In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS 395 and dialectical uses of Greek philosophic moral teachings and his prophilosophic speeches on the other. Earl's book poses at least this question: are scrutinized moral beliefs any less part of the body of beliefs of a community of believers than unscrutinized moral beliefs or cliches? Earl implies that he accepts the recent constricted concept of "moral," according to which well-founded moral beliefs, as distinguished from "attitudes" that scarcely deserve "the name of thought," are irrelevant for understanding any society. The view is not novel. It merely reinforces the image of Roman cliches which has enchanted the modem mind since Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy. Earl assumes that the moralizing speeches in the historians of Rome (the first and last of whom were Greeks) invariably express their personal beliefs. This needs to be considered carefully by someone. But in arguing that Cicero agrees with a Sallustian character and was a simple believer in Roman elichds, Earl is on dubious ground. One example must suffice. Earl cites De natura deorum III, 5, where a Ciceronian character, Cotta, a Roman pontif, says that he prefers the religious beliefs of his ancestors to the teachings of the Greek philosophers. In citing the passage Earl neglects or omits to mention three important facts: (1) Cicero makes himself say at the outset that his role in the dialogue is as a "listener" with a "free judgment," in no way compelled to adopt any opinion expressed as his own (I, 17); (2) Cicero subsequently proves his freedom from any compulsion to adopt any opinion at the end by agreeing not with Cotta, the doctrinaire Academician, but with Balbus, the Stoic, despite Cicero's own oft expressed admiration for neo-Academic philosophy (III, 95); (3) the argument itself leads Cotta to a sceptical position which Lucillius assumes undermines the beliefs of Cotta's ancestors (III, 94-95). From these facts, it is at least necessary to infer that no one can simply quote a Ciceronian character as an authority on Cicero. It is, I believe, open to question whether one can quote a Tacitean character as an authority on Tacitus. As an attempt to state the most cherished cliches of the Romans, Earl's work succeeds admirably. Throughout the book, terms for central political cliches, lama, gloria, etc., are not translated. Everyone who knows an ancient language feels the need for this. Yet the reader cannot help feeling a nagging doubt whether nobilitas does not after all mean nobility, v/rtus virtue, Jama fame, and gloria glory, all the more since Earl himself occasionally writes "virtue," "virtuous," etc. Is it possible that these English cognates derive their meaning in large part from the recovery of ancient Latin literature in early modern times? The author occasionally utters opinions of his own not marked as such, e.g., "To exploit a public need for private advantage is a politician's function in any age" (p. 119). Earl's own Thrasymacheanism, if not Machiavellianism, explains why he omits the evidence of the philosophers; for it is of the essence of the Thrasymachean view that the private cultivation of one's reason can have no important effect on the res publicae. R, ~. HATHAWAY University of Cali]ornia, Santa Barbara Augustine o] Hippo, A Biography. By Peter Brown. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of Calif. Press, 1967. Pp. 463. $10) This is a splendid biography as well as an important chapter in the history of philosophy. The life and thought of Augustine are described in their context---the crumbling culture of the Roman Empire and the more lively qualities of the commerical centers along the north African coast. The most pervading theme is the intense emotional life of Augustine, the moral and intellectual tensions in him as they became increasingly complicated by the cultural conflicts of which he was a leader. The story is told in detail, with ample documentation , and in a language that reflects our own anxieties of the twentieth century. The book makes engaging reading if for no other reason than the brilliant way in which Augustine's Latin is translated into modem English idioms, and in which Augustine's thinking is presented in terms...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 395-398
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.