de officiis

For the first two books Cicero was dependent on the Stoic philosopher Panaetius, but wrote more independently for the third bo… All these professions are occupied with the search after truth; but to be drawn by study away from active life is contrary to moral duty. De Officiis is divided into three books and reflects the author's view on how to live a good life. Retrieved from De Officiis is a treatise written by Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 – 43 BCE), Roman statesman and orator, in the form of a letter to his son just after the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE.
], Bold numbers in brackets indicate the standard divisions in Cicero’s texts in which are found in whole or part the sections reproduced here. Promises are, therefore, not to be kept, if the keeping of them is to prove harmful to those to whom you have made them; and, if the fulfilment of a promise should do more harm to you than good to him to whom you have made it, it is no violation of moral duty to give the greater good precedence over the lesser good. (Book I. [14], T. W. Baldwin said that "in Shakespeare's day De Officiis was the pinnacle of moral philosophy". But it seems we must trace back to their ultimate sources the principles of fellowship and society that Nature has established among men. On this principle the lands of Arpinum are said to belong to the Arpinates, the Tusculan lands to the Tusculans; and similar is the assignment of private property. For the whole glory of virtue is in activity; activity, however, may often be interrupted, and many opportunities for returning to study are opened.

Although Cicero was influenced by the Academic, Peripatetic, and Stoic schools of Greek philosophy, this work shows the influence of the Stoic philosopher Panaetius. 'The first printed book was not Gutenberg's famed forty-two-line Bible but rather Donatus's Ars Mino, which Gutenberg, correctly sizing up the market, hoped to sell in class sets to schools.'

The first two books are based on the teachings of stoic philosopher Panaetius of Rhodes, with Book I analysing honour and its roots and Book II delving into utility and what is to one’s advantage.

Bracketed words or phrases usually represent my effort to clarify a term or reference.
The first goal in mind, while being generous, should be the welfare and prosperity of the Republic. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. There is, too, a difference between justice and considerateness in one’s relations to one’s fellow-men. The Roman Empire and its predecessor the Roman Republic produced... Cicero’s De Officiis and other philosophical works, printed in... Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. 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. Among all men, he emphasizes the special claim of attending to real need when deciding how to bestow favors and seeks to distinguish and even rank the obligations humans have to the various communities to which they belong.]. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. [6], Cicero proposes some rules for cases of doubt, where seeming utility comes into competition with virtue. After the Ides of March, Cicero returned to Rome to defend the Republic from Mark Antony. [19] The other error is that some people devote too much industry and too deep study to matters that are obscure and difficult and useless as well. We should, therefore, adopt these principles and always be contributing something to the common weal. [6] Although these truths are so self-evident that the subject does not call for discussion, still I have discussed it in another connection. Although rationality has an important part to play in his argument, he examines human action based on curiosity.

On Duties (De Officiis), Books 1 and 3 (Excerpts) By Cicero [Marcus Tullius Cicero. 18. New here is his exploration in §107 of the difference between the universal nature and particular nature with which each person is endowed.]. [53] Then, too, there are a great many degrees of closeness or remoteness in human society. However, generosity cannot exceed one's means nor can it harm others as a consequence. Book III links honour with usefulness and explores which should prevail. Although not a Christian work, St. Ambrose in 390 declared it legitimate for the Church to use (along with everything else Cicero, and the equally popular Roman philosopher Seneca, had written). But the very essence of propriety is found in the division of virtue which is now under discussion (Temperance). The author goes further and says that the main reason for the ongoing civil war was that values like fear and greed had prevailed over fides. [31] But occasions often arise, when those duties which seem most becoming to the just man and to the “good man,” as we call him, undergo a change and take on a contrary aspect. Cicero mentions fides or trust as the main propeller of justice. For there is a limit to retribution and to punishment; or rather, I am inclined to think, it is sufficient that the aggressor should be brought to repent of his wrong-doing, in order that he may not repeat the offence and that others may be deterred from doing wrong. And this is the foundation of civil government, the nursery, as it were, of the state.

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.

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