Cicero: Who He Was and What He Taught? (IM 868)

Marcus Tullius Cicero born in 106 BC, was one of the leading political figures of the era of Julius Caesar, Pompey, Marc Antony and Octavian. He was a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar and Academic Skeptic who played an important role in the politics of the late Roman Republic and upheld optimate principles during the crisis that led to the establishment of the Roman Empire.

A string of misjudged alliances saw him exiled and eventually murdered him, but Cicero’s writings barely waned in influence over the centuries. Cicero’s wide variety of responsibilities in ancient Rome makes his work that much more interesting. His works on How to grow old, On obligations and How to be a friend have been alive in today’s world.

Some of the Stoics Lessons from Cicero are:

Death is an Achievement:

Stoicism considered death (Memento mori) as the unavoidable even and one should accept it when one’s time comes, but Cicero’s idea of taking it as an achievement is something else. He said:

“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.” — Cicero

The Six Mistakes of Man:

We say we have learned from past from histories but the more we learn the more we miss. What is more interesting is these mistakes made 2000 years ago is still prevalent today. The reason does not matter. What matters is we should not make these mistakes.

Six mistakes mankind keeps making century after century:

Believing that personal gain is made by crushing others;

Worrying about things that cannot be changed or corrected;

Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it;

Refusing to set aside trivial preferences;

Neglecting development and refinement of the mind;

Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.” —Cicero

Cicero Quotes:

“Read at every wait; read at all hours; read within leisure; read in times of labor; read as one goes in; read as one goest out. The task of the educated mind is simply put: read to lead.”

“If we are not ashamed to think it, we should not be ashamed to say it.”

“Non nobis solum nati sumus (Not for ourselves alone are we born.)”

“Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to be always a child. If no use is made of the labours of past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.”

“What is morally wrong can never be advantageous, even when it enables you to make some gain that you believe to be to your advantage. The mere act of believing that some wrongful course of action constitutes an advantage is pernicious.”

“The authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn.”

“While there’s life, there’s hope.”

“To study philosophy is nothing but to prepare one’s self to die.”

“For books are more than books, they are the life, the very heart and core of ages past, the reason why men worked and died, the essence and quintessence of their lives.”


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