Che hai da dire se anche Cesare, che ora fila proprio con il vento in poppa, riesco a dirottarlo verso maggiore moderazione? La stessa cultura politica di Cesare operava proponendo la concessione della cittadinanza romana agli intellettuali greci [9] , contrariamente a quanto era accaduto nel a. Provvedimento che venne reiterato nel 92 a. E io, che fin da bambino mi ero gettato fra le sue braccia per scelta volontaria e con gran zelo, ora, sconvolto dalla tempesta di queste grandissime vicende, mi sono rifugiato nel medesimo porto da cui mi ero allontanato. Il corpus delle opere filosofiche[ modifica modifica wikitesto ] Le Tusculanae disputationes sono state composte insieme ad altre opere filosofiche tra il 45 e 44 a. Per quanto riguarda la struttura nel complesso delle opere filosofiche, sembra che Cicerone abbia avuto in mente un piano espositivo generale [19] , quasi che ci fosse un filo rosso tra le varie opere e che la loro stesura in senso cronologico corrispondesse ad un senso logico; a supporto di questa tesi, infatti, nel proemio al secondo libro del De divinatione , Cicerone mostra quale sia stato il senso della sua impostazione.

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In the year a. In this manner he now spent five days at his Tusculan villa in discussing with his friends the several questions just mentioned. These five conferences, or dialogues, he collected afterward into writing in the very words and manner in which they really passed; and published them under the title of his Tusculan Disputations, from the name of the villa in which they were held. BOOK I. What shall I say of our military affairs; in which our ancestors have been most eminent in valor, and still more so 9in discipline?

As to those things which are attained not by study, but nature, neither Greece, nor any nation, is comparable to us; for what people has displayed such gravity, such steadiness, such greatness of soul, probity, faith—such distinguished virtue of every kind, as to be equal to our ancestors. In learning, indeed, and all kinds of literature, Greece did excel us, and it was easy to do so where there was no competition; for while among the Greeks the poets were the most ancient species of learned men—since Homer and Hesiod lived before the foundation of Rome, and Archilochus 1 was a contemporary of Romulus—we received poetry much later.

For it was about five hundred and ten years after the building of Rome before Livius 2 published a play in the consulship of C. Therefore the less esteem poets were in, the less were 10those studies pursued; though even then those who did display the greatest abilities that way were not very inferior to the Greeks.

Do we imagine that if it had been considered commendable in Fabius, 3 a man of the highest rank, to paint, we should not have had many Polycleti and Parrhasii?

Honor nourishes art, and glory is the spur with all to studies; while those studies are always neglected in every nation which are looked upon disparagingly. The Greeks held skill in vocal and instrumental music as a very important accomplishment, and therefore it is recorded of Epaminondas, who, in my opinion, was the greatest man among the Greeks, that he played excellently on the flute; and Themistocles, some years before, was deemed ignorant because at an entertainment he declined the lyre when it was offered to him.

For this reason musicians flourished in Greece; music was a general study; and whoever was unacquainted with it was not considered as fully instructed in learning. Geometry was in high esteem with them, therefore none were more honorable than mathematicians. But we have confined this art to bare measuring and calculating. Philosophy has been at a low ebb even to this present time, and has had no assistance from our own language, and so now I have undertaken to raise and illustrate it, in order that, as I have been of service to my countrymen, when employed on public affairs, I may, if possible, be so likewise in my retirement; and in this I must take the more pains, because there are already many books in the 11Latin language which are said to be written inaccurately, having been composed by excellent men, only not of sufficient learning; for, indeed, it is possible that a man may think well, and yet not be able to express his thoughts elegantly; but for any one to publish thoughts which he can neither arrange skilfully nor illustrate so as to entertain his reader, is an unpardonable abuse of letters and retirement: they, therefore, read their books to one another, and no one ever takes them up but those who wish to have the same license for careless writing allowed to themselves.

Wherefore, if oratory has acquired any reputation from my industry, I shall take the more pains to open the fountains of philosophy, from which all my eloquence has taken its rise. But, as Aristotle, 4 a man of the greatest genius, and of the most various knowledge, being excited by the glory of the rhetorician Isocrates, 5 commenced teaching young men to speak, and joined philosophy with eloquence: so it is my design not to lay aside my former study of oratory, and yet to employ myself at the same time in this greater and more fruitful art; for I have always thought that to be able to speak copiously and elegantly on the most important questions was the most perfect philosophy.

And I have so diligently applied myself to this pursuit, that I have already ventured to have a school like the Greeks. And lately when you left us, having many of my friends about me, I attempted at my Tusculan villa what I could do in that way; for as I formerly used to practise declaiming, which nobody continued longer than myself, so this is now to be the declamation of my old age.

But to give you a better notion of our disputations, I will not barely send you an account of them, but represent them to you as they were carried on; therefore let the introduction be thus: V. To me death seems to be an evil. What, to those who are already dead? To both. It is a misery, then, because an evil? Then those who have already died, and those who have still got to die, are both miserable? So it appears to me. Then all are miserable? Every one. And, indeed, if you wish to be consistent, all that are already born, or ever shall be, are not only miserable, but always will be so; for should you maintain those only to be miserable, you would not except any one living, for all must die; but there should be an end of misery in death.

But seeing that the dead are miserable, we are born to eternal misery, for they must of consequence be miserable who died a hundred thousand years ago; or rather, all that have ever been born. So, indeed, I think. Tell me, I beseech you, are you afraid of the three-headed Cerberus in the shades below, and the roaring waves of Cocytus, and the passage over Acheron, and Tantalus expiring with thirst, while the water touches his chin; and Sisyphus, Who sweats with arduous toil in vain The steepy summit of the mount to gain?

Perhaps, too, you dread the inexorable judges, Minos and Rhadamanthus; before whom neither L. Crassus nor M. Antonius can defend you; and where, since the cause lies before Grecian judges, you will not even be able to employ Demosthenes; but you must plead for yourself before a 13very great assembly. These things perhaps you dread, and therefore look on death as an eternal evil. Do you take me to be so imbecile as to give credit to such things? What, do you not believe them? Not in the least.

I am sorry to hear that. Why, I beg? Because I could have been very eloquent in speaking against them. And who could not on such a subject?

And yet you have books of philosophers full of arguments against these. A great waste of time, truly! If, then, there is no one miserable in the infernal regions, there can be no one there at all. I am altogether of that opinion.

Where, then, are those you call miserable? For, if they exist at all, they must be somewhere. I, indeed, am of opinion that they are nowhere. Then they have no existence at all. Even so, and yet they are miserable for this very reason, that they have no existence. I had rather now have you afraid of Cerberus than speak thus inaccurately. In what respect? Because you admit him to exist whose existence you deny with the same breath.

Where now is your sagacity? When you say any one is miserable, you say that he who does not exist, does exist. I am not so absurd as to say that. What is it that you do say, then? I say, for instance, that Marcus Crassus is miserable in being deprived of such great riches as his by death; that Cn.

Pompey is miserable in being taken from such glory and honor; and, in short, that all are miserable who are deprived of this light of life. You have returned to the same point, for to be miserable implies an existence; but you just now denied that the dead had any existence: if, then, they have not, they can be nothing; and if so, they are not even miserable.

Perhaps I do not express what I mean, for I look upon this very circumstance, not to exist after having existed, to be very miserable. What, more so than not to have existed at all? Therefore, those who are not yet born are miserable because they are not; and we ourselves, if we are to be miserable after death, were miserable before we were born: but I do not remember that I was miserable before I was born; and I should be glad to know, if your memory is better, what you recollect of yourself before you were born.

You are pleasant: as if I had said that those men are miserable who are not born, and not that they are so who are dead. You say, then, that they are so? Yes; I say that because they no longer exist after having existed they are miserable.

You do not perceive that you are asserting contradictions; for what is a greater contradiction, than that that should be not only miserable, but should have any existence at all, which does not exist? When you go out at the Capene gate and see the tombs of the Calatini, the Scipios, Servilii, and Metelli, do you look on them as miserable? Because you press me with a word, henceforward I will not say they are miserable absolutely, but miserable on this account, because they have no existence.

Exactly so. As if it did not follow that whatever you speak of 15in that manner either is or is not. Are you not acquainted with the first principles of logic? Well, then, I now own that the dead are not miserable, since you have drawn from me a concession that they who do not exist at all can not be miserable. What then? We that are alive, are we not wretched, seeing we must die? Do you not, then, perceive how great is the evil from which you have delivered human nature?

By what means? Because, if to die were miserable to the dead, to live would be a kind of infinite and eternal misery. Now, however, I see a goal, and when I have reached it, there is nothing more to be feared; but you seem to me to follow the opinion of Epicharmus, 7 a man of some discernment, and sharp enough for a Sicilian. What opinion?

I will tell you if I can in Latin; for you know I am no more used to bring in Latin sentences in a Greek discourse than Greek in a Latin one. And that is right enough. But what is that opinion of Epicharmus? I would not die, but yet Am not concerned that I shall be dead.

I now recollect the Greek; but since you have 16obliged me to grant that the dead are not miserable, proceed to convince me that it is not miserable to be under a necessity of dying. That is easy enough; but I have greater things in hand. How comes that to be so easy?

And what are those things of more consequence? Thus: because, if there is no evil after death, then even death itself can be none; for that which immediately succeeds that is a state where you grant that there is no evil: so that even to be obliged to die can be no evil, for that is only the being obliged to arrive at a place where we allow that no evil is.

I beg you will be more explicit on this point, for these subtle arguments force me sooner to admissions than to conviction. But what are those more important things about which you say that you are occupied? To teach you, if I can, that death is not only no evil, but a good. I do not insist on that, but should be glad to hear you argue it, for even though you should not prove your point, yet you will prove that death is no evil. But I will not interrupt you; I would rather hear a continued discourse.

What, if I should ask you a question, would you not answer? That would look like pride; but I would rather you should not ask but where necessity requires.


Tusculanae Disputationes



Tusculanae disputationes




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