Cicero Quotes

Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106 – 43 BC

Born: 3 January 106 BC, Arpinum, Rome
Died: 7 December 43 BC, Formia, Rome

Cicero’s family was not one of those that controlled Rome’s Republican government but he had political ambition and went into law as a path to power. He was elected to all of the major Roman offices of the day (quaestor, aedile, praetor, and consul in turn), each on his first run, and each at the youngest eligible age for the office. Cicero was elected Consul for 63 BC, during which he thwarted an attempt to assassinate him and overthrow the Republic. At the conclusion of this, with the consent of the Senate but without a formal trial, he had the four conspirators strangled. Three years later he was asked to join the triumvirate ruling the empire but declined. It was then declared that anyone executing a Roman citizen without trial would be exiled and though Cicero argued against the rule he left for Thessalonica, Greece in 58 BC, he was recalled by the Senate a year and a half later. In 50 BC he sided with Pompey against Julius Caesar, but not too openly, and was not involved in the assassination on the Ides of March in the year 44 BC. Cicero and Mark Antony were the two leaders of Rome at that point, Cicero as spokesman for the Senate and Antony as leader of the Caesarean faction. Cicero’s attempt to drive Antony out of power failed and though he was willingly concealed by the public, two assassins found him the next year. His first love was politics, but he wrote books on rhetoric and philosophy when he couldn’t participate in the political arena, and a large number of his speeches were recorded, of which 58 survive.

Cicero quotes:

A friend is, as it were, a second self.
    Cicero – De Amicitia (On Friendship, 44 BC)

A friend is, as it were, a second self.
    Cicero

A home without books is a body without soul.
    Cicero

A war is never undertaken by the ideal State, except in defense of its honor or its safety.
    Cicero

Advice in old age is foolish; for what can be more absurd than to increase our provisions for the road the nearer we approach to our journey’s end.
    Cicero

Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.
    Cicero

As I approve of a youth who has something of the old man in him, so I am no less pleased with an old man who has something of the youth.
    Cicero

By doubting we come at truth.
    Cicero

Confidence is that feeling by which the mind embarks in great and honorable courses with a sure hope and trust in itself.
    Cicero

Democritus maintains that there can be no great poet without a spite of madness.
    Cicero

Endless money forms the sinews of war.
    Cicero

Exile is terrible to those who have, as it were, a circumscribed habitation; but not to those who look upon the whole globe but as one city.
    Cicero

Extreme justice is extreme injustice.
    Cicero

For how many things, which for our own sake we should never do, do we perform for the sake of our friends?
    Cicero

Freedom is] the power to live as you will. Who then lives as he wills?
    Cicero

Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never endangered.
    Cicero

Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.
    Cicero – De Amicitia (On Friendship, 44 BC)

Friendship is the only thing in this world, the usefulness of which all mankind are in agreement.
    Cicero

Friendship was given by nature to be an assistant to virtue, not a companion to vice.
    Cicero

Genius is fostered by energy.
    Cicero

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
    Cicero

I am not ashamed to confess I am ignorant of what I do not know.
    Cicero

I criticize by creation – not by finding fault.
    Cicero

I follow nature as my surest guide, and resign myself, with implicit obedience, to her sacred ordinances.
    Cicero

I prefer tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity.
    Cicero

I remind you, sir, that extreme patriotism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice no virtue.
    Cicero

If a man aspires to the highest place, it is no dishonor to him to halt at the second, or even at the third.
    Cicero

If the soul has food for study and learning, nothing is more delightful than an old age of leisure.
    Cicero

If we are not ashamed to think it, we should not be ashamed to say it.
    Cicero

If you aspire to the highest place it is no disgrace to stop at the second, or even the third.
    Cicero

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
    Cicero

In anger nothing right nor judicious can be done.
    Cicero – De Officiis (On Duties, 44 BC)

In the very books in which philosophers bid us scorn fame, they inscribe their names.
    Cicero

It is as hard for the good to suspect evil, as it is for the bad to suspect good.
    Cicero

It was our own moral failure and not any accident of chance, that while preserving the appearance of the Republic we lost its reality.
    Cicero

Justice is the crowning glory of the virtues.
    Cicero

Justice renders to everyone his due.
    Cicero

Law stands mute in the midst of arms.
    Cicero

Let the punishment match the offense.
    Cicero

Liberty consists in the power of doing that which is permitted by law.
    Cicero

Men in no way approach so nearly to the gods as in doing good to men.
    Cicero

My precept to all who build is, that the owner should be an ornament to the house, and not the house to the owner.
    Cicero

Natural ability without education has more often raised a man to glory and virtue than education without natural ability.
    Cicero

Never injure a friend, even in jest.
    Cicero

No man can be brave who thinks pain the greatest evil; nor temperate, who considers pleasure the hightest good.
    Cicero

No one can give you better advice than yourself.
    Cicero

No one dances sober, unless he is insane.
    Cicero

No sane man will dance.
    Cicero

Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to be always a child. If no use is made of the labors of past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.
    Cicero

Nothing is more noble, nothing more venerable than fidelity. Faithfulness and truth are the most sacred excellences and endowments of the human mind.
    Cicero

Nothing quite new is perfect.
    Cicero

Old age: the crown of life, our play’s last act.
    Cicero

One should be moderate in his jests.
    Cicero

One should eat to live, not live to eat.
    Cicero

Philosophy is the true mother of science.
    Cicero

Pleasure is the absence of pain.
    Cicero

Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.
    Cicero

The authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn.
    Cicero

The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt.
    Cicero

The countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.
    Cicero

The greater the difficulty, the greater the glory.
    Cicero

The harvest of old age is the recollection and abundance of blessing previously secured.
    Cicero

The pursuit, even of the best things, ought to be calm and tranquil.
    Cicero

The shifts of Fortune test the reliability of friends.
    Cicero – De Amicitia (On Friendship, 44 BC)

The spirit is the true self.
    Cicero

The thirst of desire is never filled, nor fully satisfied.
    Cicero

The welfare of the people is the ultimate law.
    Cicero

There is no place more delightful than home.
    Cicero

There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly.
    Cicero – last words, to Herennius

There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it.
    Cicero

There is nothing which wings its flight so swiftly as calumny, nothing is uttered with more ease; nothing is listened to with more readiness, nothing disbursed more widely.
    Cicero

Though silence is not necessarily an admission, it is not a denial, either.
    Cicero

Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.
    Cicero

To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man’s lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?
    Cicero

Too much liberty leads both men and nations to slavery.
    Cicero

True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions.
    Cicero

Vivere est cogitare. (To think is to live)
    Cicero

We are all motivated by a keen desire for praise, and the better a man is, the more he is inspired by glory.
    Cicero

We are in bondage to the law in order that we may be free.
    Cicero

We are not born for ourselves alone
    Cicero – De Officiis (On Duties, 44 BC)

We do not destroy religion by destroying superstition.
    Cicero

We should measure affection, not like youngsters by the ardor of its passion, but by its strength and constancy.
    Cicero

What is dignity without honesty?
    Cicero

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.
    Cicero

While there’s life, there’s hope.
    Cicero

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