Cicero's Philosophy of History by Matthew Fox

By Matthew Fox

Cicero has lengthy been noticeable to embrace the values of the Roman republic. This provocative learn of Cicero's use of heritage finds that instead of selling his personal values, Cicero makes use of ancient illustration to discover the problems of discovering any ideological coherence in Rome's political or cultural traditions. Matthew Fox seems to the scepticism of Cicero's philosophical schooling for an realizing of his viewpoint on Rome's background, and argues that forget of the sceptical culture has remodeled the doubting, ambiguous Cicero into the convinced proponent of Roman values. via shut analyzing of various his theoretical works, Fox uncovers an ironic angle in the direction of Roman heritage, and connects that to using irony in mainstream Latin historians. He concludes with a learn of a little-known treatise on Cicero from the early eighteenth century which sheds huge mild at the background of Cicero's reception.

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Equidem ex eis etiam fructum capio laboris mei, qui iam aetate provecti in nostris Struggle, Compensation, and Argument 39 libris adquiescunt; quorum studio legendi meum scribendi studium vehementius in dies incitatur; quos quidem plures, quam rebar, esse cognovi. (De divinatione 2. 2. e. the youth) has slipped so far that it needs the help of all men to restrain and direct it. I don’t, of course, believe that it can be done, nor indeed must it be expected, that all young men would turn themselves to these studies.

Very frequently, Cicero’s evocation of the real life of Rome is historical; frequent too are those moments where it is doubtful how successful the integration of philosophy with history can be. It is possible to see, in this ambiguous treatment of history in philosophy, the consequences of a deeper ambiguity, concerning the relevance of philosophy to life, of which, of course, history is in some sense the repository. Although Cicero may aspire to show that philosophy provides the answer to the ills of the Republic, he also shows us that this aspiration can only with diYculty be grounded in historical reality.

It is by looking at the reception of Cicero that we can also become aware of the issues at stake in positioning him as the principal ideologue of the late Republic, a position which, simply by virtue of the preservation of so much of his writing, and the highly rhetorical quality of much of his work, he is bound to occupy. In particular, by being aware of the diVerent responses which Cicero’s philosophy has awakened, it is possible to gain an insight into the manner in which he has become identiWed with notions of Romanness, and in particular notions of civic contribution in a Roman context.

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