Aristotle once said, “Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.” There are many things that go into the process of friendship. Some people deal with friendship one way while others deal with it in another way. Cicero had a lot to say about the different aspects of friendship in his time, but how would he view modern friendship? Some friendships Cicero may not be proud of; like the common relationships that are forced on in a classroom or work place and the lack of allowing nature to take control and make the friendships that are meant to happen.
However, Cicero would be happy with the way the higher level friendships have developed in virtue and value.
Cicero dwelled on the fact that friendship must have common factors. Friends should share “the greatest agreement of desires and interests and opinions (Cicero, 7).” Modern friendship has turned into something that makes “common people” feel like they have to be friends. For example, in the classroom or workplace it is encouraged to make friends with everyone that you are involved with daily.
Does building a friendship based on common surroundings make a good one? Cicero would say no. He would say that friendship has to be built on something more than just a desire for common interests like a job. It must agree on things that build a relationship such as these desires, interests, and opinions.
There is no way that Cicero would be happy with the encouragement to build false relationship only on the grounds that someone works in the same place as someone else.
He is not saying that you need to be enemies with these people because he knows the importance of common friendship. He knows that if you were to take friendship out of the world then “no home or city could stand, (and) no farms would stay in cultivation (Cicero, 9).” There is nothing wrong with a temporary friendship but he says, “If mutual advantage is what stitches friendship together, those friendships would dissolve whenever that condition changed; but since the nature of things cannot be changed, true friendship will last forever (Cicero, 12).”
The condition that may change in common, modern relationships is the job or the class that you have made those friends in. You can still make good friends within the workplace or classroom, but the friendship cannot solely rely on the fact that the friends have the same surroundings.
Human nature is what makes people want to have friendships. This is one of the main things that Cicero continuously touched on in his book. “…Friendship arises from nature as such, rather than from some neediness: from application of the mind, along with a kind of love, rather than from thinking about how much advantage the relationship might bring (Cicero, 11).”Cicero would be very disappointed in how many relationships are built for the need of a person instead of letting nature take control of the friendship. There are a lot of corrupt and wrong friendships in today’s society that Cicero would look down on. The fact that one person uses another person for their own will is not the kind of relationship that Cicero was wanting people to build.
He brings up the nature of human beings a lot in this text because people take advantage of other people and he knew that. “… Friendship is not something we are led to by the expectation of making a profit; we think it worth seeking because the whole enjoyment of it consists in the love itself (Cicero, 12).” The love and nature of friendship go hand in hand when building relationships because without love for that person there is no need for a friendship to be kept. The friendship should happen naturally.
Unlike in today’s world, friends were found to feel wanted. Now the person with the most friends is considered the best because of their popularity; however, that should not be the case. It is better to have three great friends than a thousand false ones. Friendship must be formed by nature. “… That feeling of love and affectionate goodwill come naturally into existence, once there has been a recognition of goodness (Cicero, 12).” This nature founded by goodness, virtue, and value are what really builds a solid friendship that Cicero would be very proud of.
Higher levels of friendship are the ones that hold strong for years. Cicero would be ecstatic to see that the virtue and value of friendship has grown since his time. Once you get passed the lower levels of friendship such as the common relationships and the lack of control nature has on friendships you can see that. Virtue and value are the greatest aspect that friendship has today and did have back then. Friends are there for each other when they are going through the good and bad times.
“Friendship makes good times yet more splendid, and takes some weight off of unfavorable times, by sharing them (Cicero, 9).” Without friendship there would be no point in living. Cicero realizes that friends are what get people through their day to day lives. “…Everything that exists and moves in the universe is brought together by friendship… (Cicero, 9)” There is no love without friendship, no teams without friendship, no jobs, and no country without friendship because friendship is what makes everything work. Cicero would be very happy with the way people value friendship today.
A good, modern friendship is hard to come by in today’s society with everyone wanting something from someone else. Cicero knew all about what made friendship work. The world has changed the way friendship is viewed. Cicero would love to see that the virtue and value of friendship has developed. “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” Albert Camus said that about what he thought a friend should be within the friendship; not lead, not follow, just to walk beside him. It takes a long time and a lot of work to build a solid friendship but, according to Cicero, once you have it is the greatest treasure of all.