The Roman Mind: Studies in the History of Thought from Cicero to Marcus Aurelius

The Roman Mind: Studies in the History of Thought from Cicero to Marcus Aurelius

The Roman Mind: Studies in the History of Thought from Cicero to Marcus Aurelius

The Roman Mind: Studies in the History of Thought from Cicero to Marcus Aurelius

Excerpt

Historians of ancient thought seldom show much interest in the Romans. Their attention is directed to the Greek masters rather than to their Roman pupils. In the ancient world it was the Greeks who were the originators; the Romans did little more than reproduce Greek ideas in a different language and with at most a slightly different tone and accent, and it is not until St Augustine that we find a Latin-speaking thinker of undoubted originality, who has a place in the history of thought on his own merits. It is therefore understandable that the history of Roman thought should be neglected.

It would, however, be a mistake to ignore it or dismiss it as of minor importance. Its interest lies not so much in the originality or intrinsic value of the doctrines held as in the fact that particular men held them, and in the relation of the doctrines to the political and literary activities of their adherents. It has often happened in history that ideas have had as powerful an influence outside as within the country of their origin, and it might well be maintained that the Hellenistic philosophies exercised a more important influence in Rome than in the Greek world.

This book is not a complete history of Roman thought. I have not dealt in any detail with the ideas of the earlier Republic, nor have I attempted a full account of Roman religion, knowing that I had nothing to add to the admirable works of recognized authorities on this subject. I hope, however, that, incomplete though it is, the book will be of some use in introducing students of the classics to an aspect of ancient Rome which tends to be ignored in the standard histories of Rome and of Latin literature.

M. L.C

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