Life of Cicero, 4

Plutarch  translated by Bernadotte Perrin

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4On coming to Athens he attended the lectures of Antiochus of Ascalon, and was charmed by his fluency and grace of diction, although he disapproved of his innovations in doctrine. For Antiochus had already fallen away from what was called the New Academy and abandoned the sect of Carneades, either moved thereto by the clear evidence of the sense-perceptions,[8] or, as some say, led by a feeling of ambitious opposition to the disciples of Cleitomachus and Philon to change his views and cultivate in most cases the doctrine of the Stoics. 2But Cicero loved the systems which Antiochus discarded and devoted himself the rather to them, purposing, in case he was altogether driven out of a public career, to change his home to Athens, away from the forum and the business of the state, and spend his life in the quiet pursuit of philosophy.

3But word was now brought to him that Sulla was dead,[9] and since his body, strengthened by exercise, was taking on a vigorous habit, while his voice, acquiring modulation, had grown pleasant to the ear, and had been moderated into keeping with the habit of his body; and since, moreover, his friends at Rome earnestly besought him by letter and Antiochus strongly urged him to apply himself to public affairs, he once more sought to prepare for service therein his instrument, as it were, to wit his rhetorical style, and to rouse to action his political powers, diligently cultivating himself in declamation and taking lessons of the popular rhetoricians. With this end in view he made a voyage to Asia and Rhodes. 4In Asia, he studied oratory with Xenocles of Adramyttium, Dionysius of Magnesia, and Menippus the Carian; in Rhodes, oratory with Apollonius the son of Milon, and philosophy with Poseidonius.[10] Apollonius, we are told, not understanding the Roman language, requested Cicero to declaim in Greek, with which request Cicero readily complied, thinking that in this way his faults could better be corrected. 5After he had declaimed, his other hearers were astounded and vied with one another in their praises, but Apollonius was not greatly moved while listening to him, and when he had ceased sat for a long time lost in thought; then, since Cicero was distressed at this, he said: “Thee, indeed, O Cicero, I admire and commend; but Greece I pity for her sad fortune, since I see that even the only glories which were left to us, culture and eloquence, are through thee to belong also to the Romans.”

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  • [8] This the New Academy refused to admit.

  • [9] In 78 B.C.

  • [10] Cf. Cicero's Brutus, 91.

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