Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy
“Cicero believed in individual human beings . . . his concern for human beings was a splendid contribution to an age dominated by autocrats like Sulla and Caesar.” —Michael Grant

Hellenistic Schools of Philosophy
For Familiarity only:

Academy (developed Platonism)
transitory nature of physical world and the unreliability of our perceptions (cf. Theory of Ideas) rational basis for morality (our deliberate acts lead to beata vita, or “The Good Life”)

Peripatetic (Aristotelian school)
scientific, empirical approach (systemization and classification: observation, classification, comparison) virtue is the highest but not the only good; the Mean Aristotle’s study of metaphysics suggested a Prime Mover.

Cynicism (Dog-like!)
autarkeia (self-sufficiency) through not wanting anything, live like dogs! Diogenes and Alexander

senses unreliable, nothing can be known for certain, question everything

30. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy

30. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy


“On the Nature of Things” Represents the first systematic attempt to convey Greek philosophy to a Roman audience in Latin Dedicated to C. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy 30. absences of pain and trouble) public life undesirable 30. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy T. focus on friendship sensory perceptions are reliable. duties or tasks of each individual Divine spark—kinship with divinity and hence worldwide brotherhood of man social responsibilities of the individuals (tasks) Epicureanism (Epicurus’ Garden. Lucretius Carus Little definite known about Lucretius’ life Dates uncertain.C. Memmius. failed politician exiled to Athens 6 books of hexameter c. Supposedly “driven mad” by a love potion De rerum naturam. about ¾ the length of Vergil’s Aeneid Organization and topics Book I: basics of Epicureanism Book II: motion and shape of atoms Book III: nature of the human soul Book IV: psychological phenomena. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy 2 . 94-55 or 51 B. including a rationalist and non-theistic creation Book VI: natural phenomena that lead to false belief in the gods 30. atom theory fate moderated by choices (deterministic universe organized by atoms which nonetheless swerve) the soul dissolves into its constituent atoms at death supreme good is happiness (identified with pleasure. perhaps c.. 7. especially perception Book V: mortality of our world. free from anxiety) though moderate enjoyment of simple pleasures.400 lines. accept one’s lot. i.e.Hellenistic Schools (continued) Important for understanding Catulus and the Roman view: Stoicism (Zeno and his porch) sensory perceptions are reliable moral goodness or virtue is the only good Divine Providence largely deterministic. focusing on a quiet life) Ataraxia (state of being undisturbed.

heavily influenced by the Stoic belief in the brotherhood of man Each individual must do everything in his power to develop those faculties and sensibilities that distinguish him or her from the animals With this responsibility comes social and communal obligations 30. was attacked as a proxy by the friends of Pompey Cicero’s defense Only 1/6 about the facts of Archias’ claim to citizenship The rest demonstrates Archias’ value as a Roman citizen—mostly because he helped Cicero become a great speaker! The oration is largely a defense of Cicero’s view of a liberal education Cicero’s Philosophical treatises “It was his practice to adapt what he read and learnt to his Roman environment and his own views and tastes: those of a sensitive. .” (M. . not well accepted) Cicero’s Views in Pro Archia (laid the basis for a liberal education in Rome) Background: A. hard work. 30. the whole universe is one commonwealth. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy 3 . who possessed unique powers of expression . 22– 31) Lucretius. 14) Selected those philosophical duties acceptable to Romans—duty. experienced man. Roman Epicurean poet (On the Nature of Things. controlled emotions. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy 30. etc. 7–11 Values—humanism. Grant. absolute value systems especially significant given the autocratic age in which he lived Beliefs—universe is governed by a divine plan.Cicero’s Classical Humanism See On the Good Life. On the Good Life. a client of Lucullus. Licinius Archias charged with falsely claiming citizenship Archias. virtue. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy Rhetoric in Philosophy and Education Greek controversy Iscorates thought that literature and a liberal education could teach values Plato on the misuse of rhetoric Could make “the weaker argument the stronger” the importance of a philosophical grounding—know truth first! Roman attitudes towards the Greek philosophical schools (On the Good Life. value of the individual. rule of law.

Plato) Use of noted Romans from the “glory days” of the republic as interlocutors Frequent use of tripartite division of positions: extreme. Plato never talked about the practical life! (On the Good Life. I only supply the words. Interlocutors Sulpicius—philosophy unnecessary. esp.C. 264) Crassus—rhetoric and philosophy important... not cohesive Format of treatises Use of Dialogue form (cf. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy 4 . set in Antonius’ Tusculan villa Focus: The training of the Orator (statesman) Major issue: Rhetoric vs.More on Cicero’s Philosophic Treatises Cicero turned to philosophy at a time of pain and failure Personal struggles divorces death of daughter Tullia Political disappointment no lasting respect for his accomplishments civil strife.C. and ideal— often each is represented by an interlocutor 30. 246-47) 30. 309-311. unity of the arts. philosophy Plato—the problem of the amorality of rhetoric. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy On The Orator Background Date of Composition: 55–52 B. civil war and dictatorship of Caesar loss of political freedom Copies of Greek philosophy? They are copies of Greek philosophy . 319-321) Antonius—rhetoric needs only a little philosophy. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy 30. moderate. . . the orator must know the truth first. Socrates failed in politics! (On the Good Life. importance of a liberal education (On the Good Life. following the Luca Conference and reaffirmation of the “First” Triumvirate between Caesar and his allies Dramatic Date: 91 B.” Cicero’s neologisms Establishment of Latin as the language of general ideas Cicero’s writing lacked the intellectual rigor of Greek philosophy.

Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy Philosophic Approaches in Discussions at Tusculum Emotions Stoic—emotions to be condemned Peripatetic—emotions are natural and some are unavoidable Epicurean—pain the greatest of evils example of being “tortured on the rack” (On the Good Life. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy 30. daughter Tullia had died earlier in the year Dramatic Date: contemporary Focus: the issue of moral goodness and the comfort afforded by philosophy Interlocutors M (Marcus? magister?) A (amicus? adulescens?) Divisions of Philosophy (On the Good Life. eternal.C.Discussions at Tusculum Background Date of Composition: June–August 45 B. life of the soul Stoic—limited survival of individuality Epicurean—soul destroyed (dissolved into constituent atoms) 30. 91-92) Ethics Stoic—virtue the sole good Academic and especially Peripatetic—virtue preponderant over other goods Epicurean—pleasure the highest good Immortality Platonic—higher. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy 5 . 88-89) Physics: knowledge of the universe Ethics: things to aim for and things to avoid Dialectic: assessment of logical consequences and “incompatibilities” Problems of emotions. immortality 30. ethics.

Aristotelian prime mover. Cicero viewed as almost a philosopher king (albeit one in the context of a free. 352-353) 30. who.“Dream of Scipio” from On the Republic Background Part of On the Republic (6b) about the ideal state. set in the garden of Scipio’s townhouse Interlocutor: Scipio Aemilianus. 343-346) Scipio is a model for the ideal statesman who should strive to benefit and restore the state Cf. . esp.. the need for a rector . Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy 30. . 346-350) Geocentric universe This view of the universe becomes very important in the Classical Tradition Important points and passages Role of the dictator or “rector of the state” (On the Good Life. Epicurean atomist approach Music of the Spheres (On the Good Life. relating a dream Focus: The rewards awaiting the statesman Cicero’s cosmology Ideas: Pythagorean reincarnation.C. concordia ordinum in the Catilinarians duty requires the statesman to delay eternal reward and serve on earth “understand that you are a god . the conqueror of Carthage. Roman Adaptations of Greek Philosophy 6 .” (On the Good Life. aristocratic state Date of Composition: 54–51 Dramatic Date: 129 B.

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