The Ancient Library

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On this page: Cicero (continued)



the use of Latin idiom and expression, a wonderful feeling for the rhythm and struc­ture of prose writing: these are Cicero's characteristics. With all the faults which his contemporaries and later critics had to find with his speeches, Cicero never lost his position as the most classical represen­tative of Latin oratory, and he was judged the equal, or nearly the equal, of Demos­thenes.

The knowledge which he had acquired in his practice as a speaker he turned to account in hig writings on Rhetoric. In these he set forth the technical rules of the Greek writers, applying to them the results of his own experience, and his sense of the requirements of Latin oratory. Besides the two books entitled Rhetdrlca or De Inven-tiOne, a boyish essay devoid of all origina­lity, the most important of his works on this subject are: (1) The De Oratore, a treatise in three books, written 55 b.c. This work, the form and contents of which are j alike striking, is written in the style of a j dialogue. Its subject is the training neces­sary for an orator, the proper handling of his theme, the right style, and manner of delivery. (2) The Brutus, or De Claris OratOribus, written in b.c. 46; a history of Latin oratory from the earliest period down to Cicero's own time. (3) The Orator, a sketch of the ideal orator, written in the same year as the Brutus.

Cicero also devoted a large number of books to Greek philosophy, a subject which ! he was concerned to render accessible to his countrymen. His writings in this line lack depth and thoroughness; but it must be said at the same time that he has the j great merit of being the first Latin writer who treated these questions with taste and in an intelligible form, and who created a philosophical language in Latin. The frame­work which he adopts is usually that of the Aristotelian dialogue, though he does not always consistently adhere to it. It was not until after his fiftieth year that he began to write on philosophy, and in the years b.c. 45 and 44, when almost entirely excluded from politics, he developed an extraordinary activity in this direction. The following philosophical works survive, either in whole or in part: (1) Fragments, amounting to about one-third of the work, ; of the six books, De Re Publica, written b.c. 54-51. (2) Three books of an unfinished treatise, De Leylbus, written about 52. (3) P&rMoxa Stotr.orum, a short treatment of six Stoical texts, b.c. 46. (4) Five

books on the greatest goad and the greatest evil (De Flnlbus BOnOrum et MalQrum), b.c. 45. This is the best of his philoso­phical works. (5) The second book of the first edition, and the first book of the second edition, of the Academlc.a, b.c. 45. (6) The five books of the Tusculan Disputations, b.c. 44. In the same year appeared (7) the De NMura DeOrum, in three, and (8) j the De DlvlnatlonS, in two books. (9) A fragment on the Stoical doctrine of Fate.

(10) The Cato Maior, or De Sf-nectutl.

(11) Laeltus, or De Amlcltla. (12) De Ojficils, or On Ethics, in three books. Besides these, a whole series of philoso­phical and other prose writings by Cicero are known to us only in fragments, or by their titles.

The multifarious nature of Cicero's occu­pation as a statesman and an orator did not hinder him from keeping up a volu­minous correspondence, from which 864 letters (including 90 addressed to Ciceroy are preserved in four collections. These letters form an inexhaustible store of infor­mation, bearing upon Cicero's own life as well as upon contemporary history in all its aspects. We have (1) The Epistuloe ad Fdmtliares, in sixteen books, b.c. 63-43; (2) The Epistulce ad Atttcum, in sixteen books, b.c. 68-43; (3) Three books of letters to his brother Quintus; (4) Two books of correspondence between Cicero and Brutus after the death of Caesar, the genuineness of which is [rightly] disputed.

Cicero also made some attempts to write poetry, in his youth for practice, in his later life mainly from vanity. His youth­ful effort was a translation of Aratus, of which some fragments remain. After 63 B.C. he celebrated his own consulship in three books of verses. [He is a consider­able metrist, but not a real poet.]

(2) Quintus Tullius Cicero, the younger brother of Marcus, was born in b.c. 102. He was praetor in 62, and legdtus to Caesar in Gaul and Britain from 54-52 b.c. In the civil war he took the side of Pompey, but was pardoned by Caesar. In 43 he was made an outlaw, at the same time as his brother, and in 42 was murdered in Rome. Like Marcus, he was a gifted man, and not unknown in literature, especially as a writer of history and poetry. In 54 B.C., for example, when engaged in the Gallic campaign, he wrote four tragedies in six­teen days, probably after Greek models. We have four letters of his, besides a short paper addressed to his brother in 64 B.C.,

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