Marcus Tullius Cicero to J. W. Worthy,
Greetings and Good Health!
It is with great injustice, so I find, that you accuse me of disparaging the Greek nation. Surely I do not need to remind an eminent scholar and lucubrator in Latin that my personal letters were never intended to be bruited abroad, much less cited out of context for purposes quite alien to my own ideals and aspirations. That my epistolary work is actually published, posthumously, is due to an ill-advised excess of piety on the part of my devoted man, Tiro. I wonder if it were not just possible that, compounding a slur which you yourself found unacceptable, even shameful, you uncourageously evoked my good name as shield. I ask you, is this intellectual honesty?
Should you truly wish to know my considered views on this, or on any other subject, you do well to consult scroll upon scroll of my public statements which Tiro also most faithfully preserves, some very few of them at my own behest, and which generations of learned men hail as a veritable lighthouse beckoning all the ages to seek refuge and consolation with the immortal Greek philosophers. Your sinuous suggestion that while I honor the ancients I cast scorn upon their descendants is also easily refuted by the very documents you feign to revere. My dear man, there are those who might indeed rival you in learning and sound judgment, yet who marvel at my defense of the Greek poet and fellow citizen Archias, not for its forensic virtues alone, mind you, but as a permanent monument to the dignity of letters.
That having been said, as said it must be, permit me to conclude with my expression of sympathy for your condition and your feelings. It surely goes without saying that the very respect which I have awakened for Greek culture and learning necessarily enables many individuals of Greek extraction but with very modest abilities to find sustenance among us as, shall we say, career Greeks. Why should I take exception to that? Because the least able among them vaunt their nativity most arrogantly? This is surely a quite general human failing with which no particular nation can be burdened. No, I think the matter is more subtle. Poetry, philosophy, as you can discover especially from the Tusculans, is a blessing savored by those who are entirely sincere in their devotion. It is like love, is it not? We have words for those who espouse it as a career.<>Please return to: Professor Worthy's Page, Home