Saturday, February 9, 2008

Cicero Journal: Week 2

Here's the 2nd Cicero Journal question... oh boy!

"Divitias alii praeponunt, bonam alii valetudinem, alii potentiam, alii honores, multi etiam voluptates. Beluarum hoc quidem extremum, illa autem superiora caduca et incerta, posita non tam in consiliis nostris quam in fortunae temeritate. Qui autem in virtute summum bonum ponunt, praeclare illi quidem, sed haec ipsa virtus amicitiam et gignit et continet nec sine virtute amicitia esse ullo pacto potest."

"Laelius. Ego vos hortari tantum possum ut amicitiam omnibus rebus humanis anteponatis; nihil est enim tam naturae aptum, tam conveniens ad res vel secundas vel adversas."

Your task:

In the passages above, Laelius offers several options concerning the possessions which some people value in life. Identify these possessions, tell why he rejects them, and discuss the choice and reasons for the choice that Laelius makes.

Cite the Latin words from throughout the passage that support the assertions in your essay. Translate or paraphrase the Latin words you cite. It is your responsibility to make it clear that what is written is based on your knowledge of the Latin text and not merely on a general recollection of the passage.

Have fun everyone! :)


Anonymous said...

Looking for those comments!!!

Annie A said...

Annie Alexandrian

Latin Journal 2

In the passage, Laelius mentions possessions such as divitias, bonam valetudinem, potential, honores, volupates( riches, good health, power, honors, and sensual relationships). He says that many people value and want to attain those desires over friendship. He rejects these assets because they are perishable, meaning they are possessions that do not last forever. Also, that they are uncertain and you cannot always depend on them. Also that many of them depend on fate and are not things we easily have in our reach. He in turn, says that people who regard virtue as the supreme good and put it above all those possession are entirely correct. Since he believes that virtue itself creates and nourishes friendship. He also says that without virtue, friendship could not exist.

In the beginning of De Amicitia, Laelius advises us that we should prefer friendship to all other things within our reach. He says that there is nothing more natural, more able to comfort us in good or bad times. I believe Laelius has come to this conclusion for many reasons. First, friendship is everywhere, it something that people can have and depend on. Friendship is something that lasts, even when one of the friends has died. The friend will live on in memories and will never be forgotten. A friend is someone who will be there for you in good or bad times. They will better the good times and alleviate the bad times. Since even if you were to have good health, riches or power, these possessions are not able to do the things that friendship can. Riches and those other possessions have their limits, where friendship does not. The reason friendship does not have its limits is because it last even past death. It is something that will still help a person through bad times or make their good times better, because they are able to think about the memories they had with a friend.

Another reason for his decision, is that even if you were to have power or riches, with who do you share it with? Those possessions are not things that are great and enjoyable when you have no one to share it with. So, when you have a friend, those possessions are greater and increased than they are without a friend. He also says that friendship offers these possessions and others even if you are not looking to get anything out of friendship. In the end, friendship is something that gives you much more than any other possession could offer. It is something that exist between people whom you respect and admire. Friendship is immortal because it leaves a imprint on you that last forever, even when it is not physically present. Where as when riches, power, or good health if not physically present, no longer exists or matters to you.

Michelle said...

Well, it's awfully hard to follow Annie's brilliant thoughts on Cicero's writing... but here is my humble attempt.

Cicero Journal

Divitias alii praeponunt, bonam alii valetudinem, alii potentiam, alii honores, multi etiam voluptates.

“Some prefer riches, others good health, others power, others honor, many prefer pleasures.”

Here Laelius/Cicero lists the desires which common people have in life (riches, good health, power, honor… etc.). However, he says that these desires are “caduca et incerta” (changeable and perishable) and that they are not put in our plans (consiliis) but rather in fortune (fortunae). What he means by this is that these desires are never a guarantee. We can hope for riches and good health and honor, but the chance of acquiring such things is rare. He argues, however, that the only thing in life that we can really count on is the friendships that we have with another person.
Laelius/Cicero goes on to say that it is better to place the “summum bonum” (highest good) in virtue because that is the noble thing to do, and also because that virtue “creates and preserves” (gignit et continent) friendship and without virtue, friendship is not able to exist (nec sine virtute amicitia esse ullo pacto potest).

p-rinda said...

Cicero Journal #2

Laelius lists possessions that some people value, such as: riches (divitias), good health (bonam valetudinem), power (potentiam), honors (honores), and pleasures (voluptates). He says that these values are perishable and uncertain (caduca and incerta). Which means that these values are not stable values that people can depend on. They won't be there for people forever, unlike friendship.

Laelius chooses to place friendship before all human things. He argues that friendship is natural. He also argues that there is always goodness in friendship, and if there is no goodness, then friendship does not exist. So to tie it all together, the certain possessions that some people value listed in the passage don't contain any goodness at all. Because it doesn't contain goodness, it can rot and fall apart, leaving a person with nothing left, nothing to live for. But if you place friendship above all the possible possessions humans can have, you are certain to live with stability and goodness.

Mpasini said...

Gosh this seems so repetitive...but here are my answers! (and it's definitely not coincidental that they're the SAME as everyone elses')!

The "Possessions" that many (capitalists) value in life = riches (divitias), good health (bonam valetudinem), honor (honores), and...those physical pleasures (voluptates).

Cicero/Laelius rejects these possessions because (as he states) they (the possessions) are both uncertain (caduca) and perishable (incerta). He also states that these things are, literally, not "placed in our ideas/plans" (non posita in nostris consiliis), but rather "in the whim of fortune" (in fortunae temeritate). Cicero's main point is that all this stuff shouldn't matter because (the virtue in) friendship is the one thing we can really count on in luck involved...we just need to be willing to establish these close and sincere friendships.

cararobbins said...

Cicero describes the things that people value as: power (potentiam), good health (bonam valetudinem), honors (honores), sexual pleasures (voluptates), and riches (divitias).

In this passage, Cicero basically says that these things are not as important as the friendship that he has with Scipio (I think?). He basically says that things come and go, and that the only thing that will always be there is friendship. I agree with Cicero. If you have things like riches, honor, health, they call all go away in a matter of mere seconds. However, it takes something much greater than a bad day to loose a real friendship. I think that these ideas are especially important to keep in mind during these times in the Empire. I think people were getting very rich and very powerful, and perhaps Cicero is trying to remind them that although they may have all those goodies, nothing will compare to the potential friendships they could have if they found friends.

(Now that we’re reading the court case… I kind of miss all this friendship babble.)