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Of all the extant writings of Cicero, none are perhaps so valuable to the Student as his Letters. They contain a vast fund of information, on a great variety of subjects; and they are written in a style of the most elegant Latinity. The following Selection has been made with reference to both these points. The elucidation of historical events, the illustration of public customs, laws and domestic manners, and the developement of character, have, in each instance, been the guides of the Editor in the choice of these Letters; and he feels quite sure that he is greatly serving the cause of sound education, by pressing upon the constant attention of the student the most diligent perusal of this part of Cicero's works, as a model for Latin prose composition. He is no mean proficient in elegant scholarship, who is able, readily and at once, to express his thoughts in Latin prose. To attain this power, there is no safer way than by gaining a close familiarity with Cicero's Letters.
Though they do not display that freedom of style, nor contain the stirring record, which is found in Cicero, yet there is much in Pliny's Letters to recommend them to the best attention of the student. The same principle, which directed the selection of the first, operated in that of these last Letters; and in the accounts of Pliny the Naturalist, of the writer's country-seats, and in most other instances, there will be found much to instruct and improve the mind, couched in the appropriate and graceful language of an honest and virtuous man.
The Notes will be found, it is believed, useful in themselves, and especially in their tendency to direct the youthful scholar in the kind of inquiries he ought to pursue in his classical reading: and it will be particularly observed, that in Pliny's Letters this principle is borne out to a greater extent; a principle which it is the Editor's intention (should his life and health be spared) to carry into educational works, from the lowest and earliest, to the higher and later course of instruction.
London, June 1836.
LIFE OF CICERO.
MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO was born 103 B.C., in the Consulship of Q. Servilius Cæpio and C. Atilius Serranus, on the third of January, at Arpinum in Latium, the birth-place also of Marius. His mother's name was Helvia: both his parents were of respectable, though not Patrician birth: the cognomen Cicero is said to have been given to one of his ancestors, from the circumstance that he cultivated, with success, the Cicer, or Vetch.
His father had a house in Rome; and thither he sent his eldest son, Marcus, for his education; in which he had for companions, his cousins, the sons of Helvia. His instructor in Latin was Plotius : in Greek (which was invariably a part of education among the Roman youth of rank), Archias the poet; in whose behalf he afterwards delivered a splendid oration.
When sixteen, he assumed the toga virilis, with the usual ceremonies; and was then introduced into the forum by his father and relatives. Plutarch states, that even at this early age he gave evidences of his genius and application; and that the parents of his companions often came for the purpose of seeing him with his instructors, and witnessing his abilities. When he had scarcely emerged from boyhood, he wrote, in Tetrameters, a Poem (Pontius Glaucus), which was extant in the time of Plutarch.
Having now arrived at the usual age, he entered on the usual course of those intended for political life, by attending constantly the pleadings and popular orations of the lawyers and statesmen; diligently employing himself at intervals in translating the best Greek orations—all under the guidance, first of Q. Mutius the Augur, and subsequently of Q. Scævola, the most able lawyer of the day. He, moreover, served a campaign or two under Sylla, in the Marsian war; for, in the times of the Republic, whatever was the rank or destination of a youth, he was compelled to learn the art of war, by actual service.
In his 20th year, he had the advantage of being under the instruction of Philo the celebrated Academic; who had quitted Athens to reside at Rome, during the Mithri.
Molo, the Rhodian, did him also no small ser. vice in the arts of Logic and Rhetoric. He had already translated the Phænomena of Aratus into Latin Verse: in his 22d year, he also translated the Economics of Xenophon; the Timæus, and Protagoras of Plato.
In his 26th year, he pleaded his first cause, which was one of a private nature: and now commenced that splendid career of eloquence at the bar, in the popular assembly, and afterwards in the Senate, which left the efforts of his contemporaries, in these the brightest days of Roman oratory, far behind. In his 28th year, having injured his health considerably by arduous attention to his duties and studies, he travelled, by the advice of his friends, to Athens; and, having remained there six 'onths, made a tour through several parts of Asia
Minor. At Athens, he studied under Antiochus: at Rhodes, under his old instructor, Milo. The latter was of great service, as Cicero himself allowed, in improving his style, and stripping it of florid redundance.
After an absence of two years, he returned to Rome, improved in health and voice, and resumed his duties in the forum; and so far gained the good-will and admiration of his citizens, as to be chosen, in his 31st year, Quæstor, without a dissenting voice. Sicily was the province which fell to him by lot; to which island he accompanied the Prætor, the year after; and there fulfilled his duties in such a manner, as to secure the regard and affection of the Sicilians, who appointed him, at his departure, their patron, that is, their advocate in any cause they brought before the tribunals or Senate at Rome.
On quitting the office of Quæstor, he spent the next five years at Rome, making the most rapid strides in the favour of his fellow-citizens, through the zeal and eloquence he displayed both in private and public causes. At the end of this period, he was chosen, again unanimously, Curule Ædile, in the proper time for this office: and it was during this year that he undertook the accusation of Verres, who was charged by the Sicilians with extortion and cruelty during his prætorial administration among them. His speeches on this occasion rank among the most brilliant displays of his eloquence. He succeeded in bringing home the charge; and Verres was heavily fined, and died an outcast from his country and a beggar.
Two years after the expiration of his Ædileship, Cicero was, in his 39th year, elected Prætor; and the year after spoke the celebrated oration in behalf of a decree proposed by Manilius, which was to confer on