Marcus Tullius Cicero (January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC) was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists.
His influence on the Latin language was so immense that the subsequent history of prose in not only Latin but European languages up to the 19th century was said to be either a reaction against or a return to his style. According to Michael Grant, “the influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas greatly exceeds that of any other prose writer in any language.” Cicero introduced the Romans to the chief schools of Greek philosophy and created a Latin philosophical vocabulary distinguishing himself as a linguist, translator, and philosopher.
1. IF YOU HAVE A GARDEN AND A LIBRARY, YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED.
2. A ROOM WITHOUT BOOKS IS LIKE A BODY WITHOUT A SOUL.
3. 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.
4. TO ADD A LIBRARY TO A HOUSE IS TO GIVE THAT HOUSE A SOUL.
5. TIMES ARE BAD. CHILDREN NO LONGER OBEY THEIR PARENTS, AND EVERYONE IS WRITING A BOOK.
6. FRIENDSHIP IMPROVES HAPPINESS, AND ABATES MISERY, BY DOUBLING OUR JOYS, AND DIVIDING OUR GRIEF.
7. 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.
8. LAWS ARE SILENT IN TIMES OF WAR.
9. TO BE IGNORANT OF WHAT OCCURRED BEFORE YOU WERE BORN IS TO REMAIN ALWAYS A CHILD. FOR WHAT IS THE WORTH OF HUMAN LIFE, UNLESS IT IS WOVEN INTO THE LIFE OF OUR ANCESTORS BY THE RECORDS OF HISTORY?
10. IF WE ARE NOT ASHAMED TO THINK IT, WE SHOULD NOT BE ASHAMED TO SAY IT.
11. GRATITUDE IS NOT ONLY THE GREATEST OF VIRTUES, BUT THE PARENT OF ALL OTHERS.
12. THE AUTHORITY OF THOSE WHO TEACH IS OFTEN AN OBSTACLE TO THOSE WHO WANT TO LEARN.
13. THE LIFE OF THE DEAD IS SET IN THE MEMORY OF THE LIVING.
14. THE LIFE GIVEN US, BY NATURE IS SHORT; BUT THE MEMORY OF A WELL-SPENT LIFE IS ETERNAL.
15. 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.
16. POLITICIANS ARE NOT BORN; THEY ARE EXCRETED.
17. 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.
18. THE SHIFTS OF FORTUNE TEST THE RELIABILITY OF FRIENDS.
19. LIFE IS NOTHING WITHOUT FRIENDSHIP.
20. WHILE THERE’S LIFE, THERE’S HOPE.