Cicero's Tusculan Disputations

Chapter Summaries

Source: Andrew P. Peabody (translator), Cicero's Tusculan Disputations, Boston, 1886. (pp. iii–xii)

Book 1  |  Book 2  |  Book 3  |  Book 4  |  Book 5  |  Links


Book 1

On the Contempt of Death

  1. Reasons for discussing philosophical subjects in Latin.

  2. Poetry and art cultivated in Rome at a comparatively late period.

  3. Oratory cherished at an earlier time. Philosophy neglected.

  4. Plan of the Tusculan Disputations.

  5. "Whether death is an evil," proposed as the subject for the first day.

  6. The stories about the under-world, fictitious.

  7. The dead not miserable, if they have ceased to be.

  8. Death, on that supposition, is not an evil.

  9. Different theories as to the nature of the soul, and as to its fate when the body dies.

  10. Aristotle's fifth element, as constituting the soul.

  11. The theories of the soul inconsistent, and those consistent, with its continued life.

  12. The belief of the ancients in immortality proved by commemorative rites and the honor paid to sepulchres.

  13. On this, as on every subject, the common sense of mankind is the law of nature.

  14. Instinctive consciousness of immortality.

  15. Men crave posthumous praise because they expect to enjoy it.

  16. Absurd notions as to the shades of the dead.

  17. Souls must tend upward when they leave the body.

  18. Reasons for so believing.

  19. The soul's flight traced.

  20. Perception a function, not of the organs of sense, but of the soul.

  21. Absurdity of the philosophy which denies the continued existence of the soul.

  22. No greater, difficulty in conceiving of the soul's life when disembodied, than when in the body.

  23. Plato's argument for the soul's future from its past eternity.

  24. Alleged reminiscences of a previous existence.

  25. The powers of the soul proofs of its immortality.

  26. Poetry, eloquence, and philosophy, God inspired, and therefore tokens of a divine and immortal life.

  27. A quotation from Cicero's Consolatio, on the divine origin of the soul.

  28. The greatness of the soul attested by its capacity of contemplating the universe.

  29. We know the soul in the same way in which we know God. The death of Socrates.

  30. What Socrates said in dying about the destiny of souls.

  31. Life apart from the body the only true life.

  32. Objections to immortality. The soul inherits the qualities of its parents, and therefore begins to be, and whatever begins to be must cease to be. It is also liable to disease, and therefore mortal.

  33. Heredity denied. Disease belongs to the body, not to the soul.

  34. If death is the end of life, it yet is no evil.

  35. Instances in which death would have been preferable to continued life.

  36. If death is the end of life, it involves no sense of want.

  37. Instances in which death has been faced with alacrity.

  38. The wise man will plan for eternity, whether he be immortal or not.

  39. We have no just claim to continued life beyond death.

  40. The contempt of death shown by Theramenes.

  41. Dying words of Socrates, quoted from the Phaedo.

  42. Courage of the Spartans in near view of death.

  43. Instances of the contempt of death on the part of philosophers.

  44. Superstitions about the suffering of the unburied body after death.

  45. Various modes of disposing of dead bodies.

  46. Death in full prosperity to be desired rather than feared.

  47. Instances in which death has been conferred by the gods as a pre-eminent benefit and blessing.

  48. Instances in which death has been sought and welcomed.

  49. The disposition in which death should be waited for and met.

Book 2

On Bearing Pain

  1. Grounds on which philosophy is distrusted or despised.

  2. Desirableness of original writings in that department, instead of depending on the Greeks.

  3. Worthlessness of the Epicurean treatises that have already appeared in the Latin tongue.

  4. The true work of philosophy, though not always wrought for philosophers themselves.

  5. The thesis for discussion, — " Pain is the greatest of all evils."

  6. Philosophers who have taken that ground.

  7. Inconsistency of Epicurus.

  8. Lamentation of Hercules on Mount Oeta, from the Trachiniae of Sophocles.

  9. The same, continued.

  10. Lamentation of Prometheus on Mount Caucasus, from Aeschylus.

  11. Wrong notions propagated by the poets, whom Plato therefore excludes from his ideal republic.

  12. On this subject they have been too well seconded by philosophers.

  13. If disgrace is worse than pain, this consideration alone puts pain in the background.

  14. Pain subdued by courage and patience.

  15. Resemblance and difference between labor and pain.

  16. Power of endurance developed in military service.

  17. Examples of endurance in athletes, hunters, gladiators.

  18. Pain not so much in endurance as it seems in thought.

  19. Epicurus, on pain.

  20. Virtue, personified, treats pain as of no account when compared with moral evil.

  21. What self-government means.

  22. Signal examples of brave endurance.

  23. How far the sense of pain may have expression.

  24. The strong manifestation of suffering unworthy of a man.

  25. Contrasted examples of this and its opposite.

  26. The power of the sentiment of honor.

  27. How the capacity of bearing pain is to be strengthened.

Book 3

On Grief

  1. Sources of error in home life and nurture.

  2. In the poets and in public opinion.

  3. Disorders of the soul more numerous and harmful than those of the body.

  4. Subject for discussion, — "The wise man is liable to grief."

  5. Distinction between "insanity" and "madness."

  6. Grief to be not diminished, but extirpated.

  7. The wise man is incapable of grief.

  8. The virtues, considered separately and collectively, are incompatible with grief.

  9. The wise man is never angry.

  10. Nor yet liable to pity, or to envy.

  11. False opinion, the cause of grief and of all other perturbations of mind. Perturbations classified.

  12. Groundlessness and frequent shamelessness of grief.

  13. Grief, the severest and least tolerable of the perturbations.

  14. Premeditation on possible misfortune, a remedy for grief.

  15. Opinion of Epicurus on this point.

  16. His remedy, that of calling the thoughts away from grief, impossible.

  17. Imagined protest of one of the old philosophers against the Epicurean doctrine as to grief.

  18. The theory of Epicurus as to pleasure, that it consists wholly in the gratification of the senses.

  19. This theory applied to the relief of sorrow under heavy calamity.

  20. Epicurus contradicts himself.

  21. Cicero's theory of pleasure, diametrically opposed to that of Epicurus.

  22. The opinion of the Cyrenaic school, that grief owes its intensity to its suddenness.

  23. How far this is true. Efficacy of example as giving relief in sorrow.

  24. Examples cited.

  25. In some aspects the commonness and inevitableness of grief enhance, instead of diminishing, its intensity.

  26. Grief enhanced by the belief or feeling that it is under certain circumstances fitting and right.

  27. Grief in many cases voluntarily assumed, in some, voluntarily postponed.

  28. There is then no actual necessity for it.

  29. Reasons why the burden of grief is taken up.

  30. That grief is removed by time while its cause remains, shows that it is unnecessary.

  31. The doctrine of the Peripatetics, that in this, as in everything else, the right is the mean between two extremes.

  32. Modes of administering consolation.

  33. Different modes are required by different persons.

  34. Philosophy proffers an entire and absolute cure for grief.

Book 4

On The Passions

  1. The Pythagorean philosophy in Magna Graecia.

  2. Vestiges of it in Roman history, institutions and customs.

  3. The study of philosophy in Rome.

  4. The subject of discussion, — "Whether the wise man is liable to perturbations of mind."

  5. The soul divided by the ancients into the part possessed of reason and that void of reason.

  6. Perturbation defined as "a commotion of mind contrary to reason."

  7. Perturbations the consequence of false opinions.

  8. Various forms of grief and of fear defined.

  9. The phases of pleasure and of inordinate desire defined.

  10. Diseases and sicknesses of soul, produced by perturbations.

  11. The disgusts which are the opposites of these diseases and sicknesses.

  12. Difference between occasional and habitual perturbations.

  13. Analogy between imperfections of the mind and those of the body.

  14. Healthy bodies can be, healthy minds cannot be, attacked by sickness or disease.

  15. Virtue, the only cure for the diseased mind.

  16. All the perturbations, whether painful or joyful, in their nature and effect pernicious.

  17. Freedom from perturbations makes life happy. Absurdity in this respect of the Peripatetic doctrine of a mean between extremes.

  18. Moderation in what is faulty is not only evil, but dangerous.

  19. The grounds on which anger and inordinate desire are commended as serviceable.

  20. The grounds on which grief in moderation is justified.

  21. Anger never necessary.

  22. Signal instances of courage without anger. .

  23. Anger differs little from insanity.

  24. Courage defined.

  25. Inordinate desire is never serviceable.

  26. Nor is emulation, detraction, or pity.

  27. Curative treatment of the perturbations.

  28. The best cure is the belief that they are vicious in their very nature.

  29. The evil of inordinate desire is not diminished by the worth of its object.

  30. Fear must be prevented or subdued by contempt for its objects.

  31. All perturbations are matters of opinion, voluntary, under our own control.

  32. Love, treated indulgently by the poets.

  33. By some philosophers, also.

  34. Platonic love unreal and absurd.

  35. The cure of love.

  36. The sons of Atreus cited as instances of implacable anger.

  37. Perturbations of mind always the result of error of belief or of judgment.

  38. Therefore curable by philosophy.

Book 5

Is Virtue Sufficient for Happiness?

  1. Virtue, always superior to fortune.

  2. Philosophy invoked as the sole safe guide and the supreme joy of life.

  3. Wisdom immeasurably older than its name, "Philosophy."

  4. Origin of this name.

  5. Subject of discussion, — "Whether virtue is sufficient for a happy life."

  6. Virtue makes man happy by freeing him from perturbations of every kind.

  7. Modes of discussion employed by the Stoics.

  8. Does the necessary agency of virtue in producing happiness imply that virtue is the only good ?

  9. Theophrastus maintains that misfortunes and calamities can make life miserable.

  10. Happiness implies the absence of evil, and thus the non-reality of what are commonly called evils.

  11. Cicero explains his own apparent lack of self-consistency.

  12. Socrates cited, and his words, as given by Plato, quoted, as identifying happiness with virtue.

  13. The soul designed and adapted for perfection.

  14. Happiness must of necessity be impregnable.

  15. What is not right cannot be good.

  16. The objects, special or preferable, but not good, recognized by the Stoics.

  17. If vice produces misery, virtue, the opposite of vice, must of necessity produce happiness, the opposite of misery.

  18. If virtue will not produce the happiest life possible, the worth of virtue is discredited.

  19. Caius Laelius contrasted with Cinna; Catulus, with Marius.

  20. The wretchedness of Dionysius, of Syracuse.

  21. The story of Damocles.

  22. The story of Damon and Phintias.

  23. Dionysius and Archimedes compared.

  24. Happiness of the wise man in the study and contemplation of Nature.

  25. The fruits of wisdom in character.

  26. Epicurus, though illogically, maintains that the wise man is always happy.

  27. Instances in which pain is cheerfully endured and incurred.

  28. A happy life can stand the severest test of torture and suffering.

  29. Reserve of the Peripatetics on the question at issue.

  30. Various opinions as to the supreme good.

  31. Yet, if self-consistent, the Peripatetics must admit that the virtuous man alone is happy.

  32. Simple living praised. Examples of contentment with little.

  33. Pleasures as classified by Epicurus. His rule for estimating pleasures and pains.

  34. Temperance the means of the highest enjoyment, as regards food.

  35. Simple fare and gluttony contrasted. Poverty no evil.

  36. The lack of popularity is not to be dreaded.

  37. Nor is unmerited exile an evil.

  38. Blindness does not interfere with a wise man's happiness. Cases in point.

  39. The blindness of Diodotus, Asclepiades, Democritus, Homer.

  40. Deafness not destructive of happiness. Death a refuge from accumulated physical privations or sufferings.

  41. The Stoics and Peripatetics substantially agreed as to the relation of virtue to happiness.



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First vers.: Mar 30, 2012