Friday, August 9, 2013

Cicero reading his Plutarch, maybe?

by Anne White

Well, no (and I'm sure he would have had a scroll, not a book), but he does seem to be enjoying it anyway.

After a lot of procrastinating, I got busy this summer and wrote North-based notes for Cicero, Demosthenes, and Coriolanus.  I have always been a bit hesitant to tackle North, mainly because of the amount of vocabulary footnotes that seem to be necessary in Shakespeare, and they're the same era.  But if you figure that Dryden was 1631-1700, that really doesn't make him a whole lot later!  In other words, if you want a new translation, get a really new one, but it doesn't make sense to tremble over North's just because of the age thing.

Actually what's more of a problem is just finding the North's versions of the different Lives.  I came up with online sources for the three above, but I'm also revising some earlier notes for Alcibiades, and for that I ended up having to type the story out myself from my Wordsworth's Classics copy.  (You can applaud now.  Chocolate is nice too.)

Out of the three, I think I liked doing Cicero best.  I liked the story of him having to make a big court decision, but not even being able to go home and think about it, because his house had temporarily been taken over by women doing some kind of religious festivities.  I could just imagine him trying to come in the front door and having a bunch of women's club members dropping flower wreaths on him, playing music, probably had had a bit of had to have been a fun evening, right?  He probably fled in terror.

And at that point, the peaceful old days in the library would have sounded pretty good.

Fresco:  Vincenzo Foppa's Young Cicero Reading. c.1464, found in this very helpful article about Cicero and Archimedes' tomb at Three Pipe Problem


  1. So grateful for your Plutarch guides, Anne. Plutarch has been the highlight of many a day & your thoughtful questions/ideas have helped generate some great discussions. The boys love picking up vocabulary such as hugger-mugger & garboyle & trying it out on people. Thanks for the effort & time you've put into them.

  2. I have a bit of a soft spot for Cicero. I'm looking forward to learning about him, especially. Thanks, Anne.

  3. Cicero's domestic festivities make me think of the ladies in The Music Man-- "Two Grecian urns, and a fountain... trickle, trickle, trickle..." lol.

    Thankful for the new Plutarch notes, Anne! We aren't reading Cicero for this year, but the other two are in our schedule. :)

  4. We are using North's for Julius Caesar next term, any chance you are getting to that one by September? Just kidding. I will miss your handy notes and narrations questions.

  5. I was delighted just now to find an online scanned copy of North's translation in 10 volumes. And the text is copy-able (meaning one can select, copy and paste text)! Not sure if I am late to the party and everyone already knows about this, but thought I would leave the URL here, just in case it's helpful to someone.