Letters to Atticus, Vol. 1 of 3: With Notes and an Essay on the Character of the Author (Classic Reprint) Book

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Letters to Atticus, Vol. 1 of 3: With Notes and an Essay on the Character of the Author (Classic Reprint) Details

Excerpt from Letters to Atticus, Vol. 1 of 3: With Notes and an Essay on the Character of the Author

A biography of Cicero is no desideratum, when such authorities on the subject as Mommsen, Merivale and Forsyth are acces sible to every schoolboy: but on the ques tion of his character, there seems as little prospect as ever of a unanimous verdict, and, while this is so, an editor can scarcely do otherwise than range himself with one or other of the two contending parties. My own Opinion, formed at school under circum stances and teaching the least likely to foster it, that Cicero's character is a weak and a selfish one, has only been confirmed by a more careful study of his works: nor'can I read the panegyrics which have been lavished upon him without a real feeling of surprise that such scanty materials should have been found sufficient for the construction Of this gigantic idol. In their judgment Of this one man, his critics have tacitly ignored the ordi nary canons by which men measure goodness, justice and the like, and, in their desire to do him honour, have invented an arbitrary interpretation for the most negative and com monplace characteristics. Words and actions the most trivial and the most unfrequent are thrown out in strong relief, and quoted triumphantly in support Of his character.

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