Page images

imagined more base? Now, what room can Fortitude, which is the contemning of pain and labor, have in his system, who calls pain the greatest of evils ? For though Epicurus may speak, as he does in many places, with sufficient fortitude regarding pain ; nevertheless, we are not to regard what he may say, but what it is consistent in him to say, as he would confine good to pleasure, evil to pain; so if I would listen to him on the subject of continence and temperance, he says, indeed, many things in many places; but there is an impedient in the stream, as they say. For how can he commend temperance who places the chief good in pleasure? For temperance is hostile to irregular, passions ; but irregular passions are the companions of pleasure. And yet, in these three classes of virtue, they make a shift, in what ever manner they can, not without cleverness. They introduce prudence as the science which supplies pleasures and repels pain. Fortitude, too, they explain in some manner, when they teach that it is tho means of disregarding cleath, and enduring pain. Even temperance they introduce -not very easily, indeed—but yet in whatever way they can. For they say that the height of pleasure is limited to the absence of pain. Justice staggers, or : rather falls to the ground, and all those virtues which are discerned in society, and the association of mankind. For neither kindness, nor liberality, nor courtesy can exist, any more than friendship, if they are not sought for there own sakes, but are referred to pleasure and interest. Let us, therefore, sum up the subject in a few words. For as we have taught that there is no expediency which can be contrary to virtue : so we say that all bodily pleasure is opposed to virtue. On which account I think Callipho and Dinomachus the more deserving of censure, for they thought they would put an end to the controversy if they should couple pleasure with virtue; as if they should couple a human being with a brute. Virtue does not admit that combination-it spurns, it repels it. Nor can, indeed, the ultimate principle of good and evil, which ought to be simple, be compounded of, and tempered with these most dissimilar ingredients. But about this (for

1 Meaning that the system of Epicurus presents impediments to the flowing of the virtues, like obstructions in a water-course.

That is, that the greatest pleasuro consists in tho absence of pain.

it is an important subject), I have said more in another place. Now to my original proposition. How, then, if ever that which seems expedient is opposed to virtue, the matter is to be decided, has been sufficiently treated of above. But if pleasure be said to have even the semblance of expedience, there can be no union of it with virtue. For though we may concede something to pleasure, perhaps it has something of a relish, but certainly it has in it nothing of utility.

You have a present from your father, my son Marcus ; in my opinion, indeed, an important one-but it will be just as you will receive it. However, these three books will deserve to be received by you as guests among the commentaries of Cratippus. But as, if I myself had gone to Athens (which would indeed have been the case had not my country, with loud voice, called me back from the middle of my journey), you would sometimes have listened to me also : so, since my voice has reached you in these volumes, you will bestow upon them as much time as you can, and you can bestow as much as you wish. But when I shall understand that you take delight in this department of science, then will I converse with you both when present, which will be in a short time, as I expect--and while you will be far away, I will talk with you, though absent. Farewell, then, my Cicero, and be assured that you are indeed very dear to me, but that you will be much more dear if you shall take delight in such memorials and precepts.


I. QUINTUS Mucius, the augur,' used to relate many things of Caius Lælius, his father-in-law, from memory, and in a pleasant manner, and did not scruple in every discourse to call him a wise man. Moreover I myself, after assuming the manly toga,' was introduced by my father to Scævola, in such a way that, as far as I could and it was permitted me, I never quitted the old man's side. Accordingly, many sagacious discussions of his, and many short and apt sayings, I committed to memory, and desired to become better informed by his wisdom. When he died, I betook myself to

I venture to pronounce the most distinguished for talent and for integrity. But of him elsewhere. I now return to the augur. Among many other circumstances, I remember that once being seated at home in his arm-chair (as was his custom), when I was in his company, and a very few of his intimate friends, he fell by chance upon that subject of discourse which at the time was in the mouth of nearly every one: for you of course remember, Atticus, and the more so because you were very intimate with Publius Sulpicius (when he, as tribune of the people, was estranged by a

1 Augur is often put for any one who predicted future events. Auspex denoted a person who observed and interpreted omens. Augurium and auspicium are commonly used interchangeably, but they are sometimes distinguished. Auspicium was properly the foretelling of futute events from the inspection of birds; Augurium from any omen or prodigies whatever. Fifteen augurs constituted the college.

3 The toga protesta, a robe bordered with purple, was worn by young people, male and female, and by the superior magistrates. The toga pura, or white gown, was worn by men after the age of about seventeen, and by women after marriage.

3 Tribuni plebis, magistrates created for the maintenance of popular rights, in the year u.c. 261. Their number was originally two, which was raised to five. and afterward to ten. Their oice was annual.

deadly hatred from Quintus Pompey, who was then consul, with whom up to that time he had lived on terms of the closest union and affection), how great was the surprise and even regret of the people. Accordingly, when Scævola had incidentally mentioned that very subject, he laid before us the discourse of Lælius on Friendship, which had been addressed by the latter to himself and to the other son-in-law of Lælius, Caius Fannius, the son of Marcus, a few days after the death of Africanus. The opinions of that disquisition I committed to memory, and in this book I have set them forth according to my own judgment. For I have introduced the individuals as it actually speaking, lest “said I” and “said he" should be too frequently interposed; and that the dialogue might seem to be held by persons face to face. For when you were frequently urging me to write something on the subject of friendship, it seemed to me a matter worthy as well of the consideration of all as of our intimacy. I have therefore willingly done so, that I might confer a benefit on many in consequence of your request. But as in the Cato Major, which was addressed to you on the subject of old age, I have introduced Cato when an old man conversing, because there seemed no person better adapted to speak of that period of life than he, who had been an old man for so long a time, and in that old age had been pre-eminently prosperous; so when I had heard from our ancestors that the attachment of Caius Lælius and Publius Scipio was especially worthy of record, the character of Lælius seemed to me a suitable onc to deliver these very observations on friendship which Scævola remembered to have been spoken by him. Now this description of discourses, resting on the authority of men of old, and of those of high rank, seems, I know not on what principle, to carry with it the grecter weight. Accordingly,

? "We continue to think and feel as our ancestors have thought and folt; so true in innumerable cases is the observation that men make up their principles by inheritance, and defend them as they would their estates, because they are born heirs to them. It has been justly sail that it is difficult to regard that as an evil which has been long donc, and that there are many great and excellent things which we never think of doing, merely because no one has done them before us. The prejudice for antiquity is itself very ancient,' says La Motte; and it is amusing, at the distance of so many hundred years, to find the same complaint of undue partiality to the writers of other agcs brought forward

while I am reading my own writing, I am sometimes so much affected as to suppose that it is Cato, and not myself that is speaking. But as then I, an old man, wrote to you, who are an old man, on the subject of old age; so in this book I myself, a most sincere friend, have written to a friend on the subject of friendship. On that occasion Cato was the speaker, than whom there was no one at that time older or wiser. On this, Lælius, not only a wise man (for so he has been concidered), and one pre-eminent in reputation for friendship, speaks on that subject. I would wish you to withdraw your thoughts a little while from me, and fancy that Lælius himself is speaking. Caius Fannius and Quintus Mucius come to their father-in-law after the death of Africanus. With these the discourse begins. Lælius replies; and the whole of his dissertation regards friendship, which in reading you will discover for yourself.

II. FANNIUS. Such is the case, dear Lælius, nor was there ever a better or more distinguished man than Africanus. But you ought to consider that the eyes of all are now turned upon you, Lælius : you alone they both denominate and believe to be wise. This character was lately bestowed on M. Cato: we know that Lucius Atilius, among our fathers, was entitled a wise man; but each on a different and pe: culiar account: Atilius, because he was considered versed in the civil law; Cato, because he had experience in a variety of subjects; both in the senate and in the forum many instances are recorded either of his shrewd forethought, or persevering action, or pointed reply: wherefore he already had, as it were, the surname of wise in his old age. While of you it is remarked that you are wise in a different sense, not only by nature and character, but further, by application and learning; and not as the vulgar, but as the learned designate a wise man, such as was none in all Greece. For as to those who are called the seven wise men, persons who inquire into such things with great nicety do not consider them in the class of wise men. We learn that at Athens there was one peculiarly so, and that he was even pronounced

against their cotemporaries by those authors whom we are now disposed to consider as too highly estimated by our own cotemporaries on that very account.”—Dr. Brown's Lectures on the Philosophy of the Mind, lecture xliv

« PreviousContinue »