Time Spent With the Harvard Classics – Cicero – On Friendship

Cicero was born on January 3, 106 B.C.  

The Roman politician and attorney Marcus Tullius Cicero was born on January 3, 106 BC and passed away on December 7, 43 BC.  Coming from a wealthy family of the Roman equestrian order he is considered on of Rome’s greatest orator and writer of prose.  His influence on Latin is so immense that many have taken the position that all European prose until the 19th century is fairly much in reaction to his style.  It is said that Cicero introduced the Romans to Greek philosophy.

The latter half of the First Century BC was marked by civil war and then the dictatorship of Gaius Julius Caesar.  Throughout all of this, Cicero championed a return to traditional republican government.  Following Caesar’s death, Cicero became the enemy of Mark Antony and attacked him in series of speeches during the ensuing power struggle.  Named as an enemy of the state by the Second Triumvirate, he was executed while attempting to flee the Italian peninsula.  Mark Antony being ever so gracious displayed Cicero’s severed head and hands in the Forum.

In the 14th century, Petrarch’s discovery of Cicero’s letters initiated the Renaissance with respect to public affairs, humanism and classical Roman culture.  This era could easily be said to have been Cicero’s revival and through this the rest of Classical antiquity.  This came to its ultimate prominence during the 18th century Enlightenment in his influence on Locke, Hume, Montesquieu and Burke.  In turn, it might easily be said his thought was substantial in the formation of the United States of America, particularly in establishment of our republic.

Laelius de Amicitia  is a treatise on friendship written by this statesman and was written in 44 BC.    In it, Cicero ponders the meaning of friendship through the illustrative vehicle of the relationship between Scipio Aemilianus and Laelius at the death of Sicipio.  During his bereavement Laelius makes the case for what makes good friends and how to expose a bad friend.  He does so by providing examples from his life.  Throughout, the important of virtue in friendship is emphasized.  True friendship cannot exit without it.

You may read the treatise On Friendship here:


Alternatively, you may listen to this work in an audiobook format here:



About alohapromisesforever

Writer, poet, musician, surfer, father of two princesses.
This entry was posted in Thought For the Day and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s