Monday, 21 March 2011

De Amicitia

So you see, I have retained some elements of my ejumacayshun. Enough to be able to select an appropriate bit of Cicero for your delectation, whilst I ponder the last writhings of what was a friendship. No major cause, just a build-up of occurrences that culminated in my sudden realization of just how changed that person had become.

''Furthermore, there is a sort of disaster in connexion with breaking off friendships — for now our discussion descends from the intimacies of the wise to friendships of the ordinary kind — which is sometimes unavoidable. There are often in friends outbreaks of vice which affect sometimes their actual friends, sometimes strangers, yet so that the infamy of the evil flows over on to the friends. Therefore the ties of such friendships should be sundered by a gradual relaxation of intimacy, and, as I have heard that Cato used to say, "They should be unravelled rather than rent apart," unless there has been some outbreak of utterly unbearable wrongdoing, so that the only course consistent with rectitude and honour, and indeed the only one possible, is to effect an immediate withdrawal of affection and association.

But if, on the other hand, as usually happens, a mere change of disposition and of tastes should occur, or if a difference in political views should arise (for I am talking now, as I said a moment ago, not of friendships existing between wise men, but of those of the ordinary kind), care must be taken lest it appear, not only that friendship has been put aside, but that open hostility has been aroused. For nothing is more discreditable than to be at war with one with whom you have lived on intimate terms......

......Wherefore, in the first place, pains must be taken that, if possible, no discord should arise between friends, but in case it does, then our care should be that the friendships appear to have burned out rather than to have been stamped out. And you must indeed be on your guard lest friendships be changed into serious enmities, which are the source of disputes, abuse, and invective. Yet even these, if endurable, are to be borne, and such respect is to be paid to the old-time friendship that he may be in the wrong who committed the offence and not he who suffered it.''

A rather traditional translation that retains the majesty and beauty of the original, which I found on Bill Thayer's site.


  1. *weeps* it's not me, is it? Have we fallen out and I haven't noticed?

    Cicero - that's not the same hotel that there was the stabby thing at in Chicago that the girls sing about? *tumbleweed blows through my empty head*


  2. no,lovey, it isn't you :-)
    and it's my old friend Marcus Cicero, Roman orator extraordinaire. But you knew that :-D
    On the other hand,I have no idea what *you're* talking about ....

  3. "burned out rather than stamped out", I like that. That's not to say it isn't sad when it happens (and big *hugs* for you), but the least one can hope for is that it happens without enmity.

  4. I have found that I have friends who I thought were friends the ones you believed would always be cheering you on . When in fact it was quite the reverse and when you review the friendship over the years you do see how they were really your rivals not friends. Time to gently untie yourself.
    Blessings X

  5. Well I haven't changed (apart from my undies) in years, so it can't be me ;D

  6. Your ejumacayshun outweighs my own!

    I think people are always in flux, and sometimes we grow in different directions from some of our friends. Often there is enough of a bind to keep us close, but sometimes the common ground is lost. My 'best' friend I sometimes do not see for two years, but I love her like a sister. Perhaps they are the greatest friendships, ones that time, silence and distance do not worry.

    Warm huggles always xx


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