Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Bullshit or Not: Cicero Edition

There's an old sketch film called Amazon Women on the Moon which contained a spoof of Leonard Nemoy's old program "In Search Of" that had the tagline, "Bullshit or not, you decide." We use it as a basis for an occasional series of posts where we assess a passage from a prominent writer. Since today is Marcus Tullius Cicero's 1906th birthday, let's take a quotation from "On Friendship" for today's installment.

"And great and numerous as are the blessings of friendship, this certainly is the sovereign one, that it gives us bright hopes for the future and forbids weakness and despair. In the face of a true friend a man sees as it were a second self. So that where his friend is he is; if his friend be rich, he is not poor; though he be weak, his friend's strength is his; and in his friend's life he enjoys a second life after his own is finished. This last is perhaps the most difficult to conceive. But such is the effect of the respect, the loving remembrance, and the regret of friends which follow us to the grave. While they take the sting out of death, they add a glory to the life of the survivors. Nay, if you eliminate from nature the tie of affection, there will be an end of house and city, nor will so much as the cultivation of the soil be left."
So, an overly romanticized account of friendship or touching account? Bullshit or not? you decide. As usual, feel free to leave anything from a single word to a dissertation in the comments.