Hortensius (Cicero)

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Hortensius sive de philosophia ("Hortensius or about philosophy") is a writing by Marcus Tullius Cicero from the year 45 BC. In dialogue form. It is named after a friend of Cicero, the speaker and politician Quintus Hortensius Hortalus .

The dialogue was originally designed as part of the trilogy Hortensius - Catulus - Lucullus ( Academica priora ), but was developed by Cicero as a separate dialogue due to criticism from his publisher Titus Pomponius Atticus and the Roman audience, while Catulus and Hortensius became part of the Academica posteriora and the Academici libri were designed.

The text, which recognized philosophy as the sole principle of happiness and the overcoming of passions in favor of reason, was very popular in late antiquity . His reading is said to have been a key experience for Augustine of Hippo on his way to philosophy and, consequently, also to Bible study and conversion to Christianity. Further occupation with the dialogue disappointed Augustine, however, which some researchers see as being due, among other things, to the fact that the strictly logical structure of the Ciceronian writings is diametrically opposed to the texts of the Bible, which deal with human experiences.

The work was probably already lost in the 6th century, so that a complete version no longer exists. However, 103 fragments and quotations are still contained in other works, 16 of them in Augustine, among others.

Editions and translations

  • Otto Schönberger (translator): Iamblichos: Call to Philosophy. With a bilingual edition of Cicero's “Hortensius” . Königshausen and Neumann, Würzburg 1984, ISBN 3-88479-143-5
  • Laila Straume-Zimmermann, Ferdinand Broemser , Olof Gigon (eds.): Marcus Tullius Cicero: Hortensius, Lucullus, Academici libri. 2nd edition, Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf / Zurich 1997, ISBN 3-7608-1657-6 (with translation)


  • Goulven Madec: Hortensius. In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques. Volume supplément. CNRS Editions, Paris 2003, ISBN 2-271-06175-X , pp. 716-719

Web links


  1. Augustine, Confessiones 3, 4, 7-8.
  2. See Erich Feldmann : The influence of Hortensius and Manichaeism on the thinking of the young Augustine from 373. Münster 1975, p. 528.