Cicero’s Height and Demosthenes’ Lamp

John Adams, Draft of a Letter to Richard Cranch (October – December 1758):

Should a Student in History inquire chiefly of the Dress, Entertainments and Diversions, instead of the Arts, Characters, Virtues and Opinions of ancient Nations, and the Effects of these on their public and private Happiness would not you laugh? There was nothing in the Lamp, by which Demosthenes wrote his orations, that deserved the Attention of the present Race of men, more than there is in the Candle by which I write this Letter. And I would pay no more Admiration to a man who could tell me the exact Highth of Cicero, or the Number of Hairs that grew upon his Head, a Pi[e]ce of Knowledge that I cannot now attain, than I would to one who could tell me the exact Number of Letters, Comma’s and semicolons that are in all his Works, which have the means of knowing.

File:Comic History of Rome Table 10 Cicero denouncing Catiline.jpg -  Wikimedia Commons

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