Cicero, Tusculan Disputations

LCL 141: 146-147

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Marcus Tullius Cicero

M. Tulli Ciceronis Tusculanarum Disputationum

Liber II

1I. Neoptolemus quidem apud Ennium philosophari sibi ait necesse esse, sed paucis; nam omnino haud placere: ego autem, Brute, necesse mihi quidem esse arbitror philosophari; nam quid possum, praesertim nihil agens, agere melius? sed non paucis, ut ille. Difficile est enim in philosophia pauca esse ei nota, cui non sint aut pleraque aut omnia: nam nec pauca nisi e multis eligi possunt nec qui pauca perceperit non idem reliqua eodem studio persequetur. 2Sed tamen in vita occupata atque, ut Neoptolemi tum erat, militari pauca ipsa multum saepe prosunt et ferunt fructus, si non tantos, quanti ex universa philosophia percipi possunt, tamen eos, quibus aliqua ex parte interdum aut cupiditate aut aegritudine aut metu liberemur; velut ex ea disputatione, quae mihi nuper habita est in Tusculano, magna videbatur mortis effecta contemptio, quae non minimum valet


Disputations, II.

M. Tullius Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations

Book II

I. Neoptolemus in Ennius1 says that he must play the philosopher, but only a little way, for of doing so entirely he did not approve:2 I on the other hand, Brutus, think that for my part I” must play the philosopher; for what can I busy myself with better, above all at a time when I have nothing to busy myself with? But not “a little way” as Neoptolemus said, for it is difficult to have a little knowledge in philosophy without having either a great deal or all that there is: for neither can a little be selected except from much nor, when a man has learnt a little, will he not also go on with the same eagerness to master what remains. AH the same in a busy life and the life of a soldier, as Neoptolemus then was, only a little is often of great benefit and bears fruit—if not the heavy crop which can be gathered from the whole field of philosophy, yet fruit that can at times free us in a measure from lust or distress or fear; as for instance the discussion I lately held at my house at Tusculum seemed to result in a noble scorn of death, and this is of no

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-tusculan_disputations.1927