I came across this quote:

"Laudant quae sciunt, vituperant quae ignorant; laudare a bonis et vituperari a malis unun atque idem est."

It was attributed to Cicero, but it seems that this attribution is wrong or the phrase does not exist at all. Is this quote real? Where does it come from?

Also, what does it mean? I tried Google Translate, but the result is gibberish.


2 Answers 2


The first part of your quotation is not from Cicero, but from the Apologeticus Adversos Gentes pro Christianis (3,2) by Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240 AD):

Laudant quae sciunt, vituperant quae ignorant

"They praise what they know, they blame what they are ignorant of" (transl. by T.H. Bindley). It refers to those who blindly blame the christians not even knowing their lives and thoughts.

The second part of your quotation (which you transcripted wrongly) is a typical sententia commonly and wrongly ascribed to the de officis of Cicero (as you can see for example in the book 5000 Proverbi e motti latini by L. De Mauri [Milano : Hoepli 1990], which is not scientifically reliable), really echoing a concept often expressed by Cicero itself but reformulated to a new thick form at some moment by a late excerptor (see, for instance, what wrote Francesco Villardi in 1932).

The phrase

laudari a bonis et vituperari a malis unum atque idem est

means "Being praised by the good and being censured by the wicked is one and the same" (transl. by Cerberus).

Here are some passages from Cicero's works (where laudo and vitupero are often juxtaposed) that could have inspired this phrase:

  • Philippicae 6,16: Malui viginti diebus post sententiam meam laudari ab omnibus quam a paucis hodie vituperari "I thought it better that my motion be praised by everyone in twenty days'time than blamed by a few today" (transl. by G. Manuwald);

  • De oratore 2,35: quis vituperare improbos asperius, quis laudare bonos ornatius? "Who is more harsh in blaming the wicked, who is more graceful in praise the honests?";

  • De republica 4,12: veteribus displicuisse Romanis vel laudari quemquam in scaena vivum hominem vel vituperari "Ancient Romans do not like to praise or blame a living man on the stage".


Laudant quae sciunt, vituperant quae ignorant

"Those who know [something] praise [it], those who don't know [it] censure [it]".

This is a quotation from Christian church father Tertullian's Apologeticus adversus Gentes, not Cicero.

Laudari a bonis et vituperari a malis unum atque idem est

"Being praised by the good and being censured by the wicked is one and the same".

"The good" should be understood as "good people". This part is not from Turtullian, and I can't find a specific source; it must have been written latter by someone else, as an extension of Tertullian's words. Note that your quotation contained two spelling errors, which I have corrected.


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