“Theophrastus, in the book I already discussed, addresses the same matter which Cicero does, but more extensively and more pointedly. But he too does not make his opinion clear concerning distinguishing about a solitary and separate action—he does not use clearly established examples, but discusses classes of action in summary in close to the following:
“A small and rather thin shame or bad reputation ought to be endured if it is possible through it to be of great advantage to a friend. Certainly, the loss from a compromised sense of honor is repaid and repaired by some greater or weightier service to a friend and that momentary slip, or in a way, your damaged reputation is made whole again with the fine material of usefulness to a friend.”
21 Theophrastus autem in eo, quo dixi, libro inquisitius quidem super hac ipsa re et exactius pressiusque quam Cicero disserit. 22 Set is quoque in docendo non de unoquoque facto singillatim existimat neque certis exemplorum documentis, set generibus rerum summatim universimque utitur ad hunc ferme modum: 23 “Parva” inquit “et tenuis vel turpitudo vel infamia subeunda est, si ea re magna utilitas amico quaeri potest. Rependitur quippe et compensatur leve damnum delibatae honestatis maiore alia gravioreque in adiuvando amico honestate, minimaque illa labes et quasi lacuna famae munimentis partarum amico utilitatium solidatur.
“I fled to my place in Nomentum. Why do you think? To leave the city? no, to escape a fever that was working its way through me. It already grabbed ahold of me. My doctor was saying that the movement was troubled and uncertain and ruining my natural state. So, I ordered my car to be readied immediately and I persisted in leaving, although Paulina was trying to keep me at home. I remember that word from my teacher Gallio who, when he began to develop a fever in Achaea, ran aboard a ship right away shouting that his body wasn’t sick but the place was.
This is what I said to my Paulina who urges me to think about my health. I understand that her breath turns on mine and I am trying to care for myself to take care of her. And although old age has helped me be braver about many things, I am losing one benefit of this time of life. Indeed, the idea has entered my mind that there is a young man in this old age who needs compassion.
So, because I cannot persuade her to love me more stoically, she has persuaded me to treat myself more carefully. Real emotions should be indulged, even if other things press upon us in the meantime. Breath must be called back and held in even in pain to honor those we care for–the good person must not live as long as it is pleasing, but instead as long as they must. Someone who doesn’t think their spouse or friend worth living a bit longer for, who persists in wanting to die, is truly selfish.”
In Nomentanum meum fugi, quid putas? Urbem? Immo febrem et quidem subrepentem. Iam manum mihi iniecerat. Medicus initia esse dicebat motis venis et incertis et naturalem turbantibus modum. Protinus itaque parari vehiculum iussi; Paulina mea retinente exire perseveravi; illud mihi ore erat domini mei Gallionis, qui cum in Achaia febrem habere coepisset, protinus navem ascendit clamitans non corporis esse, sed loci morbum. Hoc ego Paulinae meae dixi, quae mihi valitudinem meam commendat. Nam cum sciam spiritum illius in meo verti, incipio, ut illi consulam, mihi consulere. Et cum me fortiorem senectus ad multa reddiderit, hoc beneficium aetatis amitto. Venit enim mihi in mentem, in hoc sene et adulescentem esse, cui parcitur. Itaque quoniam ego ab illa non impetro, ut me fortius amet, a me impetrat illa, ut me diligentius amem. Indulgendum est enim honestis adfectibus; et interdum, etiam si premunt causae, spiritus in honorem suorum vel cum tormento revocandus et in ipso ore retinendus est, cum bono viro vivendum sit non quamdiu iuvat sed quamdiu oportet. Ille, qui non uxorem, non amicum tanti putat, ut diutius in vita commoretur, qui perseverabit mori, delicatus est.
“Am I talking like an Epicurean again? Well, the same thing is good for me as for you–I am not your friend unless whatever bothers you matters to me too. Friendship makes everything into a partnership between us. There’s nothing good or bad for individuals: life is lived in common. It isn’t possible for anyone who only pays attention to themselves to live happily, someone who turns everything into a question of their own convenience. You need to live for another, if you want to live for yourself
This sense of community, when safeguarded carefully and sacredly, this force that mixes people of all kinds together, and insists that there are certain rights of the whole human race, is also important for what we are talking about, the closer commonwealth of friendship we must nurture. One who has much in common with humanity, has everything in common with a friend.”
Iterum ego tamquam Epicureus loquor? Mihi vero idem expedit, quod tibi; aut non sum amicus, nisi quicquid agitur ad te pertinens, meum est. Consortium rerum omnium inter nos facit amicitia. Nec secundi quicquam singulis est nec adversi; in commune vivitur. Nec potest quisquam beate degere, qui se tantum intuetur, qui omnia ad utilitates suas convertit; alteri vivas oportet, si vis tibi vivere. Haec societas diligenter et sancte observata, quae nos homines hominibus miscet et iudicat aliquod esse commune ius generis humani, plurimum ad illam quoque, de qua loquebar, interiorem societatem amicitiae colendam proficit. Omnia enim cum amico communia habebit, qui multa cum homine.
“I might be able use this saying of Maecenas to settle up my account with you But, if I know you, you will lodge a complaint against me that you don’t want to accept what I owe in this rough and debased form. Whatever happens, I have to give you these words from Epicurus:
“You must examine who you eat and drink with rather than what you eat and drink. For a barbeque without a friend is the life of a lion or wolf.” Well this won’t be your situation unless you retire; until then you will have whomever your head of household invites from the crowd of visitors. Someone makes a mistake, however, who seeks a friend in the dining hall or examines them over dinner. A person overwhelmed by their own possessions has no greater evil than believing they have friends in people they don’t actually like and thinking that their own gifts actually create friendships, when there are people who hate more because they owe more. A small loan makes someone a debtor; a big one makes them your enemy.
“What then? Gifts don’t help with friendship?” They help, if you can choose who accepts them, if they are carefully placed and not just tossed around.
So, while you are beginning to be of your own mind, use this advice from the wise: see that it is who gets something that matters more than what they receive.”
Poteram tecum hac Maecenatis sententia parem facere rationem. Sed movebis mihi controversiam, si novi te, nec voles quod debeo in aspero et inprobo accipere. Ut se res habet, ab Epicuro versura facienda est. “Ante,” inquit, “circumspiciendum est, cum quibus edas et bibas, quam quid edas e bibas. Nam sine amico visceratio leonis ac lupi vita est.” Hoc non continget tibi, nisi secesseris; alioqui habebis convivas, quos ex turba salutantium nomenclator digesserit. Errat autem, qui amicum in atrio quaerit, in convivio probat. Nullum habet maius malum occupatus homo et bonis suis obsessus, quam quod amicos sibi putat, quibus ipse non est, quod beneficia sua efficacia iudicat ad conciliandos amicos, cum quidam, quo plus debent, magis oderint. Leve aes alienum debitorem facit, grave inimicum. “Quid ergo? Beneficia non parant amicitias?” Parant, si accepturos licuit eligere, si conlocata, non sparsa sunt.
Itaque dum incipis esse mentis tuae, interim hoc consilio sapientium utere, ut magis ad rem existimes pertinere, quis, quam quid acceperit. Vale.
“When they need healing, people who have tooth pain or a stubbed toe go to doctors while those who have a fever ask them to come to their homes and help them. But people who fall into melancholy or a frenzy or hallucinations often cannot handle doctors visiting them and either urge them to leave or chase them off because they do not perceive that they are sick thanks to the severity of their sickness.
This is true as well of those who seriously fuck up. The people who cannot be cured are those who behave hatefully and cruelly and turn mean to those who try to correct them or help them. Those who endure and even welcome help do better. It is no small sign of progress when someone who is screwing up listens to those who try to correct them, to explain what the problem is, to reveal weakness and not to take pleasure in hiding mistakes or in them not being known but to admit them and the need to be held and advised by someone else.
That’s why Diogenes says somewhere that for the sake of safety a person should be concerned about finding either a serious friend or a committed enemy, to escape wickedness either through direct critique or kind assistance.”
“There’s a certain kind of person who tells everyone they meet details that should only be entrusted to friends and they unburden themselves on any available ear of whatever is annoying them. Other people withhold their true feeling from those closest to them–and, if they could, they would suppress every secret deep inside, distrustful even of themselves.
But neither way is right. It is as much a fault to trust everyone as it is to trust no one. The former mistake, however, I might call somewhat innocent, while the latter is safer. Really, you should criticize people who take both approaches, those who are always restless and those who are ever still. For delight in being busy is not rigor but instead is the treadmill of an unsettled mind. And yet it is not true rest to consider all movement annoying–that’s laziness and inattention.
So, take to mind instead this saying I read from Pomponius: “Some people retreat into shadows so far that they believe dark whatever is in the light.”
Quidam quae tantum amicis committenda sunt, obviis narrant et in quaslibet aures, quicquid illos urserit, exonerant. Quidam rursus etiam carissimorum conscientiam reformidant, et si possent, ne sibi quidem credituri interius premunt omne secretum. Neutrum faciendum est. Utrumque enim vitium est, et omnibus credere et nulli. Sed alterum honestius dixerim vitium, alterum tutius: sic utrosque reprehendas, et eos qui semper inquieti sunt, et eos qui semper quiescunt. Nam illa tumultu gaudens non est industria, sed exagitatae mentis concursatio. Et haec non est quies, quae motum omnem molestiam iudicat, sed dissolutio et languor. Itaque hoc, quod apud Pomponium legi, animo mandabitur: “quidam adeo in latebras refugerunt, ut putent in turbido esse, quicquid in luce est.”
Is there any way I can prove myself to you beyond the work I have put in to your Greek epigrams, which I have tried to match in Latin translation? It’s still a turn for the worse: the cause is the weakness of my own genius followed by the inadequacy of what Lucretius calls the “poverty of our country’s language.” But, if these Latin translations of mine seem to you to possess any bit of charm, then you know how much pleasure I have in the originals you made in Greek. Farewell.”
Plinius Arrio Antonino Suo S.
Quemadmodum magis adprobare tibi possum, quanto opere mirer epigrammata tua Graeca, quam quod quaedam Latine aemulari et exprimere temptavi? in deterius tamen. Accidit hoc primum imbecillitate ingenii mei, deinde inopia ac potius, ut Lucretius ait, egestate patrii sermonis. Quodsi haec, quae sunt et Latina et mea, habere tibi aliquid venustatis videbuntur, quantum putas inesse iis gratiae, quae et a te et Graece proferuntur! Vale.
“If someone praises you for as long as you see him
But lashes you with an evil tongue when you are apart,
That kind of man is not a very good friend at all.
He’s the kind who speaks smoothly with his tongue, but harbors different thoughts.
Let me have that kind of friend who knows his companion
And puts up with him when he’s mean or in a rage,
Like a brother. But you, friend, keep these things your heart
And you will remember me in future days.”
“One can survive the ruin from counterfeit silver and gold
Kurnos—and a wise person can easily discover it.
But if a dear friend’s mind is hidden in his chest
When he is false and he has a deceptive heart,
Well this the most counterfeit thing god has made for mortals
And it is the most painful thing of all to recognize.
For you cannot know the mind of a man or a woman
Before you investigate them, like an animal under a yoke—
And you cannot imagine what they are like at the right time
Since the outer image often misleads your judgment.”
“Dude, let’s be friends with each other at a distance.
With the exception of wealth, there’s too much of any good thing.
But we can be friends for a long time, just spend time with different men
Who have a better grasp of your mind.”
“It follows, then, that the most happy person will need to have friends, if he indeed chooses to gaze upon good and appropriate actions. This is what the activities of a good friend are. People also believe that a happy person’s life should be enjoyable. Life is hard for a solitary person. It is not easy to work constantly on your own. It is easier to do with with others and in partnership with them. Activity which is shared—already necessarily pleasant on its own—will be continuous, which is best for a happy person.
But since the perception of the fact that one is good is desirable and this perception is pleasing on its own, we need to share our friend’s perception that they exist. We achieve this by living together and sharing our words and thoughts. This is exactly what someone might call “living together” for human beings: it does not mean just grazing together like cattle.”
Cicero can seem an insufferable windbag in some of his speeches–but some of his letters humanize him.
Cicero to Atticus 1.18 20 Jan 60
“Know that I need nothing so much as a person to whom I can explain the things I worry about, someone who cares about me, who is wise, to whom I may speak and fabricate nothing, lie about nothing, and hold nothing back.
My brother is away, the most honest and beloved man. Metellus is not a man but instead is “shore and air” and “only solitude”. You, moreover, who most wisely lightens by concern and anxiety of spirit with conversation and counsel, you are my companion in public affairs and my confidant in private matters, and who are usually a companion of all my speeches and plans, where are you? I am so completely isolated that I only have as much relaxation as those moments spend with my wife, my little girl and my sweetest Marcus.
For my ambitious and convenient friendships have a certain shine in public affairs, but they bear no domestic fruit. My home is so full with a crowd in the morning but when I go to the forum with flocks of friends, I can’t find a single person in the great crowd to share a joke with or to whisper familiarly.
This is why I am looking for you, why I miss you, and I am also now calling you home. Many things really trouble me and make me anxious—but these are things which I think I can get off my chest once I have your ears for a talk during a single walk.”
Nihil mihi nunc scito tam deesse quam hominem eum quocum omnia quae me cura aliqua adficiunt una communicem, qui me amet, qui sapiat, quicum ego cum loquar nihil fingam, nihil dissimulem, nihil obtegam. abest enim frater ἀϕελέστατος et amantissimus. †Metellus† non homo sed ‘litus atque aër’ et ‘solitudo me<r>a.’ tu autem qui saepissime curam et angorem animi mei sermone et consilio levasti tuo, qui mihi et in publica re socius et in privatis omnibus conscius et omnium meorum sermonum et consiliorum particeps esse soles, ubinam es? ita sum ab omnibus destitutus ut tantum requietis habeam quantum cum uxore et filiola et mellito Cicerone consumitur. nam illae ambitiosae nostrae fucosaeque amicitiae sunt in quodam splendore forensi, fructum domesticum non habent. itaque cum bene completa domus est tempore matutino, cum ad forum stipati gregibus amicorum descendimus, reperire ex magna turba neminem possumus quocum aut iocari libere aut suspirare familiariter possimus. qua re te exspectamus, te desideramus, te iam etiam arcessimus. multa sunt enim quae me sollicitant anguntque, quae mihi videor auris nactus tuas unius ambulationis sermone exhaurire posse.