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

PREFACE

THE first and last obligation of historiography, it seems to me, is to state and delineate, what actually happened.1 And this is preceded by the process, often laborious, of ascertaining the exact meaning of all the Sources. How one who is not a classicist, can do this, in any part of the domain of ancient history, I do not understand. During the last twenty years I have tried to gain a close vision of Cicero's Life and the movement thereof in all its aspects, a life curiously interwoven with, and reflected by, the letters of the Arpinate. If all the works of his pen were to be extinguished forever, works intensely personal in the main, but marvelously comprehensive and indeed cyclopedic in their range of interest and concern, -- what an Egyptian darkness would enshroud much of the Ancient World!

My chief aim then has been to strive most earnestly, not for novelty, nor for fascination of my readers, but for this, that both the statements of fact as well as the judgments and valuations should be reliable; and to append everywhere a somewhat full citation of sources. In the pursuit of this quest I have given no less attention to secondary authorities, such as Plutarch, Appian, Dio, than to Cicero himself and to his contemporaries in literature. And I entertain a lively hope that candid scholars will find these pages reliable, both now, and when the author is ἐπì γήρα∘ç ∘ὺδω+̑+ᾡ, as well as later on, when this pen shall have been laid aside forever. I must not desire to ape the novelist, the sociological essayist, nor the dramatist, nor the journalist. One may here learn to know Cicero's faults and weaknesses, no less than become familiar with his lofty ideals and his quite wonderful industry; and further one may perceive, how that critical period of political disintegration and social decadence was mirrored in the lively mind and recorded by the masterful pen of one who was indeed the most gifted son of ancient Italy.2

____________________
1
Wie es denn eigentlich gewesen ist, (Ranke).
2
I find myself here in a welcome agreement with Friedrich Leo of Goettingen, recently passed away, all too soon.

-v-

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