Lessons on Friendship from 44 BC

Photo by Dương Hữu on Unsplash

1. Never avoid friendship to avoid suffering

Granted, we all have problems to deal with every day. As our friends share their problems with us, we are sometimes emotionally charged. Pain shall befall us.

If you take emotion away, what difference is there, not I say between a human being and a beast, but between a living person and a tree trunk or a rock or some such thing?

2. We should choose our friends with care

True friendships stand the test of time.

“Don’t love too quickly and don’t give your friendship to those unworthy of it.

“Those worthy to be your friends are those who have within themselves reasons to be loved — a rare type, but then everything precious is rare.”

— Cicero

3. Only good people can be true friends

Individuals with despicable character can have friends but only on the grounds of utility.

“For virtue itself gives birth to friendship and nourishes it, so that without virtue friendship is not not able to exist.”

— Cicero

4. Friends make us better people

A true friend also points out our blind spot barriers and challenge our biases and assumptions. He appreciates who you are and believe the potential inside you.

“True friends should give faithful advice to each other, not only with frankness but with sternness if necessary. And this advice should be heeded.”

— Cicero

Cicero also cautioned that a true friend should not be a flatterer:

For flattery is unworthy not only of a friend, but of any free person; living with a friend should not be like living with a tyrant.

5. The reward of friendship is friendship itself

Strong friendships are built upon mutual love through giving and receiving kindness, companionship and caring for each other without putting one’s needs and advantage first.

Real friendship cannot be the child of poverty and need. If this were true, the less people had, the better their qualifications for friendship would be. But this is far from the truth.

He also says:

Friendship doesn’t result from advantage, but advantage results from friendship.

All You Need To Know:

  • Never avoid friendship to avoid suffering
  • We should choose our friends with care
  • Only good people can be true friends
  • Friends make us better people
  • The reward of friendship is friendship itself

Suppose a god carried you far away to a place where you were granted an abundance of every material good nature could wish for, but denied the possibility of ever seeing a human being. Wouldn’t you have to be as hard as iron to endure that sort of life? Wouldn’t you, utterly alone, lose every capacity for joy and pleasure?

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