Academica eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 291 pages of information about Academica.
state.  About the year 54 B.C., as we have already seen, Atticus in vain urged his friend to dedicate some work to the great polymath.  After the fall of the Pompeian cause, Cicero and Varro do seem to have been drawn a little closer together.  Eight letters, written mostly in the year before the Academica was published, testify to this approximation[300].  Still they are all cold, forced and artificial; very different from the letters Cicero addressed to his real intimates, such for instance as Sulpicius, Caelius, Paetus, Plancus, and Trebatius.  They all show a fear of giving offence to the harsh temper of Varro, and a humility in presence of his vast learning which is by no means natural to Cicero.  The negotiations between Atticus and Cicero with respect to the dedication of the second edition, as detailed already, show sufficiently that this slight increase in cordiality did not lead to friendship[301].

The philosophical views of Varro can be gathered with tolerable accuracy from Augustine, who quotes considerably from, the work of Varro De Philosophia[302].  Beyond doubt he was a follower of Antiochus and the so-called Old Academy.  How he selected this school from, among the 288 philosophies which he considered possible, by an elaborate and pedantic process of exhaustion, may be read by the curious in Augustine.  My notes on the Academica Posteriora will show that there is no reason for accusing Cicero of having mistaken Varro’s philosophical views.  This supposition owes its currency to Mueller, who, from Stoic phrases in the De Lingua Latina, concluded that Varro had passed over to the Stoics before that work was written.  All that was Stoic in Varro came from Antiochus[303].

The exact specification of the changes in the arrangement of the subject-matter, necessitated by the dedication to Varro, will be more conveniently deferred till we come to the fragments of the second edition preserved by Nonius and others.  Roughly speaking, the following were the contents of the four books.  Book I.:  the historico-philosophical exposition of Antiochus’ views, formerly given by Hortensius, now by Varro; then the historical justification of the Philonian position, which Cicero had given in the first edition as an answer to Hortensius[304].  Book II.:  an exposition by Cicero of Carneades’ positive teaching, practically the same as that given by Catulus in ed.  I.; to this was appended, probably, that foretaste of the negative arguments against dogmatism, which in ed. 1. had formed part of the answer made by Cicero to Hortensius.  Book III.:  a speech of Varro in reply to Cicero, closely corresponding to that of Lucullus in ed. 1.  Book IV.:  Cicero’s answer, substantially the same as in ed. 1.  Atticus must have been almost a [Greek:  kophon prosopon].

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Academica from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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