Another theme in De Officiis worth considering is 'splendor': Cicero speaks of virtue itself, and virtuous actions, as having splendor and claritas.
A virtue is brilliant (praeclarus); it shows itself (cernitur) and shines forth (lucet). What does this mean? Is this a mere figure of speech, a rhetorician's emphasis? Or does does this theme have some technical, substantive, or deep significance? (If it doesn't, why does Cicero keep adverting to it?)
Here are some examples which show this; I could give dozens of others:
- The virtue of justice has splendor, and, by implication, all the other virtues have it as well: virtutis splendor maximus (I 20).
- According to Cicero, the more difficult an action that shows greatness of spirit, the more brilliant it is: Sed quo difficilius, hoc praeclarius (I 64).
- Greatness of spirit is something that one wants to declare or express: nec enim aliter aut regi civitas aut declarari animi magnitudo potest (I 72).
- When what we deliberate about becomes murky, then we should suspect that we have strayed from an equitable and just course, since this simply shines out: Aequitas enim lucet ipsa per se, dubitatio cogitationem significat iniuriae. (I 31)
- The virtue of decorum expresses, in the body, an ordering of the soul, which implies a subjection to reason: …ex quo elucebit omnis constantia omnisque moderatio (I 102).
1. What does this talk of 'brilliance' mean? What does it mean for a virtuous action to be expressive, and how does this contribute to its quality of being an honorable good (honestum)? (Is there a link here, perhaps, to recent 'expressive' theories of practical reason--as e.g. Liz Anderson's work?)
2. Why does Cicero regard this as so important--what role does this notion play in his understanding of ethics?
3. What are its antecedents?