Cicero, De Officiis

LCL 30: 152-153

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Cicero de Officiis

imperio affectos observare et colere debemus, tribuere etiam multum senectuti, cedere iis, qui magistratum habebunt, habere dilectum civis et peregrini in ipsoque peregrino, privatimne an publice venerit. Ad summam, ne agam de singulis, communem totius generis hominum conciliationem et consociationem colere, tueri, servare debemus.


XLII. Iam de artificiis et quaestibus, qui liberales habendi, qui sordidi sint, haec fere accepimus. Primum improbantur ii quaestus, qui in odia hominum incurrunt, ut portitorum, ut faeneratorum. Illiberales autem et sordidi quaestus mercennariorum omnium, quorum operae, non quorum artes emuntur; est enim in illis ipsa merces auctoramentum servitutis. Sordidi etiam putandi, qui mercantur a mercatoribus, quod statim vendant; nihil enim proficiant, nisi admodum mentiantur; nec vero est quicquam turpius vanitate. Opificesque omnes in sordida arte versantur; nec enim quicquam ingenuum habere potest officina. Minimeque artes eae probandae, quae ministrae sunt voluptatum:

Eunuchus ii,

Cetárii, lanií, coqui, fartóres, piscatóres,


Book I

efficient service to their country, just as much as if they were invested with some civil or military authority; it is our duty also to show proper respect to old age, to yield precedence to magistrates, to make a distinction between a fellow-citizen and a foreigner, and, in the case of the foreigner himself, to discriminate according to whether he has come in an official or a private capacity. In a word, not to go into details, it is our duty to respect, defend, and maintain the common bonds of union and fellowship subsisting between all the members of the human race.


XLII. Now in regard to trades and other meansOccupations: (1) vulgar, of livelihood, which ones are to be considered becoming to a gentleman and which ones are vulgar, we have been taught, in general, as follows. First, those means of livelihood are rejected as undesirable which incur people’s ill-will, as those of tax-gatherers and usurers. Unbecoming to a gentleman, too, and vulgar are the means of livelihood of all hired workmen whom we pay for mere manual labour, not for artistic skill; for in their case the very wage they receive is a pledge of their slavery. Vulgar we must consider those also who buy from wholesale merchants to retail immediately; for they would get no profits without a great deal of downright lying; and verily, there is no action that is meaner than misrepresentation. And all mechanics are engaged in vulgar trades; for no workshop can have anything liberal about it. Least respectable of all are those trades which cater for sensual pleasures: “Fishmongers, butchers, cooks, and poulterers, And fishermen,”

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-de_officiis.1913