Cicero, De Officiis

LCL 30: 170-171

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Cicero de Officiis

iis restitissem, nec rursum indignis homine docto voluptatibus.


Atque utinam res publica stetisset, quo coeperat, statu nec in homines non tam commutandarum quam evertendarum rerum cupidos incidisset! Primum enim, ut stante re publica facere solebamus, in agendo plus quam in scribendo operae poneremus, deinde ipsis scriptis non ea, quae nunc, sed actiones nostras mandaremus, ut saepe fecimus. Cum autem res publica, in qua omnis mea cura, cogitatio, opera poni solebat, nulla esset omnino, illae scilicet litterae 4 conticuerunt forenses et senatoriae. Nihil agere autem cum animus non posset, in his studiis ab initio versatus aetatis existimavi honestissime molestias1 posse deponi, si me ad philosophiam rettulissem. Cui cum multum adulescens discendi causa temporis tribuissem, posteaquam honoribus inservire coepi meque totum rei publicae tradidi, tantum erat philosophiae loci, quantum superfuerat amicorum et rei publicae temporibus;2 id autem omne consumebatur in legendo, scribendi otium non erat.


II. Maximis igitur in malis hoc tamen boni assecuti videmur, ut ea litteris mandaremus, quae nec erant satis nota nostris et erant cognitione dignissima. Quid enim est, per deos, optabilius sapientia,


Book II

against it; neither, on the other hand, did I surrender myself to a life of sensual pleasure unbecoming to a philosopher.


I would that the government had stood fast in the position it had begun to assume and had not fallen into the hands of men who desired not so much to reform as to abolish the constitution. For then, in the first place, I should now be devoting my energies more to public speaking than to writing, as I used to do when the republic stood; and in the second place, I should be committing to written form not these present essays but my public speeches, as I often formerly did. But when the republic, to which all my care and thought and effort used to be devoted, was no more, then, of course, my voice was 4 silenced in the forum and in the senate. And since my mind could not be wholly idle, I thought, as I had been well-read along these lines of thought from my early youth, that the most honourable way for me to forget my sorrows would be by turning to philosophy. As a young man, I had devoted a great deal of time to philosophy as a discipline; but after I began to fill the high offices of state and devoted myself heart and soul to the public service, there was only so much time for philosophical studies as was left over from the claims of my friends and of the state; all of this was spent in reading; I had no leisure for writing.


II. Therefore, amid all the present most awfulWhy philosophy is worth while. why calamities I yet flatter myself that I have won this good out of evil—that I may commit to written form matters not at all familiar to our countrymen but still very much worth their knowing. For what, in the name of heaven, is more to be desired

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-de_officiis.1913