These Modern Times [An Inspirational Word from Cicero]

These Modern Times [An Inspirational Word from Cicero]

These Modern Times [An Inspirational Word from Cicero]

Posted on 05/25/2014 Evan Swensen

“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”

Pretty much sums up much of what’s going on these days.  Except that the days the writer mentions were in the years Before Christ. This is a well-known quote from Marcus Tullius Cicero.

This Roman philosopher, lawyer, and statesman was born 106 BCE. It was a turbulent period of history. The Roman Republic was failing. He was murdered by decree in his 63rd year, having been declared an enemy of the state. He worked to keep the Roman state a republic. However, Octavian and Marc Antony took the reins of power, so the philosopher-patriot’s life was forfeit.

He wrote three famous books: De republica (On the Republic) De legibus (On Laws), and De officiis (On Duties).

In his lifetime, he also brought new words and new ideas into the Latin language, and thus into Roman thought and Western civilization, by translations from older, Greek works. Some of these are: morals, individual, and property. Cicero’s life and literary legacy inspired St. Augustine, as well as some of those who led the American Revolution.

Even two sentences of exile from Rome did not deter Cicero from calling politics as he saw it. He died as he had lived, with an acerbic comment on the illegality of his execution, and urging the soldier: “ . . . do try to kill me properly.”

Yes, Cicero always championed duty, and duty done right. Another famous quote from him is, “Non nobis solum nati sumus,” which means, “We are not born for ourselves alone.”

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