Cicero, Greek learning, and the making of a Roman classic

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The Roman statesman, orator, and author Marcus Tullius Cicero is the embodiment of a classic. His works have been read continuously from antiquity to the present, his style is considered the model for classical Latin, and he deeply influenced Western ideas on the value of humanistic pursuits and the liberal arts. In Cicero, Greek Learning, and the Making of a Roman Classic, Caroline Bishop demonstrates that no one is more responsible for Cicero's transformation into a classic than Cicero himself, and that in his literary works he laid the groundwork for the ways that he is still remembered today. Cicero achieved this goal, as Bishop shows, through his strategic use of the Greek classical canon. Cicero's career coincided with the growth of Greek classicism, and he clearly grasped the benefits of the movement both for himself and for Roman literature. By selectively adapting classic texts from the Greek world-and incorporating into his adaptations the interpretation of the Hellenistic philosophers, poets, rhetoricians, and scientists who had helped enshrine these works as classics-Cicero could envision and create texts with classical authority for a parallel Roman canon. Bishop's study ranges across a wide span of Cicero's works, moving from his early translation of Aratus' poetry (and its later reappearance through self-quotation) to Platonizing philosophy, Aristotelian rhetoric, Demosthenic oratory, and even a planned Greek-style letter collection. Part detailed intellectual history of Hellenistic Greece, part close study of Cicero's literary works, this book offers a welcome new account of Greek intellectual life and its effect on Roman literature.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages359
ISBN (Print)9780198829423
StatePublished - Dec 20 2018


  • Ancient letter collections
  • Ancient scholarship
  • Aratus
  • Aristotle
  • Canonization
  • Cicero
  • Classical reception
  • Classicism
  • Demosthenes
  • Plato


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