This page contains a collection of philosophical quotes by Cicero. Details about the book, chapter number, and translation are included where applicable.
Of all forms of injustice, none is more flagrant than that of the hypocrite who, at the very moment when he is most false, makes it his business to appear virtuous.
– De Officiis, I, 13, trans. Walter Miller
The soul that is altogether courageous and great is marked above all by two characteristics: one of these is indifference to outward circumstances; for such a person cherishes the conviction that nothing but moral goodness and propriety deserves to be either admired or wished for or striven after, and that he ought not to be subject to any man or any passion or any accident of fortune. The second characteristic is that, when the soul is disciplined in the way above mentioned, one should do deeds not only great and in the highest degree useful, but extremely arduous and laborious and fraught with danger both to life and to many things that make life worth living.
– De Officiis, I, 20, trans. Walter Miller
Beware of ambition for wealth; for there is nothing so characteristic of narrowness and littleness of soul as the love of riches; and there is nothing more honourable and noble than to be indifferent to money, if one does not possess it, and to devote it to beneficence and liberality, if one does possess it.
– De Officiis, I, 20, trans. Walter Miller
On human nature:
The most marked difference between man and beast is this: the beast, just as far as it is moved by the senses and with very little perception of past or future, adapts itself to that alone which is present at the moment; while man—because he is endowed with reason, by which he comprehends the chain of consequences, perceives the causes of things, understands the relation of cause to effect and of effect to cause, draws analogies, and connects and associates the present and the future—easily surveys the course of his whole life and makes the necessary preparations for its conduct.
– De Officiis, I, 4, trans. Walter Miller
The greatest privilege of wealth is, beyond all peradventure, the opportunity it affords for doing good, without sacrificing one’s fortune.
– De Officiis, II, 18, trans. Walter Miller
If we are so disposed that each, to gain some personal profit, will defraud or injure his neighbour, then those bonds of human society, which are most in accord with nature’s laws, must of necessity be broken.
– De Officiis, III, 5, trans. Walter Miller
No statement is too absurd for some philosophers to make.
– On Divination, II, 58, trans. W. A. Falconer
Cato: The course of life is fixed, and nature admits of its being run but in one way, and only once; and to each part of our life there is something specially seasonable; so that the feebleness of children, as well as the high spirit of youth, the soberness of maturer years, and the ripe wisdom of old age—all have a certain natural advantage which should be secured in its proper season.
– On Old Age, X, trans. E. S. Shuckburgh
Cato: The fact is that old age is respectable just as long as it asserts itself, maintains its proper rights, and is not enslaved to any one. For as I admire a young man who has something of the old man in him, so do I an old one who has something of a young man. The man who aims at this may possibly become old in body—in mind he never will.
– On Old Age, XI, trans. E. S. Shuckburgh
There is naturally in our minds a certain insatiable desire to know the truth.
– Tusculan Disputations, I, 19, trans. C. D. Yonge
Away, then, with those follies, which are little better than the old women’s dreams, such as that it is miserable to die before our time. What time do you mean? That of nature? But she has only lent you life, as she might lend you money, without fixing any certain time for its repayment. Have you any grounds of complaint, then, that she recalls it at her pleasure?
– Tusculan Disputations, I, 39, trans. C. D. Yonge
It is the effect of philosophy, which is the medicine of our souls; it banishes all groundless apprehensions, frees us from desires, and drives away fears.
– Tusculan Disputations, II, 4, trans. C. D. Yonge
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.
– Tusculan Disputations, IV, 32, trans. C. D. Yonge
Philosophy, thou guide of life! thou discoverer of virtue and expeller of vices! what had not only I myself, but the whole life of man, been without you? . . . You have been the inventress of laws; you have been our instructress in morals and discipline; to you we fly for refuge; from you we implore assistance; and as I formerly submitted to you in a great degree, so now I surrender up myself entirely to you. For one day spent well, and agreeably to your precepts, is preferable to an eternity of error. Whose assistance, then, can be of more service to me than yours, when you have bestowed on us tranquillity of life, and removed the fear of death?
– Tusculan Disputations, V, 2, trans. C. D. Yonge
If you’d like to learn more about philosophy, check out this collection of Resources and Reading Lists.