Sunday, October 18, 2020

M/M: A Friend Who'll Have Your Back: Orestes & Pylades, Cicero, de Fin. II.24.79

Sed quid ages tandem, si utilitas ab amicitia, ut fit saepe, defecerit? Relinquesne? Quae ista amicitia est? Retinebis? Qui convenit? Quid enim de amicitia statueris utilitatis causa expetenda vides.  Vadem te ad mortem tyranno dabis pro amico, ut Pythagoreus ille Siculo fecit tyranno? Aut, Pylades cum sis, dices te esse Orestem, ut moriare pro amico? Aut, si esses Orestes, Pyladem refelleres, te indicares et, si id non probares, quo minus ambo una necaremini non precarere?

--Cicero, De Fin.II.24.79

What will you do when a friendship is no longer useful to you (as what usually happens)? Will you end it? What kind of friendship is that? Will you hold onto it? How will it benefit you? You’ll question your definition of friendship if you only base it on how it benefits you….

Will you offer yourself up to a tyrant to be killed to save a friend, like that Pythagorean* did to the Sicilian tyrant? Or, if you were Pylades, would you proclaim that you were Orestes, so that you could die for your friend? Or even if you were Orestes, would you contradict Pylades, give yourself up, and, if you could not convince the tyrant of your identity, would you pray that you both be killed together?

[*the myth of Pythias and Damon]



Name:  Marcus Tullius Cicero

Date:  106 BCE – 43 BCE

Works: de Amicitia

               de Divinatione*


               In Catilinam

              Pro Archiam, etc.



Map of Roman Empire Divided into Regions



 Cicero was an Italian-born Roman statesman and author who lived during the complexities of Rome’s transition from Republic to monarchy. Cicero spent most of his life in service of his country, serving as both a lawyer, senator, and even consul [Roman equivalent of president]. He is known for his suppression of the failed governmental coup in 63 BCE known as the Catilinarian conspiracy that occurred during his consulship. After the rise of Octavian [later known as the first Roman emperor Augustus], his views fell out of favor and he was eventually put to death during the proscriptions under the Second Triumvirate (Octavian, Marc Antony and Lepidus). He was a prolific author with a wide range in genres, and his literary style was adopted by Petrarch as the default model for the Latin language.


Timeline of Latin Literature with "GOLDEN AGE" era highlighted

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