On Benefits Book II, XXX

I have thought it necessary, my friend Liberalis, to state these facts, both because when speaking of small benefits one ought to make some mention of the greatest, and because also this shameless and hateful vice (of ingratitude), starting with these, transfers itself from them to all the rest.

If a man scorn these, the greatest of all benefits, to whom will he feel gratitude, what gift will he regard as valuable or deserving to be returned: to whom will he be grateful for his safety or his life, if he denies that he has received from the gods that existence which he begs from them daily?

He, therefore, who teaches men to be grateful, pleads the cause not only of men, but even of the gods, for though they, being placed above all desires, cannot be in want of anything, yet we can nevertheless offer them our gratitude.

No one is justified in seeking an excuse for ingratitude in his own weakness or poverty, or in saying, “What am I to do, and how? When can I repay my debt to my superiors the lords of heaven and earth?”

Avaricious as you are, it is easy for you to give them thanks, without expense; lazy though you be, you can do it without labour.

At the same instant at which you received your debt towards them, if you wish to repay it, you have done as much as anyone can do, for he returns a benefit who receives it with good will.