150+ Cicero Quotes On Leadership & Duty

In this article, you will learn:

  1. Marcus Cicero Quotes
  2. Cicero Sayings
  3. Cicero Quotes On Government
  4. Cicero Quotes On Leadership
  5. Cicero Friendship Quotes
  6. Cicero Gratitude Quotes
  7. Cicero Famous Quotes
  8. Cicero Best Quotes
  9. Cicero Philosophy Quotes
  10. Cicero On Duties Quotes
  11. Cicero Natural Law Quotes
  12. Cicero Quotes on Politicians

Marcus Tullius Cicero was a famous statesman, lawyer, orator, and philosopher of the Roman Republic. Born to a wealthy family, he became a leading politician and an orator during the time of Marc Antony, Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Octavian. Having been educated in Rome and Greece, Cicero presented Greek philosophy completely into Latin in his speeches, letters, and dialogues. These included some of the famous Cicero quotes, sayings, and writings on philosophy, friendship, education, and government in general.

Since Cicero was an important political figure of his time, he wrote his philosophical writings for effective political undertakings. There were times when he was forced out of politics and this is when he wrote most of his philosophical works.

Marcus Tullius Cicero’s Life as a Politician, Lawyer, and Philosopher During the time of Cicero, the political offices in Rome were held by a chunk of wealthy, aristocratic families. Since Cicero’s family was not one of those despite being rich, he understood that the only way to get into the political arena was by becoming a successful lawyer.

For instance, to pursue a career in law, Cicero studied jurisprudence, philosophy, and rhetoric. This helped him in making his political activity effective. Likewise, he started taking legal cases which made him a good orator, brought him popularity as he handled eminent cases, and got him some important political connections.

Thus, Cicero got an opportunity to hold all important positions in the important Roman offices, which got him into the Roman Senate. Being part of the Senate, he realized that the politicians at his time were all corrupt and lacked the righteous character which was once an important trait in the Roman leaders.

Thus, he wanted politicians of his time to develop individual righteousness and give it importance over their material desires of fame and wealth. Thus, to make his political objectives reach these politicians, he used philosophy. And since all of it was in greek, Cicero translated philosophy into Latin to make it accessible for Romans.

Thus, Cicero gave precedence to politics over philosophy and used philosophy only to bring about improvement in the Roman Republic.

The following are some famous Cicero quotes on friendship, government, leadership, and duty that capture some important lessons.

Marcus Cicero Quotes

  1. When we have leisure from the demands of business cares, we are eager to see, to hear, to learn something new, and we esteem a desire to know the secrets or wonders of creation as indispensable to a happy life. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  2. To the passion for discovering truth there is added a hungering, as it were, for independence. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  3. The more clearly anyone observes the most essential truth in any given case and the more quickly and accurately he can see and explain the reasons for it, the more understanding and wise he is generally esteemed, and justly so. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  4. Orderly behaviour and consistency of demeanour and self-control and the like have their sphere in that department of things in which a certain amount of physical exertion, and not mental activity merely, is required. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  5. All that is morally right rises from some one of four sources: it is concerned either with perception of truth, faithful discharge of obligations, greatness and strength of a noble spirit, orderly behaviour, consistency of demeanour, and self-control – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  6. If we bring a certain amount of propriety and order into the transactions of daily life, we shall be conserving moral rectitude and moral dignity. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  7. The knowledge of truth touches human nature most closely. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  8. We are all attracted and drawn to a zeal for learning and knowing; and we think it glorious to excel therein, while we count it base and immoral to fall into error, to wander from the truth, to be ignorant, to be led astray. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  9. In the pursuit of moral goodness, two errors are to be avoided: first, we must not treat the unknown as known and too readily accept it. The other error is that some people devote too much industry and too deep study to matters that are obscure and difficult and useless as well. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  10. One is not free, it may be so, to say what one thinks, but one is quite free to keep silent.
  11. All power has been handed over to one man; and he follows no counsel, not even that of his friends, except his own.
  12. “It is clear that after the removal of the tyrant the tyranny remains. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  13. Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with even keener fangs than freedom never endangered – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  14. Nothing is worth the seeking for its own sake except what is morally right – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  15. The lust for excessive wealth, for despotic power, and finally for making oneself king even in the midst of a free people are the result of error committed by men to not seize something that seems beneficial. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  16. No greater curse in life can be found than knavery that wears the mask of wisdom. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  17. Four cardinal virtues are the sources of moral rectitude: prudence (wisdom); an organized society (justice); a noble, invincible spirit (courage); and orderliness and moderation (temperance). – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  18. Justice is the crowning glory of the virtues and the sovereign mistress and queen. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  19. We are not born for ourselves alone, but our country claims a share of our being, and our friends a share. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  20. Virtue in general may be said to consist almost wholly in three properties; ability to perceive what in any given instance is true and real, the ability to restrain the passions and make the impulses obedient to reason; and the third is, the skill to treat with consideration and wisdom those with whom we are associated. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  21. It can easily be seen which duty takes precedence of any other: our first duty is to the immortal gods; our second, to country; our third, to parents; and so on, in descending scale, to the rest. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  22. Man, despite his subjective limitations, may infer the nature of the objects of sensation from the evidence of his experience. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  23. Since prior certainty sometimes cannot be attained regarding appropriate ethical and moral action, the need to act according to probability is acceptable. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  24. What made a statesman great, rested in his ability to choose the most ‘prudent’ course of action. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  25. To become good calculators of duty, able by adding and subtracting to strike a balance correctly and find out just how much is due to each individual. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  26. Slaves must be given their dues. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  27. In dealing with subjects and servants it is best to embrace a policy that aims ‘to banish fear and cleave to love. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  28. For no phase of life, whether public or private, whether in business or in the home, whether one is working on what concerns oneself alone or dealing with another, can be without its moral duty. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  29. On the discharge of duties depends all that is morally right, and on their neglect all that is morally wrong in life. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  30. For he who posits the supreme good as having no connection with virtue and measures it not by a moral standard but by his own interests he could value neither friendship nor justice nor generosity. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  31. Brave he surely cannot possibly be that counts pain the supreme evil, nor temperate he that holds pleasure to be the supreme good. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  32. No fixed, invariable, natural rules of duty can be posited except by those who say that moral goodness is worth seeking solely or chiefly for its own sake. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  33. Every treatise on duty has two parts: one, dealing with the doctrine of the supreme good; the other with the practical rules by which daily life in all its bearings may be regulated. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  34. Omission is a most serious defect in classification. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  35. We usually consider not only whether an action is morally right or wrong, but also, when a choice of two morally right courses is offered, which one is morally better. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero Sayings

  1. The search after truth and its eager pursuit are peculiar to man. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  2. What is true, simple, and genuine appeals most strongly to a man’s nature. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  3. Fine establishments and the comforts of life in elegance and abundance also afford pleasure, and the desire to secure it gives rise to the insatiable thirst for wealth.
  4. An action intrinsically right is just only on condition that it is voluntary.
  5. It is not an easy matter to be really concerned with other people’s affairs.
  6. Nothing appeals more to the best in human nature than kindness and generosity.
  7. Our act of kindness shall not prove an injury either to the object of our beneficence or to others, shall not be beyond our means, and shall be proportioned to the worthiness of the recipient.
  8. By the standard of justice all acts of kindness must be measured.
  9. For those who confer a harmful favour upon someone whom they seemingly wish to help are to be accounted not generous benefactors but dangerous sycophants.
  10. Those who injure one man, in order to be generous to another, are guilty of the same injustice as if they diverted to their own accounts the property of their neighbours.

Cicero Quotes On Government

  1. Injustice often arises also through chicanery, that is, through an over-subtle and even fraudulent construction of the law.
  2. In the case of a state in its external relations, the rights of war must be strictly observed.
  3. There are two ways of settling a dispute: first, by discussion; second; by physical force; and since the former is characteristic of man, the latter of the brute, we must resort to force only in case we may not avail ourselves of discussion.
  4. The only excuse, therefore, for going to war is that we may live in peace unharmed; and when the victory is won, we should spare those who have not been blood-thirsty and barbarous in their warfare.
  5. We should always strive to secure a peace that shall not admit of guile.
  6. Not only must we show consideration for those whom we have conquered by force of arms but we must also ensure protection to those who lay down their arms and throw themselves upon the mercy of our generals, even though the battering-ram has hammered at their walls.
  7. No war is just, unless it is entered upon after an official demand for satisfaction has been submitted or warning has been given and a formal declaration made.
  8. Right of ownership is inalienable forever in dealings with a stranger.
  9. What can exceed such charity, when he with whom one is at war is called by so gentle a name?
  10. But those wars which have glory for their end must be carried on with less bitterness.
  11. We contend with a fellow-citizen in one way, if he is a personal enemy, in another, if he is a rival: with the rival it is a struggle for office and position, with the enemy for life and honour.
  12. If under stress of circumstance individuals have made any promise to the enemy, they are bound to keep their word even then.
  13. In the matter of a promise one must always consider the meaning and not the mere words.
  14. We must have regard for justice even towards the humblest.
  15. The humblest station and the poorest fortune are those of slaves.
  16. While wrong may be done either by force or by fraud, both are bestial: fraud seems to belong to the cunning fox, force to the lion.
  17. Wrong done either by force or fraud are wholly unworthy of man, but fraud is the more contemptible.
  18. Of all forms of injustice, none is more flagrant than that of the hypocrite who, at the very moment when he is most false, makes it his business to appear virtuous.
  19. Those who wish to be more open-handed than their circumstances permit are guilty of two faults: first they do wrong to their next of kin; for they transfer to strangers property which would more justly be placed at their service or bequeathed to them. And second, such generosity too often engenders a passion for plundering and misappropriation of property, in order to supply the means for making large gifts.
  20. The first bond of union is that between husband and wife; the next, that between parents and children; then we find one home, with everything in common. And this is the foundation of civil government.
  21. All good men desire peace, especially peace between fellow countrymen but I have desired it more than most.
  22. I call peace my foster mother, who, whatever I am certainly should not have been what I am without peace in the community.
  23. Is it good to have an army without public authority, to undertake a hundred villainies ‘all for that first of deities, Sole Power’?
  24. The Republic is not an issue. This is a fight for a throne.
  25. The consideration necessary to determine conduct is, therefore, a threefold one: first, people question whether the contemplated act is morally right wrong, then they examine whether the action contemplated is or is not conducive to comfort and happiness in life, and that which seems to be expedient seems to conflict with that which is morally right.

Cicero Quotes On Leadership

  1. There is no such thing as private ownership established by nature, but property becomes private either through long occupancy or through conquest or by due process of law, bargain, or purchase, or by allotment.
  2. Men seek riches partly to supply the needs of life, partly to secure the enjoyment of pleasure. With those who cherish higher ambitions, the desire for wealth is entertained with a view to power and influence and the means of bestowing favours.
  3. No amount of wealth was enough for the man who aspired to be the foremost citizen of the state, unless with the income from it he could maintain an army.
  4. When the fundamental principles of justice are modified under changed circumstances, moral duty also undergoes a change and it does not always remain the same.
  5. When moral duty changes due to change in fundamental principles of justice, a given promise may turn out in such a way that its performance will prove detrimental either to the one to whom the promise has been made or to the one who has made it.
  6. Promises are not to be kept, if the keeping of them is to prove harmful to those to whom you have made them.

Cicero Friendship Quotes

  1. We must take care to indulge only in such liberality as will help our friends and hurt no one.
  2. But of all the bonds of fellowship, there is none more noble, none more powerful than when good men of congenial character are joined in intimate friendship.
  3. Nothing, moreover, is more conducive to love and intimacy than compatibility of character in good men.
  4. When two people have the same ideals and the same tastes, it is a natural consequence that each loves the other as himself; and the result is that several are united in one.
  5. Another strong bond of fellowship is effected by mutual interchange of kind services.
  6. As long as kindnesses are mutual and acceptable, those between whom they are interchanged are united by the ties of an enduring intimacy.
  7. When with a rational spirit you have surveyed the whole field, there is no social relation among them all more close, none more close, none more dear than that which links each one of us with our country.
  8. Intimate relationship of life and living, counsel, conversation, encouragement, comfort, and sometimes even reproof flourish best in friendships.
  9. That friendship is sweetest which is cemented by congeniality of character.
  10. My round of activity has always been worked out in protecting friends in danger. That is how I have won the highest honors, moderate wealth, and any prestige I may enjoy.

Cicero Gratitude Quotes

  1. I do not mean to find fault with the accumulation of property, provided it hurts nobody, but unjust acquisition of it is always to be avoided.
  2. The great majority of people, however, when they fall prey to ambition for either military or civil authority, are carried away by it so completely that they quite lose sight of the claims of justice.
  3. For whenever a situation is of such a nature that not more than one can hold pre-eminence in it, competition for it usually becomes so keen that it is an extremely difficult matter to maintain a “fellowship inviolate.”
  4. It makes a vast deal of difference whether the wrong is done as a result of some impulse of passion, which is usually brief and transient, or whether it is committed wilfully and with premeditation.
  5. Offences that come through some sudden impulse are less culpable than those committed designedly and with malice aforethought.
  6. When things turn out for our own good or ill, we realize it more fully and feel it more deeply than when the same things happen to others and we see them only, as it were, in the far distance and for this reason we judge their case differently from our own.
  7. Nothing is generous if it is not at the same time just.
  8. No one should be entirely neglected who shows any trace of virtue; but the more a man is endowed with the finer virtues, the more he deserves to be favoured.
  9. No duty is more imperative than that of proving one’s gratitude.
  10. What, pray, ought we to do when challenged by an unsought kindness?
  11. If we do not hesitate to confer favours upon those who we hope will be of help to us, how ought we to deal with those who have already helped us?
  12. Generosity is of two kinds: doing a kindness and requiting one. Whether we do the kindness or not is optional; but to fail to requite one is not allowable to a good man.
  13. We must make some discrimination between favours received; for, as a matter of course the greater the favour, the greater is the obligation.
  14. But in bestowing kindness, as well as in making a requital, the first rule of duty requires us to lend assistance preferably to people in proportion to their individual need.
  15. The interests of society, however, and its common bonds will be best conserved, if kindness be shown to each individual in proportion to the closeness of his relationship.

Cicero Famous Quotes

  1. Righteousness shines with a brilliance of its own, but doubt is a sign that we are thinking of a possible wrong.
  2. Our beneficence should not exceed our means.
  3. One is to repay with interest, if possible, what one has borrowed in time of need.
  4. Men, too, are born for the sake of men that they may be able mutually to help one another. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero Best Quotes

  1. A great many people do many things that seem to be inspired more by a spirit of ostentation than by heart-felt kindness; for such people are not really generous but are rather influenced by a sort of ambition to make a show of being open-handed.
  2. We should weigh with discrimination the worthiness of the object of our benevolence.
  3. We should measure affection, not like youngsters, by the ardour of its passion, but rather by its strength and constancy.
  4. If a contrast and comparison were to be made to find out where most of our moral obligation is due, country would come first, and parents for their services have laid us under the heaviest obligation; next come children and the whole family, who look to us alone for support and can have no other protection; finally, our kinsmen, with whom we live on good terms and with whom, for the most part, our lot is one.
  5. The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  6. They condemn what they do not understand. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  7. Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  8. The soil of their native land is dear to all the hearts of mankind. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  9. The more laws, the less justice. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  10. Philosophy is the fountainhead of all true eloquence, the mother of all good deeds, and good works. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  11. If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  12. Brevity is a great charm of eloquence. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  13. Glory follows virtue as if it were its shadow. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  14. A room without books is like a body without a soul. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  15. There can be no expediency where there is immorality. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  16. Now, that which is good is certainly expedient; consequently, that which is morally right is also expedient. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero Philosophy Quotes

  1. The most marked difference between man and beast is the beast through its senses adapts itself to that alone which is present at the moment; while man through his reason associates the present and the future, surveys the course of his whole life and makes the necessary preparations for its conduct. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  2. Is it not enough that persons ignorant of the meaning of true worth make no return to the deserving?
  3. Self-applause? someone might object. It is against my will, to be sure, but a sense of injury makes me vainglorious, contrary to my habit.
  4. One must lead a moral life, even if probability often was to guide one’s own actions. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  5. Can the most horrible and hideous of all murders— that of the Fatherland—bring advantage to anybody, even though he who has committed such a crime receives from his enslaved fellow-citizens the title of ‘Father of his Country? – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  6. So much the more execrable are those monsters who have torn their fatherland to pieces with every form of outrage and who are and have been engaged in compassing her utter destruction. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  7. As it relates to ethical and moral choices, probability follows the idea that it is licit in the face of uncertainty to act upon the lesser of two options, provided both options are morally sound. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  8. He who wishes to avoid the error of not treating the unknown as known and too readily accepting it, he will devote both time and attention to the weighing of evidence. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero On Duties Quotes

  1. People either are reluctant to incur enmity or trouble or expense; or through indifference, indolence, or incompetence, or through some preoccupation or self-interest they are so absorbed that they suffer those to be neglected whom it is their duty to protect.
  2. If the fulfilment of a promise should do more harm to you than good to him to whom you have made it, it is no violation of moral duty to give the greater good precedence over the lesser good.
  3. There are certain duties that we owe even to those who have wronged us. For there is a limit to retribution and to punishment.
  4. It is sufficient that the aggressor should be brought to repent of his wrong-doing, in order that he may not repeat the offence and that others may be deterred from doing wrong.
  5. There are many who rob one to enrich another; and they expect to be thought generous towards their friends, if they put them in the way of getting rich, no matter by what means. Such conduct is so remote from moral duty that nothing can be more completely opposed to duty.
  6. It is the first demand of duty that we do most for him who loves us most.
  7. It is the error of men who are not strictly upright to seize upon something that seems to be expedient and to dissociate that from the question of moral right. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  8. The error of men not strictly upright to seize upon something that seems to be expedient is the origin of the assassin’s dagger, the poisoned cup, and the forged wills. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  9. Theft, embezzlement of public funds, exploitation and plundering of provincials and citizens originate from the error of men not strictly upright to seize upon something that seems to be beneficial. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero Natural Law Quotes

  1. A mind well-moulded by Nature is unwilling to be subject to anybody, save one who gives rules of conduct or is a teacher of truth or who, for the general good, rules according to justice and law. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  2. It is no mean manifestation of Nature and Reason that man is the only animal that has a feeling for order, for propriety, for moderation in word and deed. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  3. Something that, even though it be not generally ennobled, is still worthy of all honour; and by its own nature, we correctly maintain, it merits praise even though it be praised by none. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  4. Each one should retain possession of that which has fallen to his lot; and if anyone appropriates to himself anything beyond that, he will be violating the laws of human society.
  5. But if there is nothing so repugnant to Nature as immorality and if nothing is so thoroughly in accord with nature as expediency, then surely expediency and immorality cannot coexist in one and the same object. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  6. If we are born for moral rectitude and if that is either the only thing worth seeking or at least to be esteemed as infinitely outweighing everything else, then it necessarily follows that the morally right is either the sole good or the supreme good. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  7. We ought to follow Nature as our guide, to contribute to the general good by an interchange of acts of kindness, by giving and receiving, and thus by our skill, our industry, and our talents to cement human society more closely together, man to man. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  8. Our virtues have our natural wants supplied in full and overflowing measure, ward off any impending trouble, avenge ourselves upon those who have attempted to injure us, and visit them with such retribution as justice and humanity will permit. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  9. Nature has endowed every species of living creature with the instinct of self-preservation, of avoiding what seems likely to cause injury to life or limb, and of procuring and providing everything needed for life. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero Quotes on Politicians

  1. Must those who devote all their care to the preservation of the Commonwealth be targets for backbiting and envy?
  2. Public life is a broad field and the path to glory is open to many.
  3. Mean and petty-minded persons should regard the merit of outstanding citizens as deserving imitation, not envy.
  4. If men born for their country are led astray by pleasures and have given themselves up to the seductions of vice and the allurements of desire, let them renounce public office, let them not touch the Republic, let them be content to enjoy their own ease and to owe it to the labor of brave men.
  5. I should be happy to offer my body if my death can purchase immediate liberty for the Commonwealth.
  6. Ought a man to remain in his country under a despotism? Ought he strive for the overthrow of despotism by every means, even if the existence of the state is going to be endangered thereby?
  7. Ought a man to beware of the overthrower lest he is set up as a despot? Ought he try to help the country under a despotism by taking the opportunity as it comes and by words rather than by war?
  8. Ought statesman live quietly in retirement while his country is under despotism or ought he take every risk for freedom’s sake?
  9. Ought a man who has rendered his country a great service and has on that account brought himself irreparable suffering and hostility voluntarily to incur danger on his country’s behalf, or may he be allowed to begin to think of himself and his family, giving up political opposition to those powers?
  10. But now that I have been engaged in the cause, should I be encompassed with every shape of death and danger, yet will I do my duty in supporting and succoring my client. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  11. No motive can be so powerful as to make my fears get the better of my honour. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  12. In my youth I defended my country; in my old age I will not abandon her. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  13. As for dangers, I shall easily repel them, as a man ought to do, protected by my own innocence; and as for honors, I shall not gain them by the favors of any men, but by the same laborious course of life which I have hitherto adopted. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  14. A new man, might by his talents, rise as high as the magistrate, but the next step was extremely difficult. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  15. No new man was so famous or so illustrious for his deeds that he was not considered unworthy of that honor and the office, corrupted by such a tenure. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  16. He was a man who owed his elevation wholly to himself, who had ennobled his lowly birth, who was as distinguished in his life as he was great in genius, and who saved us from being vanquished in intellectual accomplishments by those whom we had vanquished in arms. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  17. There was no mischief incident to a state which the honest had not cause to apprehend, the wicked to expect. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  18. Live as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
  19. For the orator-statesman, prudence was regarded as the most relevant virtue because it helped weigh probabilities so as to choose the ‘best,’ i.e., the course of action that most likely would lead to the proper outcome. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

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