Essay on Cicero on Friendship Analysis - 1048 Words
Cicero's essays on old age and friendship - Internet Archive
The first portion of either text involves an action or a springing intoexistence, being a separation into Goodness, and this is followed by a"behavior" or service to God in which the substance of affection isbeholden to the species. This "beholden-ness" is not only a contract,but a "beholding" of the species by instinct. In Cicero’sformulation Friendship springs from "a certain instinctive feeling of Love,combined with an inclination of the heart" – this inclination being notonly a service to God, but a return to God. The whole thing is a"doing" – the greatest doing of what is Upright and Good. It is botha moral choice and a spiritual state of being. At the end of time this is"counted" as Righteousness or Virtue. To be "counted" or"reckoned" is the same as the "calculation of advantage" bywhich mankind is judged. advantage is counted as Evil, while advantage is counted as Righteousness. When God "sets before" man ablessing and a curse, this is the same as saying that there are two kinds ofmen: those who are blessed, and those who are cursed. The blessed have separatedthemselves from the "habitations of the men of Evil," in spirit and bytheir "inborn behavior." They have "prepared a way" thatculminates in a "return to the Law of God" at the end of time. Thecalculation of "advantage" (Latin root: "from before") –be it by nature fallen, or in spirit blessed – is a final . Itis a Last Judgement by which mankind is redeemed.
made no little use of a now lost essay of Theophrastus on Friendship
There occurs here a question by no means difficult, whether at any time new friends worthy of our love are to be preferred to the old, as we are wont to prefer young horses to those that have passed their prime. Shame that there should be hesitation as to the answer! There ought to be no satiety of friendships, as there is rightly of many other things. The older a friendship is, the more precious should it be, as is the case with wines that will bear keeping; and there is truth in the proverb, that many pecks of salt must be eaten together to bring friendship to perfection. If new friendships offer the hope of fruit, like the young shoots in the grain-field that give promise of harvest, they are not indeed to be spurned; yet the old are to be kept in their place. There is very great power in long habit. To recur to the horse, there is no one who would not rather use the horse to which he has become accustomed, if he is still sound, than one unbroken and new. Nor has habit this power merely as to the movements of an animal; it prevails no less as to inanimate objects. We are charmed with the places, though mountainous and woody, where we have made a long sojourn. But what is most remarkable in friendship is that it puts a man on an equality with his inferior. For there often are in a circle of friends those who excel the rest, as was the case with Scipio in our flock, if I may use the word. He never assumed superiority over Philus, never over Rupilius, never over Mummius, never over friends of an order lower than his own. Indeed he always reverenced as a superior, because older than himself, his brother Quintus Maximus, a thoroughly worthy man, but by no means his equal; and in fact he wanted to make all his friends of the more consequence by whatever advantages he himself possessed. This example all ought to imitate, that if they have attained any superiority of virtue, genius, fortune, they may impart it to and share it with those with whom they are the most closely connected; and that if they are of humble parentage, and have kindred of slender ability or fortune, they may increase their means of well-being, and reflect honor and worth upon them, — as in fable those who were long in servile condition through ignorance of their parentage and race, when they were recognized and found to be sons either of gods or of kings, retained their love for the shepherds whom for many years they supposed to be their fathers. Much more ought the like to be done in the case of real and well-known fathers; for the best fruit of genius, and virtue, and every kind of excellence is reaped when it is thus bestowed on near kindred and friends.