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[8] And yet there is still another classification of duties: we distinguish between “mean” 1 duty, so called, and “absolute” duty. Absolute duty we may, I presume, call “right,” for the Greeks call it κατόρθωμα, while the ordinary duty they call καθῆκον. And the meaning of those terms they fix thus: whatever is right they define as “absolute” duty, but “mean” duty, they say, is duty for the performance of which an adequate reason may be rendered.

1 Cicero's technical terms are difficult because he has to invent them to translate Greek that is perfectly simple: rectum is 'right,' i.e. perfect, absolute. Its opposite is medium, 'mean,' i.e. intermediate, falling short of the ' absolute' and occupying a middle ground; common; ordinary.

honestum is ' morally right'; as a noun, 'moral goodness' (= honestas); its opposite is turpe, 'morally wrong.

honestas is 'moral rectitude,'—'moral goodness'; 'morality '; its opposite turpitude, 'moral wrong,' ' immorality.'

honestus, on the other hand, is always 'honourable '; and honores are always ' offices of honour.'

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