Magistra vitae

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Historia est Magistra Vitae (or often written like this, which is in a more Latin spirit - Historia magistra vitae est) is a Latin expression, taken from Cicero's De Oratore, which suggests that "history is life's teacher". The phrase conveys the idea that the study of the past should serve as a lesson to the future, and was an important pillar of classical, medieval and Renaissance historiography.

The complete phrase, with English translation, is:

Cicero, De Oratore, II, 36.[1][2]


  • Cicero, Marcus Tullius (1860). On oratory and orators. Translated by Watson, J. S. New York: Harper & Brothers.
  • Cicero, Marcus Tullius (1862). De oratore. Leipzig: B.G. Teubner.


  1. ^ (in Latin) Cicero (1862), p. 110
  2. ^ (in English) Cicero (1860), p. 92