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CLA160H1 Lecture Notes - Ancient Greek Philosophy, Catullus, Lucretius

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Johnathon Burgess

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CLA160 - Lecture on November 4th
Cicero’s Letters, Lucretius and Greco-Roman Philosophy
Cicero’s Letters:
-hundreds of letters written across several decades
-includes letters to lifelong friend Atticus, brother quintus, and other important romans in
the late republic
-invaluable source for piecing together political history
Thoughts about political situations at the end of the republic:
-afraid caesar might become a dictator if he wins the civil war
-ponders whether he should take the side of pompey and fight with republican forces or
sit it out like Atticus did.
After Caesar’s victory:
-cicero now thinks he isn’t so bad
Humanity in the letters:
-the letters document cicero’s personal life in detail unparalleled in ancient sources:
-we hear of:
-tensions with son, divorce with his wife, death of his daughter, pride and occasional
arrogance, literary and social life
Literary works:
-poetry, speeches,handbooks of rhetoric and oratory, technical discussions,
philosophical dialogues, translations of greek literature
-helped introduce greek ideas and culture into roman society.
Cicero the Philosopher:
-dialogues (platos tradition) - to depict different beliefs and ideas
-“aporetic” - end without a firm conclusion, written not to tell you the way and truth, but
to make yourself think critically of issues
Philosophy in the republic:
-part of a larger movement to incorporate greek cultural ideas and literature into roman
-compare with platus and terence, livy, catallus
-no centralized religious authority or stable religious texts in the greek or roman world
-for educated romans and greeks, philosophy was a way of life, often with religious
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