A Not So Tawdry Tuesday: Cicero Talks About Sex

Apart from his pristine Latinity, Cicero was likely popular with church fathers for other reasons….

Letter to Octavian, 10

“Brutus will hear that the very people he himself and his children freed from kings have descended into slavery for the sake of filthy lust. This news will come to him quickly—and I will take it if no one else will. For if I cannot escape such things while alive, I have decided that I will flee them and life at the same time.”

audiet Brutus eum populum, quem ipse primo, post progenies eius a regibus liberavit, pro turpi stupro datum in servitutem. quae quidem, si nullo alio, me tamen internuntio celeriter ad illos deferentur; nam si vivus ista subterfugere non potero, una cum istis vitam simul fugere decrevi.

Tusculan Disputationes, 4.68

“And as those who are carried away with joy when they enjoy Venus’ pleasures are filthy, those who share their desire with a burning spirit are criminal. Indeed, the whole thing which is commonly called ‘love’—and by god it is impossible to name it anything else—is of such meaninglessness that I know of nothing I think is comparable.”

Et ut turpes sunt qui efferunt se laetitia tum, cum fruuntur Veneriis voluptatibus, sic flagitiosi, qui eas inflammato animo concupiscunt. Totus vero iste, qui vulgo appellatur amor—nec hercule invenio quo nomine alio possit appellari—, tantae levitatis est, ut nihil videam quod putem conferendum

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De Senectute, 39

“The third typical criticism of old age follows this, and that is that people complain that it lacks [sexual] pleasures. Oh! Glorious wealth of age, if it takes that from us, the most criminal part of youth! Take this from me, most noble young men, this is the ancient speech of Archytas of Tarentum, which was repeated to me when I was a young man working for Quintus Maximus there: “Nature has given man no deadlier a curse than sexual desire.”

XII. Sequitur tertia vituperatio senectutis, quod eam carere dicunt voluptatibus. O praeclarum munus aetatis, si quidem id aufert a nobis, quod est in adulescentia vitiosissimum! Accipite enim, optimi adulescentes, veterem orationem Archytae Tarentini, magni in primis et praeclari viri, quae mihi tradita est cum essem adulescens Tarenti cum Q. Maximo. Nullam capitaliorem pestem quam voluptatem corporis hominibus dicebat a natura datam

 

Can someone please put this into Latin?

By John Leech –  Public Domain

 

Philosophers Need Life-Coaches

Cicero, Letter Fragments. Nepos to Cicero IIa

Nepos Cornelius also writes to the same Cicero thus: it is so far away from me thinking that philosophy is a teacher of life and the guardian of a happy life, that I do not believe that anyone needs teachers of living more than the many men who are dedicated to philosophical debate. I certainly see that a great number of those who rush into speeches about restraint and discipline in the classroom live amidst the desire for every kind of vice.”

Nepos quoque Cornelius ad eundem Ciceronem ita scribit: tantum abest ut ego magistram putem esse vitae philosophiam beataeque vitae perfectricem ut nullis magis existimem opus esse magistros vivendi quam plerisque qui in ea disputanda versantur. video enim magnam partem eorum qui in schola de pudore <et> continentia praecipiant argutissime eosdem in omnium libidinum cupiditatibus vivere. (Lactant. Div. inst. 3.5.10)

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Presocratic Healthcare Plan: Everyone a Doctor, Everyone a Sage

A Letter to Hippocrates: Ps.-Hipp. Epist. 23 (9.392–93 Littré)

“Democritus writes to Hippocrates on the nature of human beings:

“Hippocrates, all people should know the art of medicine, since it it is noble and also advantageous for life and it is a special possession of those people who have deep experience in education and argumentation. I think that the pursuit of wisdom is the sibling and roommate of medicine since wisdom frees the soul of suffering, and medicine rids the body of illnesses.”

Δημόκριτος Ἱπποκράτει περὶ φύσιος ἀνθρώπου.

χρὴ πάντας ἀνθρώπους ἰητρικὴν τέχνην ἐπίστασθαι, ὦ Ἱππόκρατες, καλὸν γὰρ ἅμα καὶ ξυμφέρον ἐς τὸν βίον, τουτέων δὲ μάλιστα τοὺς παιδείας καὶ λόγων ἴδριας γεγενημένους. ἱστορίην σοφίης γὰρ δοκέω ἰητρικῆς ἀδελφὴν καὶ ξύνοικον· σοφίη μὲν γὰρ ψυχὴν ἀναρύεται παθέων, ἰητρικὴ δὲ νούσους σωμάτων ἀφαιρέεται [. . .].

Image from Wikipedia

“Phoenician Letters”: Greeks on Where Writing Game From

Photios, Lexikon s.v. Φοινικήια γράμματα Ν.

“The Lydians and Ionans [report] that letters came from Phoinix the son of Agênor who invented them. But the Cretans report differently that they were developed from writing on the leaves of palm trees [phoinikes].

Skamôn, in the second book of his Inventions, says that they were named for Aktaion’s daughter Phoinikê. The story goes that he had no male children, but that he had daughters Aglauros, Ersê, and Pandrosos. Phoinikê died still a virgin. For this reason, Aktaion named the letters “Phoenician” for her, because he wished to give some honor to his daughter.”

Λυδοὶ καὶ ῎Ιωνες τὰ γράμματα ἀπὸ Φοίνικος τοῦ ᾽Λγήνορος τοῦ εὑρόντος· τούτοις δὲ ἀντιλέγουσι Κρῆτες, ὡς εὑρέθη ἀπὸ τοῦ γράφειν ἐν φοινίκων πετάλοις. Σκάμων δ᾽ ἐν τῆι δευτέραι τῶν Εὑρημάτων ἀπὸ Φοινίκης τῆς ᾽Ακταίωνος ὀνομασθῆναι. μυθεύεται δὲ οὗτος ἀρσένων μὲν παίδων ἄπαις, γενέσθαι δὲ αὐτῶι θυγατέρας ῎Αγλαυρον, ῎Ερσην, Πάνδροσον· τὴν δὲ Φοινίκην ἔτι παρθένον οὖσαν τελευτῆσαι· διὸ καὶ Φοινικήια τὰ γράμματα τὸν ᾽Ακταίωνα, βουλόμενόν τινος τιμῆς ἀπονεῖμαι τῆι θυγατρί.

Suda, s.v grammata

“Letters: Know that Phoenicians were the first to invent letters. For this reason, letters are also called Phoinikeia. People also say that Kadmos first brought them to Greece. And Apis, the Egyptian, brought medicine. Asklepios improved the art itself. Look also in the entry on Phoenician Letters.” [reference is the same as reported in Photios’ Lexicon.]

Γράμματα: ὅτι τὰ γράμματα Φοίνικες ἐφεῦρον πρῶτοι. ἔνθεν καὶ Φοινίκεια ἐκλήθησαν. καὶ τὸν Κάδμον φασὶ πρῶτον ἐς τὴν ῾Ελλάδα κομίσαι· ἰατρικὴν δὲ ὁ ῎Απις ὁ Αἰγύπτιος· ὁ δὲ ᾿Ασκληπιὸς ηὔξησε τὴν τέχνην. καὶ ζήτει ἐν τῷ Φοινικήϊα γράμματα.

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8th Century BCE Nora Stone (from biblicalarchaeology.org)

Changing Tack: Cicero on Ends and Means in Politics

Ep. 20 (I.9) Cicero to Lentulus Spinther

“For I do not think it is necessary to fight against such powers nor to get rid of the precedence taken by our highest citizens, even if it were possible; nor do I think it necessary to affix myself to a single opinion when situations change and the desires of good men change with them—no, one must change with the times. Remaining in an permanent opinion has never been praised among exceptional men for the governing of the state.

But, as in sailing it is good to get ahead of a storm even if you will not find the harbor; yet if you can make it to safe ground by changing your approach, only a fool would risk danger to hold to the course he began rather than make his destination by changing something. Thus, while all of us running the state should seek the proposition which I have often sought—peace with dignity—we should ensure not to speak the same but always to seek the same thing.”

  1. nam neque pugnandum arbitrarer contra tantas opes neque delendum, etiam si id fieri posset, summorum civium principatum <neque> permanendum in una sententia conversis rebus ac bonorum voluntatibus mutatis, sed temporibus adsentiendum. numquam enim <in>praestantibus in re publica gubernanda viris laudata est in una sententia perpetua permansio; sed ut in navigando tempestati obsequi artis est etiam si portum tenere non queas, cum vero id possis mutata velificatione adsequi stultum est eum tenere cum periculo cursum quem coeperis potius quam eo commutato quo velis tamen pervenire, sic, cum omnibus nobis in administranda re publica propositum esse debeat, id quod a me saepissime dictum est, cum dignitate otium, non idem semper dicere sed idem semper spectare debemus.
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Burney 275

Better Not to Live Than See These Things!

This is a real passage from Cicero, unlike some others.

Cicero to Titus, 46 BCE Letters to Friends 5.16

“If your own sorrow moves you or if you are weeping at the thought of your own affairs, then I believe that you cannot easily use up all your pain. If, however, the greater spirit of love tortures who and you grieve over the loss of those who have died, I will not repeat those things which I have most frequently read and heard—that there is nothing bad in death since if any sense of it exists then it should not be considered death but some immortality, while if there is no sense of it at all than what cannot be felt should not be considered pitiable.

But I can still assert this without a second thought: whoever has departed from the current events which have been whipped up and prepared and are hanging over our country has been robbed of nothing. What room is there left any more for shame, honor, virtue, honest pursuits, the noble arts, any kind of liberty or even place of safety?”

Quod si tuum te desiderium movet aut si tuarum rerum cogitatione maeres, non facile exhauriri tibi istum dolorem posse universum puto; sin illa te res cruciat quae magis amoris est, ut eorum qui occiderunt miserias lugeas, ut ea non dicam quae saepissime et legi et audivi, nihil mali esse in morte, ex qua si resideat sensus immortalitas illa potius quam mors ducenda sit, sin sit amissus nulla videri miseria debeat quae non sentiatur, hoc tamen non dubitans confirmare possum, ea misceri, parari, impendere rei publicae quae qui reliquerit nullo modo mihi quidem deceptus esse videatur. quid est enim iam non modo pudori, probitati, virtuti, rectis studiis, bonis artibus sed omnino libertati ac saluti loci?

Death of Cicero

Telling Teacher about Groin Pain

Marcus Aurelius to Fronto, 148–149 a.d. 

“I have learned that you have pain in your groin, my teacher. Because I remember how much trouble this pain usually gives you, I myself am suffering the worst worry. But my hope that in the time it took for this news to come to me that pain has potentially given in to applications and treatments lessons my worry. We are at this point enduring the summer heat, but our little girls—may it be permitted to say—are growing well. We suspect we are enduring healthy weather and spring temperatures. Goodbye, best of teachers.”

Magistro meo salutem.

Doluisse te inguina cognosco, mi magister, et quom recordor quantam vexationem tibi iste dolor adferre soleat, gravissimam sollicitudinem patior. Sed me levat quod spero illo spatio, quo perferebatur huc1 nuntius, potuisse cedere fomentis et remediis illam vim doloris. Nos aestivos calores adhuc experimur, sed quom parvolae nostrae, dixisse liceat, commode valeant, mera salubritate et verna temperie frui existimamus. Vale mi optime magister.

 

For the second part we have the better translation from Marius Ivașcu  “We are still experiencing the scorching heat of summer, but as long as our little ones – if we may say so – are feeling comfortable – we reckon we are enjoying pure health and springly mildness.” 

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