Cicero of Arpinum: A Political and Literary Biography Being a Contribution to the History of Ancient Civilization and a Guide to the Study of Cicero's Writings

By E. G. Sihler | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
YOUNG Cicero'S EARLIER TRAINING IN ORATORY DOWN TO THE DEATH OF L. CRASSUS

As to the forces and influences from without which were added to the deeply rooted ambition within the lad's bosom, it is definitely attested by Cicero himself, that the whole plan of his preparation for a forensic career was fairly completed before he reached the end of his sixteenth year.

It so fell out that Cicero's father gained the acquaintance and enjoyed the good will of two men, both eminent in the faculty of speech and in public life. These men were Marcus Antonius, and L. Licinius Crassus. That these two pleaders at the time held the foremost position at the Roman bar, was a matter of general agreement; it was so held not only in the quiet household of Cicero's father, but on the Forum and in the Curia as well. A sister of Cicero's mother Helvia was married to C. Visellius Aculeo, a gentleman of equestrian rank, and, while not endowed with any broader culture, very eminent in the civil law of Rome.1 Thus he had come to be very closely related to the great pleader Crassus himself. The latter seems to have continually referred to the civilian lore of Aculeo. Now Crassus was deeply steeped in Greek learning and culture. But he vaunted it not and the prevailing opinion was2 that his Greek studies had terminated with his school years. It would seem that the broad masses of the Roman electorate were prejudiced against men in public life who made such display. As for Antonius3 (grandfather of Mark Antony) he had been governor of Cilicia in 102 B. C. In this capacity he had been attended by an uncle of our Marcus, viz. Lucius Tullius Cicero. It was the year also of Aquae Sextiae, when Marius made Arpinum immortal. From his uncle Lucius, Cicero learned certain things, which, even more than in the case of Crassus, ran counter to current opinion. For while Antonius was everywhere considered as

____________________
1
de Or. 1, 191.
2
de Or. 2, 1.
Liv. Epit. 68.

-11-

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