Cicero’s Contribution to Latin Literature

Cornelius Nepos, Fragment in a Book on Latin Historians, and Praise of Cicero

“You should not be ignorant of the fact that this genre of Latin literature not only has no equivalent in Greek, but was even left in an altogether rude and incipient state at the death of Cicero. For he was the one man who could have and should have published history in dignified language. To be sure, he gave a fine polish to oratorical eloquence, which was left in a crude state by his predecessors, and he made Latin philosophy, which was disorganized before he came along, conform to his oratorical style. Therefore it is not clear to me who lost more by his death: the republic, or history.”

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II. Cornelius Nepos in libro de historicis Latinis de laude Ciceronis.

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 conformarit oratione. Ex quo dubito, interitu eius utrum res publica an historia magis doleat.

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