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Selected Works by Marcus Tullius Cicero
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Selected Works

by Marcus Tullius Cicero

Other authors: Michael Grant (Translator)

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Selected Works of the great Roman orator/statesman/philosopher Cicero is an excellent book for anyone approaching his work for the first time. Not only are there selections from Cicero’s writings on politics, moral philosophy and old age but there is a superb 30 page introduction written by Michael Grant. Thank you, Penguin books and thank you, Michael Grant! To provide a little Roman rasa, below are several quotes from the book along with my comments.

From Michael Grant’s Introduction

“Cicero was not often a very successful politician, but he derives unmistakable greatness from his insistence, against odds, that such dictatorial rulers were in the wrong because they unjustifiably curtailed the freedom of the individual; whereas the ultimate authority should be not themselves but certain unchangeable moral principles.” -------- Anybody who picks up a newspaper anywhere in the world will recognize immediately how Cicero’s writings are as relevant today as they were in ancient Rome. Matter of fact, with our omnipresent multinational corporations added to the political mix, perhaps even more relevant.

“Cicero’s task was not an easy one; the Greek philosophers, to which with the added infusion of his own personality, he gave eloquent expression – far more eloquent than that of their original authors – contain much that was complicated and difficult, especially to unphilosophical Romans. ---------- Cicero’s achievement strikes home for me personally, living as I do in the unphilosophical Rome of the modern world: America. We should never take for granted we have access to the writings of ancient philosophers presented in well-crafted and clearly presented books such as this one.

“The moral emphasis of Stoicism (when its dogma was toned down) was very acceptable to him, and indeed the basis of a great deal of his thought and feelings on moral and ethical problems. ---------- Michael Grant provides an easy-to-read short overview of how Cicero drew from not only Stoicism but many streams of Greek philosophy, such as the Pythagoreans, Platonists, Peripatetics (followers of Aristotle) and two schools Cicero particularly despised: the Cyrenaics (immediate happiness is the ultimate good) and the Epicureans (the philosophical school that shunned pubic life). Such lively and informative readings makes for a real treat.

From ‘Against Verres’

“One thing, then, that has influenced me is this gloating of yours over your tyrannical dominance in our courts; and another is the evident existence of men who feel not the slightest shame or disgust for their repulsive and outrageous behavior.” --------- In the world of Roman opulence and excess, Cicero could tell it like it is.

From ‘On Duties’

“Once I lived with great crowds around me, in the forefront of Roman publicity. But now I shun the sight of the scoundrels who swarm on every side. I withdraw as completely as I can; and I am often alone. However, as the philosophers instruct, one must not only choose the least among evils, one must extract from them any good that they may contain.” --------- This is a lesson we can all learn from: make the best of a less than ideal situation. “

“Another objection urges that one ought to take account of compatriots but not of foreigners. But people who put forward these arguments subvert the whole foundation of the human community – and its removal means the annihilation of all kindness, generosity, goodness, and justice.” ------- Cicero’s words have a modern ring, as if he anticipated our 21st century world-wide culture and society.

From: ‘On Old Age’

“An actor need not remain on the stage until the very end of the play: if he wins applause in those acts in which he appears, he will have done well enough. In life, too, a man can perform his part wisely without staying on the stage until the play is finished. However short your life may be, it will still be long enough to live honestly and decently.” --------- This is but one of the many gold nuggets of ancient wisdom a reader will find in Cicero’s essay.

( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |

Selected Works of the great Roman orator/statesman/philosopher Cicero is an excellent book for anyone approaching his work for the first time. Not only are there selections from Cicero’s writings on politics, moral philosophy and old age but there is a superb 30 page introduction written by Michael Grant. Thank you, Penguin books and thank you, Michael Grant! To provide a little Roman rasa, below are several quotes from the book along with my comments.

From Michael Grant’s Introduction

“Cicero was not often a very successful politician, but he derives unmistakable greatness from his insistence, against odds, that such dictatorial rulers were in the wrong because they unjustifiably curtailed the freedom of the individual; whereas the ultimate authority should be not themselves but certain unchangeable moral principles.” -------- Anybody who picks up a newspaper anywhere in the world will recognize immediately how Cicero’s writings are as relevant today as they were in ancient Rome. Matter of fact, with our omnipresent multinational corporations added to the political mix, perhaps even more relevant.

“Cicero’s task was not an easy one; the Greek philosophers, to which with the added infusion of his own personality, he gave eloquent expression – far more eloquent than that of their original authors – contain much that was complicated and difficult, especially to unphilosophical Romans. ---------- Cicero’s achievement strikes home for me personally, living as I do in the unphilosophical Rome of the modern world: America. We should never take for granted we have access to the writings of ancient philosophers presented in well-crafted and clearly presented books such as this one.

“The moral emphasis of Stoicism (when its dogma was toned down) was very acceptable to him, and indeed the basis of a great deal of his thought and feelings on moral and ethical problems. ---------- Michael Grant provides an easy-to-read short overview of how Cicero drew from not only Stoicism but many streams of Greek philosophy, such as the Pythagoreans, Platonists, Peripatetics (followers of Aristotle) and two schools Cicero particularly despised: the Cyrenaics (immediate happiness is the ultimate good) and the Epicureans (the philosophical school that shunned pubic life). Such lively and informative readings makes for a real treat.

From ‘Against Verres’

“One thing, then, that has influenced me is this gloating of yours over your tyrannical dominance in our courts; and another is the evident existence of men who feel not the slightest shame or disgust for their repulsive and outrageous behavior.” --------- In the world of Roman opulence and excess, Cicero could tell it like it is.

From ‘On Duties’

“Once I lived with great crowds around me, in the forefront of Roman publicity. But now I shun the sight of the scoundrels who swarm on every side. I withdraw as completely as I can; and I am often alone. However, as the philosophers instruct, one must not only choose the least among evils, one must extract from them any good that they may contain.” --------- This is a lesson we can all learn from: make the best of a less than ideal situation. “

“Another objection urges that one ought to take account of compatriots but not of foreigners. But people who put forward these arguments subvert the whole foundation of the human community – and its removal means the annihilation of all kindness, generosity, goodness, and justice.” ------- Cicero’s words have a modern ring, as if he anticipated our 21st century world-wide culture and society.

From: ‘On Old Age’

“An actor need not remain on the stage until the very end of the play: if he wins applause in those acts in which he appears, he will have done well enough. In life, too, a man can perform his part wisely without staying on the stage until the play is finished. However short your life may be, it will still be long enough to live honestly and decently.” --------- This is but one of the many gold nuggets of ancient wisdom a reader will find in Cicero’s essay.

( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marcus Tullius Ciceroprimary authorall editionscalculated
Grant, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Judges: At this grave crisis in the history of our country, you have been offered a peculiarly desirable gift, a gift almost too opportune to be of human origin : it almost seems heaven-sent.
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An annotated translation of Roman statesman, author, and orator Cicero's writings "Against Verres, I," "The Second Philippic against Antony," "On Duties, III," and "On Old Age," and twenty-three of his letters.

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