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De Officiis - On Duties

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Book Overview: 

On Duties (Latin: DE OFFICIIS) discusses virtue, expediency and apparent conflicts between the two. St. Ambrose, St. Jerome and other Doctors of the Roman Catholic Church considered it to be legitimate for study. It was the second book after the Bible printed on Gutenberg's press and a standard text taught at Eton College.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .leasure, and from anger, so that we may enjoy that calm of soul and freedom from care which bring both moral stability and dignity of character. |The retired life.| But there have been many and still are many who, while pursuing that calm of soul of which I speak, have withdrawn from civic duty and taken refuge in retirement. Among such have been found the most famous and by far the foremost philosophers[P] and certain other[Q] earnest, thoughtful men who could not endure the conduct of either the people or their leaders; some of them, too, lived in the country and found their pleasure in the management of their private estates. 70 Such men have had the same aims as kings—to suffer no want, to be subject to no authority, to enjoy their liberty, that is, in its essence, to live just as they please.


XXI. Quare cum hoc commune sit potentiae cupidorum cum iis, quos dixi, otiosis, alteri se adipisci id posse arbitrantur, si opes magnas habeant, alte. . . Read More

Community Reviews

On Obligations (De officiis) was written in 44 BC, shortly after Caesar’s assassination and shortly before Cicero’s own. Cicero discusses the nature of the honorable, our obligation to pursue the honorable through the exercise of four cardinal virtues (wisdom, justice, beneficence, and magnanimity),

Difficile de lire sans émotion ce texte, le dernier que Cicéron a laissé avant son assassinat par les spadassins de Marc Antoine : rédigé après la mort de César, il s'adresse à son fils et traite de la morale. C'est également le testament politique d'un homme qui a consacré sa vie à la République et

This book was written shortly after Caesar’s assassination in 44 B.C., and was heavily influenced by the Stoic school of philosophy. It could be said that this is a more historical than theoretical book, which makes it more practical in the light of daily experiences in a more direct way than other

It's interesting that I followed up the previous collection of Cicero's orations with this book. This work of Cicero's (originally titled De Officiis), really makes plain a lot of the sensibilities which I simply intuited from his orations. I mentioned in my last review that Cicero was very suspicio

Cicero's book is intelligent and charming, though his usual--how can I put this?--hatred of poor people does dull through the brilliance. But you shouldn't really need a goodreads review to convince you to read this book, which is tremendously important for the history of ideas Europe.

You might nee

Originally written for his son Marcus, this treatise expounds principles for a honorable life. The three books deal with 1) what is honorable, 2) what is useful and 3) what to do when the honorable "conflicts" with the useful.

In the end, Cicero argues that that which is honorable is also useful and

This was difficult to read. Every idea was so familiar, it made me constantly want to put it down for something else new and exciting. But when I look at society, pragmatic duties are not what I see the majority observe (or so it seems). So homily or not, it's usefulness or truth is not negated.


“Cicero, like thoughtful men of every age, knew that the reason vicious leaders like Caesar could rise to power was because the Roman population itself had been corrupted and no longer pursued the old virtues; a leader is, after all, a mirror of the people who choose him or at least allow him to ret

The original, and until about a century ago, the most popular discussion of why it's better to be admired than feared. From the 16th through the 19 centuries anyone in public life who considered himself educated and moral had to be intimately familiar with this book, written by Cicero as an essay to

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