Quotations by Cicero, Marcus Tullius


What the object of senile avarice may be I cannot conceive. For can there be anything more absurd than to seek more journey money, the less there remains of the journey?

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
“On Old Age” [tr. Shuckburgh (1909)]

Alt. trans.: "Advice in old age is foolish; for what can be more absurd than to increase our provisions for the road the nearer we approach to our journey's end."
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No man can be brave who thinks pain the greatest evil; nor temperate, who considers pleasure the highest good.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)
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By doubting we come at truth.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)
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The first law is that the historian shall never dare utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true. Also, there must be no suspicion of partiality … or of malice.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)
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Each man must use his own judgement.

[Suo cuique iudicio est utendum.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)
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A room without books is like a body without a soul.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)
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To yield to occasion is the mark of a wise man.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)
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If you pursue evil with pleasure, the pleasure passes away and the evil remains; If you pursue good with labor, the labor passes away but the good remains.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)
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What is so beneficial to the people as liberty, which we see not only to be greedily sought after by men, but also by beasts, and to be preferred to all things.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)
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The way to avoid the imputation of impudence is not to be ashamed of what we do, but never to do what we ought to be ashamed of.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)

Attributed in The Spectator (28 May 1712).
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There is no better way to convince others than first to convince oneself.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)
    (Source)

In Martin Luther, Table Talk (1566) [tr. Smith & Gallinger (1915)].
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Brevity is the best recommendation of speech, whether in a senator or an orator.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)
    (Source)

In Tryon Edwards, A Dictionary of Thoughts (1891).
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The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn’t want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Spurious)
    (Source)

One of several related paraphrases of this "quote" from Taylor Caldwell's novel about Cicero, A Pillar of Iron, ch. 51 (1965):

Antonius heartily agreed with him [sc. Cicero] that the budget should be balanced, that the Treasury should be refilled, that public debt should be reduced, that the arrogance of the generals should be tempered and controlled, that assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt, that the mobs should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence, and that prudence and frugality should be put into practice as soon as possible.


See here and here for more discussion.
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A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. For the traitor appears not a traitor — he speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation — he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city — he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared. The traitor is the carrier of the plague. You have unbarred the gates of Rome to him.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Spurious)

This text, widely passed around on social media, was made up for Cicero in Taylor Caldwell, A Pillar of Iron (1965).
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Where is there dignity unless there is also honesty?

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Ad Atticum
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Wise men are instructed by reason; men of understanding, by experience; the most ignorant, by necessity; and beasts by nature.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Ad Atticum
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Indeed rhetoricians are permitted to lie about historical matters so they can speak more subtly.

[Quidem concessum est rhetoribus ementiri in historiis ut aliquid dicere possint argutius.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Brutus, sec. 42 (46 BC)

Alt. trans.:
  • "Orators are indeed permitted to lie about historical matters so they can speak more subtly."
  • "For it is the privilege of rhetoricians to exceed the truth of history, that they may have an opportunity of embellishing the fate of their heroes." [tr. Jones (1776)]
  • "Fabrication's certainly allowed when practitioners of rhetoric write history, to frame a point more cleverly." [tr. Kaster (2020)]
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In short, while you have Strength, use it; when it leaves you, no more repine for the want of it, than you did when Lads, that your Childhood was past; or at the Years of Manhood, that you were no longer Boys. The Stages of Life are fixed; Nature is the same in all, and goes on in a plain and steady Course: Every Part of Life, like the Year, has its peculiar Season: As Children are by Nature weak, Youth is rash and bold; staid Manhood more solid and grave; and so Old-Age in its Maturity, has something natural to itself, that ought particularly to recommend it.

[Denique isto bono utare, dum adsit, cum absit, ne requiras: nisi forte adulescentes pueritiam, paulum aetate progressi adulescentiam debent requirere. cursus est certus aetatis et una via naturae eaque simplex, suaque cuique parti aetatis tempestivitas est data, ut et infirmitas puerorum et ferocitas iuvenum et gravitas iam constantis aetatis et senectutis maturitas naturale quiddam habet, quod suo tempore percipi debeat.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Cato Maior de Senectute [Discourse on Old Age], ch. 10 / sec. 33 (44 BC) [tr. Logan (1734)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

To conclude, use that strength which you have while you have it; but when it is gone, require it not, unlesse you thinke it a seemly thing of young men, to require their child-hood againe, and ancient men their youth; There is but one course of age, and one way of nature, and the same simple, and to every part of age its own timelines is given; for as infirmity belongs to child-hood, fiercenesse to youth, and gravity to age, so the true ripe∣nesse of age hath a certaine natural gravity in it, which ought to be used in it own time.
[tr. Austin (17th C)]

In a word, my friends, make a good use of your youthful vigour so long as it remains; but never let it cost you a sign when age shall have withdrawn it from you; as reasonably indeed might youth regret the loss of infancy, or mahood the extinction of youth. Nature conducts us, by a regular and insensible progression through the different seasons of human life; to each of which she has annexed its proper and distinguishing characteristic. As imbecility is the attribute of infancy, ardour of youth, and gravity of manhood; so declining age has its essential properties, which gradually disclose themselves as years increase.
[tr. Melmoth (1820)]

In fine, I would have you use strength of body while you have it: when it fails, I would not have you complain of its loss, unless you think it fitting for young men to regret their boyhood, or for those who have passed on a little farther in life to want their youth back again. Life has its fixed course, and nature one unvarying way; each age has assigned to it what best suits it, so that the fickleness of boyhood, the sanguine temper of youth, the soberness of riper years, and the maturity of old age, equally have something in harmony with nature, which ought to be made availing in its season.
[tr. Peabody (1884)]

In fine, enjoy that blessing when you have it; when it is gone, don't wish it back -- unless we are to think that young men should wish their childhood back, and those somewhat older their youth! The course of life is fixed, and nature admits of its being run but in one way, and only once; and to each part of our life there is something specially seasonable; so that the feebleness of children, as well as the high spirit of youth, the soberness of maturer years, and the ripe wisdom of old age -- all have a certain natural advantage which should be secured in its proper season.
[tr. Shuckburgh (1895)]

Use then the gifts you have:
When gone, regret them not: unless as men
You are to ask for boyhood to return,
When older ask for you: there still must be
A certain lapse of years; one only way
Nature pursues, and that a simple one:
To each is given what is fit for him.
The boy is weak: youth is more full of fire:
Increasing years have more of soberness:
And as in age there is a ripeness too.
Each should be garnered at its proper time,
And made the most of.
[tr. Allison (1916)]

In short, enjoy the blessing of strength while you have it and do not bewail it when it is gone, unless, forsooth, you believe that youth must lament the loss of infancy, or early manhood the passing of youth. Life's race-course is fixed; Nature has only a single path and that path is run but once, and to each stage of existence has been allotted its own appropriate quality; so that the weakness of childhood, the impetuosity of youth, the seriousness of middle life, the maturity of old age -- each bears some of Nature's fruit, which must be garnered in its own season.
[tr. Falconer (1923)]

In short, enjoy the blessing of bodily strength while you have it, but don't mourn when it passes away, any more than a young man should lament the end of boyhood, or a mature man the passing of youth. The course of life cannot change. Nature has but a single path and you travel it only once. Each stage of life has its own appropriate qualities -- weakness in childhood, boldness in youth, seriousness in middle age, and maturity in old age. These are fruits that must be harvested in due season.
[tr. Freeman (2016)]
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Therefore, when the young die I am reminded of a strong flame extinguished by a torrent; but when old men die it is as if a fire had gone out without the use of force and of its own accord, after the fuel had been consumed; and, just as apples when they are green are with difficulty plucked from the tree, but when ripe and mellow fall of themselves, so, with the young, death comes as a result of force, while with the old it is the result of ripeness. To me, indeed, the thought of this “ripeness” for death is so pleasant, that the nearer I approach death the more I feel like one who is in sight of land at last and is about to anchor in his home port after a long voyage.

[Itaque adulescentes mihi mori sic videntur, ut cum aquae multitudine flammae vis opprimitur, senes autem sic, ut cum sua sponte nulla adhibita vi consumptus ignis exstinguitur; et quasi poma ex arboribus, cruda si sunt, vix evelluntur, si matura et cocta, decidunt, sic vitam adulescentibus vis aufert, senibus maturitas; quae quidem mihi tam iucunda est, ut, quo propius ad mortem accedam, quasi terram videre videar aliquandoque in portum ex longa navigatione esse venturus.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Cato Maior de Senectute [Discourse on Old Age], ch. 19 / sec. 71 (44 BC) [tr. Falconer (1923)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.

Therefore a young man seemeth to me to die like fire put out with water, but old men like fire which being put out by no force, is quietly consumed of it selfe; and as apples on trees being not ripe, are plucked of by violence, but being ripe they fall of themselves: so force taketh away the life of young men, but ripenesse of age the life of old men: which consideration is so pleasant to me, that I seem to behold the earth, as a quiet port, whither after a long and troublesome navigation I shall arrive.
[tr. Austin (17th C), ch. 21]

For Young Men seem to be forced from Life, as Fires are extinguished by great Quantities of Water thrown on them; when on the contrary, Old Men expire of themselves, like a Flame when all its Fuel is spent. And as unripe Fruit requires some Force to part it from its native Bough; but when come to full Maturity, it drops of itself, without any Hand to touch it: So Young People die by something violent or unnatural; but the Old by mere Ripeness. The Thoughts of which to me are now become so agreeable, that the nearer I draw to my End, it seems like discovering the Land at Sea, that, after the Tossings of a tedious and stormy Voyage, will yield me a safe and quiet Harbour.
[tr. Logan (1734)]

In the latter instance [youth]; the privation of life may be resembled to a fire forcibly extinguished by a deluge of water; in the former [an old man], to a fire spontaneously and gradually going out from a total consumption of its fuel. Or, to have recourse to another illustration; as fruit before it is ripe cannot, without some degree of force, be separated from the stalk, but drops of itself when perfectly mature; so the disunion of the soul and body is effected in the young by dint of violence, but is wrought in the old by a mere fullness and completion of years. This ripeness for death I perceive in myself with much satisfaction; and I look forward to my dissolution as to a secure haven, where I shall at length find a happy repose from the fatigues of a long voyage.
[tr. Melmoth (<1820)]

To them it comes
It seems to me, as when a fire is quenched
By streams of water: to the old it comes
As when a fire dies slowly down itself:
Just so the apples, when unripe, are torn
With violence from the boughs: if ripe with age
They gently fall: and so the life of youth
Is taken by some violent attack;
The old man's troublous age comes gently to an end.
To me this seems so pleasant, that I feel
The nearer that I draw towards the end,
I sight the land, and see before my eyes
The harbour waiting to receive the bark
Which long as voyaged on the toilsome sea.
[tr. Allison (1916)]

Death at an early age seems to me like a fire that has suddenly been swamped by a bucket of water; but death in old age is like a fire that has not been extinguished but has gone out of its own accord, because it has used up all its fuel. When an apple is not yet ripe, it takes some work to tug it off the branch; but when it is fully ripe, it simply falls to the ground. In the same way, though some act of violence may snatch life from the young, the old are ready to die. And that to me is a pleasant thought -- so much so that the nearer I get to death, the more I feel like a sailor who, after a long voyage, has made landfall and is about to tie up in his home port.
[tr. Cobbold (2012)]

A young person dying reminds me of a fire extinguished by a deluge. But when an old person dies, it is like a flame that diminishes gradually and flickers away of its own accord with no force applied after its fuel has been used up. In the same way, green apples are hard to pick from a tree, but when ripe and ready they fall to the ground by themselves. So death comes to the young with force, but to the old when the time is right. To me there is great comfort in this idea, so that as death grows nearer, the more I feel like a traveler who at last sees the land of his home port after a long voyage.
[tr. Freeman (2016)]
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When we are children, we have childish interests, but do young men miss them? And when we are middle-aged, do we want what young men want? Similarly, old men are not remotely involved in the needs of middle age; they have their own. Therefore we may argue that as the concerns of each earlier stage of life fade away, so eventually do those of old age. And when that happens, we have had enough of life and we are ready for death.

[Omnino, ut mihi quidem videtur studiorum omnium satietas vitae facit satietatem. Sunt pueritiae studia certa: num igitur ea desiderant adulescentes? Sunt ineuntis adulescentiae: num ea constans iam requirit aetas, quae media dicitur? Sunt etiam eius aetatis: ne ea quidem quaeruntur in senectute. Sunt extrema quaedam studia senectutis: ergo, ut superiorum aetatum studia occidunt, sic occidunt etiam senectutis; quod cum evenit, satietas vitae tempus maturum mortis affert.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Cato Maior de Senectute [Discourse on Old Age], ch. 20 / sec. 76 (44 BC) [tr. Cobbold (2012)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

Truly me thinks that the satiety of all things makes also a satiety of life. There are certain studies in children, shall young men desire them? there are others in youth, shall age require them? and there be studies in the last age: therefore as the studies of former ages fail, so do the studies of old age, so that when the satiety or fulnesse of life commeth, it bringeth also a fit time for death.
[tr. Austin (17th C)]

By living long we come to a Satiety in all things besides and this should naturally lead us to a Satiety of Life itself. Children we see have their particular Diversions; and does Youth, when past Childhood, pursue or desire the same? Youth also has its peculiar Exercises; and does full Manhood require these as before? Or has Old Age the same Inclinations that prevailed in more vigorous Years? We ought then to conclude, That as there is a Succession of Pursuits and Pleasures in the several Stages of Life, the one dying away, as the other advances and takes Place; so in the same Manner are those of Old Age to pass off in their Turn. And when this Satiety of Life has fully ripen'd us, we are then quietly to lie down in Death, as our last Resting-Place, where all Anxiety ends, and Cares and Fears subsist no more.
[tr. Logan (1734)]

The distaste with which, in passing through the several stages of our present being, we leave behind us the respective enjoyments peculiar to each; must necessarily, I should think, in the close of its latest period, render life itself no longer desirable. Infancy and youth, manhood and old age, have each of them their peculiar and appropriate pursuits. But does youth regret the toys of infancy, or manhood lament that no longer as a taste for the amusements of youth? The season of manhood has also its suitable objects, that are exchanged for others in old age; and these too, like all the preceding, become languid and insipt in their turn. Now when this state of absolute satiety is at length arrived; when we have enjoyed the satisfactions peculiar to old age, till we have no longer any relish remaining for them; it is then that death may justly be considered as a mature an seasonable event.
[tr. Melmoth (1773)]

In fine, satiety of life, as it seems to me, creates satiety of pursuits of every kind. There are certain pursuits belonging to boyhood; do grown-up young men therefore long for them? There are others appertaining to early youth; are they required in the sedate period of life which we call middle age? This, too, has its own pursuits, and they are not sought in old age. As the pursuits of earlier periods of life fail, so in like manner do those of old age. When this period is reached, satiety of life brings a season ripe for death.
[tr. Peabody (1884)]

On the whole, as it seems to me indeed, a satiety of all pursuits causes a satiety of life. There are pursuits peculiar to boyhood; do therefore young men regret the loss of them? There are also some of early youth; does that now settled age, which is called middle life, seek after these? There are also some of this period; neither are they looked for by old age. There are some final pursuits of old age; accordingly, as the pursuits of the earlier parts of life fall into disuse, so also do those of old age; and when this has taken place, satiety of life brings on the seasonable period of death.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

As a general truth, as it seems to me, it is weariness of all pursuits that creates weariness of life. There are certain pursuits adapted to childhood: do young men miss them? There are others suited to early manhood: does that settled time of life called "middle age" ask for them? There are others, again, suited to that age, but not looked for in old age. There are, finally, some which belong to old age. Therefore, as the pursuits of the earlier ages have their time for disappearing, so also have those of old age. And when that takes place, a satiety of life brings on the ripe time for death.
[tr. Shuckburgh (1895)]

To put it in a word, it seems to me
'Tis weariness of all pursuits that makes
A weary age. We have pursuits as boys,
Do young men want them? Others yet there are
Suited to growing years, are they required
By those who've reached what's termed "the middle age"?
That too enjoys its own, but are they fit
For us old me? We have our own of course,
And as the others end, just so do ours,
And when it happens, weariness of life
Proclaims that ripeness which precedes our death.
[tr. Allison (1916)]

Undoubtedly, as it seems to me at least, satiety of all pursuits causes satiety of life. Boyhood has certain pursuits: does youth yearn for them? Early youth has its pursuits: does the matured or so-called middle stage of life need them? Maturity, too, has such as are not even sought in old age, and finally, there are those suitable to old age. Therefore as the pleasures and pursuits of the earlier periods of life fall away, so also do those of old age; and when that happens man has his fill of life and the time is ripe for him to go.
[tr. Falconer (1923)]

It seems to me you have had enough of life when you have had your fill of all its activities. Little boys enjoy certain things, but older youths to not yearn for these. Young adulthood has its delights, but middle age does not desire them. There are also pleasures of middle age, but these are not sought in old age. And so, justas the pleasures of earlier ages fall away, so do those of old age. When this happens, you have had enough of life, and it is time for you to pass on.
[tr. Freeman (2016)]
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What one has, one ought to use; and whatever he does he should do with all his might.

[Quod est, eo decet uti: et quicquid agas, agere pro viribus.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Cato Maior de Senectute, 2.9.27
    (Source)
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Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.

[Nam et secundas res splendidiores facit amicitia et adversas partiens communicansque leviores.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Amicitia, para. 22
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What inconceivable madness! For it is not enough to call an opinion ‘foolishness’ when it is utterly devoid of reason.

[O delirationem incredibilem! non enim omnis error stultitia dicenda est.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Divinatione [On Divination] Book 2, ch. 43 / sec. 90 (44 BC) [tr. Falconer (1923)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "What an incredible insanity this is! for every error does not deserve the mere name of folly." [tr. Yonge (1853)]
  • "We must not say that every mistake is a foolish one." This is an early and quite common English translation of the phrase (e.g.) and seems to reverse the meaning.
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Somehow or other no statement is too absurd for some philosophers to make.

[Sed nescio quo modo nihil tam absurde dici potest quod non dicatur ab aliquo philosophorum.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Divinatione [On Divination], Book 2, ch. 58 / sec. 119 (45 BC) [tr. Falconer (1923)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "In short, somehow or other, I know nothing is so absurd as not to have found an advocate in one of the philosophers." [tr. Yonge (1853)]
  • "There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it." Most common English translation.
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On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammeled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.

[At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus, qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti, quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint, obcaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa, qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio, cumque nihil impedit, quo minus id, quod maxime placeat, facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet, ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum [On the Ends of Good and Evil], Book 1, sec. 33 (ch. 10) (44 BC) [tr. Rackham (1914)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "Then again we criticize and consider wholly deserving of our odium those who are so seduced and corrupted by the blandishments of immediate pleasure that they fail to foresee in their blind passion the pain and harm to come. Equally blameworthy are those who abandon their duties through mental weakness -- that is, through the avoidance of effort and pain. It is quite simple and straightforward to distinguish such cases. In our free time, when our choice is unconstrained and there is nothing to prevent us doing what most pleases us, every pleasure is to be tasted, every pain shunned. But in certain circumstances it will often happen that either the call of duty or some sort of crisis dictates that pleasures are to be repudiated and inconveniences accepted. And so the wise person will uphold the following method of selecting pleasures and pains: pleasures are rejected when this results in other greater pleasures; pains are selected when this avoids worse pains." [On Moral Ends, tr. Woolf (2001)]
  • "But in truth we do blame and deem most deserving of righteous hatred the men who, enervated and depraved by the fascination of momentary pleasures, do not foresee the pains and troubles which are sure to befall them, because they are blinded by desire, and in the same error are involved those who prove traitors to their duties through effeminacy of spirit, I mean because they shun exertions and trouble. Now it is easy and and simple to mark the difference between these cases. For at our seasons of ease, when we have untrammelled freedom of choice, and when nothing debars us from the power of following the course that pleases us best, then pleasure is wholly a matter for our selection and pain for our rejection. On certain occasions however either through the inevitable call of duty or through stress of circumstances, it will often come to pass that we must put pleasures from us and must make no protest against annoyance. So in such cases the principle of selection adopted by the wise man is that he should either by refusing cerftain pleasures attain to other and greater pleasures or by enduring pains should ward off pains still more severe." [tr. Reid (1883)]
  • "But we do accuse those men, and think them entirely worthy of the greatest hatred, who, being made effeminate and corrupted by the allurements of present pleasure, are so blinded by passion that they do not foresee what pains and annoyances they will hereafter be subject to; and who are equally guilty with those who, through weakness of mind, that is to say, from eagerness to avoid labour and pain, desert their duty. And the distinction between these things is quick and easy. For at a time when we are free, when the option of choice is in our own power, and when there is nothing to prevent our being able to do whatsoever we choose, then every pleasure may be enjoyed, and every pain repelled. But on particular occasions it will often happen, owing whether to the obligations of duty or the necessities of business, that pleasures must be declined and annoyances must not be shirked. Therefore the wise man holds to this principle of choice in those matters, that he rejects some pleasures, so as, by the rejection to obtain others which are greater, and encounters some pains, so as by that means to escape others which are more formidable." [On the Chief Good and Evil, tr. Yongue (1853)]
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The beginnings of all things are small.

[Omnium rerum principia parva sunt.]

Cicero - beginnings of all things - wist_info quote

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, Book 5, ch. 58

Alt. trans.: "Everything has a small beginning."
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For in order to command well, we should know how to submit; and he who submits with a good grace will some time become worthy of commanding.

[Nam et qui bene imperat, paruerit aliquando necesse est, et qui modeste paret, videtur qui aliquando imperet dignus esse.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Legibus (On the Laws), Book 3, sec. 2 [tr. Barham]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "For he who commands well, must at some time or other have obeyed; and he who obeys with modesty appears worthy of some day or other being allowed to command." [tr. Yonge]
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The good of the people is the chief law.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Legibus, bk. 3, ch. 3, sct. 8 (52-45 BC)
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Above all, the search after truth and its eager pursuit are peculiar to man. And so, when we have leisure from the demands of business cares, we are eager to see, to hear, to learn something new, and we esteem a desire to know the secrets or wonders of creation as indispensable to a happy life. Thus we come to understand that what is true, simple, and genuine appeals most strongly to a man’s nature.

[In primisque hominis est propria veri inquisitio atque investigatio. Itaque cum sumus necessariis negotiis curisque vacui, tum avemus aliquid videre, audire, addiscere cognitionemque rerum aut occultarum aut admirabilium ad beate vivendum necessarian! ducimus. Ex quo intellegitur, quod verum, simplex sincerumque sit, id esse naturae hominis aptissimum.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 4 / sec. 13 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

But of all the properties and inclinations of men, there is none more natural and peculiar to them than an earnest desire and search after truth. Hence it is that our minds are no sooner free from the thoughts and engagements of necessary business, but we presently long to be either seeing, or hearing, or learning of something; and esteem the knowledge of things secret and wonderful as a necessary ingredient of a happy life. Whence it appears that nothing is more agreeable and suited to the nature and minds of men than undisguised openness, truth, and sincerity.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

The desire and investigation of truth is proper to man. When disengaged from necessary business and cares, we are eager to add to our knowledge by examining for ourselves or listening to others. The discovery of what is secret or wonderful, we are disposed to conceive essential to happiness. Hence, what is true, simple, and undisguised, is best adapted to human nature.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

The distinguishing property of man is to search for and to follow after truth. Therefore, when relaxed from our necessary cares and concerns, we then covet to see, to hear, and to learn somewhat; and we esteem knowledge of things either obscure or wonderful to be the indispensable means of living happily. From this we understand that truth, simplicity, and candour, are most agreeable to the nature of mankind.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

The research and investigation of truth, also, are a special property of man. Thus, when we are free from necessary occupations, we want to see, or hear, or learn something, and regard the knowledge of things either secret or wonderful as essential to our living happily and well.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]
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Still, I do not mean to find fault with the accumulation of property, provided it hurts nobody, but unjust acquisition of it is always to be avoided.

[Nec vero rei familiaris amplificatio nemini nocens vituperanda est, sed fugienda semper iniuria est.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 8 / sec. 25 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "Not but that a moderate desire of riches, and bettering a man's estate, so long as it abstains from oppressing of others, is allow enough; but a very great care ought alwys to be taken that we be not drawn to any injustice by it." [tr. Cockman (1699)]
  • "The enlargement of fortune is blameless, while no man suffers by its increase; but injury is forever to be avoided" [tr. McCartney (1798)]
  • "Nor indeed is the mere desire to improve one's private fortune, without injury to another, deserving of blame; but injustice must ever be avoided." [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
  • "Nor, indeed, is the increase of property, without harm to any one, to be blamed; but wrong-doing for the sake of gain is never to be tolerated." [tr. Peabody (1883)]
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Injustice often arises also through chicanery, that is, through an over-subtle and even fraudulent construction of the law. This it is that gave rise to the now familiar saw, “More law, less justice.”

[Existunt etiam saepe iniuriae calumnia quadam et nimis callida sed malitiosa iuris interpretatione. Ex quo illud “summum ius summa iniuria” factum est iam tritum sermone proverbium.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 10 / sec. 33 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "But another great spring from which injuries arise, is some quirk or cavil, and an oversubtle and malicious interpretation of the laws; from whence that saying, 'The height of justice is the height of roguery,' is now become a daily and common proverb among us." [tr. Cockman (1699)]
  • "Injustice is often done by artful evasions, and from a too shrewd, but malicious interpretation of the laws. Hence the proverb, 'the strictest justice is the greatest injury,' has become quite familiar in conversation." [tr. McCartney (1798)]
  • "Very often wrongs arise through a quirk, and through a too artful but fraudulent construction of the law. Hence, 'the rigour of law is the rigour of injustice,' is a saying that has now passed into a proverb." [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
  • "There are, also, wrongs committed by a sort of chicanery, which consists in a too subtle, and thus fraudulent, interpretation of the right. Hence comes the saying: The extreme of right is the extreme of wrong." [tr. Peabody (1883)]
See Terence.
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We may also observe that a great many people do many things that seem to be inspired more by a spirit of ostentation than by heart-felt kindness; for such people are not really generous but are rather influenced by a sort of ambition to make a show of being open-handed. Such a pose is nearer akin to hypocrisy than to generosity or moral goodness.

[Videre etiam licet plerosque non tam natura liberales quam quadam gloria ductos, ut benefici videantur, facere multa, quae proficisci ab ostentatione magis quam a voluntate videantur. Talis autem sinulatio vanitati est coniunctior quam aut liberalitati aut honestati.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 14 / sec. 44 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "One may also observe in a great many people, that they take a sort of pride in being counted magnificent, and give very plentifully, not from any generous principle in their natures, but only to appear great in the eye of the world; so that all their bounty is resolved into nothing but mere outside and pretense, and is nearer of kin to vanity and folly, than it is to either liberality or honesty." [tr. Cockman (1699)]
  • "Besides we may observe, that most men, not so much from a liberal disposition, as led by some show of apparent beneficence, do acts of kindness, which seem to flow more from ostentation than from the heart. This conduct is more allied to vanity than to liberality or honour." [tr. McCartney (1798)]
  • "For it is easy to observe, that most of them are not so much by nature generous, as they are misled by a kind of pride to do a great many things in order that they may seem to be generous; which things seem to spring not so much from good will as from ostentation. Now such a simulation is more nearly allied to duplicity than to generosity or virtue." [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
  • "We can see, also, that a large number of persons, less from a liberal nature than for the reputation of generosity, do many things that evidently proceed from ostentation rather than from good will." [tr. Peabody (1883)]
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For there is nothing so characteristic of narrowness and littleness of soul as the love of riches.

[Nihil enim est tam angusti animi tamque parvi quam amare divitias.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 20 / sec. 68 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "For nothing is a greater sign of a narrow, mean, and sordid spirit, than to dote on riches." [tr. Cockman (1699)]
  • "For there is not a greater symptom of a narrow and little mind, than the love of wealth." [tr. McCartney (1798)]
  • "For nothing so truly characterizes a narrow, grovelling disposition as to love riches." [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
  • "For nothing shows so narrow and small a mind as the love of riches." [tr. Peabody (1883)]
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We may seem angry, but anger should be far from us; for in anger nothing right or judicious can be done.

[Sed tamen ira procul absit, cum qua nihil recte fieri nec considerate potest.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 38 / sec. 136 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alternate translations:
  • "We must be sure, as was said, to avoid all anger; for whatsoever is guided by its influence and directions can never be done with any prudence or moderation." [tr. Cockman (1699)]
  • "But still, let anger be remote; for under its influence our conduct cannot be upright or deliberate." [tr. McCartney (1798)]
  • "But still, let all passion be avoided; for with that nothing can be done with rectitude, nothing with discretion." [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
  • "But still anger ought be far from us, for nothing is able to be done rightly nor judiciously with anger."
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For virtue, not secrecy, is sought by good men.

[Honesta enim bonis viris, non occulta quaeruntur.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 3, ch. 9 / sec. 38 (44 BC) [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "For good men desire to be virtuous and honest, and not to be secret, that so they may sin without danger." [tr. Cockman (1699)]
  • "What is honorable, and not what is concealed, is the object of pursuit with wise men." [tr. McCartney (1798)]
  • "For it is right things, not hidden things, that are sought by good men." [tr. Peabody (1883)]
  • "For good men aim to secure not secrecy but the right." [tr. Miller (1913)]
  • "Honorable things, not secretive things, are sought by good men."
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For nothing stands out so conspicuously, or remains so firmly fixed in the memory, as something in which you have blundered.

[Nihil est enim tam insigne, nec tam ad diuturnitatem memoriae stabile, quam id, in quo aliquid offenderis.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Oratore [On the Orator], Book 1, ch. 28, sec. 129 (55 BC)

Alt trans.:
  • "For nothing makes so remarkable, so deep an impression upon the memory as a miscarriage." [tr. Guthrie (1742)]
  • "Nothing, indeed, is so much noticed, or makes an impression of such lasting continuance on the memory, as that in which you give any sort of offense." [tr. Watson (1855)]
  • "For nothing so immediately attracts attention, or clings so tenaciously to the memory, as any defect." [tr. Calvert (1870)]
  • "Nothing attracts so much attention, or retains such a hold upon men's memories, as the occasion when you have made a mistake." [Source]
  • Original Latin
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Who knows only his own generation remains always a child.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Oratore (46 BC)
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The greatest pleasures are only narrowly separated from disgust.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Oratore, III, 200
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There is said to be hope for a sick man, as long as there is life.

[Aegroto dum anima est, spes esse dicitur.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Epistulae ad Atticum [Letters to Atticus], Book 9, Letter 10, sec. 3, l. 19 (18 Mar BC 49) [tr. Shackleton Bailey (1968)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "A sick man is said to have hope, so long as he has breath." [tr. Winstedt (1913)]

Often paraphrased as: "While there is life there is hope" [Dum anima est, spes est.] See also Theocritus, "While there's life there’s hope, and only the dead have none" (Idyll #4, l. 42 [tr. Gow]).
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No well-informed person has declared a change of opinion to be inconstancy.

[Nemo doctus unquam mutationem consilii inconstantiam dixit esse.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Epistulae ad Atticum, Book 16, Letter 7 (59-54 BC)

Alt. trans.: No philosopher ever yet -- and there has been a great deal written upon the subject -- defined a mere change of plan as vacillation. [Nemo doctus umquam (multa autem de hoc genere scripta sunt) mutationem consili inconstantiam dixit esse.]

Often mis-cited as Letter 8.
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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

[Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Epistulae ad Familiares [Letters to Friends], Book 9, Letter 4 “To Varro” (46-45 BC)

In June 708 AUC. Sometimes rendered "nihil deerit."

Alt. trans.: "If you have a garden in your library, everything will be complete." [Source].

Original Latin in context.
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Persistence in a single view has never been regarded as a merit in political leaders.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Epistulae ad Familiares, 1.9.21
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Men think they may justly do that for which they have a precedent.

[Quod exemplo fit, id etiam jure fieri putant.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Epistulae ad Familiares, 4.3
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Even if you have nothing to write, write and say so.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Epistulae ad Familiares, IV, 8, 4

http://www.bartleby.com/66/58/12458.html
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To be unacquainted with what has passed in the world, before we came into it ourselves, is to be always children. For what is the age of a single mortal, unless it is connected, by the aid of History, with the times of our ancestors?

[Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. Quid enim est aetas hominis, nisi ea memoria rerum veterum cum superiorum aetate contexitur?]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Orator, ad M. Brutus, ch. 34, sec. 120 (55 BC) [tr. Jones (1776)]
    (Source)

The original Latin. Alt. trans.
  • "For not to know what happened before one was born, is to be a boy all one s life. For what is the life of a man unless by a recollection of bygone transactions it is united to the times of his predecessors?" [tr. Yonge (1853)]
  • "To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain always a boy. For what is the lifetime of a man, unless it is connected with the lifetime of older men by the memory of earlier events?" [tr. Fox (2007)]
  • "What is a generation, if it is not conjoined with the age of our predecessors by the memory of ancient things?" [tr. @sentantiq]
  • "Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever. For what is the time of a man, except it be interwoven with that memory of ancient things of a superior age?"
  • "Not to know what happened before you were born is always to be a boy."
  • "To be ignorant of the past is to be forever a child."
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Every evil in the bud is easily crushed: as it grows older, it becomes stronger.

[Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur; inveteratum fit pleurumque robustius.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Philippicae, V, 11
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The name of peace is sweet, and the thing itself is beneficial, but there is a great difference between peace and servitude. Peace is freedom in tranquility, servitude is the worst of all evils, to be resisted not only by war, but even by death.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Phillippica, II, 113
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Any man is liable to err, only a fool persists in error.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Phillippica, XII, ii, 5
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The philosophers themselves, even in those books in which they tell us to despise fame, inscribe their names.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Pro archia poeta, ch. 11
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For laws are silent when arms are raised.

[Silent enim leges inter arma.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Pro Milone, ch. 4, sec. 11 [tr. Yonge (1891)]
    (Source)

In context, Cicero is asserting that self-defense is a valid defense for killing, even though that principle was not written into Roman law. It has been extended in legal terms to times of war being exempt from normal laws regarding killing.

Alt. trans.:
  • "For laws are silent among arms."
  • "In a time of war, the law falls silent."
  • "Laws are silent in time of war."
  • "The laws are silent in warfare."
  • "For among arms, the laws fall mute."
  • "The power of law is suspended during war."
Original Latin.
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Almost no one dances sober, unless he is insane.

[Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit, neque in solitudine neque in convivio moderato atque honesto.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Pro Murena, ch. 6, sec. 13 (63 BC)
    (Source)

More completely, "For no man, one may almost say, ever dances when sober, unless perhaps he be a madman, nor in solitude, nor in a moderate and sober party." [tr. Yonge].

Often shortened to "Nemo saltat sobrius" ("Nobody dances sober"). Also attributed to H. P. Lovecraft.

In context, Cicero is disputing accusations that L. Murena was dancing because there are no reports that Murena was drinking and carousing beforehand.
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That which is most excellent, and is most to be desired by all happy, honest and healthy-minded men, is dignified leisure.

[Id quod est praestantissimum, maximeque optabile omnibus sanis et bonis et beatis, cum dignitate otium.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Pro Publio Sestio, ch. 45, sec. 98

Alt. trans.:
  • "That which stands first, and is most to be desired by all happy, honest, and healthy-minded men, is ease with dignity." [tr. Source)]
  • "The thing that is the most outstanding, and chiefly to be desired by all healthy and good and well-off persons, is leisure with honor." [Source]
  • "What is desired the most, by those who are healthy, good, and blessed, is leisure with honor." [Source]
  • "That which is most excellent and most desirable to all men in their senses, and to all good and happy men, -- ease conjoined with duty." [Source]
  • "They are the finest, noblest aims of all men of wisdom, integrity, and substance -- civil peace for Rome and honor for those who deserve it." [tr. Baldwin & Lacey (1978), adapted]
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It is a trait of fools to perceive the faults of others but not their own.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculanae disputationes, Book 3, ch. 30

Alt. trans.:
  • "It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others and to forget his own."
Added on 12-May-10 | Last updated 12-Mar-20
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We have no small hope in our elections, but it is still uncertain. There is some suspicion of a dictatorship. We have peace in public but it is the calm of an old and tired state, not one giving consent.

[Erat non nulla spes comitiorum sed incerta, erat aliqua suspicio dictaturae, ne ea quidem certa, summum otium forense sed senescentis magis civitatis quam acquiescentis]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Letters to Quintus #19 (2.15) (Jun, AD 54) [tr. Bailey (1999)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "There was some expectation of the comitia, but a doubtful one: there was some suspicion of a dictatorship, but not even that was certain. There is a perfect cessation of all business in the courts of law, but more as if the state was growing indolent from age than from real tranquility." [Letter 14, tr. Watson (1855)]
  • "There is some hope of elections, but doubtful; some suspicion of a Dictatorship, but that too not definite; peace reigns in the Forum, but it's the peace of a senile community rather than a contented one." [Letter 19 (II.15), tr. @sentantiq (2020)]
Added on 3-Jun-20 | Last updated 3-Jun-20
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