Tullia’s Secret Shrine: Birth and Death in Cicero’s de Finibus

Author: Altman, William H. F.
Title: Tullia’s Secret Shrine: Birth and Death in Cicero’s de Finibus
Review/Collection: "Ancient Philosophy" 28
Year edition: 2008
Pages: 1-20
Keywords: Biographie - Biografia - Biography, Philosophie - Filosofia - Philosophy, Sources - Fonti - Sources
Description: [Abstract] In accordance with the precept of Platonic midwifery, a less excruciating labor than his daughter’s is now induced by Cicero: although he cannot force his readers to do so, he challenges them in both word and deed to emulate Hercules despite a pervasive Epicureanism that would, by a reverse alchemy, reduce thegold of altruism to the lead of selfishness. And so it remains today: the joy that the dying Tullia experienced in the mistaken thought that her son would survive her must now be explained away by ‘the selfish gene’; Epicureanism—whether ancient or modern—leaves no room for maternal self-sacrifice guided by the greater good. But Cicero knows better and so do our mothers. It is probably not accidental that Cicero calls Socrates, himself the son of the midwife Phaenarete(Theaetetus 149a1-2), ‘parens philosophiae’ (‘parent of philosophy’) at the beginning of De finibus ii, the only book among five that explicitly reaches a conclusion. This was Cicero’s way of saying that Epicureanism is decisively refuted only when any given reader—safely delivered by one of Phaenarete’s sons — gives birth to a death-defying vision of the good and then, despite all manner of obstacles, acts accordingly.
Link: https://www.academia.edu/45288192/Tullias_Secret_Shrine_Birth_and_Death_in_Ciceros_de_Finibus?email_work_card=title
Author initials: Altman 2008