Reading Cicero - need recommendations

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Hi guys :) I'm looking for some reading recommendations again.

Specifically, I'd like to read more Cicero -- so far I've only come across a few quotations in my textbook and in various places on the forum. I enjoy his style and would like to try some longer excerpts, but I'm not sure where to start since there's just so much to pick from. Any recommendations are highly appreciated.

If I had to estimate, I'm probably around "advanced beginner/early intermediate" reading level (not that I'm a particularly good judge of such things...) I can handle, say, the Vulgate without difficulty, but I find the more labyrinthine prose of classical authors rather more challenging -- which is why I'd like to read more of it! ;)

Anyway, thanks in advance!
 

Aurifex

Aedilis
Staff member
I think the first full work I read of C. was Pro Milone. I enjoyed the scandalous historical background as well as C.'s high flown rhetoric. The prosopopoeia in the peroration is particularly enthralling in its absurd presentation of Milo as a spotless saviour.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
We studied a big part of Pro Milone in the last stage of my Latin course, but the first complete work of his I read on my own were the letters ad Atticum (which I had been recommended by Matthaeus).
 

diyclassics

New Member
Mea sententia, something like De Amicitia (Laelius) or De Senectute (Cato) are good choices for your interest and level—a bit more universal, i.e. the basic ideas about friendship and getting older (on a surface reading) are more readily applicable today than the specifics of Roman legal procedure and the political situation at the Late Republic. They're filled with anecdotes and exempla in context and are a relatively short (< 10,000 words; though to be fair, the Pro Milone is similar in length) There is a lot to like about the Letters too, but again, like the legal works, they can be very demanding in terms of background and outside context as well as figuring out the speakers' motivations for writing what they write. Whatever you choose, best with it—read what you enjoy, enjoy what you read. PJB
 

Ater Gladius

Civis Illustris
On pedagogical grounds, the epistulae are good for introductory purposes. If you find them easy, you could always switch to a longer, harder text.

For me, Somnium Scipionis will be my prime recommendation. It does not only summarize Cicero's view de re publica, but also his own philosophy and perhaps also his own self as a person, and also you can take a glimpse at classical cosmology. And I enjoyed it.
 

Aurifex

Aedilis
Staff member
For me, Somnium Scipionis will be my prime recommendation.
Yes, that's a good place to start.
On pedagogical grounds, the epistulae are good for introductory purposes. If you find them easy, you could always switch to a longer, harder text.
I don't think anyone finds Cicero's letters easy relative to his other stuff. Being personal correspondence they often discuss matters only properly known to the correspondents involved and as a consequence they can be quite hard going, even with explanatory notes.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Thank you all for the excellent recommendations! These all seem like great possibilities, but Somnium Scipionis seems particularly interesting, so I think I'll start there. If (hey, who am I kidding? when I have questions...) ;) I'll post them here and hopefully one of you kind people will be able to help me out.

Thanks again! :)
 

malleolus

Civis Illustris
I've always found that students experience difficulties with the Somnium although it is beautiful in its own right. Therefore students mostly start with reading one of his speeches, like those against Catiline or Verres, two of my all-time favourite villains.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
I've always found that students experience difficulties with the Somnium although it is beautiful in its own right.
In what respect? Difficulties with figuring out the syntax, vocabulary etc., or understanding the subject material?
 

malleolus

Civis Illustris
A bit of everything actually, because the somnium is part of Cicero's philosophical work De re publica. You'd have to be familiar with Pythagorean thought I guess as well as with Cicero's philosophical vocabulary - still, my students are about 18 and always find Cicero's ramblings about Carthago tough going.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
A bit of everything actually, because the somnium is part of Cicero's philosophical work De re publica. You'd have to be familiar with Pythagorean thought I guess as well as with Cicero's philosophical vocabulary - still, my students are about 18 and always find Cicero's ramblings about Carthago tough going.
I'm pretty familiar with Plato's Republic, which apparently it's based on (and even more familiar with Dante's cosmology, which Wikipedia tells me was partly modelled on the Somnium...) I have a pretty wide-ranging philosophical background, so I doubt I'll be too confused by the subject matter.

But I can see how an 18-year old student with no philosophical background would find it difficult.

Where do you teach? What levels?
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I'm not at all familiar with Pythagorean thought but as far as I remember I didn't find anything particularly difficult to understand in Somnium Scipionis.

Callaina will probably have a little more difficulty with the Latin itself since she's less experienced than I was when I read it, but I don't think she'll have any problem grasping the philosophical ideas once she's figured out the grammar.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Okay, I warned I'd be back with questions, so here goes:

(10) Post autem apparatu regio accepti sermonem in multam noctem produximus, cum senex nihil nisi de Africano loqueretur omniaque eius non facta solum, sed etiam dicta meminisset.

I'm very confused by the bolded spot, and though I think I get the rest, I'm not 100% sure. My best attempt:

"And afterwards, we drew out our conversation...[??]...long into the night, because the old man spoke of nothing but Africanus and remembered, not only all the things done of [i.e. by?] him, but also his words."

But try as I might, I'm stuck on those three missing words. Help, please?
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Apparatu regio accepti = received with a regal pomp.

The cum clause seems to be simply circumstancial rather than causal (it doesn't really make sense to say that they went on talking long into the night specifically because he talked about nothing but the African.). So "as the old man spoke..."

Eius facta = his deeds.
 

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
accepti is a perfect participle in agreement with the subject: 'having been received/welcomed with'.


ETA:
The cum clause seems to be simply circumstancial rather than causal (it doesn't really make sense to say that they went on talking long into the night specifically because he talked about nothing but the African.). So "as the old man spoke..."
He's talking specifically about Scipio Africanus. Perhaps you already knew this, but I don't think he's typically referred to as 'the African' in English, so your translation might be misleading.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Apparatu regio accepti = received with a regal pomp.
Eius facta = his deeds.
Thanks, that makes more sense.

The cum clause seems to be simply circumstancial rather than causal (it doesn't really make sense to say that they went on talking long into the night specifically because he talked about nothing but the African.). So "as the old man spoke..."
It made sense to me -- after all, Scipio seems particularly eager to hear about Africanus and all his deeds/sayings/etc, so it does follow that if he meets someone who remembers all those things, they're going to talk late into the night.

What is the background here, anyway? I know (from doing some Googling before I started reading this) that Africanus is Scipio's adopted grandfather. I take it he died long before the story starts. How did he come to adopt Scipio as his grandson, and how does this old man (Masinissa) know all these things about him -- were they friends or colleagues?
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
It made sense to me -- after all, Scipio seems particularly eager to hear about Africanus and all his deeds/sayings/etc, so it does follow that if he meets someone who remembers all those things, they're going to talk late into the night.
I don't know, making it causal just doesn't feel as right to me — as if the ideas didn't quite match.
What is the background here, anyway? I know (from doing some Googling before I started reading this) that Africanus is Scipio's adopted grandfather. I take it he died long before the story starts. How did he come to adopt Scipio as his grandson, and how does this old man (Masinissa) know all these things about him -- were they friends or colleagues?
If I remember correctly, Masinissa was an ally against Hannibal. I don't know anything else.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
I don't know, making it causal just doesn't feel as right to me — as if the ideas didn't quite match.
Well, you're probably right -- you've been doing this for a lot longer than I have! Thanks. :)
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Well there's possibly a slight causal nuance, but it doesn't seem downright causal to me. An "as" clause (which also happens to have the advantage of having the same possible ambiguity between temporal/circumstancial and causal as cum :p) seems a better translation than a "because" one.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Two little spots I'm unsure of (still in section 10) -- help/feedback is much appreciated, thanks :)

Deinde, ut cubitum discessimus, me et de via fessum, et qui ad multam noctem vigilassem*, artior, quam solebat, somnus complexus est.
Then, when we had gone to bed, sleep -- as it is wont to do -- closely enfolded me (being weary from the voyage) who [otherwise?] would have remained awake much of the night.

Hic mihi -- credo equidem ex hoc, quod eramus locuti; fit enim fere, ut** cogitationes sermonesque nostri pariant aliquid in somno tale, quale de Homero scribit Ennius, de quo videlicet saepissime vigilans solebat cogitare et loqui—Africanus se ostendit ea forma, quae mihi ex imagine eius quam ex ipso erat notior; quem ubi agnovi, equidem cohorrui, sed ille: 'Ades,' inquit, 'animo et omitte timorem, Scipio, et, quae dicam, trade memoriae!'
Then -- from, I truly believe, what we had spoken of; for it generally happens, that our thoughts and words produce such things in our sleep, just as Ennius writes about Homer (of whom he, while waking, was obviously accustomed to think and speak most frequently) -- Africanus showed himself to me in the form which I had known more from his picture [or, from the memory of him?] than from Africanus himself [i.e. in person]; as I recognized him, I shivered indeed, but he said: "Attend and put aside your fear, Scipio, and commit to memory what I will say!"

* I'm not sure about this pluperfect subjunctive.
** And I'm confused by this ut (and the subjunctive pariant a few words later) -- I'm guessing it just means "that" (i.e. "it often comes about that X happens") but I'm not sure since I haven't seen this use of it before.
 
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