Marcus Tullius Cicero was an orator and statesman of Ancient Rome. The standard English pronunciation of his name is [ˈsɪsərəʊ], though in classical Latin it was [ˈkikero])

In Catilinam I - Against Catilina, Speech One (63 B.C)

  • Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?
    • To what length will you abuse our patience, Catiline?
      Variant translation: How long, Catiline, will you abuse our patience?

  • O tempora, o mores!.
    • O, the times, O, the morals!

M. Tulli Ciceronis Orator Ad M. Brutum (46 B.C.)

  • Prima enim sequentem honestum est in secundis tertiisque consistere. (3)
    • If a man aspires to the highest place, it is no dishonor to him to halt at the second, or even at the third.
    • Variant translation: If you aspire to the highest place, it is no disgrace to stop at the second, or even the third, place.

  • Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. Quid enim est aetas hominis, nisi ea memoria rerum veterum cum superiorum aetate contexitur? (120)
    • Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever. For what is the time of a man, except it be interwoven with that memory of ancient things of a superior age?
    • Variant translation: To be ignorant of the past is to forever be a child.

De Officiis - On Duties (44 B.C.)

  • Non nobis solum nati sumus.
    • We are not born for ourselves alone
    • De Officiis (Book I, sec. 22).

  • In anger nothing right nor judicious can be done.
    • De Officiis (Book I, sec. 37).

  • Cedant arma togae, concedat laurea laudi.
    • Yield, ye arms, to the toga; to civic praise, ye laurels.
    • De Officiis (Book I, sec. 77).

  • Ludo autem et ioco uti illo quidem licet, sed sicut somno et quietibus ceteris tum, cum gravibus seriisque rebus satis fecerimus.
    • We may, indeed, indulge in sport and jest, but in the same way as we enjoy sleep or other relaxations, and only when we have satisfied the claims of our earnest, serious task.
    • De Officiis (Book I, sec. 103).

  • He is never less at leisure than when at leisure.
    • De Officiis (Book III, sec. 1), reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Compare: "Then never less alone than when alone", Samuel Rogers, Human Life.

De Amicitia - On Friendship (44 B.C.)

  • A friend is, as it were, a second self.

  • The shifts of Fortune test the reliability of friends.

  • Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.

Philippic (44 B.C.)

  • Hannibal ad portas
    • Hannibal at the gates: a cynical expression made when Cicero was forced by Antony to attend a Senate meeting which Cicero thought was of no major importance.

  • That, Senators, is what a favour from gangs amounts to. They refrain from murdering someone; then they boast that they have spared him!
    • From the Second Philippic Against Antony

Various orations and works

  • Quidem concessum est rhetoribus ementiri in historiis ut aliquid dicere possint argutius. (Indeed rhetoricians are permitted to lie about historical matters so they can speak more subtly).
    • Brutus, 42

  • Genius is fostered by energy.
    • Pro Coelio (Ch. xix, sec. 45).

  • Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit (No one dances sober, unless he is insane)
    • Pro Murena (Ch. vi, sec. 13).

  • Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
    • Pro Plancio (54 B.C.).

  • While there's life, there's hope.
    • Epistolarum ad Atticum (Epistle To Atticus), Book ix, 10, 4. - Alternately reported as "While the sick man has life there is hope". Compare: "While there is life there's hope, he cried", John Gay, Fables, Part i, "The Sick Man and the Angel".

  • Nec vero [...] superstitione tollenda religio tollitur.
    • We do not destroy religion by destroying superstition.
    • De divinatione (Book I, chapter LXXII, sec. 148)

  • There is nothing so ridiculous but some philosopher has said it.
    • De Divinatione.

  • Thus in the beginning the world was so made that certain signs come before certain events.
    • De Divinatione, i, 118, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Compare: "Often do the spirits / Of great events stride on before the events, / And in to-day already walks to-morrow", Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Death of Wallenstein, Act v, scene 1.

  • Let the punishment match the offense.
    • De Legibus

  • Salus Populi Est Suprema Lex.
    • The welfare of the people is the ultimate law.
    • De Legibus

  • Endless money forms the sinews of war.
    • Philippics

  • Inter arma enim silent leges
    • Law stands mute in the midst of arms.
    • Pro Milone
      Variant translation: In a time of war, the law falls silent.

  • History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.
    • Pro Publio Sestio

  • The freedom of poetic license.
    • Pro Publio Sestio

  • Quam cum suavissima et maxima voce legisset, admirantibus omnibus "quanto" inquit "magis miraremini, si audissetis ipsum!"
    • He spoke with a charming full voice, and when everyone was applauding, "how much", he asked, "would you have applauded if you had heard the original?"
    • De Oratorio, book 3, chapter 56.
    • Cicero was telling the story of Æschines' return to Rhodes, at which he was requested to deliver Demosthenes' defence of Ctesiphon.

  • For as lack of adornment is said to become some women, so this subtle oration, though without embellishment, gives delight.
    • De Oratore, 78, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Compare: "Loveliness / Needs not the foreign aid of ornament, / But is when unadorn'd, adorn'd the most", James Thomson, The Seasons, "Autumn", Line 204.

  • On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammeled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.
    • The Extremes of Good and Evil as translated by H. Rackham (1914)
    • Is commonly used in its original classical Latin form as "Lorem ipsum", or placeholder text for tests and demonstrations in publishing.

  • True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions.
    • De Re Publica, Book 3, Chapter 22

  • A war is never undertaken by the ideal State, except in defense of its honor or its safety.
    • De Re Publica, Book 3, Chapter 23

  • Though silence is not necessarily an admission, it is not a denial, either.
    • Paulus, L, 17


  • A bureaucrat is the most despicable of men, though he is needed as vultures are needed, but one hardly admires vultures whom bureaucrats so strangely resemble. I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty or stupid, an oppressor or a thief, a holder of little authority in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious dog. Who can trust such creatures?
    • Taylor Caldwell in her novel based on the life of Cicero, A Pillar of Iron (1965), p. 451
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