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2298
Cicero, On Laws, 1.39-1.48


nanFor the rest, who indulged their appetites and pampered their passions, pursuing some objects and avoiding others, for no other reason than their amount of gratification or annoyance, though they sometimes speak truth, as we candidly allow, -- let them talk in their own gardens, and let them retire from all the political debates respecting the interests of the state, of which they know nothing, nor, indeed, care to know. As to that new academy of which Arcesilas and Carneades are the leaders, and who attack all sects and parties, we implore them not to interrupt us in our present discussion; for if they invade us on these subjects in which our minds are thoroughly familiar and resolved, they will seek their own ruin. But I, who wish rather to please, dare not excite their resentment; for in questions of this nature, we would fain proceed without any mixture of sophistry or anger; and any defects in our arguments, may surely be expiated without such fumigations as the invectives of criticism. ATTICUS: As you use the word 'expiation,' permit me to enquire what views you entertain respecting the justice of punishment, where laws have been broken and violated. Do you think such offences against laws can be expiated without enforcing the penalty, either directly or indirectly? MARCUS: I think not. I conceive there is no other expiation for the crimes and impieties of men. The guilty therefore must pay the penalty, and bear the punishment. The retributions they undergo are not so much those inflicted by courts of justice, which were not always in being, do not exist at present in many places, and even where established, are frequently biased and partial; but the retributions I principally intend are those of conscience. The Furies pursue and torment them, not with their burning torches, as the poets feign, but by remorse and the tortures arising from guilt. Was it the fear of punishment, and not the nature of the thing itself that ought to restrain mankind from wickedness, what, I would ask, could give villains the least uneasiness, abstracting from all fears of this kind? And yet none of them was ever so audaciously impudent, but he endeavoured to justify what he had done by some law of nature, denied the fact, or else pretended a just sorrow for it. Now if the wicked have the confidence to appeal to these laws, with what profound respect ought good men to treat them? There is the greater need, therefore, of insisting on the natural and unavoidable penalties of conscience. For if either direct punishment, or the fear of it, was what deterred from a vicious course of life, and not the turpitude of the thing itself, then none could he guilty of injustice, in a moral sense, and the greatest offenders ought rather to be called imprudent than wicked.
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nanOn the other hand, if we are determined to the practice of goodness, not by its own intrinsic excellence, but for the sake of some private advantage, we are cunning, rather than good men. What will not that man do in the dark who fears nothing but a witness and a judge? Should he meet a solitary individual in a desert place, with a large sum of money about him, and altogether unable to defend himself from being robbed, how would he behave? In such a case the man whom we have represented to be honest from principle, and the nature of the thing itself, would converse with the stranger, assist him, and show him the way. But as to the man who does nothing for the sake of another, and measures every thing by the advantage it brings to himself, it is obvious, I suppose, how such a one would act; and should he deny that he would kill the man or rob him of his treasure, his reason for this cannot be that he apprehends there is any moral turpitude in such actions, but only because he is afraid of a discovery, and the bad consequences that would thence ensue. A sentiment this, at which not only learned men, but even clowns must blush.


nanIt is therefore an absurd extravagance in some philosophers to assert that all things are necessarily just, which are established by the civil laws and the institutions of the people. Are then the laws of tyrants just, simply because they are laws? If the thirty tyrants of Athens imposed certain laws on the Athenians, and if these Athenians were delighted with these tyrannical laws, are we therefore bound to consider these laws as just? For my own part, I do not think such laws deserve any greater estimation than that past during our own interregnum, which ordained, that the dictator should be empowered to put to death with impunity, whatever citizens he pleased, without hearing them in their own defence. There can be but one essential justice, which cements society, and one law which establishes this justice. This law is right reason, which is the true rule of all commandments and prohibitions. Whoever neglects this law, whether written or unwritten, is necessarily unjust and wicked. But if justice consists in submission to written laws and national customs, and if, as the Epicureans persist in affirming, every thing must be measured by utility alone, he who wishes to find an occasion of breaking such laws and customs, will be sure to discover it. So that real justice remains powerless if not supported by nature, and this pretended justice is overturned by that very utility which they call its foundation. But this is not all. If nature does not ratify law, all the virtues lose their sway. What becomes of generosity, patriotism, or friendship? Where should we find the desire of benefitting our neighbours, or the gratitude that acknowledges kindness? For all these virtues proceed from our natural inclination to love and cherish our associates. This is the true basis of justice, and without this, not only the mutual charities of men, but the religious services of the gods, would become obsolete; for these are preserved, as I imagine, rather by the natural sympathy which subsists between divine and human beings, than by mere fear and timidity. If the will of the people, the decrees of the senate, the adjudications of magistrates, were sufficient to establish justice, the only question would be how to gain suffrages, and to win over the votes of the majority, in order that corruption and spoliation, and the falsification of wills, should become lawful. But if the opinions and suffrages of foolish men had sufficient weight to outbalance the nature of things, might they not determine among them, that what is essentially bad and pernicious should henceforth pass for good and beneficial? Or why should not a law able to enforce injustice, take the place of equity? Would not this same law be able to change evil into good, and good into evil? As far as we are concerned, we have no other rule capable of distinguishing between a good or a bad law, than our natural conscience and reason. These, however, enable us to separate justice from injustice, and to discriminate between the honest and the scandalous. For common sense has impressed in our minds the first principles of things, and has given us a general acquaintance with them, by which we connect with Virtue every honourable and excellent quality, and with Vice all that is abominable and disgraceful. Now we must entirely take leave of our senses, ere we can suppose that law and justice have no foundation in nature, and rely merely on the transient opinions of men. We should not venture to praise the virtue of a tree or a horse, in which expression there is an abuse of terms, were we not convinced that this virtue was in their nature, rather than in our opinion. For a stronger reason, it is mainly with respect to the moral nature of things, that we ought to speak of honour and shame among men. If opinion could determine respecting the character of universal virtue, it might also decide respecting particular or partial virtues. But who will dare to determine that a man is prudent and cautious in his moral disposition, from any external appearances. For virtue evidently lies in perfect rationality, and this resides in the inmost depths of our nature. The same remark applies to all honour and honesty, for we judge of true and false, creditable and discreditable, rather by their essential qualities, than their external relations. Thus we judge according to their intrinsic nature, that rationality of life, which is virtue, must be ever constant and perpetual, and that inconstancy must necessarily be vicious. We form an estimate of the opinions of youths, but not by their opinions. Those virtues and vices which reside in their moral natures, must not be measured by opinions. And so of all moral qualities, we must discriminate between honourable and dishonourable by reference to the essential nature of the things themselves. The good we commend, must needs contain in itself something commendable. For as I before stated, goodness is not a mode of opinion: it is what it is, by the force of its very essence. If it were otherwise, opinion alone might constitute virtue and happiness, which is the most absurd of suppositions. And since we judge of good and evil by their nature, and since good and evil are the true constituents of honour and shame, we should judge in the same manner all honourable and all shameful qualities, testing them by the law of nature, without prejudice or passion.
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nanBut our steady attention to this moral law of nature is often too much disturbed by the dissention of men and the variation of opinions. We might perhaps obey this law of nature more exactly, if we attended more accurately to the evidence of our senses, which being absolutely natural, are less likely to be deceived by artificial objects. Those objects, indeed, which sometimes present to us one appearance, sometimes another, we term fictions of the senses; but it is far otherwise. For neither parent, nor nurse, nor master, nor poet, nor drama, deceive our senses; nor do popular prejudices seduce them. But our delusions are connected with corruption of our mental opinions. And this corruption is either superinduced by those causes of error I have enumerated, which, taking possession of the young and uneducated, betray them into a thousand perversities, or by that voluptuousness which is the mimic of goodness, implicated and interfused through all our senses -- the prolific mother of all human disasters. For she so corrupts us by her bewitching blandishments that we no longer perceive that things may be essentially excellent, though they have none of this deliciousness and pruriency. (Quae natura bona sunt quia, dulcedine hac et scabie carent.)


nanFrom what I have said on this subject, it may then easily be concluded, that Justice and Equity are desirable for their own sake. For all virtuous men love Justice and Equity, for what they are in themselves; and we cannot believe that such virtuous men should delude themselves by loving something which does not deserve their affection. Justice and Right are therefore desirable and amiable in themselves; and if this is true of Right, it must be true of all the moral virtues with which it is connected. What then shall we say of liberality? Is it to be exercised gratuituously, or does it covet some reward and recompense? If a man does good without expecting any recompense for his kindness, then it is gratuitous: if he does expect compensation, it is a mere matter of traffic. Doubtless, he who truly deserves the reputation of a generous and good-natured man, performs his philanthropical duties without consulting his secular interests. In the same way the virtue of justice demands neither emolument nor salary, and therefore we desire it for its own sake, because it is its own reward. And for this reason we should entertain the same estimate of all moral virtues.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

15 results
1. Plato, Laws, None (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

700b. one class of song was that of prayers to the gods, which bore the name of hymns ; contrasted with this was another class, best called dirges ; paeans formed another; and yet another was the dithyramb, named, I fancy, after Dionysus. Nomes also were so called as being a distinct class of song; and these were further described as citharoedic nomes. So these and other kinds being classified and fixed, it was forbidden to set one kind of words to a different class of tune.
2. Cicero, Academica, 2.7-2.8 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

3. Cicero, On Divination, 2.15 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

2.15. Potestne igitur earum rerum, quae nihil habent rationis, quare futurae sint, esse ulla praesensio? Quid est enim aliud fors, quid fortuna, quid casus, quid eventus, nisi cum sic aliquid cecidit, sic evenit, ut vel aliter cadere atque evenire potuerit? Quo modo ergo id, quod temere fit caeco casu et volubilitate fortunae, praesentiri et praedici potest? 2.15. Can there, then, be any foreknowledge of things for whose happening no reason exists? For we do not apply the words chance, luck, accident, or casualty except to an event which has so occurred or happened that it either might not have occurred at all, or might have occurred in any other way. How, then, is it possible to foresee and to predict an event that happens at random, as the result of blind accident, or of unstable chance? 2.15. Sleep is regarded as a refuge from every toil and care; but it is actually made the fruitful source of worry and fear. In fact dreams would be less regarded on their own account and would be viewed with greater indifference had they not been taken under the guardianship of philosophers — not philosophers of the meaner sort, but those of the keenest wit, competent to see what follows logically and what does not — men who are considered well-nigh perfect and infallible. Indeed, if their arrogance had not been resisted by Carneades, it is probable that by this time they would have adjudged the only philosophers. While most of my war of words has been with these men, it is not because I hold them in especial contempt, but on the contrary, it is because they seem to me to defend their own views with the greatest acuteness and skill. Moreover, it is characteristic of the Academy to put forward no conclusions of its own, but to approve those which seem to approach nearest to the truth; to compare arguments; to draw forth all that may be said in behalf of any opinion; and, without asserting any authority of its own, to leave the judgement of the inquirer wholly free. That same method, which by the way we inherited from Socrates, I shall, if agreeable to you, my dear Quintus, follow as often as possible in our future discussions.Nothing could please me better, Quintus replied.When this was said, we arose.
4. Cicero, On The Ends of Good And Evil, 4.3 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

4.3. Existimo igitur, inquam, Cato, veteres illos Platonis auditores, auditores Platonis BE Speusippum, Aristotelem, Xenocratem, deinde eorum, Polemonem, Theophrastum, satis et copiose et eleganter habuisse constitutam disciplinam, ut non esset causa Zenoni, cum Polemonem audisset, cur et ab eo ipso et a superioribus dissideret. quorum fuit haec institutio, in qua animadvertas velim quid mutandum putes nec expectes, dum ad omnia dicam, quae a te a te ed. princ. Rom. ante dicta sunt; universa enim illorum ratione cum tota vestra confligendum puto. 4.3.  "My view, then, Cato," I proceeded, "is this, that those old disciples of Plato, Speusippus, Aristotle and Xenocrates, and afterwards their pupils Polemo and Theophrastus, had developed a doctrine that left nothing to be desired either in fullness or finish, so that Zeno on becoming the pupil of Polemo had no reason for differing either from his master himself or from his master's predecessors. The outline of their theory was as follows — but I should be glad if you would call attention to any point you may desire to correct without waiting while I deal with the whole of your discourse; for I think I shall have to place their entire system in conflict with the whole of yours.
5. Cicero, On Laws, 1.18-1.38, 1.40-1.48 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

6. Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, 3.95 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

3.95. I on my side," replied Cotta, "only desire to be refuted. My purpose was rather to discuss the doctrines I have expounded than to pronounce judgement upon them, and I am confident that you can easily defeat me." "Oh, no doubt," interposed Velleius; "why, he thinks that even our dreams are sent to us by Jupiter — though dreams themselves are not so unsubstantial as a Stoic disquisition on the nature of the gods." Here the conversation ended, and we parted, Velleius thinking Cotta's discourse to be the truer, while I felt that that of Balbus approximated more nearly to a semblance of the truth.
7. Cicero, On Duties, 1.128 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.128. Nec vero audiendi sunt Cynici, aut si qui filerunt Stoici paene Cynici, qui reprehendunt et irrident, quod ea, quae turpia non sint, verbis flagitiosa ducamus, illa autem, quae turpia sint, nominibus appellemus suis. Latrocinari, fraudare, adulterare re turpe est, sed dicitur non obscene; liberis dare operam re honestum est, nomine obscenum; pluraque in ear sententiam ab eisdem contra verecundiam disputantur. Nos autem naturam sequamur et ab omni, quod abhorret ab oculorum auriumque approbatione, fugiamus; status incessus, sessio accubitio, vultus oculi manuum motus teneat illud decorum. 1.128.  But we should give no heed to the Cynics (or to some Stoics who are practically Cynics) who censure and ridicule us for holding that the mere mention of some actions that are not immoral is shameful, while other things that are immoral we call by their real names. Robbery, fraud, and adultery, for example, are immoral in deed, but it is not indecent to name them. To beget children in wedlock is in deed morally right; to speak of it is indecent. And they assail modesty with a great many other arguments to the same purport. But as for us, let us follow Nature and shun everything that is offensive to our eyes or our ears. So, in standing or walking, in sitting or reclining, in our expression, our eyes, or the movements of our hands, let us preserve what we have called "propriety.
8. Cicero, Republic, 1.39 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.39. Est igitur, inquit Africanus, res publica res populi, populus autem non omnis hominum coetus quoquo modo congregatus, sed coetus multitudinis iuris consensu et utilitatis communione sociatus. Eius autem prima causa coeundi est non tam inbecillitas quam naturalis quaedam hominum quasi congregatio; non est enim singulare nec solivagum genus hoc, sed ita generatum, ut ne in omnium quidem rerum affluen tia
9. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, 5.95-5.96 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

5.95. Totumque fr. 439 hoc de voluptate sic ille praecipit, ut voluptatem ipsam per se, quia voluptas sit, semper optandam et et add. s cf. p. 423, 4 de orat. 1, 231 al. (asyndeton ipsum tolerari potest cf. exsibilatur exploditur parad. 26) expetendam putet, eademque ratione dolorem ob id ipsum, quia dolor sit, semper esse fugiendum; itaque hac usurum compensatione conpensatione K sapientem, ut et ut et s ut om. X et om. voluptatem fugiat, si ea eam maiorem dolorem effectura sit, et dolorem suscipiat maiorem efficientem voluptatem; omniaque iucunda, iocunda GR 1 ( ss. 1 ) quamquam sensu corporis iudicentur, ad animum referri tamen. 5.96. quocirca corpus gaudere tam diu, dum praesentem sentiret voluptatem, animum et praesentem percipere pariter cum corpore et prospicere venientem nec praeteritam praeterfluere sinere. ita perpetuas et contextas contestas ex contentas K c voluptates in sapiente fore semper, cum expectatio expectatione G 1 speratarum voluptatum cum cum add. Lb. perceptarum memoria iungeretur.
10. Catullus, Poems, 76 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

11. Lucretius Carus, On The Nature of Things, 2.1-2.61, 6.1-6.28 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

12. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of The Philosophers, 7.147 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

7.147. The deity, say they, is a living being, immortal, rational, perfect or intelligent in happiness, admitting nothing evil, taking providential care of the world and all that therein is, but he is not of human shape. He is, however, the artificer of the universe and, as it were, the father of all, both in general and in that particular part of him which is all-pervading, and which is called many names according to its various powers. They give the name Dia (Δία) because all things are due to (διά) him; Zeus (Ζῆνα) in so far as he is the cause of life (ζῆν) or pervades all life; the name Athena is given, because the ruling part of the divinity extends to the aether; the name Hera marks its extension to the air; he is called Hephaestus since it spreads to the creative fire; Poseidon, since it stretches to the sea; Demeter, since it reaches to the earth. Similarly men have given the deity his other titles, fastening, as best they can, on some one or other of his peculiar attributes.
13. Epicurus, Letter To Menoeceus, 130-131, 129

14. Epicurus, Kuriai Doxai, 8

15. Stoic School, Stoicor. Veter. Fragm., 2.1021



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
academics, the academy Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 289
academy Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 40, 97
antiochus of ascalon Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 289; Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 92
arcesilaus Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 92
carneades Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 40; Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 289
carneades of cyrene Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 92
catullus Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 65
choice / decision / αἵρεσις Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 92
choices/avoidances, and hedonic calculus Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 29
cicero, on etymology of lex/nomos Wolfsdorf, Early Greek Ethics (2020) 483
cicero, on philosophy Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 289
cicero, on plato and aristotle Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 289
cicero Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 289; Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 65
crassus (character in de oratore) Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 40
cynics/cynicism, accused of shamelessness Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 39
cynics/cynicism, condemned/satirized by greek writers Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 39
cyrenaics Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 40
desmond, william Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 39
distributive justice Wolfsdorf, Early Greek Ethics (2020) 483
economics, epicurean, and pleasure/pain Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 29
economics, epicurean, economics, philodemus account of Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 39
economics, epicurean Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 29
epicureanism Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 40, 97
epicurus, economic commentary Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 29
epicurus/epicureanism, hedonic calculus Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 65
epicurus/epicureanism Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 65
epicurus Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 40
erler, michael Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 29
evil Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 92
good Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 97
happiness Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 97
hedonic calculus Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 29
hicks, benjamin Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 39
law (natural) Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 40
law (nomos), in on law and justice Wolfsdorf, Early Greek Ethics (2020) 483
lucretius Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 65
metrodorus of lampsacus Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 39
new academy Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 92
novus homo Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 92
on law and justice (attrib. archytas), on compliance of law with nature and proportion Wolfsdorf, Early Greek Ethics (2020) 483
on law and justice (attrib. archytas), on rulers Wolfsdorf, Early Greek Ethics (2020) 483
on law and justice (attrib. archytas) Wolfsdorf, Early Greek Ethics (2020) 483
ovid, and epicurus Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 65
ovid, hedonic calculus in Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 65
peripatetics Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 40; Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 289
philo of larisa Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 289
philo of larissa Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 92
philodemus Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 65
philodemus of gadara, on economics Yona, Epicurean Ethics in Horace: The Psychology of Satire (2018) 39
plato, cicero on Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 289
plato Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 97
politics Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 92
probable / probability / probabilitas / πιθανόν Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 92
reader Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 40
religion Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 97
rulers, in on law and justice Wolfsdorf, Early Greek Ethics (2020) 483
scepticism, academic' Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 289
skepticism Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 40
socrates Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 40
statesman Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 92
stoicism, stoics, epistemology of Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 289
stoicism, stoics, theology of Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (2006) 289
stoicism, xi Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 97
system Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 40
truth Atkins, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero's Philosophy (2021) 97
tsouna, voula Williams and Vol, Philosophy in Ovid, Ovid as Philosopher (2022) 65
verisimilaritude / veri simile / εἰκός Maso, CIcero's Philosophy (2022) 92
zeus, as νόμιος\u200e and νεμήιος\u200e Wolfsdorf, Early Greek Ethics (2020) 483