previous next
[33] 7. It is subjects of this sort that I believe Panaetius would have followed up, had not some accident or business interfered with his design. For the elucidation of these very questions there are in his former books rules in plenty, from which one can learn what should be avoided because of its immorality and what does not have to be avoided for the reason that it is not immoral at all.

We are now putting the capstone, as it were, upon our structure, which is unfinished, to be sure, but still almost completed; and, as mathematicians make a practice of not demonstrating every proposition, but require that certain axioms be assumed as true, in order more easily to explain their meaning, so, my [p. 301] dear Cicero, I ask you to assume with me, if you can, 1 that nothing is worth the seeking for its own sake except what is morally right. But if Cratippus2 does not permit this assumption, you will still grant this at least—that what is morally right is the object most worth the seeking for its own sake. Either alternative is sufficient for my purposes; first the one and then the other seems to me the more probable; and, besides these, there no other alternative that seems probable at all.3

1 Moral Right the only good or the chief good.

2 As a Peripatetic, Cratippus insisted that there was natural good as well as moral good; thus health, honour, etc., were good and worth seeking for their own sake, though in less degree than virtue. But the Stoics (and Cicero is now speaking as a Stoic) called all those other blessings not “good” nor “worth seeking for their own sake,” but “indifferent.”

3 With this he waves aside, without even the honour of mentioning them, the Epicureans, Cyrenaics, etc.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Introduction (Walter Miller, 1913)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: