Cicero: Why Frugality is The Root of Riches
Marcus Tullius Cicero was one of ancient Rome’s most well-known philosophers, writers, and statesmen. But he showed how even privileged people can practice frugality.
Despite being born into wealth and not having to worry about money during his entire lifetime, Cicero was a frugal person.
During his governorship of the Roman province of Cilicia in 51 BC, Cicero also applied his philosophy of frugality to the administration of his office. This made him immensely popular among the local population.
Cicero once said:
“The world has not yet learned the riches of frugality.”
The fact that he was so frugal and emphasized the importance of it is remarkable. If he desired, he could live the most lavish life. But instead, he chose philosophy, morals, and frugal living.
Cicero’s work has inspired many other thinkers such as Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther, and John Locke. Johannes Gutenberg probably believed that Cicero’s work was so important that the De Officiis (a three-part essay) became the second book in Europe to be printed, right after the Gutenberg Bible.
Maybe it was the only other written text that Gutenberg had at the time. But I’d like to believe that Cicero’s work was reprinted because of its importance!
As a lover of philosophy, Stoicism, and history, I’ve been reading more about Cicero in the past year. While he’s not particularly known for his ideas about frugality, I think Cicero is one of the earliest examples of someone who lived frugally and was also successful.
Why does frugality mean riches?
In our current society, we have an extreme relationship with money. I see that people are living on two opposite sides:
- Spending almost everything you earn
- Spending almost nothing you earn
All or nothing. That’s also a character trait of our times. We’re either so frugal that we pinch every penny and live stringent lives.