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The Letters of Cicero, Volume 1 The Whole Extant Correspodence in Chronological Order   By: (106 BC - 43 BC)

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THE LETTERS OF

CICERO

THE WHOLE EXTANT CORRESPONDENCE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH

BY

EVELYN S. SHUCKBURGH, M.A.

LATE FELLOW OF EMMANUEL COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE AUTHOR OF A TRANSLATION OF POLYBIUS, A HISTORY OF ROME, ETC

IN FOUR VOLUMES

VOL. I. B.C. 68 52

LONDON GEORGE BELL AND SONS 1899

CHISWICK PRESS: CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO. TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON.

PREFACE

The object of this book is to give the English speaking public, in a convenient form, as faithful and readable a copy as the translator was capable of making of a document unique in the literature of antiquity. Whether we regard the correspondence of Cicero from the point of view of the biographer and observer of character, the historian, or the lover of belles lettres , it is equally worthy of study. It seems needless to dwell on the immense historical importance of letters written by prominent actors in one of the decisive periods of the world's history, when the great Republic, that had spread its victorious arms, and its law and discipline, over the greater part of the known world, was in the throes of its change from the old order to the new. If we would understand as who would not? the motives and aims of the men who acted in that great drama, there is nowhere that we can go with better hope of doing so than to these letters. To the student of character also the personality of Cicero must always have a great fascination. Statesman, orator, man of letters, father, husband, brother, and friend in all these capacities he comes before us with singular vividness. In every one of them he will doubtless rouse different feelings in different minds. But though he will still, as he did in his lifetime, excite vehement disapproval as well as strong admiration, he will never, I think, appear to anyone dull or uninteresting. In the greater part of his letters he is not posing or assuming a character; he lets us only too frankly into his weaknesses and his vanities, as well as his generous admirations and warm affections. Whether he is weeping, or angry, or exulting, or eager for compliments, or vain of his abilities and achievements, he is not a phantasm or a farceur, but a human being with fiercely beating pulse and hot blood.

The difficulty of the task which I have been bold enough to undertake is well known to scholars, and may explain, though perhaps not excuse, the defects of my work. One who undertakes to express the thoughts of antiquity in modern idiom goes to his task with his eyes open, and has no right at every stumbling block or pitfall to bemoan his unhappy fate. So also with the particular difficulties presented by the great founder of Latin style his constant use of superlatives, his doubling and trebling of nearly synonymous terms, the endless shades of meaning in such common words as officium , fides , studium , humanitas , dignitas , and the like all these the translator has to take in the day's work. Finally, there are the hard nuts to crack often very hard presented by corruption of the text. Such problems, though, relatively with other ancient works, not perhaps excessively numerous, are yet sufficiently numerous and sufficiently difficult. But besides these, which are the natural incidents of such work, there is the special difficulty that the letters are frequently answers to others which we do not possess, and which alone can fully explain the meaning of sentences which must remain enigmatical to us; or they refer to matters by a word or phrase of almost telegraphic abruptness, with which the recipient was well acquainted, but as to which we are reduced to guessing. When, however, all such insoluble difficulties are allowed for, which after all in absolute bulk are very small, there should (if the present version is at all worthy) be enough that is perfectly plain to everyone, and generally of the highest interest.

I had no intention of writing a commentary on the language of Cicero or his correspondents, and my translation must, as a rule, be taken for the only expression of my judgment formed after reading and weighing the arguments of commentators... Continue reading book >>




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