Cicero : Tusculan Disputations

-   Book 4 , 45-84

Translated by C.D. Yonge (1877). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section. Click on ** to go to the translator's footnotes.

Previous sections (1-44)

[20.] [45] L   They say that even grief, which we have already said ought to be avoided as a monstrous and fierce beast, was appointed by nature, not without some good purpose: in order that men should lament when they had committed a fault, well knowing they had exposed themselves to correction, rebuke, and ignominy. For they think that those who can bear ignominy and infamy without pain, have acquired a complete impunity for all sorts of crimes: for with them, reproach is a stronger check than conscience. From whence we have that scene in Afranius, borrowed from common life; for when the abandoned son saith, Wretched that I am! the severe father replies,

Let him but grieve, no matter what the cause.

[46] And they say the other divisions of sorrow have their use; that pity incites us to hasten to the assistance of others, and to alleviate the calamities of men who have undeservedly fallen into them: that even envy and detraction are not without their use; as when a man sees that another person has attained what he cannot, or observes another to be equally successful with himself: that he who should take away fear, would take away all industry in life; which those men exert in the greatest degree who are afraid of the laws and of the magistrates, who dread poverty, ignominy, death, and pain. But while they argue thus, they allow indeed of these feelings being retrenched, though they deny that they either can, or should be plucked up by the roots: so that their opinion is that mediocrity is best in everything. When they reason in this manner, what think you? is what they say worth attending to or not?

A. I think it is; I wait, therefore, to hear what you will say in reply to them.

[21.] [47] L   M. Perhaps I may find something to say - but I will make this observation first: do you take notice with what modesty the Academics behave themselves? for they speak plainly to the purpose. The Peripatetics are answered by the Stoics; they have my leave to fight it out; who think myself no otherwise concerned than to inquire for what may seem to be most probable. Our present business is, then, to see if we can meet with anything in this question which is the probable, for beyond such approximation to truth as that human nature cannot proceed. The definition of a perturbation, as Zenon, I think, has rightly determined it, is thus: That a perturbation is a commotion of the mind against nature, in opposition to right reason; or more briefly thus, that a perturbation is a somewhat too vehement appetite; and when he says somewhat too vehement, he means such as is at a greater distance from the constant course of nature. [48] What can I say to these definitions? the greater part of them we have from those who dispute with sagacity and acuteness: some of them expressions, indeed, such as the "ardours of the mind," and "the whetstones of virtue," savouring of the pomp of rhetoricians. As to the question, if a brave man can maintain his courage without becoming angry; it may be questioned with regard to the gladiators: though we often observe much resolution even in them; they meet, converse, they make objections and demands, they agree about terms, so that they seem calm rather than angry. But let us admit a man of the name of Placideianus, who was one of that trade, to be in such a mind, as Lucilius relates of him,

If for his blood you thirst, the task be mine;
His laurels at my feet he shall resign;
Not but I know, before I reach his heart,
First on myself a wound he will impart.
I hate the man; enraged I fight, and straight
In action we had been, but that I wait
Till each his sword had fitted to his hand,
My rage I scarce can keep within command.

[22.] [49] L   But we see Ajax in Homer advancing to meet Hector in battle cheerfully, without any of this boisterous wrath. For he had no sooner taken up his arms, than the first step which he made inspired his associates with joy, his enemies with fear: so that even Hector, as he is represented by Homer, ** trembling condemned himself for having challenged him to fight. Yet these heroes conversed together, calmly and quietly, before they engaged; nor did they show any anger or outrageous behaviour during the combat. Nor do I imagine that Torquatus, the first who obtained this surname, was in a rage when he plundered the Gaul of his collar: or that Marcellus' courage at Clastidium was only owing to his anger. [50] I could almost swear, that Africanus, with whom we are better acquainted, from our recollection of him being more recent, was no ways inflamed by anger, when he covered M. Allienus Pelignus with his shield, and drove his sword into the enemy's breast. There may be some doubt of L. Brutus, whether he was not influenced by extraordinary hatred of the tyrant, so as to attack Arruns with more than usual rashness; for I observe that they mutually killed each other in close fight. Why, then, do you call in the assistance of anger? would courage, unless it began to get furious, lose its energy? What? do you imagine that Hercules, whom the very courage which you would try to represent as anger raised to heaven, was angry when he engaged the Erymanthian boar, or the Nemean lion? or was Theseus in a passion when he seized on the horns of the Marathonian bull? Take care how you make courage to depend in the least on rage. For anger is altogether irrational, and that is not courage which is void of reason.

[23.] [51] L   We ought to hold all things here in contempt; death is to be looked on with indifference; pains and labours must be considered as easily supportable. And when these sentiments are established on judgment and conviction, then will that stout and firm courage take place: unless you attribute to anger whatever is done with vehemence, alacrity, and spirit. To me, indeed, that very Scipio ** who was chief priest, that favourer of the saying of the Stoics, "that no private man could be a wise man," does not seem to be angry with Tiberius Gracchus, even when he left the consul in a hesitating frame of mind, and, though a private man himself, commanded, with the authority of a consul, that all who meant well to the republic should follow him. [52] I do not know whether I have done anything in the republic that has the appearance of courage; but if I have, I certainly did not do it in wrath. Doth anything come nearer madness than anger? And indeed Ennius has well defined it as the beginning of madness. The changing colour, the alteration of our voice, the look of our eyes, our manner of fetching our breath, the little command we have over our words and actions, how little do all these things indicate a sound mind! What can make a worse appearance than Homer's Achilles, or Agamemnon, during the quarrel. And as to Ajax, anger drove him into downright madness, and was the occasion of his death. Courage, therefore, does not want the assistance of anger; it is sufficiently provided, armed, and prepared of itself. We may as well say that drunkenness, or madness, are of service to courage, because those who are mad or drunk often do a great many things with unusual vehemence. Ajax was always brave, but still he was most brave when he was in that state of frenzy:

The greatest feat that Ajax ever achieved
Was, when his single arm the Greeks relieved.
Quitting the field; urged on by rising rage,
Forced the declining troops again to engage.
Shall we say, then, that madness has its use?

[24.] [53] L   Examine the definitions of courage: you will find it does not require the assistance of passion. Courage is, then, an affection of mind, that endures all things, being itself in proper subjection to the highest of all laws; or, it may be called a firm maintenance of judgment in supporting or repelling everything that has a formidable appearance, or a knowledge of what is formidable or otherwise, and maintaining invariably a stable judgment of all such things, so as to bear them, or despise them; or, in fewer words according to Chrysippus: (for the above definitions are Sphaerus's, a man of the first ability as a layer down of definitions, as the Stoics think: but they are all pretty much alike, they give us only common notions, some one way, and some another.) But what is Chrysippus's definition? Fortitude, says he, is the knowledge of all things that are bearable: or an affection of the mind, which bears and supports everything in obedience to the chief law of reason, without fear. Now, though we should attack these men in the same manner as Carneades used to do, I fear they are the only real philosophers: for which of these definitions is there which does not explain that obscure and intricate notion of courage which every man conceives within himself? And when it is thus explained, what can a warrior, a commander, or an orator, want more? and no one can think that they will be unable to behave themselves courageously without anger. [54] What? do not even the Stoics, who maintain that all fools are mad, make the same inferences? for, take away perturbations, especially a hastiness of temper, and they will appear to talk very absurdly. But what they assert is this: they say that all fools are mad, as all dunghills stink; not that they always do so, but stir them, and you will perceive it. And in like manner, a warm-tempered man is not always in a passion; but provoke him, and you will see him run mad. Now, that very warlike anger, which is of such service in war, what is the use of it to him when he is at home with his wife, children, and family? Is there, then, anything that a disturbed mind can do better than one which is calm and steady? or can anyone be angry without a perturbation of mind? Our people, then, were in the right, who, as all vices depend on our manners, and nothing is worse than a passionate disposition, called angry men the only morose men. **

[25.] [55] L   Anger is in no wise becoming in an orator, though it is not amiss to affect it. Do you imagine that I am angry when in pleading I use any extraordinary vehemence and sharpness? What? when I write out my speeches after all is over and past, am I then angry while writing? or do you think Aesopus was ever angry when he acted, or Accius was so when he wrote? Those men, indeed, act very well, but the orator acts better than the player, provided he be really an orator; but then they carry it on without passion, and with a composed mind. But what wantonness is it to commend lust? You produce Themistocles and Demosthenes; to these you add Pythagoras, Democritus, and Plato. What, do you then call studies lust? But these studies of the most excellent and admirable things, such as those were which you bring forward on all occasions, ought to be composed and tranquil; and what kind of philosophers are they who commend grief, than which nothing is more detestable? Afranius has said much to this purpose -

Let him but grieve, no matter what the cause.

But he spoke this of a debauched and dissolute youth; but we are inquiring into the conduct of a constant and wise man. We may even allow a centurion, or standard-bearer, to be angry, or any others, whom, not to explain too far the mysteries of the rhetoricians, I shall not mention here; for to touch the passions, where reason cannot be come at, may have its use; but my inquiry, as I often repeat, is about a wise man.

[26.] [56] But even envy, detraction, pity, have their use. Why should you pity rather than assist, if it is in your power to do so? Is it because you cannot be liberal without pity? We should not take sorrows on ourselves upon another's account; but we ought to relieve others of their grief if we can. But to detract from another's reputation, or to rival him with that vicious emulation, which resembles an enmity, of what use can that conduct be? Now envy implies being uneasy at another's good because one does not enjoy it oneself; but detraction is the being uneasy at another's good, merely because he enjoys it. How can it be right that you should voluntarily grieve, rather than take the trouble of acquiring what you want to have; for it is madness in the highest degree to desire to be the only one that has any particular happiness. [57] L   But who can with correctness speak in praise of a mediocrity of evils? Can anyone in whom there is lust or desire, be otherwise than libidinous or desirous? or can a man who is occupied by anger avoid being angry? or can one who is exposed to any vexation escape being vexed? or if he is under the influence of fear, must he not be fearful? Do we look, then, on the libidinous, the angry, the anxious, and the timid man, as persons of wisdom, of excellence? of which I could speak very copiously and diffusely, but I wish to be as concise as possible. And so I will merely say that wisdom is an acquaintance with all divine and human affairs, and a knowledge of the cause of everything. Hence it is, that it imitates what is divine, and looks upon all human concerns as inferior to virtue. Did you, then, say that it was your opinion that such a man was as naturally liable to perturbation as the sea is exposed to winds? What is there that can discompose such gravity and constancy? Anything sudden or unforeseen? How can anything of this kind befall one, to whom nothing is sudden and unforeseen that can happen to man? Now, as to their saying that redundancies should be pared off, and only what is natural remain; what, I pray you, can be natural, which may be too exuberant?

[27.] [58] All these assertions proceed from the roots of errors, which must be entirely plucked up and destroyed, not pared and amputated. But as I suspect that your inquiry is not so much respecting the wise man as concerning yourself, (for you allow that he is free from all perturbations, and you would willingly be so too yourself,) let us see what remedies there are which may be applied by philosophy to the diseases of the mind. There is certainly some remedy; nor has nature been so unkind to the human race, as to have discovered so many things salutary to the body, and none which are medicinal to the mind. She has even been kinder to the mind than to the body; inasmuch as you must seek abroad for the assistance which the body requires; while the mind has all that it requires within itself. But in proportion as the excellency of the mind is of a higher and more divine nature, the more diligence does it require; and therefore reason, when it is well applied, discovers what is best, but when it is neglected it becomes involved in many errors. [59] L   I shall apply, then, all my discourse to you; for though you pretend to be inquiring about the wise man, your inquiry may possibly be about yourself. Various, then, are the cures of those perturbations which I have expounded, for every disorder is not to be appeased the same way; - one medicine must be applied to the man who mourns, another to the pitiful, another to the person who envies, for there is this difference to be maintained in all the four perturbations; we are to consider whether our discourse had better be directed to perturbations in general, which are a contempt of reason, or a somewhat too vehement appetite; or whether it would be better applied to particular descriptions, as, for instance, to fear, lust, and the rest, and whether it appears preferable to endeavour to remove that which has occasioned the grief, or rather to attempt wholly to eradicate every kind of grief. As, should anyone grieve that he is poor, the question is, would you maintain poverty to be no evil, or would you contend that a man ought not to grieve at anything? Certainly this last is the best course; for should you not convince him with regard to poverty, you must allow him to grieve; but if you remove grief by particular arguments, such as I used yesterday, the evil of poverty is in some manner removed.

[28.] [60] But any perturbation of the mind of this sort may be, as it were, wiped away by this method of appeasing the mind, if you succeed in showing that there is no good in that which has given rise to joy and lust, nor any evil in that which has occasioned fear or grief. But certainly the most effectual cure is to be achieved by showing that all perturbations are of themselves vicious, and have nothing natural or necessary in them. As we see grief itself is easily softened when we charge those who grieve with weakness and an effeminate mind; or when we commend the gravity and constancy of those who bear calmly whatever befalls them here, as accidents to which all men are liable; and, indeed, this is generally the feeling of those who look on these as real evils, but yet think they should be borne with resignation. One imagines pleasure to be a good, another money; and yet the one may be called off from intemperance, the other from covetousness. The other method and address, which, at the same time that it removes the false opinion, withdraws the disorder, has more subtilty in it; but it seldom succeeds, and is not applicable to vulgar minds, [61] L   for there are some diseases which that medicine can by no means remove. For, should anyone be uneasy because he is without virtue, without courage, destitute of a sense of duty, or honesty; his anxiety proceeds from a real evil, and yet we must apply another method of cure to him; and such a one as all the philosophers, however they may differ about other things, agree in. For they must necessarily agree in this, that commotions of the mind in opposition to right reason are vicious; and that even admitting those things to be evils, which occasion fear or grief, and those to be goods which provoke desire or joy, yet that very commotion itself is vicious; for we mean by the expressions magnanimous and brave, one who is resolute, sedate, grave, and superior to everything in this life: but one who either grieves, or fears, or covets, or is transported with passion, cannot come under that denomination; for these things are consistent only with those who look on the things of this world as things with which their minds are unequal to contend.

[29.] [62] Wherefore, as I before said, the philosophers have all one method of cure, so that we need say nothing about what sort of thing that is which disturbs the mind, but we must speak only concerning the perturbation itself. Thus, first, with regard to desire itself, when the business is only to remove that the inquiry is not to be, whether that thing be good or evil which provokes lust, but the lust itself is to be removed; so that whether whatever is honest is the chief good, or whether it consists in pleasure, or in both these things together, or in the other three kinds of goods, yet should there be in anyone too vehement an appetite for even virtue itself, the whole discourse should be directed to the deterring him from that vehemence. But human nature, when placed in a conspicuous point of view, gives us every argument for appeasing the mind, and to make this the more distinct, the laws and conditions of life should be explained in our discourse. [63] L   Therefore, it was not without reason that Socrates is reported, when Euripides was exhibiting his play called Orestes, to have repeated the first three verses of that tragedy -

What tragic story men can mournful tell,
Whatever from fate or from the gods befell,
That human nature can support -- **

But, in order to persuade those to whom any misfortune has happened, that they can and ought to bear it, it is very useful to set before them an enumeration of other persons who have borne similar calamities. Indeed, the method of appeasing grief was explained in my dispute of yesterday, and in my book on Consolation, which I wrote in the midst of my own grief; for I was not myself so wise a man as to be insensible to grief, and I used this, notwithstanding Chrysippus's advice to the contrary, who is against applying a medicine to the agitations of the mind while they are fresh; but I did it, and committed a violence on nature, that the greatness of my grief might give way to the greatness of the medicine.

[30.] [64] But fear borders upon grief, of which I have already said enough; but I must say a little more on that. Now, as grief proceeds from what is present, so does fear from future evil; so that some have said that fear is a certain part of grief: others have called fear the harbinger of trouble, which, as it were, introduces the ensuing evil. Now, the reasons that make what is present supportable, make what is to come very contemptible; for, with regard to both, we should take care to do nothing low or grovelling, soft or effeminate, mean or abject. But, notwithstanding we should speak of the inconstancy, imbecility, and levity of fear itself, yet it is of very great service to speak contemptuously of those very things of which we are afraid. So that it fell out very well, whether it was by accident or design, that I disputed the first and second day on death and pain - the two things that are the most dreaded: now, if what I then said was approved of, we are in a great degree freed from fear. And this is sufficient, as far as regards the opinion of evils.

[31.] [65] L   Proceed we now to what are goods - that is to say, to joy and desire. To me, indeed, one thing alone seems to embrace the question of all that relates to the perturbations of the mind - the fact, namely, that all perturbations are in our own power; that they are taken up upon opinion, and are voluntary. This error, then, must be got rid of; this opinion must be removed: and, as with regard to imagined evils, we are to make them more supportable, so with respect to goods, we are to lessen the violent effects of those things which are called great and joyous. But one thing is to be observed, that equally relates both to good and evil: that, should it be difficult to persuade anyone that none of those things which disturb the mind are to be looked on as good or evil, yet a different cure is to be applied to different feelings; and the malevolent person is to be corrected by one way of reasoning, the lover by another, the anxious man by another, and the fearful by another: [66] and it would be easy for anyone who pursues the best approved method of reasoning, with regard to good and evil, to maintain that no fool can be affected with joy, as he never can have anything good. But, at present, my discourse proceeds upon the common received notions. Let, then, honours, riches, pleasures, and the rest, be the very good things which they are imagined to be; yet a too elevated and exulting joy on the possession of them is unbecoming; just as though it might be allowable to laugh, to giggle would be indecent. Thus, a mind enlarged by joy is as blameable as a contraction of it by grief; and eager longing is a sign of as much levity in desiring as immoderate joy is in possessing; and, as those who are too dejected are said to be effeminate, so they who are too elated with joy are properly called volatile; and as feeling envy is a part of grief, and the being pleased with another's misfortune is a kind of joy both these feelings are usually corrected by showing the wildness and insensibility of them: and as it becomes a man to be cautious, but it is unbecoming in him to be fearful; so to be pleased is proper, but to be joyful improper. I have, in order that I might be the better understood, distinguished pleasure from joy. [67] L   I have already said above, that a contraction of the mind can never be right, but that an elation of it may; for the joy of Hector in Naevius is one thing -

'Tis joy indeed to hear my praises sung
By you, who are the theme of honour's tongue:

but that of the character in Trabea another:- "The kind procuress, allured by my money, will observe my nod, will watch my desires, and study my will. If I but move the door with my little finger, instantly it flies open; and if Chrysis should unexpectedly discover me, she will run with joy to meet me, and throw herself into my arms."

Now he will tell you how excellent he thinks this:-

Not even fortune herself is so fortunate.

[32.] [68] Anyone who attends the least to the subject will be convinced how unbecoming this joy is. And as they are very shameful who are immoderately delighted with the enjoyment of venereal pleasures, so are they very scandalous who lust vehemently after them. And all that which is commonly called love (and, believe me, I can find out no other name to call it by) is of such a trivial nature that nothing, I think, is to be compared to it: of which Caecilius says -

I hold the man of every sense bereaved,
Who grants not Love to be of Gods the chief:
Whose mighty power whate'er is good effects,
Who gives to each his beauty and defects:
Hence, health and sickness; wit and folly, hence,
The God that love and hatred doth dispense!

[69] L   An excellent corrector of life this same poetry, which thinks that love, the promoter of debauchery and vanity, should have a place in the council of the Gods! I am speaking of comedy, which could not subsist at all without our approving of these debaucheries. But what said that chief of the Argonauts in tragedy? -

My life I owe to honour less than love

What, then, are we to say of this love of Medea? - what a train of miseries did it occasion! and yet the same woman h as the assurance to say to her father, in another poet, that she had a husband -

Dearer by love than ever fathers were.

[33.] [70] However, we may allow the poets to trifle, in whose fables we see Jupiter himself engaged in these debaucheries: but let us apply to the masters of virtue - the philosophers who deny love to be anything carnal; and in this they differ from Epicurus, who, I think, is not much mistaken. For what is that lore of friendship? How comes it that no one is in love with a deformed young man, or a handsome old one? I am of opinion that this love of men had its rise from the gymnasia of the Greeks, where these kinds of loves are admissible and permitted; therefore Ennius spoke well:-

The censure of this crime to those is due,
Who naked bodies first exposed to view.

Now, supposing them chaste, which I think is hardly possible, they are uneasy and distressed, and the more so because they contain and refrain themselves. [71] L   But, to pass over the love of women, where nature has allowed more liberty, who can misunderstand the poets in their rape of Ganymedes, or not apprehend what Laius says, and what he desires, in Euripides ? Lastly, what have the principal poets and the most learned men published of themselves in their poems and songs? What doth Alcaeus, who was distinguished in his own republic for his bravery, write on the love of young men? and as for Anacreon's poetry, it is wholly on love. But Ibycus of Rhegium appears, from his writings, to have had this love stronger on him than all the rest.

[34.] Now we see that the loves of all these writers were entirely libidinous. There have arisen also some amongst us philosophers (and Plato is at the head of them, whom Dicaearchus blames not without reason), who have countenanced love. [72] The Stoics in truth say, not only that their wise man may be a lover, but they even define love itself as an endeavour to originate friendship out of the appearance of beauty. Now, provided there is anyone in the nature of things without desire, without care, without a sigh - such a one may be a lover; for he is free from all lust: but I have nothing to say to him, as it is lust of which I am now speaking. But should there be any love - as there certainly is - which, is but little, or perhaps not at all, short of madness, such as his is in the Leucadia -

Should there be any God whose care I am:

[73] L   it is incumbent on all the Gods to see that he enjoys his amorous pleasure.

Wretch that I am!

Nothing is more true, and he says very appropriately -

What, are you sane, who at this rate lament?
He seems even to his friends to be out of his senses: then how tragical he becomes!
Thy aid, divine Apollo, I implore,
And thine, dread ruler of the watery store!
Oh! all ye winds, assist me!

He thinks that the whole world ought to apply itself to help his love: he excludes Venus alone as unkind to him.

Thy aid, O Venus, why should I invoke?

He thinks Venus too much employed in her own lust, to have regard to anything else, as if he himself had not said and committed these shameful things from lust.

[35.] [74] Now the cure for one who is affected in this manner, is to show, how light, how contemptible, how very trifling he is in what he desires; how he may turn his affections to another object, or accomplish his desires by some other means; or else to persuade him that he may entirely disregard it; sometimes he is to be led away to objects of another kind, to study, business, or other different engagements and concerns: very often the cure is effected by change of place, as sick people, that have not recovered their strength, are benefited by change of air. [75] L   Some people think an old love may be driven out by a new one, as one nail drives out another: but above all things the man thus afflicted should be advised what madness love is: for of all the perturbations of the mind, there is not one which is more vehement; for, (without charging it with rapes, debaucheries, adultery, or even incest, the baseness of any of these being very blameable; not, I say, to mention these,) the very perturbation of the mind in love is base of itself, [76] for, to pass over all its acts of downright madness, what weakness do not those very things which are looked upon as indifferent argue?

Affronts and jealousies, jars, squabbles, wars,
Then peace again. - The man who seeks to fix
These restless feelings, and to subjugate
Them to some regular law, is just as wise
As one who'd try to lay down rules by which
Men should go mad. **

Now is not this inconstancy and mutability of mind enough to deter anyone by its own deformity? We are to demonstrate, as was said of every perturbation, that there are no such feelings which do not consist entirely of opinion and judgment, and are not owing to ourselves. For if love were natural, all would be in love, and always so, and all love the same object; nor would one be deterred by shame, another by reflection, another by satiety.

[36.] [77] L   Anger, too, when it disturbs the mind any time, leaves no room to doubt its being madness: by the instigation of which, we see such contention as this between brothers:

Where was there ever impudence like thine?
Who on thy malice ever could refine? **

You know what follows: for abuses are thrown out by these brothers, with great bitterness, in every other verse: so that you may easily know them for the sons of Atreus, of that Atreus who invented a new punishment for his brother:

I who his cruel heart to gall am bent,
Some new, unheard-of torment must invent.

Now what were these inventions? Hear Thyestes.

My impious brother fain would have me eat
My children, and thus serves them up for meat.

To what length now will not anger go? even as far as madness. Therefore we say properly enough, that angry men have given up their power, that is, they are out of the power of advice, reason, and understanding: for these ought to have power over the whole mind. [78] Now you should put those out of the way, whom they endeavour to attack, till they have recollected themselves; but what does recollection here imply, but getting together again the dispersed parts of their mind into their proper place? or else you must beg and entreat them, if they have the means of revenge, to defer it to another opportunity, till their anger cools. But the expression of cooling implies, certainly, that there was a heat raised in their minds in opposition to reason: from which consideration that saying of Archytas is commended: who being somewhat provoked at his steward, "How would I have treated you," said he, "if I had not been in a passion?"

[37.] [79] L   Where, then, are they who say that anger has its use? Can madness be of any use? But still it is natural. Can anything be natural that is against reason? or how is it, if anger is natural, that one person is more inclined to anger than another? or that the lust of revenge should cease before it has revenged itself? or that anyone should repent of what he had done in a passion? as we see that Alexander the king did, who could scarcely keep his hands from himself, when he had killed his favourite Clitus: so great was his compunction! Now who, that is acquainted with these instances, can doubt that this motion of the mind is altogether in opinion and voluntary? for who can doubt that disorders of the mind, such as covetousness, and a desire of glory, arise from a great estimation of those things, by which the mind is disordered? from whence we may understand, that every perturbation of the mind is founded in opinion.

[80] And if boldness, that is to say, a firm assurance of mind, is a kind of knowledge and serious opinion, not hastily taken up: then diffidence is a fear of an expected and impending evil: and if hope is an expectation of good, fear must of course be an expectation of evil. Thus fear and other perturbations are evils. Therefore as constancy proceeds from knowledge, so does perturbation from error. Now they who are said to be naturally inclined to anger, or to pity, or to envy, or to any feeling of this kind; their minds are constitutionally, as it were, in bad health, yet they are curable, as the disposition of Socrates is said to have been; for when Zopyrus, who professed to know the character of every one from his person, had heaped a great many vices on him in a public assembly, he was laughed at by others, who could perceive no such vices in Socrates; but Socrates kept him in countenance, by declaring that such vices were natural to him, but that he had got the better of them by his reason. [81] L   Therefore, as anyone who has the appearance of the best constitution, may yet appear to be naturally rather inclined to some particular disorder, so different minds may be more particularly inclined to different diseases. But as to those men who are said to be vicious, not by nature, but their own fault; their vices proceed from wrong opinions of good and bad things, so that one is more prone than another to different motions and perturbations. But, just as it is in the case of the body, an inveterate disease is harder to be got rid of than a sudden disorder; and it is more easy to cure a fresh tumour in the eyes, than to remove a defluxion of any continuance.

[38.] [82] But as the cause of perturbations is now discovered, for all of them arise from the judgment or opinion, or volition, I shall put an end to this discourse. But we ought to be assured, since the boundaries of good and evil are now discovered, as far as they are discoverable by man, that nothing can be desired of philosophy greater, or more useful, than the discussions which we have held these four days. For besides instilling a contempt of death, and relieving pain so as to enable men to bear it; we have added the appeasing of grief, than which there is no greater evil to man. For though every perturbation of mind is grievous, and differs but little from madness: yet we are used to say of others, when they are under any perturbation, as of fear, joy, or desire, that they are agitated and disturbed; but of those who give themselves up to grief, that they are miserable, afflicted, wretched, unhappy. [83] L   So that it does not seem to be by accident, but with reason proposed by you, that I should discuss grief, and the other perturbations separately; for there lies the spring and head of all our miseries: but the cure of grief, and of other disorders, is one and the same, in that they are all voluntary, and founded on opinion; we take them on ourselves because it seems right so to do. Philosophy undertakes to eradicate this error, as the root of all our evils: [84] let us therefore surrender ourselves to be instructed by it, and suffer ourselves to be cured; for whilst these evils have possession of us, we not only cannot be happy, but cannot be right in our minds. We must either deny that reason can effect anything, while, on the other hand, nothing can be done right without reason; or else, since philosophy depends on the deductions of reason, we must seek from her, if we would be good or happy, every help and assistance for living well and happily.

Book 5


1. Cicero alludes here to Il. vii. 211, which is thus translated by Pope -

His massy javelin quivering in his hand,
He stood the bulwark of the Grecian band;
Through every Argive heart new transport ran,
All Troy stood trembling at the mighty man:
E'en Hector paused, and with new doubt oppressed,
Felt his great heart suspended in his breast;
'Twas vain to seek retreat, and vain to fear,
Himself had challenged, and the foe drew near.

But Melmoth (Note on the Familiar Letters of Cicero, book ii. Let. 23) rightly accuses Cicero of having misunderstood Homer, who "by no means represents Hector as being thus totally dismayed at the approach of his adversary; and indeed it would have been inconsistent with the general character of that hero to have described him under such circumstances of terror."

Τὸν δὲ καὶ Ἀργεῖοι μέγ᾽ ἐγήθεον εἰσορόωντες,
Τρωὰς δὲ τρόμος αἶνος ὑπήλυθε γυῖα ἕκαστον,
Ἕκτορι δ᾽ αὐτῷ θυμὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι πάτασσεν.

But there is a great difference, as Dr. Clarke remarks, between θυμὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι πάτασσεν and καρδίη ἔξω στηθέων ἔθρωσκεν, or τρόμος αἶνος ὑπήλυθε γυῖα. - The Trojans, says Homer, trembled at the sight of Ajax, and even Hector himself felt some emotion in his breast.

2. Cicero means Scipio Nasica, who in the riots consequent on the re-election of Tiberius Gracchus to the tribunate, 133 B.C., having called in vain on the consul, Mucius Scaevola, to save the republic, attacked Gracchus himself, who was slain in the tumult.

3. Morosus is evidently derived from mores - "Morosus, mos, stubbornness, self-will, etc."- Riddle and Arnold, Lat. Diet.

4. In the original they run thus:-

Οὔκ ἐστιν οὐδὲν δεινὸν ὧδ᾽ εἰπεῖν ἔπος,
Οὐδὲ πάθος, οὐδὲ ξυμφορὰ θεήλατος
Ἦς οὐκ ἄν ἄροιτ᾽ ἄχθος ἀνθρώπου φύσις.

5. This passage is from the Eunuch of Terence, Act i. sc. 1, 14.

6. These verses are from the Atreus of Accius.

Book 5

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