I. Quem ad modum officia ducerentur ab honestate, Marce fili, atque ab omni genere virtutis, satis explicatum arbitror libro superiore. Sequitur, ut haec officiorum genera persequar, quae pertinent ad vitae cultum et ad earum rerum, quibus utuntur homines, facultatem, ad opes, ad copias [; in quo, tum quaeri dixi, quid utile quid inutile, tum ex utilibus quid utilius aut quid maxime utile].1 De quibus dicere aggrediar, si pauca prius de instituto ac de iudicio meo dixero.2
Quamquam enim libri nostri complures non modo ad legendi, sed etiam ad scribendi studium excitaverunt, tamen interdum vereor, ne quibusdam bonis viris philosophiae nomen sit invisum mirenturque in ea tantum me operae et temporis ponere.
Ego autem, quam diu res publica per eos gerebatur, quibus se ipsa commiserat, omnis meas curas cogitationesque in eam conferebam; cum autem dominatu unius omnia tenerentur neque esset usquam consilio aut auctoritati locus, socios denique tuendae rei publicae, summos viros, amisissem, nec me angoribus dedidi, quibus essem confectus, nisi
I. I believe, Marcus, my son, that I have fullyStatement of subject. explained in the preceding book how duties are derived from moral rectitude, or rather from each of virtue’s four divisions. My next step is to trace out those kinds of duty which have to do with the comforts of life, with the means of acquiring the things that people enjoy, with influence, and with wealth. [In this connection, the question is, as I said: (1) what is expedient, and what is inexpedient; and (2) of several expedients, which is of more and which of most importance.] These questions I shall proceed to discuss, after I have said a few words in vindication of my present purpose and my principles of philosophy.2
Although my books have aroused in not a few menWhy Cicero wrote on philosophy. the desire not only to read but to write, yet I sometimes fear that what we term philosophy is distasteful to certain worthy gentlemen, and that they wonder that I devote so much time and attention to it.
Now, as long as the state was administered by the men to whose care she had voluntarily entrusted herself, I devoted all my effort and thought to her. But when everything passed under the absolute control of a despot and there was no longer any room for statesmanship or authority of mine; and finally when I had lost the friendsa who had been associated with me in the task of serving the interests of the state, and who were men of the highest standing, I did not resign myself to grief, by which I should have been overwhelmed, had I not struggled