Cicero and Lorem Ipsum

Once upon a time in 45 BC, Cicero wrote “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil), an essay on ethics. Among other topics, he talks about the virtues of seeking pleasure in the sense of long-term benefits that are good for you. One example he gives is in doing physical exercise that is painful at the moment, but returns greater pleasure in everyday life in the long run (coincidentally one of my earlier blog topics). Conversely, he disparages pleasures of the moment that are pursued from weakness and lead to negative consequences.

Cicero’s essay is also interesting in that it became the source for the “random filler text” that publishers have been using since the 1500s and still use today, sometimes called the “Lorem ipsum” text. When you are showing a newspaper, magazine, or website layout, and you don’t want meaningful text to distract from the focus on the layout, you insert random filler text. Almost all publishers in web and print use Lorem ipsum random filler text. Many people think it is truly random, artificially made to look like Latin; however, as we now know, has a real-life origin from the Latin of Cicero’s piece on ethics. Today there are Lorem ipsum generators that you can use to get this kind of “random” text to fill your layout pages.

To wit:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Morbi ultrices, felis eu gravida lobortis, odio quam ultricies tellus, vitae sagittis turpis mi vitae nulla. Fusce dolor nibh, pharetra sit amet iaculis eget, vestibulum commodo ligula. Nulla velit massa, porta in pharetra ac, elementum eu ante. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Aliquam odio lorem, consequat tincidunt facilisis vitae, ullamcorper sed lectus. Suspendisse lobortis diam eget lectus tempus at interdum massa semper. Vivamus eu diam non odio vulputate auctor id ac nunc. Nam convallis nulla id erat dapibus porta convallis ligula accumsan. Sed a molestie dolor. Etiam laoreet nisl vel nulla rutrum id tristique felis consectetur. In nunc mi, fringilla at malesuada vitae, pharetra ut metus. Duis non mattis eros. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.

Many thanks to the ethical thinker and writer Cicero for leaving us profound insights into life, as well as useful gibberish for the publishing industry.

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