Cicero composed these discourses while in his villa in Tusculum as he was mourning the death of his daughter, in order to convey his philosophy of how to live wisely and well. They take the form of fictional dialogues between Cicero and his friends, with each one focusing on a particular Stoic theme. The first, “On the Contempt of Death,” reminds us that mortality is nothing to be upset about. The second, “On Bearing Pain,” reassures us that philosophy is a balm for pains of the body. The third and fourth, “On Grief of Mind” and “Other Perturbations of the Mind,” say that this extends also to mental anguish and unrest. The last, “Whether Virtue Alone Be Sufficient for a Happy Life,” tells us that the key to happiness is already in our hands: it is not to rely on accidents of fate, but on our own efforts in areas of life that are under our own control.
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