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Cicero, Greek Learning, and the Making of a Roman Classic$
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Caroline Bishop

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829423.001.0001

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(p.85) 2 Plato
Cicero, Greek Learning, and the Making of a Roman Classic

Caroline Bishop

Oxford University Press

This chapter demonstrates how Cicero’s adaptation of Plato in his three dialogues De Oratore, De Re Publica, and De Legibus (as well as his translation of the Timaeus) reflects his desire to become a similar model of classical prose. An overview of Plato’s Hellenistic reception shows that he had become a weighty authority who could be used to support even discordant philosophical systems. Cicero learned this fact at first hand in the bitter quarrel between his two instructors (and members of Plato’s Academy) Philo of Larissa and Antiochus of Ascalon. But it was not just Academics who haggled over Plato: as classicism began to take hold in the Greek world, Plato became an important authority for Stoics and Peripatetics too. For Cicero, who desired to become a figure of similarly classical authority as the founder of Roman philosophy, Plato was the only logical choice of model.

Keywords:   Cicero, Plato, Antiochus of Ascalon, Philo of Larissa, New Academy, Old Academy, De Oratore, De Re Publica, De Legibus, Timaeus

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