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Defence Speeches by Marcus Tullius Cicero
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's review
Jan 15, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: history
Read in January, 2012

ORATIONS. (80-44B.C.) Cicero (106-43B.C.). ****.
This collection of Cicero’s Orations published by The Folio Society was culled from a two-volume set released by Oxford University Press in 2008 and 2009. The translater wasD. H. Berry, who also provided an introduction and notes for each piece. The illustrations were by Tom Phillips, done in a modern style as if Cicero were a present day attorney. There is a long history of these Orations being read by most of our greatest men in politics and other leadership roles – simply to try and learn from Cicero how to best frame either a prosecution or a defense. Cicero, at the time, made sure that these Orations (I might use the work Arguments) received general circulation by recording them himself – and polishing them in the process – and assuring wide readership by having a team of copyists mass produce them. I am amazed at the sheer volume of texts which have come down to us over the years. Cicero was – for a while – a member of the Roman Senate and acted much as our present day attornies in pleading for his clients. In those days, attorneys were not paid for their services, but there was always a quid pro quo (note my use of Latin!). In exchange for success in front of the Senate or special tribunals, Cicero was able to advance his career in the Roman hierarchy through reciprocal favors granted by either his clients or their families. Even a man with his silver tongue had to be careful, however, since you can’t please everyone. He did manage to get himself exiled a couple of times, and at the end of his career, he was murdered by his enemies: his head and hands were chopped off. Cicero approached each case in a unique way, probing for weaknesses in his adversaries arguments. He made use of humor, irony and reference to classical behaviors. His orations have been studied by men as diverse as Winston Churchill and Barack Obama in their quest to better their deliveries. Thee are lots of editions of these works out there, but I would highly recommend that you find one utilizing these translations. They are totally readable. Recommended.
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message 1: by Sara (new)

Sara I just read a reference to his death in my Rome guidebook - I'm going to Rome soon. Grisly but not unusual for those days. I suppose they chopped off his hands FIRST? Poor man. I'd like to read these on Kindle - wonder if those translations are bearable?

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