of like affliction; and thus the endurance of every
misfortune is rendered more easy by the fact of others having undergone
the same, and the fate of others causes what has happened to appear less
important than it has been previously thought, and reflection thus
discovers to us how much opinion had imposed on us. And this is what that
Telamon declares, “I, when my son was born,” etc.; and thus Theseus, “I on
my future misery did dwell;” and Anaxagoras, “I knew my son was mortal.”
All these men, by frequently reflecting on human affairs, had discovered
that they were by no means to be estimated by the opinion of the
multitude; and indeed it seems to me to be pretty much the same case with
those who consider beforehand as with those who derive their remedies from
time, excepting that a kind of reason cures the one, and the other remedy
is provided by nature; by which we discover (and this contains the whole
marrow of the matter) that what was imagined to be the greatest evil, is
by no means so great as to defeat the happiness of life. And the effect of
this is, that the blow is greater by reason of its not having been
foreseen, and not, as they suppose, that when similar misfortunes befal
two different people, that man only is affected with grief whom this
calamity has befallen unexpectedly. So that some persons, under the
oppression of grief, are said to have borne it actually worse for hearing
of this common condition of man, that we are born under such conditions as
render it impossible for a man to be exempt from all evil.

XXV. For this reason Carneades, as I see our friend Antiochus writes, used
to blame Chrysippus for commending these verses of Euripides,—

    Man, doom’d to care, to pain, disease, and strife,
    Walks his short journey thro’ the vale of life:
    Watchful attends the cradle and the grave,
    And passing generations longs to save:
    Last, dies himself: yet wherefore should we mourn?
    For man must to his kindred dust return;
    Submit to the destroying hand of fate,
    As ripen’d ears the harvest-sickle wait.(90)

He would not allow a speech of this kind to avail at all to the cure of
our grief, for he said it was a lamentable case itself, that we were
fallen into the hands of such a cruel fate; and that a speech like that,
preaching up comfort from the misfortunes of another, was a comfort
adapted only to those of a malevolent disposition. But to me it appears
far otherwise; for the necessity of bearing what is the common condition
of humanity forbids your resisting the will of the Gods, and reminds you
that you are a man; which reflection greatly alleviates grief; and the
enumeration of these examples is not produced with a view to please those
of a malevolent disposition, but in order that any one in affliction may
be induced to bear what he observes many others have previously borne with
tranquillity and moderation. For they who are falling to pieces, and
cannot hold together through the greatness of their grief, should be
supported by all kinds of assistance. From whence Chrysippus thinks that
grief is called λύπη, as it were λύσις, that is to say, a dissolution of
the whole man. The whole of which I think may be pulled up by the roots,
by explaining, as I said at the beginning, the cause of grief; for it is
nothing else but an opinion and judgment formed of a present acute evil.
And thus any bodily pain, let it be ever so grievous, may be endurable
where any hopes are proposed of some considerable good; and we receive
such consolation from a virtuous and illustrious life, that they who lead
such lives are seldom attacked by grief, or but slightly affected by it.

XXVI. But as besides this opinion of great evil there is this other added
also, that we ought to lament what has happened, that it is right so to
do, and part of our duty; then is brought about that terrible disorder of
mind, grief. And it is to this opinion that we owe all those various and
horrid kinds of lamentation, that neglect of our persons, that womanish
tearing of our cheeks, that striking on our thighs, breasts, and heads.
Thus Agamemnon, in Homer and in Accius,—

    Tears in his grief his uncomb’d locks;(91)

from whence comes that pleasant saying of Bion, that the foolish king in
his sorrow tore away the hairs of his head, imagining that his grief would
be alleviated by baldness. But men do all these things from being
persuaded that they ought to do so. And thus Æschines inveighs against
Demosthenes for sacrificing within seven days after the death of his
daughter. But with what eloquence, with what fluency does he attack him!
what sentiments does he collect! what words does he hurl against him! You
may see by this that an orator may do anything; but nobody would approve
of such licence if it were not that we have an idea innate in our minds,
that every good man ought to lament the loss of a relation as bitterly as
possible. And it is owing to this that some men, when in sorrow, betake
themselves to deserts, as Homer says of Bellerophon;—

            Distracted in his mind,
    Forsook by heaven, forsaking human kind,
    Wide o’er the Aleïan field he chose to stray,
    A long, forlorn, uncomfortable way!(92)

And thus Niobe is feigned to have been turned into stone, from her never
speaking, I suppose, in her grief. But they imagine Hecuba to have been
converted into a bitch, from her rage and bitterness of mind. There are
others who love to converse with solitude itself, when in grief, as the
nurse in Ennius,—

    Fain would I to the heavens and earth relate
    Medea’s ceaseless woes and cruel fate.(93)

XXVII. Now all these things are done in grief, from a persuasion of their
truth, and propriety, and necessity; and it is plain, that those who
behave thus, do so from a conviction of its being their duty; for should
these mourners by chance drop their grief, and either act or speak for a
moment in a more calm or cheerful manner, they presently check themselves
and return to their lamentations again, and blame themselves for having
been guilty of any intermissions from their grief. And parents and masters
generally correct children not by words only, but by blows, if they show
any levity by either word or deed when the family is under affliction,
and, as it were, oblige them to be sorrowful. What? does it not appear,
when you have ceased to mourn, and have discovered that your grief has
been ineffectual, that the whole of that mourning was voluntary, on your
part? What does that man say, in Terence, who punishes himself, the

    I think I do my son less harm, O Chremes,
    As long as I myself am miserable.

He determines to be miserable: and can any one determine on anything
against his will?

    I well might think that I deserved all evil.

He would think he deserved any misfortune, were he otherwise than
miserable! Therefore, you see the evil is in opinion, not in nature. How
is it, when some things do of themselves prevent your grieving at them? as
in Homer, so many died and were buried daily, that they had not leisure to
grieve: where you find these lines,—

    The great, the bold, by thousands daily fall,
    And endless were the grief to weep for all.
    Eternal sorrows what avails to shed?
    Greece honours not with solemn fasts the dead:
    Enough when death demands the brave to pay
    The tribute of a melancholy day.
    One chief with patience to the grave resign’d,
    Our care devolves on others left behind.(94)

Therefore it is in our own power to lay aside grief upon occasion; and is
there any opportunity (seeing the thing is in our own power) that we
should let slip of getting rid of care and grief? It was plain, that the
friends of Cnæus Pompeius, when they saw him fainting under his wounds, at
the very moment of that most miserable and bitter sight were under great
uneasiness how they themselves, surrounded by the enemy as they were,
should escape, and were employed in nothing but encouraging the rowers and
aiding their escape; but when they reached Tyre, they began to grieve and
lament over him. Therefore, as fear with them prevailed over grief, cannot
reason and true philosophy have the same effect with a wise man?

XXVIII. But what is there more effectual to dispel grief than the
discovery that it answers no purpose, and has been undergone to no
account? Therefore, if we can get rid of it, we need never have been
subject to it. It must be acknowledged, then, that men take up grief
wilfully and knowingly; and this appears from the patience of those who,
after they have been exercised in afflictions and are better able to bear
whatever befals them, suppose themselves hardened against fortune; as that
person in Euripides—

    Had this the first essay of fortune been,
    And I no storms thro’ all my life had seen,
    Wild as a colt I’d broke from reason’s sway;
    But frequent griefs have taught me to obey.(95)

As, then, the frequent bearing of misery makes grief the lighter, we must
necessarily perceive that the cause and original of it does not lie in the
calamity itself. Your principal philosophers, or lovers of wisdom, though
they have not yet arrived at perfect wisdom, are not they sensible that
they are in the greatest evil? For they are foolish, and foolishness is
the greatest of all evils, and yet they lament not. How shall we account
for this? Because opinion is not fixed upon that kind of evil; it is not
our opinion that it is right, meet, and our duty to be uneasy because we
are not all wise men. Whereas this opinion is strongly affixed to that
uneasiness where mourning is concerned, which is the greatest of all
grief. Therefore Aristotle, when he blames some ancient philosophers for
imagining that by their genius they had brought philosophy to the highest
perfection, says, they must be either extremely foolish or extremely vain;
but that he himself could see that great improvements had been made
therein in a few years, and that philosophy would in a little time arrive
at perfection. And Theophrastus is reported to have reproached nature at
his death for giving to stags and crows so long a life, which was of no
use to them, but allowing only so short a span to men, to whom length of
days would have been of the greatest use; for if the life of man could
have been lengthened, it would have been able to provide itself with all
kinds of learning, and with arts in the greatest perfection. He lamented,
therefore, that he was dying just when he had begun to discover these.
What? does not every grave and distinguished philosopher acknowledge
himself ignorant of many things, and confess that there are many things
which he must learn over and over again? and yet, though these men are
sensible that they are standing still in the very midway of folly, than
which nothing can be worse, they are under no great affliction, because no
opinion that it is their duty to lament is ever mingled with this
knowledge. What shall we say of those who think it unbecoming in a man to
grieve? amongst whom we may reckon Q. Maximus, when he buried his son that
had been consul, and L. Paulus, who lost two sons within a few days of one
another. Of the same opinion was M. Cato, who lost his son just after he
had been elected prætor, and many others, whose names I have collected in
my book on Consolation. Now what made these men so easy, but their
persuasion that grief and lamentation was not becoming in a man?
Therefore, as some give themselves up to grief from an opinion that it is
right so to do, they refrained themselves, from an opinion that it was
discreditable; from which we may infer that grief is owing more to opinion
than nature.

XXIX. It may be said, on the other side, Who is so mad as to grieve of his
own accord? Pain proceeds from nature; which you must submit to, say they,
agreeably to what even your own Crantor teaches, for it presses and gains
upon you unavoidably, and cannot possibly be resisted. So that the very
same Oileus, in Sophocles, who had before comforted Telamon on the death
of Ajax, on hearing of the death of his own son is broken-hearted. On this
alteration of his mind we have these lines:—

    Show me the man so well by wisdom taught
    That what he charges to another’s fault,
    When like affliction doth himself betide,
    True to his own wise counsel will abide.(96)

Now when they urge these things, their endeavour is to prove that nature
is absolutely and wholly irresistible; and yet the same people allow that
we take greater grief on ourselves than nature requires. What madness is
it then in us to require the same from others? But there are many reasons
for our taking grief on us. The first is from the opinion of some evil, on
the discovery and certainty of which grief comes of course. Besides, many
people are persuaded that they are doing something very acceptable to the
dead when they lament bitterly over them. To these may be added a kind of
womanish superstition, in imagining that when they have been stricken by
the afflictions sent by the gods, to acknowledge themselves afflicted and
humbled by them is the readiest way of appeasing them. But most men appear
to be unaware what contradictions these things are full of. They commend
those who die calmly, but they blame those who can bear the loss of
another with the same calmness, as if it were possible that it should be
true, as is occasionally said in love speeches, that any one can love
another more than himself. There is, indeed, something excellent in this,
and, if you examine it, something no less just than true, that we love
those who ought to be most dear to us as well as we love ourselves; but to
love them more than ourselves is absolutely impossible; nor is it
desirable in friendship that I should love my friend more than myself, or
that he should love me so; for this would occasion much confusion in life,
and break in upon all the duties of it.

XXX. But we will speak of this another time: at present it is sufficient
not to attribute our misery to the loss of our friends, nor to love them
more than, if they themselves could be sensible of our conduct, they would
approve of, or at least not more than we do ourselves. Now as to what they
say, that some are not at all appeased by our consolations; and moreover
as to what they add, that the comforters themselves acknowledge they are
miserable when fortune varies the attack and falls on them,—in both these
cases the solution is easy: for the fault here is not in nature, but in
our own folly; and much may be said against folly. But men who do not
admit of consolation seem to bespeak misery for themselves; and they who
cannot bear their misfortunes with that temper which they recommend to
others, are not more faulty in this particular than most other persons;
for we see that covetous men find fault with others who are covetous; as
do the vain-glorious with those who appear too wholly devoted to the
pursuit of glory. For it is the peculiar characteristic of folly to
perceive the vices of others, but to forget its own. But since we find
that grief is removed by length of time, we have the greatest proof that
the strength of it depends not merely on time, but on the daily
consideration of it. For if the cause continues the same, and the man be
the same, how can there be any alteration in the grief, if there is no
change in what occasioned the grief, nor in him who grieves? Therefore it
is from daily reflecting that there is no real evil in the circumstance
for which you grieve, and not from the length of time, that you procure a
remedy for your grief.

XXXI. Here some people talk of moderate grief; but if such be natural,
what occasion is there for consolation? for nature herself will determine
the measure of it; but if it depends on and is caused by opinion, the
whole opinion should be destroyed. I think that it has been sufficiently
said, that grief arises from an opinion of some present evil, which
includes this belief, that it is incumbent on us to grieve. To this
definition Zeno has added very justly, that the opinion of this present
evil should be recent. Now this word recent they explain thus;—those are
not the only recent things which happened a little while ago, but as long
as there shall be any force or vigour or freshness in that imagined evil,
so long it is entitled to the name of recent. Take the case of Artemisia,
the wife of Mausolus king of Caria, who made that noble sepulchre at
Halicarnassus; whilst she lived she lived in grief, and died of it, being
worn out by it, for that opinion was always recent with her: but you
cannot call that recent, which has already begun to decay through time.
Now the duty of a comforter is, to remove grief entirely, to quiet it, or
draw it off as much as you can, or else to keep it under, and prevent its
spreading any further, and to divert one’s attention to other matters.
There are some who think with Cleanthes, that the only duty of a comforter
is to prove, that what one is lamenting is by no means an evil. Others, as
the Peripatetics, prefer urging that the evil is not great. Others, with
Epicurus, seek to divert your attention from the evil to good: some think
it sufficient to show, that nothing has happened but what you had reason
to expect, and this is the practice of the Cyrenaics. But Chrysippus
thinks that the main thing in comforting is, to remove the opinion from
the person who is grieving, that to grieve is his bounden duty. There are
others who bring together all these various kinds of consolations, for
people are differently affected; as I have done myself in my book on
Consolation: for as my own mind was much disordered, I have attempted in
that book to discover every method of cure. But the proper season is as
much to be attended to in the cure of the mind, as of the body; as
Prometheus in Æschylus, on its being said to him,

    I think, Prometheus, you this tenet hold,
    That all men’s reason should their rage control;


    Yes, when one reason properly applies;
    Ill-timed advice will make the storm but rise.(97)

XXXII. But the principal medicine to be applied in consolation, is to
maintain either that it is no evil at all, or a very inconsiderable one:
the next best to that is, to speak of the common condition of life, having
a view, if possible, to the state of the person whom you comfort
particularly. The third is, that it is folly to wear oneself out with
grief which can avail nothing. For the comfort of Cleanthes is suitable
only for a wise man, who is in no need of any comfort at all; for could
you persuade one in grief, that nothing is an evil but what is base, you
would not only cure him of grief, but folly. But the time for such
precepts is not well chosen. Besides, Cleanthes does not seem to me
sufficiently aware that affliction may very often proceed from that very
thing which he himself allows to be the greatest misfortune. For what
shall we say? When Socrates had convinced Alcibiades, as we are told, that
he had no distinctive qualifications as a man different from other people,
and that in fact there was no difference betwixt him, though a man of the
highest rank, and a porter; and when Alcibiades became uneasy at this, and
entreated Socrates, with tears in his eyes, to make him a man of virtue,
and to cure him of that mean position; what shall we say to this,
Cleanthes? Was there no evil in what afflicted Alcibiades thus? What
strange things does Lycon say? who, making light of grief, says that it
arises from trifles, from things that affect our fortune or bodies, not
from the evils of the mind. What, then—did not the grief of Alcibiades
proceed from the defects and evils of the mind? I have already said enough
of Epicurus’s consolation.

XXXIII. Nor is that consolation much to be relied on, though it is
frequently practised, and sometimes has some effect, namely, “That you are
not alone in this.”—It has its effect, as I said, but not always, nor with
every person; for some reject it, but much depends on the application of
it; for you ought rather to show, not how men in general have been
affected with such evils, but how men of sense have borne them. As to
Chrysippus’s method, it is certainly founded in truth; but it is difficult
to apply it in time of distress. It is a work of no small difficulty to
persuade a person in affliction that he grieves, merely because he thinks
it right so to do. Certainly then, as in pleadings we do not state all
cases alike, (if I may adopt the language of lawyers for a moment,) but
adapt what we have to say to the time, to the nature of the subject under
debate, and to the person; so too in alleviating grief, regard should be
had to what kind of cure the party to be comforted can admit of. But,
somehow or other, we have rambled from what you originally proposed. For
your question was concerning a wise man, with whom nothing can have the
appearance of evil, that is not dishonourable: or at least, anything else
would seem so small an evil, that by his wisdom he would so over-match it,
as to make it wholly disappear; and such a man makes no addition to his
grief through opinion, and never conceives it right to torment himself
above measure, nor to wear himself out with grief, which is the meanest
thing imaginable. Reason, however, it seems, has demonstrated, (though it
was not directly our object at the moment to inquire whether anything can
be called an evil except what is base,) that it is in our power to
discern, that all the evil which there is in affliction has nothing
natural in it, but is contracted by our own voluntary judgment of it, and
the error of opinion.

XXXIV. But the kind of affliction of which I have treated is that which is
the greatest; in order that when we have once got rid of that, it may
appear a business of less consequence to look after remedies for the
others. For there are certain things which are usually said about poverty;
and also certain statements ordinarily applied to retired and
undistinguished life. There are particular treatises on banishment, on the
ruin of one’s country, on slavery, on weakness, on blindness, and on every
incident that can come under the name of an evil. The Greeks divide these
into different treatises and distinct books: but they do it for the sake
of employment: not but that all such discussions are full of
entertainment; and yet, as physicians, in curing the whole body, attend to
even the most insignificant part of the body which is at all disordered,
so does philosophy act, after it has removed grief in general, (still if
any other deficiency exists, should poverty bite, should ignominy sting,
should banishment bring a dark cloud over us, or should any of those
things which I have just mentioned appear,)—there is for each its
appropriate consolation: which you shall hear whenever you please. But we
must have recourse again to the same original principle, that a wise man
is free from all sorrow, because it is vain, because it answers no
purpose, because it is not founded in nature, but on opinion and
prejudice, and is engendered by a kind of invitation to grieve, when once
men have imagined that it is their duty to do so. When then we have
subtracted what is altogether voluntary, that mournful uneasiness will be
removed; yet some little anxiety, some slight pricking will still remain.
They may indeed call this natural, provided they give it not that horrid,
solemn, melancholy name of grief, which can by no means consist with
wisdom. But how various, and how bitter, are the roots of grief! Whatever
they are, I propose, after having felled the trunk, to destroy them all;
even if it should be necessary, by allotting a separate dissertation to
each, for I have leisure enough to do so, whatever time it may take up.
But the principle of every uneasiness is the same, though they may appear
under different names. For envy is an uneasiness; so are emulation,
detraction, anguish, sorrow, sadness, tribulation, lamentation, vexation,
grief, trouble, affliction, and despair. The Stoics define all these
different feelings, and all those words which I have mentioned belong to
different things, and do not, as they seem, express the same ideas; but
they are to a certain extent distinct, as I shall make appear perhaps in
another place. These are those fibres of the roots, which, as I said at
first, must be traced back and cut off, and destroyed, so that not one
shall remain. You say it is a great and difficult undertaking:—who denies
it? But what is there of any excellency which has not its difficulty?—Yet
philosophy undertakes to effect it, provided we admit its superintendence.
But enough of this: the other books, whenever you please, shall be ready
for you here, or any where else.

Book IV. On Other Perturbations Of The Mind.

I. I have often wondered, Brutus, on many occasions, at the ingenuity and
virtues of our countrymen; but nothing has surprised me more than their
development in those studies, which, though they came somewhat late to us,
have been transported into this city from Greece. For the system of
auspices, and religious ceremonies, and courts of justice, and appeals to
the people, the senate, the establishment of an army of cavalry and
infantry, and the whole military discipline, were instituted as early as
the foundation of the city by royal authority, partly too by laws, not
without the assistance of the Gods. Then with what a surprising and
incredible progress did our ancestors advance towards all kind of
excellence, when once the republic was freed from the regal power! Not
that this is a proper occasion to treat of the manners and customs of our
ancestors, or of the discipline and constitution of the city; for I have
elsewhere, particularly in the six books I wrote on the Republic, given a
sufficiently accurate account of them. But whilst I am on this subject,
and considering the study of philosophy, I meet with many reasons to
imagine that those studies were brought to us from abroad, and not merely
imported, but preserved and improved; for they had Pythagoras, a man of
consummate wisdom and nobleness of character, in a manner, before their
eyes; who was in Italy at the time that Lucius Brutus, the illustrious
founder of your nobility, delivered his country from tyranny. As the
doctrine of Pythagoras spread itself on all sides, it seems probable to
me, that it reached this city; and this is not only probable of itself,
but it does really appear to have been the case from many remains of it.
For who can imagine that, when it flourished so much in that part of Italy
which was called Magna Græcia, and in some of the largest and most
powerful cities, in which, first the name of Pythagoras, and then that of
those men who were afterwards his followers, was in so high esteem; who
can imagine, I say, that our people could shut their ears to what was said
by such learned men? Besides, it is even my opinion, that it was the great
esteem in which the Pythagoreans were held, that gave rise to that opinion
amongst those who came after him, that king Numa was a Pythagorean. For,
being acquainted with the doctrine and principles of Pythagoras, and
having heard from their ancestors that this king was a very wise and just
man, and not being able to distinguish accurately between times and
periods that were so remote, they inferred from his being so eminent for
his wisdom, that he had been a pupil of Pythagoras.

II. So far we proceed on conjecture. As to the vestiges of the
Pythagoreans, though I might collect many, I shall use but a few; because
they have no connexion, with our present purpose. For, as it is reported
to have been a custom with them to deliver certain precepts in a more
abstruse manner in verse, and to bring their minds from severe thought to
a more composed state by songs and musical instruments; so Cato, a writer
of the very highest authority, says in his Origins, that it was customary
with our ancestors for the guests at their entertainments, every one in
his turn, to celebrate the praises and virtues of illustrious men in song
to the sound of the flute; from whence it is clear that poems and songs
were then composed for the voice. And, indeed, it is also clear that
poetry was in fashion from the laws of the Twelve Tables, wherein it is
provided, that no song should be made to the injury of another. Another
argument of the erudition of those times is, that they played on
instruments before the shrines of their Gods, and at the entertainments of
their magistrates; but that custom was peculiar to the sect I am speaking
of. To me, indeed, that poem of Appius Cæcus, which Panætius commends so
much in a certain letter of his which is addressed to Quintus Tubero, has
all the marks of a Pythagorean author. We have many things derived from
the Pythagoreans in our customs; which I pass over, that we may not seem
to have learned that elsewhere which we look upon ourselves as the
inventors of. But to return to our purpose. How many great poets as well
as orators have sprung up among us! and in what a short time! so that it
is evident that our people could arrive at any learning as soon as they
had an inclination for it. But of other studies I shall speak elsewhere if
there is occasion, as I have already often done.

III. The study of philosophy is certainly of long standing with us; but
yet I do not find that I can give you the names of any philosopher before
the age of Lælius and Scipio: in whose younger days we find that Diogenes
the Stoic, and Carneades the Academic, were sent as ambassadors by the
Athenians to our senate. And as these had never been concerned in public
affairs, and one of them was a Cyrenean, the other a Babylonian, they
certainly would never have been forced from their studies, nor chosen for
that employment, unless the study of philosophy had been in vogue with
some of the great men at that time; who, though they might employ their
pens on other subjects, some on civil law, others on oratory, others on
the history of former times, yet promoted this most extensive of all arts,
the principle of living well, even more by their life than by their
writings. So that of that true and elegant philosophy, (which was derived
from Socrates, and is still preserved by the Peripatetics, and by the
Stoics, though they express themselves differently in their disputes with
the Academics,) there are few or no Latin records; whether this proceeds
from the importance of the thing itself, or from men’s being otherwise
employed, or from their concluding that the capacity of the people was not
equal to the apprehension of them. But, during this silence, C. Amafinius
arose and took upon himself to speak; on the publishing of whose writings
the people were moved, and enlisted themselves chiefly under this sect,
either because the doctrine was more easily understood, or because they
were invited thereto by the pleasing thoughts of amusement, or that,
because there was nothing better, they laid hold of what was offered them.
And after Amafinius, when many of the same sentiments had written much
about them, the Pythagoreans spread over all Italy: but that these
doctrines should be so easily understood and approved of by the unlearned,
is a great proof that they were not written with any great subtlety, and
they think their establishment to be owing to this.

IV. But let every one defend his own opinion, for every one is at liberty
to choose what he likes; I shall keep to my old custom; and being under no
restraint from the laws of any particular school, which in philosophy
every one must necessarily confine himself to, I shall always inquire what
has the most probability in every question, and this system, which I have
often practised on other occasions, I have adhered closely to in my
Tusculan Disputations. Therefore, as I have acquainted you with the
disputations of the three former days, this book shall conclude the
discussion of the fourth day. When we had come down into the Academy, as
we had done the former days, the business was carried on thus.

_M._ Let any one say, who pleases, what he would wish to have discussed.

_A._ I do not think a wise man can possibly be free from every
perturbation of mind.

_M._ He seemed by yesterday’s discourse to be free from grief; unless you
agreed with us only to avoid taking up time.

_A._ Not at all on that account, for I was extremely satisfied with your

_M._ You do not think, then, that a wise man is subject to grief?

_A._ No, by no means.

_M._ But if that cannot disorder the mind of a wise man, nothing else can.
For what? can such a man be disturbed by fear? Fear proceeds from the same
things when absent, which occasion grief when present. Take away grief
then, and you remove fear.

The two remaining perturbations are, a joy elate above measure, and lust;
and, if a wise man is not subject to these, his mind will be always at

_A._ I am entirely of that opinion.

_M._ Which, then, shall we do? shall I immediately crowd all my sails? or
shall I make use of my oars, as if I were just endeavouring to get clear
of the harbour?

_A._ What is it that you mean; for I do not exactly comprehend you?

V. _M._ Because, Chrysippus and the Stoics, when they discuss the
perturbations of the mind, make great part of their debate to consist in
definitions and distinctions; while they employ but few words on the
subject of curing the mind, and preventing it from being disordered.
Whereas the Peripatetics bring a great many things to promote the cure of
it, but have no regard to their thorny partitions and definitions.—My
question, then, was, whether I should instantly unfold the sails of my
eloquence, or be content for a while to make less way with the oars of

_A._ Let it be so; for by the employment of both these means the subject
of our inquiry will be more thoroughly discussed.

_M._ It is certainly the better way; and should anything be too obscure,
you may examine that afterwards.

_A._ I will do so; but those very obscure points, you will, as usual,
deliver with more clearness than the Greeks.

_M._ I will indeed endeavour to do so; but it well requires great
attention, lest, by losing one word, the whole should escape you. What the
Greeks call πάθη, we choose to name perturbations (or disorders) rather
than diseases; in explaining which, I shall follow, first, that very old
description of Pythagoras, and afterwards that of Plato; for they both
divide the mind into two parts, and make one of these partake of reason,
and the other they represent without it. In that which partakes of reason
they place tranquillity, that is to say, a placid and undisturbed
constancy; to the other they assign the turbid motions of anger and
desire, which are contrary and opposite to reason. Let this, then, be our
principle, the spring of all our reasonings. But notwithstanding, I shall
use the partitions and definitions of the Stoics in describing these
perturbations; who seem to me to have shown very great acuteness on this

VI. Zeno’s definition, then, is this: “a perturbation” (which he calls a
πάθος) “is a commotion of the mind repugnant to reason, and against
nature.” Some of them define it even more briefly, saying that a
perturbation is a somewhat too vehement appetite; but by too vehement they
mean an appetite that recedes further from the constancy of nature. But
they would have the divisions of perturbations to arise from two imagined
goods, and from two imagined evils; and thus they become four: from the
good proceed lust and joy—joy having reference to some present good, and
lust to some future one. They suppose fear and grief to proceed from
evils: fear from something future,—grief from something present; for
whatever things are dreaded as approaching, always occasion grief when
present. But joy and lust depend on the opinion of good; as lust, being
inflamed and provoked, is carried on eagerly towards what has the
appearance of good; and joy is transported and exults on obtaining what
was desired: for we naturally pursue those things that have the appearance
of good, and avoid the contrary. Wherefore, as soon as anything that has
the appearance of good presents itself, nature incites us to endeavour to
obtain it. Now, where this strong desire is consistent and founded on
prudence, it is by the Stoics called βούλησις, and the name which we give
it is volition; and this they allow to none but their wise man, and define
it thus: Volition is a reasonable desire; but whatever is incited too
violently in opposition to reason, that is a lust, or an unbridled desire,
which is discoverable in all fools.—And, therefore, when we are affected
so as to be placed in any good condition, we are moved in two ways; for
when the mind is moved in a placid and calm motion, consistent with
reason, that is called joy; but when it exults with a vain, wanton
exultation, or immoderate joy, then that feeling may be called immoderate
ecstasy or transport, which they define to be an elation of the mind
without reason.—And as we naturally desire good things, so in like manner
we naturally seek to avoid what is evil; and this avoidance of which, if
conducted in accordance with reason, is called caution; and this the wise
man alone is supposed to have: but that caution which is not under the
guidance of reason, but is attended with a base and low dejection, is
called fear.—Fear is, therefore, caution destitute of reason. But a wise
man is not affected by any present evil; while the grief of a fool
proceeds from being affected with an imaginary evil, by which his mind is
contracted and sunk, since it is not under the dominion of reason. This,
then, is the first definition, which makes grief to consist in a shrinking
of the mind, contrary to the dictates of reason. Thus, there are four
perturbations, and but three calm rational emotions; for grief has no
exact opposite.

VII. But they insist upon it that all perturbations depend on opinion and
judgment; therefore they define them more strictly, in order not only the
better to show how blameable they are, but to discover how much they are
in our power. Grief, then is a recent opinion of some present evil, in
which it seems to be right that the mind should shrink and be dejected.
Joy is a recent opinion of a present good, in which it seems to be right
that the mind should be elated. Fear is an opinion of an impending evil,
which we apprehend will be intolerable. Lust is an opinion of a good to
come, which would be of advantage were it already come, and present with
us. But however I have named the judgments and opinions of perturbations,
their meaning is, not that merely the perturbations consist in them, but
that the effects likewise of these perturbations do so; as grief occasions
a kind of painful pricking, and fear engenders a recoil or sudden
abandonment of the mind; joy gives rise to a profuse mirth, while lust is
the parent of an unbridled habit of coveting. But that imagination, which
I have included in all the above definitions, they would have to consist
in assenting without warrantable grounds. Now, every perturbation has many
subordinate parts annexed to it of the same kind. Grief is attended with
enviousness (_invidentia_)—I use that word for instruction sake, though it
is not so common; because envy (_invidia_) takes in not only the person
who envies, but the person too who is envied;—emulation, detraction, pity,
vexation, mourning, sadness, tribulation, sorrow, lamentation, solicitude,
disquiet of mind, pain, despair, and many other similar feelings, are so
too. Under fear are comprehended sloth, shame, terror, cowardice,
fainting, confusion, astonishment.—In pleasure they comprehend
malevolence, that is pleased at another’s misfortune, delight,
boastfulness, and the like. To lust they associate anger, fury, hatred,
enmity, discord, wants, desire, and other feelings of that kind.

But they define these in this manner:

VIII. Enviousness (_invidentia_), they say, is a grief arising from the
prosperous circumstances of another, which are in no degree injurious to
the person who envies: for where any one grieves at the prosperity of
another, by which he is injured, such a one is not properly said to
envy,—as when Agamemnon grieves at Hector’s success; but where any one,
who is in no way hurt by the prosperity of another, is in pain at his
success, such an one envies indeed. Now the name "emulation" is taken in a
double sense, so that the same word may stand for praise and dispraise:
for the imitation of virtue is called emulation—(however, that sense of it
I shall have no occasion for here, for that carries praise with it);—but
emulation is also a term applied to grief at another’s enjoying what I
desired to have, and am without. Detraction (and I mean by that, jealousy)
is a grief even at another’s enjoying what I had a great inclination for.
Pity is a grief at the misery of another who suffers wrongfully; for no
one is moved by pity at the punishment of a parricide, or of a betrayer of
his country. Vexation is a pressing grief. Mourning is a grief at the
bitter death of one who was dear to you. Sadness is a grief attended with
tears. Tribulation is a painful grief. Sorrow, an excruciating grief.
Lamentation, a grief where we loudly bewail ourselves. Solicitude, a
pensive grief. Trouble, a continued grief. Affliction, a grief that
harasses the body. Despair, a grief that excludes all hope of better
things to come. But those feelings which are included under fear, they
define thus:—There is sloth, which is a dread of some ensuing labour:
shame and terror, which affect the body; hence blushing attends shame; a
paleness, and tremor, and chattering of the teeth, attend terror:
cowardice, which is an apprehension of some approaching evil: dread, a
fear that unhinges the mind; whence comes that line of Ennius,—

    Then dread discharged all wisdom from my mind:

fainting is the associate and constant attendant on dread: confusion, a
fear that drives away all thought: alarm, a continued fear.

IX. The different species into which they divide pleasure come under this
description; so that malevolence is a pleasure in the misfortunes of
another, without any advantage to yourself: delight, a pleasure that
soothes the mind by agreeable impressions on the ear. What is said of the
ear, may be applied to the sight, to the touch, smell, and taste. All
feelings of this kind are a sort of melting pleasure that dissolves the
mind. Boastfulness is a pleasure that consists in making an appearance,
and setting off yourself with insolence.—The subordinate species of lust
they define in this manner. Anger is a lust of punishing any one who, as
we imagine, has injured us without cause. Heat is anger just forming and
beginning to exist, which the Greeks call θύμωσις. Hatred is a settled
anger. Enmity is anger waiting for an opportunity of revenge. Discord is a
sharper anger conceived deeply in the mind and heart. Want, an insatiable
lust. Regret is when one eagerly wishes to see a person who is absent. Now
here they have a distinction; so that with them regret is a lust conceived
on hearing of certain things reported of some one, or of many, which the
Greeks call κατηγορήματα, or predicaments; as that they are in possession
of riches and honours: but want is a lust for those very honours and
riches.—But these definers make intemperance the fountain of all these
perturbations; which is an absolute revolt from the mind and right reason:
a state so averse to all rules of reason, that the appetites of the mind
can by no means be governed and restrained. As, therefore, temperance
appeases these desires, making them obey right reason, and maintains the
well-weighed judgments of the mind; so intemperance, which is in
opposition to this, inflames, confounds, and puts every state of the mind
into a violent motion. Thus, grief and fear, and every other perturbation
of the mind, have their rise from intemperance.

X. Just as distempers and sickness are bred in the body from the
corruption of the blood, and the too great abundance of phlegm and bile;
so the mind is deprived of its health, and disordered with sickness, from
a confusion of depraved opinions, that are in opposition to one another.
From these perturbations arise, first, diseases, which they call νοσήματα;
and also those feelings which are in opposition to these diseases, and
which admit certain faulty distastes or loathings; then come sicknesses,
which are called ἀρρωστήματα by the Stoics; and these two have their
opposite aversions. Here the Stoics, especially Chrysippus, give
themselves unnecessary trouble to show the analogy which the diseases of
the mind have to those of the body: but, overlooking all that they say as
of little consequence, I shall treat only of the thing itself. Let us then
understand perturbation to imply a restlessness from the variety and
confusion of contradictory opinions; and that when this heat and
disturbance of the mind is of any standing, and has taken up its
residence, as it were, in the veins and marrow, then commence diseases and
sickness, and those aversions which are in opposition to these diseases
and sicknesses.

XI. What I say here may be distinguished in thought, though they are in
fact the same; inasmuch as they both have their rise from lust and joy.
For should money be the object of our desire, and should we not instantly
apply to reason, as if it were a kind of Socratic medicine to heal this
desire, the evil glides into our veins, and cleaves to our bowels, and
from thence proceeds a distemper or sickness, which, when it is of any
continuance, is incurable, and the name of this disease is covetousness.
It is the same with other diseases; as the desire of glory, a passion for
women, to which the Greeks give the name of φιλογυνεία; and thus all other
diseases and sicknesses are generated. But those feelings, which are the
contrary of these, are supposed to have fear for their foundation, as a
hatred of women, such as is displayed in the Woman-hater of Atilius: or
the hatred of the whole human species, as Timon is reported to have done,
whom they called the Misanthrope. Of the same kind is inhospitality; and
all these diseases proceed from a certain dread of such things as they
hate and avoid. But they define sickness of mind to be an overweening
opinion, and that fixed and deeply implanted in the heart, of something as
very desirable, which is by no means so. What proceeds from aversion, they
define thus: a vehement idea of something to be avoided, deeply implanted,
and inherent in our minds, when there is no reason for avoiding it; and
this kind of opinion is a deliberate belief that one understands things of
which one is wholly ignorant. Now, sickness of the mind has all these
subordinate divisions, avarice, ambition, fondness for women, obstinacy,
gluttony, drunkenness, covetousness, and other similar vices. But avarice
is a violent opinion about money, as if it were vehemently to be desired
and sought after, which opinion is deeply implanted and inherent in our
minds; and the definition of all the other similar feelings resembles
these. But the definitions of aversions are of this sort; inhospitality is
a vehement opinion, deeply implanted and inherent in your mind, that you
should avoid a stranger. Thus too the hatred of women, like that felt by
Hippolytus, is defined, and the hatred of the human species like that
displayed by Timon.

XII. But to come to the analogy of the state of body and mind, which I
shall sometimes make use of, though more sparingly than the Stoics: some
men are more inclined to particular disorders than others. And, therefore,
we say, that some people are rheumatic, others dropsical, not because they
are so at present, but because they are often so: some are inclined to
fear, others to some other perturbation. Thus in some there is a continual
anxiety, owing to which they are anxious; in some a hastiness of temper,
which differs from anger, as anxiety differs from anguish: for all are not
anxious who are sometimes vexed; nor are they who are anxious always
uneasy in that manner: as there is a difference betwixt being drunk, and
drunkenness; and it is one thing to be a lover, another to be given to
women. And this disposition of particular people to particular disorders
is very common: for it relates to all perturbations; it appears in many
vices, though it has no name: some are therefore said to be envious,
malevolent, spiteful, fearful, pitiful, from a propensity to those
perturbations, not from their being always carried away by them. Now this
propensity to these particular disorders may be called a sickness, from
analogy with the body; meaning, that is to say, nothing more than a
propensity towards sickness. But with regard to whatever is good, as some
are more inclined to different good qualities than others, we may call
this a facility or tendency: this tendency to evil is a proclivity or
inclination to falling: but where anything is neither good nor bad, it may
have the former name.

XIII. Even as there may be, with respect to the body, a disease, a
sickness, and a defect; so it is with the mind. They call that a disease
where the whole body is corrupted: they call that sickness, where a
disease is attended with a weakness: and that a defect, where the parts of
the body are not well compacted together; from whence it follows, that the
members are mis-shapen, crooked, and deformed. So that these two, a
disease and sickness, proceed from a violent concussion and perturbation
of the health of the whole body; but a defect discovers itself, even when
the body is in perfect health. But a disease of the mind is
distinguishable only in thought from a sickness. But a viciousness is a
habit or affection discordant and inconsistent with itself through life.
Thus it happens, that in the one case a disease and sickness may arise
from a corruption of opinions; in the other case the consequence may be
inconstancy and inconsistency. For every vice of the mind does not imply a
disunion of parts; as is the case with those who are not far from being
wise men: with them there is that affection which is inconsistent with
itself whilst it is foolish, but it is not distorted, nor depraved. But
diseases and sicknesses are parts of viciousness: but it is a question
whether perturbations are parts of the same: for vices are permanent
affections: perturbations are such as are restless; so that they cannot be
parts of permanent ones. As there is some analogy between the nature of
the body and mind in evil, so is there in good: for the distinctions of
the body are beauty, strength, health, firmness, quickness of motion; the
same may be said of the mind. The body is said to be in a good state, when
all those things on which health depends are consistent: the same may be
said of the mind, when its judgments and opinions are not at variance with
one another. And this union is the virtue of the mind: which, according to
some people, is temperance itself; others make it consist in an obedience
to the precepts of temperance, and a compliance with them, not allowing it
to be any distinct species of itself: but be it one or the other, it is to
be found only in a wise man. But there is a certain soundness of mind,
which even a fool may have, when the perturbation of his mind is removed
by the care and management of his physicians. And, as what is called
beauty arises from an exact proportion of the limbs, together with a
certain sweetness of complexion, so the beauty of the mind consists in an
equality and constancy of opinions and judgments, joined to a certain
firmness and stability, pursuing virtue, or containing within itself the
very essence of virtue. Besides, we give the very same names to the
faculties of the mind, as we do to the powers of the body, the nerves, and
other powers of action. Thus the velocity of the body is called swiftness:
a praise which we ascribe to the mind, from its running over in its
thoughts so many things in so short a time.

XIV. Herein indeed the mind and body are unlike: that though the mind when
in perfect health may be visited by sickness, as the body may, yet the
body may be disordered without our fault, the mind cannot. For all the
disorders and perturbations of the mind proceed from a neglect of reason;
these disorders, therefore, are confined to men; the beasts are not
subject to such perturbations, though they act sometimes as if they had
reason. There is a difference, too, betwixt ingenious and dull men; the
ingenious, like the Corinthian brass, which is long before it receives
rust, are longer before they fall into these perturbations, and are
recovered sooner: the case is different with the dull. Nor does the mind
of an ingenious man fall into every kind of perturbation, for it never
yields to any that are brutish and savage: and some of their perturbations
have at first even the appearance of humanity, as mercy, grief, and fear.
But the sicknesses and diseases of the mind are thought to be harder to
eradicate, than those leading vices which are in opposition to virtues:
for vices may be removed, though the diseases of the mind should continue,
which diseases are not cured with that expedition with which vices are
removed. I have now acquainted you with the arguments which the Stoics put
forth with such exactness: which they call logic, from their close
arguing; and since my discourse has got clear of these rocks, I will
proceed with the remainder of it, provided I have been sufficiently clear
in what I have already said, considering the obscurity of the subject I
have treated.

_A._ Clear enough; but should there be occasion for a more exact inquiry,
I shall take another opportunity of asking you: I expect you now to hoist
your sails as you just now called them, and proceed on your course.

XV. _M._ Since I have spoken before of virtue in other places, and shall
often have occasion to speak again (for a great many questions that relate
to life and manners arise from the spring of virtue); and since, as I say,
virtue consists in a settled and uniform affection of mind, making those
persons praiseworthy who are possessed of her; she herself also,
independent of anything else, without regard to any advantage, must be
praiseworthy; for from her proceed good inclinations, opinions, actions,
and the whole of right reason; though virtue may be defined in few words
to be right reason itself. The opposite to this is viciousness (for so I
choose to translate what the Greeks call κακία, rather than by
perverseness; for perverseness is the name of a particular vice; but
viciousness includes all), from whence arise those perturbations, which,
as I just now said, are turbid and violent motions of the mind, repugnant
to reason, and enemies in a high degree to the peace of the mind, and a
tranquil life: for they introduce piercing and anxious cares, and afflict
and debilitate the mind through fear; they violently inflame our hearts
with exaggerated appetite; which is in reality an impotence of mind,
utterly irreconcilable with temperance and moderation, which we sometimes
call desire, and sometimes lust; and which, should it even attain the
object of its wishes, immediately becomes so elated, that it loses all its
resolution, and knows not what to pursue; so that he was in the right who
said, “that exaggerated pleasure was the very greatest of mistakes.”
Virtue then alone can effect the cure of these evils.

XVI. For what is not only more miserable, but more base and sordid, than a
man afflicted, weakened, and oppressed with grief? And little short of
this misery is one who dreads some approaching evil, and who, through
faintheartedness, is under continual suspense. The poets, to express the
greatness of this evil, imagine a stone to hang over the head of Tantalus,
as a punishment for his wickedness, his pride, and his boasting. And this
is the common punishment of folly; for there hangs over the head of every
one whose mind revolts from reason some similar fear. And as these
perturbations of the mind, grief and fear, are of a most wasting nature;
so those two others, though of a more merry cast, (I mean lust, which is
always coveting something with eagerness, and empty mirth, which is an
exulting joy,) differ very little from madness. Hence you may understand
what sort of person he is whom we call at one time moderate, at another
modest or temperate, at another constant and virtuous; while sometimes we
include all these names in the word frugality, as the crown of all. For if
that word did not include all virtues, it would never have been proverbial
to say, that a frugal man does everything rightly; but when the Stoics
apply this saying to their wise man, they seem to exalt him too much, and
to speak of him with too much admiration.

XVII. Whoever, then, through moderation and constancy, is at rest in his
mind, and in calm possession of himself, so as neither to pine with care,
nor be dejected with fear, nor to be inflamed with desire, coveting
something greedily, nor relaxed by extravagant mirth,—such a man is that
identical wise man whom we are inquiring for, he is the happy man: to whom
nothing in this life seems intolerable enough to depress him; nothing
exquisite enough to transport him unduly. For what is there in this life
that can appear great to him, who has acquainted himself with eternity,
and the utmost extent of the universe? For what is there in human
knowledge, or the short span of this life, that can appear great to a wise
man? whose mind is always so upon its guard, that nothing can befal him
which is unforeseen, nothing which is unexpected, nothing, in short, which
is new. Such a man takes so exact a survey on all sides of him, that he
always knows the proper place and spot to live in free from all the
troubles and annoyances of life, and encounters every accident that
fortune can bring upon him with a becoming calmness. Whoever conducts
himself in this manner, will be free from grief, and from every other
perturbation: and a mind free from these feelings renders men completely
happy: whereas a mind disordered and drawn off from right and unerring
reason, loses at once, not only its resolution, but its health.—Therefore
the thoughts and declarations of the Peripatetics are soft and effeminate,
for they say that the mind must necessarily be agitated, but at the same
time they lay down certain bounds beyond which that agitation is not to
proceed. And do you set bounds to vice? or is it novice to disobey reason?
does not reason sufficiently declare, that there is no real good which you
should desire too ardently, or the possession of which you should allow to
transport you: and that there is no evil that should be able to overwhelm
you, or the suspicion of which should distract you? and that all these
things assume too melancholy or too cheerful an appearance through our own
error? But if fools find this error lessened by time, so that, though the
cause remains the same, they are not affected in the same manner, after
some time, as they were at first; why surely a wise man ought not to be
influenced at all by it. But what are those degrees by which we are to
limit it? Let us fix these degrees in grief, a difficult subject, and one
much canvassed.—Fannius writes that P. Rutilius took it much to heart,
that his brother was refused the consulship: but he seems to have been too
much affected by this disappointment; for it was the occasion of his
death: he ought, therefore, to have borne it with more moderation. But let
us suppose, that whilst he was bearing this with moderation, the death of
his children had intervened; here would have started a fresh grief, which,
admitting it to be moderate in itself, yet still must have been a great
addition to the other. Now to these let us add some acute pains of body,
the loss of his fortune, blindness, banishment; supposing, then, each
separate misfortune to occasion a separate additional grief, the whole
would be too great to be supportable.

XVIII. The man who attempts to set bounds to vice, acts like one who
should throw himself headlong from Leucate, persuaded that he could stop
himself whenever he pleased. Now, as that is impossible, so a perturbed
and disordered mind cannot restrain itself, and stop where it pleases.
Certainly whatever is bad in its increase, is bad in its birth: now grief,
and all other perturbations, are doubtless baneful in their progress, and
have therefore no small share of e