Cicero’s quote, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others,” speaks to the central importance of gratitude in moral philosophy and human character. By calling gratitude the “greatest of virtues,” Cicero is underscoring its value and significance. Gratitude—acknowledging the good in life and recognizing that much of it comes from others—can engender positivity, improve relationships, and even enhance physical health.
But Cicero goes further to say that gratitude is also the “parent of all the others.” What he likely means is that gratitude forms the basis from which other virtues can grow. When we feel grateful, we’re more likely to be generous, kind, patient, and forgiving. Gratitude helps us appreciate what we have, which can lead to contentment and discourage negative behaviours like greed and envy. It can foster a sense of interconnectedness and community, which can encourage empathy and altruism. Thus, gratitude is not just a virtue itself but also a source of other virtues, making it central to a well-rounded, virtuous character.