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objection, we will pass over, and leave without far-
ther discussion this entire subject of the hope of

A. Do you say so ? When you have brought
me to the summit of expectation, will you leave
me ? I would rather, by Hercules, err with Plato,
for whom I am well aware of your unqualified es-
teem, and whom I admire on your authority, than
hold the truth with those other philosophers.

M. I give you joy on feeling thus ; for I too
would not have disdained to err with one so wise.
Do we then doubt as we do in many matters,
but least of all in this, in which we have the posi-
tive assurance of mathematicians that the earth,
situated in the middle of the universe, is with ref-
erence to the entire heavens like the point which
they call the Kevrpov ? l This being admitted, the
nature of the four elements from which all bodies
are generated 2 is such that they spontaneously
assume different directions. Earthy and humid
substances by their own tendency and weight are
borne perpendicularly toward the earth and the sea.
As they tend by gravity and weight toward the

1 Centre,

2 Earth, water, air and fire.

1 -

On the Contempt of Death. 31

centre of the universe, 1 so the others, fire and air,
fly in straight lines into the celestial region, either
of their own nature seeking a higher place, or, he-
cause they are lighter, naturally expelled by heavier
substances. Since such is the law of nature, it
ought to be clearly understood that souls when
they leave the body, whether they be breath, that
is, aerial, or whether they be of fire, are borne aloft.
But if the soul be a certain number, as some call it
with more subtlety than lucidness, or if it be that
fifth element rather unnamed than not understood,
these are so transcendently perfect and pure that
they must rise very far above the earth. Now the
soul is one of these essences that I have named;
for we cannot admit that a mind so active lies in
heart or brain, or, as Empedocles maintains, in
the blood.

18. We may omit farther mention of Dicaear-
chus, with his contemporary and fellow-disciple
Aristoxenus, of whom the former seems never to
have pitied himself for having no soul, while the
latter is so charmed with his music that he attempts
to transfer its laws to these subjects now under
discussion. We can indeed understand that har-
mony proceeds from the intervals between sounds,
of which diverse combinations produce a corre-

1 Which is the centre of the earth. We have here an antici-
pation of the law, by which all terrestrial bodies gravitate toward
the earth's centre. The cosmogony here sketched is more fully
drawn out in Scipio's Dream.

32 Cicero s Tusculan Disputations.

spending diversity of harmonies ; but I do not see
how the position of the limbs and organs and the
conformation of body without soul can create har-
mony. But he, learned as he really is, may well
leave these matters to his master Aristotle, and
confine himself to the teaching of music. That is a
good rule which is prescribed in the Greek proverb,

" Let each man ply the art which best he knows." 1

We may also throw entirely out of question the
fortuitous concourse of single smooth and round
atoms, which yet Democritus supposes to have ac-
quired by their combination heat, and breath, and
the properties of animal life. But the soul which,
if it belongs to the four elements from which all
things are said to have their being, consists of air
ignited (as I perceive to be very decidedly the opin-
ion of Panaetius), must of necessity rise into the
higher regions of space; for air and fire have no
downward tendency, and always ascend. Thus if
they are dissipated, they are so at a height far above
the earth; or if they remain and preserve their
primitive condition, they must of necessity be borne
up to heaven, breaking through this thick and dense
air nearest to the earth ; for the soul is warmer, or
rather more intensely hot, than this air which I
have called thick and dense, as we may learn from
the fact that our bodies, made of the earthly ele-
ment, are heated by the ardor of the soul

1 The converse of the familiar proverb, Ne sutor supra crepidam.

On the Contempt of Death. 33

19. Still farther, the soul can the more easily
escape from and break through this lower air of
which I have repeatedly spoken, inasmuch as there
is nothing possessed of greater velocity than the
soul, no speed that can compare with the speed of
the soul. If it remains uucorrupt and like itself,
it must needs be borne upward with so strong an
impulse as to pierce and part this entire lower
heaven in which clouds, showers and winds gather,
and which is made moist and dark by exhalations
from the earth. When the soul has transcended
this region, it comes into the contact and recogni-
tion of a nature like its own; it alights on fires
in which buoyant air and tempered sun-heat are
blended, and aims no loftier flight. Having then
attained a buoyancy and warmth like its own sub-
stance, as if poised by balanced weights, it moves
on neither side ; and it has reached at length its
natural abode, when it has penetrated to that which
is like itself, in which, lacking nothing, it will be
fed and sustained by the same food with which the
stars are sustained and fed. Now since we are
wont to be inflamed by the torches of bodily crav-
ing to various kinds of desires, and are stirred to a
more fervent heat because we emulate those who
possess what we want to have, we shall assuredly
be happy when, our bodies left behind, we shall be
rid equally of desires and of emulation ; and what
we now do when released from cares, so that we
can examine and investigate things that we want

34 Cicerds Tusculan Disputations.

to know, we shall then do much more freely, and
shall wholly devote ourselves to contemplation and
research. This must be so; for there is in our
minds an insatiable desire to behold the truth, and
the very confines of the region where our flight will
end will impart at once the greater desire to know
heavenly things and the easier attainment of such
knowledge. It was this beauty of the heavens as
seen even on the earth that called into being what
Theophrastus terms, the national and hereditary
philosophy, 1 which is kindled by the desire for
knowledge. And those, indeed, will have the high-
est enjoyment of it in heaven, who while inhabit-
ing this world were encompassed by darkness, yet
sought to penetrate it by the mind's keen vision.

20. If those think that they have accomplished
something of importance, who have seen the mouth
of the Pontus, and the narrow passage through
which sailed the ship named Argo because

" In her the Argive heroes, chosen men,
Ploughed the salt sea to seek the golden fleece,"

or who have beheld the straits of the Ocean

" Where the swift wave parts Libya and Europe,"

what may we imagine the spectacle to be, when we
can behold the whole earth, at once its site, form
and circumference, and all its habitable regions,

1 Physics, or natural philosophy, first cultivated by Thales,
lying at the basis of the systems of not a few of the Greek philos-
ophers, and ignored by hardly any of them.



On the Contempt of Death. 35

and then again, those parts of it that remain uncul-
tivated on account of excessive cold or heat ? In
our present state, it is not with our eyes that we
behold what we see, nor does any one of the senses
reside in the body; but as not only adepts in
natural science, but equally physicians who have
examined the human body with its interior parts
opened and exposed to view, assert there are, so
to speak, certain paths bored through from the seat
of the soul to the eyes, to the ears, to the nostrils.
Therefore it is that often, when hindered by being
absorbed in thought or by some morbid affection,
we neither see nor hear, though both the eyes and
the ears are open and in a healthy state, so that
it may be readily inferred that it is the soul that
sees and hears, and not those parts which are like
windows of the soul, but through which the mind
can perceive nothing unless it be actively present.
Again, how is it that with the same mind we com-
prehend things the most utterly unlike, as color,
taste, warmth, smell, sound, which the soul could
never learn from the five messengers, unless all
their reports were brought to it, and it alone were
the judge of all ? These things however will be
perceived much more distinctly and clearly when
the free soul shall have arrived at the goal to which
nature points the way. For now, indeed, although
these passages open to the soul from the body have
been fashioned by nature with the most exquisite
skill, yet they are somehow obstructed by concrete

36 Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.

material substances ; but when there shall be noth-
ing but soul, there will be nothing to hinder our
perceiving the nature and the qualities of every
object. 1

21. I might, indeed, were it desirable, tell at
great length how many, how various, how grand
will be the scenes placed before the soul in the
heavenly regions. When I think of these things I
cannot help often marvelling at the absurdity 2 of
some philosophers, 3 who admire the study of natural

1 Henry More must have had this discussion iu view when he
wrote the following quaint stanzas :

"Like to a light fast locked in lanthorn dark,
Whereby by night our wary steps we guide
In shabby streets, and dirty channels mark ;
Some weaker rays from the black top do glide,
And flusher streams perhaps through the horny side.
But when we 've passed the peril of the way,
Arrived at home, and laid that case aside,
The naked light how clearly doth it ray,
And spread its joyful beams as bright as summer's day !

" Even so, the soul in this contracted state,

Confined to these straight instruments of sense,

More dull and narrowly doth operate ;

At this hole hears, the sight must ray from thence,

Here tastes, there smells. But when she 's gone from hence,

Like naked lamp she is one shining sphere,

And round about has perfect cognoscence

Whate'er in her horizon doth appear ;
She is one orb of sense, all eye, all airy ear."

2 Latin, insolentiam, which literally means unusualness, and
may be fitly used of anything abnormal no less than of what is
commonly called insolence.

8 The Epicureans.

On the Contempt of Death. 37

science, and render thanks with expressions of joy
to its first discoverer and teacher, 1 reverencing him
as a god, because they have been freed by him from
the severest tyranny, from unceasing terror, from
fear by day and by night. From what terror ?
From what fear ? What old woman is so far de-
mented as to fear what you perhaps might have
dreaded, if you had been entirely ignorant of natu-
ral science,

" Tlte lofty temples by the Acheron,
The pallid forms that wander on its banks,
The clouds and darkness ever resting there ? "

Is it not shameful for a philosopher to boast that
he is not afraid of these things, and that he has
ascertained that they are false ? It may thus be
seen how discerning they are by nature, if they
would have believed these things had they not
been taught to the contrary. But I know not what
great good it has done them to learn that when the
time of death comes they will utterly perish. If
this be the case (and I now say nothing against it),
what is there in such a prospect to be rejoiced
in or gloried over ? I indeed find no valid objec-
tion to the opinion of Pythagoras and Plato. Even
if Plato gave no reasons for his belief see how
much confidence I have in the man he would
break down my opposition by his authority alone ;
but he brings forward so many reasons as to
make it perfectly obvious that he is not only

1 Thales.


38 Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.

fully persuaded himself, but desirous of convincing

22. But there are many who strenuously main-
tain the opposite opinion, and doom souls to death
as if they were convicted of a capital crime ; nor do
they give any reason why the eternal existence of
souls seems incredible to them, except that they
cannot understand or imagine what sort of a being
the soul is without the body, as if, forsooth, they
understood what is the nature, shape, size, location
of the soul while in the body, so that could they
now behold collectively all that is in man, the soul
would fall under their view, or else would be so
subtile as to elude their inspection. I would ask
those who say that they cannot understand the soul
without the body, to consider what they understand
the soul to be in the body. To me, indeed, when
I look into the nature of the soul there is greater
difficulty and obscurity in imagining what sort of
being the soul is, while it is in the body, as in a
home not its own, than when it shall have gone
forth and come into the free heaven as into its own
proper home. It must be borne in mind that if we
are incapable of understanding the nature of what
we have never seen, we can form no idea of God
himself and of the divine soul which has no body.
Dicaearchus, indeed, and Aristoxenus, because they
found it difficult to understand the being and na-
ture of the soul, said that there was no soul at alL
Undoubtedly it is the highest possible exercise of

On the Contempt of Death. 39

our powers for the soul itself to see the soul, and
this is the peculiar meaning of the precept of Apollo
in which he admonishes every one to know himself;
for he does not, I suppose, bid us to know our
limbs, or stature, or form. We are not bodies, nor
am I, while I am saying these things to you, talk-
ing to your body. When, therefore, the oracle says,
" Know thyself," l it says " Know thy soul." It is
what your soul does that you do. Unless the
knowledge of the soul were a divine endowment,
this precept would not have been given by any
soul of more than ordinary acuteness of discern-
ment. That it is ascribed to a god implies that it
is possible to know one's self. Even if the soul
does not know the nature of the soul, tell me, I
pray you, need it therefore be ignorant of its own
existence ? Of its own movements ? It is the
movements of the soul that form the subject of
the reasoning of Plato in the Phaedrus, as drawn
out under the name of Socrates, which I have also
quoted in the Sixth Book of my Republic?

23. " That which is ever in motion is eternal ;
but that which imparts motion to aught else, and
is at the same time moved by any foreign sub-
stance, must of necessity with the end of motion
have the end of life. That only which moves itself,

1 The tradition is that this precept was one of three inscribed
by Chilon the Lacedaemonian on the wall of the temple at Delphi.
Hence it came to be ascribed to the god of the temple.

2 In Scipio's Dream.

40 Cicertfs Tusculan Disputations.

because it is never deserted by itself, never ceases
to move ; while to other things that are moved this
is the fountain, this the beginning, 1 of motion. But
the beginning has no origin ; for from the beginning
all things spring, while it cannot itself be born from
aught else, since that would not be a beginning
which derived its birth from any source except
itself. But if it never begins to be, it surely never
ceases to be. For the beginning, once extinguished,
can neither be re -born from any other being, nor
create anything from itself, if it be indeed neces-
sary that all things should spring from a beginning.
Thus it is that the beginning of motion is that
which is self-moving. But that which is self-mov-
ing can neither be born nor die. Were it to die,
the whole heavens would collapse and all nature
stand still, nor could it find any force by which a
first impulse could be given to motion. Since then
it is clearly evident that whatever is self-moving is
eternal, who is there who can deny that this nature
belongs to souls ? For whatever is moved by im-
pulse from without is soulless ; but whatever has a
soul is stirred by a movement interior and its own.
Now this is the peculiar nature and power of the
soul, which, if it is the only one of all things that
is always self-moved, certainly was not born, and
is eternal." 2 Although all plebeian philosophers

1 Latin, principium, which has beginning for its primitive
meaning, and is Cicero's rendering of Plato's apxri-

2 The past eternity of the soul is, as it appears in this extract,

On the Contempt of Death. 41

for so those who dissent from Plato and Socrates
and from that school seem not unfitly termed
unite in the endeavor, they will not only never
make so graceful an explanation of anything, but
will not even understand with what subtile skill
the conclusion of this argument is reached. The
soul, then, is conscious of motion, and with this
consciousness it is at the same time conscious that
it is moved by force not from without, but its own ;
nor is it possible that it can ever be deserted by
itself. Hence its eternity is proved, unless you
have some answer to this reasoning.

A. I have easily prevented any objection from
coming into my mind, I regard this opinion with so
much favor.

24. M. Let me ask, do you attach less weight to
those arguments which prove that there are certain
divine elements in men's souls ? As to these, if I
saw how they could be born, I could see also how
they might die. For as to blood, bile, phlegm,
bones, nerves, veins, in fine, as to the entire form
of the limbs and the whole body, I think that I can
tell whence they were put together and how they
were made. Even as to the soul itself, if there
were nothing in it but the principle of vitality, I
should suppose the life of man sustained by nature,

the basis of Plato's reasoning in behalf of immortality. That he
believed the soul to be immortal we cannot doubt ; but his argu-
ments evidently flowed from his belief rather than his belief from
his arguments.

42 Cicero s Tusculan Disputations.

like that of the vine or the tree ; for we say that
they live. So too, if the soul of man had nothing
in it but desire or fear, it would have this in com-
mon with the beasts. But it has, in the first place,
memory, and a boundless memory of innumerable
things, which Plato, indeed, regards as the recol-
lection of a former life ; for in the book entitled
Meno, Socrates asks a little boy some geometri-
cal questions about the dimensions of the square.
These the boy answers as any child might ; but by
questions easily framed on an ascending scale he
gradually reaches in his answers the position that
he would have occupied if he had studied geometry.
From this Socrates infers that to learn is merely
to recollect. This subject he explains with much
greater precision in his discourse on the very day
of his death ; for he there maintains that a man
who seems entirely destitute of culture, and yet
gives suitable answers to one who questions him,
shows that he is not then learning what he knows,
but is recognizing these things as he recalls them
to memory ; nor, according to him, could it be pos-
sible that even from early childhood we could have
intuitions 1 the Greeks call them eWoias 2 of so
^*~- many and so important things sown and as it were
sealed in our souls, unless the soul before it entered

1 Latin, notiones.

* 'Ewoia literally means thought, or whatever is in the mind.
Plato uses it in the sense of intuition, and I have accordingly em-
ployed that term as here the proper rendering of notiones.

On the Contempt of Death. 43

the body were well versed in the knowledge of|
things. Since, as Plato constantly maintains, noth-
ing that begins and ceases to be really exists, and
the only actual existence is what he terms IBeav 1
and we call species, the soul, while shut up in the
body, as he thinks, cannot acquire the knowledge of
these ideas or species, but brings the knowledge
of them into this earthly life, so that we need not
be surprised at its knowing so many things. These
elements of previous knowledge the soul does' not
see with perfect clearness, when it suddenly mi-
grates into a dwelling so unwonted and in so
disturbed a condition; but when it becomes self-
collected and refreshed, it remembers and recognizes
them. To learn, then, is merely to recollect. But
I am all the more amazed at memory. For what
is the faculty by which we remember? What is
its power? Whence does it spring? I am not
concerned to know how great a memory Simonides 2

literally means a sight, or an object perceived by the
organs of sight. Thence it comes to mean what is apprehended
by the inward vision ; thence what is seen only by the mind's
eye ; thence, species, or general terms, which according to Plato
and the realists have an actual existence, while the nominalists
regard them as names and nothing more. The meaning of this
sentence is, that the soul, while in the body, which in the proper
sense of existence does not really exist, becomes subject to the
limitations of the body, and thus cannot acquire the knowledge of
ideas, or species, or really existing things, but must of necessity
possess this knowledge solely by recollection.

2 He is said to have invented some artificial system of

44 Cicero's Tusculan Disputations,

is said to have had, or Theodectes, 1 or Cineas 2
whom Pyrrhus sent as an ambassador to the Sen-
ate, or, more recently, Charmadas, 3 or Metrodorus
of Scepsis 4 who died but a little while ago, or my
friend Hortensius. 5 I am speaking of the memory
common to mankind, and especially of the memory
of those who are proficients in any one of the higher
departments of learning or art, of whom it is diffi-
cult to say how much of mind they may have, so
much do they owe to memory.

25. To what does our discussion lead ? I think
it possible to understand what this power of memory

1 It was said that he could repeat any number of verses, word
for word, on hearing them once.

2 It is related of him that on the day after his arrival at Rome
he was able to salute every member of the Senate and of the
equestrian order by name.

3 In the De Oratore Cicero speaks of having seen him at Athens.
He used, perhaps invented, a mnemonic system, which has been
repeatedly imitated down to the present day, in which one ar-
ranges in his thought, it may be on the walls, floor and ceiling
of an apartment, a series of images or pictures, and in order to
remember a series of facts, events or ideas, connects them in
thought seriatim with these successive images. Cicero says that
Charmadas never lost the remembrance of anything thus commit-
ted to memory.

* He was still living at Scepsis, in Asia Minor, when the De
Oratore was written. He was also remarkable for his always suc-
cessful use of a mnemonic system like that of Charmadas.

6 The great orator, Cicero's rival rather than friend. It was
related of him that on one occasion, challenged to a trial of mem-
ory, he sat through a whole day at an auction-sale, and at the
close rehearsed without a mistake the goods sold, the prices, and
the names of the buyers.

On the Contempt of Death. 45

is, and whence it comes. It certainly does not be-
long to heart, or blood, or brain, or atoms. Whether
it may be air or fire I know not; and I am not
ashamed, like those who deny that there is a soul,
to confess iny ignorance of what I do not know.
But if as to any other matter not perfectly plain I
could make a positive assertion, I could swear that
the soul, if it be either air or fire, is divine ; for I
appeal to you whether such an immense power of
memory seems to you either sown in or compounded
from the earth under these cloudy and misty heav-
ens. If you do not see what this faculty is, you
see of what sort it is, or if not that, you certainly
see how great it is. What then ? Can we imagine
that there is in the soul room for stowage into
which the things that we remember are poured as
into a vessel ? That indeed is absurd ; for what
can be the bottom, or what the shape of such a
soul, or what its entire capacity ? Or can we sup-
pose that the soul receives impressions as wax does,
and that memory consists in the vestiges of the
things thus stamped upon the mind ? What can
the vestiges of words be, or of things themselves ?
Then too, what space is large enough to have so
many impressions made upon it ? To pass to
another point, what is the power of searching out
hidden things, which is called invention and ex-
cogitation ? Does it seem to you to be composed of
an earthy and mortal and perishable nature ? Who
first gave all things their names, which Pythagoras

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