Some Latin passages on Friendship
Seneca, De Tranquilitate Animi
“Still nothing lightens the spirit as much as sweet and faithful friendship. What a good it is when hearts have been made ready in which every secret may be safely deposited, whose understanding of yourself you worry about less than your own, whose conversation relieves your fear, whose opinion hastens your plans, whose happiness dispels your sadness, and whose very sight delights you!”
Nihil tamen aeque oblectaverit animum, quam amicitia fidelis et dulcis. Quantum bonum est, ubi praeparata sunt pectora, in quae tuto secretum omne descendat, quorum conscientiam minus quam tuam timeas, quorum sermo sollicitudinem leniat, sententia consilium expediat, hilaritas tristitiam dissipet, conspectus ipse delectet!
Boethius, On the Consolation of Philosophy 3.35
“The most sacred thing of all is friends, something not recorded as luck but as virtue, since the rest of the goods are embraced with a view toward power or pleasure.”
amicorum vero quod sanctissimum quidem genus est, non in fortuna sed in virtute numeratur, reliquum vero vel potentiae causa vel delectationis assumitur
Cicero, De Finibus 1.64
“A subject remains which is especially important to this debate, that is friendship which, as you believe, will completely disappear if pleasure is the greatest good. Concerning friendship, Epicurus himself says that of all the paths to happiness wisdom has prepared, there is none greater, more productive, or more enchanting than this one. And he did not advocate for friendship in speech alone but much more through his life, his deeds and his customs.
Myths of the ancients illustrate how great friendship is—in those tales however varied and numerous you seek from the deepest part of antiquity and you will find scarcely three pairs of friends, starting with Theseus and up to Orestes. But, Epicurus in one single and quite small home kept so great a crowd of friends united by the depth of their love. And this is still the practice among Epicureans.”
XX Restat locus huic disputationi vel maxime necessarius, de amicitia, quam si voluptas summum sit bonum affirmatis nullam omnino fore; de qua Epicurus quidem ita dicit, omnium rerum quas ad beate vivendum sapientia comparaverit nihil esse maius amicitia, nihil uberius, nihil iucundius. Nec vero hoc oratione solum sed multo magis vita et factis et moribus comprobavit. Quod quam magnum sit fictae veterum fabulae declarant, in quibus tam multis tamque variis, ab ultima antiquitate repetitis, tria vix amicorum paria reperiuntur, ut ad Orestem pervenias profectus a Theseo. At vero Epicurus una in domo, et ea quidem angusta, quam magnos quantaque amoris conspiratione consentientes tenuit amicorum greges! quod fit etiam nunc ab Epicureis.
“An intelligent and well-disposed friend is the finest of all possessions.”
κτημάτων πάντων ἐστὶ τιμιώτατον ἀνὴρ φίλος συνετός τε καὶ εὔνοος
One thought on “The Highest Good: Friendship”
To all these wonderful remarks from antiquity, I would like to add sad corollary from the modern day:
Doc Holliday : Do you believe in friendship, Wyatt Earp?
Wyatt Earp : [nods head silently]
Doc Holliday : So do I. Do you have many friends?
Wyatt Earp : [shakes head ‘no’ silently]
Doc Holliday : Neither do I.
– From “Wyatt Earp,” 1994, script by Lawrence Kasdan, with Dan Gordon.