De officiis

Title: De officiis
Work type: Cicero - I - Works

Philosophical treatise in three books, considered the last philosophical work of Cicero, the De officiis was composed between the autumn and winter of 44 BC.
[F. Pagnotta – transl. Tom Frazel]

Keywords: Éditions - Edizioni - Editions, Philosophie - Filosofia - Philosophy, Politique - Politica - Politics
Historical references:

The De officiis was composed before the 9 December re-entry of the Arpinate to Rome, after, from 6 April to 17 July and from mid-October to 9 December of that same year, he had moved outside Rome to his villas in order to safeguard himself from the possible vendettas of his political enemies after the murder of Caesar on the Ides of March. The historical context of the work is that of the resumption on Cicero’s part of political activity after the death of Caesar and his fight against Antonius: the De officiis was in fact composed contemporaneously with the First and Second Philippic. The treatise is dedicated to his son Marcus, at that time a student at Athens with the Peripatetic philosopher Cratippus and, in
more general terms, to all young Romans for their ethical-political formation (off. 2,45). At the philosophical base of the De officiis, in particular for the first two books, Cicero reworks the thought of the Stoic philosopher
Panaetius of Rhodes who had dealt with the question of duties in his work
“On Duty”. From Panaetius, Cicero draws fundamental elements for
focusing the meaning of the concepts of honestum
and decorum that occupies much of the
first book, where the Arpinate examines those ethical principles thanks to
which a man can distinguish in various aspects of civil life that which he
ought to do from that which he ought not. The second book opens with Cicero’s
motivation for his own philosophical activity (off. 2,2-6), handles the concept of the expedient and how its separation from honestum brings
damage to men (off. 2,9). The book moreover speaks about how consent and gloria from men can be earned according to the honestum
(off. 2,21-43) and, in particular, of the duties of beneficentia and liberalitas (off. 2,52-87). In the third book Cicero treats the possible
conflict between the utile and the honestum (off. 3,17-19), a conflict that must be overcome by seeking to trace back the conceptual and actual dimension of utilitas on the plan of honestas in the interest
of the Res publica and, in more general terms, of interest of that which Cicero defines as communis hominum utilitas (off.
3,27-28) compared to individual interests and of factions. [F. Pagnotta – transl. Tom Frazel]