First of all, Nature has endowed every species 1 of living creature with the instinct of self-preservation, of avoiding what seems likely to cause injury to life or limb, and of procuring and providing everything needful for life—food, shelter, and the like. In the matter of physical endowment there are great differences: some, we see, excel in speed for the race, others in strength for wrestling; so in point of personal appearance, some have stateliness, others comeliness. Current location in this text. [11] 4. For he who posits the supreme good as having no connection with virtue and measures it not by a moral standard but by his own interests—if he should be consistent and not rather at times over-ruled by his better nature, he could value neither friendship nor justice nor generosity; and brave he surely cannot possibly be that counts pain the supreme evil, nor temperate he that holds pleasure to be the supreme good. [18] Now, of the four divisions which we have made of the essential idea of moral goodness, the first, consisting in the knowledge of truth, touches human nature most closely. [21] There is, however, no such thing as private ownership established by nature, but property becomes private either through long occupancy (as in the case of those who long ago settled in unoccupied territory) or through conquest (is in the case of those who took it in war) or by due process of law, bargain, or purchase, or by allotment. For, as physical beauty with harmonious symmetry of the limbs engages the attention and delights the eye, for the very reason that all the parts combine in harmony and grace, so this propriety, which shines out in our conduct, engages the approbation of our fellow-men by the order, consistency, and self-control it imposes upon every word and deed. Translated by Walter Miller. Translated by Thomas Habinek 2012: He explicitly follows, to the degree that makes sense to him, a text by the modified Stoic philosopher, Panaetius, who had direct impact in the previous century on the statesmen Scipio and Laelius. Atque etiam alia divisio est officii. [98] The poets will observe, therefore, amid a great variety of characters, what is suitable and proper for all—even for the bad. [10] Although omission is a most serious defect in classification, two points have been overlooked in the foregoing: for we usually consider not only whether an action is morally right or morally wrong, but also, when a choice of two morally right courses is offered, which one is morally better; and likewise, when a choice of two expedients is offered, which one is more expedient. 11, Pro Balbo, 23, Pro Archia Poeta, 5, De Lege Agraria, i. But the very essence of propriety is found in the division of virtue which is now under discussion (Temperance). . To proceed beyond the universal bond of our common humanity, there is the closer one of belonging to the same people, tribe, and tongue, by which men are very closely bound together; it is a still closer relation to be citizens of the same city-state; for fellow-citizens have much in common—forum, temples colonnades, streets, statutes, laws, courts, rights of suffrage, to say nothing of social and friendly circles and diverse business relations with many. At the minimum age, he became quaestor in 75 BCE, aedile in 69 BCE, praetor in 66 BCE, and finally consulin 63 BCE. options are on the right side and top of the page. The writings of Marcus Tullius Cicero constitute one of the most famous bodies of historical and philosophical work in all of classical antiquity. If these errors are successfully avoided, all the labour and pains expended upon problems that are morally right and worth the solving will be fully rewarded. Cicero wrote that in 44 BCE in his last work in his last year of life: De Officiis, or in English: On Obligations. [14] And it is no mean manifestation of Nature and Reason that man is the only animal that has a feeling for order, for propriety, for moderation in word and deed. This is Cicero’s major ethical writing and his final philosophical work, done in the last year and a half of his life. Cambridge, Mass. [4] But since I have decided to write you a little now (and a great deal by and by), I wish, if possible, to begin with a matter most suited at once to your years and to my position. Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page We are not to say, therefore, that sickness or want or any evil of that sort is more repugnant to Nature than to covet and to appropriate what is one’s neighbour’s; but we do maintain that disregard of the common interests is repugnant to Nature; for it is unjust. Not at all. Your current position in the text is marked in blue. But, for the most part, people are led to wrong-doing in order to secure some personal end; in this vice, avarice is generally the controlling motive. But the most marked difference between man and beast is this: the beast, just as far as it is moved by the senses and with very little perception of past or future, adapts itself to that alone which is present at the moment; while man—because he is endowed with reason, by which he comprehends the chain of consequences, perceives the causes of things, understands the relation of cause to effect and of effect to cause, draws analogies, and connects and associates the present and the future—easily surveys the course of his whole life and makes the necessary preparations for its conduct. If we follow Nature as our guide, we shall never go astray, but we shall be pursuing that which is in its nature clear-sighted and penetrating (Wisdom), that which is adapted to promote and strengthen society (Justice), and that which is strong and courageous (Fortitude). The bonds of common blood hold men fast through good-will and affection; [55] for it means much to share in common the same family traditions the same forms of domestic worship, and the same ancestral tombs. Marcus Tullius Cicero. Not only must we show consideration for those whom we have conquered by force of arms but we must also ensure protection to those who lay down their arms and throw themselves upon the mercy of our generals, even though the battering-ram has hammered at their walls. This bond of union is closer between those who belong to the same nation, and more intimate still between those who are citizens of the same city-state. Cicero, De Officiis; C. Atzert, ed., Teubner fasc. But since the resources of individuals are limited and the number of the needy is infinite, this spirit of universal liberality must be regulated according to that test of Ennius—“No less shines his”—in order that we may continue to have the means for being generous to our friends. De Officiis. Cicero de Officiis. Click anywhere in the For many people often do favours impulsively for everybody without discrimination, prompted by a morbid sort of benevolence or by a sudden impulse of the heart, shifting the wind. From this attitude come greatness of soul and a sense of superiority to worldly conditions. So, then, it is truth that is, as it were, the stuff with which this virtue has to deal and on which it employs itself. [52] On this principle we have the following maxims: “Deny no one the water that flows by;” “Let anyone who will take fire from our fire;” “Honest counsel give to one who is in doubt;” for such acts are useful to the recipient and cause the giver no loss. Copyright 2020 The Witherspoon Institute. First, therefore, we must discuss the moral—and that, under two sub-heads; secondly, in the same manner, the expedient; and finally, the cases where they must be weighed against each other. Again, every action ought to be free from undue haste or carelessness; neither ought we to do anything for which we cannot assign a reasonable motive; for in these words we have practically a definition of duty. It may, for example, not be a duty to restore a trust or to fulfil a promise, and it may become right and proper sometimes to evade and not to observe what truth and honour would usually demand. changes, storing new additions in a versioning system. The de Officiis is, therefore, the first classical book to be issued from a printing press, with the possible exception of Lactantius and Cicero's de Oratore which bear the more exact date of October 30, 1465, and were likewise issued from the Monastery press at Subiaco. [30] For, if merely, for one’s own benefit one were to take something away from a man, though he were a perfectly worthless fellow, it would be an act of meanness and contrary to Nature’s law. Nothing, moreover, is more conducive to love and intimacy than compatibility of character in good men; for when two people have the same ideals and the same tastes, it is a natural consequence that each loves the other as himself; and the result is, as Pythagoras requires of ideal friendship, that several are united in one. Besides, the working of the mind, which is never at rest, can keep us busy in the pursuit of knowledge even without conscious effort on our part. [, In this example he effectively teaches us all to bestow even upon a stranger what it costs us nothing to give. 11. quam ob rem magnopere te hortor mi cicero ut non solum orationes meas sed hos etiam de philosophia libros qui iam illis fere se aequarunt studiose legas uis enim maior in illis dicendi sed hoc quoque colendum est aequabile et temperatum orationis genus et id quidem nemini uideo ... Cicero De Officiis 1 3 Hi there. But in bestowing a kindness, as well as in making a requital, the first rule of duty requires us—other things being equal—to lend assistance preferably to people in proportion to their individual need. Loeb edn. [, There are, on the other hand, two kinds of injustice—the one, on the part of those who inflict wrong, the other on the part of those who, when they can, do not shield from wrong those upon whom it is being inflicted. ("Agamemnon", "Hom. [29] Now since we have set forth the two kinds of injustice and assigned the motives that lead to each, and since we have previously established the principles by which justice is constituted, we shall be in a position easily to decide what our duty on each occasion is, unless we are extremely self-centred; [30] for indeed it is not an easy matter to be really concerned with other people’s affairs; and yet in Terence’s play, we know, Chremes “thinks that nothing that concerns man is foreign to him.” Nevertheless, when things turn out for our own good or ill, we realize it more fully and feel it more deeply than when the same things happen to others and we see them only, as it were, in the far distance; and for this reason we judge their case differently from our own. Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg. Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.6 x 11 inches Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies) Customer Reviews: 4.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer ratings; For if we bring a certain amount of propriety and order into the transactions of daily life, we shall be conserving moral rectitude and moral dignity. Loeb Edition. The other character is the one that is assigned to individuals in particular. [16] For the more clearly anyone observes the most essential truth in any given case and the more quickly and accurately he can see and explain the reasons for it, the more understanding and wise he is generally esteemed, and justly so. But to us Nature has assigned the roles of steadfastness, temperance, self-control, and considerateness of others; Nature also teaches us not to be careless in our behaviour towards our fellow-men. Accordingly, the teaching of ethics is the peculiar right of the Stoics, the Academicians, and the Peripatetics; for the theories of Aristo, Pyrrho, and Erillus have been long since rejected; and yet they would have the right to discuss duty if they had left us any power of choosing between things, so that there might be a way of finding out what duty is. For he would seek to escape from his loneliness and to find someone to share his studies; he would wish to teach, as well as to learn; to hear, as well as to speak. De Officiis (On Duties or On Obligations) is a 44 BC treatise by Marcus Tullius Cicero divided into three books, in which Cicero expounds his conception of the best … But in deciding this we must above all give due weight to the spirit, the devotion, the affection that prompted the favour. 4. This work is licensed under a [17] For these reasons it is unlawful either to weigh true morality against conflicting expediency, or common morality, which is cultivated by those who wish to be considered good men, against what is profitable; but we every-day people must observe and live up to that moral right which comes within the range of our comprehension as jealously as the truly wise men have to observe and live up to that which is morally right in the technical and true sense of the word. Popilius was general in command of a province. 28 (Leipzig, 1963) 1-123. When these are modified under changed circumstances, moral duty also undergoes a change and it does not always remain the same. For generosity is of two kinds: doing a kindness and requiting one. And not only minds but bodies as well are disordered by such appetites. [This selection from Book I picks up at a later point where Cicero is found emphasizing again the need for overcoming excessive attachment to one’s self in order to understand well what is right, and here he presents the basic rule of not doing harm and serving always the common good.]. But of all the bonds of fellowship, there is none more noble, none more powerful than when good men of congenial character are joined in intimate friendship; for really, if we discover in another that moral goodness on which I dwell so much, it attracts us and makes us friends to the one in whose character it seems to dwell. 2. ff. [50] The interests of society, however, and its common bonds will be best conserved, if kindness be shown to each individual in proportion to the closeness of his relationship. [Shortly after this point in the complete text some important passages on the requisites of justice and the often later utilized images of the lion and fox appear.]. There are, on the other hand, two kinds of injustice—the one, on the part of those who inflict wrong, the other on the part of those who, when they can, do not shield from wrong those upon whom it is being inflicted. [, The Influence of the Scottish Enlightenment. It is for this reason that our forefathers chose to understand one thing by the universal law and another by the civil law. And that friendship is sweetest which is cemented by congeniality of character. [20] Of the three remaining divisions, the most extensive in its application is the principle by which society and what we may call its “common bonds” are maintained. Cicero, perhaps the most famous of the Roman philosophers, wrote an influential treatise on duties and obligations published after his death. The following questions are illustrative of the first part: whether all duties are absolute; whether one duty is more important than another; and so on. For the whole glory of virtue is in activity; activity, however, may often be interrupted, and many opportunities for returning to study are opened. The translation from Book 1.4 above comes from the Perseus Project (the 1913 Miller/Loeb translation). [13] Furthermore, when the Stoics speak of the supreme good as “living conformably to Nature,” they mean, as I take it, something like this: that we are always to be in accord with virtue, and from all other things that may be in harmony with Nature to choose only such as are not incompatible with virtue. Every duty, therefore, that tends effectively to maintain and safeguard human society should be given the preference over that duty which arises from speculation and science alone. Therefore, inasmuch as in each case some of those things which by nature had been common property became the property of individuals, each one should retain possession of that which has fallen to his lot; and if anyone appropriates to himself anything beyond that, he will be violating the laws of human society. For he who, under the influence of anger or some other passion, wrongfully assaults another seems, as it were, to be laying violent hands upon a comrade; but he who does not prevent or oppose wrong, if he can, is just as guilty of wrong as if he deserted his parents or his friends or his country. [31] And therefore Nature’s law itself, which protects and conserves human interests, will surely determine that a man who is wise, good, and brave, should in emergency have the necessaries of life transferred to him from a person who is idle and worthless; for the good man’s death would be a heavy loss to the common weal; only let him beware that self-esteem and self-love do not find in such a transfer of possessions a pretext for wrong-doing. [69] Owing to the low ebb of public sentiment, such a method of procedure, I find, is neither by custom accounted morally wrong nor forbidden either by statute or by civil law; nevertheless it is forbidden by the moral law [law of nature (naturae lege)]. It is all the more surprising that Andrew R. Dyck's volume is the first detailed English commentary on the work written in this century. For instance, our forefathers actually admitted to full rights of citizenship the Tusculans, Acquians, Volscians, Sabines, and Hernicians, but they razed Carthage and Numantia to the ground. Translated by Thomas Habinek 2012: And so, Marcus, I strongly encourage you to study both my speeches and my philosophical treatises, which are almost as numerous. Starting with that infinite bond of union of the human race in general, the conception is now confined to a small and narrow circle. All rights reserved. Another strong bond of fellowship is effected by mutual interchange of kind services; and as long as these kindnesses are mutual and acceptable, those between whom they are interchanged are united by the ties of an enduring intimacy. Although these four are connected and interwoven, still it is in each one considered singly that certain definite kinds of moral duties have their origin: in that category, for instance, which was designated first in our division and in which we place wisdom and prudence, belong the search after truth and its discovery; and this is the peculiar province of that virtue.