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 B.C. I speak of Cicero as the "central figure," not as judging him to be the most important man of the time, but 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.
oing out into the world with this fate, that old age will find it in a far-off suburb teaching boys their letters. Some hundred years afterwards the prophecy was fulfilled. Juvenal tells us how the schoolboys stood each with a lamp in one hand and a well-thumbed Horace or sooty Virgil in the other. Quintilian, writing about the same time, goes into detail, as becomes an old schoolmaster. "It is an admirable practice that the boy's reading should begin with Homer and Virgil. The tragic writers also are useful; and there is much benefit to be got from the lyric poets also. But here you must make a selection not of authors only, but a part of authors." It is curious to find him banishing altogether a book that is, or certainly was, more extensively used in our schools than any other classic, the Heroides of Ovid.
These, and such as these, then, are the books which our Roman boy would have to read. Composition would not be forgotten. "Let him take," says the author just quoted, "the fables of Aesop and tel
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