Discussion Topics

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Show how Cicero exemplifies the speaker who is also a doer.

Some of Cicero’s orations have long been used in the teaching of Latin. What practical value is there in studying the structures of argument by an ancient orator?

During what period in American political history did Cicero most influence political speakers?

One of Cicero’s favorite courtroom techniques was “passing over” a subject that he would, in fact, thus emphasize, so that his listeners would remember it. Cite some instances of this technique being used today, in or out of literature.

The word “rhetoric” is often used with negative connotations. What are the principles by which Cicero defends the importance of rhetoric?

Summarize and assess Cicero’s essay on friendship or one of his other essays.


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Further Reading:

Bailey, D. R. Shackleton. Cicero. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1972. Provides a detailed biography of Cicero and discusses his writings in the context of his life. Part of the Classical Life and Letters series.

Cicero. Letters of Cicero: A Selection in Translation. Compiled and translated by L. P. Wilkinson. New York: W. W. Norton, 1968. Provides translations of Cicero’s important letters from the year after his consulship to the end of his life, with an informative introduction.

Classen, Jo-Marie. Displaced Persons: The Literature of Exile from Cicero to Boethius. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999. A fascinating study of the literary genre of exile narratives, discussing both the mechanics and the philosophical and rhetorical strategies of writing about the personal experience of exile.

Everitt, Anthony. Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician. New York: Random House, 2002. Places Cicero’s life and career amid the context of the political intrigue and civil unrest of the Roman Republic.

Everitt, Anthony. Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician. New York: Random House, 2002. A biography aimed at a general audience, focusing on Cicero’s political career. Does an excellent job of placing him in his historical and social context.

Fuhrmann, Manfred. Cicero and the Roman Republic. Translated by W. E. Yuill. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1992. A political biography.

Mackail, J. W. Latin Literature. Edited with an introduction by Harry C. Schnur. New York: Collier Books, 1962. Contains a chapter with literary evaluations of Cicero’s forensic oratory, political philosophy, philosophy, and epistolary prose. Includes a bibliography.

May, James M. Brill’s Companion to Cicero: Oratory and Rhetoric. Boston: Brill Academic, 2002. This volume of history and criticism includes bibliography and index.

Mitchell, Thomas N. Cicero: The Ascending Years. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979.

Mitchell, Thomas N. Cicero: The Senior Statesman. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1991. This two-volume biography is considered one of the most reliable, insightful, and thorough studies available.

Radford, Robert. Cicero: A Study in the Origins of Republican Thought. Atlanta: Rodopi, 2002. Presents Cicero’s philosophy of natural law and traces its influence in modern philosophy.

Sihler, Ernest G. Cicero of Arpinum: A Political and Literary Biography. 1914. Reprint. New York: Cooper Square, 1969. A classicist’s approach to the study of Cicero’s life and character. Special emphasis is placed on Cicero’s writings.

Steel, C. E. W. Cicero, Rhetoric, and Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. A close reading of Cicero’s speeches, dissecting his rhetorical strategies, examining the role of political oratory, and placing Cicero’s attitude toward empire in the context of his contemporaries.

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Critical Essays