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On the Good Life

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,015 ratings  ·  33 reviews
For the great Roman orator and statesman Cicero, 'the good life' was at once a life of contentment and one of moral virtue - and the two were inescapably intertwined. This volume brings together a wide range of his reflections upon the importance of moral integrity in the search for happiness. In essays that are articulate, meditative and inspirational, Cicero presents his ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published September 30th 1971 by Penguin Group (USA)
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Cassandra Kay Silva
One of the main issues that I think atheists have to contend with is the question "if there is no god, why be moral?" or to say that morality cannot exist without religion. This provides a lot of answers that are though old very sound to such an argument. He gives a lot of ideas why morality leads to happiness. Why people would choose virtue over vice and so forth, leaving religion out of the question. He offers stories of many in the town and those of popular favor (luckily I had just read Plat ...more
Jacob Stubbs
So, it's always nice when I read an author that I agree with. I loved Cicero's "On Friendship" dialogue. His view of friendship is both Stoic and Christian in its own sort of way. His "Discussions at Tusculum (Book V)" is a little more tricky. At first glance, it seems that he is advocating a Stoic view; however, his last paragraph, where he explains that he, himself, cannot even live up to the conditions he set forth for attaining Happiness. This means that something more is going on (Rumour ha ...more
Cicero, after more than two-thousand years, remains a delight to read. This edition, selected and translated by Thomas Habinek, consists mainly of two long excerpts, from the Tusculan Disputations and On Duties. What On Living and Dying Well accomplishes is to remind us once again that the writings of the ancients are as relevant to us today in a way that contemporary philosophers are not.

Nothing is more basic to the human experience than the great Tusculan Disputations. It answers the question
I also longed to read Cicero's works since I have known that he was brilliant as a second-to-none orator and writer in the Roman world. Moreover, he was a true scholar dedicated to serve the Romans, not merely to serve his superiors for his materialist greed or political position/power.
We readers can learn a lot from his works written some 2,000 years ago as well as from his cool character and scholarly ways of looking at things or at any contemporary event then with unique wisdom and appropriat

The further I went with this text, the more predictable and tiresome it became. Perhaps my expectations were too high— with someone who's as influential and interesting a figure as Cicero is, I believed this book was going to be more than it turned out to be. To me, Cicero, the writer, did not live up to his reputation as Cicero, the Roman.

The book itself wasn't without redeeming qualities. What we do have, is a splendid historical document! For that purpose, this information is priceless. We

Paul Haspel
The essays collected in On the Good Life do much to show Cicero's force of intellect, and his influence on the West's intellectual history. Many of these essays date from the grim years after Rome's Civil War, when Cicero saw his beloved Roman Republic falling, to be replaced by an unwelcome new empire. The essays make clear Cicero's dedication to duty, honor, restraint, and personal dignity as core values. My favorites among these essays include “On the Orator,” still essential reading for anyo ...more
I expected grand truths. What else from a writer whose works have survived so long, who's influenced so many philosophers and authors over centuries? Apparently not. I kept plowing through all the circular rubbish ("All good things are enjoyable. What is enjoyable deserves credit and pride; that is to say, it is glorious: and, if so, it must be praiseworthy. What is praiseworthy has to be morally good: therefore goodness means moral goodness" - ???) deciding that, "hey, if it's not making any se ...more
Cicero - Roman philosopher, statesman and lawyer from 1st century BC.

The only thing that prevented this from being a 5-star book was the last section (the book is divided into 5 sections) on rhetoric and speeches. Kinda boring.
The section "On Duties" was very good.
The first and main section of the book that deals with morality and happiness was excellent.
But my favorite read was the section "On Friendship." This topic was one of the top 3 philosophical works I've ever read and will probably re-r
Extolled endlessly until the industrial revolution, these philosophical writings are a great pleasure to read and contemplate upon. Though they are easy and leisurely, rather than vigorous and thorough, they have impacted the world to an inestimable degree, and were the impetus to much thinking during the Enlightenment, of Hume's and Jefferson's to name but two. Recreational reading of the highest order, this collection is a great inspiration towards the "good," and may even cajole your mind int ...more
In a world where religiosity is often confused with 'goodness', it is always refreshing to read an ancient treatise on true 'goodness', and to realize that is aligns nicely with your own philosophy. Cicero states in a manner very difficult to refute that to attain those ideals that makes up the very best of humans automatically leads to happiness- courage, wisdom, and moral integrity.
Daniel Kukwa
Four of these five stars go to Cicero himself: a vain, hard to like genius who certainly loves the sound of his own words, and doesn't believe in being concise. I don't agree with all of his heavily-Platonic views, but they have been worth reading for two thousand years. The final star goes to the quality of this volume, which includes: (1) an excellent introduction to set the stage for what is to come; (2) a concise bio of the famous orator; (3) numerous fascinating epitaphs from various Roman ...more
George Shetuni
Cicero is the world’s most logical writer. There is nothing that lies beyond his reach. If Cicero says something you know it is true. He is a talented writer as well as a good thinker. And for this reason, he is not considered a philosopher-because he has literary merit. At times he is funny, at other times perhaps too exact, but always on the money. Latin is the world’s most logical language and it has spurned numerous writers of Rome who said the most fundamental things. Of them, Cicero is the ...more
Overall, a decent look at why moral behavior is necessary for personal good life and the good life of the state. As another reviewer noted, Cicero's arguments tended to be rather circular and as a result, I think he failed to conclusively prove the point. As applied ethics, I think it succeeds in illustrating the material advantage of good morals. Grant's selections are okay, but I don't think "Discussion at Tusculum V" should be a stand alone piece. The entire "Tusculan Disputation" is one of C ...more
Jeffrey  Sylvester
“On Living and Dying Well” by Cicero is a great read and is entirely relevant to today’s society.

During my undergraduate, I was required to read and dissect numerous classics and it was tough going at times. For example, many authors ran the risk of displeasing whatever arbitrary tyrant happened to be in power so they wrote in metaphor, or set up dialogue between fictional characters that would enable them to side with whichever character the authorities deemed was right. The problem with this f
Last December I sat myself a task of reading back through the philosophical canon, either re-reading some works or reading ones I never read before. I have taken it very slowly, as there have been so many other things to read as well.

In my library since college days were three paperback Penguin Classics of Cicero. Each an anthology of excerpts from varied writings of his. I decided to read one, and after asking for advice on Facebook, the consensus pooled around this one. While reading it this a
Honza Prchal
It is a classic for a reason.
If it has a major weakness, it is that it is SO modern one can easily forget when it was written to the point one can ignore certain parts as nearly cliche.
Cliches happen because they work, but unlike unexpected profundity, cliche gets easily passed over.
It is indeed astonishing to think that if Cicero is this good in translation, how good must he be in his native Latin. Cicero covers, in his own stoic way, a number of topics regarding virtue and the preservation of a good life. The book ends with a heartfelt, at least for Cicero, Truly a delight to read!
4 stars for On Duties(Book II) and Laelius: On Friendship. Michael Grant's translation is excellent.
Tarun Rattan
Ultimate Cicero... take the advice from the master on how to live a good life and how to honour friendship!
Ross Cohen
Witty and wise, of his culture and timeless, Cicero lives and instructs through this excellent translation.
This is a partial review based upon reading of: the introduction, "Discussions at Tusculum" & "On Duties, II".

I would like to return to this to read "Laelius: On Friendship".
Anthony Nuccio
A good philosophical text that should be read as open-minded and as non-judgmental as possible. Contradictions might come up, but Cicero is one that you should not take at face value. The 3 star rating is due to reading this only partially for a History of Ideas class. Nonetheless, I still recommend this book.
James Violand
This is a good read - the result of an excellent translation. One of the greatest minds of ancient Rome, Cicero comes to life and declaims on how a moral man leads a good life even when he suffers. Although counter-intuitive (especially today!) he makes a very compelling case.
Mike Barretta
not as good as I'd hoped; most of the essays' arguments use ancient greek and "contemporary" roman analogies. Perhaps I'm not learned enough, but I guess I prefer axiomatic arguments instead. That being said, the short _Dreams of Scipio_ was pretty good.
Oct 16, 2007 Martin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Great stuff! The best part? The angry stares I got from other passengers on Muni and BART while reading it. I guess Cicero is the mother of all dead, white, European male authors.
it was a poor translation, but Cicero I'd always worth the read.
Maxo Marc
I liked it because it showed if you live morally life will be good.
Darisann Metzler stout
A home without books is a body without soul.
Marcus Tullius Cicero
The finest piece in this collection is 'Laelius: On Friendship.'
Gwen Burrow
Read a couple sections.
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  • Essays
  • The Enneads
  • Discourses and Selected Writings
  • Dialogues and Essays
  • Natural History: A Selection
  • The History of Rome, Books XXI-XXX: The War With Hannibal
  • The Letters of the Younger Pliny
  • The First and Second Apologies (Ancient Christian Writers)
  • The Essential Epicurus
  • The Way Things Are: The De Rerum Natura
  • The Major Works (World's Classics)
  • The Comedies
  • A History of My Times
  • The Roman History: The Reign of Augustus
  • The Civil Wars
  • The Idea of a University
  • The Rise of the Roman Empire
  • Philosophy As a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault
January 3, 106 BCE – December 7, 43 BCE

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...
Selected Works On the Republic/On the Laws Selected Political Speeches On Duties (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought) The Nature of the Gods

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