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Introduction

The Tusculan Disputations were written in the year 45 b.c. after Cicero had completed the De Finibus and before he began the De Natura Deorum. When Caesar paid a visit to Cicero in the month of December of that year there was no word of politics, the talk was confined to literature and may very well have touched upon the Tusculans. Almost all Cicero’s philosophical works belong to this and the following year. “I write,” as he tells Atticus, “from morning till night.”1 First he wrote the Consolatio,2 then the Hortensius,3 then the Academica,4 then the De Finibus,5 and about July he began the Tusculan Disputations which take their name from his villa at Tusculum. They are in the form of dialogues, not of the dramatic type with which we are familar in Plato, but of a later kind where there is much less of question and answer and much more of continuous exposition. To explain the speed with which Cicero’s philosophical writings were produced we have to remember that they do not claim to be original work. In answer to the question how he managed to write them so quickly he says himself in a letter to Atticus: ἀπόγραϕα sunt: minore labore funt; verba tantum adfero, quibus abundo.6 He took, that

  • 1Ad Att. xii. 20.
  • 2I. § 65.
  • 3II. § 4.
  • 4II. § 4.
  • 5V. § 32.
  • 6Ad Att. xii. 52. 3.
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