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Greek philosophy, at its beginning, six centuries before our era, had consisted in fanciful speculations upon the source and origin of the universe. But by the time of Cicero it had come to embrace all human knowledge and to be the substance of all liberal education. It consisted of three divisions, -natural philosophy, ethics, and dialectics, of which the second was regarded as the most important. The writings of the early Roman poets, beginning with Ennius, abound in ideas taken from Greek philosophy, but this learning was first formally introduced among the Romans in 155 B.C., when Carneades the Academician, Critolaus the Peripatetic, and Diogenes the Stoic, the most famous philosophers of their time, came on an embassy from Athens to Rome and discoursed upon their respective doctrines. Their learning and eloquence captivated the young nobles, especially Scipio and Laelius, who are introduced in the following treatise. The Stoic Panaetius also, about the same time, was welcomed in Rome by Scipio.

From this time on, all young Romans of distinction were instructed in the new education, and Stoic philosophy in particular became very popular. The first, however, to commit their views to writing (with the exception of the poets already mentioned) were certain Epicureans.1 In Cicero's time this same school is represented by Lucretius with his de Rerum Natura, one of the greatest poems in Latin literature. The other schools, though they won ardent adherents in Rome, seem to have found no one to represent them in literature before Cicero himself. Cicero had been carefully educated in

1 Amafinius, Rabirius, Catius. See Cic. Ac. 1, 5; ad Fam. 15, 19, 2.

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philosophy and always retained an interest in it, of which his orations contain many indications. He had at various times in his life come in contact with Greek representatives of all the important schools of philosophy. In his early youth he had studied with the Epicurean Phaedrus, and at first was largely influenced by the teachings of that school. Later he studied logic under the Stoic Diodotus, and lastly he imbibed the Academic ideas from Philo, who came to Rome in B.C. 88. From 79 to 77 he lived at Athens and Rhodes, where he again came strongly under Academic and Stoic influences. Besides devoting himself so extensively to the definite study of Greek philosophy under these instructors, Cicero gave much time throughout his life, particularly in his periods of enforced leisure from political activity, to the reading of philosophy. From the time of his acquaintance with Philo he classed himself with the New Academics, but he was in reality an eclectic, choosing from each system what seemed good to him. In particular, the influence of Plato upon him was very great.

He early formed the design of setting forth in Latin the whole body of philosophy, a design which he may be said in the main to have accomplished.1 He had, however, for the minute metaphysical speculations of Greek philosophy little taste. In this he was at one with most of his countrymen, and for their satisfaction and his own he studied and reproduced in his philosophical works mainly the practical ethics of his masters. He nowhere lays claim to originality, even along these lines. From the Greeks he adopts and adapts what suits him, sets it forth in choice Latin enriched and made luminous

1 The titles of these works are as follows (those marked with an asterisk are not extant): de Republica, de Legibus, Paradoxa, Consolatio* (for the death of Tullia), Hortensius,* de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, Academica, Tusculanae Disputationes, Timaeus, de Natura Deorum, Cato Maior (de Senectute), de Divinatione, de Fato, Laelius (de Amicitia), de Gloria,* de Officiis, de Virtutibus,* de Auguriis.*

by numerous illustrations drawn from Roman history and politics, and thus gives a new lease of life and a wider sphere of usefulness to the loftiest thoughts and noblest ideals of his predecessors. In this lies the value of his philosophical writings to his countrymen and to the world.

The circumstances which led Cicero to devote himself, especially in his later years, to philosophy were both personal and political. At an earlier period, when, after his return from exile, he was politically in the background, he had written the de Republica and begun the de Legibus,— showing by the very titles of these works that his interest in philosophy was largely that of the statesman. But in the later period (47–43) the situation was more complicated and the influence of circumstances turned his interest along other and more purely philosophical lines.

During the first year of Caesar's supremacy (B.c. 46) we are told that he gathered a sort of school about him in his retreat at Tusculum, where "he trained Pansa, Hirtius, and Dolabella like a preceptor," seeking distraction from the defeats and calamities of his public life.1 The death of his daughter Tullia, early in the following year, with other and more ignoble domestic sorrows, confirmed his disposition to solitude, and his desire to find comfort in "the calm and still air of delightful studies."2

1 "While I languished in idleness, and the condition of the State was such that it must needs be ruled by one man's counsel and care, I thought, first, that philosophy should be unfolded to our people for the sake of the State itself, holding it to be of great consequence to the honor and glory of the body politic (civitas) that things so noble and weighty should be had in Latin writings. I was urged to this, besides, by that sorrow of heart, caused by the great and heavy blows of fortune for which, if I could have found any greater comfort, I should not have taken refuge primarily in this; but in no way can I better share that comfort than by giving myself not only to the reading of books, but to the handling of philosophy at large."— N. D. 1, 7.

2 Ad Att. 12, 28: Maerorem minui; dolorem nec potui, nec si possem vellem,

The memory of his griefs he sought to banish by spending whole days in composition. To this period belong, among other philosophical writings, the Academica, the de Finibus, the Tusculanae Disputationes, the de Natura Deorum, and with little doubt the Cato Maior (de Senectute). The death of Caesar, with the new political hopes it brought, broke off these labors for a while; but before the final struggle with Antony began there was another short interval of literary activity, in which were composed the treatises de Divinatione, de Fato, de Gloria, de Officiis, and Laelius (de Amicitia).

Probably no one of his shorter writings is better known or more generally admired than the dialogue on Old Age. It was written at the age of sixty-two years and upwards, and was addressed to his friend Atticus, who was three years older.1 It belongs to the division of Ethics, which had for its subjectmatter the nature of the summum bonum and the conduct of life. Since the third century B.C. philosophy had lost the hope of substituting reason for violence in the management of affairs, and had aimed to find for the individual philosopher, in virtue or pleasure or elsewhere, a satisfaction to outweigh the inevitable ills of life. Every relation and incident of life was a subject of philosophical discussion, either from the pleasure it could afford, or the pain it was commonly supposed to cause.

In this treatise Cicero endeavors to show that old age, usually considered one of the ills of life, is to the wise man deprived of its terrors. He alludes (3) to a work on old age by Aristo of Ceos, but neither that work nor any one Greek work can be assigned with any degree of certainty as a prototype of the Cato Maior.2

1 Lael. 5: Ad senem senex de senectute.

2 Theophrastus and Demetrius of Phalerum (not named in the Cato Maior) are said to have written on old age, and in the Cato Maior Cicero mentions many other Greek writers, and quotes largely from Plato and Xenophon.

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