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In preparing this translation of the De Officiis I have consulted the best literature on the subject, but I am under special obligation to the editions of Müller (1882), Heine (1885), Stickney (1885), Dettweiler (1890), and Holden (1891). metrical versions are taken from L'Estrange.
My best thanks are due to my old pupil, Mr. Hugh Gordon, for much valuable help.
THE De Officiis is a practical code of morals, a compendium of the duties of everyday life, intended for the instruction, and accommodated to the special circumstances, of young Romans of the governing class who were destined for a public career. As a summary of the duties of a gentleman addressed by a father to his son, it may be compared with Lord Chesterfield's Letters, but it is written in a very different tone. Born in 65 B.C., Marcus served with some distinction under the successive republican commanders, and attained the dignity of consul. He inherited neither the ambition nor the energy of Cicero, and is best known as his father's son. At the age of twenty he was sent to the "university" of Athens to complete his education under Cratippus, the head of the Peripatetic School. The irregularity of his life, which we may infer from the scant expressions of commendation contained in the work itself, and of which we have positive evidence in Cicero's Letters, was a cause of anxiety to his father, and may have suggested the dedication if not the composition of this treatise on duty.