The wisdom of the past still rings true today. On display today are a few examples from Cicero’s On Duties, written shortly after Rome transitioned from a republic to an empire. What is truly amazing is that these writings are from over 2,000 years ago. While we’re told things have changed, maybe humanity hasn’t changed as much as we think.

  1. “Next to the gods, and after them, the greatest contribution to the lives of mankind is made by men themselves.”


  2. “Had it not been for man and his endeavors, we should have no medical care, no sailing on the sea, no cultivation of the land, no harvest or storage of crops.”


  3. “No leader, either in war or in peace, could ever have performed important or beneficial actions unless he had gained the cooperation of his fellow men.”


  4. “Certainly, the fact that people join together and collaborate has brought us great benefits. But it is equally true that the worst calamities in the world are likewise those which man inflicts upon man.”


  5. “Had we not allowed outrages to go unpunished on all sides, it would never have been possible for a single individual to seize tyrannical power.”


  6. “Sensuality … is an alluring mistress which succeeds in seducing the greater part of mankind from the path of integrity.”


  7. “The best of all means of looking after one’s own interests is by winning affection.”


  8. “For fear is a very poor guarantee that power will last.”


  9. “Intelligence without justice creates no confidence at all.”


  10. “A man’s character is more important than his body.”


  11. “Whereas one’s purse must not be tightly closed against every generous inclination, it must also not be opened so wide that its contents are available to everybody and anybody.”


  12. “When you want to help one group of persons, be careful not to offend another.”


  13. “The real Rome has gone forever.”