Caesar is Boring, Cicero is a Windbag

“Another change which I introduced was a widening of the number of authors read in the second and third years of Latin. In Greek there is a perfect text for beginning consecutive reading after the basics have been learned. This is the Anabasis of Xenophon, which is at once easy and lively. In the third year, students read some of the very greatest Greek in Homer. But in Latin II, the traditional curriculum presented the boring, repetitious military annals of Caesar which, I am sure, were in part responsible for the large number who bade Latin farewell after the second year. The third year was almost as bad with the windy, egotistic orations of Cicero which had no appeal to a generation who were talked to death and distrusted all rhetoric.”

-Alston Hurd Chase, Time Remembered p.315

 

I enjoy Cicero, but I think that the comments about Caesar are spot-on. One of my students recently suggested that he was assassinated not for aspiring to kingly power, but for publishing his war commentaries!

3 thoughts on “Caesar is Boring, Cicero is a Windbag

  1. I remember enjoying Caesar and I never liked Cicero more than when I was in Latin III. Which is weird, because I spent 3 semesters in college obsessing over Clodius and learning to loathe Cicero (I think reading his letters really, really helped with that).

      1. Oh, no, see, I remember reading Cicero in Latin 3 and thinking he was a great speaker. It wasn’t until Roman History and Walker’s Age of Caesar class (and me burrowing into the history of Clodius because of an off-hand mention it the Roman history class) that I learned to dislike Cicero. At least, I think that’s how it happened. 🙂

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