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Cicero's Philosophy of History$
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Matthew Fox

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199211920

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199211920.001.0001

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Ironic History in the Roman Tradition

Ironic History in the Roman Tradition

(p.241) 9 Ironic History in the Roman Tradition
Cicero's Philosophy of History

Matthew Fox (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter integrates the readings of earlier chapters to consider the place of Cicero's ironic treatment of historical representation in the light of mainstream Latin historiography. First, the question of how far the past can actually be known is explored from treading texts that illustrate both historiographical and philosophical approaches. For Cicero, history is predominantly a form of representation. Cicero's Letter to Lucceius is explored, in which he asks shamelessly for his own historical glorification. The letter is taken as further evidence for Cicero's ironic approach to the past, and to his own relationship to it. A brief discussion of Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus follows, and the chapter concludes that all these writers shared an awareness of the literary and educational potential of presenting conflicting accounts of Rome's past.

Keywords:   irony, historiography, Academic philosophy, Letter to Lucceius, Sallust, Livy, Tacitus, Varro, exemplary history, Annals

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