Cicero, De Amicitia

LCL 154: 130-131

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Cicero

VI. Est enim amicitia nihil aliud1 nisi omnium divinarum humanarumque rerum cum benevolentia et caritate consensio, qua quidem haud scio an excepta sapientia nil quicquam melius homini sit a dis immortalibus datum. Divitias alii praeponunt, bonam alii valetudinem, alii potentiam, alii honores, multi etiam voluptates. Beluarum hoc quidem extremum, illa autem superiora caduca et incerta, posita non tam in consiliis nostris quam in fortunae temeritate. Qui autem in virtute summum bonum ponunt, praeclare illi quidem, sed haec ipsa virtus amicitiam et gignit et continet, nec sine virtute amicitia esse 21 ullo pacto potest. Iam virtutem ex consuetudine vitae nostrae sermonisque nostri interpretemur nec eam, ut quidam docti, verborum magnificentia metiamur, virosque bonos eos qui habentur numeremus—Paulos Catones Gallos Scipiones Philos—his communis vita contenta est; eos autem omittamus, qui omnino nusquam reperiuntur.

22 Talis igitur inter viros amicitia tantas opportunitates habet, quantas vix queo dicere. Principio qui potest esse vita vitalis, ut ait Ennius, quae non in amici mutua benevolentia conquiescit? Quid dulcius quam habere quicum omnia audeas sic loqui ut tecum? Qui esset tantus fructus in prosperis rebus, nisi haberes qui illis aeque ac tu ipse gauderet?

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De Amicitia

VI. For friendship is nothing else than an accord in all things, human and divine, conjoined with mutual goodwill and affection, and I am inclined to think that, with the exception of wisdom, no better thing has been given to man by the immortal gods. Some prefer riches, some good health, some power, some public honours, and many even prefer sensual pleasures. This last is the highest aim of brutes; the others are fleeting and unstable things and dependent less upon human foresight than upon the fickleness of fortune. Again, there are those who place the “chief good” in virtue and that is really a noble view; but this very virtue is the parent and preserver of friendship and without virtue friendship cannot exist at all. To proceed then, let us interpret the word “virtue” by the familiar usage of our everyday life and speech, and not in pompous phrase apply to it the precise standards which certain philosophers use; and let us include in the number of good men those who are so considered—men like Paulus, Cato, Gallus, Scipio, and Philus—who satisfy the ordinary standard of life; but let us pass by such men as are nowhere to be found at all.1

Therefore, among men like those just mentioned, friendship offers advantages2 almost beyond my power to describe. In the first place, how can life be what Ennius calls “the life worth living,” if it does not repose on the mutual goodwill of a friend? What is sweeter than to have someone with whom you may dare discuss anything as if you were communing with yourself? How could your enjoyment in times of prosperity be so great if you did not have someone whose joy in them would be equal to your

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-de_amicitia.1923