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The Life of Cicero - Volume II.
by Anthony Trollope
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CHAPTER XI.

CICERO'S RHETORIC.

It is well known that Cicero's works are divided into four main parts. There are the Rhetoric, the Orations, the Epistles, and the Philosophy. There is a fifth part, indeed—the Poetry; but of that there is not much, and of the little we have but little is esteemed. There are not many, I fear, who think that Cicero has deserved well of his country by his poetry. His prose works have been divided as I have stated them. Of these, two portions have been dealt with already—as far as I am able to deal with them. Of the Orations and Epistles I have spoken as I have gone on with my task, because the matter there treated has been available for the purposes of biography: the other two, the Rhetoric and the Philosophy, have been distinct from the author's life.[239] They might have been good or bad, and his life would have been still the same; therefore it is necessary to divide them from his life, and to speak of them separately. They are the work of his silent chamber, as the others were the enthusiastic outpourings of his daily spirit, or the elaborated arguments of his public career. Who has left behind him so widely spread a breadth of literature? Who has made so many efforts, and has so well succeeded in them all? I do not know that it has ever been given to any one man to run up and down the strings of knowledge, and touch them all as though each had been his peculiar study, as Cicero has done.

His rhetoric has been always made to come first, because, upon the whole, it was first written. It may be as well here to give a list of his main works, with their dates—premising, however, that we by no means in that way get over the difficulty as to time, even in cases as to which we are sure of our facts. A treatise may have been commenced and then put by, or may have been written some time previously to publication. Or it may be, as were those which are called the Academica, that it was remodelled, and altered in its shape and form. The Academica were written at the instance of Atticus. We now have the altered edition of a fragment of the first book, and the original of the second book. In this manner there have come discrepancies which nearly break the heart of him who would fain make his list clear. But here, on the whole, is presented to the reader with fair accuracy a list of the works of Cicero, independent of that continual but ever-changing current of his thought which came welling out from him daily in his speeches and his letters. Again, however, we must remember that here are omitted all those which are either wholly lost or have come to us only in fragments too abruptly broken for the purposes of continuous study. Of these I will not even attempt to give the names, though when we remember some of the subjects—the De Gloria, the De Re Militari—he could not go into the army for a month or two without writing a book about it—the De Auguriis, the De Philosophia, the De Suis Temporibus, the De Suis Consiliis, the De Jure Civili, and the De Universo, we may well ask ourselves what were the subjects on which he did not write. In addition to these, much that has come to us has been extracted, as it were unwillingly, from palimpsests, and is, from that and from other causes, fragmentary. We have indeed only fragments of the essays De Republica. De Legibus, De Natura Deorum, De Divinatione, and De Fato, in addition to the Academica.

The list of the works of which it is my purpose to give some shortest possible account in the following chapters is as follows:

NATURE OF THE WORK. TITLES OF Those as to Rhetoric are marked [a] THE DATE THE WORKS. " " Philosophy " [b] OF The Moral Essays " [c] PUBLICATION.

Rheticorum { Four books, giving lessons in Rhetoric; } ad C. { supposed to have been written, not by Cicero, } B.C. Herennium. { but by one Cornificius.[a][240] } 87, 86. } AEtat. De { Four books, giving lessons in Rhetoric, } 20, 21. Inventione. { supposed to have been translated from the } { Greek. Two out of four have come to us.[a] }

{ Three dialogues, in three books—supposed to } { have been held under a plane-tree, in the } De Oratore. { garden at Tusculum belonging to Crassus, } B.C. 55. { forty years before—in which are laid down } AEtat. 52. { instructions for the making of an orator.[a] }

{ Six political discussions—supposed to have } De { been held seventy-five years before the date } B.C. 53. Republica. { at which they were written—on the best mode } AEtat. 54. { of governance. We have but a fragment of them. } { [c] }

{ Three out of six books as to the best laws for } { governing the Republic. They are carried on } De Legibus. { between Atticus, Quintus, and Marcus. They } B.C. 52. { are supposed to have been written B.C. 52 } AEtat. 55. { (aetat. 55), but were not published till after } { his death.[c] }

De Optimo { A preface to the translation of the speeches } Genere { of AEschines and of Demosthenes for and against } B.C. 52. Oratorum. { Ctesiphon—in the matter of the Golden Crown. } AEtat. 55. { [a] }

De { Instructions by questions and answers, } Partitione { supposed to have been previously given to his } B.C. 46. Oratoria. { son in Greek, on the art of speaking in public.} AEtat. 61. { [a] }

{ Treatises, in which he deals with the various } { phases of Philosophy taught by the Academy. It } The { has been altered, and we have only a part of } B.C. 45. Academica. { the first book of the altered portion and the } AEtat. 62. { second part of the treatise before it was } { altered. In its altered form it is addressed } { to Varro.[b] }

De Finibus { A treatise in five books, in the form of } Bonorum et { dialogues, as to the results to be looked for } B.C. 45. Malorum. { in inquiries as to what is good and what is } AEtat. 62. { evil. It is addressed to Brutus.[b] }

Brutus: or, { A treatise on the most perfect orators of past } De Claris { times. It is addressed to Brutus, and has, in } B.C. 45. Oratoribus. { a peculiar manner, been always called by his } AEtat. 62. { name.[a] }

Orator. { A treatise, addressed to Brutus, to show what } B.C. 45. { the perfect orator should be.[a] } AEtat. 62.

{ Or the Tusculan Inquiries, supposed to have } Tusculanae { been held with certain friends in his Tusculan } Disputa- { villa, as to contempt of Death and Pain and } B.C. 45. tiones. { Sorrow, as to conquering the Passions, and the } AEtat. 62. { happiness to be derived from Virtue. They are } { addressed to Brutus.[a] }

{ Three books addressed to Brutus. Velleius, } De Natura { Balbus, and Cotta discuss the relative merits } B.C. 44. Deorum. { of the Epicurean, Stoic, and Academic Schools. } AEtat. 63 { [b] }

{ He discusses with his brother Quintus the } De { property of the gods to "divine," or rather } B.C. 44. Divinatione.{ to enable men to read prophecies. It is a } AEtat. 63. { continuation of a former work.[b] }

De Fato. { The part only of a book on Destiny.[b] } B.C. 44. { } AEtat. 63.

The Topica. { A so-called translation from Aristotle. It is } B.C. 44. { addressed to Trebatius.[a] } AEtat. 63.

De { A treatise on Old Age, addressed to Atticus, } B.C. 44. Senectute. { and called Cato Major.[c] } AEtat. 63.

De { A treatise on Friendship, addressed also to } B.C. 44. Amicitia. { Atticus, and called Laelius.[c] } AEtat. 63.

{ To his son. Treating of the Moral Duties of } De { Life. Containing three books— } B.C. 44. Officiis. { I. On Honesty } AEtat. 63. { II. On Expediency } { III. Comparing Honesty and Expediency. }

It is to be observed from this list that for thirty years of his life Cicero was silent in regard to literature—for those thirty years in which the best fruits of a man's exertion are expected from him. Indeed, we may say that for the first fifty-two years of his life he wrote nothing but letters and speeches. Of the two treatises with which the list is headed, the first, in all probability, did not come from his pen, and the second is no more than a lad's translation from a Greek author. As to the work of translation, it must be understood that the Greek and Latin languages did not stand in reference to each other as they do now to modern readers. We translate in order that the pearls hidden under a foreign language may be conveyed to those who do not read it, and admit, when we are so concerned, that none can truly drink the fresh water from a fountain so handled. The Romans, in translating from the Greek, thinking nothing of literary excellence, felt that they were bringing Greek thought into a form of language in which it could be thus made useful. There was no value for the words, but only for the thing to be found in it. Thence it has come that no acknowledgment is made. We moderns confess that we are translating, and hardly assume for ourselves a third-rate literary place. When, on the other hand, we find the unexpressed thought floating about the world, we take it, and we make it our own when we put it into a book. The originality is regarded as being in the language, not in the thought. But to the Roman, when he found the thought floating about the world in the Greek character, it was free for him to adopt it and to make it his own. Cicero, had he done in these days with this treatise as I have suggested, would have been guilty of gross plagiarism, but there was nothing of the kind known then. This must be continually remembered in reading his essays. You will find large portions of them taken from the Greek without acknowledgment. Often it shall be so, because it suits him to contradict an assertion or to show that it has been allowed to lead to false conclusions. This general liberty of translation has been so frequently taken by the Latin poets—by Virgil and Horace, let us say, as being those best known—that they have been regarded by some as no more than translations. To them to have been translators of Homer, or of Pindar and Stesichorus, and to have put into Latin language ideas which were noble, was a work as worthy of praise as that of inventing. And it must be added that the forms they have used have been perfect in their kind. There has been no need to them for close translation. They have found the idea, and their object has been to present it to their readers in the best possible language. He who has worked amid the bonds of modern translation well knows how different it has been with him. There is not much in the treatise De Inventione to arrest us. We should say, from reading it, that the matter it contains is too good for the production of a youth of twenty-one, but that the language in which it is written is not peculiarly fine. The writer intended to continue it—or wrote as though he did—and therefore we may imagine that it has come to us from some larger source. It is full of standing cases, or examples of the law courts, which are brought up to show the way in which these things are handled. We can imagine that a Roman youth should be practised in such matters, but we cannot imagine that the same youth should have thought of them all, and remembered them all, and should have been able to describe them.

The following is an example: "A certain man on his journey encountered a traveller going to make a purchase, having with him a sum of money. They chatted along the road together, and, as happens on such occasions, they became intimate. They went to the same inn, where they supped, and said that they would sleep together. Having supped they went to bed; when the landlord—for this was told after it had all been found out, and he had been taken for another offence—having perceived that one man had money, in the middle of the night, knowing how sound they would sleep from fatigue, crept up to them, and having taken out of its scabbard the sword of him that was without the money as it lay by his side, he killed the other man, put back the sword, and then went to his bed. But he whose sword had been used rose long before daylight and called loudly to his companion. Finding that the man slumbered too heavily to be stirred, he took himself and his sword and the other things he had brought away with him and started alone. But the landlord soon raised the hue-and-cry, 'A man has been killed!' and, with some of the guests, followed him who had gone off. They took the man on the road, and dragged his sword out of its sheath, which they found all bloody. They carried him back to the city, and he was accused." In this cause there is the declaration of the crime alleged, "You killed the man." There is the defence, "I did not kill him." Thence arises the issue. The question to be judged is one of conjecture. "Did he kill him?"[241] We may judge from the story that the case was not one which had occurred in life, but had been made up. The truculent landlord creeping in and finding that everything was as he wished it; and the moneyless man going off in the dark, leaving his dead bedfellow behind him—as the landlord had intended that he should—form all the incidents of a stock piece for rehearsal rather than the occurrence of a true murder. The same may be said of other examples adduced, here as afterward, by Quintilian. They are well-known cases, and had probably been handed down from one student to another. They tell us more of the manners of the people than of the rudiments of their law.

From this may be seen the nature of the work. From thence we skip over thirty years and come at once to B.C. 55. The days of the Triumvirate had come, and the quarrel with Clodius—of Cicero's exile and his return, together with the speeches which he had made, in the agony of his anger, against his enemies. And all this had taken place since those halcyon days in which he had risen, on the voices of his countrymen, to be Quaestor, AEdile, Praetor, and Consul. He had first succeeded as a public man, and then, having been found too honest, he had failed. There can be no doubt that he had failed because he had been too honest. I must have told the story of his political life badly if I have not shown that Caesar had retired from the assault because Cicero was Consul, but had retired only as a man does who steps back in order that his next spring forward may be made with more avail. He chose well the time for his next attack, and Cicero was driven to decide between three things—he must be Caesarean, or must be quiet, or he must go. He would not be Caesarean, he certainly could not be quiet, and he went. The immediate effect of his banishment was on him so great that he could not employ himself. But he returned to Rome, and, with too evident a reliance on a short-lived popularity, he endeavored to replace himself in men's eyes; but it must have been clear to him that he had struggled in vain. Then he looked back upon his art, his oratory, and told himself that, as the life of a man of action was no longer open to him, he could make for himself a greater career as a man of letters. He could do so. He has done so. But I doubt whether he had ever a confirmed purpose as to the future. Had some grand Consular career been open to him—had it been given to him to do by means of the law what Caesar did by ignoring the law—this life of him would not have been written. There would, at any rate, have been no need of these last chapters to show how indomitable was the energy and how excellent the skill of him who could write such books, because—he had nothing else to do.

The De Oratore is a work in three divisions, addressed to his brother Quintus, in which it has undoubtedly been Cicero's object to convince the world that an orator's employment is the highest of all those given to a man to follow; and this he does by showing that, in all the matters which an orator is called upon to touch, there is nothing which he cannot adorn by the possession of some virtue or some knowledge. To us, in these days, he seems to put the cart before the horse, and to fail from the very beginning, by reason of the fact that the orator, in his eloquence, need never tell the truth. It is in the power of man so to praise—constancy, let us say—as to make it appear of all things the best. But he who sings the praise of it may be the most inconstant of mankind, and may know that he is deceiving his hearers as to his own opinions—at any rate, as to his own practice. The virtue should come first, and then the speech respecting it. Cicero seems to imply that, if the speech be there, the virtue may be assumed.

But it has to be acknowledged, in this and in all his discourses as to the perfect orator, that it is here as it has been in all the inquirers after the [Greek: to kalon].[242] We must recognize the fact that the Romans have adopted a form of inquiry from the Greeks, and, having described a more than human perfection, have instigated men to work up toward it by letting it be known how high will be the excellence, should it ever be attained. It is so in the De Oratore, as to which we must begin by believing that the speech-maker wanted is a man not to be found in any House of Commons. No Conservative and no Liberal need fear that he will be put out of court by the coming of this perfectly eloquent man. But this Cicero of whom we are speaking has been he who has been most often quoted for his perfections.[243] The running after an impossible hero throws a damp over the whole search. When no one can expect to find the thing sought for, who can seek diligently? By degrees the ambitious student becomes aware that it is impossible, and is then carried on by a desire to see how he is to win a second or a third place, if so much may be accorded to him. In his inquiries he will find that the Cicero, if he look to Quintilian or Tacitus—or the Crassus, if he look to Cicero—is so set before him as the true model; and with that he may be content.

The De Oratore is by far the longest of his works on rhetoric, and, as I think, the pleasantest to read. It was followed, after ten years, by the Brutus, or De Claris Oratoribus, and then by the Orator. But in all of them he charms us rather by his example than instructs us by his precepts. He will never make us believe, for instance, that a man who talks well will on that account be better than a man who thinks well; but he does make us believe that a man who talks as Cicero knew how to do must have been well worth hearing, and also that to read his words, when listening to them is no longer possible, is a great delight. Having done that, he has no doubt carried his object. He was too much a man of the world to have an impracticable theory on which to expend himself. Oratory had come uppermost with him, and had indeed made itself, with the Romans, the only pursuit to be held in rivalry with that of fighting. Literature had not as yet assumed its place. It needed Cicero himself to do that for her. It required the writing of such an essay as this to show, by the fact of its existence, that Cicero the writer stood quite as high as Cicero the orator. And then the written words remain when the sounds have died away. We believe that Cicero spoke divinely. We can form for ourselves some idea of the rhythm of his periods. Of the words in which Cicero spoke of himself as a speaker we have the entire charm.

Boccaccio, when he takes his queen into a grassy meadow and seats her in the midst of her ladies, and makes her and them and their admirers tell their stories, seems to have given rise to the ideas which Cicero has used when introducing his Roman orators lying under a plane-tree in the garden of Tusculum, and there discussing rhetoric; so much nearer to us appear the times of Cicero, with all the light that has been thrown upon them by their own importance, than does the middle of the fourteenth century in the same country. But the practice in this as in all matters of social life was borrowed from the Greeks, or perhaps rather the pretence of the practice. We can hardly believe that Romans of an advanced age would so have arranged themselves for the sake of conversation. It was a manner of bringing men together which had its attraction for the mind's eye; and Cicero, whose keen imagination represented to him the pleasantness of the picture, has used the form of narrative with great effect. He causes Crassus and Antony to meet in the garden of Crassus at Tusculum, and thither he brings, on the first day, old Mucius Scaevola the augur, and Sulpicius and Cotta, two rising orators of the period. On the second day Scaevola is supposed to be too fatigued to renew the intellectual contest, and he retires; but one Caesar comes in with Quintus Lutatius Catulus, and the conversation is renewed. Crassus and Antony carry it on in chief, but Crassus has the leading voice. Caesar, who must have been the wag among barristers of his day, undertakes to give examples of that Attic salt by which the profundity of the law courts is supposed to have been relieved. The third conversation takes place on the afternoon of the second day, when they had refreshed themselves with sleep; though Crassus, we are specially told, had given himself up to the charms of no mid-day siesta. His mind had been full of the greatness of the task before him, but he will show neither fatigue nor anxiety. The art, the apparent ease with which it is all done, the grace without languor, the energy without exertion, are admirable. It is as though, they were sitting by running water, or listening to the music of some grand organ. They remove themselves to a wood a little farther from the house, and there they listen to the eloquence of Crassus. Cotta and Sulpicius only hear and assent, or imply a modified dissent in doubting words.

It is Crassus who insists that the orator shall be omniscient, and Antony who is supposed to contest the point with him. But they differ in the sweetest language; and each, though he holds his own, does it with a deference that is more convincing than any assertion. It may be as well, perhaps, to let it be understood that Crassus and Caesar are only related by distant family ties—or perhaps only by ties of adoption—to the two of the First Triumvirate whose names they bear; whereas Antony was the grandfather of that Cleopatra's lover against whom the Philippics were hurled.

No one, as I have said before, will read these conversations for the sake of the argument they contain; but they are, and will be, studied as containing, in the most appropriate language, a thousand sayings respecting the art of speech. "No power of speaking well can belong to any but to him who knows the subjects on which he has to speak;"[244] a fact which seems so clear that no one need be troubled with stating it, were it not that men sin against it every day. "How great the undertaking to put yourself forward among a crowd of men as being the fittest of all there to be heard on some great subject!"[245] "Though all men shall gnash their teeth, I will declare that the little book of the twelve tables surpasses in authority and usefulness all the treatises of all the philosophers."[246] Here speaks the Cicero of the Forum, and not that Cicero who amused himself among the philosophers. "Let him keep his books of philosophy for some Tusculum idleness such as is this of ours, lest, when he shall have to speak of justice, he must go to Plato and borrow from him, who, when he had to express him in these things, created in his books some new Utopia."[247] For in truth, though Cicero deals much, as we shall see by-and-by, with the philosophers, and has written whole treatises for the sake of bringing Greek modes of thought among the Romans, he loved the affairs of the world too well to trust them to philosophy. There has been some talk of old age, and Antony, before the evening has come, declares his view. "So far do I differ from you," he says, "that not only do I not think that any relief in age is to be found in the crowd of them who may come to me for advice, but I look to its solitude as a harbor. You indeed may fear it, but to me it will be most welcome."[248]

Then Cicero begins the second book with a renewal of the assertion as to oratory generally, not putting the words into the mouth of any of his party, but declaring it as his own belief: "This is the purpose of this present treatise, and of the present time, to declare that no one has been able to excel in eloquence, not merely without capacity for speaking, but also without acquired knowledge of all kinds."[249] But Antony professes himself of another opinion: "How can that be when Crassus and I often plead opposite causes, and when one of us can only say the truth? Or how can it be possible, when each of us must take the cause as it comes to him?"[250] Then, again, he bursts into praise of the historian, as though in opposition to Crassus: "How worthy of an orator's eulogy is the writing of history, whether greatest in the flood of its narrative or in its variety! I do not know that we have ever treated it separately, but it is there always before our eyes. For who does not know that the first law of the historian is that he must not dare to say what is false: the next, that he must not dare to suppress what is true."[251] We wonder, when Cicero was writing this, whether he remembered his request to Lucceius, made now two years ago. He gives a piece of advice to young advocates, apologizing, indeed, for thinking it necessary; but he has found it to be necessary, and he gives it: "Let me teach this to them all; when they intend to plead, let them first study their causes."[252] It is not only here that we find that the advice which is useful now was wanted then. "Read your cases!" The admonition was wanted in Rome as it has been since in London.

But the great mistake of the whole doctrine creeps out at every page as we go on, and disproves the idea on which the De Oratore is founded. All Cicero's treatises on the subject, and Quintilian's, and those of the pseudo-Tacitus, and of the first Greek from which they have come, fall to the ground as soon as we are told that it must be the purport of the orator to turn the mind of those who hear him either to the right or to the left, in accordance with the drift of the cause.[253] The mind rejects the idea that it can be the part of a perfect man to make another believe that which he believes to be false. If it be necessary that an orator should do so, then must the orator be imperfect. We have the same lesson taught throughout. It is the great gift of the orator, says Antony, to turn the judge's mind so that he shall hate or love, shall fear or hope, shall rejoice or grieve, or desire to pity or desire to punish.[254] No doubt it is a great power. All that is said as to eloquence is true. It may be necessary that to obtain the use of it you shall educate yourself with more precision than for any other purpose. But there will be the danger that they who have fitted the dagger to the hand will use it. It cannot be right to make another man believe that which you think to be false.

In the use of raillery in eloquence the Roman seems to have been very backward; so much so that it is only by the examples given of it by themselves as examples that we learn that it existed. They can appall us by the cruelty which they denounce. They can melt us by their appeals to our pity. They can terrify; they can horrify; they can fill us with fear or hope, with anger, with despair, or with rage; but they cannot cause us to laugh. Their attempts at a joke amuse us because we recognize the attempt. Here Caesar is put forward to give us the benefit of his wit. We are lost in surprise when we find how miserable are his jokes, and take a pride in finding that in one line we are the masters of the Romans. I will give an instance, and I pick it out as the best among those selected by Cicero. Nasica goes to call upon Ennius, and is informed by the maid-servant that her master is not at home. Ennius returns the visit, and Nasica halloos out from the window that he is not within. "Not within!" says Ennius; "don't I know your voice?" Upon which Nasica replies, "You are an impudent fellow! I had the grace to believe your maid, and now you will not believe me myself."[255] How this got into a law-case we do not know; it is told, however, just as I have told it. But there are enough of them here to make a small Joe Miller; and yet, in the midst of language that is almost divine in its expressions, they are given as having been worthy of all attention.

The third book is commenced by the finest passage in the whole treatise. Cicero remembers that Crassus is dead, and then tells the story of his death. And Antony is dead, and the Caesars. The last three had fallen in the Marian massacres. There is but little now in the circumstances of their death to excite our tears. Who knows aught of that Crassus, or of that Antony, or of those Caesars? But Cicero so tells it in his pretended narrative as almost to make us weep. The day was coming when a greater than either of them was to die the same death as Antony, by the order of another Antony—to have his tongue pierced, and his bloody head thrust aloft upon the rostra. But no Roman has dared to tell us of it as Cicero has told the story of those others. Augustus had done his work too well, and it was much during his reign that Romans who could make themselves heard should dare to hold their tongues.

It would be useless in me here to attempt to give any notion of the laws as to speech which Cicero lays down. For myself I do not take them as laws, feeling that the interval of time has been too great to permit laws to remain as such. No orator could, I feel sure, form himself on Cicero's ideas. But the sweetness of the language is so great as to convince us that he, at any rate, knew how to use language as no one has done since: "But there is a building up of words, and a turning of them round, and a nice rendering. There is the opposing and the loosening. There is the avoiding, the holding back, the sudden exclamation, and the dropping of the voice; and the taking an argument from the case at large and bringing it to bear on a single point; and the proof and the propositions together. And there is the leave given; and then a doubting, and an expression of surprise. There is the counting up, the setting right; the utter destruction, the continuation, the breaking off, the pretence, the answer made to one's self, the change of names, the disjoining and rejoining of things—the relation, the retreat, and the curtailing."[256] Who can translate all these things when Quintilian himself has been fain to acknowledge that he has attempted and has failed to handle them in fitting language?

And then at last there comes that most lovely end to these most charming discourses: "His autem de rebus sol me ille admonuit, ut brevior essem, qui ipse jam praecipitans, me quoque hac praecipitem paene evolvere coegit."[257] These words are so charming in their rhythm that I will not rob them of their beauty by a translation. The setting sun requires me also to go to rest: that is their simple meaning. At the end of the book he introduces a compliment to Hortensius, who during his life had been his great rival, and who was still living when the De Oratore was written.

[Sidenote: B.C. 52, aetat. 55.]

The next on the list is the De Optimo Genere Oratorum—a preliminary treatise written as a preface to a translation made by himself on the speeches of AEschines and Demosthenes against Ctesiphon in the matter of the Golden Crown. We have not the translations; but we have his reasons for translating them—namely, that he might enable readers only of Latin to judge how far AEschines and Demosthenes had deserved, either of them, the title of "Optimus orator." For they had spoken against each other with the most bitter abuse, and each spokesman was struggling for the suppression of the other. Each was speaking with the knowledge that, if vanquished, he would have to pay heavily in his person and his pocket. He gives the palm to neither; but he tells his readers that the Attic mode of speaking is gone—of which, indeed, the glory is known, but the nature unknown. But he explains that he has not translated the two pieces verbatim, as an interpreter, but in the spirit, as an orator, using the same figures, the same forms, the same strength of ideas. We have to acknowledge that we do not see how in this way he can have done aught toward answering the question De Optimo Genere Oratorum; but he may perhaps have done something to prove that he himself, in his oratory, had preserved the best known Grecian forms.

The De Partitione Oratoria Dialogus follows, of which we have already spoken, written when he was an old man, and was in the sixty-first year of his life. It was the year in which he had divorced Terentia, and had been made thoroughly wretched in private and in public affairs. But he was not on that account disabled from preparing for his son these instructions, in the form of questions and answers, on the art of speaking.

We next come to the Brutus; or, De Claris Oratoribus, a dialogue supposed to have been held between Brutus, Atticus, and Cicero himself. It is a continuation of the three books De Oratore. He there describes what is essential to the character of the optimus orator. He here looks after the special man, going back over the results of past ages, and bringing before the reader's eyes all Greek and Roman orators, till he comes down to Cicero. I cannot but say that the feeling is left with the reader that the orator optimus has been reached at last in Cicero's mind.

We must remark, in the first place, that he has chosen for his friend, to whom to address his piece, one whom he has only known late in life. It was when he went to Cilicia as governor, when he was fifty-six years old, that he was thrown by Atticus into close relations with Brutus. Now he has, next to Atticus, become his most chosen friend. His three next treatises, the Orator, the Tusculan Disquisitions, and the De Natura Deorum, have all been graced, or intended to be graced, by the name of Brutus. And yet, from what we know, we can hardly imagine two men less likely to be brought together by their political ambition. The one compromising, putting up with the bad rather than with a worse, knowing that things were evil, and contented to accept those that were the least so; the other strict, uncompromising, and one who had learned lessons which had taught him that there was no choice among things that were bad! And Brutus, too, had told Cicero that his lessons in oratory were not to his taste. There was a something about Cicero which enabled him to endure such rebukes while there was aught worthy of praise in the man who rebuked him; and it was to this something that his devotion was paid. We know that Brutus was rapacious after money with all the greed of a Roman nobleman, and we know also that Cicero was not. Cicero could keep his hands clean with thousands around him, and with thousands going into the pockets of other men. He could see the vice of Brutus, but he did not hate it. He must have borne, too, with something from Atticus of the same kind. The truth seems to me that to Cicero there was no horror as to greediness, except to greed in himself. He could hate it for himself and yet tolerate it in others, as a man may card-playing, or rackets, or the turf. But he must have known that Brutus had made himself the owner of all good gifts in learning, and took him to his heart in consequence. In no other way can I explain to myself the feeling of subservience to Brutus which Cicero so generally expresses: it exists in none other of his relations of life. Political subservience there is to Pompey; but he can laugh at Pompey, and did not dedicate to him his treatises De Republica, or De Legibus. To Appius Claudius he was very courteous. He thought badly of Appius, but hardly worse than he ought to have done of Brutus. Of Caelius he was fond, of Curio, of Trebatius. To Paetus he was attached, to Sulpicius and Marcellus. But to none of them did he ever show that deference which he did to Brutus. I could have understood this feeling as evinced in the political letters at the end of his life, and have explained it to myself by saying that the "ipsissima verba" have not probably come to us. But I cannot say that the name of Brutus does not stand there, written in imperishable letters on the title-pages of his most chosen pieces. If this be so, Brutus has owed more to his learning than the respect of Cicero. All ages since have felt it, and Shakespeare has told us that "Brutus is an honorable man."

There is a dispute as to the period of the authorship of this treatise. Cicero in it tells us of Cato and of Marcellus, and therefore we must suppose that it was written when they were alive. Indeed, he so compares Caesar and Marcellus as he could not have done had they not both been alive. But Cato and Marcellus died B.C. 46, and how then could the treatise have been written in B.C. 45? It should, however, be remembered that a written paper may be altered and rewritten, and that the date of authorship and that of publication cannot be exactly the same. But the time is of but little matter to those who can take delight in the discourse. He begins by telling us how he had grieved when, on his return from Cilicia, he had heard that Hortensius was dead. Hortensius had brought him into the College of Augurs, and had there stood to him in the place of a parent. And he had lamented Hortensius also on behalf of Rome. Hortensius had gone. Then he goes on to say that, as he was thinking of these things while walking in his portico, Brutus had come to him and Pomponius Atticus. He says how pleasantly they greeted each other; and then gradually they go on, till Atticus asks him to renew the story he had before been telling. "In truth, Pomponius," he says, "I remember it right well, for then it was that I heard Deiotarus, that truest and best of kings, defended by our Brutus here," Deiotarus was that Eastern king whose defence by Cicero himself I have mentioned when speaking of his pleadings before Caesar. Then he rushes off into his subject, and discusses at length his favorite idea. It must still be remembered that neither here are to be traced any positive line of lessons in oratory. There is no beginning, no middle, and no end to this treatise. Cicero runs on, charming us rather by his language than by his lessons. He says of Eloquence that "she is the companion of peace, and the associate of ease."[258] He tells us of Cato, that he had read a hundred and fifty of his speeches, and had "found them all replete with bright words and with great matter; * * * and yet no one in his days read Cato's speeches!"[259] This, of course, was Cato the elder. Then we hear how Demosthenes said that in oratory action was everything: it was the first thing, the second, and the third. "For there is nothing like it to penetrate into the minds of the audience—to teach them, to turn them, and to form them, till the orator shall be made to appear exactly that which he wishes to be thought.[260] * * * The man who listens to one who is an orator believes what he hears; he thinks everything to be true, he approves of all."[261] No doubt! In his power of describing the orator and his work Cicero is perfect; but he does not describe the man doing that which he is bound to do by his duty.

He tells us that nothing is worse than half a dozen advocates—which certainly is true.[262] Further on he comes to Caesar, and praises him very highly. But here Brutus is made to speak, and tells us how he has read the Commentaries, and found them to be "bare in their beauty, perfect in symmetry, but unadorned, and deprived of all outside garniture."[263] They are all that he has told us, nor could they have been described in truer words. Then he names Hortensius, and speaks of him in language which is graceful and graphic; but he reserves his greatest strength for himself, and at last, declaring that he will say nothing in his own praise, bursts out into a string of eulogy, which he is able to conceal beneath dubious phrases, so as to show that he himself has acquired such a mastery over his art as to have made himself, in truth, the best orator of them all.[264]

Perhaps the chief charm of this essay is to be found in the lightness of the touch. It is never heavy, never severe, rarely melancholic. If read without reference to other works, it would leave on the reader's mind the impression that though now and again there had come upon him the memory of a friend who had gone, and some remembrance of changes in the State to which, as an old man, he could not give his assent; nevertheless, it was written by a happy man, by one who was contented among his books, and was pleased to be reminded that things had gone well with him. He writes throughout as one who had no great sorrow at his heart. No one would have thought that in this very year he was perplexed in his private affairs, even to the putting away of his wife; that Caesar had made good his ground, and, having been Dictator last year, had for the third time become Consul; that he knew himself to be living, as a favor, by Caesar's pleasure. Cicero seems to have written his Brutus as one might write who was well at ease. Let a man have taught himself aught, and have acquired the love of letters, it is easy for him then, we might say, to carry on his work. What is it to him that politicians are cutting each other's throats around him? He has not gone into that arena and fought and bled there, nor need he do so. Though things may have gone contrary to his views, he has no cause for anger, none for personal disappointment, none for personal shame; but with Cicero, on every morning as he rose he must have remembered Pompey and have thought of Caesar. And though Caesar was courteous to him, the courtesy of a ruler is hard to be borne by him who himself has ruled. Caesar was Consul; and Cicero, who remembered how majestically he had walked when a few years since he was Consul by the real votes of the people, how he had been applauded for doing his duty to the people, how he had been punished for stretching the laws on the people's behalf, how he had refused everything for the people, must have had bitter feelings in his heart when he sat down to write this conversation with Brutus and with Atticus. Yet it has all the cheerfulness which might have been expected from a happy mind. But we must remark that at its close—in its very final words—he does allude with sad melancholy to the state of affairs, and that then it breaks off abruptly. Even in the middle of a sentence it is brought to a close, and the reader is left to imagine that something has been lost, or that more might have been added.

The last of these works is the Orator. We have passed in review the De Oratore, and the Brutus; or, De Claris Oratoribus. We have now to consider that which is commonly believed to be the most finished piece of the three. Such seems to have become the general idea of those scholars who have spoken and written on the subject. He himself says that there are in all five books. There are the three De Oratore; the fourth is called the Brutus, and the fifth the Orator.[265] In some MSS. this work has a second title, De Optimo Genere Dicendi—as though the five books should run on in a sequence, the first three being on oratory in general, the fourth as to famous orators, while the last concluding work is on the best mode of oratory. Readers who may wish to carry these in their minds must exclude for the moment from their memory the few pages which he wrote as a preface to the translations from AEschines and Demosthenes. The purport is to show how that hitherto unknown hero of romance may be produced—the perfect orator.

Here as elsewhere we shall find the greatest interest lies in a certain discursive treatment of his subject, which enables him to run hither and thither, while he always pleases us, whatever attitude he may assume, whatever he may say, and in whatever guise he may speak to us. But here, in the last book, there does seem to be some kind of method in his discourse. He distinguishes three styles of eloquence—the simple, the moderate, and the sublime, and explains that the orator has three duties to perform. He must learn what on any subject he has to say; he must place his arguments in order, and he must know how to express them. He explains what action should achieve for the orator, and teaches that eloquence depends wholly on elocution. He tells us that the philosophers, the historians, and the poets have never risen to his ideas of eloquence; but that he alone does so who can, amid the heat and work of the Forum, turn men's minds as he wishes. Then he teaches us how each of the three styles should be treated—the simple, the moderate, and the sublime—and shows us how to vary them. He informs us what laws we should preserve in each, what ornaments, what form, and what metaphors. He then considers the words we should use, and makes us understand how necessary it is to attend to the minutest variety of sound. In this matter we have to acknowledge that he, as a Roman, had to deal with instruments for listening infinitely finer than are our British ears; and I am not sure that we can follow him with rapture into all the mysteries of the Poeon, the Dochmius, and the Dichoreus. What he says of rhythm we are willing to take to be true, and we wonder at the elaborate study given to it; but I doubt whether we here do not read of it as a thing beyond us, by descending into which we should be removing ourselves farther from the more wholesome pursuits of our lives.

There are, again, delightful morsels here. He tells us, for instance, that he who has created a beautiful thing must have beauty in his soul,[266]—a charming idea, as to which we do not stop to inquire whether it be true or not. He gives us a most excellent caution against storing up good sayings, and using them from the storehouse of our memory: "Let him avoid these studied things, not made of the moment, but brought from the closet."[267] Then he rises into a grand description of the perfect orator: "But that third man is he, rich, abundant, dignified, and instructed, in whom there is a divine strength. This is he whose fulness and culture of speech the nations have admired, and whose eloquence has been allowed to prevail over the people.[268] * * * Then will the orator make himself felt more abundantly. Then will he rule their minds and turn their hearts. Then will he do with them as he would wish."[269]

But in the teeth of all this it did not please Brutus himself. "When I wrote to him," he said to Atticus, "in obedience to his wishes, 'De Optimo Genere Dicendi,' he sent word, both to you and me, that that which pleased me did not satisfy him."[270] "Let every man kiss his own wife," says Cicero in his letter in the next words to those we have quoted; and we cannot but love the man for being able to joke when he is telling of the rebuff he has received. It must have been an additional pang to him, that he for whom he had written his book should receive it with stern rebuke.

At last we come to the Topica; the last instructions which Cicero gives on the subject of oratory. The Romans seem to have esteemed much the lessons which are here conveyed, but for us it has but little attraction. He himself declares it to have been a translation from Aristotle, but declares also that the translation has been made from memory. He has been at sea, he says, in the first chapter, and has there performed his task, and has sent it as soon as it has been done. There is something in this which is unintelligible to us. He has translated a treatise of Aristotle from memory—that is, without having the original before him—and has done this at sea, on his intended journey to Greece![271] I do not believe that Cicero has been false in so writing. The work has been done for his young friend Trebatius, who had often asked it, and was much too clever when he had received it not to recognize its worth. But Cicero has, in accordance with his memory, reduced to his own form Aristotle's idea as to "invention" in logic. Aristotle's work is, I am informed, in eight books: here is a bagatelle in twenty-five pages. There is an audacity in the performance—especially in the doing it on board ship; but we must remember that he had spent his life in achieving a knowledge of these things, and was able to write down with all the rapidity of a practised professor the doctrines on the matter which he wished to teach Trebatius.

This later essay is a recapitulation of the different sources to which an orator, whether as lawyer, advocate, philosopher, or statesman, may look for his arguments. That they should have been of any great use to Trebatius, in the course of his long life as attorney-general about the court of Augustus, I cannot believe. I do not know that he rose to special mark as an orator, though he was well known as a counsellor; nor do I think that oratory, or the powers of persuasion, can be so brought to book as to be made to submit itself to formal rules. And here they are given to us in the form of a catalogue. It is for modern readers perhaps the least interesting of all Cicero's works.

There is left upon us after reading these treatises a general idea of the immense amount of attention which, in the Roman educated world, was paid to the science of speaking. To bring his arguments to bear at the proper moment—to catch the ideas that are likely to be rising in the minds of men—to know when the sympathies may be expected and when demanded, when the feelings may be trusted and when they have been too blunted to be of service—to perceive from an instinctive outlook into those before him when he may be soft, when hard, when obdurate and when melting—this was the business of a Roman orator. And this was to be achieved only by a careful study of the characters of men. It depended in no wise on virtue, on morals, or on truth, though very much on education. How he might please the multitude—this was everything to him. It was all in all to him to do just that which here in our prosaic world in London we have been told that men ought not to attempt. They do attempt it, but they fail—through the innate honesty which there is in the hearts of men. In Italy, in Cicero's time, they attempted it, and did not fail. But we can see what were the results.

The attention which Roman orators paid to their voices was as serious, and demanded the same restraint, as the occupations of the present athlete. We are inclined to doubt whether too much of life is not devoted to the purpose. It could not be done but by a people so greedy of admiration as to feel that all other things should be abandoned by those who desire to excel. The actor of to-day will do it, but it is his business to act; and if he so applies himself to his profession as to succeed, he has achieved his object. But oratory in the law court, as in Parliament, or in addressing the public, is only the means of imbuing the minds of others with the ideas which the speaker wishes to implant there. To have those ideas, and to have the desire to teach them to others, is more to him than the power of well expressing them. To know the law is better than to talk of knowing it. But with the Romans so great was the desire to shine that the reality was lost in its appearance; and so prone were the people to indulge in the delight of their senses that they would sacrifice a thing for a sound, and preferred lies in perfect language to truth in halting syllables. This feeling had sunk deep into Cicero's heart when he was a youth, and has given to his character the only stain which it has. He would be patriotic: to love his country was the first duty of a Roman. He would be honest: so much was indispensable to his personal dignity. But he must so charm his countrymen with his voice as to make them feel while they listened to him that some god addressed them. In this way he became permeated by the love of praise, till it was death to him not to be before the lamps.

The "perfect orator" is, we may say, a person neither desired nor desirable. We, who are the multitude of the world, and have been born to hold our tongues and use our brains, would not put up with him were he to show himself. But it was not so in Cicero's time; and this was the way he took to sing the praises of his own profession and to magnify his own glory. He speaks of that profession in language so excellent as to make us who read his words believe that there was more in it than it did in truth hold. But there was much in it, and the more so as the performers reacted upon their audience. The delicacy of the powers of expression had become so great, that the powers of listening and distinguishing had become great also. As the instruments became fine, so did the ears which were to receive their music. Cicero, and Quintilian after him, tell us this. The latter, in speaking of the nature of the voice, gives us a string of epithets which it would be hopeless to attempt to translate: "Nam est et candida, et fusca, et plena, et exilis, et levis, et aspera, et contracta, et fusa, et dura, et flexibilis, et clara, et obtusa; spiritus etiam longior, breviorque."[272] And the remarkable thing was, that every Roman who listened would understand what the orator intended, and would know too, and would tell him of it, if by error he had fallen into some cadence which was not exactly right. To the modes of raising the voice, which are usually divided into three—the high or treble, the low or bass, and that which is between the two, the contralto and tenor—many others are added. There are the eager and the soft, the higher and the lower notes, the quicker and the slower. It seems little to us, who know that we can speak or whisper, hammer our words together, or drawl them out. But then every listener was critically alive to the fact whether the speaker before him did or did not perform his task as it should be done. No wonder that Cicero demanded who was the optimus orator. Then the strength of body had to be matured, lest the voice should fall to "a sick, womanly weakness, like that of an eunuch." This must be provided by exercise, by anointing, by continence, by the easy digestion of the food—which means moderation; and the jaws must be free, so that the words must not strike each other. And as to the action of the orator, Cicero tells us that it should speak as loudly and as plainly as do the words themselves. In all this we find that Quintilian only follows his master too closely. The hands, the shoulders, the sides, the stamping of the foot, the single step or many steps—every motion of the body, agreeing with the words from his mouth, are all described.[273] He attributes this to Antony—but only because, as he thinks of it, some movement of Antony's has recurred to his memory.

To make the men who heard him believe in him was the one gift which Cicero valued; not to make them know him to be true, but to believe him to be so. This it was, in Cicero's time, to be the optimus orator.

Since Cicero's time there has been some progress in the general conduct of men. They are less greedy, less cruel, less selfish—greedy, cruel, and selfish though they still are. The progress which the best among us have made Cicero in fact achieved; but he had not acquired that theoretic aversion to a lie which is the first feeling in the bosom of a modern gentleman; therefore it was that he still busied himself with finding the optimus orator.



CHAPTER XII.

CICERO'S PHILOSOPHY.

It will have been observed that in the list given in the previous chapter the works commonly published as Cicero's Philosophy have been divided. Some are called his Philosophy and some his Moral Essays. It seems to be absurd to put forward to the world his Tusculan Inquiries, written with the declared object of showing that death and pain were not evils, together with a moral essay, such as that De Officiis, in which he tells us what it may become a man of the world to do. It is as though we bound up Lord Chesterfield's letters in a volume with Hume's essays, and called them the philosophy of the eighteenth century. It might be true, but it would certainly be absurd. There might be those who regard the letters as philosophical, and those who would so speak of the essays; but their meaning would be diametrically opposite. It is so with Cicero, whose treatises have been lumped together under this name with the view of bringing them under one appellation. It had been found necessary to divide his works and to describe them. The happy man who first thought to put the De Natura Deorum and the De Amicitia into boards together, and to present them to the world under the name of his philosophy, perhaps found the only title that could unite the two. But he has done very much to mislead the world, and to teach readers to believe that Cicero was in truth one who endeavored to live in accordance with the doctrine of any special school of philosophy.

He was too honest, too wise, too civilized, too modern for that. He knew, no one better, that the pleasure of the world was pleasant, and that the ills are the reverse. When his wife betrayed him, he grieved. When his daughter died, he sorrowed. When his foe was strong against him, he hated him. He avoided pain when it came near him, and did his best to have everything comfortable around him. He was so far an Epicurean, as we all are. He did not despise death, or pain, or grief. He was a modern-minded man—if I make myself understood—of robust tendencies, moral, healthy, and enduring; but he was anything but a philosopher in his life. Let us remember the way in which he laughs at the idea of bringing philosophy into real life in the De Oratore. He is speaking of the manner in which the lawyers would have had to behave themselves in the law courts if philosophy had been allowed to prevail: "No man could have grieved aloud. No patron would have wept. No one would have sorrowed. There would have been no calling of the Republic to witness; not a man would have dared to stamp his foot, lest it should have been told to the Stoics."[274] "You should keep the books of the philosophers for your Tusculan ease," he had said in the preceding chapter; and he speaks, in the same page, of "Plato's fabulous State."

Then why, it may be asked, did he write so many essays on philosophy—enough to have consumed the energies of many laborious years? There can be no doubt that he did write the Philosophy, though we have ample reason to know that it was not his philosophy. All those treatises, beginning with the Academica—written when he was sixty-two, two years only before his death, and carried on during twelve months with indomitable energy—the De Finibus, the Tusculan Disputations, the De Natura Deorum, the De Divinatione, and the De Fato—were composed during the time named. To those who have regarded Cicero as a philosopher—as one who has devoted his life to the pursuits of philosophy—does it not appear odd that he should have deferred his writing on the subject and postponed his convictions till now? At this special period of his life why should he have rushed into them at once, and should so have done it as to be able to leave them aside at another period? Why has all this been done within less than two years? Let any man look to the last year of his life, when the Philippics were coming hot from his brain and eager from his mouth, and ask himself how much of Greek philosophy he finds in them. Out of all the sixty-four years of his life he devoted one to this philosophy, and that not the last, but the penultimate; and so lived during all these years, even including that one, as to show how little hold philosophy had upon his conduct. [Greek: Aideomai Troas]. Was that Greek philosophy? or the eager exclamation of a human spirit, in its weakness and in its strength, fearing the breath of his fellow-men, and yet knowing that the truth would ultimately be expressed by it?

Nor is the reason for this far to seek, though the character which could avail itself of such a reason requires a deep insight. To him literature had been everything. We have seen with what attention he had studied oratory—rhetoric rather—so as to have at his fingers'-ends the names of those who had ever shone in it, and the doctrines they had taught. We know how well read he was in Homer and the Greek tragedians; how he knew by heart his Ennius, his Naevius, his Pacuvius, and the others who had written in his own tongue. As he was acquainted with the poets and rhetoricians, so also was he acquainted with those writers who have handled philosophy. His incredible versatility was never at fault. He knew them all from the beginning, and could interest himself in their doctrines. He had been in the schools at Athens, and had learned it all. In one sense he believed in it. There was a great battle of words carried on, and in regard to that battle he put his faith in this set or in the other. But had he ever been asked by what philosophical process he would rule the world, he would have smiled. Then he would have declared himself not to be an Academician, but a Republican.

It was with him a game of play, ornamented with all the learning of past ages. He had found the schools full of it at Athens, and had taken his part in their teaching. It had been pleasant to him to call himself a disciple of Plato, and to hold himself aloof from the straitness of the Stoics, and from the mundane theories of the followers of Epicurus. It had been well for him also to take an interest in that play. But to suppose that Cicero, the modern Cicero, the Cicero of the world—Cicero the polished gentleman, Cicero the soft hearted, Cicero the hater, Cicero the lover, Cicero the human—was a believer in Greek philosophy—that he had taken to himself and fed upon those shreds and tatters and dry sticks—that he had ever satisfied himself with such a mode of living as they could promise to him—is indeed to mistake the man. His soul was quiveringly alive to all those instincts which now govern us. Go among our politicians, and you shall find this man and the other, who, in after-dinner talk, shall call himself an Epicurean, or shall think himself to be an Academician. He has carried away something of the learning of his college days, and remembers enough of his school exercises for that; but when he has to make a speech for or against Protection, then you will find out where lies his philosophy.

And so it was with Cicero during this the penultimate year of his life. He poured forth during this period such an amount of learning on the subject, that when men took it up after the lapse of centuries they labelled it all as his philosophy. When he could no longer talk politics, nor act them—when the Forum was no longer open to him, nor the meetings of the people or of the Senate—when he could no longer make himself heard on behalf of the State—then he took to discussions on Carneades. And his discussions are wonderful. How could he lay his mind to work when his daughter was dead, and write in beautiful language four such treatises as came from his pen while he was thinking of the temple which was to be built to her memory? It is a marvel that at such a period, at such an age, he should have been equal to the labor. But it was thus that he amused himself, consoled himself, distracted himself. It is hard to believe that, in the sad evening of his life, such a power should have remained with him; but easier, I think, than to imagine that in that year of his life he had suddenly become philosophical.

In describing the Academica, the first of these works in point of time, it is necessary to explain that by reason of an alteration in his plan of publishing, made by Cicero after he had sent the first copy to Atticus, and by the accident that the second part has been preserved of the former copy and the first part of the second, a confusion has arisen. Cicero had felt that he might have done better by his friends than to bring Hortensius, Catulus, and Lucullus discussing Greek philosophy before the public. They were, none of them, men who when alive had interested themselves in the matter. He therefore rewrote the essays, or altered them, and again sent them forth to his friend Varro. Time has been so far kind to them as to have preserved portions of the first book as altered, and the second of the four which constituted the first edition. It is that which has been called Lucullus. The Catulus had come first, but has been lost. Hortensius and Cicero were the last two. We may perceive, therefore, into what a length of development he carried his purpose. It must be of course understood that he dictated these exercises, and assisted himself by the use of all mechanical means at his disposal. The men who worked for him were slaves, and these slaves were always willing to keep in their own hands the good things which came to them by the exercise of their own intelligence and adroitness. He could not multiply his own hands or brain, but he could multiply all that might assist them. He begins by telling Varro that he has long since desired to illustrate in Latin letters the philosophy which Socrates had commended, and he asks Varro why he, who was so much given to writing, had not as yet written about any of these things. As Varro boasted afterward that he was the author of four hundred and ninety books, there seems to be a touch of irony in this. Be that as it may, Varro is made to take up the gauntlet and to rush away at once amid the philosophers. But here on the threshold, as it were, of his inquiries, we have Cicero's own reasons given in plain language: "But now, hit hard by the heavy blow of fortune, and freed as I am from looking after the State, I seek from philosophy relief from my pain." He thinks that he may in this way perhaps best serve the public, or even "if it be not so, what else is there that he may find to do?"[275] As he goes on, however, we find that what he writes is about the philosophers rather than philosophy.

Then we come to the Lucullus. It seems odd that the man whose name has come down to us as a by-word for luxury, and who is laden with the reproach of overeating, should be thus brought forward as a philosopher. It was perhaps the subsequent feeling on Cicero's part that such might be the opinion of men which induced him to alter his form—in vain, as far as we are concerned. But Lucullus had lived with Antiochus, a Greek philosopher, who had certain views of his own, and he is made to defend them through this book.

Here as elsewhere it is not the subject which delights us so much as the manner in which he handles certain points almost outside the subject: "How many things do those exercised in music know which escape us! Ah, there is Antiope, they say; that is Andromache."[276] What can be truer, or less likely, we may suppose, to meet us in a treatise on philosophy, and, therefore, more welcome? He is speaking of evidence: "It is necessary that the mind shall yield to what is clear, whether it wish it or no, as the dish in a balance must give way when a weight is put upon it.[277] * * * You may snore, if you will, as well as sleep," says Carneades; "what good will it do you?"[278] And then he gives the guesses of some of the old philosophers as to the infinite. Thales has said that water is the source of everything. Anaximander would not agree to this, for he thought that all had come from space. Anaximenes had affirmed that it was air. Anaxagoras had remarked that matter was infinite. Xenophanes had declared that everything was one whole, and that it was a god, everlasting, eternal, never born and never dying, but round in his shape! Parmenides thought that it was fire that moved the earth. Leucippus believed it to be "plenum et inane." What "full and empty" may mean I cannot tell; but Democritus could, for he believed in it—though in other matters he went a little farther! Empedocles sticks to the old four elements. Heraclitus is all for fire. Melissus imagines that whatever exists is infinite and immutable, and ever has been and ever will be. Plato thinks that the world has always existed, while the Pythagoreans attribute everything to mathematics.[279] "Your wise man," continues Cicero, "will know one whom to choose out of all these. Let the others, who have been repudiated, retire."

"They are all concealed, these things—hidden in thick darkness, so that no human eye can have power enough to look up into the heavens or down on to the earth. We do not know our own bodies, or the nature or strength of their component parts. The doctors themselves, who have opened them and looked at them, are ignorant. The Empirics declare that they know nothing; because, as soon as looked at, they may change. * * * Hicetas, the Syracusan, as Theophrastus tells us, thinks that the heavens and the sun and the moon and the stars all stand still, and that nothing in all the world moves but the earth. Now what do you, followers of Epicurus, say to this?"[280] I need not carry the conversation on any farther to show that Cicero is ridiculing the whole thing. This Hicetas, the Syracusan, seems to have been nearer the mark than the others, according to the existing lights, which had not shone out as yet in Cicero's days. "But what was the meaning of it all? Who knows anything about it? How is a man to live by listening to such trash as this?" It is thus that Cicero means to be understood. I will agree that Cicero does not often speak out so clearly as he does here, turning the whole thing into ridicule. He does generally find it well to say something in praise of these philosophers. He does not quite declare the fact that nothing is to be made of them; or, rather, there is existing in it all an under feeling that, were he to do so, he would destroy his character and rob himself of his amusement. But we remember always his character of a philosopher, as attributed to Cato, in his speech during his Consulship for Murena. I have told the story when giving an account of the speech. "He who cuts the throat of an old cock when there is no need, has sinned as deeply as the parricide when breaking his father's neck,"[281] says Cicero, laughing at the Stoics. There he speaks out the feelings of his heart—there, and often elsewhere in his orations. Here, in his Academica, he is eloquent on the same side. We cannot but rejoice at the plainness of his words; but it has to be acknowledged that we do not often find him so loudly betraying himself when dealing with the old discussions of the Greek philosophers.

Very quickly after his Academica, in B.C. 45, came the five books, De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, written as though with the object of settling the whole controversy, and declaring whether the truth lay with the Epicureans, the Stoics, or the Academics. What, at last, is the good thing, and what the evil thing, and how shall we gain the one and avoid the other? If he will tell us this, he will have proved himself to be a philosopher to some purpose. But he does nothing of the kind. At the end of the fifth book we find Atticus, who was an Epicurean, declaring to Quintus Cicero that he held his own opinion just as firmly as ever, although he had been delighted to hear how well the Academician Piso had talked in Latin. He had hitherto considered that these were things which would not sound well unless in the Greek language.

It is again in the form of a dialogue, and, like all his writings at this time, is addressed to Brutus. It is in five books. The first two are supposed to have been held at Cumae, between Cicero, Torquatus, and Triarius. Here, after a prelude in favor of philosophy and Latin together, Torquatus is allowed to make the best excuse he can for Epicurus. The prelude contains much good sense; for, whether he be right or not in what he says, it is good for every man to hold his own language in respect. "I have always thought and said that the Latin language is not poor as it is supposed to be, but even richer than the Greek."[282] "Let us learn," says Torquatus, who has happened to call upon him at Cumae with Triarius, a grave and learned youth, as we are told, "since we have found you at your house, why it is that you do not approve of Epicurus—he who, alive, seems to have freed the minds of men from error, and to have taught them everything which could tend to make them happy."[283] Then Torquatus goes to work and delivers a most amusing discourse on the wisdom of Democritus and his great disciple. The words fly about with delightful power, so as to leave upon our minds an idea that Torquatus is persuading his audience; for it is Cicero's peculiar gift, in whosesoever mouth he puts his words, to make him argue as though he were the victor. We feel sure that, had he in his hand held a theory contrary to that of Torquatus, had he in truth cared about it, he could not have made Torquatus speak so well. But the speaker comes to an end, and assures his hearers that his only object had been to hear—as he had never heard before—what Cicero's own opinion might be on the matter.

The second book is a continuation of the same meeting. The word is taken up by Cicero, and he refutes Torquatus. It seems to us, however, that poor Epicurus is but badly treated—as has been generally the case in the prose works which have come down to us. We have, indeed, the poem of Lucretius, and it is admitted that it contains fine passages. But I was always told when young that the writing of it had led him to commit suicide—a deed on his part which seems to have been painted in black colors, though Cato and Brutus, the Stoics, did the same thing very gloriously. The Epicureans are held to be sensualists, because they have used the word "pleasure" instead of "happiness," and Cicero is hard upon them. He tells a story of the dying moments of Epicurus, quoting a letter written on his death-bed. "While I am writing," he says, "I am living my last hour, and the happiest. I have so bad a pain in my stomach that nothing can be worse. But I am compensated for it all by the joy I feel as I think of my philosophical discourses."[284] Cicero then goes on to declare that, though the saying is very noble, it is unnecessary; he should not, in truth, have required compensation. But whenever an opinion is enunciated, the reader feels it to be unnecessary. He does not want opinion. He is satisfied with the language in which Cicero writes about the opinions of others, and with the amusing manner in which he deals with things of themselves heavy and severe.

In the third book he, some time afterward, discusses the Stoic doctrine with Cato at the Tusculan villa of Lucullus, near to his own. He had walked over, and finding Cato there by chance, had immediately gone to work to demolish Cato's philosophical doctrines. He tells us what a glutton Cato was over his books, taking them even into the Senate with him. Cicero asks for certain volumes of Aristotle, and Cato answers him that he would fain put into his hand those of Zeno's school.

We can see how easily Cato falls into the trap. He takes up his parable, and preaches his sermon, but he does it with a marvellous enthusiasm, so that we cannot understand that the man who wrote it intended to demolish it all in the next few pages. I will translate his last words of Cato's appeal to the world at large: "I have been carried farther than my intention. But in truth the admirable order of the system, and the incredible symmetry of it, has led him on. By the gods, do you not wonder at it? In nature there is nothing so close packed, nor in art so well fitted. The latter always agrees with the former—that which follows with that which has gone before. Not a stone in it all can be moved from its place. If you touch but one letter it falls to the ground. How severe, how magnificent, how dignified stands out the person of the wise man, who, when his reason shall have taught him that virtue is the only good, of a necessity must be happy! He shall be more justly called king than Tarquin, who could rule neither himself nor others; more rightly Dictator than Sulla, the owner of the three vices, luxury, avarice, and cruelty; more rightly rich than Crassus, who, had he not in truth been poor, would never have crossed the Euphrates in quest of war. All things are justly his who knows how to use them justly. You may call him beautiful whose soul is more lovely than his body. He is free who is slave to no desire. He is unconquered for whose mind you can forge no chains; you need not wait with him for the last day to pronounce him happy. If this be so, then the good man is also the happy man. What can be better worth our study than philosophy, or what more heavenly than virtue?"[285] All of this was written by Cicero in most elaborate language, with a finish of words polished down to the last syllable, because he had nothing else wherewith to satisfy the cravings of his intellect.

The fourth book is a continuation of the argument "Which when he had said he (made) an end.—But I (began)."[286] With no other introduction Cicero goes to work and demolishes every word that Cato had said. He is very courteous, so that Cato cannot but admit that he is answered becomingly; but, to use a common phrase, he does not leave him a leg to stand upon. Although during the previous book Cato has talked so well that the reader will think that there must be something in it, he soon is made to perceive that the Stoic budge is altogether shoddy.

The fifth and last book, De Finibus, is supposed to recount a dialogue held at Athens, or, rather, gives the circumstances of a discourse pretended to have been delivered there by Pupius Piso to the two Ciceros, and to their cousin Lucius, on the merits of the old Academy and the Aristotelian Peripatetics; for Plato's philosophy had got itself split into two. There was the old and the new, and we may perhaps doubt to which Cicero devoted himself. He certainly was not an Epicurean, and he certainly was not a Stoic. He delighted to speak of himself as a lover of Plato. But in some matters he seems to have followed Aristotle, who had diverged from Plato, and he seems also to have clung to Carneades, who had become master of the new Academy. But, in truth, to ascertain the special doctrine of such a man on such a subject is vain. As we read these works we lose ourselves in admiration of his memory; we are astonished at the industry which he exhibits; we are delighted by his perspicuity; and feel ourselves relieved amid the crowd of names and theories by flashes of his wit; but there comes home to us, as a result, the singular fact of a man playing with these theories as the most interesting sport the world had produced, but not believing the least in any of them. It was not that he disbelieved; and perhaps among them all the tenets of the new Academy were those which reconciled themselves the best to his common-sense. But they were all nothing to him but an amusement.

In this book there are some exquisite bits. He says, speaking of Athens, that, "Go where you will through the city, you place your footsteps on the vestiges of history."[287] He says of a certain Demetrius, whom he describes as writing books without readers in Egypt, "that this culture of his mind was to him, as it were, the food by which his humanity was kept alive."[288] And then he falls into the praise of our love for our neighbors, and introduces us to that true philosophy which was the real guide of his life. "Among things which are honest," he says, "there is nothing which shines so brightly and so widely as that brotherhood between men, that agreement as to what may be useful to all, and that general love for the human race. It comes from our original condition, in which children are loved by their parents; and then binding together the family, it spreads itself abroad among relations, connections, friends, and neighbors. Then it includes citizens and those who are our allies. At last it takes in the whole human race, and that feeling of the soul arises which, giving every man his own, and defending by equal laws the rights of each, is called justice."[289] It matters little how may have been introduced this great secret which Christ afterward taught, and for which we look in vain through the writings of all the philosophers. It comes here simply from Cicero himself in the midst of his remarks on the new Academy, but it gives the lesson which had governed his life: "I will do unto others as I would they should do unto me." In this is contained the rudiments of that religion which has served to soften the hearts of us all. It is of you I must think, and not of myself. Hitherto the schools had taught how a man should make himself happy, whether by pleasure, whether by virtue, or whether by something between the two. It seems that it had never as yet occurred to a man to think of another except as a part of the world around him. Then there had come a teacher who, while fumbling among the old Greek lessons which had professed to tell mankind what each should do for himself, brings forth this, as it were, in preparation for the true doctrine that was to come: "Ipsa caritas generis humani!"—"That love of the human race!" I trust I may be able to show, before I have finished my work, that this was Cicero's true philosophy. All the rest is merely with him a play of words.

Our next work contains the five books of the Tusculan Disputations, addressed to Brutus: Tusculanarum Disputationum, ad M. Brutum, libri i., ii., iii., iv., and v. That is the name that has at last been decided by the critics and annotators as having been probably given to them by Cicero. They are supposed to have been written to console himself in his grief for the death of Tullia. I have great doubt whether consolation in sorrow is to be found in philosophy, but I have none as to the finding it in writing philosophy. Here, I may add, that the poor generally suffer less in their sorrow than the rich, because they are called upon to work for their bread. The man who must make his pair of shoes between sunrise and the moment at which he can find relief from his weary stool, has not time to think that his wife has left him, and that he is desolate in the world. Pulling those weary threads, getting that leather into its proper shape, seeing that his stitches be all taut, so that he do not lose his place among the shoemakers, so fills his time that he has not a moment for a tear. And it is the same if you go from the lowest occupation to the highest. Writing Greek philosophy does as well as the making of shoes. The nature of the occupation depends on the mind, but its utility on the disposition. It was Cicero's nature to write. Will any one believe that he might not as well have consoled himself with one of his treatises on oratory? But philosophy was then to his hands. It seems to have cropped up in his latter years, after he had become intimate with Brutus. When life was again one turmoil of political fever it was dropped.

In the five of the Books of the Tusculan Disputations, still addressed to Brutus, he contends: 1. That death is no evil; 2. That pain is none; 3. That sorrow may be abolished; 4. That the passions may be conquered; 5. That virtue will suffice to make a man happy. These are the doctrines of the Stoics; but Cicero does not in these books defend any school especially. He leans heavily on Epicurus, and gives all praise to Socrates and to Plato; but he is comparatively free: "Nullius adductus jurare in verba magistri,"[290] as Horace afterward said, probably ridiculing Cicero. "I live for the day. Whatever strikes my mind as probable, that I say. In this way I alone am free."[291]

Let us take his dogmas and go through them one by one, comparing each with his own life. This, it may be said, is a crucial test to which but few philosophers would be willing to accede; but if it shall be found that he never even dreamed of squaring his conduct with his professions, then we may admit that he employed his time in writing these things because it did not suit him to make his pair of shoes.

Was there ever a man who lived with a greater fear of death before his eyes—not with the fear of a coward, but with the assurance that it would withdraw him from his utility, and banish him from the scenes of a world in sympathy with which every pulse of his heart was beating? Even after Tullia was dead the Republic had come again for him, and something might be done to stir up these faineant nobles! What could a dead man do for his country? Look back at Cicero's life, and see how seldom he has put forward the plea of old age to save him from his share of the work of attack. Was this the man to console himself with the idea that death was no evil? And did he despise pain, or make any attempt at showing his disregard of it? You can hardly answer this question by looking for a man's indifference when undergoing it. It would be to require too much from philosophy to suppose that it could console itself in agony by reasoning. It would not be fair to insist on arguing with Cato in the gout. The clemency of human nature refuses to deal with philosophy in the hard straits to which it may be brought by the malevolence of evil. But when you find a man peculiarly on the alert to avoid the recurrence of pain, when you find a man with a strong premeditated antipathy to a condition as to which he pretends an indifference, then you may fairly assert that his indifference is only a matter of argument. And this was always Cicero's condition. He knew that he must at any rate lose the time passed by him under physical annoyance. His health was good, and by continued care remained so to the end; but he was always endeavoring to avoid sea-sickness. He was careful as to his baths, careful as to his eyes, very careful as to his diet. Was there ever a man of whom it might be said with less truth that he was indifferent as to pain?

The third position is that sorrow may be abolished. Read his letters to Atticus about his daughter Tullia, written at the very moment he was proving this. He was a heart-broken, sorrow-stricken man. It will not help us now to consider whether in this he showed strength or weakness. There will be doubt about it, whether he gained or lost more by that deep devotion to another creature which made his life a misery to him because that other one had gone; whether, too, he might not have better hidden his sorrow than have shown it even to his friend. But with him, at any rate, it was there. He can talk over it, weep over it, almost laugh over it; but if there be a thing that he cannot do, it is to treat it after the manner of a Stoic.

His passions should be conquered. Look back at every period of his life, and see whether he has ever attempted it. He has always been indignant, or triumphant, or miserable, or rejoicing. Remember the incidents of his life before and after his Consulship—the day of his election and the day of his banishment—and ask the philosophers why he had not controlled his passion. I shall be told, perhaps, that here was a man over whom, in spite of his philosophy, his passion had the masterhood. But what attempt did he ever make? Has he shown himself to us to be a man with a leaning toward such attempts? Has he not revelled in his passions, feeling them to be just, righteous, honest, and becoming a man? Has he regretted them? Did they occasion him remorse? Will any one tell me that such a one has lived with the conviction that he might conquer the evils of the world by controlling his passions? That virtue will make men happy he might probably have granted, if asked; but he would have conceded the point with a subterfuge. The commonest Christian of the day will say as much; but he will say it in a different meaning from that intended by the philosophers, who had declared, as a rule of life, that virtue would suffice to make them happy. To be good to your neighbors will make you happy in the manner described by Cicero in the fifth book, De Finibus. Love those who come near you. Be good to your fellow-creatures. Think, when dealing with each of them, what his feelings may be. Melt to a woman in her sorrow. Lend a man the assistance of your shoulder. Be patient with age. Be tender with children. Let others drink of your cup and eat of your loaf. Where the wind cuts, there lend your cloak. That virtue will make you happy. But that is not the virtue of which he spoke when he laid down his doctrine. That was not the virtue with which Brutus was strong when he was skinning those poor wretches of Salamis. Such was the virtue with which the heart of Cicero glowed when he saw the tradesmen of the Cilician town come out into the market-place with their corn.

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