De Oratore Libri Tres
by Marcus Tullius Cicero

Introduction

     "During the 50's, as he[Cicero] withdrew from the collapsing world of republican politics, he found consolation in writing on philosophy and rhetoric, and arguing against his literary antagonists, who were principally Julius Caesar, Calvus, Marcus Brutus, and Asinius Pollio. By the end of 55 he had finished De Oratore, a treatise in three books on rhetoric, designed to replace his early work on the same subject, De inventione ('on invention'), written before he was 25;. . ."

--Excerpt from "Cicero", The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, Oxford UP, Oxford: 1993.

     "Of its merits he himself took a high view; the tone in which he writes of it to Atticus is very different from the apologetic way in which ten years later he spoke about his philosophical works:. . . The present work is indeed worthy of the greatest of Roman orators, who regards oratory as of supreme practical importance in the guidance of affairs, and who resolves, while his mind is still vigorous and powerful, to devote his enforced leisure to placing on record the fruits of his experience, for the instruction of future statesmen.
     The treatise is composed in the form of a conversation, though its method is very different from that of the dialogues of Plato.  In those the conversational form is employed to convey the feeling of corporate research into complicated abstract questions, progressing towards the truth but not attaining with sufficient certainty and completeness to justify its being expounded dogmatically; the positive results, so far as any can be elicited, are merely tentative. In Cicero's dialogues on the contrary the facts in respect to the matter under consideration are regarded as already ascertained; doctrines are expounded as dogmatic truths, the dialogue form being adopted as a vivid method of exhibiting the many-sided nature of the subject and the departments into which a systematic treatment of it falls.  If differing opinions about it are introduced, the parts of them that are valid are accepted and put together in a single system."

-- Excerpts from "Introduction", Cicero: De Oratore, Books I-II, Loeb Classical Library vol. 348, Translated by E.W. Sutton & H. Rackham, Harvard UP, Cambridge, MA: 1996.

 

De Oratore Liber Primus: Latin Text The source of the Latin text is M. Tulli Ciceronis: de Oratore Libri Tres, ed. Gulielmus Friedrich, Teubner, Leipzig: 1892.
English Text
Translation Notes
De Oratore Liber Secundus: Latin Text  
English Text
Translation Notes
De Oratore Liber Tertius: Latin Text  
English Text
Translation Notes
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