Cicero’s Shaky Relation to the Facts

Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.24:

“Should I believe that when he said ‘Liber and nurturing Ceres’ for ‘the sun and moon’, he did not do it in imitation of another poet after hearing it without understanding why it was thus expressed? Unless perhaps we would like even our poets to become philosophers, just as the Greeks always make such a big deal of themselves; Cicero himself, who was no less ardent a student of philosophy than of oratory, tended when speaking of the nature of the gods, or fate, or about divination, to reduce the glory which he had puffed up with his rhetoric by his ill-founded relation of facts. “

An ego credam, quod ille, cum diceret: Liber et alma Ceres pro sole ac luna, non hoc in alterius poetae imitationem posuit, ita dici audiens, cur tamen diceretur ignorans? Nisi forte, ut Graeci omnia sua in inmensum tollunt, nos quoque etiam poetas nostros volumus philosophari: cum ipse Tullius, qui non minus professus est philosophandi studium quam loquendi, quotiens aut de natura deorum aut de fato aut de divinatione disputat, gloriam quam oratione conflavit incondita rerum relatione minuat.

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