Cicero, Tusculan Disputations

LCL 141: 428-429

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Marcus Tullius Cicero

temporibus aetatis nostra voluntas studiumque nos compulisset, his gravissimis casibus in eundem portum, ex quo eramus egressi, magna iactati tempestate confugimus. O vitae philosophia dux, o virtutis indagatrix expultrixque vitiorum! quid non modo nos, sed omnino vita hominum sine te esse potuisset? Tu urbes peperisti, tu dissipatos homines in societatem vitae convocasti, tu eos inter se primo domiciliis, deinde coniugiis, tum litterarum et vocum communione iunxisti, tu inventrix legum, tu magistra morum et disciplinae fuisti: ad te confugimus, a te opem petimus, tibi nos, ut antea magna ex parte, sic nunc penitus totosque tradimus. Est autem unus dies bene et ex praeceptis tuis actus peccanti immortalitati anteponendus. Cuius igitur potius opibus utamur quam tuis, quae et vitae tranquillitatem 6largita nobis es et terrorem mortis sustulisti? Ac philosophia quidem tantum abest ut proinde ac de hominum est vita merita laudetur, ut a plerisque neglecta a multis etiam vituperetur. Vituperare quisquam vitae parentem et hoc parricidio se inquinare audet et tam impie ingratus esse, ut eam accuset, quam vereri deberet, etiam si minus percipere potuisset? Sed, ut opinor, hic error et haec indoctorum animis offusa caligo est, quod tam longe retro respicere non possunt nec eos, a quibus vita hominum instructa primis est,1 fuisse philosophos arbitrantur.

428

Disputations, V.

earliest days of manhood by my own enthusiastic choice, and in my present heavy misfortunes, tossed by the fury of the tempest, I have sought refuge in the same haven from which I had first set sail. O philosophy, thou guide of life, o thou explorer of virtue and expeller of vice! Without thee what could have become not only of me but of the life of man altogether? Thou hast given birth to cities, thou hast called scattered human beings into the bond of social life, thou hast united them first of all in joint habitations, next in wedlock, then in the ties of common literature and speech, thou hast discovered law, thou hast been the teacher of morality and order: to thee I fly for refuge, from thee I look for aid, to thee I entrust myself, as once in ample measure, so now wholly and entirely. Moreover one day well spent and in accordance with thy lessons is to be preferred to an eternity of error. Whose help then are we to use rather than thine? thou that hast freely granted us peacefulness of life and destroyed the dread of death. And yet philosophy is so far from being praised in the way its service to the life of man has deserved, that most men ignore it and many even abuse it. Dare any man abuse the author of his being and stain himself with such atrocity, and be so wickedly ungrateful as to upbraid her whom he ought to have reverenced, even if his powers had not allowed him comprehension? But, as I think, this deception and this mental darkness have overspread the souls of the uninstructed, because they cannot look back far enough into the past and do not consider that the men by whom the means of human life were first provided have been philosophers.

429
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-tusculan_disputations.1927