Page images
PDF
EPUB

Scipio. Ilis adopted son having retired to rest, the shade of the departed hero appeared to him in a vision, and darkly foretelling the future events of his life, encouraged him to tread in the paths of patriotism and true glory; announcing the reward provided in heaven for those who have deserved well of their country.

The circumstances of time and place selected for this dream, as well as the characters introduced, have been most felicitously chosen; and Cicero has nowhere more happily united sublimity of thought with brilliant imagination.

The letter, ON THE DUTIES OF A MAGISTRATE, is one of the most remarkable of the kind that has ever been penned. It was addressed by Cicero to his brother Quintus, on the occasion of his government in Asia being prolonged to a third year. Availing himself of the rights of an elder brother, as well as of tho authority derived from his superior dignity and talents, Cicero counsels and exhorts him concerning the due administration of liis province, particularly with regard to the choice of his subordinate officers, and the degree of trust to be reposed in them. IIo carnestly reproves liim, but with much fraternal tenderness and affection, for his irritability of temper; and concludes with a beautiful exhortation to strive in all respects to merit the praise of his cotemporaries, and bequeath to posterity an unsullied name.

CICERO DE OFFICIIS:

TREATISE CONCERNING THE MORAL DUTIES OF MANKIND.

BOOK I. My Son MARCUS,

I. Although, as you have for a year been studying under Cratippus, and that, too, at Athens, you ought to be well furnished with the rules and principles of philosophy, on account of the pre-eminent reputation both of the master and the city, the one of which can improve you by his learning, the other by its examples; yet as I, for my own advantage, have always combined the Latin with the Greek, not only in philosophy but even in the practice of speaking, I recommend to you the same method, that you may excel equally in both kinds of composition. In this respect, indeed, if I mistake not, I was of great survice to our countrymen; so that not only such of them as are ignorant of Greek learning, but even men of letters, think they have profited somewhat by me both in speaking and reasoning.

Wherefore you shall study, nay, study as long as you desire, under the best philosopher of this age—and you ought to desire it, as long as you are not dissatisfied with the degree of your improvement; but in reading my works, which are not very different from the Peripatetic-because we profess in common to be followers both of Socrates and Plato—as to the subject-matter itself, use your own judgment; but be assured you will, by reading my writings, render your Latin style more copious. I would not have it supposed that this is said in ostentation; for, while I yield the superiority in philosophy to many, if I claim to myself the province peculiar to an orator—that of speaking with pro

« PreviousContinue »