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II LIBERAL STUDIES IN ANCIENT ROMEI After much reflection concerning a proper subject for this important occasion, I have determined to speak to you on liberal studies in ancient Rome, for at least two reasons: (1) In general, there are many parallels between the ancient Romans and the modern Americans, many points in which the two peoples, so widely sundered in time, are temperamentally and spiritually alike, alike, too, in matters of actual experience; and (2) in detail, lessons of comfort can be drawn by the supporters of liberal studies today from the facts that will be cited in this address.
In the first section of the introduction to his editio maior of the Academica of Cicero, Dr. J. S. Reid, the well-known English scholar, writes in masterly fashion of Cicero as a scholar and a man of letters. He dwells thruout on the details of Cicero's training, particularly on the attention which at all stages of his life Cicero gave to philosophy. Two quotations will sum up the section. On page 5 Mr. Reid says: “In the midst of his busiest political occupations, when he was working his hardest for the consulship, his heart was given to the adornment of his Tusculan villa in a way suited to his literary and philosophic tastes. This may be taken as a specimen of his spirit thruout his life. He was before all things a man of letters; compared with literature, politics and oratory held quite a secondary place in his affections. Public business employed his intellect, but never his heart.” Again, page 6, "I dwell with greater emphasis on these facts (Cicero's persistent devotion to study) because of the idea now spread abroad that Cicero was a mere dabbler in literature, and that his works were extempore paraphrases of Greek books half understood.
1 An address delivered at the third meeting of the Philadelphia Society for the Promotion of Liberal Studies, February 26, 1915.
In truth, his appetite for every kind of literature was insatiable, and his attainments in each department considerable. He was certainly the most learned Roman of his age, with the single exception of Varro."
If Cicero's bent toward literary employments was as great as has been represented in these quotations, the question may well be asked, Why did he not devote himself entirely to literary pursuits? Why did he take any part in public business and politics, if these matters engaged his intellect, but never his heart? The answer to these questions is not far to seek, and is to be found in the attitude of the Romans toward liberal studies. Some remarks on this point will help to an ampler understanding, not only of Cicero's career, but of the progress of Latin literature in general; they will also, I hope, be of interest and profit to the members and friends of this Society.
Let us first consider some passages from Cicero's own writings. In the De Senectute, Chapters XII-XVIII, Cicero discusses the charge that old age robs men of almost all pleasures (voluptates). Taking advantage of the fact that voluptas often carried the suggestion of sensuality, he declares that, if old age does in reality cut men off from voluptates, men should be deeply grateful to old age. In § 49 he asserts that it is a fine thing to be freed at last from voluptates, for then the soul has a chance "to be alone, and, as the saying is, to be intimate with itself.” He continues thus: “If indeed in addition to such intimacy with itself the soul has some definite sustenance in the way of studium et doctrina (an enthusiastic quest after liberal training), nothing is more delightful than an old age freed from the claims of public life. We saw C. Gallus-a senex -try his powers in measuring out, bit by bit, almost the whole earth, the whole sky: how many times, after he had begun by night to work out some problem, daylight caught him ere his task was done! how many times, tho he began early in the morning, night forestalled him! what delight it gave him to predict to us, long in advance, eclipses of the sun and of the moon! Quid in levioribus studiis, sed tamen
acutis? (What shall we say in connection with pursuits less weighty indeed, but still requiring acumen?) What joy Naevius—a senex—had in his Bellum Punicum! What joy Plautus-another senex-found in his Truculentus, in his Pseudolus!" Here poetry and the labor of poets are distinctly included among the leviora studia, and reckoned as inferior to astronomy. The latter is enthusiastically praised, because the fact that this very Gallus had predicted the eclipse of the sun which took place while the battle of Pydna was in progress and so saved the Roman army from the panic which was fatal to the Macedonians had shown convincingly how astronomy might be of practical" advantage.
The major part of Cicero's speech Pro Archia Poeta is pertinent to our discussion; it constitutes a special plea for those literary labors to which Archias had wholly devoted his life and to which Cicero himself had given no little attention. The long apology in § 1-3, in which he explains why he appears for Archias at all and craves indulgence for the form which his speech is to take, a form divorced not merely from the practise of the courts, but also from that of the Forum (i. e., from both judicial and deliberative oratory), the plea in § 12-13 that he has a right to apply to literary pursuits time which others give to questionable amusements, and the argument that poetry and literature have been of practical advantage, not only to himself in oratory, the serious (''practical") business of his life, but to others also, indeed to the Romans in general, thru the immortalization of Roman achievements ( $ 14-30), all are most significant. Four-fifths of the speech are taken up with these matters, which a modern judge would sweep aside as irrelevant to the real point at issue, to wit, the citizenship of Archias.
One chapter of the oration, the seventh, may be translated here.
"Some one will say: 'Were those men of the first rank, men whose achievements literature records, were they, I ask, trained by those liberal studies (doctrina) which you
extol so highly?' It would be hard to prove it with respect to them all, but none the less I am sure of the proper answer to the question. I grant you that many a man without liberal training has shown a wondrous spirit and marvelous ability, and by the very bent of his nature, well-nigh divine, has of himself stood out in sharp relief as a man self-controlled and steadfastly moral (i. e., as true man); I go further, and add that natural abilities unreinforced by liberal training have oftener reached the reputation for manhood and achieved true manhood than has liberal training unreinforced by natural abilities. And yet, at the same time, I maintain with might and main, that, when to natural abilities out of the ordinary there has been added the systematic moulding that results from liberal training, then, and not till then, there comes into being an indescribable something, glorious and unique. To the splendid company of such men belongs that superman, whom our fathers saw, Africanus; to this company belong C. Laelius and L. Furius, men perfectly balanced and self-contained; to this company belongs also that heroic figure, the most gallant and the best-trained man of his time, Cato the Elder. Surely, if such men were helped in no way by literature to achieve and to practise true manhood, they would never have devoted themselves so enthusiastically to literature. But if such training did not manifestly yield such wondrous increase, and if the sole aim and end of such training were delight, none the less, methinks, would you regard such mental and spiritual relaxation as most refined and truly liberal. For, whereas all other delights belong not to all circumstances nor to all ages nor to all places, these pursuits nurture youth, delight old age, grace prosperity, to adversity proffer refuge and solace, please at home, stand not in the way out of doors, spend the night with us, go to foreign parts with us, and attend us in the country."'2
2 I quote here the Latin words: “haec studia adulescentiam alunt, senectutem oblectant, secundas ornant, adversis perfugium ac solacium praebent, delectant domi, non impediunt foris, pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinantur, rusticantur." No ''translation" can do them justice.
How these words remind one at every turn of the pleas set forth today in defense of liberal studies, especially of the Classics! “Liberal studies,” says Cicero, “help us in practical life, to the making of a career, of a living. But, quite apart from that, they help us live a life!"
Pertinent, too, are the first two chapters of the opening book of the Tusculan Disputations. In § i Cicero says: "It has always been my opinion that our countrymen found out all things more wisely than the Greeks, or, if they took anything from the Greeks, they improved on them—in all matters at least whereon they thought it worth their while to labor carefully. In the mores et instituta vitae, in the management of property, in statecraft, in warfare, in gravitas, constantia, magnitudo animi, probitas, fides the earlier Romans, at least, were superior to the Greeks.” "In liberal studies, however," he continues, "and in all departments of literature the Greeks surpast the Romanstho it was easy enough for them to win here, since no one fought against them. No honor was accorded in days gone by, among the Romans, to the poet: hence among the Romans poetry was late in coming to the birth, late in receiving recognition. Painting and music, too, found no honor among the Romans: the Romans had, therefore, no painters, no musicians." "If it had been accounted a credit to Fabius Pictor,” he cries, “that he painted, would there not have been among us many a Polyclitus, many a Parrhasius? Recognition nurtures the higher achievements, and among a given people those things ever lie dead which that people disapproves.” Here is a truism we Americans can not afford to forget or neglect! "Mathematics, finally,” says Cicero, "were pursued among the Romans only for practical purposes.
We noted above that in the De Senectute poetry was reckoned among the leviora studia. At the opening of the Brutus, that wonderful panoramic survey of Roman orators, Cicero tells us how deeply grieved he was when, on his way home from his service as Governor of Cilicia, the news reached him at Rhodes that Hortensius, his great rival at