Cicero's poetry

LCF

Dr. Freud
He adapted stories from Plautus and Terence (well, at least I know The Comedy of Errors is based on Plautus's Menaechmi; I don't know about Terence but maybe), and from many other sources, too. That's not exactly plagiarism.
At least Plautus I think admitted that he got it all from the Greeks. While Shakespeare passed it as his own.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
While Shakespeare passed it as his own.
If you mean that he didn't credit the original in a prologue or so, then that's true, I think. Now did he really walk about pretending he'd invented it all? I don't know. Probably not, but is there any evidence for this either way?

I thought it was simply common practice at the time to draw (sometimes massively) on pre-existing material without crediting as we usually would nowadays.
 

LCF

Dr. Freud
None of his plays and or plots are originals. All sourced from the ancients and re-rendered to his time/language. While his contributions are significant (as far as the English language goes), praising his "comedic depth and inside" like the scholars do is as absurd and as extreme as me calling him a plagiarist.
 

Matthaeus

Vemortuicida strenuus
From what I know, he didn't even, or rather had a rudimentary knowledge, of the ancient languages...
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
None of his plays and or plots are originals. All sourced from the ancients and re-rendered to his time/language. While his contributions are significant (as far as the English language goes), praising his "comedic depth and inside" like the scholars do is as absurd and as extreme as me calling him a plagiarist.
He mostly pinched stories from other sources, both historical and fictional, and retold them in his own brilliant way. His "depth and inside (insight?)" mostly consist in the details he added and the way he formulated things. I doubt his sources for Hamlet and Othello, for instance, are as enjoyable, brilliantly written and "deep" as his eponymous plays — though this is of course only an uninformed guess, as I haven't read the sources.
From what I know, he didn't even, or rather had a rudimentary knowledge, of the ancient languages...
He knew Latin for sure.
"Small Latin and less Greek", according to Ben Jonson. I think he did know some Latin, which he would have learned at school as pretty much everyone who went to school did at the time, but was not particularly good at it. The feeling I get is that he was no linguistic genius except in his native language — and even there, not really in a grammatical way (his grammar is sometimes shaky — pun unintended), but in a creative way, for lack of a better word (I'm not sure how to put this). His French, for instance, was... ahem. Some of his plays contain French: not very good.
 
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Bit harsh to claim that Shakespeare's English grammar was shaky. At the time he was writing English grammar was not as rigidly standardised as it is now. I think most of the standardisation in English grammar was brought about by the Victorians(though it was more or less standardised prior to this).
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Bit harsh to claim that Shakespeare's English grammar was shaky.
I wouldn't say that it was shaky overall. Just occasionally. Maybe I sounded harsher than I meant to be. He wrote better English than many (or most if you take the artistic aspect of things into account).
At the time he was writing English grammar was not as rigidly standardised as it is now.
I guess that's true... but only to an extent. In any case, even if a language's grammar isn't standardized as in being written down in grammar books that mostly agree with one another, it still has implied rules, according to usage and logic.
It's the same as Cicero's poetry, hexameter verse in Cicero's day hadn't been perfected yet, it was still being experimented with.
I don't think the complaints about Cicero's poetry are technical, metrical ones.
 
Those implied rules prior to standardisation are subject to regional variation and other variations down to and including variations within ones own peer group. Can we know if he followed those implied rules or not?

Further to this Shakespeare was an experimenter and innovator, which is shown by the number of words he coined. Many caught on, many didn't. Maybe it's the same with his grammar.

No but the technical difficulties he may have had may have constrained his ability to write what he wanted. See some of the experiments in applying Classical metrical forms to English poetry. Or maybe I'm trying too hard to defend Tully?

Even if you look at his wording like the "fortunatam natam" situation. Why is it so bad? Because one guy a generation or so after Cicero said so? I quite like the sound of it.
 
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Laurentius

Civis Illustris
Why wonder? Just find a similar repetition in the writings of a more celebrated poet, and see what the commentaries have to say about it.
Will try to find some tomorrow, but I can't imagine any commentary being harsh about it. But even so why would anyone trust the judgement of the obscure commentary writer over that of the celebrated poet?
He plagiarized from Plautus and Terence.
 

Matthaeus

Vemortuicida strenuus
Laurentii bene scribis etiamsi ebrius es.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
No but the technical difficulties he may have had may have constrained his ability to write what he wanted. See some of the experiments in applying Classical metrical forms to English poetry. Or maybe I'm trying too hard to defend Tully?
Cicero didn't have any problems with the language or with the metre. He seemed to be a fan of Ennius, who wrote some pretty crude lines, but he greatly improved on his style. From a letter to Atticus where he quotes himself:

interea cursus, quos prima a parte iuventae
quosque adeo consul virtute animoque petisti,
hos retine atque auge famam laudesque bonorum.
(and a longer fragment from de divinatione can be found here)

Principio aetherio flammatus Iuppiter igni
vertitur et totum conlustrat lumine mundum
menteque divina caelum terrasque petessit,
quae penitus sensus hominum vitasque retentat,
aetheris aeterni saepta atque inclusa cavernis.
That's pretty solid writing, and as I said earlier, it looks cleaner to me than the hexameters Catullus or Horatius wrote.

Even if you look at his wording like the "fortunatam natam" situation. Why is it so bad? Because one guy a generation or so after Cicero said so? I quite like the sound of it.
It seems like a play on words to me and like a conscious choice ... Rome is fortu-nata for being (re)born under his consulship.
The fact that fortunatam and natam are set off by the caesura prevents it from sounding awkward.
 
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