Thursday, May 27, 2021


Lucius Thorius Balbus

Cicero, De Finibus 2.20.63-65 (tr. H. Rackham):
Well, there was a certain Lucius Thorius of Lanuvium, whom you cannot remember; he lived on the principle of enjoying in the fullest measure all the most exquisite pleasures that could possibly be found. His appetite for pleasures was only equalled by his taste and ingenuity in devising them. He was so devoid of superstition as to scoff at all the sacrifices and shrines for which his native place is famous; and so free from fear of death that he died in battle for his country.

Epicurus's classification of the desires meant nothing to him; he knew no limit but satiety. At the same time he was careful of his health: took sufficient exercise to come hungry and thirsty to table; ate what was at once most appetizing and most digestible; drank enough wine for pleasure and not too much for health. Nor did he forgo those other indulgences in the absence of which Epicurus declares that he cannot understand what Good is. Pain he never experienced at all; had it come to him, he would have borne it with fortitude, vet would have called in a doctor sooner than a philosopher. He had excellent health and a sound constitution. He was extremely popular. In short, his life was replete with pleasure of every variety.

Your school pronounces him a happy man, at least your theory requires you to do so. But I place above him—I do not venture to say whom: Virtue herself shall speak for me, and she will not hesitate to rank Marcus Regulus higher than this typically happy man, as you would call him. Regulus, of his own free will and under no compulsion except that of a promise given to an enemy, returned from his native land to Carthage; yet Virtue proclaims that when he had done so he was happier while tormented with sleeplessness and hunger than Thorius carousing on his couch of roses.

Lucius Thorius Balbus fuit, Lanuvinus, quem meminisse tu non potes. is ita vivebat, ut nulla tam exquisita posset inveniri voluptas, qua non abundaret. erat et cupidus voluptatum et eius generis intellegens et copiosus, ita non superstitiosus, ut illa plurima in sua patria sacrificia et fana contemneret, ita non timidus ad mortem, ut in acie sit ob rem publicam interfectus.

cupiditates non Epicuri divisione finiebat, sed sua satietate. habebat tamen rationem1 valitudinis: utebatur iis exercitationibus, ut ad cenam et sitiens et esuriens veniret, eo cibo, qui et suavissimus esset et idem facillimus ad concoquendum, vino et ad voluptatem et ne noceret. cetera illa adhibebat, quibus demptis negat se Epicurus intellegere quid sit bonum. aberat omnis dolor, qui si adesset, nec molliter ferret et tamen medicis plus quam philosophis uteretur. color egregius, integra valitudo, summa gratia, vita denique conferta voluptatum omnium varietate.

hunc vos beatum; ratio quidem vestra sic cogit. at ego quem huic anteponam non audeo dicere; dicet pro me ipsa virtus nec dubitabit isti vestro beato M. Regulum anteponere, quem quidem, cum sua voluntate, nulla vi coactus praeter fidem, quam dederat hosti, ex patria Karthaginem revertisset, tum ipsum, cum vigiliis et fame cruciaretur, clamat virtus beatiorem fuisse quam potantem in rosa Thorium.
Rackham's translation omits the cognomen Balbus.

F. Münzer in Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, VI A 1 (1936), cols. 345-346:


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