The History of the Life of Marcus Tullius Cicero (Classic Reprint)

Fb&c Limited, 20.10.2017 - 386 Seiten
Excerpt from The History of the Life of Marcus Tullius Cicero

After I had gone through my review of Cicero's writings, my next recourse was to the other ancients, both Greeks and Romans, who had touched upon the affairs of that age. These served me chiefly to fill up the interstices of general history, and to illustrate several passages which were but slightly mentioned by Cicero; as well as to add some stories and circumstances which tradition had preserved, concerning either Cicero himself or any of the chief actors whose characters I had delineated.

But the Greek historians who treat professedly of these times, Plutarch, Appian, Dio, though they are all very useful for illustrating many important facts of ancient history, which would otherwise have been lost, or imperfectly transmitted to us, are not yet to be read without some caution as Obeing strangers to the language and customs of Rome, and liable to frequent mistakes, as well as subject to prejudices in their relation of Roman affairs. Plutarch lived from the reign of Claudius to that of Hadrian, in which he died very old, in the possession of the priesthood of the Delphic Apollo; and though he is supposed to have resided in Rome near forty years at different times, yet he never seems to have acquired a sufficient skill in the Roman language to qualify himself for the compiler of a Roman history. But if we should allow him all the talents requisite to an historian, yet the attempt of writing the lives of all the illustrious Greeks and Romans, was above the strength of any single man, of what abilities and leisure soever; much more of one, who, as he himself tells us, was so engaged in public business, and in giving lectures of philosophy to the great men of Rome, that he had not time to make himself master of the Latin tongue; nor to acquire any other knowledge of its words, than what he had gradually learnt by a precious use and experience of thingse his work therefore, from the very nature of it, must needs be superficial and imperfect, and the sketch rather than the completion of a great design.

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