Retirement and Its Labors

Petrarch, de Otio et Solitudine (4):

I recount leaders in war. Marcus Tullis Cicero, after the innumerable labors which he bore in politics, after so many pivotal moments which his highly turbulent consulship and that immortal contest with the wicked had given rise to, and once the liberty of the citizens had been broken, he sailed away from everyone as though with his stern submerged, stripped of all ornaments, and retreated into retirement. In this retirement, he spoke of himself as ‘traversing the country, he was often alone.’ But what business, I ask, what busy activity could be compared to his retirement? To be sure, he took pity on his country’s downfall and greatly bewailed it, but from that grief there flowed forth monuments of his divine intelligence, which made their way to all people. He says in the same place, ‘In a short time, I wrote more things once the republic had been overturned than I had in the space of many years while it still stood firm.’ But indeed, he could not bend his fate: he was safe in the storm, but suffered a shipwreck in port.

Petrarch and the Sonnets | Dave Z'Art

Duces bellorum memoro: M. Tullius Cicero post innumerabiles labores quos in republica pertulit, post tam multa discrimina que sibi suus ille turbulentissimus consulatus et cum improbis certamen immortale pepererat, fracta tandem libertate civium, velut puppe submerse nudus ornamentis suis omnibus enavit inque otium secessit. In quo quidem «rura peragrando», sicut ipse de se loquitur, «sepe solus erat». ⟨2⟩ Sed quod negotium, queso, cum illius otio, que frequentia cum illius solitudine conferenda est? Quam licet ipse casum patrie miseratus graviter defleat, inde tamen ad omnes populos perventura divini ingenii monimenta fluxerunt: «plura» enim, ut ibidem ait idem, «brevi tempore eversa quam multis annis stante republica scripsit». Atqui fatum suum declinare non valuit: in tempestate tutus, in portu naufragium passus est.

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