Monday, November 16, 2015

A Life Well Spent

Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106-43 B.C.

One translation of Cicero's essay De Senectute, which literally means "On Old Age," has the title On A Life Well Spent.  I recently had the opportunity to bring Cicero to life through re-enactment and in so doing to explore some of the depths of this statesman, philosopher, and orator.

I first came to appreciate Cicero in my third-year high school Latin class.  I admired his oratorical pyrotechnics, and when I was pursuing my M.A. in Classics, I focused on his execution of the Catilinarian conspirators in 63 B.C.

I am always seeking ways to reduce the gap of two millennia and half a world that separates students from the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.  One way I have done that is through re-enactment.  I present multiple personas from the Classical world, about which you can read more at  One of these personas is Cicero, and I was glad for the recent opportunity to bring this important figure to life for students at the Illinois Junior Classical League convention in Pekin, Illinois.  My own former teacher and now dear friend and colleague Marcene Farley had invited me, and it was great fun.

During this half-hour presentation, Cicero rises from the table where is writing his memoirs in Brundisium in 43 B.C. and begins musing about his life.  He reflects on growing up in Rome after being born on his grandfather's farm in Arpinum and what it was like to begin his career in the dictatorship of Sulla.  He goes on to talk about his consulship, his family, and the dark times that brought about the end of the Republic.

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