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[ix] THIS book does not claim to be a life of Cicero or a
history of the last days of the Roman Republic. Still
less does it pretend to come into comparison with such
a work as Becker's Gallus, in which on a
slender thread of narrative is hung a vast amount of
facts relating to the social life of the Romans. I
have tried to group round the central figure of Cicero
various sketches of men and manners, and so to give my
readers some idea of what life actually was in Rome,
and the provinces of Rome, during the first six
decades—to speak roughly—of the first century
speak of Cicero as the "central figure," not as judging
him to be the most important man of the time,
because it is from him, from his speeches and letters,
that we chiefly derive the information of which I have
here made use. Hence it follows that I give, not indeed
a life of the great orator, but a sketch of his
personality and career. I have been obliged also to
trespass on the domain of history: speaking of Cicero,
I was obliged to speak also of Cæsar and of Pompey, of
Cato and of Antony, and to give a narrative, which I
have striven to make as brief as possible, of their
military achievements and political action. I must
apologize for seeming to speak dogmatically on some
questions which have been much disputed. It would have
been obviously inconsistent with the character of the
book to give the opposing arguments; and my only course
was to state simply conclusions which I had done my
best to make correct.
I have to acknowledge my obligations to Marquardt's
Privat-Leben der Romer, Mr. Capes'
University Life in Ancient Athens, and Mr.
Watson's Select Letters of Cicero. I have also
made frequent use of Mr. Anthony Trollope's
[xi] Life of
Cicero, a work full of sound sense, though
curiously deficient in scholarship.
The publishers and myself hope that the illustrations,
giving as there is good reason to believe they do the
veritable likenesses of some of the chief actors in the
scenes described, will have a special interest. It is
not till we come down to comparatively recent times
that we find art again lending the same aid to the
understanding of history.
Some apology should perhaps be made for retaining the
popular title of one of the illustrations. The learned
are, we believe, agreed that the statue known as the
"Dying Gladiator" does not represent a gladiator at
all. Yet it seemed pedantic, in view of Byron's famous
description, to let it appear under any other name.
October 8, 1883.