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De Amicitia, Scipio's Dream   By: (106 BC - 43 BC)

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De Amicitia, Scipio's Dream

By Cicero

Translated, with an Introduction and Notes

By Andrew P. Peabody



1. Introduction.

2. Reputation of Laelius for wisdom. The curiosity to know how he bore the death of Scipio.

3. His grounds of consolation in his bereavement

4. He expresses his faith in immortality. Desires perpetual memory in this world of the friendship between himself and Scipio.

5. True friendship can exist only among good men.

6. Friendship defined.

7. Benefits derived from friendship.

8. Friendship founded not on need, but on nature.

9. The relation of utility to friendship.

10. Causes for the separation of friends.

11. How far love for friends may go.

12. Wrong never to be done at a friend's request.

13. Theories that degrade friendship

14. How friendships are formed.

15. Friendlessness wretched.

16. The limits of friendship.

17. In what sense and to what degree friends are united. How friends are to be chosen and tested.

18. The qualities to be sought in a friend.

19. Old friends not to be forsaken for new.

20. The duties of friendship between persons differing in ability, rank, or position.

21. How friendships should be dissolved, and how to guard against the necessity of dissolving them.

22. Unreasonable expectations of friends. Mutual respect necessary in true friendship.

23. Friendship necessary for all men.

24. Truth telling, though it often gives offence, an essential duty from friend to friend.

25. The power of truth. The arts of flattery.

26. Flattery availing only with the feeble minded.

27. Virtue the soul of friendship. Laelius describes the intimacy of the friendship between himself and Scipio.


1. Scipio's visit to Masinissa. Circumstances under which the dream occurred.

2. Appearance of the elder Africanus, and of his own father, to Scipio. Prophecy of Scipio's successes and honors, with an intimation of his death by the hands of his kindred.

3. Conditions on which heaven may be won.

4. The nine spheres that constitute the universe.

5. The music of the spheres.

6. The five zones of the earth.

7. Brevity and worthlessness of earthly fame.

8. All souls eternal.

9. The soul to be trained for immortality. The fate of those who merge their souls in sense.



The De Amicitia , inscribed, like the De Senectute , to Atticus, was probably written early in the year 44 B.C., during Cicero's retirement, after the death of Julius Caesar and before the conflict with Antony. The subject had been a favorite one with Greek philosophers, from whom Cicero always borrowed largely, or rather, whose materials he made fairly his own by the skill, richness, and beauty of his elaboration, Some passages of this treatise were evidently suggested by Plato; and Aulus Gellius says that Cicero made no little use of a now lost essay of Theophrastus on Friendship.

In this work I am especially impressed by Cicero's dramatic power. But for the mediocrity of his poetic genius, he might have won pre eminent honor from the Muse of Tragedy. He here so thoroughly enters into the feelings of Laelius with reference to Scipio's death, that as we read we forget that it is not Laelius himself who is speaking. We find ourselves in close sympathy with him, as if he were telling us the story of his bereavement, giving utterance to his manly fortitude and resignation and portraying his friend's virtues from the unfading image phototyped on his own loving memory. In other matters too Cicero goes back to the time of Laelius and assumes his point of view assigning to him just the degree of foresight which he probably possessed and making not the slightest reference to the very different aspect in which he himself had learned to regard and was wont to represent the personages and events of that earlier period... Continue reading book >>

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