This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

De Officiis – work of Cicero’s life

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

De Officiis
De Officiis

De Officiis is Cicero’s essay divided into three books, in which Cicero explains his concept of the best way of life; how should the true Romans behave; and emphasizes the need to respect moral obligations. In addition, Cicero criticized Caesar and his dictatorship.

The work of the great speaker was written in 44 BCE in four weeks. It was his last year and he was 62 years old. Cicero was still an active politician, trying to counteract the revolutionary changes that were taking place in the Roman republic. Despite his efforts, the Republican system failed to revive even after the murder of Caesar. Cicero was killed on demand of Antony in 43 BCE.

The essay was written as a letter to his son – Cicero the Younger – who studied philosophy in Athens. Judging by its form, however, it aimed to attract a larger audience. The essay was published after Cicero’s death. The De officiis work has been characterized as an attempt to define an ideal civic attitude.

It is possible to see in the work which philosophies had the greatest influence on Cicero: Platonic school, Aristotle lyceum or stoics, Panaetius, a Greek philosopher of Mediostia, who came from Rhodes. In his treatise, Cicero argues that the lack of political rights corrupts moral virtues and emphasizes that the natural law regulates not only people but also gods. The speaker also encourages his son to imitate nature and wisdom, as well as to politics and warns against pleasure and laziness. Cicero’s essay is based mainly on anecdotes, which are much more than in his other works. In addition, it seems that the work is written in a less formal style, which may prove that Cicero wrote them in a hurry. Michael Grant, a British historian, said that Cicero had to treat De Officiis as a treatise of his life and a masterpiece.

  • Cytowska Maria, Literatura rzymska. Okres archaiczny, Warszawa 1996

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

If you like the content that I collect on the website and that I share on social media channels I will be grateful for the support. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server.



Find out more!

Check your curiosity and learn something new about the ancient world of the Romans. By clicking on the link below, you will be redirected to a random entry.

Random curiosity

Random curiosity

Discover secrets of ancient Rome!

If you want to be up to date with newest articles on website and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter, which is sent each Saturday.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Subscribe to newsletter

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: