Saturday, September 12, 2015

On facing death

Cicero wrote a book called the Tusculan Disputations,  five books on death, pain, depression and related passions, and happiness as a state of mind. In the third book of Robert Harris' trilogy on Cicero, the narrator, 'Dictator', Tiro (Cicero's secretary and right hand man) sums up the last book: 

In the fifth book, Cicero offered his practical prescriptions. A human being can only train for death by leading a life that is morally good; that is - to desire nothing too much; to be content with what one has; to be entirely self-sufficient within oneself, so that whatever one loses, one will still be able to carry on regardless; to do none harm; to realise that it is better to suffer an injury than to inflict one; to accept that life is a loan given by Nature without a due date and that repayment may be demanded at any time; that the most tragic character in the world is a tyrant who has broken all these precepts.

page 249, paperback edition. 

Cicero was declared a righteous pagan by the Early Church, and therefore many of his works were deemed worthy of preservation.
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