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On Politics: A History of Political Thought From Herodotus to the Present
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PHILOSOPHY AND POLITICS > WE ARE OPEN - PHILOSOPHY AND POLITICS ~ GLOSSARY - On Politics: A History of Political Thought from Herodotus to the Present (Spoiler Thread)

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Nov 12, 2014 03:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

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This is the Glossary for On Politics. This is not a non spoiler thread so any urls and/or expansive discussion can take place here regarding this book. Additionally, this is the spot to add that additional information that may contain spoilers or any helpful urls, links, etc.

This thread is not to be used for self promotion.

On Politics A History of Political Thought From Herodotus to the Present by Alan Ryan by Alan Ryan (no photo)

Also contains glossary items from The Metaphysical Club

The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand by Louis Menand Louis Menand

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Massachusetts 54th Regiment (2:48) TV-PG

The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was one of the first official black units in the U.S. armed forces. Their courageous assault on Fort Wagner played a key role in bringing about an end to slavery.

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Civil War's Greatest Myth (2:41) TV-PG

What you think you know about the Civil War may not be the whole truth.

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Civil War Turning Point (3:08) TV-PG

Find out what event turned the tide of the Civil War.

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Frederick Douglass (2:25) TV-PG

Find out how Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery to become one of the most respected and effective abolitionist leaders.

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Blacks in the Military (3:12) TV-PG

Learn how blacks serving in WWII helped forward the Civil Rights Movement.

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Legacy of the Civil War (1:22) TV-PG

One hundred and fifty years after it began, the Civil War is still an important component of our national character.

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Civil War in One Word (1:13) TV-PG

If you had just one word to describe the Civil War, what would it be?

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Abraham Lincoln
Video Clip (3:48)

Today he is known as one of the greatest American presidents, but at the time of his election no one would have predicted Lincoln's success.

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America and the Civil War (4:04) TV-PG

Discover how the bloodiest war in American history transformed the face of the nation.

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The Abolitionist Movement (3:26) TV-PG

In the decades before the Civil War, anti-slavery sentiment sparked an abolitionist movement that employed risky and radical tactics to bring an end to slavery.

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Origins of Slavery in America
Video Clip (3:01)

In 1619, the Dutch introduced the first captured Africans to America, planting the seeds of a slavery system that evolved into a nightmare of abuse and cruelty that would ultimately divide the nation.

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Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
Video Clip (3:07)

Born a slave, Harriett Tubman became a famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, leading hundreds of slaves to freedom.

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You are welcome Kathy.

Here is an interesting review of the book - done on Portico (very personal feelings revealed)

Review of The Metaphysical Club

The Metaphysical Club, by Louis Menand (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000) is a fine and indispensable book about the United States, and I hope that it wins every available prize for Louis Menand, not only in recognition of his staggering achievement but also as a signal to other writers: the intellectual life of this country has regained currency. If the book has a drawback, it's only that Mr Menand's way with words is quite a bit more pleasing than that of most of the thinkers whose work he cites. Mr Menand shows how far we have come in uniting clarity and comfort. There used to be a stiffness about American writing that suggested, at various times, either an awkward distrust of drawing-room prose, a long heritage of Puritan earnestness, an inferiority complex vis-à-vis Europe that the Great War brought pretty much to a close, or all three at once.

By the time Americans found their own idiom, though, it might have seemed that the Civil War, the defining trauma that shaped the minds showcased in The Metaphysical Club, had been fought to no purpose. It is a bitter thing to acknowledge that the abolition of slavery appears to have deepened white contempt of blacks, rather than the reverse, and that this slippage was encouraged from the top. The Southern contingent among the Rhodes Scholars of 1907-8 protested the award of a scholarship to Alain Locke, a black Harvard graduate from Philadelphia, and the American Club at Oxford refused to invite him to its Thanksgiving Dinner. Another American, Horace Kallen, was outraged, but more by the insult to Harvard than on behalf of the slighted philosopher. "Tho' it is personally repugnant to me to eat with him," Kallen wrote to Barrett Wendell at Harvard, he planned to ask Locke to tea, because "Locke is a Harvard man and as such he has a definite claim on me."

The Metaphysical Club is not primarily about race relations, but Mr Menand has designed the arc of his book to begin and end with them. Each anecdote made me flinch, as though I had never encountered bigotry before. Pained as I was to imagine what a black reader might feel, I was deeply embarrassed for myself. Like most liberal whites, I consider myself to be free of the charge of racist behavior. But I'm not at all sure that I'm right to do so. Reading Horace Kallen's letter, or learning, at the beginning of this book that medical students at Harvard in 1850 blocked the admission of three blacks, all with sterling credentials, two of whom were committed to practice in Liberia, I can't see why any black person would be eager to befriend me.

What The Metaphysical Club is primarily about is pragmatism. This school of philosophy took shape in the minds of men whose youth was bloodied by the imperfectly resolved catastrophe of the Civil War, and blossomed around the turn of the last century. It is a peculiarly American philosophy, but certainly not the most characteristic one; that honor, I'm afraid, must at least be shared with the idealism that steered this country into the Civil War and out of the Cold one. Idealism is a philosophy of revolution, pragmatism one of reform. Pragmatism seeks to tolerate, idealism to purify. The four men at the center of Mr Menand's epic narrative - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, and John Dewey - believed that the only way that America could survive and grow was on a plan of tolerant reform; all save Dewey had found the purifying fires of idealism to be merely destructive. (Indeed, the status of blacks under Jim Crow was only nominally better than it had been before the war, certainly not better enough to warrant the bloodshed.) All save Peirce were uncertain, if not agnostic, about the existence of God; all were certain that the fruits of the industrial revolution must be accepted as profitably as possible. All save Holmes were schooled in philosophy and science; all accepted Darwin.

The Metaphysical Club, which met for a few months in 1872 and was so called only by Peirce, years later, was really the only thing that the four men had in common - the only explanation I can find for Mr Menand's appropriation of its name for his book. Dewey was too young to have taken part, but he attended meetings of another Metaphysical Club that Peirce got going at Johns Hopkins University in the early '80s. It's almost impossible to believe that James or Holmes could have meant the name to be taken seriously. Holmes had no patience for metaphysics, and James inverted it, by proposing that we make things true by believing them. It is unlikely that the discussions would have been recognized as at all metaphysical by Continental philosophers, past or present. Whether idealistic or pragmatists, Americans aren't given to metaphysics, and if Jonathan Galassi and the others at FSG never once urged the author to find a more saleable title, then Louis Menand found himself a very high-minded publisher indeed. (September 2001)

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Here is an interesting url which is called The Essential Menand - which is put together by fans of the author:

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I want to thank you Kathy publicly for doing such a fine job with this glossary - so many interesting people, ideas and books which I hope folks will take the time to look through and read.

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Mataphysical has been been found - thanks Kathy.

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Great adds Kathy - please keep up the great work.

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Thank you Kathy

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ok green - great - I will be setting up the Philosophy folder soon and this will be a great glossary for any philosophy read

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Thanks Kathy - we are getting there.

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Thanks Kathy

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Great adds - this is going to be a great philosophy and politics resource.

message 24: by Teri (new) - added it

Teri (teriboop) Hi James! Thanks for the add and detailed review.

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the "add book/author" feature when you comment. (There is a link on the top right of the comment box.) It makes things so much easier for people to see your book recommendations, because they can see the cover and the links to the author. And it helps the Goodreads software connect books with groups that talk about them.

When citing a book and/or author, please put the book cover, author's photo and author's link at the very bottom of the post after your text. Because it is on the bottom, it calls the reader's attention to the book/author and increases the readability of your posts. When there is no photo of the author, simply place the link then add (no photo) afterwards.

This is how the citation for your book review should look:

Socialism or your money back by SPGB by SPGB (no photo)

When you have a moment, please edit your review and try the citation listed above. The moderators are here to guide you, so if you have any questions or need further help, feel free to ask.

message 25: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 22, 2014 12:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

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Hello James - Teri was most kind but we do not allow links - we ask for the citations because it allows the goodreads software to populate the site and nothing gets lost. Thank you so much for your write-up.

Let me repost your comment here using the proper format:

James stated: (James Hadfield from the UK)

Socialism or your money back

The first issue of the Socialist Standard appeared in September 1904 as the “official organ of the Socialist Party of Great Britain”. The Socialist Party, or SPGB, had been founded in June of the same year by ex-members of the Social Democratic Federation dissatisfied with its lack of internal democracy and with its policy of pursuing reforms of capitalism instead of concentrating on campaigning for socialism.

For them, the sole aim of a socialist party ought to be Socialism, defined as a system of society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by and in the interest of the whole community. They took the view that such a society could only be brought into being through the political action of the working class, as the class of those compelled by economic necessity to sell their mental and physical energies for a wage or salary, when a majority of them had come to realise that they were living in an exploitative, class-divided society and that their interest lay, as the exploited class, in converting the means of production into the common property of society under the democratic control of all the people.

With this approach, and knowing that a majority of their fellow workers were not class conscious in this sense, the members of the new party saw their main task as to propagate socialist ideas amongst their fellow workers. To this end they ran street corner meetings, held public lectures, organised education classes, debated against other parties, contested elections, handed out leaflets, sold pamphlets-—and produced the Socialist Standard.

The Socialist Standard has appeared every month since September 1904, analysing contemporary political, economic and social events and expounding aspects of socialist theory such as Marxian economics and the materialist conception of history. As such its back numbers are an invaluable source of historical material about the period in which they appeared. They also provide a running commentary from a socialist point of view on the key events of the twentieth century as they happened.

Because the Socialist Standard was aimed at the average literate working man and woman—for most of its existence its main outlet was sales at public meetings—it was written in an accessible style that has been compared to popular science writing. In fact, this was essentially how its writers—all of them writing in their free time out of conviction—saw what they were doing. The articles were signed, but discreetly, as the writers were regarded as expressing the view of the party not a personal view.

To mark the centenary of its foundation and of its monthly journal, the Socialist Party is publishing this selection of articles from the Socialist Standard over the last hundred years. Only 69 of the well over ten thousand that must have appeared over the period have been chosen. A choice of what type of article to put in had to be made and it was decided that the articles should be what the Socialist Standard said at the time about the key events in the century that most people will have heard of—such as the sinking of the Titanic, the First World War, the Russian Revolution, the first Labour Government, the General Strike, to go only as far as the 1920s. The articles have been grouped by period, with a short modern introduction.

Inevitably, other types of article had to be omitted, such as basic statements of the case against capitalism or for socialism (interesting as it would have been to compare how this was expressed over the decades) and theoretical articles on aspects of socialist theory (which could have provided material for a separate book—the Socialist Standard had plenty to say on the ideas of Marx, Engels, Kautsky, Plekhanov, Rosa Luxemburg, Daniel De Leon, Lenin, Trotsky and the others as well as on anarchism and syndicalism).

Also having to be omitted are all but two of the articles, which began to appear with increasing regularity from the 1970s onward, dealing with some of the practical aspects of how a socialist society—as a democratic society and one with no buying and selling or money—could function and orient the production and distribution of wealth to meet people’s needs. Excluding such articles was a difficult decision, especially as the Socialist Party is particularly proud of the fact that one of the things we have succeeded in doing over the past hundred years has been to have kept alive the original idea of what a socialist society was to be—a classless, stateless, frontierless, wageless, moneyless society, to define it somewhat negatively, or, more positively, a world community in which the natural and industrial resources of the planet will have become the common heritage of all humanity, a democratic society in which free and equal men and women co-operate to produce the things they need to live and enjoy life, to which they have free access in accordance with the principle “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”.

A hundred years ago, when the Socialist Party was formed, there was widespread agreement that this was what Socialism meant, despite disagreements as to how to get there. Unfortunately, as a result of the failure in the intervening period of both gradualist reformism and Leninist dictatorship this is no longer the case. Reformists, who believed that capitalism could be gradually transformed through a series of social reform measures into a better society, themselves ended up being transformed into routine managers of the capitalist system. The Bolsheviks, who seized power as a minority under Lenin and Trotsky in Russia in 1917, ended up developing capitalism there in the form of a state capitalism under a one-party dictatorship. Both failures have given socialism a quite different—and unattractive—meaning: state ownership and control, even state dictatorship, which is what, as the Socialist Standard was pointing out even before both policies were tried, is more properly called state capitalism.

This has been represented as the “failure of socialism”. But socialism in its original sense has never been tried. If those who are committed to the interest of the majority class of wage and salary earners and who want a better society to replace capitalism are not to make the same mistakes of reformism and minority revolution that dominated radical thinking and action in the twentieth century, they need to return to the original idea of socialism and to the understanding that the quickest way to get there is to campaign for Socialism directly and as a matter of urgency. This book is aimed at contributing to that understanding.


May 2004

Socialism or your money back by SPGB by SPGB (no photo)

message 26: by James (new)

James Hadfield (jamesh81) | 4 comments Thank you, I know what you mean now ! .... ! :-) :-) :-) :-) ! !

message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 01, 2015 02:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

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This is where we will be adding additional bibliography for On Politics: A History of Political Thought from Herodotus to the Present by Alan Ryan.

On Politics A History of Political Thought From Herodotus to the Present by Alan Ryan by Alan Ryan (no photo)

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There are various schools of political thought and theory. and approaches.

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The Chicago School (Leo Strauss)

The Leo Strauss Center seeks to promote the serious study of Leo Strauss's thought primarily through the preservation and publication of the unpublished written and audio record that he left behind.

Leo Strauss is increasingly recognized as one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. His research stimulated significant developments in the study of ancient and modern political philosophy, American political thought (especially the founding), classics, Jewish studies, and Islamic studies, among other fields. He is widely known for defending natural right, especially in its classical form, against the challenges of relativism and historicism, reopening the quarrel between the ancients and the moderns in political philosophy, emphasizing philosophy as a way of life, sharply criticizing value-free social science, stressing the centrality of the theological-political problem, and distinguishing between the exoteric and esoteric teachings of writers of the past. Strauss published penetrating interpretations of writings by a wide range of figures, poets as well as philosophers, going far beyond the conventional canon of figures studied in the field of Western political theory, including not only Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, Marsilius of Padua, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Nietzsche, Weber, and Carl Schmitt, but also the Bible, Aristophanes, Xenophon, Lucretius, Al-Farabi, Judah Halevi, Maimonides, Lessing, Moses Mendelssohn, Herman Cohen, and Heidegger. Scholars for generations to come will respond to his challenging interpretations of fundamental texts.

Strauss left behind a large collection of unpublished papers. The Leo Strauss archive in the Special Collection Research Center of the University of Chicago library holds an estimated 25,000 pages, including correspondence, manuscripts and typescripts of lectures and papers, and notes. A summary guide to the collection can be consulted online. An extensive record of Strauss's teaching exists in the form of audiotapes of classes, transcripts made from the tapes, notes compiled by students of his classes, and in some cases Strauss’s own class notes. Partial or complete sets of tapes for 26 courses (including two sessions of a course on Montesquieu in autumn 1965 that was cancelled and the only session of the course on the Gorgias Strauss began just before his death in 1973) and one reading group have survived. There will be transcripts for 44 courses and one reading group.

Nathan Tarcov, Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, the Department of Political Science, and the College at the University of Chicago serves as the Leo Strauss Center’s director. Stephen Gregory is its administrative coordinator and managing editor.

Their efforts to preserve and prepare for publication the unpublished Strauss papers began in 1998 under the supervision of Professor Joseph Cropsey, then serving as the literary executor of Leo Strauss. The University of Chicago’s John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy, directed by Tarcov and administered by Gregory, began word processing the typescripts of the class transcripts and student notes and the digital remastering of 14 and part of a fifteenth of the original audiotapes of the Strauss courses. This effort was carried forward by the University’s Center for Study of the Principles of the American Founding, also directed by Tarcov and administered by Gregory, which arranged in 2006 for the completion of the digital remastering of the tapes of one course.

The Leo Strauss Center intends to:
Edit the course transcripts for publication, using digitally remastered audio files when they are available to improve the accuracy of the transcript.

Seek publication of selected transcripts in print.

Publish all of the course transcripts on the Center's Web site.

Publish digitally remastered audiofiles made from the original audiotapes on the Center's Web site.

Digitally remaster and transcribe audiotapes housed at the Newberger Hillel Center at the University of Chicago of occasional lectures, many of them dealing with Jewish topics, given by Strauss and publish them on the Center's Web site and in some cases in print.

Digitize documents in the Leo Strauss archive in the Special Collections Research Center to preserve them and make them more available to scholars and students.

Publish selected digitized documents from the Leo Strauss archive on the Center's Web site and in some cases in print.

Enhance the Leo Strauss archive by providing an itemized finding aid, and by rehousing and improving the storage of the original documents.

Preserve the digitally remastered audio recordings of Strauss's courses and occasional lectures, the text files of the transcripts, and the digitized copies of the documents in the Leo Strauss archive by depositing them in the University of Chicago Library Digital Archive.

As conditions allow, conduct programs to support and encourage the scholarly study of Strauss's thought and publicize the availability of the materials on the Web site and in the archive, including occasional conferences or lectures and research projects devoted to Strauss's thought.

Read about the Leo Strauss Center in the Wall Street Journal: “Leo Strauss: Back and Better Than Ever.” (Source: The University of Chicago:

Natural Right and History by Leo Strauss Thoughts on Machiavelli by Leo Strauss History of Political Philosophy by Leo Strauss The Argument and the Action of Plato's Laws by Leo Strauss Xenophon's Socrates by Leo Strauss What Is Political Philosophy? And Other Studies by Leo Strauss Spinoza's Critique of Religion by Leo Strauss Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy by Leo Strauss The Argument and the Action of Plato's 'Laws' by Leo Strauss all by Leo Strauss Leo Strauss

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The new Cicero

Charlotte Higgins writes:

"Barack Obama's speeches are much admired and endlessly analysed, but, says Charlotte Higgins, one of their most interesting aspects is the enormous debt they owe to the oratory of the Romans

By Charlotte Higgins in The Guardian

In the run-up to the US presidential election, the online magazine Slate ran a series of dictionary definitions of "Obamaisms". One ran thus: "Barocrates (buh-ROH-cruh-teez) n. An obscure Greek philosopher who pioneered a method of teaching in which sensitive topics are first posed as questions then evaded."

There were other digs at Barack Obama that alluded to ancient Greece and Rome. When he accepted the Democratic party nomination, he did so before a stagey backdrop of doric columns. Republicans said this betrayed delusions of grandeur: this was a temple out of which Obama would emerge like a self-styled Greek god. (Steve Bell also discerned a Romanness in the image, and drew Obama for this paper as a toga-ed emperor.) In fact, the resonance of those pillars was much more complicated than the Republicans would have it. They recalled the White House, which itself summoned up visual echoes of the Roman republic, on whose constitution that of the US is based. They recalled the Lincoln Memorial, before which Martin Luther King delivered his "I have a dream" speech. They recalled the building on which the Lincoln Memorial is based - the Parthenon. By drawing us symbolically to Athens, we were located at the very birthplace of democracy."

Read remainder of the article:

Source: The Guardian

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Ted Cruz: Confused About Cicero

What the Texas Republican misrepresents about treason and politics in the Roman Republic

"For better than two millennia, politicians have invoked classical Greek and Roman literature to construct, defend, and challenge ideologies of power. On Thursday, November 20, Senator Ted Cruz channeled his inner Cicero and delivered his own rendition of “In Catilinam (Against Catiline)” to denounce President Obama’s planned executive actions on immigration reform. “The words of Cicero—powerfully relevant 2,077 years later,” said Cruz, who adapted Cicero’s text to fit his 21st-century American context. In quoting Cicero, Cruz reached back to Harry Truman and Thomas Jefferson, who also were avid readers of the Roman philosopher, statesman, and orator.

Remainder of article:

Source: The Atlantic

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The Cicero Homepage

Source: The University of Texas at Austin

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Marcus Tullius Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero, English byname Tully (born 106 bce, Arpinum, Latium [now Arpino, Italy]—died Dec. 7, 43 bce, Formiae, Latium [now Formia]), Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, and writer who vainly tried to uphold republican principles in the final civil wars that destroyed the Roman Republic. His writings include books of rhetoric, orations, philosophical and political treatises, and letters. He is remembered in modern times as the greatest Roman orator and the innovator of what became known as Ciceronian rhetoric.

Early life and career

Cicero was the son of a wealthy family of Arpinium. Admirably educated in Rome and in Greece, he did military service in 89 under Pompeius Strabo (the father of the statesman and general Pompey) and made his first appearance in the courts defending Publius Quinctius in 81. His brilliant defense, in 80 or early 79, of Sextus Roscius against a fabricated charge of parricide established his reputation at the bar, and he started his public career as quaestor (an office of financial administration) in western Sicily in 75.

As praetor, a judicial officer of great power at this time, in 66 he made his first important political speech, when, against Quintus Lutatius Catulus and leading Optimates (the conservative element in the Roman Senate), he spoke in favour of conferring on Pompey command of the campaign against Mithradates VI, king of Pontus (in northeastern Anatolia). His relationship with Pompey, whose hatred of Marcus Licinius Crassus he shared, was to be the focal point of his career in politics. His election as consul for 63 was achieved through Optimates who feared the revolutionary ideas of his rival, Catiline.

In the first of his consular speeches, he opposed the agrarian bill of Servilius Rullus, in the interest of the absent Pompey; but his chief concern was to discover and make public the seditious intentions of Catiline, who, defeated in 64, appeared again at the consular elections in 63 (over which Cicero presided, wearing armour beneath his toga). Catiline lost and planned to carry out armed uprisings in Italy and arson in Rome. Cicero had difficulty in persuading the Senate of the danger, but the “last decree” (Senatus consultum ultimum), something like a proclamation of martial law, was passed on October 22. On November 8, after escaping an attempt on his life, Cicero delivered the first speech against Catiline in the Senate, and Catiline left Rome that night. Evidence incriminating the conspirators was secured and, after a senatorial debate in which Cato the Younger spoke for execution and Julius Caesar against, they were executed on Cicero’s responsibility. Cicero, announcing their death to the crowd with the single word vixerunt (“they are dead”), received a tremendous ovation from all classes, which inspired his subsequent appeal in politics to concordia ordinum, “concord between the classes.” He was hailed by Catulus as “father of his country.” This was the climax of his career.

Alliance with the First Triumvirate

At the end of 60, Cicero declined Caesar’s invitation to join the political alliance of Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey, the so-called First Triumvirate, which he considered unconstitutional, and also Caesar’s offer in 59 of a place on his staff in Gaul. When Publius Clodius, whom Cicero had antagonized by speaking and giving evidence against him when he was tried for profanity early in 61, became tribune in 58, Cicero was in danger, and in March, disappointed by Pompey’s refusal to help him, fled Rome. On the following day Clodius carried a bill forbidding the execution of a Roman citizen without trial. Clodius then carried through a second law, of doubtful legality, declaring Cicero an exile. Cicero went first to Thessalonica, in Macedonia, and then to Illyricum. In 57, thanks to the activity of Pompey and particularly the tribune Titus Annius Milo, he was recalled on August 4. Cicero landed at Brundisium (Brindisi) on that day and was acclaimed all along his route to Rome, where he arrived a month later.

In winter 57–56 Cicero attempted unsuccessfully to estrange Pompey from Caesar. Pompey disregarded Cicero’s advice and renewed his compact with Caesar and Crassus at Luca in April 56. Cicero then agreed, under pressure from Pompey, to align himself with the three in politics, and he committed himself in writing to this effect (the “palinode”). The speech De provinciis consularibus (On the Consular Provinces) marked his new alliance. He was obliged to accept a number of distasteful defenses, and he abandoned public life. In the next few years he completed the De oratore (55; On the Orator) and De republica (52; On the Republic) and began the De legibus (52; On Laws). In 52 he was delighted when Milo killed Clodius but failed disastrously in his defense of Milo (later written for publication, the Pro Milone, or For Milo).

In 51 he was persuaded to leave Rome to govern the province of Cilicia, in southern Anatolia, for a year. The province had been expecting a Parthian invasion, but it never materialized, although Cicero did suppress some brigands on Mt. Amanus. The Senate granted a supplicatio (a period of public thanksgiving), although Cicero had hoped for a triumph, a processional return through the city, on his return to Rome. All admitted that he governed Cilicia with integrity.

By the time Cicero returned to Rome, Pompey and Caesar were struggling for complete power. He was on the outskirts of Rome when Caesar crossed the Rubicon and invaded Italy in January 49. Cicero met Pompey outside Rome on January 17 and accepted a commission to supervise recruiting in Campania. He did not leave Italy with Pompey on March 17, however. His indecision was not discreditable, though his criticism of Pompey’s strategy was inexpert. In an interview with Caesar on March 28, Cicero showed great courage in stating his own terms—his intention of proposing in the Senate that Caesar should not pursue the war against Pompey any further—though they were terms that Caesar could not possibly accept. He disapproved of Caesar’s dictatorship; yet he realized that in the succession of battles (which continued until 45) he would have been one of the first victims of Caesar’s enemies, had they triumphed. This was his second period of intensive literary production, works of this period including the Brutus, Paradoxa Stoicorum (Paradoxes of the Stoics), and Orator (The Orator) in 46; De finibus (On the Supreme Good) in 45; and Tusculanae disputationes (Tusculan Disputations), De natura deorum (On the Nature of the Gods), and De officiis (On Duties), finished after Caesar’s murder, in 44.

Last months

Cicero was not involved in the conspiracy to kill Caesar on March 15, 44, and was not present in the Senate when he was murdered. On March 17 he spoke in the Senate in favour of a general amnesty, but then he returned to his philosophical writing and contemplated visiting his son, who was studying in Athens. But instead he returned to Rome at the end of August, and his 14 Philippic orations (so called in imitation of Demosthenes’ speeches against Philip II of Macedonia), the first delivered on Sept. 2, 44, the last on April 21, 43, mark his vigorous reentry into politics. His policy was to make every possible use of Caesar’s adopted son Octavian (the future emperor Augustus), whose mature intelligence he seriously underestimated, and to drive the Senate, against its own powerful inclination toward compromise, to declare war on Mark Antony, who had controlled events immediately following Caesar’s death and who now was pursuing one of the assassins in Cisalpine Gaul. No letters survive to show how Octavian deceived Cicero in the interval between the defeat of Antony in Cisalpine Gaul on April 14 and Octavian’s march on Rome to secure the consulship in August. It was in May that Octavian learned of Cicero’s unfortunate remark that “the young man should be given praise, distinctions—and then be disposed of.” The Second Triumvirate of Octavian, Antony, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus was formed at the end of October, and Cicero was soon being sought for execution. He was captured and killed near Caieta on December 7. His head and hands were displayed on the rostra, the speakers’ platform at the Forum, in Rome.

In politics Cicero constantly denigrated his opponents and exaggerated the virtues of his friends. As a “new man,” a man without noble ancestry, he was never accepted by the dominant circle of Optimates, and he attributed his own political misfortunes after 63 partly to the jealousy, partly to the spineless unconcern, of the complacent Optimates. The close political association with Pompey for which he longed was never achieved. He was more ready than some men to compromise ideals in order to preserve the republic, but, though he came to admit in the De republica that republican government required the presence of a powerful individual—an idealized Pompey perhaps—to ensure its stability, he showed little appreciation of the intrinsic weaknesses of Roman republican administration.

Letters and poetry

From Cicero’s correspondence between 67 and July 43 bce more than 900 letters survive, and, of the 835 written by Cicero himself, 416 were addressed to his friend, financial adviser, and publisher, the knight Titus Pomponius Atticus, and 419 to one or other of some 94 different friends, acquaintances, and relatives. The number obviously constitutes only a small portion of the letters that Cicero wrote and received. Many letters that were current in antiquity have not survived; for instance, the account of the suppression of Catiline’s conspiracy, mentioned in the Pro Sulla and Pro Plancio, which Cicero sent to Pompey at the end of 63; Pompey hardly as much as acknowledged it, and Cicero was mocked about it in public later. Many letters were evidently suppressed for political reasons after Cicero’s death.

There are four collections of the letters: to Atticus (Ad Atticum) in 16 books; to his friends (Ad familiares) in 16 books; to Brutus (Ad Brutum); and, in 3 books, to his brother (Ad Quintum fratrem). The letters constitute a primary historical source such as exists for no other part of the ancient world. They often enable events to be dated with a precision that would not otherwise be possible, and they have been used, though with no very great success, to discredit the accuracy of Caesar’s commentaries on the civil war. On the other hand, his reporting of events, naturally enough, is not objective, and he was capable of misremembering or misrepresenting past events so as to enhance his own credit.

Cicero is a minor but by no means negligible figure in the history of Latin poetry. His best-known poems (which survive only in fragments) were the epics De consulatu suo (On His Consulship) and De temporibus suis (On His Life and Times), which were criticized in antiquity for their self-praise. Cicero’s verse is technically important; he refined the hexameter, using words of two or three syllables at the end of a line, so that the natural word accent would coincide with the beat of the metre, and applying rhetorical devices to poetry; he is one of those who made possible the achievement of Virgil.
(Source: The Encyclopedia Britannica)

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Cicero made his reputation as an orator in politics and in the law courts, where he preferred appearing for the defense and generally spoke last because of his emotive powers. Unfortunately, not all his cases were as morally sound as the attack on the governor of Sicily, Gaius Verres, which was perhaps his most famous case. In his day Roman orators were divided between “Asians,” with a rich, florid, grandiose style, of which Quintus Hortensius was the chief exponent, and the direct simplicity of the “Atticists,” such as Caesar and Brutus. Cicero refused to attach himself to any school. He was trained by Molon of Rhodes, whose own tendencies were eclectic, and he believed that an orator should command and blend a variety of styles. He made a close study of the rhythms that were likely to appeal to an audience, especially in the closing cadences of a sentence or phrase. His fullness revolutionized the writing of Latin; he is the real creator of the “periodic” style, in which phrase is balanced against phrase, with subordinate clauses woven into a complex but seldom obscure whole. Cicero’s rhetoric was a complex art form, and the ears of the audience were keenly attuned to these effects. Of the speeches, 58 have survived, some in an incomplete form; it is estimated that about 48 have been lost.

Cicero in Brutus implicitly gives his own description of his equipment as an orator—a thorough knowledge of literature, a grounding in philosophy, legal expertise, a storehouse of history, the capacity to tie up an opponent and reduce the jury to laughter, the ability to lay down general principles applicable to the particular case, entertaining digressions, the power of rousing the emotions of anger or pity, the faculty of directing his intellect to the point immediately essential. This is not an unjust picture. It is the humanitas of the speeches that turns them from an ephemeral tour de force into a lasting possession. His humour is at its best in his bantering of the Stoics in Pro Murena in order to discredit Cato, who was among the prosecutors, and at its most biting when he is attacking Clodia in Pro Caelio. His capacity for arousing anger may be seen in the opening sentences of the first speech against Catiline and, for arousing pity, in the last page of Pro Milone. His technique in winning a case against the evidence is exemplified by Pro Cluentio, a speech in an inordinately complex murder trial; Cicero later boasted of “throwing dust in the jurymen’s eyes.”


Cicero studied philosophy under the Epicurean Phaedrus (c. 140–70 bce), the Stoic Diodotus (died c. 60 bce), and the Academic Philo of Larissa (c. 160–80 bce), and thus he had a thorough grounding in three of the four main schools of philosophy. Cicero called himself an Academic, but this applied chiefly to his theory of knowledge, in which he preferred to be guided by probability rather than to allege certainty; in this way, he justified contradictions in his own works (see also epistemology: Ancient Skepticism). In ethics he was more inclined to dogmatism and was attracted by the Stoics, but for his authority he looked behind the Stoics to Socrates. In religion he was an agnostic most of his life, but he had religious experiences of some profundity during an early visit to Eleusis and at the death of his daughter in 45. He usually writes as a theist, but the only religious exaltation in his writings is to be found in the “Somnium Scipionis” (“Scipio’s Dream”) at the end of De republica.

Cicero did not write seriously on philosophy before about 54, a period of uneasy political truce, when he seems to have begun De republica, following it with De legibus (begun in 52). These writings were an attempt to interpret Roman history in terms of Greek political theory. The bulk of his philosophical writings belong to the period between February 45 and November 44. His output and range of subjects were astonishing: the lost De consolatione, prompted by his daughter’s death; Hortensius, an exhortation to the study of philosophy, which proved instrumental in St. Augustine’s conversion; the difficult Academica (Academic Philosophy), which defends suspension of judgement; De finibus, (is it pleasure, virtue, or something more complex?); and De officiis (Moral Obligation). Except in the last book of De officiis, Cicero lays no claim to originality in these works. Writing to Atticus, he says of them, “They are transcripts; I simply supply words, and I’ve plenty of those.” His aim was to provide Rome with a kind of philosophical encyclopaedia. He derived his material from Stoic, Academic, Epicurean, and Peripatetic sources. The form he used was the dialogue, but his models were Aristotle and the scholar Heracleides Ponticus rather than Plato. Cicero’s importance in the history of philosophy is as a transmitter of Greek thought. In the course of this role, he gave Rome and, therefore, Europe its philosophical vocabulary.

John Ferguson
John P.V. Dacre Balsdon
(Source: Encyclopedia Britiannica -

Video: (On the Nature of the Gods)

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Glossary on Cicero continued:

Marcus Tullius Cicero - Continued

Books (speeches mainly) and Publications by Cicero:

De Officiis On Duties; or, On Obligations EasyRead Edition  by Marcus Tullius Cicero Letters to His Friends (Classical Resources Series) by Marcus Tullius Cicero Tusculan Disputations On the Nature of the Gods, and on the Commonwealth by Marcus Tullius Cicero On the Commonwealth by Marcus Tullius Cicero Letters To Atticus, vol. 2 by Marcus Tullius Cicero Letters to Atticus, Vol. 5-6 by Marcus Tullius Cicero Brutus or History of Famous Orators Also His Orator or Accomplished Speaker by Marcus Tullius Cicero Rhetorica Volume II Brutus, Orator, de Optimo Genere Oratorum, Partitiones Oratoriae, Topica by Marcus Tullius Cicero Verrine Oration II.4 With Notes and Vocabulary by Marcus Tullius Cicero Pro Caelio by Marcus Tullius Cicero M. Tulli Ciceronis Scripta Quae Manserunt Omnia, Fasc 23, Orationes in P. Vatinium Testem. Pro M. Caelio by Marcus Tullius Cicero Friendship by Marcus Tullius Cicero The Fragmentary Speeches An Edition with Commentary by Marcus Tullius Cicero Letters of January to April 43 BC by Marcus Tullius Cicero Discursos III by Marcus Tullius Cicero Topica by Marcus Tullius Cicero Speech on Behalf of Publius Sestius by Marcus Tullius Cicero Select Orations and Letters of Cicero With an Introduction, Notes, and Vocabulary by Marcus Tullius Cicero Pro P. Sulla Oratio by Marcus Tullius Cicero Thoughts Of Cicero On The Following Subjects Religion, Man, Conscience, The Passions, Wisdom, Probity, Eloquence, Friendship, Old Age And Death by Marcus Tullius Cicero Letters to Atticus, vol. 3 by Marcus Tullius Cicero On Academic Scepticism by Marcus Tullius Cicero Thre Bokes of Duties, to Marcus His Sonne, Turned Oute of Latine Into English by Marcus Tullius Cicero The Odes by Marcus Tullius Cicero Correspondance by Marcus Tullius Cicero Tusculan Disputations by Marcus Tullius Cicero Letters of January to April 43 BC by Marcus Tullius Cicero Letters to Atticus, vol. 6 by Marcus Tullius Cicero Rhetorica Volume I Libros de Oratore Tres by Marcus Tullius Cicero Three Books of Offices, or Moral Duties by Marcus Tullius Cicero Selected Letters by Marcus Tullius Cicero The Nature of the Gods by Marcus Tullius Cicero Brutus or History of Famous Orators by Marcus Tullius Cicero The Complete Works of Marcus Tullius Cicero, Tr. by Melmoth, Guthrie, and Middleton. to Which Are Now First Added a Series of Dissertations from the A by Marcus Tullius Cicero De Amicitia, on Friendship and Scipio's Dream by Marcus Tullius Cicero The Letters Of Cicero by Marcus Tullius Cicero Treatise on the Commonwealth (Dodo Press) by Marcus Tullius Cicero Select Orations of Cicero by Marcus Tullius Cicero Brutus by Marcus Tullius Cicero Treatises On Friendship And Old Age And Selected Letters by Marcus Tullius Cicero The Fourteen Orations (Philippics) of Cicero Against Marcus Antonius by Marcus Tullius Cicero Murder Trials by Marcus Tullius Cicero An Attack on an Enemy of Freedom by Marcus Tullius Cicero On Academic Scepticism (Academica) by Marcus Tullius Cicero Laeista by Marcus Tullius Cicero A proposal for printing in English, the select orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero according to the last Oxford edition. by Marcus Tullius Cicero Three Books of Offices Or Moral Duties by Marcus Tullius Cicero Essential Cicero Collection (7 books) by Marcus Tullius Cicero The Treatise of Cicero, de Officiis or His Essay on Moral Duty. Translated & Accompanied with Notes & Observations by Marcus Tullius Cicero On The Nature Of The Gods (De Natura) (Dodo Press) by Marcus Tullius Cicero Ten Speeches by Marcus Tullius Cicero all by Marcus Tullius Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero

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Glossary on Cicero continued:

Marcus Tullius Cicero - Continued

Books and Publications about Cicero:

(no image) Cicero: A Study in the Origins of Republican Philosophy (Value Inquiry Book Series 117) by Robert T. Radford (no photo)
A Commentary on Cicero, De Legibus by Andrew R. Dyck by Andrew R. Dyck (no photo)
Cicero A Political Biography by David Stockton by David Stockton (no photo)
Cicero Defender of the Republic (Leaders of Ancient Rome) by Fiona Forsyth by Fiona Forsyth (no photo)
The History of the Life of Marcus Tullius Cicero, Volume 2 by Conyers Middleton by Conyers Middleton (no photo)
Cicero a Biography by Torsten Petersson by Torsten Petersson (no [photo)

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These books would not post properly with the others:

Cicero Politics and Persuasion in Ancient Rome by Kathryn Tempest by Kathryn Tempest (no photo)
Cicero The Philosophy of a Roman Sceptic by Raphael Woolf by Raphael Woolf (no photo)
Cicero in Letters Epistolary Relations of the Late Republic by Peter White by Peter White (no photo)
Cicero's Social and Political Thought by Neal Wood by Neal Wood (no photo)
The Invectives Of Sallust And Cicero Critical Edition With Introduction, Translation, And Commentary (Sozomena Studies In The Recovery Of Ancient Texts) by Anna A. Novokhatko by Anna A. Novokhatko (no photo)
Cicero The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician by Anthony Everitt by Anthony Everitt Anthony Everitt

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