D.卡尔顿 罗西
D. Carlton Rossi
   Non nobis solum nati summus


Non nobis solum nati summus

The philosophical treatise entitled De officiis or On
Obligations was written by Marcus Tullius Cicero in late 44
B.C. to son of the same name--Marcus Tullius Cicero. The
treatise encourages his son to strive for honourableness in
public and private life. The honourable emerges from the
perception of the truth in the philosophical sense or from
safeguarding the community, or keeping faith with contracts or with maintaining a lofty unconquered spirit. There may appear to be an opposition between the honorable and the expedient; however, they are not in opposition. They are the same. An expedient preserves life. Since life is honourable then that which is honourable preserves life.

The manner of the philosopher’s address to his son is
illuminative.  Each of the three books begins with the
personal salutation of “Marcus my son”. In this address
he uses the personal praenomen “Marcus”. By using the
phrase “Marcus my son” he expediently appeals to him
on a personal level to improve the fulfillment of his son’s
everyday obligations.

The praenomen “Marcus” is a popular one in Latin. It means either Mars (Roman god of war), one who was born in the month of the god Mars or one who is a warrior. In 43 B.C., Marcus, had abandoned his studies and joined the forces of Brutus. It may be that his father wished him to live a more contemplative life or if he were a soldier then to meet his full obligations.

However, the philosopher also addresses his son as “my
dear Cicero”.  Cicero is the honourable family name
or cognomen. It is a down-to-earth name which may
mean “chickpea”. By using the cognomen, Cicero reminds
his son of the necessity to pay attention to the past and
follow the family tradition. He reminds him to follow in his father’s footsteps. And most particularly he reminds his son that when the father became a senior magistrate and senatorial that he ennobled his son. This ennoblement
means that he has obligations of honour to the gods, the
state, the senators and citizens, the army, his friends, his
his relatives and his family.

The praenomen and cognomen may appear to be in
opposition. One is personal, of the hour and at the beginning of the full name. The other is familiar, familial, of fame and of honour at the end of the full name. However, they are not in opposition. The apparent differences may be reconciled in the whole name through obligations of honour which are the same. And both father and son have the same honourable name.

D. Carlton Rossi