Political Speeches (Oxford World's Classics Series) / Edition 1by Cicero, D. H. Berry
Pub. Date: 03/31/2006
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Cicero (106-43 BC) was the greatest orator of the ancient world and a leading politician of the closing era of the Roman republic. This book presents with nine of his speeches that reflect the development, variety, and drama of his political career. Among them are two speeches from his prosecution of Verres, a corrupt and cruel governor of Sicily; four speeches
Cicero (106-43 BC) was the greatest orator of the ancient world and a leading politician of the closing era of the Roman republic. This book presents with nine of his speeches that reflect the development, variety, and drama of his political career. Among them are two speeches from his prosecution of Verres, a corrupt and cruel governor of Sicily; four speeches against the conspirator Catiline; and the Second Philippic, the famous denunciation of Mark Antony, which cost Cicero his life. Also included are On the Command of Gnaeus Pompeius, in which he praises the military successes of Pompey, and For Marcellus, a panegyric in praise of the dictator Julius Caesar.
These new translations preserve Cicero's oratorical brilliance and achieve new standards of accuracy. A general introduction outlines Cicero's public career, and separate introductions explain the political significance of each of the speeches. This edition also provides an up-to-date scholarly bibliography, glossary and two maps. Together with the companion volume of Defense Speeches, this edition provides an unparalleled sampling of Cicero's achievements.
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The speeches of Marcus Cicero not only give us a glimpse of the ancient world of Roman politics, they illustrate some striking similarities between modern western world politics and the machinations of the ancient. The cadence, rhythm, and use of language by Tully is second to none. He is a man whose words and deeds are worth consideration and study. The background of each speech outlined throughout the book provides additional insight into the manueverings of a high stakes political chess game in which the fate of the ancient world's most successful and free republic was at stake. A devout patriot and thoughtful philosopher, Cicero observed the country he loved through the eyes of its people of all classes, and this, I think, was what made him a patriot in the deepest sense. In his speech "In Catilinam IV," his unapologetic declaration, "In fact, is there a single person here who does not regard these temples, the sight of our city, the possession of freedom, and indeed this light of day and the very soil of our shared homeland as not just dear to him, but a source of joy and delight? It is worth your while, too, conscript fathers, to take note of the feelings of the freedmen. They by their own merit have obtained the rights of citizens, and sincerely consider this their home - while certain others who were born here, and born to the best families, have thought of it not as their homeland, but as an enemy city," page 200. Such language, to me, is near poetic, it is profound, and in the end, heart rending when we read some of Cicero's final words recorded in his Phillip speeches directed against the tryrannical Marc Anthony, "Look back, I ask you, Marcus Antonius, look back at last on your country. Think of the people from whom you are sprung, not of those with whom you live. With me, do as you will: only make your peace with your country. But this is for you; I shall shall speak for myself. I defended this country when I was a young man: I shall not desert it now that I am old. I faced down the swords of Catiline: I shall not flinch before yours. Yes, and I would willingly offer my body, if the freedom of this country could at once be secured by my death, and the suffering of the Roman people at last be delivered of that with which it has long be so pregnant. If nearly twenty years ago in this very temple I declared that death could not be untimely for a man who had reached the consulship, with home much more truth could I now say 'for an old man'? In fact, for me, conscript fathers, death is actually desirable now that I have discharged the responsibilities of the offices I attained and completed the tasks I undertook. Two things alone I long for: first, that when I die I may leave the Roman people free - the immortal gods could bestow upon me no greater blessing; and second, that each person's fate may reflect the way he had behaved toward his country," page 270. Beheaded, his hands cut off, and his tongue jabbed with pins by the vindictive wife of Marc Anthony, one may question the validity of Cicero's words in that last sentence. Yet, we see through the ages, that the greatness of Marcus Tullius Cicero, consul and patriot of Rome, dwarfs the infamous, self interested tyrant, Marcus Antonius. I have read and reread this book, it is a must for any library.