Cicero on Entering Adulthood

Lessons learnt from “On Duties”

Marcus Tullius Cicero’s On Duties (De Officiis) was one of the most important and popular books of the Middle Ages: the third book to be printed in Europe, it survives in over 700 handwritten copies.

Petrarch, arguably the first Renaissance humanist, wrote that “you would fancy sometimes it is not a pagan philosopher but a Christian apostle who is speaking”; Voltaire declared that “No one will ever write anything more wise”; and Frederick the Great called it “the best work on morals that have been or can be written.” So what advice does Cicero have for young people looking to the future?

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