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The Academic Questions, Treatise De Finibus, and Tusculan Disputations, of M.T. Cicero, With a Sketch of the Greek Philosophers Mentioned by Cicero »


By Marcus Tullius Cicero

be said. And yet, that I may not appear to have passed over any topic

without a reply, I will, even now, say a few words on the remainder of

your argument.

Since, then, the whole sum of philosophy is directed to ensure living

happily, and since men, from a desire of this one thing, have devoted

themselves to this study; but different people make happiness of life to

consist in different circumstances; you, for instance, place it in

pleasure; and, in the same manner you, on the other hand, make all

unhappiness to consist in pain: let us consider, in the first place, what

sort of thing this happy life of yours is. But you will grant this, I

think, that if there is really any such thing as happiness, it ought to be

wholly in the power of a wise man to secure it; for, if a happy life can

be lost, it cannot be happy. For who can feel confident that a thing will

always remain firm and enduring in his case, which is in reality fleeting

and perishable? But the man who distrusts the permanence of his good

things, must necessarily fear that some day or other, when he has lost

them, he will become miserable; and no man can be happy who is in fear

about most important matters. No one, then, can be happy; for a happy life

is usually called so, not in some part only, but in perpetuity of time;

and, in fact, life is not said to be happy at all till it is completed and

finished. Nor is it possible for any man to be sometimes happy and

sometimes miserable; for he who thinks it possible that he may become

miserable, is certainly not happy. For, when a happy life is once

attained, it remains as long as the maker of the happy life herself,

namely, wisdom; nor does it wait till the last period of a man’s

existence, as Herodotus says that Croesus was warned by Solon.

But, as you yourself were saying, Epicurus denies that length of time has

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