Lucullus (Cicero)

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The dialogue Lucullus was created by Marcus Tullius Cicero around 45 BC. Written in BC. The name of the work goes back to the consul Lucius Licinius Lucullus , but the conversation itself is bogus and is said to have been in the year 62 BC. Chr. Play. The dialogue was originally created as part of the trilogy Hortensius - Catulus - Lucullus ( Academica priora ), but was reworked by Cicero to the Academica posteriora and Academici libri due to criticism from his publisher Titus Pomponius Atticus and the Roman audience with the Catulus Dialogue . In addition, the Hortensius was retained as an independent dialogue.


In contrast to the other two dialogues, the Lucullus is completely preserved (apart from a few text corruptions). An important reception of Lucullus is the Dialogue Contra Academicos (vel De Academici) of the church father Augustine of Hippo , in which Augustine opposes the skeptical view of Cicero with a decidedly Christian position.

It is believed by some researchers that the Lucullus was only copied because of a mix-up between scribes of the 7th or 8th century, who suspected that it was Hortensius , who was highly praised by Augustine .


The content of Lucullus is the final of the three dialogues. The trilogy is strictly closed in terms of location and time: the conversations take place on three consecutive days in the protagonists' villas (country houses), all of which are located on the Gulf of Naples. The Hortensius forms an introduction to philosophy and its use in general, while in Catulus and Lucullus the theory of knowledge was problematized. In Catulus and Lucullus , two parties face each other: Hortensius and Lucullus, representatives of the Old Academy , against Catulus and Cicero, representatives of the New Academy and skepticism.

The Lucullus itself is essentially divided into the Proömium (§§ 1-9start), the introduction (§§ 9Mitte-10), the speech of Lucullus (§§ 11-62), a short transition (§§ 63-64) , the speech of Cicero (§§ 65-146) and the end of the conversation with goodbye (§§ 147-148).


The possibility of human knowledge is discussed in Lucullus . In his speech, designed as an Aristotelian lecture, Lucullus first goes into the history of skepticism, before he takes on a presentation of the stoic-academic concept of knowledge and then moves on to criticize the skeptics. Here he goes into the skeptical dogmas, the problems of moderate skepticism, the approach of the skeptics, fallacies, the problems of evidence and similarity and equality, finally he criticizes the skeptical approach as destructive.

Cicero exposes the problem of the wise and ἐποχή (abstention from consent). He increases his representation from mere arguments of authority over a fictitious dialogue between Arkesilaos and Zeno of Kition to the problems of sensory perception and the theory of probability of Carnead of Cyrene . Then he refutes individual objections of Lucullus and goes on to criticize the stoic system in the areas of physics, ethics and finally logic.

Then the conversation closes with an open end: none of the parties “triumphed”, but a slight tendency towards the Ciceronian position is recognizable, which is not only memorable at the end of the dialogues, but also through a play on words - Hortensius says tollendum , which on the one hand can be understood as “lifting the anchor”, on the other hand, in the academic-skeptical sense, “holding back one's approval” means - easily wins the upper hand.


  • Otto Plasberg : M. Tulli Ciceronis Paradoxa Stoicorum, Academicorum Reliquiae cum Lucullo, Timaeus, De Natura Deorum, De Divinatione, De Fato. Part 1. Teubner, Leipzig 1908, pp. 65–154 ( digitized version ).
  • Cicero, MT: Hortensius. Lucullus. Academici libri. Edited, translated and explained by Laila Straume-Zimmermann, Ferdinand Broemser and Olof Gigon . Tusculum Collection, Munich / Zurich 1990.

Individual evidence

  1. See Cicero, MT: Hortensius. Lucullus. Academici libri. Edited, translated and explained by Laila Straume-Zimmermann, Ferdinand Broemser and Olof Gigon . Tusculum Collection, Munich / Zurich 1990, p. 376 f.