Sunday, August 15, 2010

Et Laeteri Bonis Rebus et Dolere Contrariis

It is not reasonable to refuse to undertake any honourable task or activity, or to lay it aside once undertaken, in order to avoid trouble. If we are to run away from anxiety, we must run away from virtue, which naturally feels a certain sense of anxiety when it meets things contrary to itself, and finds them hateful and repulsive; as good nature is repelled by ill nature, self-control by excess, courage by cowardixe; similarly one may see that just men are most distressed by instances of injustice, brave men by cowardly behaviour, decently-behaved men by indecency. It is the property of a well-constituted mind to be glad at good things, and to be distressed by the opposite. Therefore, if distress of mind is permissible in a wise man at all (which it surely is, unless we think that human qualities have been altogether uprooted from his mind), what reason is there why we should totally remove friendship from life merely to avoid having to go to some trouble because of it?

Cicero, Laelius: On Friendship, section 47; from Cicero, On Friendship and The Dream of Scipio, Powell, tr. (Oxbow: 2005) p. 51. Cicero is arguing against the Stoics here, of course.

In one of my Intro courses for this Fall term I will be experimenting with teaching the Laelius as part of a brief introductory section on philosophical views of friendship. If anyone knows of any resources that could help students get a better grasp on the dialogue, or that could contribute to helping me teach it in a discussion-based course, suggestions along those lines would be welcome.

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