Saturday, 9 August 2008

Cicero's Advice on Friendships and False Friends...


"...in the first place, pains must be taken that, if possible, so 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 change 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 offense and not he who suffered it.  
In short:  there is but one security and one provision against these ills and annoyances and that is neither to enlist your love too quickly nor to fix it on unworthy men.  Now they are worthy of friendship who have within their souls the reason for being loved.  A rare class indeed!  And really everything splendid is rare and nothing is harder to find than something which in all respects is a perfect specimen of its kind.  But the majority of men recognize nothing whatever in human experience as good, unless it brings them some profit and they regard friends as they do their cattle, valuing most highly those which give hope of the largest gain.  Thus do they fail to attain that loveliest, most spontaneous friendship, which is desirable in and for itself; and they do not learn from their own experience what the power of such a friendship is and are ignorant of its nature and extent.  

But most men unreasonably, not to say shamelessly, want a friend to be such as they cannot be themselves and require from friends what they themselves do not bestow.  But the fair things is, first of all, to be a good man yourself and then to seek another like yourself.  It is among such people that this stability of friendship may be made secure.

A troublesome thing is truth if it is indeed the source of hate which poisons friendship; but much more troublesome is complaisance...Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit [complaisance, the desire to oblige  and or fall in with another's taste or flatter another, gets us friends while speaking the truth gets us enemies]."

For more from or about Cicero please see my earlier posts below:
http://fascinatinghistory.blogspot.com/2008/07/friendship-roman-style-what-romans.html
http://fascinatinghistory.blogspot.com/2008/04/cicero-on-father-of-emperor-tiberius.html

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