The Roman Use of Anecdotes in Cicero, Livy, & the Satirists

The Roman Use of Anecdotes in Cicero, Livy, & the Satirists

The Roman Use of Anecdotes in Cicero, Livy, & the Satirists

The Roman Use of Anecdotes in Cicero, Livy, & the Satirists

Excerpt

Before I can hope to have my publishers set a feliciter explicit on this book, I must conclude, by a sort of hysteronproteron, with a foreword of explanation and thanks. "The Roman Use of Anecdotes," Gentle Reader, is not a trivial subject, however slight it may seem. The Romans saw such aesthetic and moral possibilities in the small story that the composition of it was a serious part of their education. They used the anecdote not only to enliven their literature but to convey great truths. So my book is a study of a literary form which is more important than the gem, the statuette, or the miniature in art. In its small compass you may see the speaking likenesses of many persons of many times, their manners and their morals. I challenge your interest with a paraphrase of Martial:

He misses what an anecdote may say
Who thinks it voices merely jests and play.

Special thanks are due to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for permission to quote freely the translations of The Loeb Classical Library, and to E. P. Dutton and Co. for permission to use a version of Martial from the Broadway Translations. Professor J. Wight Duff of the University of Durham, Dean Paul Nixon of Bowdoin College, and Professor Gilbert Highet of Columbia University have all graciously allowed me to quote material from their writings. Professor Maud W. Makemson . . .

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