I have seen the phrase "Dubitando ad veritatem pervenimus." attributed to Cicero in some websites and books, some of them claiming to find it in De officiis (for instance Diccionario Akal Del Refranero Latino, by Jesús Cantera Ortiz de Urbina), or in Tusculanae disputationes (for instance http://docplayer.fr/2531153-Dubitando-dubitando-ad-veritatem-pervenimus-cicero-tusculanae-1-30-73-petite-revue-d-histoire-revisionniste.html). However, I searched the online versions of these available on thelatinlibrary.com and could not find the phrase. Moreover, from what I understand from http://tribuletes.blogspot.fr/2011/12/un-parentesis.html it seems not clear whether it really is from Cicero (although I know very little Italian so I may have misunderstood.)

So my question is: Is there some degree of certainty that Cicero actually said or wrote it? If yes, does someone know in which of his works I could find it?

  • Welcome to the site and +1 for a good question!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 3:14

2 Answers 2


No. However, it likely is a boiled-down version of Abelard's saying in the Sic et Non:

Dubitando quippe ad inquisitionem venimus; inquirendo veritatem percipimus.

"By doubting indeed we come to the inquiry; and by inquiring, we perceive the truth."

As you'll note from the comments of the above link, you'll see a reference to Cicero Tusc. Disp. 1.30.73. It's not there, but there is a similar sentiment:

(Loeb translation provided)

Itaque dubitans, circumspectans, haesitans, multa adversa reverens tamquam in rate in mari immenso nostra vehitur oratio.

And so doubting, watching, wavering, fearing many an adverse chance, our argument is drive as if on a skiff in a boundless sea.

It's a similar sentiment, but it's by no means the same.

  • 2
    Thank you for your quick and very helpful answer! (The first link in particular will certainly prove very useful next time I need to check a citation.) Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 22:31
  • @FlorentMichel You're very welcome! PHI is an absolute godsend.
    – cmw
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 22:32
  • That is really nice to learn about. Thanks.
    – ktm5124
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 23:48

As a supplement to the accepted answer, there is actually a passage in which Cicero expresses a contradictory opinion.

The context is that Simonides, who was asked to explain "quale sit deus," said he would respond in one day. As each day ended, though, he would ask for another day, explaining, "Quanto diutius considero tanto mihi spes videtur obscurior." Cicero comments:

Sed Simoniden arbitror...quia multa venirent in mentem acuta atque subtilia, dubitantem quid eorum esset verissimum desperasse omnem veritatem. (Cicero, De Natura Deorum 1.60-61)

I believe that Simonides, as his mind considered many deep and subtle possibilities, despaired of finding any truth because he doubted which of these things was truest.


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