Toward the end of the last century Cicero's work came under attack from several angles. His political stance was sharply criticized for inconsistency by Theodor Mommsen and others, his philosophical works for lack of originality. Since then scholars have come to a better understanding of the political conditions that informed the views of Mommsen and his contemporaries about Caesar and Cicero, and as a result Cicero's writings have been restored to a more appropriate position in the literature and history of the Roman Republic. At the same time recent years have seen an intensive study of Hellenistic philosophy, and this has shown more clearly than before that, even while following Greek models, Cicero nonetheless pursued his own political and, in the ethical works, moralistic agenda.
Composed in haste shortly before Cicero's death, de Officiis has exercised enormous influence over the centuries. It is all the more surprising that Andrew R. Dyck's volume is the first detailed English commentary on the work written in this century. It deals with the problems of the Latin text (taking account of Michael Winterbottom's new edition), it delineates the work's structure and sometimes elusive train of thought, clarifies the underlying Greek and Latin concepts, and provides starting points for approaching the philosophical and historical problems that de Officiis raises.
A work of major importance for classicists, philosophers, and ancient historians, this Commentary will be an invaluable companion to all readers of Cicero's last philosophical work.
Andrew R. Dyck is Professor of Classics, University of California, Los Angeles.
Publication of this volume is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.