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The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, Volume 4 Kindle Edition
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Such a phenomenon, in itself, would be enough to attract my interest, intellectually. But there is more, much more, to Cicero – and to me – than intellect. Cicero gets emotional. And so do I. Cicero gets personal. And so do I. Cicero gets carried away. And so do I. Cicero's verbosity is boundless. And so is mine. But the best thing about Cicero is this: he does not make me think, write, and feel as others do. Rather, he encourages me to take heart – to think, write, and feel as only I can. Sounds lonely. But when I read Cicero, I am not alone. I am understood.
In his Second Oration (Philippic) against Marc Antony, Cicero describes NOT ONLY what happened to him, two thousand years ago, BUT ALSO what happened to me, just last year. A personal, private, unguarded letter to an emphatically avowed "friend" was handed over to the authorities. Thus, what happened to Cicero – and how he felt about it – comes uncomfortably close to my own experience and emotion. To this very day, I feel hurt, as Cicero felt hurt, two millennia ago.
That being so, I cannot possibly review Cicero's orations dispassionately. I must emote! Being a person, I must get personal. I must be me. I can be no other. Nor would I want to be somebody else. I'd rather be me. Thanks to my good fortune, and my good parents, I have no choice in the matter. I cannot escape myself. Nor would I want to. I gotta be me. That being so, I must get my bearings, and take my directions, from my own inner compass. My own mind tells me where to go and what to do. I ignore the received wisdom of scholars and other such creatures who dwell out there, in their own worlds, which are not my world. Such intentional ignorance on my part frees the me within me. Thus liberated, I can (and do) pay attention -- undivided attention! -- not to those creatures out there, but to this creature in here: i.e., my own mind.
In other words, Cicero has handed me the ball, and I am going to run with it. I go my own way, the only way I know, as only I can. Along the way, my way, I pick and choose my friends -- not always wisely, mind you, but freely. Cicero is a wisely chosen friend. I bring Cicero to life in my life, the only life I have, which, by the way, is certainly better than I deserve, as it was not my own creation, but a gift of the gods, my gods, my mom and dad. As Cicero and the Romans respected their parents, so do I respect mine.
Cicero's orations are here and now. And they are there and then. They take us back twenty centuries, to Cicero's time, when he was just as alive as you and I are alive at this very moment. As we readers immerse ourselves in Cicero's orations, we forget ourselves. Our world fades into the background. Cicero invades our minds, and we welcome him as liberator. He transports us to his time and place. His "then" becomes our "now." His "there" becomes our "here." Breathing the same air, warmed by the same sun, alive as we are alive, Cicero presents himself to us. Reading his words, our minds hear his mind: thinking, writing, speaking. We hear him tell us not only what he was thinking, but, equally important, if not more so, what he was feeling. He vented. Vigorously. He expressed. Eloquently. While I...?
While I … what? What am I going to do now? Now is twenty centuries after Cicero. Twenty centuries! I have neither Cicero's audience; nor his audacity; nor his oratorical opportunities. But I do have two eyes and two ears. So, I can and do read and hear Cicero writing and speaking in ancient Rome. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I spill coffee on my toga as I peck out this book review on Amazon. Ah, well. What can I say, my fellow Amazonians? That was then; now is now; and a forum is a forum is a forum. Arma forumque cano.