[Seventeen leaves are missing at the beginning of our manuscript. Half way through his preface Cicero is criticizing the Epicureans for their lack of patriotism.]
〈Had it not been for his sense of patriotic duty, X〉 would not have delivered 〈our country〉 from invasion; nor would Gaius Duilius, Aulus Atilius, and Lucius Metellus have rescued it from the Carthaginian menace; the two Scipios* would not have extinguished with their blood the spreading conflagration of the second Punic war; later, when it had broken out with greater fury, Quintus Maximus would not have sapped its strength; Marcus Metellus would not have beaten it down; and Publius Africanus* would not have dragged it back from the gates of this city and penned it up within the enemy's walls.
Or take Marcus Cato,* an obscure man without consular ancestors, a man to whom all of us who follow the same calling look up to as a kind of model, guiding us to perseverance and probity. He might certainly have enjoyed his retirement at Tusculum*-- a healthy spot within easy reach of town. But that maniac, as those fellows call him, without being compelled by any necessity, chose to be buffeted by these stormy waves right into extreme old age, instead of enjoying the delightfully tranquil and easy life which they extol. I say nothing of those countless individuals who in peace and war have brought salvation to this country; and I shall not mention the names of those who are close to the memory of this generation, for I do not want anyone to complain that he or one of his family has been left out. I simply state this basic fact: nature has given to mankind such a compulsion to do good, and such a desire to defend the well-being of the community, that this force prevails over all the temptations of pleasure and ease.