Cicero’s Laelius de Amicitia ("Laelius on Friendship")

Cicero Homepage / Cicero's "On Friendship" / Background

Some Study Questions

Why does Cicero write this dialogue? (1–5)

What is the relationship between Cicero and Atticus? (1–5)

When does the original conversation take place? (1–5)

How does Cicero know about it? (1–5)

Identify the relationships among the participants in the dialogue (5–6).

What does Laelius have in common with Cato? (7)

Who was declared wise by Apollo’s oracle at Delphi? Why? (9)

Describe Laelius’ feelings about the death of Scipio (10).

Describe Scipio’s life (11).

Describe the circumstances of Scipio’s death (12).

What are Laelius’ feelings about life after death? (13–14)

What is Laelius’ definition of friendship? (19)

How does Laelius connect friendship with philosophy and the natural world in #24?

What are the origins of friendship, according to Laelius? (16–32)

Why do people seek friendships? (16–32)

How does Laelius disagree with the Epicureans and agree with the Stoics? (especially 32 and 47)

What is Laelius’ view of childhood friendships? (34)

What are some of the causes for friendships to breakdown? (33–35)

What friendships does Laelius cite as good and bad examples? (33–104)

What laws of friendship does Laelius propose (33–104)

What Greek views on friendship does Laelius reject in #46?

What views about friends does Laelius reject in #57–59?

What are the true limits of friendship? (#61)

What is the relationship between friendship and politics (64)? Between friendship and trust (65)?

How do feelings of superiority and inferiority affect friendship? (69–72)

How far should we go in aiding friends (73)?

What is Laelius view of old and new friendships? (68–74)

Under what circumstances should friendships be broken? (76–78)

How should friendships be broken when necessary? (78)

What distinguishes humans from animals? (81)

What does Laelius think about criticizing one’s friends? (91–98)

What is the relationship between hypocrisy and friendship? (92–94)

What are sycophants and why do they not make good friends? (95–99)

What final observations does Laelius make about his friendship with Scipio? (102–104)


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