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C.D. Yonge translation

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Book II chapters 52-59

LII. Of matters to be aimed at there are three classes; and on the other hand there is a corresponding number of things to be avoided. For there is something which of its own intrinsic force draws us to itself, not catching us by any idea of emolument, but alluring us by its own dignity. Of this class are virtue, science, truth. And there is something else which seems desirable, not on account of its own excellence or nature, but on account of its advantage and of the utility to be derived from it--such as money. There are also some things formed of parts of these others in combination, which allure us and draw us after them by their own intrinsic character and dignity, and which also hold out some prospect of advantage to us, to induce us to seek it more eagerly, as friendship, and a fair reputation; and from these their opposites will easily be perceived, without our saying anything about them.

But in order that the principle may be explained in the more simple way, the rules which we have laid down shall be enumerated briefly. For those which belong to the first kind of discussion are called honourable things; those which belong to the second, are called useful things; but this third thing, because it contains some portion of what is honourable, and because the power of what is honourable is the more important part, is perceived to be altogether a compound kind, made up of a twofold division; still it derives its name from its better part, and is called honourable. From this it follows, that there are these parts in things which are desirable, --what is honourable, and what is useful. And these parts in things which are to be avoided,--what is dishonourable, and what is useless. Now to these two things there are two other important circumstances to be added,--necessity and affection: the one of which is considered with reference to force, the other with reference to circumstances and persons. Hereafter we will write more explicitly about each separately. At present we will explain first the principles of what is honourable.

LIII. That which either wholly or in some considerable portion of it is sought for its own sake, we call honourable: and as there are two divisions of it, one of which is simple and the other twofold, let us consider the simple one first. In that kind, then, virtue has embraced all things under one meaning and one name; for virtue is a habit of the mind, consistent with nature, and moderation, and reason. Wherefore, when we have become acquainted with all its divisions, it will be proper to consider the whole force of simple honesty.

It has then four divisions--prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Prudence is the knowledge of things which are good, or bad, or neither good nor bad. Its parts are memory, intelligence, and foresight. Memory is that faculty by which the mind recovers the knowledge of things which have been. Intelligence is that by which it perceives what exists at present. Foresight is that by which anything is seen to be about to happen, before it does happen. Justice is a habit of the mind which attributes its proper dignity to everything, preserving a due regard to the general welfare. Its first principles proceed from nature. Subsequently some practices became established by universal custom, from a consideration of their utility; afterwards the fear of the laws and religion sanctioned proceedings which originated in nature, and had been approved of by custom.

Natural law is that which has not had its origin in the opinions of men, but has been implanted by some innate instinct, like religion, affection, gratitude, revenge, attention to one's superiors, truth. Religion is that which causes men to pay attention to, and to respect with fixed ceremonies, a certain superior nature which men call divine nature. Affection is that feeling under the influence of which kindness and careful attention is paid to those who are united to us by ties of blood, or who are devoted to the service of their country. Gratitude is that feeling in which the recollection of friendship, and of the services which we have received from another, and the inclination to requite those services, is contained. Revenge is that disposition by which violence and injury, and altogether everything which can be any injury to us, is repelled by defending oneself from it, or by avenging it. Attention is that feeling by which men obey when they think those who are eminent for worth or dignity, worthy of some special respect and honour. Truth is that by which those things which are, or which have been previously, or which are about to happen, are spoken of without any alteration.

LIV. Conventional law is a principle which has either derived its origin in a slight degree from nature, and then has been strengthened by habit, like religion; or, if we see any one of those things which we have already mentioned as proceeding from nature strengthened by habit; or, if there is anything to which antiquity has given the force of custom with the approbation of everybody: such as covenants, equity, cases already decided. A covenant is that which is agreed upon between two parties; equity is that which is equally just for every one; a case previously decided is one which has been settled by the authoritative decision of some person or persons entitled to pronounce it.

Legal right is that which is contained in that written form which is delivered to the people to be observed by them.

Fortitude is a deliberate encountering of danger and enduring of labour. Its parts are magnificence, confidence, patience, and perseverance. Magnificence is the consideration and management of important and sublime matters with a certain wide seeing and splendid determination of mind. Confidence is that feeling by which the mind embarks in great and honourable courses with a sure hope and trust in itself. Patience is a voluntary and sustained endurance, for the sake of what is honourable or advantageous, of difficult and painful labours. Perseverance is a steady and lasting persistence in a well-considered principle.

Temperance is the form and well-regulated dominion of reason over lust and other improper affections of the mind. Its parts are continence, clemency, and modesty. Continence is that by which cupidity is kept down under the superior influence of wisdom. Clemency is that by which the violence of the mind, when causelessly excited to entertain hatred against some one else, is restrained by courtesy. Modesty is that feeling by which honourable shame acquires a valuable and lasting authority. And all these things are to be sought for themselves, even if no advantage is to be acquired by them. And it neither concerns our present purpose to prove this, nor is it agreeable to our object of being concise in laying down our rules.

But the things which are to be avoided for their own sake, are not those only which are the opposites to these; as indolence is to courage, and injustice to justice; but those also which appear to be near to and related to them, but which, in reality, are very far removed from them. As, for instance, diffidence is the opposite to confidence, and is therefore a vice; audacity is not the opposite of confidence, but is near it and akin to it, and, nevertheless, is also a vice. And in this manner there will be found a vice akin to every virtue, and either already known by some particular name--as audacity, which is akin to confidence; pertinacity, which is bordering on perseverance; superstition, which is very near religion,-- or in some cases it has no fixed name. And all these things, as being the opposites of what is good, we class among things to be avoided. And enough has now been said respecting that class of honourable things which is sought in every part of it for itself alone.

LV. At present it appears desirable to speak of that in which advantage is combined with honour, and which still we style simply honourable. There are many things, then, which allure us both by their dignity and also by the advantage which may be derived from them: such as glory, dignity, influence, friendship. Glory is the fact of a person's being repeatedly spoken of to his praise; dignity is the honourable authority of a person, combined with attention and honour and worthy respect paid to him. Influence is a great abundance of power or majesty, or of any sort of resource. Friendship is a desire to do service to any one for the sake of the person himself to whom one is attached, combined with a corresponding inclination on his part towards oneself. At present, because we are speaking of civil causes, we add the consideration of advantage to friendship, so that it appears a thing to be sought for the sake of the advantage also: wishing to prevent those men from blaming us who think that we are including every kind of friendship in our definition.

But although there are some people who think that friendship is only to be desired on account of the advantage to be derived from it; some think it is to be desired for itself alone; and some, that it is to be desired both for its own sake and for the sake of the advantage to be derived from it. And which of these statements is the most true, there will be another time for considering. At present it may be laid down, as far as the orator is concerned, that friendship is a thing to be desired on both accounts. But the consideration of the different kinds of friendship, (since they are partly formed on religious considerations, and partly not; and because some friendships are old, and some new; and because some originated in kindness shown by our friends to us, and some in kindness shown by ourselves to them; and because some are more advantageous, and others less,) must have reference partly to the dignity of the causes in which it originates, partly to the occasion when it arises, and also to the services done, the religious motives entertained, and its antiquity.

LVI. But the advantages consist either in the thing itself, or in extraneous circumstances; of which, however, by far the greater portion is referable to personal advantage; as there are some things in the republic which, so to say, refer to the person of the state,--as lands, harbours, money, fleets, sailors, soldiers, allies; by all which things states preserve their safety and their liberty. There are other things also which make a thing more noble looking, and which still are less necessary; as the splendid decorating and enlarging of a city, or an extraordinary amount of wealth, or a great number of friendships and alliances. And the effect of all these things is not merely to make states safe and free from injury, but also noble and powerful. So that there appears to be two divisions of usefulness,--safety and power. Safety is the secure and unimpaired preservation of a sound state. Power is a possession of things suitable to preserving what is one's own, and to acquiring what belongs to another. And in all those things which have been already mentioned, it is proper to consider what is difficult to be done, and what can be done with ease. We call that a thing easy to be done, which can be done without great labour, or expense, or annoyance, or perhaps without any labour, expense, or annoyance at all, and in the shortest possible time. But that we call difficult to be done which, although it requires labour, expense, trouble and time, and has every possible characteristic of difficulty about it, or, at all events, the most numerous and most important ones, still, when these difficulties are encountered, can be completed and brought to an end.

Since, then, we have now discussed what is honourable and what is useful, it remains for us to say a little of those things which we have said are attached to these other things; namely, affection and necessity.

LVII. I think, then, that necessity means that which cannot be resisted by any power; that which cannot be softened nor altered. And that this may be made more plain, let us examine into the meaning of it by the light of examples, so as to see what its character and how great its power is. "It is necessary that anything made of wood must be capable of being burnt with fire. It is necessary that a mortal body should at some time or other die." And it is so necessary, that that power of necessity which we were just now describing requires it; which cannot by any force whatever be either resisted, or weakened, or altered. Necessities of this kind, when they occur in oratory, are properly called necessities; but if any difficult circumstances arise, then we shall consider in the previous examination whether it, the thing in question, be possible to be done. And it seems to me, that I perceive that there are some kinds of necessity which admit of additions, and some which are simple and perfect in themselves. For we say in very different senses:--"It is necessary for the people of Casilinum to surrender themselves to Hannibal;" and, "It is necessary that Casilinum should come into the power of Hannibal." In the one case, that is, in the first case, there is this addition to the proposition--"Unless they prefer perishing by hunger." For if they prefer that, then it is not necessary for them to surrender. But in the latter proposition such an addition has no place; because whether the people of Casilinum choose to surrender, or prefer enduring hunger and perishing in that manner, still it is necessary that Casilinum must come into the power of Hannibal. What then can be effected by this division of necessity? I might almost say, a great deal, when the topic of necessity appears such as may be easily introduced. For when the necessity is a simple one, there will be no reason for our making long speeches, as we shall not be able by any means to weaken it; but when a thing is only necessary provided we wish to avoid or to obtain something, then it will be necessary to state what advantage or what honour is contained in that addition. For if you will take notice, while inquiring what this contributes to the advantage of the state, you will find that there is nothing which it is necessary to do, except for the sake of some cause which we call the adjunct. And, in like manner, you will find that there are many circumstances of necessity to which a similar addition cannot be made; of such sort are these:--"It is necessary that mortal men should die;" without any addition:--"It is not necessary for men to take food;" with this exception,--"Unless they have an objection to dying of hunger."

Therefore, as I said before, it will be always proper to take into consideration the character of that exception which is added to the original proposition. For it will at all times have this influence, that either the necessity must be explained with reference to what is honourable, in this manner:--"It is necessary, if we wish to live with honour;" or with reference to safety, in this manner:--"It is necessary, if we wish to be safe;" or with reference to convenience, in this manner:-- "It is necessary, if we are desirous to live without annoyance."

LVIII. And the greatest necessity of all appears to be that which arises from what is honourable; the next to it is that which arises from considerations of safety; the third and least important is that which has ideas of convenience involved in it. But this last can never be put in comparison with the two former. But it is often indispensable to compare these together; so that although honour is more precious than safety, there is still room to deliberate which one is to consult in the greatest degree. And as to this point, it appears possible to give a settled rule which may be of lasting application. For in whatever circumstances it can happen by any possibility that while we are consulting our safety, that slight diminution of honesty which is caused by our conduct may be hereafter repaired by virtue and industry, then it seems proper to have a regard for our safety. But when that does not appear possible, then we must think of nothing but what is honourable. And so in a case of that sort when we appear to be consulting our safety, we shall be able to say with truth that we are also keeping our eyes fixed on what is honourable, since without safety we can never attain to that end. And in these circumstances it will be desirable to yield to another, or to put oneself in another's place, or to keep quiet at present and wait for another opportunity. But when we are considering convenience, it is necessary to consider this point also,--whether the cause, as far as it has reference to usefulness, appears of sufficient importance to justify us in taking anything from splendour or honour. And while speaking on this topic, that appears to me to be the main thing, that we should inquire what that is which, whether we are desirous of obtaining or avoiding it, is something necessary; that is to say, what is the character of the addition; in order that, according as the matter is found to be, so we may exert ourselves, and consider the most important circumstances as being also the most necessary.

Affection is a certain way of looking at circumstances either with reference to the time, or to the result, or management of affairs, or to the desires of men, so that they no longer appear to be such as they were considered previously, or as they are generally in the habit of being considered. "It appears a base thing to go over to the enemy; but not with the view which Ulysses had when he went over. And it is a useless act to throw money into the sea; but not with the design which Aristippus had when he did so." There are, therefore, some circumstances which may be estimated with reference to the time at which and the intention with which they are done; and not according to their own intrinsic nature. In all which cases we must consider what the times require, or what is worthy of the persons concerned; and we must not think merely what is done, but with what intention, with what companions, and at what time, it is done. And from these divisions of the subject, we think that topics ought to be taken for delivering one's opinion.

LIX. But praise and blame must be derived from those topics which can be employed with respect to persons, and which we have already discussed. But if any one wishes to consider them in a more separate manner, he may divide them into the intention, and the person of the doer, and extraneous circumstances. The virtue of the mind is that concerning the parts of which we have lately spoken; the virtues of the body are health, dignity, strength, swiftness. Extraneous circumstances are honour, money, relationship, family, friends, country, power, and other things which are understood to be of a similar kind. And in all these, that which is of universal validity ought to prevail here; and the opposites will be easily understood as to their description and character.

But in praising and blaming, it will be desirable to consider not so much the personal character of, or the extraneous circumstances affecting the person of whom one is speaking, as how he has availed himself of his advantages. For to praise his good fortune is folly, and to blame it is arrogance; but the praise of a man's natural disposition is honourable, and the blame of it is a serious thing.

Now, since the principles of argumentation in every kind of cause have been set forth, it appears that enough has been said about invention, which is the first and most important part of rhetoric. Wherefore, since one portion of my work has been brought down to its end from the former book; and since this book has already run to a great length, what remains shall be discussed in subsequent books.


[The two remaining books are lost.]






Cicero, tr. C.D. Yonge

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