Analysis of Cicero's Laelius de Amicitia

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Mortalitas et Amicitia

Cicero's De Amicitia brings a unique perspective to the topic of friendship and how it relates to death. The word amicitia comes from the Latin root word amor which is translated to mean "love". In this day and age the word friendship has taken on a slightly different meaning from the ancient meaning. Cicero's De Amicitia seeks to define what friendship is, its characteristics and principles. He has challenged us to reconsider what constitutes a true friend. Upon observing a typical friendship it becomes clear to us that this relationship is actually devoid of true love; the love in which Cicero speaks of. A genuine friendship is a rare and beautiful thing; a mutual relationship formed between two virtuous people of the same sex in which both individuals love the other as much if not more than themselves. "In the face of a true friend a man sees as it were a second self." To love another person as much as you love yourself, to give without the expectation of receiving something in return is indeed an amazing concept. It is sometimes hard to comprehend its existence in this world where friendship is more for utility; "serve for particular ends - riches for use, power for securing homage, office for reputation, pleasure for enjoyment, health for freedom from pain and the full use of the functions of the body. But friendship embraces innumerable advantages." The structural foundation upon which a friendship is built is a key determining factor concerning the quality, life and longevity of a friendship. When this foundation is weak and built on the selfish desires of those individuals, that friendship is ultimately put to the test. A utility based friendship is impermanent; giving way to the changing circumstances it faces over time as Cicero stated "For if it were true that its material advantages cemented friendship, it would be equally true that any change in them would dissolve it." It does not have the qualities to endure and...
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