Cicero's 'Civiliter'

Upon the suggestion of a dear wise friend, I've undertaken a course of much-needed 'catch-up' in regard to my liberal arts education, specifically in the realm of ancient Greek philospohy and its bleedover into Roman schools of thought.

My friend recommended Cicero, whom he himself regards as a rhetorical and oratorical friend, as a start. I suppose it might sound strange to think of an ancient superstar speaker and thinker like Cicero as a friend, but you just have to know the person doing the recommending.

After scratching the surface only, one concept of Cicero's has taken my breath away and it is that of civiliter. Michael Grant, the translator of the Cicero: Selected Works I've borrowed, states that the word itself has no direct translation in modern English, but its meaning approximates:

"like a citizen, like an educated Roman, like a civilized man living as a member of his community."

And Grant continues to assert:

"Among those of the world's codes of behaviour which are within the bounds of practicability, few if any deserve more careful consideration than Cicero's."

So, it may be for this reason that my friend has suggested the much lauded and oft-emulated Cicero to start my literal re-education.

More on the man, Cicero, and the notion of civiliter later.

1 comment:

  1. NOTE: the following comment was posted on 2.26.10 by PsychoKiller and is reposted here on his behalf.

    AFC's mention of my Ciceronian predilection has led to this advise to the Motion Picture Academy and all of its members (including Lindsey, Paris, Sean, et al ) from Cicero's On The Good Life (44 BC):

    Moral goodness has been held to fall into three subdivisions; the first is the ability to distinguish the truth from falsity, and to understand the relationships between one phenomenon and another and the causes and consequences of each one.
    The second category is the ability to restrain the passions (pathe in Greek) and to make the appetites (hormai) amenable to reason.
    The third is the capacity to behave considerately and understandingly in our associations with other people.
    See On Duties (II)

    Cicero is one of the preeminent Roman statesmen, orators, rhetoricians and Stoic philosophers having adopted stoicism from its Greek roots, primarily through Zeno and others.


What say you?