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Amid the corruption and power struggles of the collapse of the Roman Republic, Cicero (106-43BC) produced some of the most stirring and eloquent speeches in history. A statesman and lawyer, he was one of the only outsiders to penetrate the aristocratic circles that controlled the Roman state, and became renowned for his speaking to the Assembly, Senate and courtrooms. Amid the corruption and power struggles of the collapse of the Roman Republic, Cicero (106-43BC) produced some of the most stirring and eloquent speeches in history. A statesman and lawyer, he was one of the only outsiders to penetrate the aristocratic circles that controlled the Roman state, and became renowned for his speaking to the Assembly, Senate and courtrooms. Whether fighting corruption, quashing the Catiline conspiracy, defending the poet Archias or railing against Mark Antony in the Philippics - the magnificent arguments in defence of liberty which led to his banishment and death - Cicero's speeches are oratory masterpieces, vividly evocative of the cut and thrust of Roman political life.


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Amid the corruption and power struggles of the collapse of the Roman Republic, Cicero (106-43BC) produced some of the most stirring and eloquent speeches in history. A statesman and lawyer, he was one of the only outsiders to penetrate the aristocratic circles that controlled the Roman state, and became renowned for his speaking to the Assembly, Senate and courtrooms. Amid the corruption and power struggles of the collapse of the Roman Republic, Cicero (106-43BC) produced some of the most stirring and eloquent speeches in history. A statesman and lawyer, he was one of the only outsiders to penetrate the aristocratic circles that controlled the Roman state, and became renowned for his speaking to the Assembly, Senate and courtrooms. Whether fighting corruption, quashing the Catiline conspiracy, defending the poet Archias or railing against Mark Antony in the Philippics - the magnificent arguments in defence of liberty which led to his banishment and death - Cicero's speeches are oratory masterpieces, vividly evocative of the cut and thrust of Roman political life.

30 review for Selected Political Speeches

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ilya

    I came in expecting irresistible rhetorical firepower, and I got that in spades. What took me by surprise was the sheer range of registers: from the Bravo-like drama and the airing of an opponent's dirty laundry to the sordid, "Dear-Leader"-like prostration before Pompey or Caesar; from self-effacing modesty to breathtaking self-aggrandizement; from established facts to flat-out fiction; from carefully tuned emotional appeals to unhinged hyperbole (i.e., if you disagree with me, the Republic I came in expecting irresistible rhetorical firepower, and I got that in spades. What took me by surprise was the sheer range of registers: from the Bravo-like drama and the airing of an opponent's dirty laundry to the sordid, "Dear-Leader"-like prostration before Pompey or Caesar; from self-effacing modesty to breathtaking self-aggrandizement; from established facts to flat-out fiction; from carefully tuned emotional appeals to unhinged hyperbole (i.e., if you disagree with me, the Republic shall fall and we are all going to die). In other words, great.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gilles Demaneuf

    Very interesting. The republic was falling apart at the time.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    We live in an age where we are sooner sickened than delighted by political oratory, but it must be borne in mind, while perusing these selections, that persuasion is a beautiful thing. And, indeed, Cicero aimed to please, considering that he literally aimed to find the mean between the Attic (laconic) and Asiatic (verbose) styles, which the ancients called respectively didactic and entertaining; the mean was considered pleasure - to learn and be thrilled. Included here are the Catilinarian We live in an age where we are sooner sickened than delighted by political oratory, but it must be borne in mind, while perusing these selections, that persuasion is a beautiful thing. And, indeed, Cicero aimed to please, considering that he literally aimed to find the mean between the Attic (laconic) and Asiatic (verbose) styles, which the ancients called respectively didactic and entertaining; the mean was considered pleasure - to learn and be thrilled. Included here are the Catilinarian Invectives ("O tempora! O mores!") and the famous defenses of Caelius and Milo, which demonstrate that Cicero was extremely good at his profession's sleight of hand. Curiously, there is an encomium to Caesar here, too, which is horrifying, not least because a man of Cicero's political beliefs could be demeaned so thoroughly by the onset of dictatorship; that is to say, the word selection is cringe-inducing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Trucie

    The greatest orator of his day as well as an accomplished philosopher and historian, Cicero lived at the single most turbulent and dangerous period of Rome's history. He knew Pompey, Caesar, Cato, Brutus and Cassius. A truly modern man - his ego easily flattered, desirous of material wealth and public success, but also strongly motivated by a need to do what was right and just - his political speeches are masterworks of propaganda, spin, inescapable reasoning and emotional appeals. Reading about The greatest orator of his day as well as an accomplished philosopher and historian, Cicero lived at the single most turbulent and dangerous period of Rome's history. He knew Pompey, Caesar, Cato, Brutus and Cassius. A truly modern man - his ego easily flattered, desirous of material wealth and public success, but also strongly motivated by a need to do what was right and just - his political speeches are masterworks of propaganda, spin, inescapable reasoning and emotional appeals. Reading about famous figures from history is good, but there is no substitute for reading their words themselves, even in translation. And this is a good translation, retaining the biting sarcasm and the fire that made this unprepossessing little man so feared in public court.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    When reading this I began to see how historians have pieced together Ancient Rome. It's exciting to know that with a little commitment (some would say a lot) one can read the extant primary sources on Ancient Rome and begin to see the world through your own historical lens. Archeology is above my pay grade but I can certainly read a lot. My favorite speeches were the last two. In Support of Marcus Claudius Marcellus is all about Julius Caesar and the final speech The First Philippic has some When reading this I began to see how historians have pieced together Ancient Rome. It's exciting to know that with a little commitment (some would say a lot) one can read the extant primary sources on Ancient Rome and begin to see the world through your own historical lens. Archeology is above my pay grade but I can certainly read a lot. My favorite speeches were the last two. In Support of Marcus Claudius Marcellus is all about Julius Caesar and the final speech The First Philippic has some fine commentary directed at politicians concerning their reputations. This shouldn't be the first book about Rome that you read but it should certainly be one of them. And thankfully there are several more surviving Cicero speeches!!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    John

    Not what I was expecting. These are almost exclusively speeches either in favor of an individual, or in opposition to an individual, often in a trial setting. The brief introductions to each speech were very helpful and gave excellent historic context. I was hoping for more political theory, but that can only be inferred. The most enjoyable part for me was simply Cicero's opinions and observations as the Roman Republic gasps its final breaths. I kept wondering if he had any inking that both Not what I was expecting. These are almost exclusively speeches either in favor of an individual, or in opposition to an individual, often in a trial setting. The brief introductions to each speech were very helpful and gave excellent historic context. I was hoping for more political theory, but that can only be inferred. The most enjoyable part for me was simply Cicero's opinions and observations as the Roman Republic gasps its final breaths. I kept wondering if he had any inking that both Caesar and Pompeius would seek dictatorial power. From such a short collection it is hard to say this with any certainty, but he only really seems to find his courage after Caesar's death in the First Philippic speech. This is not a must-read, but it adds fascinating detail to an important sliver of history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie Patel

    Reading this, I felt like I was a political spectator in the Forum itself. Although Cicero is often contrary, his speech is so eloquent that his pompous and often self-serving words don't matter. I respect Cicero immensely - he was only a knight, but he made his way to the top of the political structure through hard work and intelligence. The language in his speeches are dense, but they're also gripping and revealing. I also found myself laughing at many points - Cicero knows how to craft an Reading this, I felt like I was a political spectator in the Forum itself. Although Cicero is often contrary, his speech is so eloquent that his pompous and often self-serving words don't matter. I respect Cicero immensely - he was only a knight, but he made his way to the top of the political structure through hard work and intelligence. The language in his speeches are dense, but they're also gripping and revealing. I also found myself laughing at many points - Cicero knows how to craft an educated insult (read his Philippics)! Overall, this translation captures the spirit and climate of the late Republic of Rome. All the politics, civil war, and scandals of the era (i.e. Clodius and his infamous sister) are revealed intimately. Overall, an entertaining read!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Quratulain

    Good

  9. 5 out of 5

    rabbitprincess

    * * * 1/2 A solid collection of speeches from Marcus Tullius Cicero. Each one is accompanied by a detailed introduction that puts the speech into its historical context, which is very helpful for people who are not that familiar with Roman history. Footnotes are sprinkled throughout the speeches as well, providing clarification or explaining a play on meaning (for example, on the word "popularis" in the First Philippic, or the "penny" pun in the speech in defence of Caelius), explaining * * * 1/2 A solid collection of speeches from Marcus Tullius Cicero. Each one is accompanied by a detailed introduction that puts the speech into its historical context, which is very helpful for people who are not that familiar with Roman history. Footnotes are sprinkled throughout the speeches as well, providing clarification or explaining a play on meaning (for example, on the word "popularis" in the First Philippic, or the "penny" pun in the speech in defence of Caelius), explaining historical references, and indicating passages that come out rather obscure in translation. Speaking of the translation, this was a very good job. Of course the sentence construction is extremely formal, but then these were being delivered in the Senate and the Assembly, so of course Cicero would want to pull out all the rhetorical stops and speak eloquently, not casually. I did often find myself reading the same sentence a couple of times in a row, but that's what happens when you pick dense intellectual works as bus books. One oddity I noticed was the translator's use of the word "Besides" at the beginning of a clause. Sometimes it did not seem to fit, as if it was being used as the stock translation for a particularly tricky Latin word. In any case, the book was still very readable and even had some pretty funny lines. Here are a couple of favourites. From the Introduction (to the whole book): When the aristocratic Q. Metellus Nepos asked Cicero the snobbish question "Who was your father?" it was understandable, but not calculated to endear a great family towards him, for Cicero to reply: "I can scarcely ask you the same question since your mother has made it rather difficult to answer." From the speech in defence of Caelius: Cicero is not a fan of Clodia, the woman who is accusing Caelius of stealing her money and trying to poison her. She is a widow and sleeps with basically any man in a toga, apparently, even her own brother Clodius (who was alleged to have done it with all of his sisters). So Cicero, when he speaks of Clodius, he calls him "[Clodia's:] husband, I mean her brother -- sorry, I always make that mistake." He probably said that "sorry" while hiding a little smirk. Oh Cicero, you are a pistol. This book was very illuminating and I learned a bit more about Roman history through the work of Cicero -- perhaps slightly biased, especially in the case of those invectives against Catiline and Mark Antony, but it's more than I knew before, in particular about Mark Antony and Caesar. If you like this time period, give this book a shot.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Egerer

    I hate to give Cicero a three star review, but this Penguin translation (Penguin is usually solid) absolutely murdered Cicero's prose. After reading about 145 pages, and realizing that something was missing, I decided to download a free eBook of Cicero's works, translated by C.D. Yonge, and the difference was so profound, I wonder how Penguin could have even let this be published. Go for the 19th century translations, when people wrote with soul. Cicero won't translate right otherwise. That being I hate to give Cicero a three star review, but this Penguin translation (Penguin is usually solid) absolutely murdered Cicero's prose. After reading about 145 pages, and realizing that something was missing, I decided to download a free eBook of Cicero's works, translated by C.D. Yonge, and the difference was so profound, I wonder how Penguin could have even let this be published. Go for the 19th century translations, when people wrote with soul. Cicero won't translate right otherwise. That being said, it's Cicero.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Wright

    If you want to get an idea of why Cicero is such an intriguing and human historical figure, I recommend Robert Harris' novels. If you want to get an idea of why Cicero is regarded as one of the greatest rhetoricians of all time, and certainly the greatest Latin rhetorician, I recommend reading him in Latin. If you don't know Latin and don't have time to learn (although I sometimes wonder how people who don't know Latin manage to use adequate English) then you could do much worse than the Penguin If you want to get an idea of why Cicero is such an intriguing and human historical figure, I recommend Robert Harris' novels. If you want to get an idea of why Cicero is regarded as one of the greatest rhetoricians of all time, and certainly the greatest Latin rhetorician, I recommend reading him in Latin. If you don't know Latin and don't have time to learn (although I sometimes wonder how people who don't know Latin manage to use adequate English) then you could do much worse than the Penguin Classics editions of some of his finer speeches.

  12. 4 out of 5

    D. J.

    Cicero was the master of political rhetoric. A titan of oratory, perhaps only equaled by his nemesis Julius Caesar. Anyone wishing to capture a glimpse of the political environment of pre-imperial Rome, and/or learn how to fashion great speeches, this book is a great place to start. Long live Cicero!

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Antoš

    I liked the book. It was quite fun to get an insight into life and thinking of one of the greatest politicians of late Roman Republic. In spite of and perhaps thanks to all the pettiness and short-term pragmatism that no human can really avoid. :-)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachael Malfer

    In a word, brilliant. It is no surprise that his speeches have as much power now as they did then. It is not so much in the topics themselves that make them do memorable, but the construction of these pieces.

  15. 5 out of 5

    José Muñoz

    It was quite fun to get an insight into life and thinking of one of the greatest politicians of late Roman Republic

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ray LaManna

    The best.

  17. 5 out of 5

    David

    As an orqtor, there were few better than Cicero.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Craig Bolton

    Cicero: Selected Political Speeches (Penguin Classics) by Marcus Tullius Cicero (1977)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    i dont care for it

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    SUPER. NEEDS TO READ OUT LOUD. BETTER IF YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH ROMAN HIST.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Candice Seplow

  22. 4 out of 5

    Seth

  23. 4 out of 5

    AH

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laurence Maxwell-stuart

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mahalia

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  27. 4 out of 5

    Matt White

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rachael Foster

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Fremont

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