aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Cicero, Letters to Atticus 2.3.4

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With his customary levels of modesty, Cicero quotes approvingly part of the poem he himself wrote to glorify his own consulship.

sed me κατακλείς mea illa commovet quae est in libro tertio:

interea cursus, quos prima a parte iuventae
quosque adeo consul virtute animoque petisti,
hos retine atque auge famam laudesque bonorum.

haec mihi cum in eo libro in quo multa sunt scripta ἀριστοκρατικῶς Calliope ipsa praescripserit, non opinor esse dubitandum quin semper nobis videatur εἱς οἰωνὸς ἄριστος ἀμύνασθαι περὶ πατρής.

But I am moved by that concluding passage of mine (which is in Book Three):

Meanwhile the tenor of thy youth’s first spring,
Which still as consul thou with all thy soul
And all thy manhood heldest, see thou keep,
And swell the chorus of all good men’s praise.

Since, in this book (in which many things were written ‘aristocratically’) Calliope herself dictated these lines to me, I think there can be no doubt that I shall always consider that ‘the best of omens is our country’s cause.’

At the end of this passage Cicero quotes Homer, Iliad 12.243, which is from a speech of Hector – again note Cicero’s lack of modesty in making this comparison with himself! For this line (literally ‘one omen is best – to fight for your country’) and the passage from Cicero’s poetry I’ve borrowed the nice poetic versions of Shuckburgh’s translation.

Written by aleatorclassicus

September 10, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Cicero, Homer

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