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others still, that it lives on forever. Then again,
there is a wide difference of opinion as to what the

1 Latin, homu-ttculus umis e multis, literally, "One little man
out of many."

2 Many of the Stoics believed that the human soul would
retain its individual existence till the dissolution of the material
universe, when it will be reabsorbed into the soul of the universe.

On the Contempt of Death. 15

soul is, or where, or whence. Some suppose that
the heart is the soul, whence the terras heartless, 1
foolish-hearted, 2 of kindred heart? and the name
given to that wise Nasica who was twice consul,
Dear Little Heart? and

"The noble-hearted Catus Aelius Sextus." 6

Empedocles thinks that the blood diffused through
the heart constitutes the soul. Some suppose that
a certain portion of the brain holds the sovereignty
that belongs to the soul. Others are not satisfied
with regarding the heart or any part of the brain as
the soul, and of these some say that the soul has
its seat or dwelling-place in the heart ; some, in
the brain. Yet others and such is the general
opinion in my school of philosophy think that
the breath or spirit constitutes the soul. Indeed,
we use the term breath or spirit 6 to denote soul, as
to draw arid to exhale the vital breath, 7 and spirited, 8
and of right spirit, 9 and in harmony with one's
spirit. 10 Moreover our word for soul is derived
from the word that means breath. 11 Still further,
Zeno the Stoic supposed the soul to be fire.

10. These beliefs as to the soul's being heart,
blood, brain, breath, fire, have been largely diffused ;
others have had a more limited acceptance. Many

1 Excordcs. a Vecordes. 3 Concordes.

* Corculum, a diminutive, used as a term of endearment.
6 A verse of Ennius. ' Anima.

' Agere animam et efflare. 8 Animosi.

9 Bcne animnti. 10 Ex animi sententia.

11 Animus, from anima.

16 Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.

of the ancients, and latest among them Aristoxenus,
who was both a musician and a philosopher, main-
tained that the soul is a certain tension of the
members and organs of the body analogous to what
is called harmony in singing or in stringed instru-
ments, so that the various movements of the human
being are called forth from the nature and confor-
mation of the body, like sounds in music. Ari-
stoxenus adhered to his theory, and yet its real
significance and value had long before been stated
and explained 1 by Plato. Xenocrates denied that
the soul has form or anything corresponding to
body, but said that it consists of number, which, as
Pythagoras had already taught, is the greatest force
in nature. Plato, the teacher of Xenocrates, made
the soul threefold, placing its sovereign, reason, in
the head ; while he separated the two parts subject
to its command, anger and desire, giving to anger
its seat in the breast, and to desire, under the dia-
phragm. Dicaearchus, in the three books which
purport to contain the discussions of certain learned
men at Corinth, introduces many speakers in the
first book, and in the other two, Pherecrates, 2 an old

1 Latin, explanation. Wyttenbach proposes, instead of this,
explosum as a conjectural reading, as in the Phaedo there is an
elaborate demonstration of the baselessness and inadequacy of this
theory. But a theory must be explained in order to be exploded,
and the structure of the sentence is such that explanatum, while
in better taste, would be equivalent to explosum. Aristoxenus
was a disciple and the expectant successor of Aristotle.

2 A fictitious name, under which Dicaearchus probably stated
hia own theory of the soul.

On the Contempt of Death. 17

man from Phthia, whom he calls a descendant of
Deucalion, who maintains that the soul is noth-
ing at all, that it is a mere empty name, that such
terms as animals and animated beings 1 are unmean-
ing, that there is no soul or mind in either man or
beast, and that all the force with which we either
act or feel is equally diffused in all bodies, and is
inseparable from body, indeed, has no existence of
its own, so that nothing exists save body sole and
simple, so shaped that it can live and feel by virtue
of its natural organism. Aristotle, far transcending i
all but Plato in genius and in industry, recognizing
the four primitive elements in which all things had
their origin, maintains that there is a fifth natural
substance from which mind is derived ; for it ap-
pears to him that to reflect, to foresee, to learn, to
teach, to invent, and so many other things, to re-
member, to love, to hate, to desire, to fear, to be
grieved, to be glad, these and the like cannot have
their source in the four elements. He adds to them
a fifth, for which he finds no existing name, and he
therefore calls the soul by a new name, evTe\e%eiav?
as if it were prolonged and perpetual motion.

11. Unless some have escaped my memory, these
are nearly all the opinions concerning the soul ;
for we may leave out of account Democritus, who,

1 Animalia and animantes, names which denote in their struc-
ture the presence of soul or mind, animus or anima.

a Intellect. Probably tiveXexeia. was originally written
Xa, which implies continuity.


18 Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.

great man as he was, yet regarded the soul as
resulting from a certain fortuitous concourse of
smooth and round particles of matter. Forsooth,
in the opinion of philosophers of this class, there is
nothing which cannot be brought to pass by the
swirl of atoms. Which of the opinions that I have
named is true, some god must determine ; which
is the most probable is the great question for us.
Shall we attempt to discriminate among them, or
shall we return to our original purpose ?

A. I should be glad of both, were it possible;
but it is difficult to pursue both lines of discussion
together. Therefore, if without treating of these
opinions we can get rid of the fear of death, let this
be our present endeavor; but if this requires the
previous discussion of the origin of souls, such dis-
cussion must have the precedence, and the other
subject must be postponed.

M. I regard the course which you propose as
the more suitable ; for reason will show that,
whichever of the opinions that I have named may
be true, death is either no evil, or still more
is a good. For if the soul is heart, or blood, or
brain, since it is body, it will perish with the rest
of the body ; if it is breath, it will be dissipated ;
if fire, it will be quenched ; if the harmony of Ari-
stoxenus, it will be dissolved. What shall I say
about Dicaearchus, who asserts that the soul is
nothing at all? According to all these opinions
nothing that belongs to any man can remain after

On the Contempt of Death. 19

death; for consciousness is lost equally with life,
and to one who has no consciousness no event,
prosperous or adverse, can be of any concern. The
opinions of the other philosophers whom I have
named offer the hope if that gives you pleasure
that the soul when it departs from the body may
pass on to heaven, as to its own proper home.

A. This hope is truly delightful to me. I would
desire it first of all, and even were it not true, I
should want to be convinced of it.

M. What need then is there of any help fromi
me ? Can I surpass Plato in eloquence ? Study
carefully his book about the soul, 1 and you can ask
for nothing more.

A. I have done so, by Hercules, and indeed over
and over again ; but somehow, while I am reading
I agree with Plato ; when I lay down the book, and
reflect in my own thoughts on the immortality of
souls, all that assurance vanishes.

M. How is this ? Do you admit that souls either
continue in being after death, or perish at the mo-
ment of death ?

A. Certainly.

M. What is the case if they continue in being ?

A. I grant that they are happy.

M. What, if they perish at death ?

A. I grant that they are not miserable, because
they are not in being ; for this you forced me to
admit a little while ago.

1 The Phaedo.

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Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.

M. How, then, or why do you say that death
seems to you an evil, since it will make us either
happy if our souls continue in being, or not miser-
able if we are no longer conscious ?

12. A. Unless it will give you too much trouble,
show first, if you can, that souls continue in being
after death, then, if you are not entirely success-
ful (for the task is a difficult one), you shall teach
me that death is absolutely free from evil; for I
still cannot help fearing that, if not the lack of con-
sciousness, the necessity of incurring this lack may
be an evil.

M. I can adduce the highest authority in behalf
of the opinion which you would gladly have estab-
lished ; and this, both of right and of usage, is of the
utmost avail on all subjects. In the first place I
would refer you to the whole ancient world, which,
because less remote from the origin and divine
parentage of the race, may have had a clearer view
of the reality of things. Thus it was the deep-
seated belief of those of the Latin race whom En-
nius describes as of the greatest antiquity, 1 that
there is consciousness in death, and that by the
cessation of life man is not so destroyed as to per-
ish utterly. This, while shown in many other
ways, may be inferred from the pontifical law 2 and

1 Latin, quos cascos appellat Ennius, "whom Ennius calls
casci." Cascus means ancient, is itself an old word of Oscan
origin, and was almost obsolete when Ennius used it.

2 The Roman religion was a State institution, governed both

On the Contempt of Death. 21

the ceremonies connected with sepulchres. 1 These
observances men of the highest genius would not
have maintained with so great scrupulousness, nor
have so attached to their violation inexpiable guilt,
unless they had been firmly persuaded that death
is not a catastrophe that takes away and blots out
everything, but is, so to speak, a migration and a
change of life, which in the case of eminent men and
women they supposed to be transferred to heaven,
while for others they believed it to be continued in
the underworld 2 indeed, but none the less perpet- \
ual. Hence our ancestors thought that

"With gods in heaven Romulus still lives,"

as Ennius says, in accordance with the general tra-
dition ; and among the Greeks Hercules is regarded
as a god of surpassing greatness and helpfulness,
insomuch that from them his fame has extended to
us, and even to the shores of the Ocean. Thus it
was that Liber, the son of Semele, passed into the
company of the gods, and a like illustrious destiny
belongs to the twin sons of Tyudareus, who are
accounted as not only having helped the Eoman
people to subdue their enemies in battle, but also

by custom, which corresponded to our common law, and by express ^
statutes. Of course a very large portion of the provisions of this
branch of law related to funeral rites and observances commemo-
rative of the dead.

1 This argument is again employed by Cicero in the De Ami-
cilia, 4.

2 Latin, humi, literally on the ground, but undoubtedly mean- I
ing beneath the ground.

22 Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.

as having carried the tidings of their victory. 1
What ? Was not Ino, the daughter of Cadmus,
deified by the Greeks under the name of AevKodea, 2
and by us as Matuta ? What ? To cite no other
single instances, is not all heaven almost filled with
the human race ?

13. Indeed, should I attempt to search into an-
cient traditions, and to draw 'from them what Greek
writers have transmitted to us, it would be found
that even those gods who are regarded as of the
highest rank went from us mortals to heaven.

Ask whose sepulchres 3 are shown in Greece;
recall, since you are among the initiated, what was
delivered to you in the mysteries ; 4 and you may

1 They were said to have fought for and with the Romans against
the Latins in the battle of Lake Regillus, again, against Perseus
in the battle of Pydna, and a third time, against the Cimbrians
at Verona. In the second instance they were believed to have
carried the news of the victory to Rome.

2 Leucothea, the white goddess. Matuta is equivalent to ma-
tutina, the goddess of the morning ; and her Greek name prob-
ably refers to the white light of the dawn succeeding the darkness
of the night.

3 Tombs of gods, and even of the greater divinities, as that of
Demeter at Eleusis.

j * The Eleusinian mysteries. What these were can only be
conjectured, or inferred from incidental allusions. But there is
reason to believe that a purer theology and a higher philosophy
of spiritual things than would have been tolerated in earlier times
by the popular superstition, or at a later period by law, formed
the subject-matter of the traditions and teachings thus transmit-
ted to minds capable of receiving them. It is almost certain that
these mysteries comprised the immortality of the soul ; and there

On the Contempt of Death. 23

then understand how extensive this belief is. But
the ancients, who had not yet learned anything of
physical science, which began to be studied long
afterward, derived their convictions on this subject
from the teachings of nature ; they knew nothing
of the reasons and causes of things. They were
often led by certain visions, and these chiefly by
night, to believe that those who had passed out of
this earthly life still lived. Now it seems to be
considered as the strongest reason for maintaining
the existence of gods, that there is no race so rude,
no man so savage as not to be imbued with the
belief in gods. Though many have depraved no-
tions about the gods in consequence of their own
defective characters, 1 yet all admit that there is a
divine nature and power ; nor has this belief been
brought about by the conference or consent of men,
nor established by institutions or enactments. But
on every subject the common sense of nations is
to be regarded as the law of nature. Who is
there, then, who does not feel deep sorrow for the

is strong probability that they also taught the human origin and
the non-deity of the popular gods, and the unity of the Supreme
Being, monotheism with a pantheistic penumbra.

1 Men always make to themselves gods after their own like-
ness. This is true even in the Christian church, and the non-
Christian notions of the Divine character that have prevailed in
it have been but the reflections of the characters of those who have
taught or believed them. Thus there is profound philosophy no
less than the highest ethical wisdom in the words of the Divine
Teacher: "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see

24 Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.

death of his friends, chiefly because he imagines
that they are deprived of the comforts of the earthly
life ? Remove this idea, and you will take away
the bitterness of sorrow. No one is profoundly
afflicted merely by his own loss. For this men
may grieve and be sad ; but lugubrious lamentation
and agonizing tears flow from the thought that he
whom we have loved is deprived of the comforts of
the earthly life, and is conscious of his privation. 1
Thus we feel the continuity of life after death under
the leading of nature, with no help from reason and
from science.

14. But the strongest argument is that Nature
herself bears tacit testimony to the immortality of
souls in the fact that all men feel concern, and
even the greatest concern, as to what will take
place after they are dead. "One plants trees for
the benefit of a coming generation," as says a char-
acter in the Synephebi ; 2 but what can he have in
view, unless succeeding generations belong to him ?

1 Cicero does not here intimate that the dead, even those that
remain in the underworld, are not happy. The feeling to which
he refers has though it may be doubted whether it ought to
have its frequent utterance among Christians who profess to
have no doubt of the continued and happy life of their departed
friends. Many of our wonted expressions of sorrow, especially
for those who die young, imply a certain pity for them that they
are cut off from what they most enjoyed here, even when there is
a sincere belief that they have entered upon a happier state of

2 A lost play of Caecilius Statius. Cicero quotes these words
again, in the De Se'fiectute, 7.

On the Contempt of Death.


The careful husbandman then will plant trees none
of whose fruit he will ever see. Will not the great
man in like manner plant laws, institutions, the
commonwealth ? What signify the production of
children, the prolonging of a name, the adoption of
sons, care in the making of wills, epitaphs on tombs,
unless we are taking thought for the future ? What
does all this mean ? Have you any doubt that in,
every department of nature the best specimens j
should furnish its types ? What nature then in
the race of man is better than that of those who
think themselves born to help, defend, preserve
mankind ? Hercules went to the gods. He would
never have gone to them, had he not, while among
men, built his own road. These traditions are an-
cient, and are hallowed by the religious reverence
of all men.

15. What can we suppose that so many and so
great men in our republic had in view in being
slain for their country ? That their conscious fame
would be bounded by the term of their earthly
life ? No man without a strong hope of immortal-
ity would offer himself to death for his native land.
Themistocles might have led a life of ease; so might
Epaminondas ; so might I, not to multiply ancient
and foreign instances. But somehow there is inhe-
rent in the mind what seems a presage of coming
generations, and this exists in its utmost strength
and betrays itself most readily in men of the great-
est genius and of the loftiest soul. Were this taken






26 Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.

away, who would be so mad as to live in labor and
peril ? I speak thus of men in public station.
What shall I say of the poets ? Do not they want
to be ennobled after they are dead ? Whence
comes this,

" Romans, behold the form of Ennius ;
Your fathers' noble deeds his verse records " ? l

He craves the meed of praise from those whose
fathers he had crowned with glory. He says, too,

" Let no one grace my funeral with tears ;
A living soul, I fly where floats my song."

But why do I dwell on the poets ? Artists equally
wish to be ennobled after death. What did Phidias
mean when, not permitted to inscribe his name, he
enclosed his likeness, in the shield of Minerva ?
What do our philosophers have in mind ? Do they
not inscribe their names in the very books that
they write about the contempt of fame ? Now, if
the consent of all men is the voice of nature, and
if all everywhere agree that there still exists some-
thing belonging to those who have departed this
life, we certainly ought to be of the same opinion.
Still further, if we think that those whose souls are
pre-eminent in genius or in virtue, because of their
superior endowments, have the clearest view of
what nature teaches, it is probable, since every

1 Verses written by Ennius for his own epitaph, and undoubt-
edly inscribed beneath his bust on the monument erected in mem-
ory of him, which was still standing in the sepulchre of the
Scipios in Cicero's time.

On the Contempt of Death. 27

man of superior excellence devotes himself with
the utmost zeal to the service of posterity, that
there is something of which he will have the con-
sciousness after death.

16. But as we learn from nature the existence of
the gods, and ascertain their character only by rea-
son, so while we are convinced of the immortality
of souls by the consent of all nations, where they
dwell and in what condition must be determined
by reason, the neglect of which has given rise to
the figment of the infernal regions and to those
terrors for which you just now rightly expressed
your contempt. For as bodies fall to the ground,
and are covered with earth 1 (whence our word
inter*}, it was supposed that the dead pass the
rest of their life under the earth. This belief led
to great errors, which the poets made still greater.
The crowded seats of the theatre, containing many
feeble-minded women 3 and children, are deeply
moved on hearing such grandiloquent verses as
these : 4

" From Acheron I come, an arduous way,
Through caverns built of vast, rough, hanging rocks,
Where dense infernal darkness ever broods."

This erroneous belief now, it seems to me, done

1 Humo. 2 Humari.

8 Mulierculae, a diminutive, but freely used as a term of

* These verses are probably derived from the opening words of
the Hecuba of Euripides, in which the ghost of Polydorus appeal's
on the stage.

28 Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.

away prevailed to such an extent that, though
men knew that bodies were burned, they yet imag-
ined that things were done in the infernal regions,
which could be neither done nor conceived of with-
out bodies. For they could not take into their
minds the idea of souls living by themselves, and
so they sought to invent some form and shape for
them. Hence the entire veicvia 1 of Homer. Hence
the scheme of veKpo/j,avrela 2 which my friend
Appius devised. Hence the beliefs attached to
Lake Avernus in my neighborhood, 3

1 Necrology, or the story of the dead, the title of the eleventh
book of the Odyssey, which describes the visit of Ulysses to the
infernal regions.

2 Necromancy. Appius Claudius Pulcher, long a friend and
correspondent of Cicero, afterward his enemy, and probably never
worthy of his friendship, was an augur, wrote a treatise on augu-
ral law which he dedicated to Cicero, and is said to have been
himself a believer in augury and grossly superstitious. He con-
sulted the Delphic oracle as to his own fortune in the civil war,
followed Pompey, and died before the battle of Pharsalia.

8 Tusculum was not very near the Lake Avernus ; but several of
Cicero's villas were in its vicinity, which was the favorite summer
resort of rich Romans. I regard as highly probable what is often
called a fanciful derivation of Avernus from d privative and 6pvis,
a bird, denoting birdless, and implying that birds cannot or do
not fly over it. The whole region steams with mephitic vapors,
the very oysters from the Avernus have a strong volcanic flavor,
and during the many centuries for which Vesuvius was inactive
the adjacent country may have been more offensive in its exha-
lations than since they have had their vent in the now ever-
burning mountain. "Were we believers in a sulphureous under-
world for departed souls, we should not go far from Avernus for
its gate.

On the Contempt of Death. 29

"Whence from the open gate of Acheron
By bloody rites the shadowy dead are summoned."

These shades of the dead are supposed to speak,
which they cannot do without tongue, nor without
palate, nor without the form and action of jaws,
ribs, lungs. Those who thought thus could discern
nothing by the inward vision, but referred every-
thing to the outward eye. It is the work of sur-,
passing genius to separate the mind from the senses,
and to divert thought from its accustomed channels.
I have no doubt that there were very many in the
earlier time who so believed, but Pherecydes of Syros
is the earliest extant writer who said that souls are
immortal. He lived while the founder of my fam-
ily was king. 1 This opinion of his received the
strongest confirmation from his disciple Pythagoras
who, coming to Italy in the reign of Superbus, held
the foremost place in Magna Graecia 2 by the re-
nown of his school and the authority of his wisdom,
insomuch that the name of a Pythagorean had such
reputation for many generations afterward that none
who did not bear it were accounted as learned men.

17. But I return to the early philosophers of
that school. They gave hardly any reasons for their
opinion, save such as needed to be explained by
numbers or diagrams. It is said that Plato, in

1 Servius Tullius, whom the Tullian family regarded as their

2 A region of Southern Italy almost wholly peopled by Greek

v^. \^ V*~'V fcjLAr~

30 Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.

order to become acquainted with the Pythagoreans,
came into Italy, and learned all the philosophy of
Pythagoras, and especially that he not only had the
same opinion with him about the eternity of souls,
but also gave reasons for it, which if you have no

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