The essays do show throughout a sense of style and a delicate feeling foramicable argumentation. They get points across smoothly, conferring a feelingof comfortableness with the subject matter. It is no wonder that Cicero'sverbal style became the standard for writing in the Roman world, and continuedas an academic standard of urbane elegance until Latin ceased to be written inthe last century. But in the end the preference for Ciceronian style becamesuch an academic standard, that it stifled the development of other modes ofprose writing, and writing in Latin eventually suffered a seriousimpoverishment. Beside Cicero, Apuleius seems outlandish and tastelesslyextravagant, finally his style is hardly evaluated as anything but a deviationfrom a norm, the Ciceronian norm.
But the Orations and Essays do not fill the ten volume set. The other thirdcomprises a vast collections of letters, apparently put together by thefaithful secretary-servant Tiro, and preserved intact though the history of theRoman world. Volume after volume the chronicle of Cicero's involvement inpublic life rolls forth, his relationships with everybody of note in thepolitical and social world, the letters to and from his wife and dear daughter,his letters from important men whom we know otherwise by name only, hiscomments on his good son and his errant nephew, his delicate correspondencewith Tiro, the complaints about thieving slaves and his good-naturedforgiveness. ..... it is all there in an amazing helter-skelter of realcorrespondence on real occasions. Compare this with Pliny the Younger'sLetters, which are carefully groomed essays derived from one-time letters, veryinteresting but lacking the human immediacy of the Ciceronian archive.
The correspondence, ensconced in Tyrell and Purser's six volumes of infinitelycommented text, is so large that one finds it hard to know by which door toenter. A careful selection of the letters which reflect personal life andvalues, social history, and the little things which at last we are beginning tosee as constituting the warp and woof of history, can be made. From these wecan draw one of the rare informal sketches of a person who lived in theGreco-Roman world, in fact this source is probably as unique as it isauthentic. Some letters are so simple and direct that they can be used forfirst-year Latin students; others are worthy of the attention of humanists whoknow the nuances of the language well. In the Orations, we perceive the finelegal mind and the courtroom persuasiveness of the politician; in the essays wehave access to the comments and lucubrations of an educated Roman gentleman;but in the letters we can at last perceive the personality of Cicero, the markof a genuine Roman mind, and the feelings of a man who was in his personalcorrespondence at last open to his friends, and above all, open to himself.
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UNIT VIII - Cicero: Letters and Essays
Of all the numerous essays written upon subject of Friendship, the Llius of Cicero holds the foremost rank, not only because of the nobility of the theme itself.
UNIT VIII CICERO: LETTERS AND ESSAYS
Paras. 135. Cicero. . On Friendship. And the whole essay on friendship is his. In reading it you will recognise a picture of yourself. 5: 2. Fannius.