History and the Orator

“He [the orator] should also be acquainted with the history of the events of past ages, particularly, of course, of our state, but also of imperial nations and famous kings….To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?  Moreover, the mention of antiquity and the citation of examples give the speech authority and credibility as well as affording the highest pleasure to the audience.” Cicero, “The Orator,” in The Civilization of the Italian Renaissance, ed. Kenneth R. Bartlett, 2nd edition (Toronto 2011), pp. 8-9.  [Emphasis added]

Cicero understood the role of history and historical examples in an orator’s success.  In so doing, he coined the famous phrase that compared ignorance of history to immaturity.

This entry was posted in Cicero, history. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.