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6 - De Officiis and Exemplary Ethics

from Part III - Exemplary Ethics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 June 2023

Raphael Woolf
Affiliation:
King's College London
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Summary

In De Officiis, Cicero undertakes sustained engagement with Roman exemplary ethics. He uses dozens of different exempla to serve a variety of functions including as inspirational paradigms as means of illustrating abstract concepts and to communicate the important principle of situational variation. In addition he reflects upon some of the challenges of exemplary ethics when viewed within the Stoic context and also develops new techniques for utilising exempla and exemplary modes within a Stoic framework. He achieves this partly by incorporating into his philosophical discussion some key features of Roman exemplary ethics including a sense of particularity and historical specificity emotional charge and injunction and indeterminacy. De Officiis anticipates to some extent ideas later developed more explicitly by Seneca; identifying these enables us to better appreciate the unfolding dialogue between Stoicism and exemplary ethics.

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Cicero's ‘De Officiis'
A Critical Guide
, pp. 119 - 138
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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