Saving Your Country: Vengeance and History in the Fragments of Cornelius Nepos

Cornelius Nepos, Fragments

Fragment 1.1 The following is allegedly from a letter by Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi to her remaining son

“You may say that it is a fine thing to take vengeance from your enemies. Indeed, that seems neither greater nor finer to anyone than to me, if it can be achieved while the republic is kept safe. But since this cannot happen, may our enemies not perish for a long time—may they stay as they are now—rather than our country meet ruin and destruction”

Dices pulchrum esse inimicos ulcisci. Id neque maius neque pulchrius cuiquam atque mihi esse videtur, sed si liceat re publica salva ea persequi. Sed quatenus id fieri non potest, multo tempore multisque partibus inimici nostri non peribunt, atque uti nunc sunt erunt potius quam res publica profligetur atque pereat.


Fragment 2.1 Eulogy for Cicero

“You should not be ignorant of the fact that this genre of Latin literature is not only the only one that did not match Greece but was left altogether simplistic and incomplete with the death of Cicero. For he was  the only one who was able and likely to endow history with a worthy voice—since, he certainly polished the rough eloquence bequeathed by our forebears. He gave Latin philosophy, which was improper before, with his own style. From this I am unsure whether or not the republic or history was aggrieved more greatly by his passing.”

Non ignorare debes unum hoc genus Latinarum litterarum adhuc non modo non respondere Graeciae, sed omnino rude atque inchoatum morte Ciceronis relictum. Ille enim fuit unus qui potuerit et etiam debuerit historiam digna voce pronuntiare, quippe qui oratoriam eloquentiam rudem a maioribus acceptam perpoliverit, philosophiam ante eum incomptam Latinam sua confirmarit oratione. Ex quo dubito, interitu eius utrum res publica an historia magis doleat.


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