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THREE BOOKS OF OFFICES,
OR MORAL DUTIES;
CATO MAJOR, AN ESSAY ON OLD AGE; LÆLIUS, AN
DUTIES OF A MAGISTRATE.
WITH NOTES, DESIGNED TO EXHIBIT A COMPARATIVE VIEW OF THE OPINIONS
OF CICERO, AND THOSE OF MODERN MORALISTS
AND ETHICAL PHILOSOPHERS,
CYRUS R. EDMONDS.
HENRY G. BOHN, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDER,
The present volume comprises the most popular moral treatises of Cicero. In preparing an edition adapted to the wants of the student, the editor has addressed himself to two principal objects. The first, to produce a close and faithful translation, avoiding on the one hand, the freedom of Melmoth's elegant paraphrase, and on the other, the crudeness and inaccuracy of the so called literal translation of Cockman ; the second, to present the opinions of modern moralists, chiefly of our own country, in juxtaposition with those of Cicero, that the reader may be enabled to estimate the changes which have passed over the human mind in relation to these subjects, and perceive how far these changes have been occasioned by the promulgation of the Christian religion.
A subsidiary design has been to show, by parallel passages, to what extent the writings of modern moralists have been tinctured with the thoughts of the Roman philosopher; and to point out particular instances in which their arguments and illustrations are identical.
In briefly sketching the subjects of the following treatises, we shall for the most part adopt the observations of Dunlop, in his “History of Roman Literature.” The first, and most important treatise, is
THE OFFICES, or three books of Moral Duties.' Of these the first two are supposed to be chiefly derived from a lost work of Panætius, a Greek philosopher, who resided at Rome in the second century before Christ. In the first book he treats of what is virtuous in itself, and shows in what manner our duties are founded in morality and virtue, in the right perception of truth, justice, fortitude, and decorum, which four qualities are referred to as the constituent parts of virtue, and the sources from which all our duties are derived. In the second book, the author enlarges on those duties which relate to utility, the improvement of life, and the means of attaining wealth and power. This division of the work relates principally to political advancement, and the honourable means of gaining popularity, among which are enumerated generosity, courtesy, and eloquence. Thus far Cicero had, in all probability, closely followed the steps of Panætius. Garve, in his commentary on Moral Duties, remarks that, when Cicero comes to the more subtle and philosophic parts of his subject, he evidently translates from the Greek, and that he has not always found words in his own language to express the nicer distinctions of the Greek schools. The work of Panætius, however, was left imperfect, and did not comprise the third part of the subject, namely, the choice and distinction to be made when virtue and utility were opposed to each other. On this topic, accordingly, Cicero, in the third book, was left to his own resources; The discussion, of course, relates only to the subordinate duties, as the true and undoubted honestum can never be put in competition with private advantage, or be violated for its sake. As to the minor duties the great maxim inculcated is, that nothing should be accounted useful or profitable but what is strictly virtuous; and that, in fact, there ought to be no separation of the principles of virtue and ut Cicero enters into some discussion however, and lays down certain rules to enable us to form a just estimate of both in cases of doubt, where seeming utility comes into competition with virtue.
The author has addressed the work to his son, and has represented it as written for his instruction. It is,” says Kelsall, “the noblest present ever made by a parent to a child.” Cicero declares that he intended to treat in it of all the duties, but it is generally considered to have been chiefly drawn up as a manual of political morality, and as a guide to young Romana of his son's age and rank, which might enable them to attain political eminence, and tread with innocence and safety “the slippery steeps of power.”
The DIALOGUE ON FRIENDSHIP is addressed with