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The greatest orator in Roman history, Marcus Tullius Cicero remained one of the republic's chief supporters throughout his life, guided by profound political beliefs that illuminated his correspondence with both close friends and powerful aristocrats. A chronicle of a crumbling civilization during the era when the republic disintegrated and was replaced by despotism, his L ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 288 pages
Published September 25th 1986 by Penguin Books
(first published 1925)
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The Cambridge edition edited by Shackleton Bailey is so so great. I've read excerpts from Cicero's correspondence before but reading so many letters back-to-back was really entertaining. Cicero's letters are much less formal in style than his speeches. Though, I got the distinct feeling that Cicero cannot quite help himself from the occasional, unnecessary rhetorical trick. Shackleton Bailey includes very few letters not written by Cicero and I could immediately tell the difference in writing st ...more
My review is NOT of Cicero, but of this particular edition. While I have no qualms with Professor Bailey's selection of letters, I do have some issues with the commentary itself. I'd selected this for my advanced, undergraduate course, and but in retrospect I'm not sure it was the best decision. The commentary was wide-ranging, and certainly showcases Professor Bailey's considerable knowledge of Cicero, but it was also unhelpful for undergraduates puzzling their way through the particular, and o ...more
“I absorb myself in literary work, writing or reading. Some of my visitors listen to me as a man of learning, because I know a little more than themselves. All the rest of the time is given to the claims of the body. As for my country, I have already mourned her longer and more deeply than any mother ever mourned her only son.”
For those who treasure glimpses into the minds and hearts of historical figures, and who enjoy filling out the record with greater insights into personality and character, letters such as these are a boon. It's a wonder to think that after two thousand years we can look in on the great statesman during his informal moments - though of course the business of office/court was never far from his mind (consequently several letters also provide interesting pathways into events of the time).
This selec ...more
This selec ...more
Triumph. Bravery. Disillusionment. Vanity. Righteousness. A desire to do his country good. A desire to prove his own worth. A desire for acknowledgement, from the world and from himself. Cicero the man was of many faces. For as much as the ancients insisted that a man's character remained fixed since birth, Cicero was always evolving. Justification. Rationalization. Excuses to friends and to himself. His letters afford us a front seat to the portrait of Cicero, the politician and the man, of his ...more