Category: Philosophy and Politics

By Cicero

Published in 1747

Reference #0822

Cicero’s De Oratore, or On the Orator, in three books originally published in 55 B.C., was translated into English by Scottish historian and writer William Guthrie (1708-70) in 1747. Guthrie is well known for his cartographic, historical, and political publications, working in London from 1730 until his death. Guthrie’s publication fits into the wider transformation of the English language leading into the 19th century, as well as the dissemination of print culture in the Enlightenment.

This work is beautifully printed in two volumes in octavo form, with notes throughout, both historical and critical, explaining the whole. Also included is a convenient explanation of the terms and phrases used by Cicero, alphabetically digested. Book I is addressed to his brother, Quintus, reflecting on the Roman civil war between Marius and Sulla, as well as the first triumvirate. Cicero then attempts to attract the reader to oratory, detailing their craft and responsibility. Through his commentary, Cicero envisions the orator as a moral guide of the state, placing rhetoric at the center of political community.