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In the second half of the second century BC, a single personality became ascendant in the Roman Republic. Scipio Aemilianus assumed the mantle of the first man in Rome from 146 BC until his death in 129 BC. Modern biographers of this leading statesman have drawn different conclusions about the influence of Greek ethics on the life of Scipio, either that he possessed a Hellenistic way of thinking or that he was a traditional Roman aristocrat. Much debate turns on historiography and the question of the usability of sources like Cicero for the history of the second century BC. This article focusses on de Officiis Books 1–2 and the issue of Cicero's debt to the writing of the Stoic philosopher Panaetius of Rhodes, Scipio's friend and tutor. I argue that sufficient evidence exists in the references to Scipio in Off. 1–2 to demonstrate that Panaetius had characterised Scipio as influenced by the Stoic way of living and explicitly as a Roman example of the virtue of greatness of soul. This argument is supported by corroborating evidence from Polybius, Scipio's friend and confidant, who also wrote about him in his Histories.
Cicero’s De Officiis offers the most extensive discussion of the Stoic concept of duty (Greek kathēkon). The chapter addresses the way Cicero introduces into his treatise, with the support of relevant examples, the topic of conflict between different duties and their corresponding actions. The first part of the chapter discusses the influence of the Stoic Panaetius’ treatise ‘On Duty’ on Cicero and Cicero’s divergence from Panaetius in his treatment of conflict of duties. The second part of the chapter analyses how duty applies to different social relationships in De Officiis and how these duties are prioritized, in case of conflict, according to the specific circumstances of action. It is thereby shown that the idea of conflict of duties in Cicero excludes ‘tragic dilemmas’, supporting the Stoic view that there is only one dutiful action to be discharged on every occasion. Finally, the third part of the chapter presents the conflict between the ‘expedient’ and ‘honourable’ courses of action in De Officiis and Cicero’s attempt to present, in line with Stoic views, such a conflict as merely apparent.
This chapter argues that Cicero’s discussion of decorum in De Officiis (1.93-151) represented a striking innovation—both within Cicero’s Roman milieu and in the Greek tradition of his source, Panaetius—for its importation of an aesthetic term, to prepon, into the sphere of ethics. Panaetius’ adoption of this term for philosophical purposes was clever, and one of several innovations that foreshadowed important trends in later philosophy. For Cicero, writing during dramatic social and political upheaval, Panaetius’ innovation represented an opportunity that suited the times. Caesar’s accession had brought profound changes, encouraging a shift from the traditional activities of public self-display to a focus on private self-care and a self-display predicated on written works; as Cicero himself puts it at Off. 2.3, if Caesar had not abolished republican governance, he would still be delivering speeches, not writing philosophy. Moral behavior at Rome had long been governed by exempla, public acts by (usually) public men. By borrowing Panaetius’ suggestion that moral goodness could also be understood in private (and expressly literary/rhetorical terms), Cicero laid the groundwork for a remarkably durable idea in Roman culture, and one with particular resonance in the Augustan period, as Horace’s Ars Poetica shows.
In this Introduction, I first discuss the title, form and method of De Officiis, with a focus on Cicero’s prefaces to the three books that comprise the work, in order both to complement the essays that follow and because the prefaces give important information about Cicero’s compositional methods and motives. Having thus put the work into context, I go on to explain and discuss the structure of the volume itself, and offer a brief outline of the individual chapters.
In book 1.11-20 of De Officiis, Cicero draws on the work of Panaetius to give an account of how the most basic, in-built features of human nature provide a foundation for the cardinal virtues. His account begins from the basic drive for self-preservation which is the usual starting point for the canonical Stoic doctrine of oikeiōsis. The developments that Cicero claims follow from this fundamental starting point are, however, quite different from those which ensue on the other preserved accounts of oikeiōsis, such as that reported for Chrysippus in Diogenes Laërtius 7.85-86, the account in Cicero’s De Finibus 3.16-25 and the one in letter 121 of Seneca. It is also importantly different from the more complex account attributed to Posidonius by Galen in On the Doctrines of Plato and Hippocrates 5.5.8-9. By comparing and contrasting Cicero’s theory in the De Officiis with these other accounts, this chapter will explore important facets of Cicero’s philosophical method, his originality in adapting Panaetius’ theory to his own purposes, and the merits of the novel doctrine he embraced in his final philosophical work.
Cicero's De Officiis, perhaps his most influential philosophical work, ranges over a wide variety of themes, from the role of the family in society to the question of whether our duties can conflict with one another, and from the moral significance of offence to the question of whether it is right to kill a dictator. This Critical Guide, the first collection of essays devoted to the work, is helpfully organised in thematic sections and aims to illuminate both the main individual topics of De Officiis and their interconnections, with essays by an international team of contributors that will allow readers to appreciate the work's distinctive blend of philosophical theory and social and political reality. It will be valuable for a range of readers in fields including philosophy, classics and political theory.
In the chapter I argue that we should set aside the Quellenforschung arguments of Lefèvre and Brunt and Atkins and others and look at what Cicero is up to in book 3, where he aims to fill in a gap left by Panaetius and not followed up by Posidonius. My analysis focuses in particular on Cicero’s redeployment of the Ring of Gyges thought experiment to undercut the Epicurean reliance on Kuria Doxa (KD) 5 to bolster their ‘moral’ hedonism; and the critical role, or so I argue, of the correspondence with Cassius (which cites KD 5 in Fam 15.19) in the development of Cicero’s argument (with additional reference to Fin. 1-2, where KD 5 also takes a critical role). In addition to making the case for the importance of the correspondence as ‘work in progress’, I argue that Cicero’s engagement with Posidonius, Panaetius et al. represents a mature, confident Cicero philosophus, ready to make a targeted contribution to Stoic ethics, with none of the dissimulatio doctrinae of the works of the 50s.
This chapter is dedicated to the theory of selfhood Cicero presents in the De officiis: each person being a player of four personae. The allegory of four dramatic roles or masks (from the Greek prosopon) is borrowed from the Stoic Panaetius, whose ethical theory adapts the stringent demands of the sage to a morally imperfect and multifarious public. He who wishes to progress, Cicero explains, must play the roles of reason, of nature, of fortune, and, finally, the role “we ourselves may choose sets forth from our will” (quam personam velimus, a nostra voluntate proficiscitur). In this final treatise, the will comes most clearly into view as a mental capacity and rational force. I argue that when read in conjunction with related uses of voluntas and persona in other texts, Cicero’s will serves a recursive purpose within each of the other personae. Whether in actualizing reason, refining our inborn qualities, or navigating the forces of necessity and civic duty, voluntas creates a dialectic of actor and mask from which emerges a conscious moral self. Though the will develops richly as a moral faculty and principium individuationis in the hands of later thinkers, its terrestrial purposes disappear as divine ones take hold.
An argument in Cicero's Tusculan Disputations (Tusc. 1.39–49) defends psychic immortality by reference to the physical constitution of the soul. This article argues that this ‘Physical Argument’ should be interpreted as a reception of Plato's doctrine of the soul within the philosophical paradigm of the Hellenistic era. After analysing the argument, it is shown that Cicero's proof recasts elements of Plato's Phaedo, in particular the kinship between the soul and the heavens and the soul's essentially contemplative nature, within a corporealist cosmology. The article also argues that Cicero formulates his argument to oppose the Stoic view that the soul's survival after death is only temporary. The Physical Argument emerges as a modernization of Platonic thought, putting Plato into dialogue with contemporary Hellenistic philosophy. Cicero, too, emerges as a more adept philosophical author than is often supposed.
Includes some aspects of Diogenes of Babylon’s philosophy, but focusses on the impact of the Academic Carneades on Stoicism from Antipater of Tarsus onwards. Extensive coverage of Panaetius of Rhodes and his students, including Hecaton. Balances the contributions of both innovative thinkers and more conservative Stoics.
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