Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “On Moral Duties (de Officiis)” as Want to Read:
On Moral Duties (de Officiis)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

On Moral Duties (de Officiis)

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  1,331 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC) was a Roman statesman, lawyer, political theorist, philosopher, and Roman constitutionalist. He is widely considered one of Romeas greatest orators and prose stylists. He is generally perceived to be one of the most versatile minds of ancient Rome. He introduced the Romans to the chief schools of Greek philosophy and created a Latin phi ...more
Paperback, 188 pages
Published October 31st 2008 by Dodo Press (first published -44)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about On Moral Duties, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about On Moral Duties

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 03, 2008 Jared rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
De Officiis, or “On Duties,” was the second book printed on Gutenberg’s printing press. Apparently, Gutenberg and his other contemporaries knew how important the press was so they wanted to give props to the Bible, as the most important book ever written/compiled—but along those lines he decided to print Cicero’s classic shortly thereafter. Cicero wrote this book as a series of letters to his prodigal child, who had little ambition to be a correct man, like his father was. Consequently, it reads ...more
Apr 14, 2012 Yann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Difficile de lire sans émotion ce texte, le dernier que Cicéron a laissé avant son assassinat par les spadassins de Marc Antoine : rédigé après la mort de César, il s'adresse à son fils et traite de la morale. C'est également le testament politique d'un homme qui a consacré sa vie à la République et qui, retiré dans sa maison de campagne, est le témoin impuissant de sa dissolution progressive. Le ton est donc lourd, car l'auteur ne peut pardonner à Caius César d'avoir déclenché la guerre civile,
Sep 09, 2010 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The original, and until about a century ago, the most popular discussion of why it's better to be admired than feared. From the 16th through the 19 centuries anyone in public life who considered himself educated and moral had to be intimately familiar with this book, written by Cicero as an essay to his son in his last year, before he was murdered by some of Mark Antony's thugs. Machiavelli wrote specifically against this book in The Prince. If you want to know why it's ALWAYS wrong to torture, ...more
Jun 12, 2008 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hope that people still read Latin works. This is an especially good one, presenting Cicero's ethics as a letter written to his son. One gains insights in stoic philosophy, not irrelevant to our own times by any means. I like the Loeb Classical Library editions of Greek and Latin works; the original language on the left and English translation on the facing page enables one to read the original (If one can, and I'm somewhat limited with my Latin and a neophyte with Greek) and then easily check ...more
Jeffrey Malone
Jun 22, 2012 Jeffrey Malone is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Re-reading this again - though in a new imprint - for the first time in two decades. Main interest here for me is to situate it within the tradition of 'mirror for princes' texts.
Feb 08, 2017 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cicero discusses morality that remains applicable today. There was nothing earth shattering in this read. The moral dilemmas of the past are the same as the present.

The simple example is what a seller of a house is obligated to tell a potential buyer. Overall, this was a taxing read but worth the time. If nothing else, it supports the argument that there is nothing new under the sun.
हार्दिक  लोहनी
Best of Cicero's idea in this book is as following,
"This same kind of error is also to be shunned in civil affairs; for there are those who, for fear of unpopularity, dare not say what they think, even if it be the very best that could be said"

Deniz Günal
Jul 20, 2016 Deniz Günal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
İnsan bazan elini bir kitaba uzatır, o kitap eline yapışır kalır. Tam orada, iki apayrı şeyin uyumlu birleşmesi olur.

Kitabın rastgele açtığım sayfasında gözüme çarpan sözler şunlardı: “ Yaşamımızdaki hiç bir şeyin uyumsuz olmadığını görmek zorundayız, aynı şekilde ya da daha fazla, neticede eylemler arasında, seslerde olduğundan daha büyük bir uyum vardır.”

“Yükümlülükler Üzerine” Cicero'nun oğlu Markus’a yazdığı mektupların oluşturduğu üç kitap.

Birinci kitapta, oğluna yükümlülüklerin kaynağı o
Joshua Thornton
Nov 11, 2015 Joshua Thornton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chelton-books
Cicero's On Obligations has a pretty bare bones argument, but effective nonetheless. What is honorable, is useful. What is not useful, is not honorable. How do we know what is honorable? Simple, follow four virtues: Wisdom, Justice, Beneficence, and Magnanimity. Follow these virtues in respect to others, family, country, and gods - in that ascending order.

One concern I had with Cicero's argument was his notion of holding gods most high to our obligations. Didn't Greek/Roman culture view the "go
Nov 06, 2008 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all who aspire to understand justice
This is a book of political and philosophical advice from an internally-exiled father, a former ruler and lawmaker, to his coming-of-age son. It is by turns brilliant and maddening in its reasoning: if any reader can tell me what 'seemliness' actually means--aside from decorum and conventionality--I'd love to hear it. Book I at first reads like a Roman version of the speech delivered by windbag Polonius to his son Laertes in *Hamlet,* when Laertes is about to go off to school in Paris: good and ...more
Aug 06, 2011 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cicero considered this work on moral duties to be his masterpiece. Given his large output, as well as the wide scope of his influence, this is saying something. The book is full of practical advice from an elder statesman. It is more practical and common-sensical than it is philosophically rigorous. That will likely only perturb the professional philosophers (well, many of them... it actually did not perturb this one too much). I enjoyed the book immensely - which is nice since I undertook its r ...more
Gregg Jones
Feb 28, 2014 Gregg Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cicero was a small guy in a big pond where bigger fish lived. He did realize that most (including himself) were not equal under Roman Society and this brought him into trouble with guys like Ceaser and Anthony. Cicero's last theoretical work and contains his analysis, in a Greek theoretical framework, of the political and ethical values of the Roman governing class in the late Republic. It has often been treated merely as a key to the Greek philosophical works that Cicero used, but this volume a ...more
Alp Turgut
Socrates ve Platon'un "iyi ve kötü vardır" düşüncesini Aristoteles "iyi, kötü ve uygun vardır" olarak geliştirmişti. Romalı ünlü filozof Cicero ise oğlu için yazdığı "De Officiis / On Duties / Yükümlülükler Üzerine" adlı eserinde bu düşünceyi "iyi, kötü ve uygunun da kendi içinde en iyisi vardır" diyerek bir üst seviyeye taşıyor. Platon ve Aristoteles'ten sonra Felsefe 301 olarak görülebilecek Cicero, ahlaken doğru ile yararlı olanın arasındaki bağıntıyı örneklerle tartışırken zamanının liderler ...more
Peter Lech
Feb 05, 2014 Peter Lech rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in the fall of 44 BCE, when any hope of salvaging the republic was lost, Cicero, in virtual exile, composes a book which draws from the ethical precepts of the Stoics, especially Panaetius of Rhodes, the 2nd cent. Stoic philosopher. Cicero is not writing a philosophical treatise, as he admits, but a work aimed at the general reader, and in particular his son, currently studying in Athens; it is claimed to be a sort of help for certain moral/ethical dilemmas. Cicero is at his best when he ...more
Jason Goetz
May 17, 2013 Jason Goetz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a historical figure Cicero's achievements are second to none (or to very few, should I say), but as a writer he is irritating--vain, snooty, and not the easiest to read because he uses terms that sound like they mean the same thing but don't quite mean the same thing. In the realm of ethical treatises this falls well short of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments. I would therefore highly recommend his speeches--which made him the historical figure he is--above ...more
Zachary Rudolph
Nov 22, 2016 Zachary Rudolph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“As long as the empire of the Roman People maintained itself by acts of service, not of oppression, wars were waged in the interest of our allies or to safeguard our supremacy; the end of our wars was marked by acts of clemency or by only a necessary degree of severity; the senate was a haven of refuge for kings, tribes, and nations; and the highest ambition of our magistrates and generals was to defend our provinces and allies with justice and honour. And so our government could be called more ...more
Gene Bales
Sep 25, 2014 Gene Bales rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting essay on the nature of duties. It has a personal tone (Cicero wrote it for his son), but is filled with exhilarating though sometimes overbearing rhetoric. Unlike Kant and his view of duties, Cicero was a bit of a pragmatist in resolving conflicts among duties, though he is a Stoic at heart. While I can see why Hume admired him, I suspect it was because of his pragmatic mind-set.
Aaron Crofut
Can't say I was really impressed. We live for pleasure, no matter what any Stoic may say. The last parts of Book 2 and most of Book 3 have some important points, in particular on the nature of the state and its maintenance, but most of that had already been covered in De Re Publica. I know Cicero had an important impact on philosophy (in particular in expanding the Latin language to include so many Greek concepts), but Cicero himself was not a first rate philosopher.
Christian Dibblee
Ancient, but one of the better treatises on ethics. For Cicero, justice is the ultimate virtue and anything that is honorable is also useful. I quite like the idea that men are bound by a common bond and that, therefore, honorable conduct is the most useful. Cicero is perhaps too Stoic for my taste, believing virtue to be the only good. That said, his advocacy for an anti-Macchiavellian political approach is encouraging.
That Machiavelli reverses several of this fellows maxims while in a similar political situation seems like more than coincidence to me. More evidence that The Prince is an occasional work.

But I've never taught this in relation to Machiavelli. Rather, it was a third and final step in preparing students to begin to take the Nicomachean Ethics said somewhat seriously.
Jul 28, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wisdom. Justice. Courage. Temperance. The parallels between Cicero's time during the disintegration of the Republic, and the rise of absolutist rule to the contemporary American (and to an extent, global) political situation should entice everyone to read his suggestions. Anyone seeking a little moral direction proffered in a straightforward manner need look no further.
Dec 06, 2011 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics
Even two thousand years after it was written, this is still a paramount text on what an honorable man must do. Despite his lack of credentials as a philosopher, Cicero writes a very compact and concise discourse on duties and ethics that should be read by all people.
Apr 07, 2008 Victor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As far as sheer wisdom goes, I rank this book as on par with the collected essays of Thoreau. It's hard to imagine being able to live up to the virtuous man envisioned within, but it's a worthy goal.
Richard Thomason
An excellent translation, with just the right of amount of introduction to set the context of philosophical thought. The prose is lucid and of utterly consistent register; it echoes Cicero well.
William Prueter
Mar 22, 2007 William Prueter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Political philosophy
Shelves: ancientromans
Go to Click on my Latin page. Click on books read. Click on Marcus Tullius Cicero. Scrool down to 545.
Aug 06, 2013 Charlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Ross Cohen
Apr 02, 2015 Ross Cohen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite his repetitive delivery, Cicero offers a sensible guide for understanding how our words and deeds can be, and ought to be, useful and honorable.
Jan 25, 2014 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book presents Cicero's view of Natural Law, which oddly enough became more influential for the next 1500 years than Aristotle's after Aristotle was largely lost.
A very readable translation of Cicero's book of advice to his son. While not all the advice applies to a modern world, it is an interesting book of lessons for people interested in ancient Rome.
Joseph Siegel
Jul 14, 2012 Joseph Siegel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One word...awesome. Cicero's letters to his son as the Roman Republic collapses. Every elected official should read this and reflect on the demise of republican Rome.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Poems
  • Julius/Augustus/Tiberius/Gaius/Caligula (Lives of the Caesars 1)
  • Moral Essays: Volume I
  • Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica (Loeb Classical Library No. 194)
  • The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters
  • Theological Tractates/The Consolation of Philosophy
  • Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Vol 1, Books 1-5
  • Virgil, Vol 2: Aeneid Books 7-12, Appendix Vergiliana (Loeb Classical Library, #64)
  • Outlines of Scepticism
  • Discourses, Books 1-2
  • Metamorphoses (The Golden Ass), Vol 1: Books 1-6
  • The Fall of Troy
  • The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus
  • The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic: Part I: Human Nature; Part II: de Corpore Politico with Three Lives
  • Catiline's War, The Jugurthine War, Histories
  • The Last Pagan: Julian The Apostate And The Death Of The Ancient World
  • The Comedies
Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. Cicero is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.
More about Marcus Tullius Cicero...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Law applied to its extreme is the greatest injustice” 70 likes
“No power on earth, if it labours beneath the burden of fear, can possibly be strong enough to survive.” 6 likes
More quotes…