Catherine J. Carter

“I love anything midwestern, Bob Dylan, the ocean, cooking, reading, and crossword puzzles (and Latin, of course!).​”

I was writing a paper for a summer course on Sallust, a Roman historian, and my search in the OWHL catalog returned an interesting hit shelved in “Sp. Col.” That turned out to be our Special Collections, housed in locked cabinets on the second floor of the library. One shelf held a 1526 edition of what purports to be a speech lambasting Cicero: Oratio contra Ciceronem.

One particular term, with help from Director of Archives and Special Collections Paige Roberts, my Latin 300 students took a short break from reading Cicero to investigate this text, begin to learn how to decipher manuscript abbreviations, and undoubtedly relish its gratuitous digs at the mighty orator. They were already familiar with the aspects of Cicero’s character that emerge from his own speeches; the Oratio rounds out the picture by illuminating some contemporary criticism, and this helps shape the lens through which we read his oratory and interpret his political influence.

My students responded with enthusiasm—and empathy—to the accusations of pomposity and verbosity, but I also expect that this exercise will ultimately whet their appetites for Cicero.

Reprinted from Andover magazine.

ccarter@andover.edu
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