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Selected Works

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,041 ratings  ·  57 reviews
• Introduction by Michael Grant
Against Verres, I
• twenty-three letters
The Second Philippic Against Antony
On Duties, III
On Old Age
• Appendices inc. maps, genealogy, definitions.

First published 1960; reprinted w/revisions 1965; reprinted w/additional revisions 1971.
Paperback, 3rd edition, 272 pages
Published August 26th 2004 by Penguin Classics (first published -43)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,041 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Selected Works - A collection of classic writings of the great Roman orator/statesman/philosopher Cicero, an excellent book for anyone approaching his work for the first time. Not only are there selections from Cicero’s writings on politics, moral philosophy and old age but there is a superb thirty page introduction written by Michael Grant. Thank you, Penguin and thank you, Michael Grant! To provide a little Roman rasa, below are several quotes from the book along with my comments.

From Michael
I knew I'd love Cicero long before I picked up this book. I knew I would because he was a guy who thought a house should be full of books, because he thought human beings were honor-bound to take care of each other and because his brain basically never stopped churning out interesting things! What I had not realized was that a lot of his writing (especially his work on ethics) is still very relevant today. It's something that never fails to astonish me with ancient philosophers; their timelessne ...more
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I have students who know more about Rome than I do, and considering that my students only come up to my knees, I am hardly someone to listen to about Rome. That said, I don't think it could do a great deal of harm for more Americans to learn about the life of a man who died trying to defend his Republic against the tide of Empire.

Sure this collection has its boring moments, but Michael Grant does his best to piece together a portrait of Cicero's life and career without inflicting too much pain
Jacob Aitken
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
The selection of these works goes in order of ascending quality. His “Against Verres” is an early snapshot of his rhetorical career. His letters, while often whining in tone, are a remarkable glimpse into late Roman Republican life. The real quality, however, are the two final works, “On Duties” and “On Old Age.”

“On Duties” is that work that college students should read in their ethics classes. At my liberal arts college, ethics meant simply reading about “hard decisions” and then justifying whi
Roy Lotz
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
It is strangely alluring to contemplate this iconic figure of the ancient world, whose name seems to crop up in every corner of the Western canon. I've seen references to Cicero in works ranging from St. Augustine to James Joyce. His influence on the Western Mind has been profound—according to Michael Grant, incalculable. In terms of politics, philosophy, or prose, Cicero is inescapable.

In fact, I’ve often been given the impression that education used to almost entirely consist of memorizing l
Aug 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
For many in his lifetime and since, Cicero was the embodiment of Plato's dream - a philosophical ruler. This selection gives credit to the man and that distinction, whose writings here are divided between, appropriately, those denouncing tyranny and those discussing morality. But he was an emotional man, too, as the Second Phillipic shows, where, for 50 pages, he attempts to completely destroy Mark Antony, repeatedly abusing him with epithets insulting his intelligence and degenerate sensuality, ...more
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I knew very little about Cicero until I read this book. The introduction is excellent followed by three parts including speeches and essays he wrote. Against Verres is a speech he made against the dangers of tyranny. The essays from On Duties and On Old Age are excellent. One thing I did learn was that Antony was a nasty piece of work although Cicero may have been a bit bias in his hatred of him.

Cicero was and still is influential today. In Roman times he was unsuccessful in stopping the Republ
Apr 29, 2010 added it
I didn't realise how much it was possible to hate Antony
Henrik Haapala
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Which would you prefer to be given, Milo’s physical vigour, or the intellectual might of Pythagoras?”

Quote I’m looking for:

“The best armour of old age is a well spent life preceding it; a life employed in the pursuit of useful knowledge, in honorable actions and the practice of virtue; in which he who labours to improve himself from his youth, will in age reap the happiest fruits of them; not only because these never leave a man, not even in the extremest old age; but because a conscience beari
Jackson Cyril
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Imagine a reader, 2000 years hence, forced to read the orations of Burke or Gladstone in translation and one gets close to the idea of trying to appreciate Cicero in a modern English translation. The wisdom is there, but we have greater moralists today. Perhaps when my Latin improves, I can hear Cicero's thunder in his native language.
Andrew Post
I was kind of hoping this would include a bit more philosophy instead of Cicero's speeches pursuant to his law practice and his philippics against Mark Antony...but I won't lie, those were entertaining to read as well. A well-rounded introduction to Cicero's life, career, and moral philosophy.
Karen Watkins
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Why Cicero? For FUN.
[In the best sense of the word.]

Teachers sometimes hint that Cicero was brilliant: great orator, terrific peephole into Ancient Rome, teaches you how "they" thought, smorgasbord ... Even thinking about such insipid descriptions makes me crave instead a long nap. Shudder. These things are all true, but they sound banal beyond endurance.

What you should know is that reading Cicero is great FUN. He was one of the very political 1% [read: filthy rich] of his time, who loved city
Ben Hector
Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Well done Michael Grant for the translation etc.

Interesting to read his attack on Verres and Marc Antony, but honestly stopped reading half way through Marc Antony so I could get to the letters, then 'On Duties' & 'On Old Age'.

Amazing just how fresh Cicero's writing style is despite 2000 years between my reading and his writing, and also amazing to see his letters to Pompey and Ceasar, very surreal considering their reputations.

On duties: what is right is always advantageous. What may seem adv
Connor Lynch
May 07, 2020 rated it liked it
A collection of essays and letters by who the author characterises as the godfather of modern European prose, to essays and political writings what Plato was to Western philosophy. I started reading mostly to get to his philosophical essays, but I found his letters to be more useful and interesting, and his Philippic quite funny and informative about Roman politics.
Against Verres : I can't say this was extremely interesting, besides suggesting that Cicero was probably a pretty solid lawyer. I w
Bobbie Darbyshire
May 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Ably translated, introduced and annotated by Michael Grant, this is a short, readable selection of Cicero’s works: Against Verres; 23 letters; the second Philippic against Anthony; On duties III; and On old age.
The Oxford Latin course got me interested in Cicero. Robert Harris’s Imperium trilogy and its two-part adaptation for the stage brought him and his times vividly to life, so I was curious to dip into his works. Without that grounding, I would have been bored by this book, I think. The wr
Jasmine Koh
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
"True law is Reason, right and natural, commanding people to fulfill their obligations and prohibiting and deterring them from doing wrong. Its validity is universal; it is immutable and eternal. Its commands and prohibitions apply effectively to good men, and those uninfluenced by them are bad. Any attempt to supersede this law, to repeal any part of it, is sinful; to cancel it entirely is impossible. Neither the Senate nor the Assembly can exempt us from its demands; we need no interpreter or ...more
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had this hanging around for years--found a receipt from Borders in it, and think I probably snagged it from one of tables out on the sidewalk, probably on State, not Liberty, since the receipt says I bought it 11/6/91.

And even after the long wait, I didn't read the whole thing, just "On Duties (III)" and "On Old Age." Very much enjoyed both of them, and will find myself quoting "On Old Age" as the years pile up, I'm sure. One thing he points out is how many old people wished to have a long
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: I did not read the whole of this book, contenting myself with The Second Philippic and On Duties.

The Second Philippic was delightful and easy to read. Mark Antony was thoroughly vituperated.

On Duties was also interesting, though questionable. If “nature” is replaced with God, and the ideas about assassination of governmental authorities were different, then it would have been very commendable. As it is, however, Cicero was a remarkably virtuous ancient Roman from what I can se
Michael Parisi
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, philosophy
This book introduces the reader to both Cicero, the great statesman, and a brief political-social history of Rome at his time. The sections of Cicero’s translated writings tremendously demonstrate his character: his political genius, oratory skills, patriotism, and philosophical insight. Michael Grant, the translator, also provides historical background of key events that happened within the Roman Empire at the time. This helps the reader to understand the context of Cicero’s writings, and, cons ...more
Mark York
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a very approachable book on philosophy and politics from the first century BC. Cicero's writings are nearly as relevant today as they were in his time. He was also a foundational influence on most of our American founding fathers, and as such, reading him is a great basis from which to understand our legal and cultural systems.
Zachary Rudolph
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Nobody who falls short of this perfect wisdom can possibly claim perfect goodness: its semblance is the most he can acquire. And these are the men, the ordinary men falling short of the ideal, whose moral obligations form the subject of my present work.”
Leila Bowers
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Our culture could use a little more Cicero - the Omnibus class thoroughly enjoyed the rhetoric in here, as well as the scathing snark.
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I'm sure I enjoyed this more than my students did.
Mark Mulvey
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
His essay “On Old Age” is worth the price of admission alone.
Scott Cox
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) was renown as the great Roman lawyer, philosopher, orator and statesman. Cicero lived during the volatile era of Julius Caesar, Pompey, Brutus, Cassius, Octavian and Mark Anthony. He was no friend of dictators (Caesar, Antony), and always a champion of republican ethics and ideals. J.A.K. Thomson notes that “Cicero is the greatest of all letter-writers,” there being approximately sixteen extant books of his writings. This collection contains five major samplings ...more
Aug 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I think reading Cicero's worth spending my time in exploring the works by one of the greatest orators in the ancient world. We may come across some statements we can't understand, I think that's quite all right since reading his messages written around 2,000 years ago might take time to digest for his readers in the 21st century.

However, I think reading his works is like listening to a professor teach/guide you, not a philospher at all. In other words, we can learn and apply in our daily lives
Jan 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-ancient
I’ve read some of Cicero’s political speeches before and while they do speak volumes on Cicero’s rhetorical skills, the selections present in this particular volume show a much more human side of him. I didn’t find the political speech Against Verres to be his finest, but the bits and pieces of correspondence that came after it just made me want to read more of it. I can imagine how illuminating the entire correspondence would be in relation to the way of thinking that existed in Rome at that ti ...more
Shawn Thrasher
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Cicero is magnificent, and Grant's translation is fantastic. His "Second Philippic Against Antony" is so deliciously scathing; it's definitely NOT a speech a modern politician could make. Full of the most elegant and witty trash talking I think I've ever read. I can hardly keep all of the sarcastic, bombastic, biting, salt in the wounds catch phrases in my head. Here's a delightful one, about Antony's mother: "Poor woman! Her capacity for child-bearing has indeed been catastrophic." Modern polit ...more
Apr 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Admittedly I'm not well read in regards to Roman writers, but here we go.

I think Cicero would have been Platos ideal ruler, the philosopher king. He was certainly a thoughtful individual for his time.

For his time being the operator sentence. By 2016 standards Cicero sounds like an outraged granny who takes abstract concepts like "justice" as a universal given. Meta philosophy makes Cicero look prehistoric by our current philosophical standards and practices.

That said, one could also see how Cice
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Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. Cicero is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.

Alternate profiles:
Marco Tulio Cicerón

Note: All editions should have Marcus Tullius Cicero as primary author. Editions with another name on the cover should have that name added as seco

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